Friday, June 24, 2011

Letter to Little Michele

As my 27th birthday approaches, I can’t help but think how much I’ve grown, changed and learned in the past ten years. Ten years ago I had just graduated high school and was about to embark on the next chapter of my life: college. If I could write a letter to the little girl I was 10 years ago today, this is what I would say:

Dear Little Michele,

 You have high school under your belt and are almost off to college! I know you are nervous about meeting your dorm roomates, your new class schedule, and the life that lies ahead of you.  Here are a few gems I would like to lay upon you and inform you about:
  • Worry has always been a big part of your life, and it’s about to get much worse.  But everything does end up turning out for the better, so don’t waste time crying yourself to sleep and getting so nervous you can’t eat. Turns out all that worrying was just a waste of your time.

  • Try to enjoy your time in the School of Nursing with a relaxation and sense of humor. You will get good grades, you will graduate with high honors, and you will prove to yourself you are “smart”. You can ditch all those late night study sessions and stop biting your nails through the tests. Live a little!

  •  You are going to get your heart broken, and it is going to hurt. But he’s not worth the years and tears you put into him, so move on! You do heal, you do love again, and you do end up with your soul mate in the end, so remember that when you feel like your life is over!

  •  People will remember the hurtful words you say. You can apologize (and you will) but some of them never forget. Sometimes it is best to hold your tongue before spouting off.

  • Two girlfriends will hurt you like no boy ever could. These experiences only make you stronger and force you to realize that true, honest, and good friends are hard to come by.

  •  Joining a sorority proves to be the best thing that you will ever do. Cherish every minute you are “forced” to spend with these girls at sleepovers, retreats, camps and workshops. What you don’t know yet is that you are creating lifelong, truly lifelong, friendships

  •  Forget all the years you and your sister spent fighting like cats and dogs. You two are about to become closer than you can imagine, and the best years are yet to come!

  •  If something just feels wrong, trust your intuition and don’t do it. A move, a job, a relationship. Get out of the situation and move on!

  •  All those months you will spend crying over money are simply not worth your time, either. Real living and loving is done without spending a penny, although it will take you the better part of 10 years to figure this out.

  •  Student Loans: Forget about them already! Everyone has them. Don’t ever lose sleep over them again, or wake up in the middle of the night to frantically sort through your file cabinet looking for student loan paperwork, only to go back to bed more upset than before. You never miss a payment, you don't ruin your credit, and you still get to live the life you want.

  •  You don’t marry by 26 and you don’t start having a family by 27. I know this is hard to read. Breathe in…breathe out…Let go of that ideal image and enjoy living without kids while you can!

 And finally, my dear, please remember you are a genuine, true, sympathetic and emotional person. Embrace these aspects of yourself instead of trying to run from them.  Your ability to cry at the drop of a hat doesn’t dissapear, but it does make you a more caring nurse, someone who others can relate to and feel comforted by. These past ten years have been good to you; really, exceptionally good. Hopefully I will be back in another 10 to write you again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bean Soup & Cornbread

The Boyfriend has been asking me to make him Navy Bean soup for awhile now. I kept saying "sure" but never made it. He finally took matters into his own hands, and I woke up from my 'nap' to smell delicious soup simmering and corn bread in the oven.


 1 and 1/4 cup water
 1/4 cup oil
 1 egg substitute. He used ener-G egg replacer
 2 and 1/2 cups cornbread mix. We used Bob Redmill's cornbread mix from the health food store.

 Mix all ingredients together and pour into pour into baking pan or cupcake tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Navy Bean Soup:

2 cans navy beans
4 cups vegetable broth
chili powder (optional)
onions (optional)
1/2 cup dry noodles

Put celery, carrots, and onions in pan and sautee until soft. Pour vegetable broth and all spices in (to taste) and then the noodles and beans. Simmer until noodles are soft. The Boyfriend admitted he didn't measure any of the spices, and he just threw in what he wanted. The result was delicious. We ate it for two days and had enough for me to take to work. It was better than the minestrone soup I made in the winter. You can add any vegetables you want. The key is the navy beans, and I love dipping my cornbread into the soup. The Boyfriend prefers his cornbread to be crispy while I like mine a little softer.

