Four Questions (& a return to blogging)

Wow, it’s been both a long and short 2 months since I last posted! Life has been truckin’ right along — work has been…well, work…but I’ve  also had some really nice weekends. Since my last post, I’ve been transitioned to working Monday  through Friday so now I get actual weekend days off, which is a blessing and a curse.

Instead of trying to catch y’all up on the past 2 months,  why don’t I just share a fun and easy survey that I’ve seen floating around. At this point, I’m just trying to get through the last 3 days of work this week (no work on Christmas, which is lucky for me) and then flying home Saturday morning. Better late than never, right? So here’s something quick to get me back into blogging!

4 Names People Call Me Other Than My Real Name
1. Ash (a lot of people)
2. Sweet-O’s (my mom)
3. Sissy Fishy (my sister)
4. Ass (my best friend…it’s a long story haha)

4 Jobs I’ve Had
1. Managing editor for monthly newsletter for college faculty
2. Reporter intern at local TV station (unpaid)
3. Weather intern at local TV station (also unpaid, but I loved it)
4. News producer at NBC affiliate station (first ‘real’ job)

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First day on the job back in April (when I was still blonde)

4 Movies I’ve Seen More Than Once
1. Mean Girls (I quote it all the time with my sister)
2. Devil Wears Prada (probably my favorite)
3. A Christmas Story (the BEST Christmas movie)
4. 1776 (my favorite movie-musical…history nerd alert)

4 Books I’d Recommend
1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
2. A Series of Unfortunate Events series
3. Any Dave Barry books (he’s so funny)
4. Peace, Love & Baby Ducks (reminds me of my relationship with my sis)

4 Places I’ve Lived
1. Phoenix, AZ (where I was born)
2. Colorado Springs, CO (age 2 to 18)
3. Fort Collins, CO (age 18 to 21…aka college)
4. Tulsa, OK (since April of this year)

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I still want to move back to my desert home.

4 Places I’ve Been
1. San Francisco (a mission trip in HS…but now I wanna live there)
2. Salt Lake City (to visit my bestie in October)
3. Galveston, TX (a few times since my aunt and uncle live in Houston)
4. Orlando (Disney World back in 2006)

4 Places I’d Rather Be
1. California
2. The mountains
3. Home in Colorado
4. On vacation anywhere

4 Things I Don’t Eat
1. Meat, dairy, eggs (the obvious)
2. Pears
3. Tomatoes
4. Mushrooms

4 of My Favorite Foods
1. Spinach
2. Banana softserve
3. Vegan protein powder (specifically Sunwarrior and Garden of Life)
4. Cupcakes

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Worth the 2 hour drive to OKC for these vegan babies.

4 TV Shows I Watch
1. New Girl (loveeeee Jess Day, aka Zooey Deschanel)
2. Portlandia (Fred Armisen is the best)
3. Saturday Night Live
4. The Carrie Diaries (why only 2 seasons?)

4 Things I’m Looking Forward to Next Year
1. More outdoor running (I hope to keep doing it through winter)
2. Getting a new job/moving (I currently have a love/hate relationship with my current job and I hope by mid 2015 I will be in one I actually love and living in another state)
3. Possibly taking more trips (having a job=money and I want to spend it on travel)
4. Center of the Universe festival in July (if I’m still in Tulsa)

4 Things I’m Always Saying
1. Really?
2. That’s so cool
3. I can’t wait
4. So weird

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

Return to the Mountains+Blog Updates

Wow it’s been awhile since I last posted! Honestly the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, sometimes great and sometimes not so good.

First I want to (briefly) recap my long weekend trip to Salt Lake City. My best friend just moved there in August and though we now live even further apart than when she was still in Colorado, I knew I wanted to go see her. And bonus, I got to explore a new-to-me city. SLC is a lot more spread out than I was picturing it. My friend lives in a suburb that’s pretty far away from downtown so I didn’t get to see that area but we did drive all over town.

It was also my first time flying by myself, aka without my parents or in a group. I was nervous but mostly excited because I love airline travel. I don’t get to do it nearly enough (usually just once or twice a year) and I think that might be why I love it. Or I’m just crazy 😉 I did get to meet my mom at DIA where I had a 3 1/2 hour layover on the way out and that was nice to see her for a couple of hours. She was so great to drive an hour each way early in the morning to see me, but we hadn’t seen each other since late July so it was a nice surprise. My flights there and back were great and I got the hang of putting my carry-on suitcase up in the overhead compartments. That was legitimately my biggest concern…I thought I’d be that girl who couldn’t even lift her own bag over her head but it wasn’t that awkward. And my seatmates weren’t totally annoying so that was good too.

