Ode to Summer 2019

Life

“I see it in your face, I’m relief / I’m your summer girl” (“Summer Girl” by HAIM)

Once September rolls around, basically everyone is like “yay, it’s fall!” Even though the first day of fall isn’t technically until Sept. 23 this year. So, yeah, don’t rush the fall thing.

Let’s get things straight — no, I’m not the typical basic white girl whose favorite season is fall. Fall is maybe my second favorite season, so I do enjoy some parts of it, but I don’t get why everyone wants to rush into fall. I’m not the hugest Halloween fan, and I absolutely hate the shorter days (no daylight savings time here in Arizona, but the sun still sets too early for my liking). I do like some pumpkin-flavored things and fall fashion (that I can’t really wear comfortably until late November, because Arizona is still HOT until then) but summer will always and forever have my heart. It is the season of my birth, after all #leogirls.

That said, I wanted to share my thoughts on Summer 2019. Like most summers, it went by way too quickly but it was also really great and now I have a lot of fond memories.

May

I kicked off the unofficial start of summer (aka Memorial Day weekend) with a trip to Denver. This marked the first of five vacations I would have this summer, which I think is the most ever for me! During the few days I had in the Mile High City, I went out to eat a lot (and tried a new-to-me vegan place), watched a Rockies game (TBH, I can’t remember now if they won or not, but it was still fun), enjoyed some rooftop happy hours and saw the movie Booksmart in theatres (one of the best movies I’ve seen in  awhile).

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The best rooftop restaurant in the Mile High City.

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Go Rocks (unless they’re playing the Dbacks) 🐍

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Sissies who brunch!

June

The beginning of June was filled with sooooo many job interviews. I remember being really stressed out for a decent portion of this month, with all the driving I did to interview locations, mentally gearing up for said interviews and dealing with the rejection or lack of responses.

But June also brought some good times — namely, two vacations! The first, a mini trip up to Sedona, just me and my dad. We stayed overnight in nearby Rimrock and drove into Sedona to take a Pink Jeep tour, which was the scariest thing I’ve ever done but also SO FUN! We also ate at my favorite vegan restaurant there, and I also ventured into Local Juicery — another vegan-friendly spot I will be hitting up next time for an actual meal (their waffles sound INSANE). We ended the weekend with a hike and Whole Foods salad bar lunch at a winery.

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Sedona is my favorite place in Arizona, hands down! Just look at these views! 🏜️

Later in June, I flew solo to Salt Lake City to visit my best friend from college and her husband, dog and cat for a 4-day weekend. The weather was absolutely gorgeous when I was there and we got in some nice walks with her dog, watched movies (Bohemian Rhapsody for the second time, and Secret Life of Pets 2 in theatres), cooked & ate vegan food (they aren’t vegan, but are super accommodating), went to a beer festival (my friend and I don’t like beer, but we hung out with some of her friends anyway), got in some pool time and played bocce ball.

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My friend’s sweet doggie, Missy! My friend is the one who inspired me to rescue Honey 🍯 after she adopted her dog in college.

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Edible vegan cookie dough? Yes plz!

July

My favorite month of the year (cuz it’s my birthday month)! My sister came from Denver to spend the long 4th of July weekend which I recapped here but we basically spent a ton of time by the pool, watched fireworks, saw Late Night at the movie theatre, went out to eat for dinner & brunch (including one of my fav vegan places in the Valley) and went to an adult ball pit/art exhibit.

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Ball pit fun with my sis.

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Still thinking about this cauliflower dish from Verdura 🤤

I had more job interviews early in the month (and more rejections) and was getting ready to give up looking when out of the blue, my boss said the district was letting me work full-time, so I said yes! I have really enjoyed my job for the most part, and I was really only looking to leave because I was part-time for the first seven months I worked there, so it all worked out better than I could have imagined. I started working full-time at the end of July, right after our Summer Fridays (we worked four 10 hour days — I worked four 5 hours because part time — and had Fridays off) ended.

Then at the verrrrry end of July, I went to San Diego for my 27th birthday! I already recapped the first two days of my trip (the second recap post coming soon-ish) but suffice it to say, I had fun. I first visited America’s Finest City for my birthday 2 years ago and loved it, but this year’s experience was just a little bit better (I only wish my sis could have come with us this time). I already can’t wait to go back, hopefully next year!

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Fancy drinks at the beach >>>>

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My mom & I soaking up those beach days!

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Missing the ocean 🌊

August

I really got into the work grind, as the school year kicked off. Now that I’m full-time, I’ve actually been able to go to some of the schools which has been great to feel more connected to the district.

I’ve been struggling for probably about a month and a half now with ankle pain while running, and it only got worse in August. But despite the pain and my new work schedule, I was still able to run 132 miles last month, one of my higher mileage months this year. But I’m worried I’m going to be paying for it soon, as the pain still hasn’t subsided, even with a new pair of shoes (my old pair had way more than the recommended 300-500 miles of wear, so I thought that was the problem but it’s not) and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep running as many miles, which is stressing me out. But now that I have actual health insurance, I should probably be a responsible adult and have my ankle checked out. Fingers crossed it’s not a serious injury!

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Love my new shoes but they aren’t helping my ankle heal 😭

I wrapped up August with another trip to Denver. This visit was bittersweet, only because it marks the end of the summer travel season for me, and I actually don’t have any travel plans on deck for the rest of the year, except for a long weekend trip to southern Arizona for a wine festival. I was glad I took 2 extra days off to make LDW a 5 day weekend! I got to meet my sister’s dog, Mika (she just got her about 3 weeks ago and she’s precious!), dined at a vegan fast food place I’ve been dying to try since it opened last year, had a mimosa by the pool, walked around the lake at my sister’s apartment, got in some killer gym workouts (even though I took all 5 days off from running due to pain), enjoyed some bomb vegan ice cream and checked out the Taste of Colorado festival. It was a great way to cap off an incredible summer!

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Pretty cool that my sister’s apartment complex has its own lake (complete with boats you can rent!)

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My first vegan milkshake! Meta Burger did NOT disappoint on the vegan fast food, and this cookies n cream shake was perfect 👌

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My sis is now a rescue dog mom too! This is her little girl, Mika 😍

September 

Now we’ve come to the summer-fall transition month, which makes me a little sad. I know it’ll still feel like summer for awhile here, but the fun, carefree attitude of summer seems to have disappeared and all anyone wants to talk about is pumpkin spice lattes. I’m gonna do my best to hold onto that summer magic until the holidays roll around. You can catch me eating TJ’s pumpkin butter on everything while soaking up the last of the 100 degree days 😎

What’s your favorite season? Tell me about something fun you did this summer!

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Favorite Finds of the Month: August

Beauty, Food, Life

I’m trying out something new for this month’s “Favorite Finds of the Month” post! Instead of just choosing a few random things I liked, I will pick a favorite from specific categories to share with you. I think this will make it easier for me to remember the new things I experienced each month, and it will be more diverse than just food/drink/beauty products!