 I know when it's hot it's hard to imagine eating anything warm, but it's light and full of liquid so it was very satisfying.

 I'm off to work for the next few nights. Take care!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Weight Loss

 With all the running around I've been doing this spring and summer it's been hard to run and work out as much as I'd like to. Ever since the spring time arrived and I stopped training for my half-marathon that never happened, I've gained some weight. Seeing as how I am in a wedding in less than two months and my bridesmaid dress is hanging in my closet, I can't gain any weight or it won't fit. Thus starts my 8 week weight loss plan.

 This morning I started my day with a green smoothie and green pills:

Frozen strawberries, one banana, and a bag of spinach greens.

If you're new to the blog, you can check out my post on green tablets here. I am still taking between 3 and 6 tablets a day. When i'm not working, I usually just take three when I wake up. When I'm working, I'll take 3 when I wake up and 3 in the middle of the night when I am struggling to stay awake.

 Then The Boyfriend and I headed to the gym, where we had a great lifting session. I've been looking up some routines on other girls blogs and pulled some different exercises from blogs and came up with the following for today:
  •  Bicep curls with straight bar (30 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Shoulder lifts with straight bar (30 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
  • Lat pull-downs (3 sets of 12)
  • Tricep extensions (3 sets of 12)
  • Dips on bench (3 sets of 12)
  • Shoulders (did three exercises, 3 sets of 10 each) For these, we use the machine that has pulleys, and we pulled across and up our body, then pulled up and across. Hard to describe...
  • Chest press (20 lbs, 3 sets of 12)
My intention was to focus on triceps and biceps, but The Boyfriend wanted to focus on shoulders and chest, so what we got was a mix of all four muscle groups. It was a good workout, and now my arms feel like jell-o!

When we got home we made a big salad and shared it
It had bean sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, greens, mushrooms, radishes, etc. Very refreshing!

 When the sun goes down and the temp drops a few degrees we are going to run 6 miles outside. It's so hot here in the South it's almost unthinkable to run in the middle of the day. 

 What do you do when you are trying to lose weight? I mostly focus on weight lifting and cardio routines. For some, changing their diet alone helps them lose weight, but when you are already existing on mainly fruits and vegetables, you need to amp up your metabolism in order to lose weight. 

 Have a great Monday! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011


 This weekend I returned home for the bachelorette party of one of my best friends, Kristin. The night before her big night, another friend who recently got engaged had us over to her place.

 When we walked in, we saw this. Bottles of wine with "always and forever" ribbon tied to them, and a card with each of our names on it.

 Inside the card was a poem she wrote, different for each of us

 I screamed when I read the "will you be my maid of honor" part, and I looked up to see Kristin reading her card and starting to cry.  We each had a special, different poem written for us asking different things: maid of honor, matron of honor, and bridesmaid. It was such a special, sweet moment that we all shared together and I felt so incredibly lucky to have made such good friends in college and remained so close with all of them.

 We drank sangria, munched on veggies, hummus, salsas and guacamole, and talked and laughed until late. When everyone went home/went to bed, Kristin and I (accidentally) stayed up until well after 3, whispering to each other in the dark like we were in high school again. I can't remember a time I had been this excited.

 The next day, we had a bridal shower for Kristin during the day
Nicole & I, Bridesmaids for Kristin's wedding

We played games, drank margaritas, and Kristin opened up her presents. She really liked the toaster oven I got her!

 That evening we headed to Newport, an area right on the border of Ohio and Kentucky. My sorority has somewhat of a tradition of going there for bachelorette parties. We got ready in the hotel and snapped some photos of the bride and her entourage:

 We had a great night, dancing and drinking and just being "us", together again.

 The rest of the photos are not internet appropriate, so I will leave them up to your imagination. I drove all the way home today and head back into work tomorrow. It's going to be go-go-go with weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and traveling from now until the end of October, so Im going to grab some sleep while I can!

 Have you ever been a bridesmaid in a wedding? If so, how did the bride ask you to be a part of her special day? I may or may not be collecting cute ideas for future reference ; ) 

 Have a great night! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fired Up

 I was browsing through some of my favorite blogs on my bookmark tab this afternoon when I read something really disturbing.