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No one's gonna confuse this bag for their own.

Salt Lake City reminds me a lot of my Colorado hometown, with lots of mountains but in SLC they surround the city instead of just being on the west side. And of course, the lake was unreal. My friend told me it was actually pretty dried out, but it was still huge and beautiful. I just have a love for mountains and water.

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I could get used to this view...

As far as what we did from Friday to Tuesday, it was basically eating (at Noodles & Co because we don’t have it in OK…and incredible sushi…and making tofu at her apartment), manicures, shopping, sleeping in, hiking, walking her dog, seeing a musical, more shopping, movie watching, a wine+painting class, even more shopping, Starbucks, seeing the lake (and me falling in…) and more eating. So basically all the best things.

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Bestie time is the best time.

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Random, but the sushi place had the best brussels sprouts ever!

Getting back into a normal routine after that was hardddddddd. Making it even harder was the fact that my workplace is now even more understaffed and its not even funny anymore. So basically I came back and had to work 9 days straight. Bleh. The first few days were a total struggle and I’ve seriously wondered if I’m going to even stay in the TV world for long. I don’t want to say bad things about my employer, but lets just say things are going downhill fast and everyone knows it but the management. The smart people leave ASAP and the rest of us are stuck there until we can do the same.

I’ve come to realize that I don’t want my job to be my life. I truly do enjoy working, but I think I’d actually like it more if I didn’t feel so overworked, stressed and taken advantage of. I also can say that I don’t really have enough of a passion for the news to want to keep doing it. I would much rather be involved in some kind of entertainment show or working for a fashion magazine or something. TV seems glamorous but behind the scenes, it really sucks sometimes.

So where am I going with this? Basically I’m kind of taking a step back from the blog. I enjoy doing this, but I just can’t promise the time that I used to spend on it. Work is all about writing, and at the end of the day I don’t really want to write anymore. Plus the time I spend away from work is either sleeping (I work overnights so I sleep until the early afternoon), running/working out or just chilling right before work. Plus I feel like talking all about food isn’t really me anymore. In case you haven’t noticed, my Instagram has turned into kind of a fashion space, and I really love that. It’s one of my biggest passions, and I don’t do enough of it on here.

I’m not saying goodbye to AlmostVegGirlie right now, just more like I can’t promise weekly posts anymore. Being an adult with a full-time job and other extracurricular priorities has to take precedence for now. And if you can’t get enough of me, I’m still active on Instagram so follow me on over there!

Have you had to take a blog break? What have you been up to lately….I miss catching up with y’all!

25 Things

Y’all know by now I love a good survey! They’re fun, easy and I think they give you a good glimpse into my life behind the blog. So here’s one I’ve been seeing around a lot lately…it’s a little different than the usual survey but I really like it!

1. I’m happiest when…I can spend some time outside, preferably with my family (which is all too rare these days). Whether it’s being active by hiking or running or just hanging out by a pool or lake, I just love being outdoors.

2. Especially if it…is super hot out! I’m a total crazy who loves it when it’s in the 90s. As long as it isn’t humid, I’m just fine. Which is why I’m seriously considering a move to AZ or southern CA as soon as possible.

I seriously miss Phoenix...

I seriously miss Phoenix…

3. I’ve always wanted to…visit a Caribbean island. I’ve still yet to travel outside the U.S., and islands just seem so fun. Plus I want some really cool photos of the gorgeous ocean.

4. My family and I…are still close even though I live nearly 700 miles away. I still text my mom daily, Snapchat with my sister frequently, tell my dad to watch my newscasts and try to Skype them when I can. I love being so independent, but I love being connected to my fam.

5. I was a terrible…volleyball player. I dreaded the VB rotation in P.E. class because I could never figure out how to serve a ball over the net. Ironically, my best friend convinced me to join her intramural volleyball team during my last semester of college and it was actually fun because we all kinda sucked.

