Catching Up

Hi guys! Long time no post,  huh? Thanks for all the follows on my new blog…I was definitely planning on posting there sometime during my last week of summer break but life got in the way. Or more realistically,  my 3 year old Dell laptop died on me randomly and I’ve been busy researching replacement options I could get in a store in town since I kiiiiiinda do need a computer before starting my senior semester on Monday. Long story short, I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablet and I love it so far!  I really wanted something more portable than a traditional laptop and with just one more semester to go, I just need something that can make it through a few papers and assignments. I definitely prefer the tablet setup to a laptop–it’s portable like a smartphone but still easy to use. I’m going to be investing in a blue tooth keyboard to make typing papers easier though!  

Other than my obsession with my new toy, I’m gearing up to start my last semester.  I’m excited AND stressed at once and I’m sure the next few months will go by like woah. I do want to get back to blogging and commenting but I can’t promise a regular posting schedule. I plan on still tweeting and Instagramming a LOT so you can follow me there (@fashion_ash on Twitter and ashieeeeeee on Insta) if you so desire!

Promise I won’t disappear for too long!

Do you guys have a tablet? How are you keeping busy?

Life Lately+Big Decisions

Hey guys! I’m back a little sooner than I expected…mostly because I just found out the other day that school actually starts a week later than I thought it did. Best surprise ever, right? Apparently I had a bit of a blonde moment thinking school started this coming Monday but luckily I checked my university’s website and confirmed that I actually start on the 26th. Yay to having an extra week of summer break though!

Anyways, my vacation went well and I want to share a few recap photos but I mostly want to talk about some big decisions I’ve been making lately–some about the blog.

So I’m starting my senior year–make that senior semester–on the 26th and I’m taking 17 credits, which is more than I’ve taken in my entire time in college. I’m basically taking on a full course load, along with returning to my position as weather anchor at the campus TV station. Add to that some job hunting and you’ve got one stressed chica. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited for this upcoming semester and even more so for graduation and getting my first job out of college, but I also have a lot on my plate. I need to buckle down and really focus on making my last semester the best ever, which also includes being more social/spontaneous, so blogging will definitely be taking a backseat.

Not only that, but I feel like I need to move on from this blog. I’ve been keeping it up for 2+ years and while it’s been great, I want to take a different focus for my blog. That being said, I’ve started blogging over at a new blog, Real.Food.Girl. and while I’ll generally be talking about similar topics, I’d like to focus more on healthy recipes, and the quirky parts of my life as a twenty-something starting my adult life on my own. I want this new blog to be more fun, more honest but less about the hangups I still have about food, fitness and my body. I’m moving further and further away from my struggles with those things so I think starting a new blog will be kind of a clean slate for me in that aspect. I hope you continue to follow me over at my new blog and I will definitely be keeping up with reading all of your posts because I love that part of blogging! I may not post as often (I’ll be trying for once or twice per week) but I hope the posts will be more meaningful.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the fun part–the vacation recap. I don’t want to bore y’all with the details of the 8 day trip but I do want to share some photos with you guys. This vacation was unexpectedly amazing, yet sad at the same time. I visited extended family out in Wisconsin, and though in some ways it was similar to previous visits, it was quite different as well. For one thing, it was the first time we went back in 4 years, and a lot has changed since then. Mostly that my grandpa on my dad’s side is not doing well at all, and had just moved into assisted living before we got there. It was really hard to see him so frail and unable to walk on his own. Even though staying at his cottage wasn’t the same without him there, he really enjoyed our daily visits and hopefully they improved his spirits. Other than that, the trip was fun and it was great to catch up with extended family we hadn’t seen in a few years. We spent half the time with one set of grandparents at their house and camper and the other half at my grandpa’s lake cottage in the Northwoods. I’ve always enjoyed the time I’ve spent on the lake and I hope I can return again next summer because I really missed it.

Gotta love Sky Mall's silly products.

Gotta love Sky Mall’s silly products.

On the 'ducks' on the Wisconsin River.

