Saturday Seven: Good Things Come in Threes

Hi everyone! So here we are again at the end of another week…and it’s almost halfway through April! I feel like I’ve said this a million times before, but time is really flying by! It’s almost kinda scary, considering how much stuff I still have to finish before I can say adios to this semester. Oh well, that’s pretty much the status quo for the end of any semester.

I haven’t done a Saturday Seven in…um, 2 months?! Yeah, let’s fix that right now!

1. The countdown is SO on!

I'm hoping this doesn't happen (photo from here).

As the title of this post suggests, there are only 3 weeks left in my semester. Technically, there are 4, but I only have one real final (the rest are papers or projects, which I kinda prefer) so I’m planning on peacing out the weekend before finals and just popping back up here on that Thursday to take that final. This is the first time I’ve ever had only one final in my college career so I am definitely going to appreciate it! Plus going home a few days early is always a plus.

2. I have a shopping addiction…

Obviously I suck at being creative!

Online shopping, that is. It’s where I get all these new-to-me food products that I never seen in stores or that are a little too expensive when I do see them. The latest purchases are from Amazon, where I got some Vega vanilla almondilla shake and go protein powder, xanthan gum and liquid vanilla stevia, all for under $40 and free shipping! I’m really excited to try the Vega powder because I’ve been on the hunt for some good, fairly inexpensive vegan protein powder that is free of soy protein, and this fits the bill! The xanthan gum is something I’ve been wanting for awhile, after seeing everyone post amazing-looking, super thick smoothies. And the stevia I’ve had before, but now it’s in a bigger bottle so I’ll get to use it more.

3. I’m actually being creative with my hair

I'm lovin' the side ponytail lately!

I almost never, I repeat NEVER put my hair up. But three times in the past week, I’ve put it in a side ponytail. Who am I? Twice this last week, it was curly (and in a side pony one of those days), then it was wavy for two days and finally straight for two days (once as a side pony). It’s actually been fun switching up my hairstyles, because I used to only have it wavy or straight, and down. I’m going to experiment with a side braid next.

4. It’s supposed to SNOW this weekend

I'm not looking forward to this again!

I already know that Colorado is a bizarre state, after living here for 17 years of my life. But this unusually warm spring has thrown me for a loop, and now I’m expecting it to continue to stay warm until October. Yeah, too bad it’s still April, one of the snowiest months here. We don’t get spring showers, we get spring blizzards. Luckily they are usually short-lived, and warmer temps return the next day, but snow is still no fun.

5. I’m becoming a Larabar lover

My second-ever Larabar...almost as good as the first.

I used to say I wasn’t a fan of Larabars–not sure why, as I’d never tried them before a couple of weeks ago. But I actually do love ’em…a lot! So far, I’ve tried the cappuccino (mmmm!) and the chocolate chip brownie, which reminded me of a chocolate brownie Pure bar, except with the addition of fair trade chocolate chips. It was good, but I think I’d stick with the Pure bar version in the future, since it has more protein. That’s my only complaint–most Larabar flavors have barely any protein. But I think some of the more unique flavors might be worth the lack of protein, and a few actually do have 5-7 grams, so it’s not too big of an issue. I just love how simple they are, yet really tasty!

6. I’m really missing the food at home

One of my favorite lunches over spring break: curried sweet potato pinto burger, kale chips, fresh mango.

Yeah, dorm room food isn’t cutting it anymore. Every time I go home for the weekend, I remember how much I love being able to cook for myself. And no, the microwave and blender don’t count. This is another big reason why I’m so ready for it to be summer–I can finally cook again. Plus I love summery foods, like berries, asparagus (okay, this is more springy but whatevs) and grilled veggie burgers so that makes cooking even more exciting.

7. I’m all ready for next semester

Registering for classes is always really stressful, but it wasn't too awful this time around.

Next semester is going to be SO different than my past 4 semesters have been. Mostly because I’ll be living off-campus for the first time, and I’ll be taking the bus everyday to classes. So I’ve gotta learn the bus routes and schedules. I also tried to schedule my classes in a way that would either give me big breaks (so I can catch a bus back to my apartment) or really small breaks so I can stay on campus in between them. I’ll definitely have to do more meal planning, even more than I already do with my current schedule, but I’m excited for a change. I think I’ll feel even more independent than I currently do.

Do you like to change up your hairstyles? What’s your favorite or least favorite Larabar flavor?

Christmas Came Early!

