Feeling 22

Wow, where does the time go? I hate saying it because it’s such a cliche, but I can’t believe it’s August. Mostly because that means my birthday has come and gone…and I guess it’s time to talk about it!

The last four days of my birthday week were the best four days I’ve had in awhile. My family drove 10+ hours each way from Colorado to spend 5 days with me and I had so much fun. I honestly would not have wanted to spend my birthday any other way. And yes, I am feeling 22 😉

I don’t want to bore you with long descriptions of what went down (and believe me, I could go on and on) but I’ll just share some highlights of each day through pictures.

Thursday

My last day of work before an extended  (4 day) weekend. I spent the afternoon running errands, treating myself to an amazing green smoothie and getting my place ready for the fam. Once they got here, we went out to eat at Freebirds, a Chipotle-like place.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag -- local and DELICIOUS.

This stuff is worth the $7 price tag — local and DELICIOUS.

 

Friday

Running some errands in the morning, pool time and then getting ready for the main event: Center of the Universe. I was SO excited for this alt rock music festival. It was freakin’ hot but Fitz and the Tantrums were incredible, 21 Pilots was also pretty cool (AWOLNATION was there too but we left during their set) and the falafel I got for dinner was amazing.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

Getting ready for Fitz with my sissy.

High-tech wristbands.

High-tech wristbands.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

Watching local act Fiawna Forte from afar.

"Street" falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

“Street” falafel, cucumber salad, spicy mango sauce, hummus and cabbage slaw for dinner in the hot hot sun.

Right next to the famous Cain's ballroom.

Right next to the famous Cain’s ballroom.

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live :)

The main attraction: Fitz and the Tantrums! So amazing live 🙂

 

Saturday

Pool time was a big theme for the day, as well as buying some fun apartment decorations for me. We did some tourist-y sightseeing around town at some landmarks. Dinner was at a taco place downtown — I got some tasty fried avocado tacos with black beans and these delicious roasted sweet potatoes. And then some Netflix and games at my apartment with the fam.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Pretty flowers on a tree.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

Largest praying hands in the world on the campus of ORU.

The Golden Driller.

The Golden Driller.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It's a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

The real Center of the Universe, for which the music festival was named. It’s a spot in the middle of a bridge where your voice echoes in a really cool way.

Sunday

The big day! I really wanted to go for a hike, so we hit Turkey Mountain in the morning for a quick hike with some great views of the city. More pool time since it was so hot and then getting ready for dinner at Laffa, a cool Mediterranean place downtown. I finally got the sweet potato fries I’ve been craving for months! And for the birthday dessert, we stopped at Whole Foods (of course) and then celebrated back home with a few presents (think owl-themed stuff mostly) and games…and more pool time.  

Awww, love this sign.

Awww, love this sign.

Love this view.

Love this view.

My "I need to go hiking more" face.

My “I need to go hiking more” face.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Getting ready for the big birthday dinner.

Sister selfie.

Sister selfie.

This was called "Forbidden Fruit" and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn't artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

This was called “Forbidden Fruit” and it was incredible. It tasted like fruit punch but it wasn’t artificial at all and had some kind of hibiscus-infused vodka in it.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn't GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

My dinner spread. Laffa flatbread (which I LOVED, even though it wasn’t GF), harissa carrots, cabbage slaw, red pepper hummus and TONS of unpictured sweet potato fries stolen from my dad.

Feeling 22!

Feeling 22!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

These candles were too cute to throw away!

Monday

I was dreading this day because it was the last full day my family was here. But it was a blast! We went to the zoo and literally spent 4 or 5 hours wandering around checking out all the animals and exhibits. It was basically the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to! I got to see tons of my favorite animal — flamingos! And then it was off to a sushi place for dinner (I found a new go-to). 

Really colorful fish.

Really colorful fish.

Polka dotted lizard.

Polka dotted lizard.

My favorite <3

My favorite ❤

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

This giraffe totally devoured those trees.