On the ‘ducks’ on the Wisconsin River.

The fun lake at the campground.

The fun lake at the campground.

Qdoba salad on the road.

Qdoba salad on the road.

Heading up north!

Heading up north!

Snacks in the car.

Snacks in the car.

Lake Pokegama at sunset.

Lake Pokegama at sunset.

The pontoon boat.

The pontoon boat.

Lake view. Gorgeous.

Lake view.

Sissy on the pier.

Sissy on the pier.

Looking off the pier.

Looking off the pier.

I love the lake!

I love the lake!

Stairs of doom...just kidding! Super steep though.

Stairs of doom…just kidding! Super steep though.

Me on the paddle boat. My workout of choice while at the lake.

Me on the paddle boat. My workout of choice while at the lake.

Me and my sissy.

Me and my sissy.

Flying back home on Southwest Airlines.

Flying back home on Southwest Airlines.

I came back with TONS of pictures (80+!), more mosquito bites than I’d like and lots of memories. I really miss being there, but I’m glad to be back so I could get back into my normal routine–I didn’t get in any formal workouts while in WI other than paddleboating and walking around, my acne really flared up in the humidity and I missed having a Whole Foods 10 minutes away (though my parents were great and stopped at the WF in Milwaukee after landing to stock up on groceries for the week). I don’t always love where I live, but this trip made me thankful for some things I take for granted being here, and it made it a little easier to get back to my normal life. But nothing beats vacation time! I especially liked that we flew out instead of driving–I love airports and flying, and I haven’t flown in 3 years so I really missed it. Call me weird, but I just love to fly.

What was your most recent vacation destination? Do you like to fly?

Currently: August

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! You really know how to make a girl feel special 😀

I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll get back to a regular posting schedule with a vacation coming up and settling back in at scchool but for now, enjoy this little survey I always enjoy doing.

Current Book: I’m loving my new “Going Raw” cookbook. I like that it’s not just recipes (and delicious-looking ones at that) but it also came with a tutorial DVD and has tips for implementing raw foods into your lifestyle. I basically want to make everything in the book!

That burger on the cover looks unreal.

That burger on the cover looks unreal.

Current Music: I’m loving the new Grouplove song “Ways To Go” and “Hurricane” by MS MR. Alt Nation on Sirius XM is my all-time favorite radio station.

 

Current Guilty Pleasure: Phoney Baloney’s coconut bacon. Gah, I need to stop devouring this stuff–I only bought a small bag of it and the stores around me don’t sell it yet! Sooooo addicting, and awesome ingredients list.

Current Nail Color: Mint Sprint by Sally Hansen.

This goes with almost everything.

This goes with almost everything.

Current Drink: Water all day errryday in my VS PINK giant water bottle. It makes drinking water that much easier. Also, coconut water iced coffees.

Current Food: Salads at least 1X per day, protein banana softserve (though not as much anymore), protein fruit ‘cereal’ (Sunwarrior+almond milk+fruit+other toppings in a bowl), Larabars, ice cold watermelon.

These veggies aren't for eating but they sure are cute! An adorable recent IKEA find.

These veggies aren’t for eating but they sure are cute! An adorable recent IKEA find.

Current TV Show: I’m not watching much right now, but I like that new Hollywood Game Night show on NBC. I like seeing celebs in real life!

Current Wishlist: Some clothes I can transition into fall (particularly a hi-lo dress), more cute oxfords (spotted the cutest pair at a little boutique the other day!), a new planner for the school year…and motivation to get through this last semester. Senioritis is hitting me hard!

How cute is this one!

How cute is this one!

Current Needs: The need to pack! Seriously, I actually like packing but I always procrastinate. I can’t even think about packing up stuff again for school in 2 weeks…I just need to pack for vacation first!

Current Triumphs: Finishing up my weather internship with a bang. Last summer’s internship was a bit of a letdown but this summer’s was an amazing learning experience and I got to work in a great environment with awesome people. I’m going to miss that place a lot, but I’m thankful for the experience I got there. Annnnnnd, I may end up posting some of my work from there at some point on here, who knows!

