Veggie to Vegan

Happy February, friends!

Today’s post revolves around a decision that has been months in the making for me–I’m officially starting my transition from vegetarian to vegan.  This is my “official” start because we all know the Internet is forever–I figure if I declare it here, I’ll have to stick to it.

Just for a bit of background, I gave up meat on and off during high school (over 10 years ago #oldladystatus) but made my forever transition to vegetarianism in 2016.  In the beginning, it was tough–I literally dreamed about frying chicken–but now I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the lifestyle change.  The cravings for meat have subsided, and vegetarian cooking has become second-nature.  Honestly, some of the vegetarian dishes I make taste better than the meaty version!  (At least to me, anyway.)  Check out a few vegan meals I’ve made below, and if you want more #foodporn, follow me on Instagram:

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Delicious vegan food I’ve made!  (Clockwise from top left:  Banana “Ice Cream” with Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar, Tofu Fingers with Roasted Potatoes, Tofu Scramble with Roasted Potatoes, and Portobello “Steak” Strips with Green Beans and Rice Pilaf)

Why haven’t I become vegan yet, then?  Three big things:  Greek yogurt, eggs, and cheese.  Greek yogurt makes the list because it’s a good source of protein, which is something I need since I don’t get protein from meat.  It’s also super convenient for breakfast and/or a snack, which works well with my work/gym/life schedule.  Eggs make the list for the same reasons–protein and convenience.  (Also, plenty of the baked goods I love contain eggs, and I can’t quite give up my sweet treats just yet.)

And then there’s cheese.  Ahhhhh, cheese.  I live in Wisconsin, y’all.  The cheese up here is out of this WORLD, and it’s EVERYWHERE!  Real talk, I had no idea how many different types of cheese there are–and how tasty they could be–until I moved to America’s Dairyland.  I’m also a firm believer that it ain’t pizza unless it has cheese on it–and I love me some pizza.  So cheese has stuck around for a while even though I got rid of butter and cow’s milk a long time ago.

So–how is this transition going to work?  Starting today, I’m cutting cheese out of my diet.  (Guess I’ll be eating a lot of “ain’t pizza”.)  I know it’s going to be rough, but I really want to transition to a plant-based diet so I’m gonna do it!  Here are a few of the reasons I made this decision:

If you’re interested in cutting meat out of your life, check out this article by the Harvard Medical Center–it’s got some good information about the different types of vegetarianism and potential health benefits (and risks).  Also check out my Veggie Girl board on Pinterest for lots of vegetarian and vegan recipe ideas.

If you’re not interested in cutting meat out of your life, that’s cool with me.  #nojudgementhere #yourlifeisyours But I hope you’ll wish me luck on my journey from veggie to vegan!


Pura Vida: Part 3

We’re drawing nearer to the end of this four-part series on the mother/daughter trip of a lifetime–a tour of Costa Rica!  If you’re just now checking out this series, make sure to go back and read Part 1 and Part 2–trust me, you wanna know about all the cool/funny/awesome moments Mom and I shared during the first two legs of our trip.  🙂  And now…

Day 6 (continued):  Arrival Day in Guanacaste!

Another day, another early morning pickup–our van arrived at 6:45am to take us to the final stop on our Costa Rican adventure.  The van ride was long and the roads were winding, but the views along the way were absolutely breathtaking.

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Adios, volcano!

And when we got to Guanacaste, the view was even better!


Hola endless blue skies and beautiful blue ocean!

We arrived at our hotel before our room was ready so to pass the time, we browsed in a few shops and had lunch at a vegan restaurant.  It was delicious!

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Sweet and sour veggies with Asian slaw for me and “ice cream” cake for Mom!

With a few more minutes until check-in, we hung out at the bar until the front desk manager told us our room was ready.  The room was absolutely adorable–inside and out!

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Artwork outside the room…

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…and inside too!


Our room was also very close to the pool, so we slipped into our swimsuits, grabbed our books, and enjoyed some delicious cocktails poolside.  We we definitely feeling the #puravida vibes.


Relaxing.  Refreshing.  Amazing!

The rain kept us inside again that night, but the skies were clear when we woke up.  We took advantage of that by hitting the streets of Guanacaste!

Day 7:  Guanacaste!

Breakfast at the hotel kicked off our beach day!  We spent some time checking out the different stores on the strip, then found a restaurant with a patio on the beach for even more relaxing in the sun.

You wouldn’t think that chilling on the beach would make two ladies work up such an appetite, but it surely did.  We asked the front desk manager at our hotel for some recommendations for lunch, and he hooked us ALL the way up.  He talked to a friend of his who owned a restaurant called The Roof.  We quickly learned how it earned its name–it was a ROOFTOP pizza place!  The restaurant wasn’t open yet, but the owner opened up early just for us.  Talk about #VIP treatment!

