Friday, May 31, 2013


Being a vegetarian has been one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I had tried it in college, but gave up after only three months because I missed chicken so much and found it really difficult to be a vegetarian on a college campus (though I think a ton of my fellow students were vegan, which is even more difficult). 
In college, my motivation for being a vegetarian was to lose weight - I gained ~20 pounds eating and drinking my weight in terrible-for-you foods, and thought it would be a quick fix to getting the pounds to drop off. It wasn't, and because my head wasn't right or fully in it, I couldn't commit to it. I lasted maybe 2 months, and then was back eating meat again, which is totally fine. Even now, I've told myself that if my body is craving meat for a good 2-3 days, I'll eat it again. Since I mentally prepared myself though, I haven't felt it necessary and haven't had a lasting craving.

Two years ago, after seeing documentaries like Food, Inc., and just really thinking about how I felt about how I felt morally about eating meat, I decided to just see how long I could go without eating meat (I do eat fish, so technically I'm pescetarian, though I only have it once a month - if that.. plus no one knows what a pescetarian is and they think I make that word up).

There are things that I miss a lot - there is NO good soy substitute for bacon, and I miss chicken Caesar wraps, but overall, I haven't had that struggle where I've been craving it for a long time.

Honestly, since switching and eliminating meat from my diet, I'm constantly baffled by how much of, "But where do you get your protein from?" comments are made to me. I'm sorry, were people judging my protein intake beforehand?
The thing is, with any lifestyle choice concerning diet, you can not eat certain things, but still be falling apart on the inside. Lately, I've been really concerned with the lack of vegetable servings in my diet and how I was filling myself with fried or super processed ingredients, so I've been making a super conscious effort to have a ton of fruits and veggies, minimally processed foods, enough protein, and more of an effort to bake instead of fry/saute with oil. 
I know a lot of people are getting into Meatless Mondays, just to cut down on their carbon footprint or have a little less meat in their diet, so I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite, veggie laden recipes with absolutely no meat products (and very minimal processed ingredients). These are iPhone pictures, so I apologize if they're a little out of focus/blurry, but they get the point across!

The fake meat products from Trader Joe's are phenomenal, and MorningStar is one of my standard go-to's for fake meat products. I also eat a ton of seitan because I'm not the hugest tofu fan.

Meatless Mediterranean burger, toasted whole wheat pita, asparagus with organic Parmesan cheese, and cooked spinach.

Organic mac and cheese with broccoli tossed in and roasted asparagus (and of course, red wine!).

I'm also a little bit of a whore for anything with avocado. Yummmm.

Different meals throughout the week.

Yummy breakfast (on the rare occasion that I eat  it - very often I go with breakfast foods for lunch or dinner).

Breakfasts often include whole wheat pita, organic Maine blueberries, meatless sausage patties, oatmeal, whole wheat waffles, and coffee - though sometimes I splurge and buy sweet potato tots from Trader Joe's.

Having a Puerto Rican boyfriend = the most amazing rice and beans when he offers to cook dinner. I'm a lucky girl.

I found a recipe on Pinterest for "healthy cookies," which to me, sounds like total and complete bullshit. When I saw the ingredients, there are only three - bananas, oats, and chocolate chips. Boom, done. They've turned into one of my favorite treats, especially before I go running. They are seriously the simplest things to make, and you know exactly what is going into them!

What are your favorite healthy meals to cook?
Do you ever follow the "Meatless Mondays," routine?

Enjoy your weekends, loves! xox

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Girl Power Playlist.

If someone who did not know me was to look through my iTunes library - or my stations on Pandora - I would probably look like I had multiple personalities. Music is so important to me though, and has always been such a way of identifying how I'm feeling, that I can't limit myself to just one category or style that I listen to. 

Lately, I've been listening to a ton of amazing female artists who are just too talented to go without posting about. Clearly I have a type though, since they all have a lot of similar styles and elements, but they are definitely swoon worthy in their own way - plus, who can get mad about listening to a ton of awesome females in their element? 

Here are my current favorite female vocalists, who I've been listening to on repeat lately. 