Favorite Food: Trader Joe’s Italian Bomba Pepper Sauce

I had a lot of new items to choose from for my favorite August food find, but I think the fact that I’ve bought a jar of this every week since discovering it makes it the winner.

If you don’t like spicy things — stay far away. But if you’re a spice-aholic like me — stock up! 😝 The sauce is basically fermented Calabrian chili paste, and Calabrian peppers are actually only ranked in the middle of the Scoville heat scale (25,000-45,000 units) but this little jar packs quite the punch! I’ve used it as a dip (in small amounts) and to top my dinners as an added kick.

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I’m obsessed with this sauce on top of edamame mixed with Kelly’s Croutons seasoning!

A 6.7 oz jar costs $2.99, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to buy this again and again!

Favorite Drink: Juneshine Hard Kombucha in Midnight Painkiller

I’m no stranger to kombucha, or even its more adult cousin — hard kombucha. Technically all booch has trace amounts of alcohol, but the hard variety kicks it up a notch with typically 4.5-6% ABV (about as much as beer).

This hard kombucha was a San Diego find that I specifically sought out after finding out about the brand through Instagram. I really wanted to go to the tasting room, but we didn’t have time, so I settled for picking up a few cans at a liquor store in Little Italy and bringing them back home.

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I love how this flavor has charcoal and you have to flip the can to activate it!

As of now, the only flavor I’ve tried (I’m trying to ration them lol) is Midnight Painkiller, which is styled after the classic Painkiller cocktail (made with rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream and nutmeg). It definitely has tropical notes, which I’m always down for. I did feel a bit of a buzz after drinking it, and you might too, if you’re not accustomed to hard kombuchas or you’re just a lightweight like me.

Supposedly Juneshine is going to be selling their booch in more stores nationwide, not just Southern California, so keep an eye out — they have several other flavors which I’m excited to try!

Favorite Song: “Champion” by Bishop Briggs

I shared this song on my Instagram Stories for “Music Monday” a couple weeks ago, but it’s been on repeat for me all month long. As someone who really connects with music, this song speaks to my soul. I’ve struggled with a lot, especially in the past couple years, but the lyrics are a reminder than “you’ve gotta fall down before you fight back” and it really inspires me to keep battling those demons in my life.

I linked the music video above so you can check it out for yourself, whether or not you’ve heard the song before. I love Bishop Briggs because she’s such a badass and a fearless female in the competitive world of alt rock music, which is dominated by men. 🤘

Favorite Beauty Product: Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask

I am alllll about the face masks, and I love doing them when I have some downtime to just chill and relax. But I had never heard of (or tried) an eye mask before buying the Glow Recipe avocado sleep mask.

As someone who’s closer to my 30th birthday than my 20th (that’s scary to think about!), I’m starting to be more conscious about skin aging. Like probably most people in their late 20s, I’m noticing some small wrinkles around my eyes, and I’m not exactly okay with that, especially since people still seem to mistake me for a high school student 🙄

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The cutest lil bottle that does a whole lotta good for my eyes!

Enter — this eye mask. The clean ingredients, including retinol, avocado and coffeeberry, are formulated to hydrate, depuff and fight wrinkles in the delicate eye area. I’ve been using it nightly for a few weeks, and I love that it makes my undereye area soft and smooth without irritating my eyes. 🥑

Like a lot of skincare products, this ain’t cheap — $42 for a teeny tiny 0.5 oz jar. The jar is super cute though, and a little goes a very long way, so I bet this will last me a couple months!

Favorite Article: Our Bodies, Our Responsibility, And the Media by Amelia Boone

As a woman who’s struggled with an eating disorder for a large portion of my life, as well as a runner for the past 5+ years, this article fascinated me. I first read a post by Amelia Boone on Outside Magazine online, and her story really resonated with me. Amelia is an elite obstacle racer who has an eating disordered history and has recently opened up about it.

This article focused on how people see her body as “#fitspo” and how that’s felt conflicting to her as an athlete. She talked about her experience being on the cover of magazines and wondering about her responsibility to disclose her ED so readers wouldn’t think that her body was just a byproduct of being a disciplined runner. She also mentions the idea of thin privilege.

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I struggle as a runner with an ED history to be honest about body image & running & my struggles. 

Now of course, I don’t have nearly as much influence as she does, but as someone who shares my struggles on a public platform (my blog and my Instagram), it makes me think about my responsibility to be open about my body and not just pretend everything’s good behind the scenes. I also acknowledge that I have thin privilege, but that doesn’t mean my struggles aren’t valid — it does mean that society may treat me better than those in a larger body, though, and I have to be aware of that.

 

Share some of your favorite finds from August!

What I Would Tell My Freshman Self

Life

It’s been *nine* years to the month that I started college. Where TF has the time gone?! It feels like just yesterday I was arriving on campus, moving into my dorm and walking to my classes. This December marks *six* years since I graduated with my bachelor’s in journalism degree, and it’s been almost as long since I was last in my college town. Crazy how time goes by so much faster as you get older. I remember how much I couldn’t wait to be done with college (not because I didn’t enjoy it, because I did, but I wanted to be out in the real world making $$$), but sometimes I wish I could go back to those (mostly) carefree college days.

Students at my alma mater, Colorado State University, start the school year today, so I thought — what better time to share a little bit about my college experience and what I wish I could tell my freshman self.

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Freshman orientation, August 2010. 

1) Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there…

Growing up, I had a core group of friends from the elementary through middle school years. We ate lunch together in the cafeteria, had sleepovers and hung out at the mall together. When high school arrived, we all kind of went our separate ways. My BFF since 3rd grade and I never really saw each other after freshman year of HS, and I lost touch with most of my other friends, even though we went to the same school. I never really felt connected to one group of friends in high school, and I was worried this would carry over into college.

As an introvert, it can be hard for me to make and maintain friendships. But fortunately, I connected with one girl in particular on my dorm floor, and we hung out together a lot that year. But I was still nervous to put myself out there, so to speak, so I didn’t really develop a lot of friendships, at least not until later in my college experience.

2) …but don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t befriend you.

That friend I mentioned? Yeah, by the last week of freshman year, she stopped responding to me and I never heard from her again. It sucked being ghosted like that when I felt we had made a real connection, but I had to just move on and not take it personally. I didn’t remain friends with anyone I met freshman year, and that’s ok.

I also dreamed of befriending my roommate (before I met her), but we soon realized that we didn’t click, and it was fine. We tried hanging out at the dining hall, but our personalities just clashed, and things got tense for awhile. Basically, she didn’t keep her side of the room clean AT ALL, and she liked to stay up late just doing stuff on her computer (plus she was in the room all.the.time and sometimes I just wanted alone time), whereas I had earlier classes and liked to keep my side of the room neat and hygienic.

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A colorful poster in my dorm to brighten up my darker days. 

This experience made me realize that I am not someone who can tolerate living with a roommate, so I happily spent the rest of my college years living alone (first in a dorm, then in an apartment). Some people have great roomie relationships, and are still friends with their freshman roommate, but that wasn’t me.