My kind of place.

My kind of place.

What’s your favorite zoo animal? What do you like doing for your birthday? 

Birthday Week is a Thing

Can’t believe it’s been almost one year since I wrote this post. I was looking forward to my 21st birthday even more than usual, and no, it’s not because I couldn’t wait to drink legally. To be honest, I could probably count on both hands the number of drinks I’ve had since then! I have nothing against drinking, I’m just picky about my drinks (love sangria and white wine and mojitos my mom makes) and I just don’t care to do it often…it’s more of a special occasion thing for me.

Anyways, a year has come and gone and again it’s time for my birthday. The big 2-2. I might be even more excited for this one, because I will finally feel like more of an adult. I’m literally the youngest person at work, and being 22 will mean I at least seem as old as some of my similar age co-workers. And also because it’s my first birthday being away from home. I’ve always loved having a summer birthday, because it meant never having to go to school on my special day and usually getting to do something fun (and outside!) with my family. This year, my family is making the 10+ hour drive to come visit me for my birthday weekend so it feels really special.

Artsy selfies by the pool...totally necessary.

Artsy selfies by the pool…totally necessary.

So it’s officially birthday week, and how am I celebrating? I plan on doing a little something for myself every day this week. Tomorrow I’m probably going to try this new-to-me cafe and get a gluten free vegan crepe. Wednesday and Thursday I have work but after I get off on Thursday I’m going to my favorite juice cafe to get an overpriced fresh-pressed juice.  I want to get the Whole Foods salad bar sometime this week. Of course, I’m hoping to get a couple runs in there because a good run makes everything feel better. And pool time will be necessary. My fam gets here Thursday night and from there birthday week really gets going.

An early little treat.  Mostly because it cost $5.

An early little treat. Mostly because it cost $5.

So that’s life for me right now. I will hopefully be back with a birthday weekend recap next week but in the meantime, I’m stepping away from blogging and social media to just soak in the next few days. See ya later!

Do you celebrate your birthday week? 

 

Fireworks, Food and Farmers Markets

I love long weekends! Especially in the summer — since I work full-time, it’s nice to have an extended break to enjoy the incredible weather and everything else the season has to offer.

My weekend is still going strong, but I thought I’d pop in with a few of my favorite moments from the July 4th weekend. After I got off work on Thursday morning, I didn’t really have any solid plans for my time off, other than to get in my weekly trip to Whole Foods, spend some time by the pool and go for some runs. And I ended up doing all that and more…

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Double fisting it after a hot run.

Lots of cold water is necessary after these hot runs I’ve been going on. One perk of having time off is I can go for a run earlier (like around 10 or 11) so it’s not quite as hot.

This is freaking adorable.

This is freaking adorable.

I love how Snapchat celebrates holidays — this was really cute and brightened up my morning (not that it was bad…how can it be when you have the day off?)

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

Taking advantage of July 4th deals at the mall.

I haven’t been to the main mall here since Memorial Day weekend (who am I?) so I knew it was time to return. And I scored some pretty great deals. A cute top from Abercrombie & Fitch for $10? Unheard of, except for during holiday weekends. I’m a sucker for giant purses, so I went to ALDO for my fix. And I got a push-up bandeau bra from Victoria’s Secret because I love strapless styles but this girl needs some padding #ACupProblems. I spent around $50 for all this, which is cheaper than both the top and the purse alone were originally!

My patriotic outfit.

My patriotic outfit.

I’ve seriously worn these shorts every July 4th since I got them a few years ago. I love them, and I had to take advantage of the fact that I wasn’t going to work, so I could wear weather-appropriate clothes.

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

No watermelon but cherries are patriotic, right?

My breakfast wasn’t totally patriotic, but the cherries made up for it. By Friday, I was seriously running low on food, especially produce, but I made it work. These were the last of some super cheap cherries I found at Sprouts 2 weeks ago and they were incredible!

