Vegan Food in London – Part 2 (featuring a side trip to Oxford!)

When Will and I were in London recently, we ate most of our meals in and around South London (as detailed in Part 1).  We did venture further afield on occasion and were very happy to find tasty vegan food all over London (and beyond).  Here are a few of the highlights:

The Movable Feast is a small collection of vegetarian and vegan eateries sharing a common space.  When we were in London, they were housed in a building just under the Shard, near London Bridge.  That location has closed, but they are hoping to reopen soon.  We enjoyed a vegan brunch from Pomodoro e Basilico.  We got the smaller size and were stuffed. Here’s what was on the plate:

MORE THAN AVO TOAST – avocado and chickpea mash on homemade toasted sourdough, topped with lime and olive oil dressing, chillie flakes, black pepper and nutritional yeast;
BLOODY HASH – homemade beetroot and potato hash brown
ALT – grilled asparagus, lettuce and grilled tomatoes served with homemade vegan hollandaise sauce
TO EGG OR NOT TO EGG – eggless cheezy tofu scramble with garlic kale and juicy portobello mushrooms

We also had vegan sushi at Happy Maki and amazingly good juices from Spark Juices. I usually don’t enjoy green juices, so I was a little cautious when I tried Will’s Popeye juice (Spinach, avocado, apple, and lime). It was tart and refreshing and so good I went back to get my own.

This was my first trip to London and I had never had a formal afternoon tea, so we decided to try the vegan afternoon tea at La Suite West.  Everything was delicious – everything.  The first course was a selection of finger sandwiches – summer herb pesto with tomato, hummus and cucumber, scrambled tofu with mustard cress, mock tuna with sweet corn and coleslaw, and kimchi coleslaw with red pepper. I had the Peppermint Leaf tea and Will had Earl Grey. la-suite-west-finger-sandwiches
This was followed by scones with coconut cream, strawberries, and strawberry jam.  This course was our downfall as we felt compelled to eat the entire serving. la-suite-west-scones
The final course was a trio of desserts – a banana creme cake, lemon cake, and chocolate torte with kiwi.  I switched to cappuccino for this round – also delicious. la-suite-west-dessert
Cook Daily at Boxpark in Shoreditch.  Boxpark is a pop-up mall made of shipping containers and featuring mostly fashion and food.  The food at Cook Daily was some of our favorite of the entire trip.  The bowls were so good that when we finished our lunch, we immediately ordered two more to take away for dinner.  We tried 4 different bowls and they were all delicious. cook-daily-hard-bowl
The Hard Bowl (veggies with yam, boiled wholemeal dumplings, steamed plantaint & ackee in a thyme and pepper sauce), Noodle Bowl (vegan udon noodle stir-fry with roasted chili oil, coriander, and tofu & veggies), Da Infamous!! (Mummy’s green curry recipe from way back with tofu & veggies), and Yoga Fire (chickpea, sweet potato veggie curry with dhal). cook-daily-noodle-bowl
We took a day trip to Oxford and stopped by The Gardener’s Arms pub for lunch.  Sadly, they were sold out of the Curry of the Day, but we enjoyed the vegan burger with mango chutney and fries. gardeners-arms-vegan-burger
The decor was cool as well, featuring album covers, including this one from one of my all-time favorite bands, The Cramps. gardeners-arms-album-covers

Thanks, London, for some awesome vegan meals.  We can’t wait to go back!

Custom Order Roundup

Here are some of the latest custom .retool. creations:

Justin wanted a pair of seatbelt pouches. Custom-pouches
David B. wanted a little bit of everything – a seatbelt wallet with coin pocket, grommet, ID pocket, extra card pockets, and an elastic band closure.  custom-db2  custom-billfold-db
Amy wanted a wallet with velcro and elastic.  custom-wallet-velcro-elastic
Douglas didn’t want velcro or elastic, but he did want an extra bill divider.  Custom-wallet-extra-bill-divider
Britt wanted a batch of brightly colored wallets. custom-colors
David N. wanted a triple stripe wallet with an ID pocket and elastic band.  custom-dn  custom-interior-dn
Damian wanted a triple stripe wallet with a coin pocket and ID pocket. custom-d custom-int-d
Caroline wanted a small seatbelt bag for daily use. custom-bag-cc
Sean wanted a wallet with 2 ID pockets and an elastic band.  custom-2ID
Kevin is a San Francisco Giants fan who wanted an orange and black triple stripe wallet with coin pocket and ID window. custom-black-orange-k
Rod wanted a small billfold with an ID window and lots of places to put cards.  In addition to the interior card pockets, there are two exterior pockets – one top load and one side load. custom-nylon-r custom-nylon-int-r

Vegan Food in London (Yum!) – Part 1: Mostly Brixton

My partner Will and I were recently in London for a short vacation.  I was in charge of finding the food.  We stayed at Griffin House Holiday Apartments, where we had the upper apartment.  It was really nice to have an apartment of our own to come home to and Ben and Nic were wonderful hosts.  They also have a fabulous dog named Barney.

Our first night in London we ate at the Bonnington Cafe, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Vauxhall.  The cafe is a co-op and there is a different cook every night, each with their own style/specialties.  We didn’t know what to expect from the food, but were pleasantly surprised.  We especially loved the stuffed mushroom – a large portobello cap filled with sundried tomatoes, spinach, tofu cream and sunflower seeds. Delicious!  You make a reservation by emailing the chef directly.  They write the reservation names on slips of paper and place them on the tables, so when you arrive you just find your table.


The Old Post Office Bakery is in Clapham, only a few blocks away from where we stayed. It became a regular morning stop.  All of their breads are vegan and they had at least one vegan cake option as well.  The organic fruit buns with pieces of apricot, date, and sultanas, quickly became a favorite.  As did the vegan chocolate cake.

Griffin House is near Brixton and we ended up there for many of our meals. Brixton is being gentrified and has recently become a bit of a hot spot, especially for food. Brixton Village Market has a number of restaurants and shops, several of which have vegan options. Vegans should be prepared for a lot of meat and fish market stalls as well.  😦

Senzala is a French style creperie with a Brazilian twist.  They have a small selection of vegan crepes, called galettes.  We loved the Rosa Squash (with butternut squash and zucchini) and the Dujhan (garlic mushrooms, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and spinach).


We ended up at Oracle’s, a sandwich and juice bar when we had a food emergency. We honestly didn’t expect much from our sandwich, but it turned out to be amazing. We split an Avocado Healthy Bite sandwich with avocado, spinach, and hummus. It was easily the best hummus sandwich I’ve ever had.  The hummus was nicely spicy and the bread was really good.

ms-cupcake-box ms-cupcake-lemon- and-black-bottom
ms-cupcake-chocolate-mint ms-cupcake-display

One of our favorite places turned out to be Ms. Cupcake, an entirely vegan bakery. So good we had to go back for more. We ended up splitting 6 cupcakes and couldn’t possibly pick a favorite. We tried the Chocolate Mint, Black Bottom, Lemon, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Banana Chocolate Chip, and Tiramisu.

Also in Brixton, but a little further from our place, was Vegbar, “South London’s first 100% vegan, restaurant, bar, and late night vegan speakeasy”. Friendly people and solid food.  We especially enjoyed the Seitan Wings and the salted caramel, choco-pecan cake.  Head downstairs for live music.

Our final Brixton food stop was Negril, a Jamaican restaurant with a small selection of vegan items. The staff were super friendly and the pumpkin curry was delicious!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where Will and I venture outside of Brixton and Clapham!

Sporty Vegan Bags

I’ve been working on a new batch of bags just in time for Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason Center on July 18 & 19.

Sporty vegan bag in black and blue

Sporty vegan bag in black and blue

Here’s the low down:

The bags are made of nylon pack cloth, so they are lightweight, water resistant and sturdy.  The interior and pocket linings feature a recycled nylon fabric made entirely from post-consumer materials.