3) You will still struggle with your eating disorder.

I think the feeling of being lost in high school contributed a bit to my eating disorder. I didn’t feel I had an identity anymore, so I “found” a new one in my ED. Obviously not a healthy coping mechanism, but it is what it is.

I fought hard to convince my parents I was healthy enough to attend college 2 hours away from home, and I didn’t want to fall back into old habits. By the end of freshman year, I started relapsing and I knew it. The stress of college was taking its toll, and I felt I couldn’t fight the voices anymore.

Fortunately, my ED didn’t cloud my college experience, but I did struggle with it a lot, especially my sophomore year. I think as I became more independent my junior year (when I moved off campus into my first apartment), I took more responsibility for my mental health, and things improved as I got more involved with extracurricular activities and made new friends.

4) Don’t be afraid to be different.

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Getting silly in the bookstore, November 2010. 

I didn’t drink alcohol at all until about 6 months before I turned 21 (and then only at home with my parents — I know I’m so cool) because I just wasn’t interested in drinking or the party scene in HS or college. But I sure felt pressure to be like the “cool kids” and go to parties and bars. I also felt pressure to join a sorority, but I’m glad I didn’t because it just wasn’t for me.

Don’t be afraid to embrace your quirkiness and nerdiness, because you’ll find friends who are just like you, and won’t make you feel bad because you choose not to be an underage drinker.

5) Explore your college town more.

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A little peek at my side of the dorm. 

I didn’t get a car until my junior year when I moved off campus, so when I wanted to go somewhere, I had to rely on friends who had cars or wait until my family came to visit me. But I shouldn’t have let my lack of a car prevent me from exploring my college town. I wish I had taken advantage of Fort Collins’ extensive (and free to students) bus system to get around town or even taken a long walk to Old Town to check out the stores and restaurants there. I’ve missed FoCo since I’ve left it & I don’t know when I’ll get back there again.

What would you tell your freshman self? 

San Diego Recap: Part 1

Beauty, Food, Life

If I had to sum up my trip to San Diego in one sentence, it would be: 3 full days/4 nights there is just not enough. Each day was pretty jam-packed, which meant we got a lot accomplished, but not nearly as much as we wanted to. I guess that means a return trip is in the (hopefully) nearish future.

I was in San Diego from Friday, July 26 through Tuesday, July 30. I only know what it’s like there in late July since that was the same time I went there on my last visit back in 2017, but it’s a really nice time of year. The weather was basically perfect and honestly, the crowds weren’t terrible. Sooooo, let’s get to the recap! I’m splitting this into two posts cuz otherwise it would be definitely maybe too lengthy.

Day 1: Friday, July 26

No rest for the wicked (erm, those going on road trips). I woke up early for a day off (around 6:45) so I’d be able to get everything done I needed to before hitting the road with my fam. Basically, dropping off my dog at Happy Pets Palace in Chandler (the boarding place I take her to every time I go out of town), going for a quick 3 mile run (my last as a 26-year-old!) and packing up last-minute items.

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Nothing but good vibes for the road trip ahead!

We were off by 10 am and ready to get to San Diego. It’s about a 6 hour drive, plus we planned to make two brief stops before leaving Arizona.

First stop: Dateland. It’s an actual place, even though the name sounds fake, and obviously they grow dates there. It’s a tiny town that’s mostly a convenience store/restaurant and gas station. I picked up a bag of Khadrawy dates because I have never tried anything but Medjools, which are good, but when in Rome Dateland. My dad got a date ice cream cone, which he said was good. It got me wanting to try making (vegan) date ice cream at home. The store also sold a bunch of touristy things, including flip-flops made with locally grown grass, which is super interesting.

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The date palms of Dateland. Fun fact: dates have to be harvested by hand!

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Spotted: this cute mug (which I didn’t buy).

Then it was onward to our second (and last stop before SD): Yuma. It’s right on the border of California, and it makes Phoenix feel like the Arctic, it’s that hot. I appreciated the dry heat, though, as PHX has been more humid as of late due to monsoon storms.

We got lunch in Yuma, at a place called the Dog Haus, which has locations in California, Colorado, Texas and also Scottsdale (also soon to be less than 10 minutes from where I live). They make all kinds of hot dogs and brats and sausages, which doesn’t sound appealing to a vegan, but they actually have decent vegetarian and vegan offerings, including the Impossible burger and Beyond sausages! I’m more of a vegan sausage vs. vegan burger fan, plus it’s hard for me to find the Beyond sausage in restaurants, so I opted for their Beyond Brat, which was basically like the classic German brat, topped with mustard, onions and sauerkraut (I love anything sour and pickled!), which I got wrapped in their lettuce “bun”. I was definitely impressed!

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The Beyond Brat was beyond my expectations!

After stopping for gas, we were back on the road en route to our destination. I took a ton of videos as we drove through California because the landscape of that part of the Golden State is super interesting to me. I’m used to the desert of Tucson and Phoenix, which is actually a lot more green than you’d expect and full of cacti. California has a LOT of sand dunes along I-8 and then suddenly, mountains appear that are super rocky and made up of huge boulders. It’s really cool.

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Next stop: San Diego!

We got to San Diego around 5, and honestly traffic on the freeways wasn’t terrible, considering it was rush hour. We got to the hotel we were staying at, which was near the airport, the harbor and the Little Italy neighborhood, and unfortunately, hit a snafu: our room wasn’t ready, even though we were checking in more than an hour after check-in time began. We were assured our room would be ready in about 45 minutes, so we killed some time by walking over to this deli/convenience store nearby, where my parents each got a glass of wine (not great wine, especially by California standards, but they just wanted to try it) and we sat across from the harbor and waited. And waited. And waited some more. We waited more than an hour before we went back inside, and guess what? The room still wasn’t ready! By this point, we were annoyed and hangry so we decided to go walk to dinner, and hope the room would be ready when we got back.

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We walked along the harbor, where I got a pic of this cute seagull!

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So nice to see the ocean again!

My mom picked Ballast Point for our first night in San Diego, so we walked about 20 minutes into the heart of Little Italy to get there. We quickly noticed that those electric scooters are a huge deal there, even more than in Arizona. Like, everyone was riding them and they were scattered up and down every street. It was nice to see people using them and walking (like us), instead of driving everywhere, though!

Ballast Point was packed, so we were lucky to snag a table after ordering our food at the counter. My parents got beers, naturally, while I opted for a glass of viognier wine, which was really refreshing. You gotta have wine when you’re in California! My mom and I both got tacos (she got fish, I got the adobo tempeh) while my dad got the heirloom tomato sandwich, and we all raved about our dishes. My tacos were some of the best vegan tacos I’ve ever had! I’m not always the biggest fan of tempeh (I usually prefer tofu) but these were so flavorful and actually spicy, which I appreciated. The good food took our minds off the hotel situation, at least for an hour or so.

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Gotta have wine in California, no?!

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I thought I wasn’t a huge tempeh fan but these tacos made me a convert!

