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? 

Advertisements

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? 

 

Why I’m Still a Vegan (Or, the Failed Egg Experiment)

You might be more familiar with posts of the ‘Why I’m No Longer Vegan’, or ‘Why I Eat Meat Now’ variety, and my post may seem obvious to a lot of you who’ve been following my blog since I decided to go vegan just over 2 years ago (I still ate Greek yogurt on occasion for a few months following that post, though).

However, I mentioned in a recent post that I had been experimenting with eggs lately. I bought organic liquid egg whites 2 weeks ago and local, free range whole eggs this past weekend. I used both in a few recipes, namely some coconut flour flatbread and some chocolate protein pancakes, as well as some failed experiments like plantain donuts. I liked the way the eggs worked with coconut flour (it’s a finicky flour, and doesn’t always hold together well with vegan egg replacers) but that was where the benefits ended. For starters, I wasn’t fond of the taste or texture of either the egg whites or the whole eggs in things. They made everything so moist (I prefer things like pancakes and breads dry), and I could definitely detect an eggy aftertaste, even with the whole eggs. I wanted to like the local eggs, because I like how the hens were raised and the fact that these were produced near me, but I just didn’t. To be fair, the whole eggs did taste more mild and less eggy than the whites, but they didn’t make the texture of things any better. More than that, though, my body rejected the eggs. Ever since I reintroduced eggs (somewhat when I bought paleo bread 3 weeks ago–made with egg whites–but more so when I used the egg whites/eggs), my acne’s been flaring up, without any other changes to my diet or facial routine. My usual tea tree oil remedy hasn’t been helping at all, and it’s been hurting my self-esteem to have this awful acne, especially in places where I rarely get it, like on my cheeks and chin. And, I noticed after I had the protein pancakes made with a whole egg that my stomach was really off. Total TMI, but I had bathroom issues and gas for a lot of the afternoon after eating it. Also, my energy’s been lower than usual since I reintroduced eggs. I haven’t even been eating a lot of them, probably 1 per day at most, but it’s just thrown off my energy levels, my digestive system and my facial oil production.

Cute lil egg. Didn't work for me though.

Cute lil egg. Didn’t work for me though.

Let me be honest, I really wanted eggs to work for me. I know that eggs are basically a superfood, with all sorts of health benefits, not to mention a great source of vegetarian protein. I’ve literally never been a fan of eggs since I was little–I always hated the texture and taste–so I rarely ate eggs growing up, aside from when they were baked into desserts. I wanted to try them again to see if my tastebuds had changed, and I was excited to experiment with recipes I’ve never been able to try because they rely on eggs. However, I think my body is telling me that it does NOT want me eating eggs, and I need to respect that. I think it’s very possible that I developed an intolerance or sensitivity to eggs, since it’s been so long since I’ve consumed them in any form, let alone as the main component of a dish.

These looked and smelled good, but they didn't taste great...or make me feel great.

These looked and smelled good, but they didn’t taste great…or make me feel great.

So what does the failed egg experiment mean for me? It means I’m returning to veganism. Veganism for me does mean consuming raw honey on occasion, but other than that, I’m 100% plant based. I want to go back to eating more fresh produce (I still do that, but I want to keep it up), mostly beans and legumes for protein along with raw protein powders and sticking with a high raw approach to veganism (with plenty of raw fats from avocados/coconut/nuts). I was following this for most of the summer, and I had so much energy, my skin was clear and my digestion was great for the most part. I’m a true believer in different things working for different people, and I want to make it clear that just because eggs didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they aren’t a beneficial food. If you like eggs, and they make you feel good, more power to ya. I think my body just wants to stick with a vegan diet for now, and I’m choosing to listen to that!

I'm going back to eating more of this, and less of what doesn't agree with my body (recipe to come soon).

I’m going back to eating more of this, and less of what doesn’t agree with my body (recipe to come soon).

I also want to mention that I’m not using this failed experiment as a way to be restrictive. I’ve finally moved away from calorie/macro counting, I’ve been actively trying to eat more to fuel my daily workouts and busy school schedule, and I’ve been getting better about not being so rigid with my eating routine. I’ve also been feeling less guilt over missed workouts, and going out to eat. My family’s coming up to visit me this weekend, and I know we’ll be eating out a couple times. I’m actually really looking forward to it, because I’ve missed my favorite vegan-friendly restaurants and it’ll be nice to get a break from cooking for myself. Basically, going back to veganism doesn’t mean I’m being stricter, it’s just me listening to my body’s cues!

Have you ever experienced negative effects from eating a certain food? 

WIAW: Flooding, Fedoras and Fun

Sometimes, you can’t do much better than the classic alliterative title! And with that, here’s another WIAW…

Flash flood aftermath, day 2.

Flash flood aftermath, day 2.