As for my July 4th evening plans? No photo evidence because it was dark, but I drove to one of my coworkers’ homes to watch the fireworks from his place. He invited a few other people I knew from work, as well as more crazy TV people from other stations in town. It was fun to hang out for a couple hours, but the parking situation and traffic coming home was insane. It would have been an easy commute about 15 minutes up the street from me, but most of that road was blocked off and even when I was leaving around 10:45 (an hour after the fireworks wrapped up), I got caught in traffic jams on another street. Also, I had to park a couple blocks away from his house, which was fine, but walking back in the dark had me a little on edge, especially after some recent assaults across the city. But I made it safe, and my car wasn’t towed, so yay!

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

Sweet potato salad with hemp mayo.

My July 4th dinner was totally ‘Merican, but with a healthier twist. I had a weird craving for potato salad (which I don’t even like), so I decided to whip up my own version using a sweet potato, coconut ‘bacon’ and a homemade mayo made with hemp seeds/water/olive oil/spices. It turned out incredible, so I’m sharing it!

Hemp Mayo Potato Salad (vegan, gluten free, grain free)

  • 1 sweet potato, cut into small wedges (can use white potato if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sea salt, to taste
  • garlic granules, to taste
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum, to thicken
  • 2 tbsp coconut bacon (optional, but really good!)

Place cubed sweet potato in medium pot and pour water about an inch above them. Bring to a low boil; cover pot and lower heat and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until potato is fork tender (but not too soft). Drain water and set aside to cool. In a food processor, blend hemp hearts, water, salt, garlic and ACV. Add in xanthan gum if you want to thicken the mayo. Once potatoes are cool, pour mayo over them and stir in coconut bacon. Makes 1 serving. 

I'm obsessed with the farmers market.

I’m obsessed with the farmers market.

Saturday morning started early (well, if you think 8 am is early). But for good reason — I had plans to go to the farmers market! I usually only get to swing by after I get done with work, and by that time, most things are sold out. Getting to the market an hour earlier meant fewer crowds AND better selection. I got some organic potatoes, blackberries (!) and an incredible gluten free vegan cookie. I love supporting local farmers and restaurants and I hope to keep doing so throughout the season. And I WILL be back for more of those cookies 😉

Saturdays are for selfies.

Saturdays are for selfies.

No description needed…

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

Whole Foods buys (minus unpictured produce).

And after the farmers market, it was on to Whole Foods! I made my weekly restock trip, and yes, it was more expensive than I planned on, but only because I needed to buy protein powder. I actually got a good deal on that — 2 pounds for $25, when it’s normally over $40! So my grocery trips for the rest of the month should be cheaper. Doesn’t it just feel so good to have a full pantry and fridge again though?

Picnic-style leftovers.

Picnic-style leftovers.

After restocking my kitchen, Saturday’s dinner was a repeat of Friday’s but this time with some watermelon and avocado oil potato chips. If you haven’t tried these, you may not want to…because they’re addicting. I usually prefer sweet potato chips, but these are still healthy because they’re cooked in avocado oil instead of unhealthy canola or sunflower oil and the only ingredients are potatoes, avocado oil and sea salt. And paired with some picnic-style sides (the above homemade potato salad and vegan firecracker coleslaw from Whole Foods) I totally fit in with all the other people enjoying traditional July 4th meals. Except, you know, vegan and gluten free!

That's hot!

That’s hot!

My run on Sunday felt hot, and now I know why! I went around noon, and while the breeze helped, I was still a sweaty mess afterwards. When I checked my phone later, I saw the heat index was 104 degrees! Luckily it wasn’t super humid, so I spent some time poolside both Saturday and Sunday. But check it — today is supposed to be 100 degrees, so who knows what the heat index will be!

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

Nothing like ending the day with some laughs.

I have my dad to thank for getting me into Dave Barry probably a good 10 years ago (that makes me feel old). If you’ve never read him, he’s freaking hilarious and you’re missing out. I enjoyed some of his work while chillin’ on my porch waiting to Skype my parents. Best way to end my Sunday!