Walking back to the hotel, we hit another snafu: we were stopped by probably the world’s longest train. Not kidding, we stood there for at least 5 minutes waiting for it to pass! At this point, my dad and I just had to laugh because so many things were going wrong, it was just funny. Fortunately, when we finally got back, the room was ready so we grabbed a cart and loaded all our stuff on to take up to our room. Then the elevators weren’t working, so it was even more frustrating/funny. We did eventually make it up to our room!

After getting settled in, we sat out on the balcony overlooking the harbor, drank more wine and talked for awhile, before we got yelled at by the security guy for apparently being too loud, even though no one else was outside. My parents were mad, because last time we were in San Diego, we kept getting yelled at by the lady living upstairs (we were in an Airbnb condo), who said we were too loud even when we were basically whispering, and we didn’t want the same thing to happen this time. So we reluctantly went back inside and got ready for bed.

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Night harbor views.

Day 2: Saturday, July 27 (aka Birthday)

Happy birthday to me 🥳 Sadly, I woke up with a slight headache (probably from the previous night’s wine), but after taking some ibuprofren, drinking water and sweating it out at the hotel gym for 30 minutes, I was ready to celebrate!

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The hotel had the smallest gym ever (and it was soooo hot) but it was next to the pool and had plenty of equipment, so it was all good!

First things first, the beach. We drove across the Coronado Bridge to head to one of the beaches on Coronado Island. Lemme just say that I fell in love with Coronado! It would be amazing to stay there next time, though hotels there are really expensive, but the beaches were beautiful and it was fun walking around town and exploring.

We parked a few blocks away and hauled all our gear down to the beach. The one we went to this day was actually right next to the dog beach, so we got to watch the doggies play in the water 😍 The beach never got too crowded either, even though it was a Saturday, so that was nice. We spent several hours soaking up the sun, braving the cold water and enjoying some beach snacks. My dad and I also tried boogie boarding for the first time, and it was a lot of fun, though I had to stop after awhile because I couldn’t stop shivering from the ocean water.

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Beach daze. 

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Soaking up the sunshine & salty air!

After loading our stuff back in the car, we drove down Orange Avenue, which is basically Coronado’s main street. We parked, and then walked a couple blocks until we stumbled across a wine bar. We were all hot from the beach, and walking in the humidity, so we needed some refreshing bevs, and the wine bar definitely delivered on that! My parents each got a glass of sangria, with fresh berries in the bottom of the glass, and I got the black bellini, which was made with red wine (hence the darker color) and fresh peach slices. Our drinks hit the spot, but I also had my eye on another kind of drink — my free birthday item from Starbucks!

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I love these kinds of murals!

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Refreshing bev #1.

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Refreshing bev #2. 

Last year, I missed out on the freebie because we were stuck in traffic most of the day en route to Sedona, and I didn’t realize you can only redeem it on your actual birthday, not the day before and day after as in years past. But this year, I was determined not to miss out, and luckily for me, there was a Starbucks just steps from the wine bar! I haven’t gone to Starbucks in months, so I was pleasantly surprised to see they’ve added a bunch of new iced tea flavors. I went with a venti (go big or go home) iced blueberry black tea, with no sweetener. It was perfect for a hot day!

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I took an Insta Stories poll, and everyone voted for the whale! But I thought the octopus was super cute too.

After stopping in a couple stores (my mom bought a cute octopus toy in one of the stores for my dog!), we headed back across the bridge to our hotel to relax and get ready for the evening. Because I’m extra, I had brought along a set of fake eyelashes that I bought about a year ago and was waiting for the right opportunity to wear. Obviously, my birthday was the best choice! They’re the “mermaid” lashes from Tarte, with streaks of magenta and teal and I love them (side note: I wear fake lashes basically every day, so I’m used to them, but this pair was special).

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Even the packaging was pretty!

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Lashes on, ready to celebrate! 🥳

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This is 27.

We headed out a little earlier than we needed to to drive to my birthday restaurant pick, Donna Jean. It was only about 10 minutes away from the hotel, so we showed up before our reservations, but they had no issue seating us, and we were able to park almost right in front of the restaurant, which I feel is unheard of in San Diego 😉, considering the parking situation at most of the other places we went to (hence why we walked a lot). We actually parked right in front of Evolution, an all-vegan fast food joint, and I made a mental note to go there next time!

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It felt like dining in a garden!

I had heard amazing things about Donna Jean, so I was excited to finally try it. We sat outside, on this really lush patio filled with all kinds of plants. It felt so chill and totally my vibe. I ordered a glass of Boochcraft kombucha, and I had no idea they were based in SD!

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Locally made booch >>>>

My family almost never gets appetizers/starters when going out to eat (unless it’s as an entree), but I really wanted to try the roasted cauliflower (since I’m cauli obsessed) so we ordered that to share. It was made with green cauliflower, zhoug, hemp yogurt and dukkah, so it was a bit spicy but really delicious. I almost opted for the hot shrooms (Nashville-style spicy mushrooms) but I think they would have been too salty for my dad, but I’ll have to get them next time since I’ve heard they’re really good.

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A big bowl of deliciousness! 😋

We each got a pizza — my mom got the Four Horsemen (with vegan gouda, mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and pesto), my dad got the Bread Fang (mozzarella, mushrooms, onions, spinach, dried olives which he gave to me and calabrian chiles) and I got the Black Widow on the gluten-free socca crust (black garlic, smoked dates, ricotta, red onion and calabrian chiles). I’d made socca before, but I’d never had it in a restaurant, so I was curious to see how it would work as a pizza crust. It was a little soggy, but tasted great with my pizza toppings, which kind of reminded me of a spicy BBQ pizza!

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I can see why Donna Jean was named Best Pizza in 2017 & 2018!

With it being my birthday, I had to order dessert. I decided I wanted to take it back to the hotel to enjoy later, so I got a slice of the New Mexico chile chocolate pie in a to-go box. We drove back to the hotel to drop it off, and then decided to go walk to a nearby tiki bar to grab drinks. Well, we didn’t realize just how popular it was, and there was an hour wait just to get inside, plus reading reviews sounded like you had to wait awhile once you got in to actually get a drink. Instead, we walked another few blocks to a bar/restaurant called Kettner Exchange, which was also packed (I mean, it was a Saturday night in downtown San Diego), but we were able to go up to the rooftop bar and order drinks, and then miraculously a couple seats opened up at a communal table that we snagged. My dad and I both ordered the same drink — the Spicy Gallagher, made with serrano-infused tequila, aperol, lemon and watermelon. Whenever I see a drink made with a spicy or smoky liquor and/or watermelon, I must try it, and this did not disappoint!

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I got some amazing sunset photos when we came back from dinner!

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No words 🤩

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Terrible lighting but at least the drink was good!

We walked back to the hotel, where my parents sang Happy Birthday and I opened a few presents (I had a few more than I had opened the day before the trip, and left at home) and had the pie, which was soooo good. Chocolate & spice go so well together! It was the perfect way to cap off my 27th birthday.

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Had to have cactus gift wrap!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my recap!

