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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā

 

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?¬†

A New Decade (Birthday Weekend Recap)

Hi everyone! Did you all have fab weekends? Mine was the best I’ve had probably all summer, and as promised, I’ve got a recap of my birthday weekend for ya! (Warning: Plenty of photos ahead!)

Who doesn’t want their own birthday banner?

I woke up on Friday to this–my mom taped it up there while I was asleep, how sweet is that?! My morning continued with an unpictured homemade chocolate chip oat flour waffle topped with fresh raspberries and chocolate protein frosting.

I love having a summer birthday because I can always wear a cute dress on my big day!

Most of the morning and afternoon were low-key. My mom and I stopped at the store to pick up a few things she needed and then we headed downtown for a special Olympics event they were holding. We got there around 4, which was when it was supposed to start, but not much was going on when we first got there. There were some cool things set up, like a giant trampoline, BMX ramps, a mini tennis court and a synthetic ice rink but no one was really doing anything. We did end up getting on TV though–one of the guys I know from my TV internship saw us and he interviewed my mom! And I also got some free Starbucks (unsweetened iced coffee) so it was worth it.

Whole Foods cold bar dinner: jicama apple quinoa salad, sweet potato/pepper/currant salad, marinated artichokes, zucchini pickles, chipotle orange tofu, curried potatoes and Korean slaw.

For my birthday dinner, I chose the Whole Foods salad bars! I am obsessed with the one near me, they always have the best stuff and they change it a lot so I can always get something new. My mom got some of the Mexican things they had, I got a random mish-mash of cold salads and my dad got a seafood sandwich (my sister was at her rehearsal for the theatre camp she’s at, so she missed out on the WF fun). Oh, and we of course watched the Olympic opening ceremonies! The best part is watching all the countries come in and making fun of their outfits.

My first birthday cake in a couple years! Totally vegan, and totally yummy!

I’m usually not a huge fan of cake. I’ll eat it if it’s a really interesting flavor, but I definitely prefer giant warm cookies or vegan ice cream for desserts. In fact, the last couple of years for my birthday, I’ve requested gelato instead of cake. But this year, I was super excited to try one of Whole Foods’ vegan cakes. I was planning on getting a slice of raw cheesecake but (full disclosure) the fat and calorie content kinda freaked me out. I loved how simple the ingredients were (cashews, coconut oil, raw chocolate) but I ended up with a slice of their vegan chocolate raspberry cake. And I was not disappointed at all! I split this giant square with my dad, who also loved it. With most cakes, I scrape the frosting off immediately because I’ve never been a fan. But this vegan frosting was so rich and delicious that I couldn’t skip it.

My special birthday nails (that match my laptop!)

Saturday wasn’t too exciting. I had work in the afternoon, but after dinner, my dad and I watched The Descendants. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley were perfect in it and it was a really great movie. Funny in some parts, and super sad in others. Plus it made me realize that I need to move to Hawaii!

Ready for a day of shopping!

Sunday was the day I was really looking forward to. I decided to forgo birthday presents in favor of a parent-funded shopping spree in Denver. I live for shopping, seriously! I just love looking through all the stores I love, laughing at some of the weirder items and finding the perfect outfits. We started out at the Pavilions at the 16th Street Mall and hit up H&M and Forever 21. Both of those stores are HUGE at that location so it can be kinda hard to find something you want to buy, but it’s still super fun. And I bought my first-ever item at H&M!

From top to bottom: navy lace tee (Hollister), pink printed tank dress (Forever 21), colorblock skirt (F21), navy bow leather flip-flops (HCo.)

I love long necklaces: pink heart pendant (Forever 21), jeweled parrot pendant (ALDO Accessories).

We also went to my favorite mall on the south side of Denver. My sister and I ventured off on our own and ended up going to a bunch of stores: Hollister, American Eagle, ALDO Accessories, Bath & Body Works and Abercrombie & Fitch. It sucked though because it was a Sunday, and we got to the mall around 4:30…and all the stores started closing at 6. We got to Abercrombie as soon as they were closing, so we had to rush around trying to find something to buy and I left the store empty-handed. We’ve never gone up there on a Sunday, so it was weird being kicked out of the stores so early, but we’ll know better next time.

I feel so French in this dress: light pink/black striped T-shirt dress (H&M).

Cute in stripes: orange/navy striped cropped tee (Hollister).

Apparently I love orange: strapless orange dress (Hollister).