My city is just getting hit hard with natural disasters, after last summer’s fire, this summer’s fire (which hit even closer to home for me and my family) and now flash flooding on the southwest side of town. We all knew it would happen eventually with the burn scar in the foothills meaning no vegetation to slow down rainfall, but no one imagined it would happen after just half an inch of rain fell in half an hour! Luckily, they were able to clean up the streets and businesses that were affected very quickly and by the time I made it over there on Tuesday, it looked normal, aside from tons of mud near the creek. The perks of being in TV news is that you’re always the first to know about things, and you can always get a close look at whatever happened, which is good for a nosy person like me!

I wanna be a localvore!

I wanna be a localvore!

I really love this new campaign Whole Foods has going about focusing on local food. I’ve become passionate about buying local, and even though it’s hard to get really good local produce in CO, Whole Foods does stock local produce when its available and a lot of the products I love to buy, like Larabars and raw kimchi, are produced in my state! Once I move to a better produce state (ahem, CA!) I hope to exclusively buy locally-grown produce.

Ah-mazing stuff.

Ah-mazing stuff.

And speaking of local, I happened across this gem on a random trip to the Whole Foods I rarely frequent. It’s smaller than the one I prefer and farther from where I live but I wanted to see if they had anything different. I’m so glad I did, because I have yet to see this new brand at the WF I usually go to. I spotted the “I’m a local” tag and the awesome flavor combos and was instantly intrigued. I mean, what other brand has cherry vanilla almond butter, or blueberry cinnamon walnut butter? I decided to get the dark chocolate coconut one since I knew I’d like it, but now I wish I’d gotten the espresso hazelnut one too! The best part is, there’s no added sugar aside from dates and the only added oil is organic coconut oil, which is the healthiest kind. I’ve never been a fan of the flavored nut butters that have added sugars and gross oils that some bloggers like, but now that I have a cleaner, more natural flavored nut butter option I don’t have to go without!

A good look for me?

A good look for me?

If you think this hat looks too small for me, that’s because it is. It was technically found in the little boys’ section at Target, but lets be honest, I rock it better than any little boy would 😉 Ok, maybe not, but my sister and I had way too much fun at Target the other night. Insider’s tip: if you ever want to joke around in Target and generally just act immature, the best time to go is after 7 pm. Fewer people are there so you can be obnoxious and take silly photos without anyone caring.

The new Starbucks Refresher!

The new Starbucks Refresher!

I took advantage of the half off Refreshers deal at Starbucks last weekend and tried the new Valencia orange flavor. Not bad, it reminded me of Sunny D actually, but it wasn’t my favorite (I prefer the lime). I’d love to mix this with vodka or something for a citrus-y cocktail though 😀

WF salad bar for the millionth time.

WF salad bar for the millionth time.

After going without it for 3 weeks, I caved and got some Whole Foods salad bar…twice in one weekend. I know I have problems, but I wanted a break from it for awhile to see if they started rotating in new things and they did! I’m now in love with these homemade bread-and-butter pickles they have (they’re obviously fresh!) and their addictive curry roasted nut mix. Obviously, I got some greenage in the form of romaine lettuce, and I got my favorite curried tofu salad because Whole Foods does tofu right and I realized I’ll never be able to make it as good so I gave up on buying it. Oh, and get this: one of the nights I got the salad bar was with my sister (before said Target outing). The weird thing is, she loves the salad bar as much as I do, but for very different reasons–the macaroni and cheese, and the Caesar salad. Sometimes, I think we come from two different families 😉 Just kidding, but we eat completely differently, which is funny that we both have a place we love.

Random taco salad for dinner.

Random taco salad for dinner.

After being busy at my internship, I haven’t felt much like throwing anything together that takes more than 5 minutes. I’ve also been craving salads, because all I have time to scarf at my internship is a Larabar, some berries/grapes and baby carrots. I’ve still been sticking to mostly raw, but I threw in some navy beans mixed with nooch and garlic gomasio (basically garlic, sea salt and sesame seeds–soooooo addictive!) and called it a well-balanced dinner…with some water and watermelon on the side.

My favorite right now. I could eat this. all. day. long.

My favorite right now. I could eat this. all. day. long.

Speaking of watermelon, it’s my favorite fruit at the moment. It’s just the best when it’s straight from the fridge, especially on a hot day. I hope summer never ends, so I can eat watermelon forever.

Silly seesta time at Target.

Silly seesta time at Target.

Sometimes, it’s good to be spontaneous and just enjoy life. I love spending time with my sister because she brings out the best in me. We always have fun together and I’m gonna miss her to pieces when I graduate in the fall. Only we could have fun wearing kids hats and taking embarrassing pics of us wearing bras over our clothes (don’t ask)!

For those of you who live in Canada, I hope you had a nice Canada Day on Monday and for my fellow American readers, I hope you enjoy Independence Day tomorrow! My plans for the day are going to a parade and having water balloon fights with my family…fun stuff!