Favorite Finds of the Month: July

Beauty, Food, Life

And just like that, birthday month is officially O-V-E-R! It seems like a lot of people say last month was weird for them (something about Mercury Retrograde, which IDGAF about or even know what it means), but it was mostly a really good month for me, not even just because of my birthday (recap coming soon)!

One good thing that happened has left me with less time to blog, so I didn’t even think about writing this post until it was already August. Oops! TBH, I also can’t really remember the new things I tried last month, which is where my habit of taking photos of all the things comes in clutch.

1) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

I’ve become somewhat of a skin care freak and love to try anything and everything, which is terrible for my wallet, but great for my glow game. Then I discovered The Ordinary, and it changed everything.

The products don’t look fancy, more minimalistic if anything, but they’re cheap AF and work hella well.

Being my first foray into this brand, I opted for the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, which is a mouthful, but basically it’s good for blemishes. My skin has actually cleared up quite a bit over the past few years, which I’m not mad about, but I still get acne around my period which gets annoying.

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This is anything BUT your ordinary acne treatment!

I actually used this for the first time right at the start of my last period, and it diminished the spots I had around my chin. There was absolutely no irritation, which I have experienced before with “clinical strength” acne products and it makes my face feel smooth.

The best part — a bottle (1 ounce, but a little goes a long way) is just $5.90. For less than 6 bucks, I got a powerful acne solution that’s also vegan, cruelty free and formulated without parabens, sulfates and phthalates.

I will DEF be trying more products from The Ordinary!

2) Trader Joe’s Sparkling Watermelon Juice

I spotted this on some Instagrammers’ stories way back in, oh April or May, and never found it at the TJs near me (and I went to 3 stores to try to find it). I gave up hope on ever trying it, when suddenly, it appeared on the shelf at my neighborhood store. So naturally, I grabbed a couple cases (and got a couple more the next time I shopped, just in case).

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You know it was a great TJs trip when you stock up on a product you’ve been dying to try, plus your fav kombucha flavor (strawberry lemonade) and one of your fav fruits (figs).

I really wanted to try it in a cocktail, so I used it in a couple drinks that I made, and it works well as a mixer. I like that it’s a bit fizzy, and that there’s no added sugar in there (who needs it, watermelon is sweet enough as is).

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I used the watermelon juice in a simple cocktail that I served in my new Corksicle cup that I got for my bday!

If you don’t do cocktails, it’s a pretty good drink on it’s on, and perfectly refreshing for a hot summer day.

I don’t remember how much it cost, but I think it was about $3.99 for a 4-pack. TJs always has reasonable prices so I can’t complain!

3) IWON organics

The running joke with vegans is, “Where do you get your protein?” As a vegan for 7+ years, I haven’t actually heard this a lot, but it’s annoying nonetheless. News flash — animals that people typically eat for protein get their protein from plants. Sooooo, plants have plenty of protein!

That being said, when I’ve tracked my macros, I don’t always get as much protein as I think I’m getting. My current eating schedule is an afternoon snack at work, dinner and then an evening snack before bed. I always include protein at dinner, usually beans or tofu, but my snacks are sometimes lacking unless I eat a protein bar. But sometimes I just want something snacky, you know?

I discovered the brand IWON organics when I went to GNC to scout out protein bars. I was looking for the No Cow brand, which is my fav because the flavors are good and they’re made with clean ingredients and no added sugar. They were supposed to have new flavors I’d never tried, but they didn’t. I did spot some interesting protein-packed snacks on the shelf nearby, though. There were some puffs and chips and little cereal boxes, and guess what — all vegan, gluten free and soy free! That’s hard to come by in the protein product world, so I knew I had to try them.

I grabbed a box of the berries ‘n cream cereal and a bag of the sweet dijon protein “stix” and checked out, ready to try them out the next week at work.

I tried the protein “stix” first. Do you remember those Rold Gold honey mustard pretzels? These tasted just like those! I couldn’t get enough of the mustard-y flavor, and how can you beat 5 grams of fiber and 10 grams of protein in a snack that’s reminiscent of childhood junk food?

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These were a “commute” snack on my way home from work one day, and they made the drive much better!

I actually had the cereal a few days later as an evening snack. I grew up loving cereal, though my family always had the healthier kinds. I still love cereal, but sometimes it can be a fear food of mine because of the carbs/lack of protein. The IWON organics cereal solved that problem for me, because this is a legit healthy cereal (5 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, 8 grams sugar) that tastes like Froot Loops.

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It was interesting how they came in an individual serving-sized box. 

I actually don’t remember how much I paid for these at GNC, but they sell the cereal online for $29.88 (for 12 boxes) and the stix for $23.92 (8 bags), and they come in several flavors!

4) Bath & Body Works Desert Wildflower Body Lotion

In case you couldn’t tell, I love the desert. I can’t really imagine living anywhere else now that I’ve been in Arizona for 3+ years (plus the first two years of my life, which I don’t remember, obvs), though maybe in Southern California by the beach.

So this lotion reminds me of that desert-y smell. If ya know ya know. I don’t tend to like floral-y scents, and this is definitely not like that at all. As B&BW describes it, it’s green, lush and woodsy. I’m a sucker for muskier scents, so I’m all over this. At the same time, it’s also not overwhelming — just a nice, light scent that I think will work in any season.

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Sorry for the stock photo, but isn’t this lotion so pretty?!

Like all their lotions, an 8 ounce bottle costs $12.50, but they always last me a long time, and I often buy them when they’re on sale!

Did you make any fun new discoveries in July? What are you looking forward to most in August?

The Travel Journal

Life

“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” (-Ibn Batutta)

Travel is one of my favorite things to do, so it might come as a surprise that I don’t really do it that often. We are more than halfway through 2019 (whatttt?!?!) and so far, I have only traveled (I consider any trip out of town where I stay at least overnight to be “travel”) to Tucson, Denver, Sedona and Salt Lake City. That’s actually more than I travel by this time most years, but I honestly don’t do it as much as it seems everyone on Instagram does.

Confession: I have yet to travel outside the U.S. Nope, not even to Mexico, even though I live just a few hours north. I know it’s a travesty, and it’s something I’m working on remedying, because contrary to what it may seem based on my minimal travel history, I actually LOVE it. I even love air travel, which many people despise and/or fear. I would love to hop on a plane to an international destination right now, but money and time are what hold me back. I never have more than maybe 2 weeks of PTO a year, and all my jobs have paid less than $40K a year, so I don’t have much in the way of free time or fun money to spend on international travel. I did just apply for a passport though, so I should be getting that in a month or so, and then I can officially travel abroad!

Instead, I’m focusing my travel energy on destinations a lil closer to home. My trip coming up later this week (again, stay tuned) is actually serving as the inspiration for this blog post.

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Throwback to last year’s birthday trip to the beautiful Sedona!

Because I travel less than a dozen times per year, I really want to make each trip count, especially because my trips are all so short (less than a week). And what better way to do that than by keeping a travel journal?