Hi everyone! I can’t believe how close we are to Christmas, it’s craaaaaaaazy! I am so excited for the big day, of course, but also to finally be free of school. I have one more final tomorrow afternoon and then I’m home free–literally! College is super awesome because they give you a month off. Honestly, that’s all I really want for Christmas, but some presents are a nice bonus 😉

Because I’m obviously in the Christmas spirit, I decided to share a few things from my life lately that are somewhat holiday-related. First up is (part of) a survey, from  Alexandra and Tara. I love doing surveys and a Christmas one is even better! I kinda shortened it so this post wouldn’t be quite as monstrous. I also was awarded the Versatile Blogger award by Lindsay, which was super sweet of her, and since I’m doing this survey, it kinda counts as my seven random facts, right? Either that or I’m just too lazy to come up with seven more things about me 😀

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate?

I’m gonna go with eggnog, but I like the Silk Nog, not the regular way-too-sweet-and-rich stuff. The Nog is so good without being too much.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?

He definitely wraps them, but his handwriting and wrapping paper is different, so you can tell who it’s from 😉

3. Colored or white lights on the tree/house?

In a perfect world, I would have pink lights on everything! But I think white looks so classy and wintery on houses.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

Ermmmm, no. I always think it’s super awkward if there is mistletoe for some reason.

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Usually the weekend after Thanksgiving. We like to have them up early, and don’t take them down until sometime in January!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (besides dessert)?

Gosh, I was totally going to say a dessert since that’s the best part! We don’t always have the same thing, but I remember last year we had chili lime pasta with grilled shrimp and it was sooooo good!

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

My dad used to always read short Christmas stories to us on Christmas Eve right before we’d go to bed–I used to fall asleep though!

8. What’s on your Christmas wishlist?

Lots of clothes, because I’m a total shopaholic and also a vegan cookbook.

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve?

Nope, never! We always save them til Christmas morning and we try not to rush through opening them. We open stockings first, then have breakfast and get dressed and then finally open presents. When I was little, I always just wanted to open all my presents right away!

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

The one in my dorm is tiny, but it has ornaments that match my bedding–so it’s pink, red, purple and orange! The one in my bedroom at home has blue lights and aqua and silver and green ornaments and the main tree has a ton of random ornaments that we put up every year. My favorite one is a mini book about Humpty Dumpty–don’t ask 😉

11. Snow–love it or dread it?

I always love the first snow because it’s so beautiful, but I hate when it sticks around and gets all dirty. I also love snow on Christmas, but it rarely happens here. We almost always get snow on Easter in Colorado, though, which is super bizarre!

12. Real tree or fake tree?

We’ve never had a real tree because my mom has allergy issues with plants, but I think our fake one looks just fine! Plus we can reuse it year after year!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

I got a doll house when I was like 3 or 4 and I was soooooo excited about it! I loved playing with it for years afterwards.

14. What’s the most important thing about Christmas to you?

Being with my amazing family and remembering that Jesus is the reason for the season (so cheesy, I know, but true!)

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Peppermint bark! I’m on a mission to veganize it this year, so check back for a recipe hopefully soon! I’m also kinda in love with the festive garland bars I made over Thanksgiving break, so those are a definite must-make-again.

I think I mentioned in one of my recent posts that I got some free goodies from iHerb just for reviewing their products on my blog! How nice of them! I just got the package the other day and I swear I thought it was Christmas morning, I was so excited to rip into it!

Delicious free food is a great early Christmas present!

They sent me an Earnest Eats baked whole food bar in choco peanut butter, a jar of Artisana walnut butter with cashews and a 15-pack variety bag of organic lollipops! If that isn’t a great package I don’t know what is! The great part about all these products is that they’re completely vegan (even the lollipops) and have awesome ingredients. So far, I’ve only tried the walnut butter, which is subtle but sweet and nutty. I love having a new nut butter to add to my growing collection, which now includes crunchy almond butter, almond peanut cashew butter and homemade coffee maple pecan butter! I’ll let you guys know what I think of the other two products once I try them out. Thanks again so much, iHerb!

And finally, another early Christmas “present”…my last sweet potato! You can bet I savored this bad boy–topped with vegan chocolate chips and peanut flour paste. Chocolate chips sound like a weird topping, but trust me, it was sooooo good, since they got all melty on top of the hot potato!

Now I want to have a sweet potato again...

What was your favorite gift ever? How do you top your sweet potato?