Garbanzo is one of my fave places to go! I ordered a plate with falafel, tabbouleh, cilantro sauce, grilled eggplant, lettuce, red cabbage and hummus.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go to the vegetarian restaurant because it was a little pricey but I’m planning a visit to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in my college town sometime soon. We did go to Garbanzo, though, which I could eat at every week. They have a lot of vegan options too which I love and everything there is so fresh and pretty cheap. Their tabbouleh and hummus are my favorite of any Mediterranean place I’ve been to!

So that’s pretty much my entire birthday weekend. I had such a fun time, treated myself a few times and did some major shopping. I couldn’t have asked for a better 20th birthday!

What did you do for your last birthday? What do you like for your birthday dessert?

Friday Faves (June 15th)

Moving in the summer is no joke! It’s been at least 85 degrees here the past three days we’ve been moving stuff back and forth between our old house and our new one but it’s felt more like a million degrees in the house, especially carrying boxes and moving furniture around. I’m just glad I don’t live somewhere humid, so it’s sticky on top of being hot! I’m also glad we got our internet hooked up on our first full day of being moved in. It kinda sucks having to live without internet at your own house!

Favorite Workout: Walking to Starbucks with my sister

Tall coffee light Frappuccino with soy…worth the $4!

Like I mentioned in my WIAW post, we moved closer into town so now we’re nearby all the good things a city has to offer–like movie theatres, grocery stores, gas stations and…Starbucks! In fact, our new house is within walking distance of the ‘bucks! Okay, well if you consider walking distance a 20-25 minute walk in the blazing hot sun. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad though and going with my sister made it even more fun. And the drink was even more worth it since we had to work for it–win win! I love this Frapp flavor because it’s got a hint of¬†caramely-ness (not a word but whatevs) that makes it perfect, and since it’s a light version with soy, it’s not a calorie bomb and I feel a little bit better about enjoying it!

Favorite Discovery: I love to drive…by myself

I have a liiiiiiiiittle bit too much fun while driving (no worries, this was taken in a parking lot!)

I don’t have a car of my own (yet…) but I’ve been doing a lot of solo driving lately and I’m loving it. It feels so freeing to sing at the top of my lungs to “Call Me Maybe”, go where I want when I want and cuss out other drivers for being stupid. Hey, it happens sometimes, and as long as I’m not actually engaging in road rage, I think a few choice words here and there are okay ūüėČ Anyways, it’s been a lot of fun realizing the independence that comes from having a car.

Favorite Thing That Cost Me $7: Whole Foods salad bar stuff

No boring salad bar for this girl! It was totally worth the money!

I always get super jealous when I see people’s pics of Whole Foods salad bar boxes on their blogs. The last time I went (before Tuesday and Wednesday) was February. Lame! So I used the opportunity of us moving and being too busy and tired to cook to pick up some of their salad bar goodies. Both days, I got basically the same things because I loved them all–chipotle orange tofu, chilled sweet potato chunks with currants and some yummy sweet dressing, salted pistachios, acai kale salad, Mediterranean crunch salad and California quinoa salad. Ah-mazing to all of the above, especially the sweet potatoes and quinoa salad. I also picked myself up a dessert on the side both days, one time it was a giant vegan chocolate chip cookie that I split up for two nights and the other time it was a vegan chocolate donut that I split with my sister. Actually, she ate most of it and loved it, which was fine by me. She’s usually wary of vegan items but she’s been loving the vegan desserts I’ve been giving to her lately! To anybody who thinks vegan means boring, it most certainly does not, as evidenced by this salad bar box and every vegan dessert I’ve ever tried ūüėÄ

Favorite Thing to Eat When I’m Not Feeling So Hot: Whole Foods Caribbean popsicles

Not quite the same, but you get the idea!

I generally don’t eat popsicles–like smoothies, they don’t usually do much for my hunger because I can eat them so quickly. But sometimes, you just gotta have a naturally-sweetened, giant popsicle. Yesterday, I was getting over some nasty stomach issue that left me leaving kinda queasy all day plus it was hot and I was moving stuff around. So a popsicle from Whole Foods was in order! I liked it a lot because it was pretty big so it took me longer to eat, it was tropical-flavored which is always my favorite and it only had a couple ingredients besides the fruit in it. It quenched my thirst, cooled me down and left my stomach feeling a little better.

What’s something you’re willing to spend a (relatively) large amount on? What do you eat or drink when you’re not feeling so great?