Current Bane of Existence: School coming up. I’m sorta looking forward to it, but after 16 years of school, I am beyond ready to just get my diploma and move on to the real world. I loved college but at this point, I’m so done.

Current Indulgence: The vegan carrot cake ice cream I enjoyed the other day. Totally fine with having ice cream right after a delicious salad, and it was really good ice cream. It was like two of my favorite desserts (carrot cake+vegan ice cream) in one.

Ugh so good.

Ugh so good.

Current Blessing: Being able to see my extended family again. We haven’t been back to see most of the fam in 4 years and it’s good timing now because one of my grandpas is not doing so well. Hopefully our visit can lift his spirits and help him feel better. Not to mention, it’ll be great to get away for a week and enjoy a different state!

Current Outfit: Strapless blue-checked corset-style top from Abercrombie & Fitch, navy blue twill shorts from Hollister, jewelry from American Eagle.

It's getting hot again (wooo!)

It’s getting hot again (wooo!)

Current Excitement: Vacation…and college graduation in T-minus 5 months!

Answer any of the above! 

WIAW: The Last One?

As much as I love the weekly party known as WIAW, I probably won’t be participating in it for awhile. Why? Well, other than being busy with school again (I just started up yesterday and I think this semester will be crazy, in a good way) I’m just getting bored with posting my daily eats. I tend to go in waves with things that I eat, so a lot of my WIAWs look pretty similar. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not that exciting to me anymore. I will still be checking out all your WIAW posts though, no worries!

Breakfast: PB& J inspired French toast.

Breakfast: PB& J inspired French toast.

I went to Sprouts the other day for a few things, and finally found the bread I’d been looking for–Alvarado Street essential flax sprouted bread. I liked the ingredients (for the most part), the nutrition stats and the fact that it’s smaller bread so it makes for better sandwiches. I don’t know about you but I like my sammies to be all about the filling–I prefer open-faced sandwiches but those aren’t so portable. So this 50 calorie per slice bread is perfect, and has simple ingredients for being a lower-cal bread, unlike most brands. It also made the perfect PB&J inspired French toast. I just dipped two toasted slices of the bread in peanut flour thinned with almond milk, cooked it, and topped it with crunchy almond butter and microwaved frozen blueberries. This is as good as it gets for a breakfast made at 7 am. That might not seem that early, but it is to me #collegeproblems

Lunch: noochy kale salad with olives and roasted chili lime chickpeas.

Lunch: noochy kale salad with olives and roasted chili lime chickpeas.

I’ve been having salads a lot lately for lunch, and the key to a great homemade salad is shaking all the ingredients up so they get coated in the dressing. Today, I just mixed nutritional yeast with a little apple cider vinegar and thinned with water, then tossed in some dino kale, olives and some new-to-me roasted chickpeas. I love these things, they’re way too addicting. I also had some unpictured salted in-shell pistachios (amazing!) and a date stuffed with chocolate coconut butter. I don’t know what it is about that combo, but it’s delicious. I just discovered it yesterday, and now I need more dates to enjoy the combo on a daily basis.

Snack: homemade trail mix with spicy chickpea crackers, dry roasted edamame, raisins, freeze dried tropical fruit and mini chocolate chips.

Snack: homemade trail mix with spicy chickpea crackers, dry roasted edamame, raisins, freeze dried tropical fruit and mini chocolate chips.

Trail mix in a baggie–how classy. This is going to be a go-to snack this semester on my busier days when I don’t have time to swing by my apartment to have a snack. I love making trail mix myself because I can add in whatever weird stuff I like. The chickpea crackers in this one were a new addition to my normal mix–I made them the other day and they’re actually really good and basically just made from chickpea flour, nooch and spices.

Dinner: curry peanut kelp noodle stirfry with edamame, carrots and bok choy.

Dinner: curry peanut kelp noodle stirfry with edamame, carrots and bok choy.