1. Kate Nash

Kate Nash is brilliant. Her songs all tell stories, so the lyrics are highly important, and a lot of times she expresses things that everyone goes through on a normal basis (break ups, unrequited love, being in a relationship that doesn't fit) in a funny, but poignant way. 

Favorite tracks: Navy Taxi, Foundations, We Get On, Merry Happy. 

2. Lana Del Ray

I've posted about my love with Lana before, but the more I listen to her, the bigger of a girl crush I develop. There's something about her voice, the beats, and lyrics that make me sing along and put me in a perma-good mood. 

Favorite tracks: Blue Jeans, Diet Mountain Dew, Off to the Races, Ride 

3. Fiona Apple

There are not enough positive things I can say about Fiona Apple. She's been around forever, is a poet with her words (including a 90-something word album title for When the Pawn...), is absolutely beautiful, and is clearly not going anywhere or having her talent diminish in any way. She was one of the originals of angsty females who just can't catch a break in love, and I hope that never goes away (sorry, Fiona). 

Favorite Tracks: Paper Bag, Limp, Better Version of Me, Criminal

4. Rachael Yamagata

I first heard Rachael when I started watching The OC (I am not ashamed, I still love and miss the show). They constantly played amazing music featuring relative unknowns (at least to me!), and Yamagata was featured on there a few times. Her voice is amazing, her lyrics hit home, and the melodies are perfect. You've probably heard her without even realizing. 

Favorite Tracks: 1963, Worn Me Down, Be Be Your Love

5. Regina Spektor.

I actually saw her play in a very small venue, and she was electric. Her piano playing is unreal, and she is absolutely adorable. She's another with catchy beats and lyrics, and she's unbelievably quirky, which is adorable. 

Favorite Tracks: Fidelity, The Calculation, Samson, Laughing With.

6. Ingrid Michaelson 

Ingrid Michaelson is the cutest thing alive and her music makes me want to be in love all the time and not care about anything else. Her music is constantly upbeat and can almost guarantee to put you in a good mood. 

Favorite Tracks: You and I, The Way I Am, Be OK

Plus, she and Sara Bareilles have a beautiful duet that brings me to this amazing, zen state whenever I hear it. Their voices are perfect together. 

7. Lissie

Lissie is a newer favorite - I haven't listened to her for more than a year, but she is incredible. And, she covered Kid Cudi's "Pursuit Of Happiness," which takes some serious courage, but she did it beautifully. 

Favorite Tracks: Pursuit of Happiness, You Can Go Your Own Way, Bully

And guys - this is live, which is out of control.

8. Sara Bareilles 

She is another one who is just adorable with amazing talent and vocals. She hits on all aspects of love - the good, bad, and difficult, so her music is appropriate for any circumstance. 

Favorite Tracks: Love Song, Bottle it Up, Gravity

9. Florence + the Machine.

Florence Welch is incredible - there is no other word to describe her talent. I seriously get goosebumps listening to her, and I have yet to meet someone who isn't a fan of her music. I also have a soft spot for her, because Cosmic Love hits home every time I think of Poppy - it was what I was listening to when I found out he had passed, so even now, I get choked up when it comes on. 

Favorite Tracks: Seven Devils, Dog Days are Over, You've Got the Love, Cosmic Love, Sweet Nothing (ft. Calvin Harris)

Even the opening of this song, I honestly have goosebumps - she has some powerful vocals. 

10. Rihanna. 

Okay, hear me out. I've gotten so used to the S&M, badass version of Rihanna where the crazy and catchy beats overpower her voice, but when Stay came out, I remembered how much talent this woman has beyond picking amazing producers to lay out tracks for her. 

Favorite Tracks: Stay, Umbrella, SOS, Birthday Cake (I know, I know). 

I know as soon as I post this, I'm going to think of a TON of others that are obvious, who I forgot, but this is my at the moment top 10 of favorites. 

Who are your favorite female vocalists? 
(I realize I don't have Adele and Taylor Swift on this list for an obvious reason - I'm not a fan of either of them. I think they're highly talented, just not for me). 

Currently listening to: Seven Devils - Florence + the Machine. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

TinyPrints and the Art of Thank-Yous.

Growing up, there were certain things that were required of my brother and I in our home. We had the usual chores that we cried and complained about (like making our beds - the horror of it!); we had to be outdoors for at least part of the day if the weather permitted, and we had to write thank-you notes.