WIAW: Strange Combos

I’ve been doing a lot of pre-scheduled posts lately because I am actually in the process of moving! Well obviously not just me but my mom, dad and sister too. I don’t want to go into too many details about the move, but it’s not really major since we’re just moving about 20 miles from where we are now. It’s kinda bittersweet, though, since I’ve lived in this house since I was 12 and I’m in love with everything about the house, especially the location (it’s in a forested area that’s pretty quiet and secluded but gorgeous and nature-y). But since I’m now spending most of the year living in my college town, my sister’s off to college in two years and all the crappy bad economy stuff going on, my family’s downsizing and moving into town to save money on gas and house costs. It definitely makes sense but it’s gonna be hard getting used to sharing a bathroom with my sister and having a smaller kitchen!

Enough with the boring stuff, let’s move on to WIAW! I’ve been kinda slacking on the photo taking with all the packing and moving shenanigans I’ve been involved in but I have some random food pics that all have something in common–weird combinations. Sometimes I experiment and combine really strange foods together and it actually works out!

Breakfast: peanut flour brownie batter pancakes, blue corn blueberry pancakes with Amande blueberry almond milk yogurt and granola.

Pancakes–normal. But pancakes made with blue cornmeal? I decided to try out the blue cornmeal I bought to make quinoa cornbread in some mini pancakes. I mixed the cornmeal with oat flour and added some blueberries into the mix. They actually turned out tasty and had a different texture than typical pancakes. The almond milk yogurt on top was my first experience with nondairy yogurt and it was pretty good, but the texture is definitely different. It’s got a lot of calcium though–30% DV–which is always something I’m trying to get more of.

Lunch: multigrain pizza pita bread, baby carrots, green chile hummus, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts with nooch, tamari pumpkin seeds.

I was going for a Mediterranean-inspired lunch snackplate here. The tamari pumpkin seeds kinda threw that off since they’re more Asian though. The pizza pita bread was from some leftover Whole Foods multigrain pizza dough that I cut into thin-ish pieces. The hummus also isn’t really Mediterranean, and it’s not my favorite hummus either. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect hummus that I can pair with anything…any suggestions?

Alvarado Street sprouted sourdough toast topped with Crofter’s mango jam, sunny “raw”nola and maple macadamias.

This was kind of a tropical take on toast. The mango jam is the best jam I’ve ever had and it went perfectly with the macadamias and granola pieces. Kinda weird to have crunchy things on toast but I don’t care, it was delicious.

Dinner: spicy mac ‘n cheez (quinoa pasta, spicy nacho cashew cheez sauce, Mexican chipotle Field Roast vegan sausage), random kale salad with Bragg’s aminos/lemon juice, nooch, raisins and sunflower seeds.

The mac ‘n cheez isn’t the weird part, the kale salad is. I really don’t know how I came up with this combo but it worked. I took raw kale, massaged lemon juice into it, spritzed it with Bragg’s liquid aminos, dumped nooch on top and sprinkled on raisins and sunflower seeds. Completely random, but totally winning.

What are the weirdest food combos you love to eat? Have you ever tried almond milk yogurt?

WIAW: Salads and…Snow?

Happy WIAW…and happy birthday to my lovely madre! She is one lucky lady, having both her birthday and Mother’s Day in the same week. I’m so glad school ended just in time for me to be home to enjoy both days with her.

I haven’t gotten around to taking photos of an entire day’s worth of eats (bad blogger, I know, but it’s just slipped my mind most of the time) so this week’s WIAW is just a random compilation of the best of what I’ve been eating this past week along with a recipe and some new grocery store finds.

Breakfast: overnight oats topped with peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, mashed strawberries and maple macadamias.

This is my new favorite overnight oats combo. Peanut flour paste, sunflower seed butter, fresh strawberries and maple macadamia nuts are surprisingly yummy together, and taste like summer. The maple macadamia nuts are a new obsession of mine from the Whole Foods bulk section. They are expensive (18 bucks per pounds, yikes) but they’re so worth it.

Lunch: kale wraps with cold grilled tofu strips, sauteed bell peppers and Ginger People hot ginger jalapeno sauce.

Move over, lettuce wraps! Kale wraps are heartier, more nutritious and delicious. One day for lunch I decided I didn’t want a salad but I still wanted to get my greens in. So I took a few heads of kale, partially destemmed them and filled them with leftover fajitas filling, aka grilled tofu strips and sauteed peppers. I drizzled them with my new favorite sauce, and they turned out perfectly spicy and crunchy.

Lunch: chopped kale, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, sprinkle of nooch and vegan Caesar dressing thinned with almond milk.