WIAW: Early to the Party

Hi all, what is up? I’m glad you appreciated my random ramblings in my last post–finals just really make you lazy and scrambling for any blog content no matter how lame. At this point, I have 2 finals left (one today and one on Thursday) and then I’m headed home on Thursday afternoon for a month of glorious freedom! I can almost taste it 😛

My weekend was super-fun in a low-key way and definitely a preview of winter break, because I went home for an extended weekend–from Friday afternoon til Monday afternoon. Despite having to work on a stats take-home exam, I had a good time with my family and it only made me even more excited to come back home for a much longer time. I haven’t been home for more than a week since this summer so it should be amazing! A few random highlights from my weekend include hearing my church’s choir sing Christmas songs at a special service, signing my lease for an apartment next year ( 😀 ) and actually getting to cook. But you’ll get to see that part in the rest of the post!

Peas and Crayons

I decided to post my WIAW a little early this week because I’m super excited to show you all some things I made this weekend. Not recipes, per se, because they’re almost all so simple a 10 year old could make them, but I’m proud that I created and enjoyed them.

Maybe my favorite voluminous overnight oats combo to date--trail mix oats!

First up, my favorite part of the day…breakfast! You know me, can’t go a day without oats so I started my Sunday morning (and Saturday night…) off with a new oats combo–trail mix. Basically, I made my usual 1/4 cup of voluminous oats (so it really makes a fluffy 1/2 cup) and in the morning I heated it up and topped it with a pinch of chopped pecans (maybe my new fave nut?), a little bit of Whole Foods kettle corn, a couple of vegan chocolate chips and a bunch of raisins. The chocolate melted a little which made the combo even yummier. This is a definite keeper–simple, yet really tasty! And you can customize the trail mix topper any way you like, I personally love the chocolate/nut/dried fruit combo and the sweet-saltiness of the kettle corn added a little something extra.

I'm really in the Christmas mood, obviously.

This is obviously not food, but a picture I took of our big kitchen window that I wrote on. We just got a new dryer and it filled the house with steam, so the windows fogged up. I am definitely a 5 year old, so I couldn’t resist writing on the window. My mom came and wiped it off of course, but I had to snap a pic first!

Fancy pumpkin pecan pie s'mores.

My creativity really got away from me making s’mores this weekend. I can’t wait to find vegan marshmallows to really take this over the top, as the marshmallows I had were too hard and I ended up scraping them off the graham and eating the s’mores sans marshmallow. But basically, I took the pumpkin s’more recipe and added chopped pecans to it. It turned out amazing and really amped up the basic s’more to a whole new level. Try it, you won’t regret it. And I will be coming up with even more crazy s’mores ideas, so stay tuned!

Staying home alone makes me resort to lame photo shoots with myself. No shame.

I stayed home alone on Monday, since my sister had school and my parents had work so what did I do? Besides whip up a batch of homemade nut butter (hold on, it’s coming right up!), I also had an impromptu iPod touch photo shoot with my lovely self. I love my iPod because it has the dual camera, so I can see what I look like before I snap the picture. Basically, I am obsessed with weird random selfies that I sometimes edit with Instagram. I obviously have no life 😉

Coffee maple pecan volume oats...try saying that three times fast!

The new oats combos continued with this baby, which wasn’t quite as good as the trail mix kind, but it’s a work in progress. I need to find some way to keep the drizzled maple syrup from getting mixed in with the oats before I mix it in. But it’s a delicious combo anyways.

The coffee maple pecan trend continues with...homemade coffee maple pecan butter!

Now for what you’ve all been waiting for…the homemade nut butter recipe! I’ve always wanted to make a nut butter at home, but I never got the opportunity until now! I used up the chopped pecans to create this deliciousness, which is nice and sweet with a touch of bitterness from the coffee. But trust me, it’s good…I almost can’t wait until Thursday night to enjoy it again!

Coffee Maple Pecan Butter (vegan, makes 1/3 cup)

3/4 cup chopped pecans, raw or toasted

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp instant coffee powder (I used Starbucks VIA mocha)

Pulse pecans in a food processor for 5-1o minutes, until smooth and buttery. Add in maple and pulse til combined. Add in coffee powder until all ingredients are mixed. Serve on fruit (apples or bananas would go well) or right off the spoon 😀

Each tablespoon of the pecan butter has about 115 calories, which is pretty comparable to most flavored nut butters. Best of all, it’s really yummy, unique and super simple to make!

What kind of nut butter combo would you make? What kind of flavor combo would make a perfect s’more?

Saturday Seven: Sick of School

Aren’t you all pumped that it’s the weekend? To be honest, I’m actually not…because I have a lot to do this weekend, like a mini take home exam, making flash cards, a stats lab, working on a portfolio for my newswriting class and a meeting for a project that we’re presenting on Monday. So yeah, not the most fun weekend of my life, plus I am just itching to finish up this semester. Only 9 more full days on campus before I can leave for winter break–wahoo!