6. My first job was…technically the one I’m in now, as an associate producer (slash actual producer sometimes) at a TV station. But I did get paid for my “first” job as an editor for a monthly campus newsletter, so I guess that counts. Even though I worked maybe 10 hours per week!

7. I could probably eat ____ everyday…sweet potato fries. For some reason, they’re one of the few things I actually crave, probably because I don’t get to enjoy them that much. And I don’t mean homemade sweet potato fries that are just cut up sweet potatoes that are baked. I mean the crispy kind, preferably the ones at Native Foods!

Even 'raw' sweet potato fries are good!

Even ‘raw’ sweet potato fries are good!

8. I stole…stevia packets from a restaurant once. Hey, most places only have the crappy artificial stuff, so you gotta stock up when you can!

9. I was born on the same day as…Maya Rudolph (love her), A-Rod and Bugs Bunny.

10. My all-time favorite film is…The Devil Wears Prada. No freaking question. Runner-up: Mean Girls. I can quote that movie all day long.

11. I do a pretty mean…duck face. I’m a master of the pout, because I don’t really love my open-mouthed smile. Trust me, I don’t (think) I look like a preteen who’s trying to hard. It’s just a subtle pout…

Maybe this isn't considered a duck face?

Maybe this isn’t considered a duck face?

12. I’m still mad…I didn’t figure out I wanted to be a meteorologist until I already started majoring in journalism. I’ve always loved weather, but I thought the news was calling me. Yeah…no. Even though I know a meteorology degree would be tough (because math is not my strong suit — at least not calculus), it would be more in line with what I want.

13. I met my best friend…when I was three years old. Yes, my BFF is my little sister. I have another best friend (the one I mentioned above) but my sister is my forever friend.

Love this lady.

Love this lady.

14. I always knew I wanted…to move away from home. I know a lot of people tend to stay pretty close to where they grew up. I always find it funny when people ask me why I moved to Oklahoma — like if I have relatives here or anything. Nope, it was just for a job and it’s been a pretty fun adventure so far. I don’t love my job but I do like my new city and I’m excited to keep exploring new cities and states. Who knows where I may end up!

15. I’m not afraid to…cry in front of people. I’m a pretty emotional girl (well, when I take things personally) and I usually keep it together, but I’m okay with crying if the situation calls for it. I don’t really cry in public per se, just in front of friends and family.

16. I make the best…raw desserts. I’ve given up on baking but I still have a sweet tooth so I try to tame it with homemade (okay…sometimes store bought) raw treats. They’re always pretty simple, but somehow taste incredible.

One of the best raw desserts I've made...the raw caramel pecan pie.

One of the best raw desserts I’ve made…the raw caramel pecan pie.

17. I have almost no…coordination. I used to be even more of a klutz (in college, I’d often trip on the sidewalk while walking to class!) but I still sometimes get the feeling I’m going to stumble and sometimes actually do. Not sure why this is but it can be a little embarrassing nearly tripping on a crack…or wiping out on a run (true story).

18. I always cry when…I’m frustrated and tired. Lately this has been happening related to work. And I don’t cry at work, just when I’m venting on the phone with my mom. Having an ever-changing schedule and crazy demands can be a little tiring.

19. I’m now…a new(ish) runner…but I hope to…build up my endurance. I keep having annoying minor injuries that really slow my progress and I’m still only able to run a couple of miles per day but every pain free run is a success in my book.

20. I spent four years…of high school dealing with disordered eating. I always say my ED began my freshman year, when I was in health class and learned about nutrition. For whatever reason, something clicked and I began to get obsessive over it. By junior year, I was full-blown anorexic and the rest of high school was a blur of starting recovery and not partaking in traditional high school things. I don’t really regret missing out, because college was so much better for me, but having an ED kind of changed things for me.

I may have never gone to the prom but I went to many father-daughter dances with my dad (and sister).

I may have never gone to the prom but I went to many father-daughter dances with my dad (and sister).

21. I wish my folks…would be more into healthy eating. I’m glad they’re willing to visit vegan restaurants with me, but I know that now that I’m not near them, their eating habits are more in line with most Americans. They’re not horribly unhealthy, but they could always be better and I wish I knew how to encourage them to change without being pushy.

22. At age 5, I was deeply in love with…Beanie Babies, plastic snakes (don’t ask!) and re-enacting the Winnie the Pooh books with my dad. Typical kid, right 😉

I also loved dance recitals.

