Homesick

If you had told me just a year, or even a few months ago, that I would miss Colorado, I would have laughed in your face. I was SO over the April blizzards, the generally bipolar weather, the seemingly-annual summer wildfires and the lack of certain things (ahem, lots of vegan restaurants, and up til recently, Trader Joe’s).

I spent most of my life in the Centennial State. I was born in Arizona, and while it still has part of my heart, all of my memories were made in Colorado. I started (and finished) school there, I made all of my friends there, some of my favorite vacations were spent there and I had the best years of my life there, in a town just a couple hours north of my ‘hometown’.

One of my favorite spots in the world.

One of my favorite spots in the world.

But when I graduated from college in December, I was excited for what the next chapter of my life would bring. I was ready to move up and out. I think I applied to a grand total of 3 jobs in Colorado, and 2 of those were in a town on the opposite side of the state, with a totally different vibe. I kept daydreaming about what my new life in a new state might be like, and I wanted it sooner rather than later.

Well…I got my wish. I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in early April. I’ve been working for just over a month now, and while that has had its ups and downs, I’m growing acclimated to my new city. I can say I actually do like it. The weather has been mostly fantastic — a lot less humid than I was expecting, and a heck of a lot warmer than back home. There are plenty of things here that remind me of home, like Whole Foods/Sprouts, lots of thunderstorms, a pretty active lifestyle.

Still getting used to seeing the waterfront on a daily basis.

Still getting used to seeing the waterfront on a daily basis.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Colorado. I honestly thought once I moved away, I’d never want to move back, but part of me does. I miss the mountains so much, the dry air, the people I’ve left behind, the places I still remember with a little bit of a twinge in my heart. I’ve stumbled across a few blogs written by women living in Colorado, and it reminds me of what I’ve left behind. As much as I cursed every single snow storm and hated feeling like I’d never leave, now that I have left, it’s a little bittersweet.

Part of it is being hundreds of miles away from all my people. Most of my friends are graduating this week, and part of me feels like I should be there with them, celebrating with a fancy cocktail in Old Town, picking up my cap and gown and packing up my apartment to move back home. But I’ve already done that — that chapter of my life is over.

My sister is also graduating from high school next week, and it kills me to not be able to see her walk across the stage and get her diploma. After all, she’s been there with me for most of my life — attending both of my graduations and always having my back. To not be there for my bestie and little sister is hard. And it’s harder knowing that some of my extended family will be there too, people I see at the most once a year. Being so far away from that hurts.

TBT to last summer with my gorg sissy.

TBT to last summer with my gorg sissy.

Most days, I don’t miss Colorado. Not when they’re getting dumped on with snow in May and I’m running the river trail in 90 degree weather. I like Tulsa. It’s got a great big city vibe without being too big. I could see myself living here for the next year (hopefully moving after that for job-related reasons) and being happy most of the time. And I’m also looking to the future, and planning where I’d love to live in the next few years, and hoping that can happen. I’m not someone who can stay in one place for too long without getting restless.

But then I see friends posting that they got jobs in Denver or Boulder or whatever, and I really miss Colorado. Sometimes I even miss my ‘hometown’ (even though the general vibe is opposite of me for the most part). I definitely miss the mountains and my college town.

Miss you, FoCo, and the lovely Horsetooth Reservoir.

Miss you, FoCo, and the lovely Horsetooth Reservoir.

So here’s to the place that will always have part of my heart, no matter where I roam. Your beauty is unmatched, and even though you’re a little bit crazy sometimes, I’ll always miss you a little bit as long as I’m away. And even if I never move back, I want you to know that I’ll always remember you as home.

Do you ever get ‘homesick’ for a certain place? 

WIAW: Ashley Lately

Hi guys! Sorry I’ve been so MIA lately–my Thanksgiving break started on Thursday afternoon and since then I’ve been busy writing papers (why do professors make assignments due right after break?), cleaning the house before my grandparents come for T-day (I haven’t seen them since my high school graduation 2 1/2 years ago!), doing a butt load of grocery shopping and just enjoying my time off. I definitely needed to come back in time for WIAW though! Especially since it’s just before American Thanksgiving and I have a couple of recipes to share 😀

How appropriate–my most loved veggie shaped like a heart!

Garnet yams and sweet potatoes are my fave veggie right now, other than kale. Or maybe cauliflower. Anyways, I think I love sweet potatoes because they’re one of the few veggies where it’s totally normal to top them with sweet things. I went with raisins and maple almond butter this time, and it was a great combo.

Not food, but I can’t resist cute Christmas things!