I think the worst time of any school year is coming back from Thanksgiving break. I got a week off from school, got to chill at home and enjoy a few shopping trips and Starbucks runs, as well as a fully stocked kitchen. Break went by wayyyyyy too fast, and then I find myself back at school, with three weeks left in the semester before an even longer break. By the time I got back, I was so used to being on break that it felt so weird to have to come back to school, but not in a good way like after summer break. More like a “I just can’t wait to be done” kind of way. Now that a week’s gone by, it’s back to normal for the most part, but I still can’t wait to be done with this semester. I remember back in elementary school when we used to have class parties and cookie exchanges right before Christmas break. Now it’s finals time, along with tons of projects and what-not. So stressful.

I have a week left of classes, which includes one random final thrown in there and a project presentation, then I’m supposed to be headed home for an extended weekend so my wonderful daddy can help me with my stats take-home final and then it’s back to campus for 3 days to finish up finals. Whew, I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it! Anyways, this edition of Saturday Seven is all about random things that are (somewhat) related to the end of the semester, so enjoy!

1. Why doesn’t Colorado have a Trader Joes?

I need these in my life ASAP!

I mean, really?! This is what I’m missing out on? Come on Colorado, you’re a beautiful state and all but you’re killing me with the lack of Trader Joes. And by that I mean, there are literally none in the entire state. I keep reading about all these wonderful-sounding seasonal TJs products on practically every blog, and I’m drooling in jealousy over here. Sometimes people say they rarely go to TJs because it’s like 90 minutes away from home or something–I am so deprived that I would gladly travel that distance to get my hands on these Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, as well as the entire contents of the store. However, I did join the Facebook group Coloradoans for Trader Joe’s, so we’ll see where that goes…

2. Just call me a master decorator…

Isn't it purty, especially with all the snow outside? The stupid light reflection ruins it though.

…Or just tell me to keep my day job, since I obviously am no Martha Stewart. I just wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to my room, so stringing Christmas lights and sticking window clings was the best I could do. Oh, and I also have a mini Christmas tree, decked out in the colors of my room (purple, pink and orange). Maybe I am an expert after all!

3. Pandora is my new best friend

I'm loving the Christmas music playlists!

Who needs someone to talk to when you have an amazing app that plays the music you want to hear? When thinking about finals is putting me in a craptastic mood, I just turn on a little Christmas music and I’m instantly 10 times better. And it’s putting me in the Christmas spirit (the big day, btw, is in 3 weeks!)

4. Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend and I have a little fling going on

Once I dump a bazillion packets of Truvia in you, you actually taste delicious.

I bought some Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend 2011 on a whim, having no idea what it’d taste like. I live on instant coffee when I’m at school, with no easy access to a real ‘bucks, and come finals time, it’s even worse. I first tried it at home, and couldn’t stomach it. I’m used to their instant coffee packets that have a little sugar and flavoring already blended in. This is just straight-up ground coffee, which I’ve basically never had before. I thought these would go to waste, until I put 3 packets of Truvia in a cup and it turned out pretty good. I could still taste the coffee, and this particular blend has actually grown on me, but it wasn’t so bitter. I’m planning on trying it with a little mint chocolate soy milk, which will hopefully be even better. Here’s to our newfound relationship, Christmas Blend!

5. My planner is becoming one big countdown book 

This is just one of many!

You do not want to know how many pages are devoted to counting down to break. I have a count down for every day on the daily part of the planner, plus several in the extra pages, including how many weekends left on campus and how many class hours are left. I am a desperate woman with too much time on my hands, that’s for sure! Except scratch that last part, I don’t have that much time to waste but I do it anyway. Sorryimnotsorry.

6. Why does every little thing become so stressful around finals time?

Just don't be this girl!

The stupidest things ever are stressing me out right now. Like I opened my fridge door and as usual, all the stuff in the door flew out, including my mint chocolate soymilk, which ended up spilling all over the floor. Awesome. I practically had a meltdown about it, and there’s still a stain on the carpet because I was too stressed out to properly clean it up. Or when my purple pen stopped working the other day, I almost teared up. It’s just a stupid pen. But really, the littlest stuff sets me off right now. You’ve been warned.

7. I miss my sweet potatoes

'Nuff said.

I’ve mentioned the apparent sweet potato shortage in my area before, but coming back from Thanksgiving break with only one sweet potato with me is a crime. Considering I enjoyed one probably 4 times over break just makes me miss them even more. I’ve only got one, so I’ve gotta make it count. Wow, how pathetic am I?

What little things have been stressing you out? What is your favorite TJs product (if you have one near you) or what would be your favorite product (if you had one near you)?