I also loved dance recitals.

23. I believe if everyone…considered how their actions affect others…the world would be a better place. Enough said!

24. I can’t stand…humidity. The sticky feeling, the weird smell, how wet it makes everything. It’s all so gross.

25. Whenever…Friends…is on, I’ll watch. That and Seinfeld are my two favorite ‘classic’ TV shows.

What things did you love when you were 5? What’s a food you could eat every day?

Throwback Thursday: My First Posts

Throwback Thursdays are still a thing, right? I love finding old pics and sharing them on Instagram. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes cute, but always fun to look back on the past.

As of May 24, this little blog will be 3 years old! I’ve blogged at various other blogs since 2009 but none have been maintained as regularly as AlmostVegGirlie! I almost can’t believe it’s been that long since I decided to start my first food/lifestyle blog and it’s all thanks to you lovely readers and commenters for continuing to support me and my blogging. So thanks so much! And in honor of my 3 year blogiversary coming up in the next couple of months, I thought I’d do a little Throwback Thursday to some of my earliest posts. It’s seriously SO crazy to me how much my life has changed since I started this blog, but then again, how boring would life be if it were always the same? I know a lot of people fear change, but I’ve made the choice to embrace it as much as possible. It’s just such an inevitable part of life, and it makes things interesting.

My first photo on AlmostVegGirlie. Possibly an iPod touch photo...oh how times have changed!

My first photo on AlmostVegGirlie. Possibly an iPod touch photo…oh how times have changed!

I think the WIAW party was just starting to catch on when I started blogging–it’s come so far since then! I participated in my first WIAW 2 days after I started blogging and it looks a lot different than my more recent WIAWs. For a little background, I named my blog AlmostVegGirlie because at the time, I was mostly vegetarian, but still eating some poultry/seafood. My first WIAW featured not only some very non-vegan food (Greek yogurt, ground turkey tacos) but some not so great photos either. You live and you learn! But in true HLB fashion, I did enjoy green smoothies and Ezekiel wraps.

I used to eat overnight oats daily!

I used to eat overnight oats daily!

Once I got into the blogging groove, I also discovered some HLB trends. Overnight oats was a big one. I was never an oatmeal fan, but overnight oats I could get behind! I started soaking oats in almond milk every night and dressing them up every morning with all kinds of crazy toppings. At one point, I dedicated an entire blog page to my overnight oat creations! I don’t think I’ve touched overnight oats since 2012–I got seriously burned out, and I moved on to more nutrient-packed breakfasts. Sometimes, you gotta get away from the trends.

My first selfie on AVG...certainly not the last!

My first selfie on AVG…certainly not the last!

I actually created my Instagram account way back in 2011 with my iPod touch (which I still use on a daily basis 3+ years later) but back then, I knew practically no one in the blogging world or on Insta so my account was private and I used it just to be artistic with my photos. I feel cool (in a nerdy way) that I was an early adopter of the app. According to this site, I was in the first 1.45% of Instagram users! I’m still a little obsessed with Instagram–I browse it at least once per day and I upload my own photos a few times per week. It’s such a great social media tool! And if you follow me, you’ll know that the selfie reigns supreme 😉

My first experience with the Whole Foods salad bar...and I've been addicted ever since!

My first experience with the Whole Foods salad bar…and I’ve been addicted ever since!

Blogging introduced me to the wonderful world of Whole Foods, which is both a blessing and a curse. My family shopped at Whole Foods every so often for specialty products, but it wasn’t until I discovered HLBs love for the store that I started going there regularly. Now it’s my main go-to store and their salad bar is one of my favorite ‘restaurants’. Where else can you get a random selection of vegan-friendly food for under $10? I know the salad bar isn’t exactly cheap, but for me, it often beats a meal out because they have so many more plant based options than a regular restaurant. And trust me, I have many more photos documenting my love for the WF salad bar!

An unconventional 19th birthday present--my first homegrown strawberry.

An unconventional 19th birthday present–my first homegrown strawberry.

Let’s pretend I don’t look like I’m about 12 in that picture! That was actually taken on my 19th birthday…what a youngin’! I remember being excited then because I was about a month away from living in a single dorm room for my sophomore year–no more roommates for this girl. And here I am now, a college graduate, about to really live on my own, 600 miles from my family (more on that later!).