What have you been up to lately? What have you been eating?

 

So Many Products, So Little Time

It’s probably no secret that I absolutely love product reviews. I’ve done them a few times on my blog and I also like reading them on other blogs so I know what’s worth trying out and what’s not. It’s so much fun trying out new things and since I know a lot of you like product reviews too, I like to be able to share my unbiased opinions.

Lately I’ve been able to buy more new products and test them out, so I’m gonna share a bunch of them right now!

So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Plus

Like I mentioned in my last WIAW post, I’ve been trying out different almond milks lately. I’ve had my eye on this one since I first heard about it, but had yet to see it anywhere until my mom made a stop at Walmart and I noticed it there. Yep, Walmart of all places has a pretty decent selection of almond milks. Who knew? I opted for this one instead of the Silk unsweetened vanilla I was planning on getting since this one seems to be pretty rare. I like that it’s unsweetened, has some vitamins (not enough calcium though, boo!) and even has 5 grams of protein per cup. I always need a little extra protein and since I don’t do soy milk much anymore, it’s great to find an almond milk that has some. It’s fairly thick for almond milk, and makes a great addition to smoothies or with cereal. I just wish they’d come out with an unsweetened vanilla kind.

Carrot cake smoothie made with So Delicious Almond Plus.

Ohgave! Honey Vanilla Agave Syrup

If you’re vegan and miss honey (I still have raw honey from time to time, as I don’t believe it harms the bees) this agave is perfect for you! I honestly wish it had more of a vanilla taste, but that’s just me. It’s the perfect drippy syrup consistency, so it works great on pancakes. I bought it because I wanted a cheaper alternative to real maple syrup and it’s great for recipes too that call for maple syrup. The company has several other flavored agaves, including blueberry, but I passed on that because it’s not as versatile as honey vanilla. I would love to try it when I run out of this one though.

Peanut flour chocolate chip pancakes drizzles with Ohgave! honey vanilla agave.

Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter

Even though it’s a local-ish company (from Boulder) I’ve never tried Justin’s nut butters. I know, I know, I’m crazy. They just never appealed to me because I prefer nut butters without added sugar or oil. However, when I saw the mini squeeze-pack of the vanilla almond butter in the Whole Foods aisle when I was checking out, I couldn’t pass it up (especially since it was just 99 cents). It tastes basically like frosting in nut butter form so it’s a definite repeat buy!

Rising Moon Organics Artichoke & Olive Ravioli

I first tried their butternut squash ravioli for Christmas Eve dinner and fell in love. I was never a huge ravioli lover as a kid, but the vegan kinds are actually super delish. I am obsessed with artichokes and olives so I knew this kind would be perfect for me. They cooked up fast and were yummy, if not strongly flavored. The insides were soft and purple, which was a little weird, but still good. I want to try their gnocchi next, since I’ve never had gnocchi before.

Rising Moon Organics vegan ravioli (not the artichoke olive one) with peanut sauce and roasted asparagus.

So Delicious Cookies ‘N Cream Almond Milk ice cream

I’ve also been on the lookout for this since So Delicious introduced almond milk ice creams a few months ago. I love Almond Dream’s cappuccino swirl almond milk ice cream but the So Delicious flavors sounded even better. I will admit I’ve been drooling over their line of coconut milk ice creams (you can’t tell me turtle trails and pomegranate chip don’t sound heavenly) but I’m scared to death of anything with coconut because of the high saturated fat content. It’s a fear I want to conquer, though, because a lot of vegan items contain coconut and from what I remember, it’s delicious. Anyways, I finally found the So Delicious almond milk ice creams at the Whole Foods I rarely go to since it’s on the other side of town. It was well worth the trip (and the 4 bucks) for this pint of deliciousness. I’ve always preferred cookies ‘n cream to cookie dough flavored things, and this version was totally creamy and cookie-packed without being overwhelming. In half a cup it only has 7 grams of sugar plus 5 grams of fiber. Try finding that in dairy ice cream! I’m excited to try the mint chip and mocha almond fudge flavors next. Who am I kidding, I want to try them all!

Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookie

I’ve always wanted to try Whole Foods vegan baked goods but since I usually shop there with my parents, I was never able to convince them to shell over a few bucks for a cookie or muffin. I like baking things myself, but when I can find relatively healthy vegan treats for a pretty low price, I’m there. When I made a quick solo stop at Whole Foods last week (when I got the vanilla almond butter and almond milk ice cream) I also bought one of their vegan chocolate chip cookies for just 99 cents. For just 170 calories, this cookie is thick, huge and delicious. Mine wasn’t as soft as I would have liked, but a quick spin in the microwave took care of that. You wouldn’t even know it’s vegan, because it’s just that good.

Do you prefer cookies ‘n cream or cookie dough? What’s the best new product you’ve bought lately?