My mother insisted upon us writing a thank-you note for every single gift that we ever received - ever. It's a lovely thing, and I never complained about it for the sporadic gift that Poppy would give me, but once the winter holidays and birthdays rolled around and Patrick and I were writing at least thirty thank-you notes, we started to regret it a little. It was her rule that if we didn't send a relative or friend a card, our mother then had the right to tell them not to send us anymore gifts.

When I got to college (after my high-school graduation party where I wrote no less than 200 thank-yous), I felt at peace because now, I didn't have to make my bed and I could be done with those life and time consuming thank you notes!

I found though, that I've kept writing them. There is something about taking the time out of your day to let someone know that their generosity and time is appreciated that I just cannot turn my back on.

I saw a flash of myself as my mother after I was in a friend's wedding during college - so as a poor college graduate with no full-time work lined up, I had to buy my bridesmaid dress, shoes, throw a shower, buy gifts, etc. - and this friend never sent a thank you note to anyone who attended her wedding. One night at dinner someone brought that up to her, and she sniffed and said, "No one should expect that, it's an outdated tradition."

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think that taking less than five minutes out of your day to let someone know that you appreciate them is something outdated, or that we should forget about. There's something really special about getting mail - real mail, aka not a bill - that shows that someone took the time and effort to acknowledge you.

The art form that I have adopted for writing thank-you notes is as follows:

1. Get some amazing thank-you notes that you WANT to write on. No one says that you can't show off your impeccable taste while being grateful, right?

2. When starting out your thank-you note, begin by just thanking that person for not just the item they got you, but also for thinking of you. Be genuine though, and try to switch up the way that you phrase it so it doesn't come off as though you have a pre-written, generic thank-you.

If someone gives me money, I always tell them what I'm planning on doing with the money, even if I have to self sabotage a bit and say, "I really appreciate the money you sent me. I'm planning on being very boring and putting it into savings until I can figure out how I want to use it!" Being more specific can help connect people to you personally and just feel like they're a part of your life.

3. Restate how much you appreciate their generosity, and include information about any time you might see them soon.

*Even if you hate something that someone sent you, try to find something positive to say about it without going overboard.

For example, one year my Poppy's girlfriend got me a huge sweater that had enormous mice with pieces of cheese all over it. Is there anything I could be thankful for with that gift?

Dear MaryAnn,

Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift that you gave me for Christmas. The mouse on that sweater is too cute for words and it was a very unique sweater - none of my friends have one! I really appreciate you taking the time to think of me. It was great to see you during the holidays, and I'm sure we will see you soon. Say hi to Suzanne for me!
Thanks again so much.
Love, Allison

Don't be confused and think that a thank-you note needs to be a novel. All it needs to do is show genuine thanks for whatever it was that someone bought for you.

Tiny Prints, an online store, can't help you in actually writing an awesome thank-you note, but they can easily check item #1 off of your checklist. - a division of Shutterfly offers a TON of awesome thank-you notes in a ton of different designs. They're easily customizable so that you can personalize them too. I was sent an email to check out TinyPrints and their thank-yous, and no joke, I spent a good 45 minutes debating on which ones I wanted to order before choosing mine.

Even the boyfriend said he was impressed by these - he said they remind him of the chalkboard writing in a bar or speakeasy (shocker that is where his mind went!).

Having great stationary absolutely motivates me to actually WANT to write thank-you notes - while my seven year old self looks at grown-up me and wonders where life took such a wrong turn.

These were my TinyPrints thank-yous and a note I wrote to a family who bought me a housewarming gift!

Tiny Prints is way more than just notecards though - they also offer invitations, photo iPhone cases, and, my favorite - address labels. Their choice of designs for address labels are on point and very versatile, so ou can easily customize something that fits your personality (and a great thing to put on the envelope of your thank-you notes so that people who are in awe of your writing ability will be able to send you money for your birthday!).

Here are some of the beauties you can get from TinyPrints - and there are MILLIONS of amazing options for men and women.

Any favorites from the TinyPrints site? Did anyone else have slave-driver parents who made them break their hands writing thank-you notes? Share your stories!

Currently listening to: Myth - Beach House