I am such a sucker for all things Christmas, whether it’s a limited edition holiday coconut milk drink, or an adorable decorated Kleenex box. I realize these things tend to be overpriced, but Christmas only comes once a year. Why not live it up with a snowman tissue box 😉

Halfway through the longest paper I’ve ever had to write!

As much as I like to write, I don’t like it enough to be able to breeze through a 4000 word term paper. Ironically, this is for one of my journalism classes and in all journalism, specifically broadcast journalism which is my (hopefully) future career, the writing is very short and to the point. None of this 20 page paper bull shit  crap. At least I’m interested in the topic I’m writing about, it’s just incredibly time-consuming. But I literally only started this paper on Friday, so I’ve gotten pretty far. This calls for a coffee break…

Speaking of Christmas…my favorite Starbucks holiday drink.

Most people even hate or love peppermint. I personally love it, especially combined with chocolate. So it’s no secret that I love Starbucks’ soy peppermint mocha. And now I love it even more that they offer a skinny version. I like sweet things, but their normal version is way too sweet so I like that they have a sugar-free version so it’s not too overpowering.

I love the Christmas Pandora stations.

Speaking of Christmas, it’s definitely not too early for me to start playing Christmas music. I started a week ago, when Sirius XM started playing their holiday stations again and now I’m listening to it daily, almost non-stop. It just puts me in a good mood, even when I’m mad because I got a crap ton of work to do over break.

Another take on the easy-as-pizza cinnamon roll.

Remember when I made cinnamon rolls out of pizza dough? Cinnamon rolls have always intimidated me but when you make them with fresh dough, they are beyond easy to make and customize. This time I went with a pumpkin chocolate chip combo and it was even better than the original maple pecan rolls.

Pumpkin Chip Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)

half ball of fresh multigrain dough (can use gluten-free)

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave or coconut nectar)

sprinkle cinnamon, to taste

powdered stevia, to taste

1/2 tbsp mini chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix dough with sweetener to taste. Roll out dough on floured cutting board until about 1 inch thick and rectangular in shape. Mix pumpkin, maple syrup and cinnamon in a small bowl until thick and paste-like and spread on dough. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and roll into a thick log, pinching ends. Cut into 6 small rolls with a floured knife and place in sprayed baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until starting to brown on top. Serve warm from the oven topped with pumpkin butter, protein frosting or more maple syrup.

The return of the hipster glasses…

Remember when kids used to be made fun of for wearing glasses? I find it so funny that now it’s actually fashionable to wear them. These aren’t my real glasses, but they are my new favorite accessory. They add a nerdy chic touch to any outfit and I just think they’re fun.

Latest dinner obsession: pineapple fried quinoa.

I hope I never get sick of this dinner, because it is just so damn good! I think if I keep mixing around the ingredients, I could eat this forever. I’ve had it three times since last Wednesday and each time it’s been a little bit different. One time I topped it with peanut flour paste and had red cabbage and kale in it, then I had cauliflower in it and the other time I had sweet potato chunks and kale in it. Sooooooo good, so easy.

With gorgeous weather like this, I can’t complain too much.

If you’ve never been to Colorado, you probably think we’re the land of snow and cold, at least in the fall and winter. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the mountains get dumped on but here on the Front Range, we get temps in the 60s into November and December sometimes (I remember a couple of days this past January that were nearly 70!). We almost never get a white Christmas (we’re more likely to get a white Easter) and Thanksgiving Day is usually pretty warm. It’s been sunny and gorgeous all week and I’m loving it. As much as I want to move somewhere like California or Arizona for even warmer weather, I do love it here. And I get to see the beautiful mountains every day!

Can you believe I’m just trying spaghetti squash now? Crazy talk.

Guys. Why did I never try spaghetti squash until now? It’s so good, and really interesting. I like pasta and noodle dishes, but it’s all about the sauce and toppings. Spag squash makes for a great noodle replacement because it’s a fiber-filled veggie with a light taste that goes with red sauce, Asian sauces and pretty much anything. This version featured cauliflower, a spicy peanut flour-based sauce and sprouted pumpkin seeds. Gooooooooood stuff!

My latest lotion obsession: BBW sweet cinnamon pumpkin.

I go crazy over seasonal scented lotions. Bath and Body Works is my lifesaver–they have so many yummy scents at a decent price and they introduce new ones all the time. This one was new this year, and I hope they never stop making it. It’s just great, period. Please go smell this now if you haven’t.

Do you like seasonal products? What’s the longest paper you’ve ever had to write?