Why do the most random creations turn out to be the tastiest? I was tired after my first day of classes (a long day, BTW) and didn’t want to think too much about dinner so I threw together some stuff to make a sauce for my typical kelp noodle stirfry. For the record, I combined Whole Foods brand crunchy PB (the only PB I can stand), Hope Hummus coconut curry hummus, Frontera hot sauce and coconut aminos with almond milk to thin and it made the most delicious sauce. I don’t know why, but it was amazing. This will be repeated nightly weekly.

Dessert: peanut flour microwave cake with chocolate chips and crunchy AB.

Dessert: peanut flour microwave cake with chocolate chips and crunchy AB.

This has been my usual dessert for probably two weeks and I’m still not sick of it. I like to have some protein before bed to keep me from getting hangry so this does the trick while also giving me my sweet fix. I also had an unpictured square of dark mint chocolate (Alter Eco brand, natch) and another cacao bliss-stuffed date. Told you I’m obsessed.

Do you ever make random but delicious meals? What would you put in your trail mix?

Currently…

Hi guys, long time no see huh? It’s getting to be that time of the year again…back-to-school time! So I’ve been pretty busy the past few days getting everything packed and ready for second semester. I’m actually really excited to go back–my classes seem interesting, I’m ready to do weather anchoring again and I can’t wait to be back in my apartment so I can do whatever the heck I want. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family to pieces, but I need my alone time sometimes and having my own kitchen again will be nice.

Since life’s been cray over here, I’m gonna borrow a little survey I spotted on Amanda’s blog the other day so enjoy…and I’ll be back next week with some updates!

Current Books: Erm…uh…I’m actually not a big book reader (please don’t hate me!). I do have some books I love, like Dave Barry (he is hilarious!) and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but I haven‘t actually read them in awhile. I am loving Veganomicon though–so many delicious vegan recipes I need to try out.

Current Music: Anything by Foster the People. Love them. I just added their station to Pandora and I’m addicted. Right now I can’t get Houdini out of my head.

Current Guilty Pleasure: Lotions from Bath & Body Works. Seriously, can I just buy them all?! They smell so delicious…

Current Nail Color: OPI’s Giftcards for Everyone. Oh, and Sally Hansen’s Posh Plum on my ring fingers. I got the OPI color as a mini giftset for Christmas and the colors are perfect for winter.

I'm still mastering the art of nail polishing.

I’m still mastering the art of nail polishing.

Current Drink: I can’t go without my (almost) daily ACV morning cocktail. 1 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar, English toffee stevia drops to taste, cinnamon and water to dilute. It tastes like a sour apple pie.

Current Food: I’m loving the sweet potato+sunflower butter+peanut flour paste+raisins+chocolate chips combo, as I mentioned on WIAW. Sounds weird, tastes heavenly and never gets old.

Current Favorite Show:  I heard the new season of WNTW (What Not to Wear) is on so I really need to start watching that again, I really missed my Clinton & Stacy fix. Other than that, I think 1600 Penn is hilarious and I love Chopped on the Food Network.

Current Wishlist: I would love some Starbucks and iTunes gift cards because I’m cheap and don’t want to pay for my own coffee and music #collegeproblems

Current Needs: Not sure if this is more of a need or a want, but dumbbells. I really want more muscle and bodyweight training alone isn’t cutting it. I’m really wanting to start a strength training routine so I’m planning on hitting up Target soon to pick up some cute and colorful weights.

Current Bane of My Existence: The fact that everyone is coming down with the flu, and I reaaaaaaallllly don’t want to get it. No such thing as hand sanitizer overload during flu season.

Current Celebrity Crush: Bradley Cooper. He was amazing in Silver Linings Playbook, and he doesn’t look half bad 😉

Mmmmm, yes...

Mmmmm, yes…

Current Indulgence: My recent trip to Whole Foods. A little over $100…yikes. Yes, it was a restock-my-apartment-because-it’s-foodless trip but still. Hope they’ll last me awhile!

Current Blessing: No snow in the forecast for awhile. I know we could really use the moisture but I’m already sick of winter and snow. Bring on summer!