Is it any wonder July is my favorite month? The 4th is one of my favorite holidays (#historynerd), it feels like the essence of summer and my birthday is at the end of the month. And this year, I’m really looking forward to that. My family is driving out here for a few days and I can’t wait to be with them again after nearly 4 months without seeing them and to show them around! T-minus 20 days til the big day…

How did you enjoy your weekend? 

Liebster.

Happy Friday! I honestly feel obligated to start out a post like that, but let’s be real — I now hate it when people get all hyped up about Friday. Because Friday isn’t my Friday. It’s generally my Wednesday, so nothing to get too excited about! But I realize most people have a normal work/school schedule, so happy Friday to all of you 🙂

liebster

What is happy about today is that I was nominated by the lovely Kaila from Healthy Helper to fill out the Liebster survey. You know I love surveys, so I’m alllllll over this. Thanks Kaila!

The Rules

1) You must link back to the person who nominated you

2) You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you

3) You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following)

4) You must create 10 questions for your nominees

5) You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

Kaila’s Questions

1. What was your favorite show as a middle schooler?

Is it totally embarrassing that I still watched Arthur at that age? It was a really good show though…and in my defense, my little sister was still 7 or 8 at the time, so completely acceptable 😉

2. What season were you born in?

Summer! I’m absolutely obsessed with my birthday. I’ve never had to go to school (or work now) on my birthday and I’ve spent many birthdays at a waterpark or on vacation. Summer has always been my favorite season, and it’s partly because it’s my birthday season. Just a month and two weeks until the big day!

I just love summer!

I just love summer!

3. What Disney princess did you want to be when you were little?

I always identified with Belle, because I used to love reading (I was always in advanced reading classes as a kid and got to read all the exciting books) and I have long brown hair.

4. If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in another language, which would you choose?

Spanish. I know that sounds boring, but I took Spanish classes from second grade through my senior year of high school, and still didn’t pick up much of the language. I also want to live somewhere in the southwestern U.S., where Spanish really comes in handy!

5. If you could wear only one color or pattern for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Can you tell I love pink?

Can you tell I love pink?

Color: pink! Pattern: floral.

6. What’s your least favorite fictional couple? 

This is hard — I can’t even really think of any off hand! I guess I’ll say Chandler and Janice from Friends (still love that show!). Even though they didn’t end up together, they were totally not meant to be.

7. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

This is going to sound weird, but I’ve had a few people tell me I have a really good voice. Not singing-wise, but for talking. It makes me feel good, since I’m still chasing after my goal of becoming a TV anchor someday and having a good speaking voice is key!

8. What is the most unusual food you’ve ever eaten?

A raw enchilada at my favorite vegan spot. I don’t even know how to describe it — it was different than a regular enchi, but sooooooo much better. And the side of ‘rawfried’ beans was spot on like refried beans, but made with nuts and zucchini!

Not my picture, but they looked a lot like these!

Not my picture, but they looked a lot like these!

9. If you had to choose to lose one of the five senses, which would you choose and why?

would choose smell, but since smell and taste are connected (and I don’t wanna lose my sense of taste), I’m going to go with touch. Yeah, it’d be a little weird not to feel things, and I’d have to be careful not to get burned, but it would probably be the easiest to go without.

10. Name 3 blogs you read on a daily basis.

Hungry Hungry Hippie (even though she’s not vegan anymore, her food always looks so good and her little guy is so cute), Happy.Healthy.Life. (the most drool-worthy vegan food ever), Extra Petite (not necessarily on a daily basis, but I love getting fashion inspiration from a fellow petite lady).

Since I don’t know 10 people to tag who haven’t done this yet, I’m going to cheat and tag anyone who wants to do this…and you can just answer the same 10 questions I did!

Answer any of the above!

Currently: June

Haven’t done one of these in awhile but I thought I’d give a little insight into my life at the moment!