When I first read about the idea, I was hooked. I want to use my blog as a travel journal of sorts, but if I don’t keep notes, I’ll probably forget a lot of what happened by the time I get around to writing about it. And that’s where having a physical journal comes in.

The article I linked above is chock full of good travel journal ideas that I plan to use to create my own diary of my experiences.

First on the list — creating a list. I like to draft up a packing list before I travel so I don’t forget anything, but I also like to research my destination ahead of time to come up with must-do activities. My upcoming trip is looking a little more low-key and spontaneous than usual, which is great, but I did do (extensive 😉) research regarding food & drink choices while on vacation. Being vegan means I need to do more planning than most to ensure I have plenty of food options, and I also just enjoy scoping out the local vegan restaurant scene wherever I go.

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Have journal, will travel. 

Next — jotting down details as I go. I don’t plan on bringing my journal along everywhere I go, but I want to set aside some time each day to write down the highlights. It may help me to take notes to save on my phone while I’m out and about that I can elaborate on later in the journal. This should help keep my experiences top of mind.

When the trip is over, I want to look back over the notes I took and really reflect on my travels. I think this will help me ‘relive’ my vacation and maybe cure those “post-travel blues” that often happen after getting home.

So with just a few more days to go until my trip, I’m more excited than ever because I’ll actually be documenting it day by day, which will help me really soak it all in and appreciate it more. And of course, if you wanna follow along, watch my Instagram stories and then check back here for some travel diary entries!

Do you keep a travel journal? What’s one of your dream vacation destinations?

My Thoughts on Getting “Vacation Ready”

Life

**Trigger Warning: Calorie numbers mentioned**

I love going on vacation — but then again, who doesn’t? Whether it’s air travel or a road trip, taking some much-needed days off from work to visit a new destination is always enjoyable.

Well, maybe not entirely enjoyable. I always look forward to vacations, but at the same time, I’m freaking out inside about stepping out of my comfort zone of daily routines, at least as it relates to food and exercise.

I’ve gotten better at this as I’ve progressed through eating disorder recovery, but my recovery certainly hasn’t been linear. It ebbs and flows, with ups and downs and relapses.

In fact, two years ago at this time I was in the midst of a relapse. Something triggered in my brain and I decided to revert back to old habits. I actually went out and bought a scale so I could track my “progress”. I started restricting my intake again, which led to obsessive thinking. It was around this time that I happened to be going on vacation for my birthday, to San Diego.

Now, I’m not sure if it was the vacation itself that triggered the relapse, but no matter the case, they intersected perfectly. I was so excited to visit San Diego for the first time, but I was having an internal meltdown about what I’d be eating and how I’d be exercising.

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I loved exploring the Oceanside Pier!

I remember on my birthday that I only got about 8,000 steps (per my Fitbit) because we spent most of the day at the beach and then went to the airport to pick up my sister and went to dinner in Little Italy. My low step count (compared to my usual at the time 15,000 steps per day) freaked me out, as did my birthday dessert. My parents drove out of the way to stop at Whole Foods so I could get a vegan cupcake, which they didn’t have, so I ended up with a vegan cake slice. Unfortunately, the bakery area displayed calories, so I knew exactly how many were in my cake (I think it was about 800).

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My 25th birthday dinner at Civico 1845 in Little Italy. Delicious but with a side of disordered thoughts. 

I remember only ordering appetizers at the restaurant (a really cool Italian place with some amazing vegan dishes) so I could “save room” for the dessert. I didn’t think I deserved all that food since I didn’t really exercise that day. Again, this was my birthday, a day I should have been enjoying with my family instead of worried about calorie and step counts.

The rest of the vacation, I was also concerned about food and exercise, so I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should have (though I still had a great time, and did enjoy some delicious vegan food).

I’m going back to San Diego this year for my birthday (in less than 2 weeks!) and I could very easily let the ED voice take control again. But I’m fighting hard to keep that from happening.

So many bloggers/Instagrammers talk about getting “vacation ready”. And they don’t mean planning their packing list. They mean getting their body in perfect shape, whatever that means. So basically, they restrict themselves in one way or another, and workout harder than normal, in the weeks leading up to a trip. Maybe some of them do it without disordered intentions, but I call bullshit on that in many cases.

I know for me, getting “vacation ready” leads to a slippery slope of disordered thoughts and actions that quickly spin out of control. If I restrict myself in the weeks before my vacation, I won’t be able to just turn it off and enjoy myself on vacation. Because that voice, those actions have already taken hold of my brain. Two years ago, I bet I thought I could just go back to ED habits and then feel fine eating normally on vacation, but that didn’t happen. It took me months to get back on track.

Of course, there’s part of me that wants to look a certain way for vacation, especially since I’ll be spending a lot of time at the beach. I don’t want to look back at photos and cringe because I don’t like what I see. But going back to disordered habits isn’t the way to fix that. I have to change my mindset, to think positively and not be so harsh on myself. I want to enjoy the hell out of my vacation, not waste it counting calories and picking apart my body.

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I want to have fun at the beach and not be preoccupied with how my body looks. I also wish my sister could come this time 😦

So yes, I still plan to eat fairly healthy, and to fit in exercise (because a workout always sets a good tone for my day, and helps reduce my anxiety) — maybe even some runs along the beach! But I don’t plan to restrict myself over the next week and a half so I can be “vacation ready”. Instead, I’ll be working on my mindset to make sure it’s ready for my trip.

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Ready for more beach sunsets and fewer ED thoughts!

What are your thoughts on getting “vacation ready”? 

Weekend Through Captions: 4th of July

Life

Hey hey! Can you believe it’s the second week of July already? This month is already flying by!

Did you have a fun 4th of July weekend (if you celebrated)? Mine was four action packed days of fun, sun and family and I’m sad that it’s over. So I’m gonna relive it through a recap post of mostly pictures so you can see what I was up to!

Wednesday

I guess the long weekend technically started on Wednesday for me. I had to work, but my boss let me work from home since no one was going to be in the office. So it was nice not having to rush to get ready in the morning after my run.

Speaking of which, I only ran once on Wednesday (I’ve been splitting my runs into two for the past few weeks because of the heat) to give my legs a bit of a break. My right ankle/foot has been hurting on my runs for the past two weeks for some reason, but I’m really hoping it’s not a serious injury that will require a lot of downtime. So I took my runs a bit easier this week, only running 22 miles in 4 days (as opposed to my usual 30+ miles over 5 days). Fingers crossed it helps!

I got done with work at 3 and then headed out to Sprouts with my mom to pick up a few groceries. After that, it was just a chill evening at home until we left to go get my sister from the airport. She visited for the long weekend and it was a lot of fun seeing her again!

Thursday

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Ran 4 miles for the 4th of July.

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Pool time is a necessity when it’s over 100 degrees.

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Tried my hand at making an adult rocket pop drink with healthy rocket pops & homemade cherry vodka!

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My mom made me a special vegan BBQ dinner while the rest of the fam had regular ribs. Seitan BBQ cutlets, spicy pickles, potato salad & citrus slaw (all the sides were vegan)!