Interior zipper pocket

Interior zipper pocket

There are two zippered pockets – one on the flap for easy access without having to open the bag and one interior lining pocket.  The adjustable strap can be worn crossbody or over one shoulder.

Magnetic snap closure

Magnetic snap closure

The flap closes with a magnetic snap.  Flap fronts come in solids and stripes.  As an added bonus, the small pieces that make up the stripes give me a way to use scrap pieces of fabric left over from other projects.

Flap fronts in progress

Flap fronts in progress

There are two sizes.  The small version is approximately 7″ X 10″ X 1.5″.  The standard version version is approximately 9″ X 12″ X 3″.

Come see them (and me!) in person July 18 & 19 at the Renegade Craft Fair.  The .retool. booth will be in the Herbst Pavilion.

Custom Order Roundup

Custom orders are a great way to explore different options from new features to different color combinations. Here’s a look at some of the .retool. custom orders from the past few months. Enjoy!

Lisa wanted a coin pocket wallet with an extra bill divider. custom-wallet-lisa
Irene liked our ID wallets and wanted an elastic strap added for some extra security DSC_0004
Jeremy wanted an industrial strength case for a Nexus 7 with gumdrop case. It has a pen pocket, too! tablet-case-front
Bess was looking for gifts for her nieces. She asked for a pair of front zip tablet cases with handles. DSC_0002
Lynne is a repeat customer who wanted to update her fall accessories with a new checkbook holder. DSC_0002
Sam requested a couple of our coin pocket wallets with no velcro.No velcro? No problem! DSC_0005
Amanda turned to us for a new laptop case.We were happy to oblige. DSC_0001
Teresa had a special request for one of our Classic Mini Card Holders with Elastic – she wanted an extra card pocket on the outside. DSC_0002
Kristin wanted a laptop case for a Lenovo Yoga 2 11. DSC_0002
Catrina wanted a large bag. Really large.  This one is about 14″ x 13″ x 5.5″ and has an interior zipper pocket.  custom-vegan-bag

Glenn’s Bag

Last week I wrote about the bag I made as a holiday gift for my friend, Pam.  This week I’m back with details on the bag I made for Pam’s husband, Glenn.

Glenn wanted a messenger bag around 12″ x 12″ x 4″ with two 5-6″ interior slip pockets and one exterior zippered pocket.


The body of the bag is made of 1000D Cordura® nylon.  The print used for the flap is cotton.  It reminds me of brushstrokes, which is especially cool since Glenn is a painter. DSC_0003
The flap pocket is lined with nylon made from recycled plastic bottles.  DSC_0005
As requested, the inside has two slip pockets to help keep things organized.  DSC_0006
 The flap closes with a side release buckle.  DSC_0004

I was pleased with how the bag turned out. I decided to make a few tweaks to the design and add it to the shop. More on that later!

Pam’s Bag

Late last year I was making a lot of wallets in preparation for a couple of holiday shows as well as stocking the online shop and local shops that carry .retool. products.  I decided I needed a break, so I got in touch with my friend Pam and offered to make her and her husband Glenn each a bag as a gift.

I suggested a new design I was testing out, but she threw me a curve.  For her bag, she countered with a list of features that bore little resemblance to my initial offer. This gave me the opportunity to try something different that I would not have come up with on my own.  It also sparked some ideas for some new designs, so it was well worth it!

Pam wanted something similar to this toiletry case I made for her a couple of years ago. She loved the size, but wanted some more depth, instead of a flat pouch. She wanted a black print, a 1 inch strap, and an interior pocket. So, basically she wanted something more purse-like. boris-pouch


Here’s what I came up with:

Pam’s a cat person, so I decided on this adorable CoCoLand print from Kokka.  I moved the zipper to the top of the bag.  The bag is about 1 and half inches deep. pam's-bag-front
Back view.  The 1 inch wide strap is adjustable and clips on to the bag. pam's bag-back
The grey lining is made from recycled plastic bottles.  My favorite part is the lining of the interior pocket. Pam's-bag-interior

I’ll write more about Glenn’s bag next time.