Current Book: Wintergirls. It’s a fictional book about eating disorders, but it feels so real to me. Too real. I devoured the book on my tablet in one day. I feel like I have to read it again just to totally pick up everything that’s going on. Definitely a chilling and potentially triggering read, but really good.

Current Music: I love The Black Keys’ new album and also Foster the People’s new one. “Best Friend” is a really fun pump-up song I plan on adding to my running playlist soon!

Current Guilty Pleasure: The new ALDO purse I bought on Memorial Day. Okay, it was on sale, but it’s still a splurge for this girl.

Current Nail Color: Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Hot Tamale.

Seen here pictured with my first Whole Foods coffee bar iced almond milk latte.

Seen here pictured with my first Whole Foods coffee bar iced almond milk latte.

Current Needs: More money (sigh), new glasses (I really want to order some totally hipster ones), face time with my family, a bang trim.

Current Foods: Homemade sweet potato hash, romaine hearts + spicy mustard, Sunwarrior protein chia pudding, flax crackers, berries.

Give me allllllll the produce.

Give me allllllll the produce.

Current Drink: ice cold water. It’s been HOT here. Not complaining!

Current Triumphs: trying to be smart with my money (I get paid every other Friday, and at the beginning of the month it’s hard to stretch the paycheck after paying for rent), getting back into running after hurting my Achilles’ tendon. I actually just started running a few weeks ago, and for now it’s more a mix of walking and running, but I really love it. Like a lot more than I thought I would. It helps that I have a gorgeous riverside trail just across the street from my apartment.

Current Bane of Existence: Humidity. I’m a total baby when it comes to this. I was born in Arizona and grew up in Colorado, aka both basically deserts. I know Oklahoma is nothing compared to Texas/Florida/etc. for humidity, but I just can’t take it. Give me dry heat any day!

Sweaty selfies are my favorite.

Sweaty selfies are my favorite.

Current Indulgence: Recent mini shopping trips on my days off. I am giving myself a clothing budget each month, but of course it’s a new month now — I can totally buy a few new things again 😉

Current Blessing: Being able to start working a different position at work. I’m still an associate producer, but I’ve been producing the midday newscast a couple of days per week and while it’s totally scary, it’s also fun learning how to do. And it beats the assignment desk any day! I could bitch go on and on about how much I hate the fact that the station I work at hasn’t hired a PT desk person yet so I can stop filling in for a position I wasn’t hired for.

Current Outfit: My new jumpsuit. I feel totally fierce in it and now I want more jumpsuits!

I tried to get creative with my outfit shot. Blame it on being basically alone at work for 8 hours.

I tried to get creative with my outfit shot. Blame it on being basically alone at work for 8 hours on a Saturday morning.

Current Excitement: My birthday in less than 2 months! Any guesses as to how old I’ll be turning? Hint: think an overplayed Taylor Swift song!

Current Link: 35 Things Only People Who Work Weird Hours Will Understand. Buzzfeed just gets me. These are some of the annoyances I have with having a weird schedule. It’s not all bad but let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not into the whole nightlife scene anyway. Basically my days consist of work, sleep, working out, laying by the pool and eating. Such is life!

What are some of your ‘currentlies’? 

 

Looking Back on 2013

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I still can’t believe it’s over, and that 2014 is just around the corner. I still didn’t feel like it was Christmas until earlier this week so it’s crazy that it went by so fast.

I’ll probably do a recap of my Christmas/New Year’s week sometime next week but for now, I wanted to share some of my favorite posts and moments from 2013. As with any year, there were some ups, some downs, but overall it was an incredible year for me for many reasons, and I’m hoping 2014 is even better!

January

I experimented with homemade donuts, I took a hiatus from WIAW and I shared my orthorexia story

Some post-holiday Christmas lights in Denver.

Some post-holiday Christmas lights in Denver.

February

I broke some fashion rulesmade some Superbowl-worthy raw jalapeno poppers and shared my thoughts on clean eating

No white after Labor Day? Pssh, I wear what I want!