I’ve also been loving raw kale salads for lunch lately. The key is to let the greens soak up the dressing or sauce overnight and marinade with the other ingredients. Oh, and nooch is a necessity for me. This was a Mediterranean inspired salad that I’m definitely repeating. It would be great for dinner bulked up with some chickpeas and kalamata olives.

Lime green striped oversize tee (American Eagle), denim cuffed shorts (Abercrombie Kids).

Can you believe I wore this outfit on a day it snowed? Okay, so I definitely changed into something more weather-appropriate when I had to go out that night to see a performance of Hairspray (really good, BTW) but it’s crazy to think that it didn’t snow at all here in March or April, and then we get dumped on practically in May. What?!

White cardigan (Target), navy lace tank (Abercrombie Kids), navy plaid shorts (Hollister).

I’m not complaining though because after a weekend of rain, light snow and thunder (yeah, Colorado’s weird!) it was back to shorts weather by Monday. I enjoyed a little time outside and did a stairs workout that left me tired (in a good way) and hungry. Running up and down the stairs of my deck was no joke, but it was a fun, heart-pumping workout that I like to do every once in a while to change things up.

My new-to-me Whole Foods finds.

I’m pretty sure I can’t go to Whole Foods without trying out at least one new thing. When I went over the weekend, I hit the¬†mother lode and got mostly all new-to-me things. So far, I’ve tried the quinoa pasta (better than whole wheat or regular), ginger peanut sauce (perfect for Asian dishes), maple macadamias (0b-sessed!), rice cakes¬†(pretty plain but good with toppings), honey vanilla agave (great sub for pancake syrup) and artichoke hearts (basically like any other artichokes, which I love) so I’m excited to try the lemon Larabar, vegan ravioli and pasta sauce.

First Frapp of the summer: tall mocha light with soy and 1 pump raspberry. So effing delicious!

You know me, can’t pass up Starbucks, especially when it’s half price. Sadly, I only got to take advantage of their happy hour once, but I’m glad I did for the deliciousness above. Mocha light Frappuccinos are my absolute favorite, and they get even better with the addition of a pump of raspberry syrup. If you love the chocolate and raspberry combo, order this. Now.

I’m growing my own cilantro!

Get ready for a whole lotta pico de gallo recipes around here…because I officially have my own cilantro plant! My dad’s growing a mint plant so we are definitely stocked up on two of the best herbs. Last summer I grew strawberries and while there weren’t many and they were tiny, it was cool to grow my own stuff. The cilantro already looks pretty healthy and vibrant, so I’m excited.

California Pizza Kitchen’s half Thai Crunch salad without chicken, dressing or wontons…so basically Napa cabbage, carrots, avocado, edamame, peanuts and Ginger People ginger peanut sauce.

I love me some giant salads. I had one on Thursday post-final at Mad Greens with my dad (no picture, but it was spinach/artichoke hearts/kalamata olives/garbanzo beans/sunflower seeds with fat free balsamic) and I had one on Sunday night to celebrate Mother’s Day. We got CPK to-go and I was debating between a veggie pizza without cheese and this salad. Glad I went with the salad, even though there aren’t any leftovers (boo!) We hadn’t eaten at CPK in well over a year and I almost forgot how much I love them and their giant salads. Plus now I know that they’re totally¬†accommodating¬†to vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free people and also if you’re picky like me and don’t like wontons or restaurant dressings. I totally demolished this salad and for the record, it took up my entire regular-sized dinner plate. No shame!

Definitely freeze these if you want to be able to eat them whole!

I made raw blondies for the first time last summer¬†and they were definitely a hit…well at least with me, since my family’s wary of trying raw desserts. I made a new and improved version the other day and while they’re crumbly and messy, they’re simple and healthy, with just 4 ingredients.

Raw Amaretto Blondies (vegan, gluten-free, raw)

3 100 calorie pack cinnamon almonds (can use plain almonds)

6 pitted dates (I used California pitted)

1/2 tbsp raw agave nectar (can sub raw honey or real maple syrup)

1 tbsp Vega Vanilla Almondilla protein powder (can use other protein powder but this gives it the amaretto flavor)

Blend almonds and dates in food processor or high powered blender until mostly combined and crumbly. Add in agave and protein powder until mixed in. Pack blondie mixture into a square glass dish and keep frozen (so the blondies don’t crumble). Makes 4 blondies.

Have you ever tried quinoa pasta? What’s your favorite “special” nut?