 It was from a girl's blog who I have peeked in on from time to time. She originally caught my eye when she decided to do a 21-day vegan "cleanse", so I thought I would follow along and occasionally leave encouraging comments. She documented each day with pictures of green smoothies, salads, and, well, basically those two things. On day 6 she gave up and literally could not wait to put chicken and dairy into her mouth. Her words were: "I couldn't handle it anymore. I could feel my body yerning for something. Something more than vegetables... I needed substance, meat, and happiness. I first felt so guilty, but after receiving a few comments from you guys, I realized that my happiness is all that matters."

 I'm not one to pick fights. I usually don't like to confront people unless I am really, truly fired up about something that has bothered me to the core. I'm not trying to single this girl out, but rather using this as an example of how people in our country and generation tend to think, and exactly what I am trying to raise awareness about! Reading those words was like a literal knife to my side, and I absolutely cannot sit silent about it. 

 We are in the midst of a global crisis caused by insatiable human greed. Real needs are not wrong; wants, on the other hand, can be problematic. The more we have, the more we want. Many of us have become so out of touch with ourselves that we can't tell the difference between a need or a want. We say things like "I need a new car" and "I need to buy some clothes" and "I need a drink", as if we would die without these things. Vegans, (and I mostly speak for myself and the vegans I know, since we know there are always exceptions to the rule), attempt to take only what they truly need and not jeopardize other living things lives for our own selfish desires. 

 For example, no one "needs" to eat meat, they just prefer to. . . Life is sustainable on a plant-based diet, we all know that. It is by choice that we eat the flesh of others. As an example of how we confuse wants with needs, look at the quote from the girl's blog above. She confused her needs with wants when she said "I need substance", sure we all need substance, but eating meat becomes a want when you decide to get your substance through dead animals. So "I need to eat meat" should be spoken as "I want to eat meat" since your life does not depend on it. 

 The whole heart and soul of veganism is that the world does not revolve around ourself. The world does not equate to if we are happy today and who we can hurt to make ourselves temporarily happy. There is suffering going on all around us, and we don't even realize that we are the ones causing it! We do things to alleviate this suffering in our hearts such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating to the Goodwill, hoping for some temporary satisfaction that makes us feel as if we are a "good person" and then the next morning we wake up and realize we are still unhappy, miserable, and suffering.  The choice to eat a vegan diet will do more to revolutionize our bodies and minds and bring about world peace than any single other act, because it powerfully effects change in the outside world through the change that is happening within our own bodies. It raises awareness that what you do to others is a direct reflection of yourself; it raises awareness that there is more to life than just our own happiness. There are things such as the happiness of others, the love that you can extend to all living creatures, and the compassion that you choose to show them. 

 In her book Yoga and Vegetarianism, Sharon Gannon writes "The relationship of humans to the Earth is mostly exploitative, opportunisitic, and violent. We see the results of this all around us: slavery, sexism, speciesism, and extinction.  There is an alternative: live so that your live enhances, rather than destroys, the lives of others. This is not a new message. It is an ancient message with a new-found meaning for the crisis we face today."

 In our society today we are taught and told since we are little that "as long as you are happy" and to "do whatever makes you happy" and in the words of the girl above, "I realized that my happiness is all that matters."  So if her happiness is all that matters to her, and my happiness is all that matters to me, and your happiness is all that matters to you, who cares about each other and anything other than themselves? No one. Who breaks this vicious cycle of selfishness and gluttony?

 Veganism, to me, means thinking about something other than myself, because I have realized that what I do to others is a direct reflection of my own self esteem and self worth. Thinking about something other than myself means saying, "Yes, that chicken might taste good. It might smell good. But there is more to living than pleasing just myself".  There is more to life than jumping from one task or opportunity to the next, satisfying my palate and feeling temporarily satisfied.

  That being said, I don't "give up" these things and walk around semi-sad, wishing I could eat meat but priding myself on doing the "right thing". I do not feel restricted, I do not feel like I am missing out, and I have never felt like something was missing in my vegan choices or in my diet. If, by chance, someone tries a "vegan cleanse" and feels like they are "restricting themselves", I only have to say open your mind and heart to new opportunities! There is enough delicious, healthy food to feed the whole world round, yet we choose to single-mindedly focus on eating animals who have been killed out of violence and greed?  Why is this? 