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Silly Snapchat selfies with my sister are a must every holiday we’re together.

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While we walked down the street to watch the fireworks just a couple blocks away, my dog stayed curled up in her bed at home scared 😭

Friday

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How gorgeous is this? Went for a 5 mile solo walk at the Riparian Preserve a few miles from my house to spend some time in nature.

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More pool time (plus much needed hydration).

*Unpictured: My family and I went to see “Late Night” at the movie theatre. We all loved it and Mindy Kaling is always super funny.

 

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Beyond Meat tacos at Sandbar. These were very underwhelming IMO.

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The margs were good though! I ordered the prickly pear before I saw they had a seasonal watermelon 🍉 flavor, so I sipped a bit of the PP before giving most of it to my dad and ordering the melon one instead.

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Drinks round ✌️ at Hundred North in downtown Gilbert. I think my drink was something spicy and mango-y.

*Also unpictured: We set off the rest of our fireworks at home. Mostly just sparklers.

Saturday

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Stopped by the farmers market, which is MUCH smaller in the summer due to the heat.

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Sangria in the AM, sangria in the PM, sangria all day long!

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I’m happy when places have vegan brunch options, like Liberty Market in DT Gilbert. I ordered their Vegan American Standard, skipped the bread and avo but enjoyed the rest of the plate. I also mistook the grape jelly on the side for dressing, and poured it on the salad, but it was actually pretty good 🤷

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I did an at-home workout while my parents and sister went to a brewpub. I don’t drink beer, so I was happy to come home and get my sweat on!

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A wine bar just a couple miles away makes their own rose popsicles & my sister had never tried them so of course we had to get them!

 

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Verdura is probably my favorite vegan restaurant in the Valley. My parents & I had been there but my sister hadn’t (she’s not vegan but is dairy-free) so we had to take her there to experience the deliciousness. This was the General Pow Cauliflower and it definitely packed a POW-erful punch of flavor!

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After dinner, we did the weirdest/coolest thing ever. We went to Lavatory, an immersive art exhibit in central PHX. It’s basically a giant ball pit for adults and they do a ball drop every night where basically you get buried in balls (that are cleaned every day, for you germaphobes). It was so fun and also bizarre.

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Afterwards, we grabbed drinks at Arizona Wilderness in DT PHX. My fam all got beers, I got their prickly pear gin cocktail.

Sunday

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I love my weekend morning walks.

*Unpictured: Dropped my sister off at the airport. Hoping to see her again soon, maybe Labor Day Weekend!

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It was a hot day (what else is new in Arizona?) & my mom and I first stopped at Nekter Juice Bar to get their Skoop ice cream after I raved about it. They were sold out of all their summer flavors except chocolate hazelnut which I wasn’t thrilled about, so instead we went to 212 Ice Cream Studio, where I ordered this delicious vegan mocha maca ice cream topped with pecans. Perfect for a hot day! 🍦

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Stopped at Trader Joe’s for a small grocery haul. Even though I was disappointed by my attempted Nekter trip, I was pleasantly surprised by my TJs visit because they FINALLY had the sparkling watermelon juice I’ve been wanting for months! Plus they had figs (!) and my new favorite kombucha flavor.

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I tried out the watermelon juice in a simple cocktail (I combined it with locally made jalapeno vodka & lime juice) alongside a snack plate with some of my favs.

*Unpictured: I had dinner and a night snack later, and I don’t remember what I had. Then I went to bed around 10 to get ready for another work week.

What did you do last weekend? What’s your favorite kombucha flavor (if you like booch)? 

 

#IntrovertStruggles

Life

“What a lovely surprise to discover how unlonely being alone can be.” (-Ellen Burstyn)

Raise your hand if you’re an introvert. Now give me a (virtual) high five if you’re an INFJ like me. Or wait, actually don’t because introverts probably wouldn’t high five a random stranger.

It can be hard being an introvert in an extroverted world. It seems like everything is catered to those bubbly, talkative people and not so much for those of us who are more introspective and quiet. I know all introverts are different, and many of us can put on a facade of being extroverted, but at the heart of it, we all need our alone time to recharge.

Honestly, the last month has been quite draining for me as an introvert. I’ve had a lot more human interaction than I’m used to. That’s not to say that I’m a loner by any means — I live with my parents and I work with a small team of people every day, not to mention the people I interact with at stores. But I’ve had a hell of a lot of phone calls and in-person meetings in the past few weeks because I’ve been on the job hunt and I’ve had several interviews.

Of course, I’m grateful that employers are showing interest in me, at least from the outset. But having multiple interviews each week that I have to prepare for can be mentally exhausting for anyone, but especially an introvert. Couple that with my anxiety and I can be a bundle of nerves. I don’t think it comes across that way in interviews, but I am constantly judging myself and feeling “unworthy”. It doesn’t help that I’ve been rejected mostly, or ghosted, which is even worse. I’d rather know for sure than be left second guessing myself, ya know?

Story. Of. My. Life. 

This past week in particular has been stress inducing. I started out the week with 4 interviews scheduled, two by phone and the other two in-person, and then tacked on another in-person “interview” (more like an initial meeting with a recruiter, but still) by the middle of the week. One phone call never happened (I hate when this happens, because I psych myself up for something that never materializes), the other happened a day earlier than expected because the recruiter messed up (fine, but it caught me off guard and left me feeling flustered). I’m actually surprised I answered at all, because I am NOT one to answer phone calls from numbers I don’t know when I’m not expecting a call. The in-person interviews seemed to go ok…but I’ve felt like that before and then got rejected so ya never know.

I am DEF a call screener, sorry not sorry. 

I feel like I’ve just been running on adrenaline all week, and not necessarily the good kind. Plus my right foot/ankle has been bothering me on runs, which adds to my anxiety. I worry about what will happen if I can’t run because of an injury. Running is my therapy right now, and it helps me feel a lil more sane when things are out of my control (like right now). Plus the interviews have given me take home assignments, which I actually enjoy because I can show my skills without having to talk about them, but they’ve added to the stress because I just kinda want to shut my brain off for a few days and not have to think about things.

Thankfully, I haven’t been stressed out by work or home interactions. The people I work with are fun, and I’m only there for 5 hours a day, so it never gets hard to deal with. And I enjoy spending time with my family, so that’s good. Plus I have an hour long buffer on both ends (aka my commute) which helps me decompress and just zone out (safely) to music.

I think I just need a bit of a break from interviewing, though. I’ve been applying for jobs on and off for almost 2 years, which gets to be annoying. I just want to find a job where I can stay for at least a year or two and be happy. I like my current job, but it’s only part time and I’m not challenged enough. I loved my last job, but ya know #layoffs. If I could just find something solid that pays decently and wouldn’t require to me to job hunt again for awhile, I would really appreciate it. Cuz this introvert is struggling hardcore with all the interviews. It honestly never gets any easier because I never know what to expect and how to prepare for each one. I’ve had ones that seem really easy, and then I get rejected anyway. Or I have ones that I feel ok about, but I get ghosted and have to assume they went with someone else even though they didn’t have the decency to tell me even though I sent them a handwritten thank you note. Not that I’m bitter or anything….