Current Slang: Whatevs. I know that’s so old and lame but I don’t care, I still use it.

Current Excitement: My family’s spending the day with me tomorrow at my apartment and it’s gonna be fun! We’re going out to eat at my favorite vegan restaurant (which my omni family all love) and my sister and I will probably do some hardcore shopping and jamming out in the car. We’re so cool…

What I got the last time I went to Tasty Harmony...oh sooooo good!

What I got the last time I went to Tasty Harmony…oh sooooo good!

Current Mood: Excited for tomorrow, and nervous for the semester to start.

Current Link: Zite. They have an app and everything, but I love it because you put in your interests and it generates new stories and articles on those and related topics for you to read…and it changes every day!

Answer any of the above!

Friday Faves (August 24)

Well, I can’t believe I finally (almost) made it through my first week of my junior year of college! I can already tell this semester will be busy and challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been getting used to a lot of big changes, like the daily commute to classes (which usually takes way longer than it should) and keeping my apartment clean but I’m starting to feel like an adult and it feels so good!

After my first day of classes on Monday, I treated myself to a passion iced tea from Starbucks (much needed, that’s for sure!) and I promised myself last weekend that if I made it through a whole week of classes and extracurriculars, I could treat myself to some Whole Foods salad bar goodies. So you better believe I’m doing that tonight for dinner 😀

Favorite Recipe Redux: Peppermint Super Brownie Bites

Not the most appetizing picture, but I can guarantee it tastes amazing!

I’ve been doing some recipe experimenting here and there when I’ve had time after classes. I made a few things that turned out delicious but not quite perfect. Then I stumbled upon an idea, combining both my raw brownie recipe and Angela’s no bake peppermint patty bars (which are fab, BTW). I wanted something small, cute, chocolate-y and minty without being too overwhelming. That’s where the super brownie bites come in! They’re almond and walnut based, like my raw brownies, so they add a protein and healthy fat punch and are grain-free. I added in a packet of chocolate Amazing Grass, which adds 10 grams of protein, along with tons of greens.  They’re sweetened with a few dates and just a little real maple syrup, so they’re perfectly sweet. The chocolate icing on top is made from dark chocolate chips and coconut oil, both healthy fats. But the result is a delicious, minty brownie bite that tastes almost unhealthy!

Peppermint Super Brownie Bites (vegan, gluten-free)

2 packages 100 calorie almonds and walnuts

1 packet chocolate-flavored Amazing Grass protein powder

3 small Medjool dates

1 tbsp dark cocoa powder

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips

1/2 tsp coconut oil

In a food processor, process nuts, Amazing Grass, dates and cocoa powder until crumbly. Add in maple syrup and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract until mixture sticks together. Roll brownie batter into small balls and place in mini muffin tin or on foil. Meanwhile, in a small pot over low heat, stir together remaining peppermint extract, chocolate chips and coconut oil until chocolate gets melty. Spoon icing over each bite and stick muffin tin or foil in freezer to set. Makes 8 bites. 

Favorite Moment: First time as a weather anchor

The local female weather anchor I look up to…maybe I’ll be like her one day?!

I hate to brag and pretend like I’m super awesome, because that’s just not who I am, but I’ve been working on owning my accomplishments and being more confident, so being complimented for how I handled my first night as a weather anchor at my campus TV station was thrilling for me. It was a practice run through, so it wasn’t aired, but I completely ad-libbed for about a minute, not even knowing much about the weather forecast, and my producer and fellow anchors congratulated me afterwards for how well I did and how they couldn’t imagine ad-libbing for an entire segment. It gave me so much confidence for the semester to come!

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Whole Foods salad bar

One of my favorite Whole Foods hot/cold bar boxes to date!

It’s a little lame, but I get really excited for grocery shopping, particularly at Whole Foods. I could live there and be totally happy! When I first discovered the salad bars a year ago, I became hooked and even though I didn’t get it again for another 6 months, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. This summer, I went a little more frequently and tried to switch it up every time. The Whole Foods in my hometown (well, one of them) has a great selection of items at the hot and cold bars and I’m hoping the one in my college town does too!