The view was amazing, and the pizza was absolutely divine.  Just see for yourself:

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The Roof

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The Roof



After that fantastic lunch, it was more of the same awesome stuff:  drinks and reading by the pool.  It may sound lame, but the hotel was such a wonderful place that we didn’t really want to leave it.  (If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Hotel Pasatiempo!)

And the rain lulled us to sleep yet again…

Day 8:  Guanacaste!

You can probably guess what we filled our time with on our remaining day in Guanacaste…

  • Shopping – check
  • Eating – check
  • Enjoying delicious drinks on the beach – check
  • Generally being fabulous – double check!

We made a few new friends at the different beach side restaurants we dined at too:

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Friend 1:  Sleepy!

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Friend 2:  Hungry!


Friend 3:  Squirrel-ly?

This was one of my favorite days of the trip because Mom and I got to really vacation.  We didn’t do anything we didn’t feel like doing.  We enjoyed decadent desserts and didn’t care about the calories.  And we talked–which meant the most to me.


Enjoying a sweet treat with the sweetest woman I know–my mommy!

Day 9:  Journey to San Jose!

Saying goodbye to Guanacaste was terrible.  But we had to make our way back to San Jose to catch our flight back home.  It’s almost like the universe knew we didn’t want to leave:  this transport was the worst van ride of all (it almost made me carsick!) and we were stuck in traffic for a longggggg time.  (Long enough that our van driver flagged down a bread vendor and bought a loaf.  Guess he figured he might as well have a snack since we weren’t moving at all!)

After we finally made it to San Jose, we grabbed a quick snack while we waited for our room to be ready.  This was my final Spanish test, as the restaurant staff didn’t speak any English at ALL.  I guess I passed (because they gave us the cake and coffee we ordered) and after we settled up our bill we checked into our last hotel room of the trip.

We read more, uploaded tons of pictures of our trip to social media, and checked in with loved ones back home.  Dinner was room service in the hotel room and our lullaby was the heavy deluge that is a hallmark of the rainy season in Costa Rica.

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Nighttime in San Jose

Day 10:  Departure Day in San Jose!

Our dreaded final day in Costa Rica–after a whirlwind of fun and adventure, it was time to say goodbye.

I’m a momma’s girl through and through, so I hated saying goodbye to my #1.  But, at least it wouldn’t be goodbye for too long–I’d see her again at Thanksgiving in November.  I’ve said this a million times, but only because it’s true:  I’m so thankful to have a mother who loves me so much.  She sacrificed a lot so I could have a great life, and I could never ever EVER repay her.

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Mother and daughter after the trip of a lifetime!

Yes, our trip was over, but…this series isn’t!  Check back soon for the final part of my Pura Vida series–it’s the best part for sure.  🙂

Weekend Warrior

“I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!”

Anybody else heard that phrase?  I grew up hearing it, but perhaps it is restricted to sleepy Southern towns.  In case you aren’t familiar, it means “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

My point for this is that I haven’t blogged in a month of Sundays.  #sorryboutit

Buuuutttttttt I have a good excuse!  I’ve been super busy living my best life.  Y’all can’t be mad at me for that, right?  🙂  Here are a few deets from some things I’ve gotten into over this month of Sundays:

Chi-stravaganza (feat. my boo and my besties)

My boyfriend and I left after work on Friday and drove down to Chicago for the weekend.  We stayed with my college BFF Cornelius, one of my best friends from college, and did so many fun things:

  • Went to a brewery and played Apples to Apples while enjoying some delicious craft beer.  This particular brewery didn’t serve food, so we ordered in burgers (for the omnivores) and fries (for the vegetarian and vegan).  Those fries were the crispiest, tastiest french fries I’d had in quite some time–the first of many delicious foods I enjoyed that weekend.
  • Played a few games of Uno over breakfast with the boo, then hit up the lakefront for the Air and Water Show.  We took a bus downtime, found a sunny spot by the lake, and watched huge planes do spectacular things–so impressive!  I struggle to keep my composure flying economy on Delta so I know I’d be freaking out if I was in the cockpit of a Navy jet.
  • Had drinks at a rooftop bar called Cindy’s.  You could also see the Air and Water Show from here, which was even cooler than watching it by the lake because it felt like the planes were flying right past your face. We met another friend from college (a former speech competitor from UT-Austin) and had a blast catching up.
  • Ate a delicious dinner at the Chicago Diner–and it was VEGAN!  The poutine was fabulous; I would dare any meat/dairy eater not to enjoy it.  The strawberry milkshake I had for dessert was phenomenal.  I can’t wait to go back there again!
  • Watched an awesome burlesque performance by The Fly Honey Show.  The show featured men and women of every body type and ethnicity.  It was funny and poignant and like nothing I’ve ever seen.  If you can catch a show, I’d highly recommend it!
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Airplanes doing crazy things–it was spectacular to watch.