 This is such a broad, passionate and emotional topic for me as well as many others. Rational arguments could go on forever about this. I'm not trying to start an argument, and I don't have anything personally against the girl in the above blog; rather, I am trying use this as an example of how destructive and incomplete our lives have become. I'm trying to appeal to the hearts of my readers, to challenge you to step outside of yourself for a day, an hour, even a minute. To realize that that piece of meat on your plate had a life, and the kindness you extend to that animal is more than just saying "I'm not eating meat today", it's a step towards compassion for all living things and a step outside of our selfish, lonely world and into one where you actually feel connected to other people and other beings. For some, eating a vegan diet is only about feeling sexy, losing weight, or being healthy. In essence, this kind of veganism is still for selfish motives. I think real and true veganism has little to do with diet and all to do with the matters of the heart. Once you realize you don't want to steal, hurt, kill, or harm others, you will end up not eating them, and thus a vegan diet is born. But like I said, the core of veganism isn't really about the food, it's first and foremost about extending others the simple treatment you would want for yourself. It's about living simple so others may simply live.

"Whatever joy there is in this world all comes from desiring others to be happy, and whatever suffering there is in this world all comes from desiring myself to be happy" - Shantideva

Saturday, June 11, 2011


 It's been a sad few days in the ICU.  This song spoke to me from another's blog and I wanted to repost it in memory of all the new, young angels smiling down on us from heaven.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wedding Season 2011

 Starting the summer that I graduated college, I attended about 2 or 3 weddings per "wedding season". Needless to say, I thought all my friends were married by now.

 Then came... Wedding Season 2011.

Hands down The Biggest wedding season I could have ever imagined. That's 7 invitations up there, not counting the two that I already tossed and the two that I haven't received yet. So far I will be attending 6 weddings, 2 rehearsal dinners, 2 bridal showers and 2 bachelorette parties- all between June 15th and Aug 21st! They are all out of town, too: St Louis, Kentucky, Ohio, New York. Eeeeeek! 
 These days, my time is spent running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I feel like I have so much to do, and my to-do lists are composed of, but not limited to, big errands such as "get bridesmaid dress tailored" and "book hotel reservations for St Louis" and "buy plane tickets to New York". 

This weekend, after working three in a row and not sleeping,  I am headed to Kentucky for this crazy girl's bachelorette party! 

 I know it will all be worth it, though...As soon as I see my girls.

Some things never change...

And for that, I'm thankful!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Restaurant Review: Soul

 If it seems like we're going out on the town and eating out a lot more lately, it's because we are!

 The first year we lived here we hardly ever left the apartment. No exaggeration.

 And now, I am happy to say we are making up for lost time! Charlotte has so many little hidden jewels, and so many vegan and vegetarian options. Once we actually ventured out the front door, we were pleasantly surprised to learn how delicious and modern this city really is!

 Enter Soul, one of the cutest restaurants I have ever been to. The inside is small, with your choice of either huge booths or low, swanky couches to sit on. There's a small bar connected to the visible kitchen, and although it was small, they even had a live DJ spinning records in the corner. The atmosphere was amazing!  The first time we went there we met friends for a light dinner and some drinks.

"Saki and Brazilian Rum, Please."

And then we went downstairs to the "pirate bar" for a little dancing.

  The Boyfriend and I liked it so much that we went back just three days later for a lovely little date.

My favorite thing about this place is that they serve cucumber slices with their water instead of lemon. It's weird how refreshing the cucumber tastes, and how great! 

  We started with a small plate, or tapa, for our appetizer. I love a good tapas restaurant because I've always been a "taster" and would rather have two or three small plates rather than one big plate. On this night we chose the small plate of dolmades: kalamata olives, hummus and pita bread, and grape leaves.

We love stuffed grape leaves!

 Keeping with the mediterranean theme, The Boyfriend got the falafel, which was to die for

 while I rolled with something a little more asian and got the seaweed salad.

The seaweed salad was really interesting. And by interesting, I mean strangely addicting. I could have ate another cup of it! My friends had recommended it to me, and I was definitely not dissapointed! I've always loved rice noodles, and these were just delicious. Since seeing it on the menu there, I've seen it at two other places as well. Seaweed salad is taking over! 