Favorite Time of Day: Driving to class

Disclaimer: I did NOT take this while driving!

Don’t get me wrong, it is stressful trying to get to class on time while also avoiding cyclists, pedestrians and other cars that are going wayyyyyy too fast and also trying to find parking that isn’t miles away. But it also makes me happy, because I haven’t driven regularly since senior year of high school. In fact, before this summer and my internship, I barely ever drove in the past 2 1/2 years. I actually really love driving alone, because I can blast my music, sing along and just get ready for the day ahead. I feel so much more independent and responsible–Alejandro is my baby and I want to keep him safe 😉

Do you like to ‘healthify’ your desserts (whatever that means to you)? Do you prefer city driving or freeway driving?

WIAW: On and Off

Sorry about the lack of posting lately! But it’s back-to-school time and this year means moving into my own apartment and getting all settled into a new routine. But now I’m back and ready for another WIAW!

This week, I’ve just got a random assortment of what I’ve been eating and doing, on and off campus. Even though I’m finally living off campus this year, I’m spending more time on campus with all my classes, working at the campus TV station 2 nights a week and a possible new job.

Almond peanut cashew butter mixed with maple syrup and chocolate chips, protein cereal bowl (Nature’s Path sunrise vanilla and PB Puffins mixed with Plant Fusion vanilla pro powder, u/s almond milk and raisins).

Protein powder is a must on my busy days for getting protein in. Now I love mixing it in the bottom of my cereal with some almond milk and enjoying the extra flavor and texture boost.

Pretty flower on campus!

My sister and I headed to campus a few days early to hunt down my class locations (some were in buildings I’d never been to before!) and we saw this awesome flower on our walk. I obviously love how pink it is!

Quinoa pasta and vegan ravioli mixed with basil merlot pasta sauce, mini bell peppers, olives and nooooooooch!

I can’t get enough of the nooch lately, seriously. It might be a problem, but it’s a good problem 😉

A pool? A short walk away? Yes please!

Yes, there is a pool at my apartment. Have I gone in yet? No, but I did spend some time tanning by it with my sis over the weekend. Let’s just say it’s a prime tanning and hang out spot.

Hummus and fresh veggie salad on a pita.

My mom and I tried a new-to-us place just down the street from my apartment. It was super fast, super fresh and really yum. I didn’t eat the pita part of this pita, but the hummus and veggies were outta this world!

3 minute carrot cake protein oats.

This was so good, for a super quickie snack! I mixed thick rolled oats with Truvia, almond milk, chopped carrots, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla protein powder and ground flax and topped it with Nature’s Path sunrise vanilla cereal (so good, and gluten free!) and almond peanut cashew butter.

Car selfie FTW!

Can I just say I love having a car? Not only does it make things more convenient, I can also take awesome selfies in it. Alejandro, you’re the best!

My reward after my first day of classes: grande passion iced tea (unsweetened).

I was in desperate need of some Starbies love after my first day of classes. I hit the nearest one up right after my 4 pm class for one of my fave summer drinks and enjoyed it in the sunshine.

Easy breakfast: chocolate mint protein muffin topped with homemade almond butter cup, grapes.

I’ve definitely been getting my kitchen experimenting on, now that I actually have a kitchen! So far, I’ve made no bake peppermint patty bars, mint chocolate almond butter cups and mini buckwheat corn muffins. The bars and cups are the best though–I’ve been on a mint chocolate kick lately.

First dinner in my new place: vegan nachos! Made with Late July multigrain chips, pinto beans, spicy guac, peach mango salsa, kale sauteed in coconut oil and nooch.

I finally got over my fear of the white stuff and bought some coconut oil. I’ve heard so many good things about the health benefits of it and was sick of avoiding recipes because they included it. I accidentally got the refined kind, but next time I’ll know to get the extra virgin kind for coconutty flavor!

Have you used coconut oil? How do you use protein powder?