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Me, my boo, and my besties!

Devil’s Lake Hiking Adventure

My wonderful boyfriend couldn’t believe I’d never been to Devil’s Lake (apparently it’s a Madison institution) so he took me for a hike!  It was tougher than I expected–I thought we’d be walking along flat trails, which did NOT happen–but I made it to the top.  I felt so empowered looking over the edge at the spectacular view.

After the hike, we went back to the car and took the ferry route back home.  The ferry was so cool!  There was a little snack stand where you could get ice cream while you waited for the ferry to arrive.  Once we drove onto the ferry, we got out of the car and watched as we went across the lake.  Check out a few photos below:

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Panoramic view of Devil’s Lake–absolutely breathtaking.

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The top–getting some Pride Rock vibes!

Birthday Turnup

This weekend is MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!  My boo has some stuff up his sleeve (I’m not sure what) and I’m also planning to eat hella cake.  Why?  Because this is a celebration!  My 20s were kind of tumultuous:  graduating from college, moving to Madison, two failed engagements (including one that was abusive), taking on home ownership, a career change, and an ongoing legal battle all took place during this time.  I’m hoping my 30s are a bit calmer–I’ve got my house, my car, my career, and a stable relationship with a wonderful man.  I couldn’t be more blessed to make it to 30 and I can’t wait to see what comes next.


Last year’s birthday cake–I may get one twice the size this year because I’m 30 and I do what I want.


Long Weekends and Lifelong Friends #100HappyDays

Day 47-51:  Long weekends make me happy.  I originally planned to go back home to Kentucky for Memorial Day, but ended up doing a staycation instead.  I got so much stuff done around the house–I wish I had a four-day workweek all the time.  My house would be spotless!  For Memorial Day, my boyfriend and I relaxed and grilled veggie kebabs.  This long weekend was the perfect blend of work and play.

Day 52:  Office days make me happy.  This was my first day back after the long weekend and I’m so glad I didn’t have to jump into teaching right away.  Having the time to get through my backlog of email and work on projects (with quickly approaching deadlines) was a great way to come back from vacation.

Day 53:  Lifelong friends make me happy.  I’ve known my best friend (Gabby) since fourth grade.  We went through middle and high school together, but ended up at different colleges and now live in different states.  Our bond is still just as strong though; she is the sister I never had.  We chatted on the phone and it was like no time had passed, even though the last time I saw her was at Christmas.  I’m so happy that she’s still in my life after all these years!


Seeing New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys–we dreamed of this day since we were kids!

Making Bands and Moving Forward #100HappyDays

Day 26:  The fact that this is Day 26 makes me happy.  Y’all remember Making the Band, right?!?  Well if not, here’s a fun reminder for you:

Day 27:  Getting rid of stuff from my past makes me happy.  I finally sold the engagement ring my ex-fiance gave me!  In case you’re unaware, my engagement was not a great one as my ex-fiance was abusive.  I initially held on to the engagement ring as part of legal proceedings with my ex, but those proceedings have been finalized now so I decided to get rid of the ring.  And it feels so good to have one less thing that reminds me of that terrible relationship.

Day 28:  Dinner with my boyfriend makes me happy.  My boyfriend is the best, y’all.  I feel like he really gets me, like we’re on the same brainwaves.  He’s also vegan, so I’ve been expanding my culinary horizons since we’ve been dating.  We made these delicious vegan burgers, and they tasted even better because I was enjoying his company as well.  🙂

Day 29:  A good cardio session makes me happy.  I did an hour of cardio instead of my usual 30 minutes (before my personal training session) and I felt GOOD.  I really worked up a sweat–I practically had to drag myself back to my car I was so tired–but it was totally worth it to ensure I stay fit and healthy.

Day 30:  Writing this blog makes me happy.  Since I started doing #100HappyDays, I’ve updated my blog more frequently than ever.  This makes me extremely happy!  I love getting new followers and finding new awesome blogs to follow as a result.  I love having a forum to say what I’m thinking and share it publicly.  I also love that I can write private posts that no one will ever see just to get things off my chest.

Bonus:  Lots of links make me happy!  I love linking to other websites from my blog.  And this post has three links and an imbedded video, so I am a very happy camper.  🙂