Looking all professional for my second round of Skype interviews.

Looking all professional for my second round of Skype interviews.

It still blows my mind how much things can change in 3 years…or even in just 3 months! I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all about the future, but at the same time, I am so ready to start my new life. I really feel like an adult, and even though I know I’ll make mistakes and probably miss my old life, I’m excited for what’s to come!

What’s changed the most for you in the past few months or years?

Growing Up

Awkward pre-interview face.

Awkward pre-interview face.

My life may be just a few weeks away from changing a lot. I had my first Skype interview late last week with a TV station in Tulsa, OK and then a phone interview with a weather app start-up company in the Bay Area the other day. I know I was complaining 2 months ago about how my job search was going nowhere but now I suddenly have interviews for two different jobs in just a few days. Crazy how life works sometimes!

I don’t want to talk too much about the jobs because nothing is close to finalized on either one yet but it got me thinking about how I’ve been growing up a lot lately. First, I graduated from college in December. I remember when college seemed so far away, let alone graduating college and going out into the real world.

The job search has been a whole other story. I’ve gone through times of excitement, finding jobs I’d hope I’d get. I went through frustration and disappointment when I didn’t hear back from any of the jobs I’d applied to. And now I’m kind of in a state of disbelief, as I consider that I could very well be moving to another state & another time zone very soon and starting my first job and really figuring out where to go with my life.

And then just other things in my life are changing, and helping me grow up. I’m apartment hunting, trying to figure out a budget for when I have a job, finding more confidence in myself, and maturing in my relationship with my parents & sister. I had some rough times last weekend, a few heart-to-hearts and I realized that my parents are still very worried about me with my thoughts towards food & my body. Remember my Fully Raw February challenge? That came to an end a little sooner than I’d thought due to getting sick and having my mom tell me that she thought I was being restrictive. I felt mostly really great eating raw but I realized I missed some things (namely peanut flour, lentils and sweet potatoes!) and having some digestive issues made me realize that I couldn’t sacrifice my health just to stick to a way of eating that I thought was ideal. I’m still eating somewhat raw, but being less restrictive and trying to figure out how to reincorporate foods I used to love while not feeling afraid of eating them. I made sweet potato+kale enchiladas with my dad the other night and I didn’t feel too guilty for eating corn tortillas or cooked food!

A [mostly] raw lunch that I felt good about eating.

A [mostly] raw lunch that I felt good about eating.

Things are changing over here, so there might be some changes coming to the blog too. I can’t promise any consistency in my posting, but I want to share updates a few times a week and keep up with my favorite blogs. I hope you’re all okay with that!

Any big changes going on in your life right now or soon?

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? 

Happiness

What is happiness? I think it means different things for everyone, but there are some universal things that make most of us happy in some way or another. With that, I’m sharing a fun little list Emily posted the other day…feel free to repost with your own answers!

8 Things Every Happy Woman Should Have 

  • A go-to drink: For me, it’s sangrias (love the white wine versions especially), cider on the rocks (I had a really good one a few weeks ago) and homemade margs. And for daily drinks, water always.
  • A go-to karaoke song: Anything Lady Gaga. Her songs just pump me up like no other.
  • A uniform: colored skinny jeans (especially burgundy), faux leather jacket, riding boots, statement necklace or loop scarf
  • A hair stylist they love: I’ve switched stylists a lot over the years, so I’m going to change this one to hair style. I love my hair in big curls with full bangs.
  • An exercise routine: At home workouts 7 days per week, with some walking thrown in as well.
  • A hobby: Grocery/clothes shopping, blogging, yoga, cooking.
  • A best friend: my sister, always and forever. And at the moment, a really close friend I’ve made through working together and having classes together. I’m going to miss her a LOT when I graduate but we’re hoping someday we end up at the same TV station!
  • A healthy sense of self: I feel like I’ve really grown a lot in the past year. Maybe it’s partly because I’m almost a college grad (scary!) but I’ve been maturing and becoming more independent and focusing less on things I used to freak out about. I can’t say I don’t worry about things anymore, but I’m trying to let life happen and just being okay with whatever comes my way. And I’m excited for the future.
Selfies make me feel good, too #noshame.

Selfies make me feel good, too #noshame.

What makes YOU happy?