No white after Labor Day? Pssh, I wear what I want!

March

I compared my meals from when I started my blog until nowI tried out grain free baking and I admitted to my struggles with the scale and mirror

My first sushi night with friends.

My first sushi night with friends.

April

I got snowed in, shared my fear of rest days and feeling full and made some homemade Easter candy.

Snow in April isn't unusual but a FOOT of snow definitely is!

Snow in April isn’t unusual but a FOOT of snow definitely is!

May

I spent some time at the poolgot all nerdy about cacao powder and started my weather internship at a local TV station. 

I also reunited with an old Starbucks favorite,, the unsweetened passion iced tea.

I also reunited with an old Starbucks favorite,, the unsweetened passion iced tea.

June

I started eating more raw foods, expressed my sorrow over a second year of wildfires in my hometown and revisited an old favorite vacation spot

More pool time for this chica.

More pool time for this chica.

July

I professed my love for homemade fooddealt with some flash flooding on the job and found that being sick can be an ED trigger

I also celebrated my 21st birthday in style, even while recovering from being sick.

I also celebrated my 21st birthday in style, even while recovering from being sick.

August

I indulged in some incredible vegan carrot cake ice creamvacationed to see family in Wisconsin and got a tablet to replace my dying laptop. 

I love airports and flying!

I love airports and flying!

September

I tried out eggs (and ended up keeping them out of my diet), gave an inside look at my fridge and struggled with senioritis

I also got my third-ever manicure.

I also got my third-ever manicure.

October

I shared my thoughts on figure competitionstalked about the ‘Ashley Diet’ and did some fun things with my family during a weekend at home

A quick and yummy lunch from a local vegan juice bar and cafe.

A quick and yummy lunch from a local vegan juice bar and cafe.

November

I let you all in on my meal prepping secrets, I talked about some girl problems and I bought a bunch of fun foodie products

I went to Native Foods for only the second time ever and I can't wait to go back again.

I went to Native Foods for only the second time ever and I can’t wait to go back again.

December

I started a no-added-sugar plan before the holidays, I got through finals week with some good food and I graduated college a semester early. 

The happy graduate.

The happy graduate.

I feel like I’ve grown up so much since the beginning of the year–I’ve conquered another year of living (mostly) independently, completed an amazing internship, got through a semester taking on a full course load, dealt with some personal struggles (some are still going on), made some great friends and most of all, started my new life as a post-grad looking for her first full-time job. It’s crazy how much things have changed since this time last year, but I wouldn’t trade any of it! I’m even more excited to take on 2014!

What were some of your most memorable moments of 2013? What are you looking forward to most in 2014? 

Forever 21

Finally 21. I usually don’t feel different on my birthday, but this year I did. I feel more mature, more independent. Not just because I can legally drink but also because I’m just a few months away from graduating college. It almost feels like yesterday that I started college as a scared little freshman, and now I’m about to embark on my adult life. Weird.

21 was a birthday I’ve only really looked forward to in the past year or so. Before that, I vowed I would never drink–because the few sips I sampled of my parents’ drinks tasted gross to me. That’s not to say that now I’m 21 I’m going to become a crazy partier. I have no desire to get drunk or drink cheap alcohol. I would much rather sip a glass of white wine while watching a movie at home, or enjoy a fun cocktail at a fancy restaurant.

I did drink on my 21st, but my birthday was more than just about the alcohol. This birthday marked the last time (most likely) I’ll be living at home to celebrate. It’s bittersweet looking back on the past 21 birthdays (obviously the first few I don’t remember)–going to waterparks on my birthday, spending it by the pool in the mountains, watching the Summer Olympics, always going out to eat with my family/friends. I’m going to miss this part of my life.