I always dream up the worst case scenarios…

So the struggle is real being an introvert interviewing, but I can’t really change who I am so I just suck it up, put on my extroverted face (or as extroverted as I can be without being totally fake) and then just try to decompress as best I can. Thankfully, I have a four day weekend coming up next week, and I’m hoping to not have any interview scheduled that week so I can just enjoy the July 4th weekend with my fam (and my sister’s coming out to visit, yay!) and at the end of the month, I have a trip planned (stay tuned) which will give me much-needed relaxation time to unplug and unwind.

I really need some time to just chill…

If you’re an introvert, what’s your biggest human interaction struggle? How do you handle stress? 

Hot Tips for Hot Weather Running

Life

Summer. Is. Here! Okay, okay not officially until June 21 but according to pop culture, Memorial Day was the unofficial start of summer and by meteorological standards, summer started on June 1. So it basically is summer, or at least feels like it!

This spring was weird AF for most of the country. In Arizona, we should have gotten a lot more 90 and 100 degree days than we did, especially in May. I’m blaming El Niño for our cooler than normal temps, that seem like everyone but me was excited about. Um, I live in AZ because I like the heat, so bring it on!

Fortunately, as soon as June hit, a switch flipped and we are now in the triple digits every day. I love this time of year, when it’s finally hot but still dry before monsoon starts and brings the humidity and rain and dust storms.

The sudden weather change can be tough to deal with as someone who exercises outside, though. I got through the spring without needing to bring water with me on runs and now, it’s necessary to avoid heat stroke.

I like to look at summer the way runners in cooler climates (aka most of the rest of the country) look at winter — a season to build endurance for the rest of the year. Running in triple digit heat isn’t easy, and isn’t always enjoyable, but I do it to get stronger for the late fall and winter and early spring.

I honestly am really used to running in the heat. I only started running 5 years ago, when I first moved to Tulsa in April 2014. It was starting to warm up and pretty soon, I found myself running in oppressive humidity and yes, even some triple digit temps. That first summer of running, I was doing it mostly in the midday (not recommended) because of my crazy work schedule, but I got it done.

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Running in Tulsa’s humidity = lots of sweat!

When I moved to Tucson in January 2016, I psyched myself up for another summer of hot weather running. Unlike in Tulsa, where I ran without water (not smart), I knew I needed to bring agua with me to survive scorching summer runs. So I invested in a Camelbak before the weather started to really heat up, and I was so glad I did.

Phoenix actually tends to run about 5 degrees warmer than Tucson, so I’ve gotten even more acclimated to hot weather running. Again, it’s not always easy but it’s totally worth it to build endurance (and avoid the dreadmill, no matter how much cooler it is inside, I HATE treadmill running). However, there are ways to do hot weather running smartly, and I’m here to share my tips after 5 (going on 6) summers of running.

1) Hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE!

I can’t stress enough how important this is! Like I said, I used to be stupid and run without water on hot and humid days. No more, at least not if I’m running between 8 am and 6 pm.

I bring my Camelbak with me on any runs during the middle of the day that are near or over 100 degrees, and I also make sure to hydrate well before and after I run. Sometimes, I also toss in a Nuun tablet if it’s a particularly hot day or I plan on running more than 3 miles to make sure I can replenish my electrolytes.

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Camelbaks are essential for summer runs in AZ.

If you don’t like the feel of a Camelbak or hydration vest (I have had to get used to it again since I broke it out for runs the past two weeks), there are handheld water bottles you can try instead, or plan your route around drinking fountains. You could even try stashing water bottles around your usual running path to ensure you’ll have enough to drink throughout the run.

2) Don’t forget the fuel.

Since I’ve never run further than 8 miles, I’ve never used gels or any other fuel while running. I don’t think it’s necessary for most runs under 10 miles or so. I’m talking about fueling yourself well pre and post run.

Again, I have been stupid in the past about not eating before a run. If I run in the AM, it’s always fasted because I don’t get hungry until the afternoons. However, a few weeks ago on my Instagram I mentioned I had been doing intermittent fasting and not eating anything all day until I got home from my runs, so typically not until 6:30 or 7 pm. It was working for awhile, but I started to get hungry and now that it’s hot, I tend to feel pretty weak if I don’t eat a little something before a run.

I’ve been splitting my runs this week due to schedule issues, so I run in the morning around 7:30 and then head out for round two around 5:30 or 6 pm. I don’t eat before the morning run, but on my drive home from work, I eat a little something like a protein bar so I have a couple hours to digest it before I run again. This has been working really well to keep me from feeling nauseous and faint while running.

3) Dress as minimally as possible.

This is sooooo crucial! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen runners wearing full-length, dark colored leggings when it’s in the 90s or 100s. It makes me hot just seeing that! Summer is definitely the time to break out the shorts and tank tops.

That being said, I still haven’t worked up the confidence to run in just a sports bra and shorts. I like having a little extra coverage from a tank top, but I’m sure wearing a sports bra as a top would keep me even cooler! I do prefer to wear tanks that are geared towards running or working out, because the material is sweat-wicking, which is really important to have on hot days.

Also, try to avoid wearing dark colors. I know it’s not always possible, and I have quite a few dark-colored tops in my closet, but lighter colors do a better job at reflecting sunlight.

Don’t forget to accessorize! Sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim will keep the blazing sun out of your eyes and may help prevent a headache from developing after your run (I know this can happen to me on sunny runs, especially if I don’t drink enough water).

4) Slow it down.

This one hurts to say, coming from an already slow runner. But really, your body will thank you for it.

Many running experts say you should focus on effort, not pace when it comes to hot summer runs. If you try to run at your normal pace, you may find yourself getting tired earlier or even experiencing heat exhaustion from overexerting yourself. Hot and humid weather adds a level of challenge to running, which may force you to slow down or not run as far. This is totally okay and expected!

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Slowing down is worth seeing these summer sunset views!

Always always ALWAYS listen to your body. If it’s telling you to slow down because it’s getting too hot, do that. If you can keep up your normal pace but can’t go quite as far, that’s fine. Running by effort instead of pace will still help you build endurance and you’ll be a stronger runner when fall rolls around.

I never really track my pace that closely, because I don’t have a Garmin or similar watch. I typically just use my Fitbit to loosely watch my pace, so I’m not sure if I’m really running more slowly in the summer, but I do know not to push myself too much when it’s really really hot.

5) Just have fun!

You run because you enjoy it, right? I know that’s why I do it! Summer runs are actually enjoyable to me for the most part because I love hot weather and I like to challenge myself in different ways with running, since I’m not focused on hitting a certain pace or training for a race. Running in triple digit heat is that challenge for me, and I’m ready for it!

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Running before a monsoon storm CAN be fun!

Even if you have to run slower, not as far, not as frequently, whatever because of the heat, try to enjoy each of your runs and look at them as a fun challenge!

 

Any hot tips for hot weather running? What’s your favorite season to run?