The sesame seeds on top really add to the flavor, too.

 Soul sits on a corner just outside of Uptown, so we were able to sit outside and enjoy the sun. If you look closely through the sun and haze, you can see the skyline :) 

 In summary, Soul is a modern bar/eatery with a great atmosphere and menu selection. They offer two pages of sushi to choose from, tapas, (small plates), mediterranean dishes, and at least one vegan or vegetarian option on each page!  We would love to go back again and again, but our goal is to experience a different restaurant each time we go out so we can see as much of Charlotte as possible!

 Is your city vegan/vegetarian friendly? I never thought Charlotte was overly veg-friendly, but then I went to Denver! The whole time I was there I kept being reminded how friendly Charlotte really is to vegans and vegetarians, because in Denver it was perfectly normal and acceptable to not have a single plate on the menu that didn't have meat on it or in it!

 Do you go out to eat a lot? Like I mentioned, the first year we lived here we never, and I mean never went out. Thankfully, times have changed, and we couldn't be happier! I am so glad we made it through our rough patch, because we have been enjoying our new life in the city like we never thought possible!

"We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing." - louisa may alcott

Summer Lovin'

 Some things I am loving these days....

 My friend's lakeside condo which made me feel like we were at a resort...

And being in the sun with good friends at the lake...relaxing on the boat, tubing, and sippin' on cocktails :)

Big, colorful salads for lunch with my homemade ranch dressing!

 Dinner dates with friends at new places which turn out to be delicious and fun! 

(And finding swanky restaurants right next door that have outdoor couches to lounge on!)

I'm also lovin on some....

Nacho Mom's Ultimate Vegan Queso sauce, the best queso sauce I have ever tasted in my life! It's great for nachos, dipping veggies in, and on top of baked potatoes!

What are you loving this summer?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Eating

I don't know about you, but when it's hot, all I want are cool, refreshing foods.

 Lately, my days have been filled with green smoothies



And more salads,

 And lots of dips, like black bean dip, hummus, and guacamole

I worked last night, so this afternoon I woke up and wasn't even feeling that hungry. It is hot, hot, hot here in Charlotte, and humid as well, so that might have played a part in curbing my hunger. Two hours after waking up I made myself a green smoothie: banana, two strawberries, spinach, and almond milk:

If you're new to the blog and haven't heard about green smoothies, you can read about them here, where I explain what they are, or here, where I include wheatgrass pills in the discussion and go further into how good green smoothies are you for you. In addition, if you wanted to learn more about the wheatgrass pills that helped me conquer my addition to coffee and continue to help me stay alert through the night, click here!

 The Boyfriend went to the Farmer's Market for us today while I was sleeping. He returned with beaucoup amounts of fruits and veggies:

And I packed a large, colorful salad for my lunch tonight at work:

This blog has the potential to get extremely slack-on-food for the summer considering all I want are fruits, vegetables, and smoothies. However, we do have some plans in the working that could make 2011 the most fun year yet, so while I won't be blogging about food, I will be blogging about fun trips and adventures we take!

 Do you find yourself not wanting heavy meals in the summer, like pasta and rice dishes? For me, I usually want smoothies, icees, salads, and cool fruits.

 Do you have any fun plans for the summer? I'm not going to jinx our plans and announce them just yet, but we do have a few trips up our sleeve that would be really fun to go on!

 I'm heading into work for night #2 of 3! Have a great night!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Colorado Visit

 We are back from Colorado! 

We had a great time spending 4 days with my sister and her Boyfriend in Denver, Colorado.

We went hiking at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado

and we went to Boulder, Colorado on Memorial Day.

 We ate Indian food and saw a comedy show.

 We ate lots of great food; sometimes we ate out and sometime we cooked in. I didn't take pictures because I decided instead to enjoy the entire weekend and not think about pictures or blogging.

 Upon returning home we were met with a host of problems: college plans falling through, my phone broke, part of our apartment flooded, I head off into work for three nights, etc etc. I apologize for my lack of enthusiasm and my lack of blogging and hope to be back in the game soon!