As I said, my 21st was a lot more than being able to drink in a restaurant–which I definitely did, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I started the day as usual–waking up, checking my phone, enjoying some sweet potato-Sunwarrior-banana softserve with homemade magic shell (hey, had to make it special for my birthday!) and getting ready. I did wake up still sick, with a still-sore throat and irritated eyes, but I’m sick of letting little things ruin my day, so I’m really glad I didn’t let lingering sick feelings make my birthday less than special. And what made it that much more special was the decorations I found once I got downstairs. My parents have always been great about making our birthdays feel fun, no matter what we end up doing, and I’m really grateful for that!

bday decos

Starbucks and shopping were on the agenda…with none other than my sister! Even though we’re really different, we have a lot of things in common–namely our love for the ‘bucks, shopping for clothes (especially at Forever 21), Whole Foods salad bar and alt rock music. All of which we enjoyed together on my birthday 😀 I’m seriously gonna miss that girl when I graduate and I still can’t believe she’s just a year away from college herself! Anyways, we had the best time drinking iced coffees, yelling at stupid drivers, finding the perfect things to buym laughing at the dumbest things and marveling at the giant Whole Foods we ate lunch at.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

Breakfast at home. Lunch at Whole Foods. Birthday dessert made by me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent making my own birthday dessert. I’d never done that before, but I really wanted to make something that my family and I could all enjoy together. I went with this raw coffee cheesecake and it.was.delicious. My dad even said it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever made, and he’s a total dessert freak! It’s definitely a great dessert to make for raw vegans and non-raw vegans alike, especially if you love coffee. Aaaaaaaand…I got to enjoy a piece for two nights afterwards, so a total winner!

Dinner was what I was looking forward to all day though (other than shopping obviously!) I’d been wanting to go to a tapas place in town since I’d heard they had lot of vegan options, and the fact that they’re 100% gluten free was icing on the cake. I wasn’t sure if my family’d like it, especially my sister who’s pretty picky and likes typical teen food, but they loved it just as much as I did!

Tapas are basically small dishes generally in a Mediterranean or Spanish style that are meant to be shared with others. I’d never had tapas before but since I love eating little bits of a lot of different things (and Mediterranean food!) I knew I’d like it. My family got some dishes with meat or cheese, but I was still able to try a lot of the things we got, like warm olives (love olives!), fresh garlic bread (the best garlic bread I’ve ever had, and GF too!), patatas bravas, artichoke and onion salad and a gazpacho ‘shooter’. Everything was so fresh and tasty–definitely my kinda place. And their sangria was amazing as well. We got two carafes–one was the sangria del dia, which was pineapple orange with white wine and my personal favorite, and the other was a traditional blood orange sangria with white wine. I got carded (of course) but I loved the experience of being able to enjoy a quality drink in a nice atmosphere. And sangria is now my favorite drink!

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

Gazpacho and sangria del dia.

But the best surprise of the night was when our waiter found out it was my birthday and he let me pick out a dessert for free. I had already made a dessert for us at home, but the chocolate tasting plate sounded too good to pass up, so I ended up sharing that with everyone. It was basically 8 small squares of dark chocolate ranging from 65-85% cacao and it was paired with some blueberries and Marcona almonds. It was some good chocolate, and it went really well with the berries and almonds. So glad I went for the dessert instead of opting out just because I had dessert already planned!

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

My two loves are evident in my presents: clothes and food.

Back at home, I opened presents and then we had my birthday cake cheesecake. A few of my presents were total surprises, like the denim shirtdress and Zoku pop maker, but everything I got was something I’ve been wanting for awhile. You know you’re a foodie when you get excited for a popsicle maker and vegetable peelers 😉 And the raw ‘cookbook’ has some really delicious looking recipes so hopefully I can share some with you guys soon! The purse and clothes will also get a lot  of use–this girl can never have too many purses or outfits!

My birthday was one of the best birthdays I’ve had, and it wasn’t just because I got presents I loved or because I could finally order a drink in a restaurant. It was more about the memories I made with my family and the happiness I got from being able to enjoy one last birthday with them.

What made your last birthday special? What’s your ultimate birthday dessert?