Fourth of July- Vegan Style

Friday, June 30, 2017

For every person who has grown up in America, the Fourth of July is synonymous with summer. It's a day full of friends and family, maybe water balloon fights, fires crackling at dusk, and the ever-present blast of fireworks going off everywhere. It's also one of the busiest holidays for the barbecue industry, and we all know what that means- hundreds of more animals slaughtered to satisfy the taste buds of the masses.

As a vegan, holidays like this can bring out of some uncomfortable, maybe even hostile, emotions. All of the meat on the barbecues on every back porch in America isn't just some slab of food to us, it was a living, breathing, sentient being.

But if you're like me, you still have places to be and people to hang out with. Just because you have made the decision to live your life without harm doesn't mean you have to miss out on great food and fireworks.


My favorite dish to make for almost any party (including work parties) is Cowboy Caviar. Sounds weird right? But once you take a peek at the ingredients (or the photo) you'll see that it's something you've probably had before.

I've seen a number of different recipes for this dish, most of the differences are seen in the choices of dressings, but I usually make mine with whatever I have in the fridge and cupboard- usually some red wine vinegar and a tiny bit of oil.

I think for this Fourth I'm going to add some red quinoa into the dish as well, just to make it into more of a salad than a dip. Whatever you do to switch it up and make it your own, it is seriously one of the easiest, cheapest, and more satisfying side dishes out there. And I can promise you everyone will gobble it right up!

If you make your own please tag me in the comments on Instagram! I would love to see!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can black beans (or 1 1/2 cup dry and cooked)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 1 fresh tomato, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, fresh is best but dry would work if it's all you have
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil (I've made this with and without the oil and both are great, so any oil-free peeps out there, don't fret!)
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2  tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional)

Love deeply xo

Spiritual Questions- 11/50

Thursday, June 29, 2017


"You're having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?"

Things question takes me back to Tuesday's question, about doing the right thing. Standing up for your friends, even strangers, can be scary. But it is by far the right and most rewarding thing to do. In the above situation, I would say to kindly ask these people that you admire to stop talking about your friend is such a manner, and depending on what is being said, maybe even tell how she is the complete opposite of what they believe she is.

I know we have all been in the position of being criticized, maybe even criticizing others, but I believe that the only time criticism is acceptable is if it can help someone better themselves or their work. That's what teachers do, right? They critic a student's work in order for that student to do better and learn more. Criticism that is distasteful is just someone being rude and bullying, in my book.

Have you or a friend ever been criticized in a nasty way? What did you do?

Love deeply xo

*Original questions here.

How about a little insight?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I'm always looking for new apps for meditation and mindfulness, so when my friend suggested a new app to me I downloaded it right away. Boy, do I wish I found this app sooner.


Insight Timer is like no other meditation app I've ever seen. It's like a little community full of people from all over the world that all want to better their lives through mindfulness and meditation. You can connect with people through groups and see on a map of the world where everyone is meditating at that very moment.

The app is full of hundreds of meditations, both guided and free, as well as some podcasts, music to meditate to, mantras and meditations that focus on certain aspects of life or daily activities. And it's updated regularly! Like every day regularly.

And the best part? It's FREE. The app is free to download from the app store and there are no in-app purchases or ads. It's the perfect app for anyone who wants to start a meditation practice but feels stuck or all alone. With this app, it will only take you a moment on the home screen to see the thousands of other people meditating with you to know you are never alone.

Love deeply xo

*All opinions are my own and this post was not sponsored

Spiritual Questions- 10/50

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


"Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?"

I'm taking this question to mean that "doing things right" is sticking to the norm, doing what everyone else is doing. Was that the way the author intended this question to be asked? No idea, but it's what I read when I saw it.

I would say that I am definitely more focused on doing the right things and not necessarily the "right way" to do things. Just because everyone else thinks it's normal and "right" to consume the flesh of other living beings doesn't make it right. Just because some people are racist or homophobic doesn't make it right.

Standing out in a crowd isn't easy. Sometimes being vegan in a very meat-centered culture feels like you're wearing bright yellow to a funeral where everyone else is wearing black (do people still wear black to funerals??). It can be scary to stand up for what you believe in, for what is right and just, but in this world of social media, it is so much easier to feel less alone. All anyone has to do is jump on YouTube and they'll realize they aren't the only ones dealing with racial slurs, homophobia, or just those people who think they know best.

Never question your ground, your roots, and know that they will always hold you steady if you believe in them. Stand up for yourself and your beliefs, stand up for those around you, speak up for those who can't speak for themselves. 

Doing the right things isn't always easy but it can be so freeing to stand by your morals and beliefs. Whether or not it's what other people see as the "right" thing.

Love deeply xo

Spiritual Questions- 9/50

Monday, June 26, 2017


"To what degree have you actually controlled the direction your life has taken?"

I think I've had a lot of control over where my life is at right now, whether that be a good or a bad thing I'm not so sure yet. Ever since graduating high school I made decisions for myself that have taken me places and have given me opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise.

I made the choice to go to college and change my major a year in. Changing my major presented me with an opportunity to study in Italy one summer, an opportunity that I never would have had otherwise. That trip will forever be one of the greatest memories of my life.

I moved home after college and after working odd jobs made the decision to go back to school for the second time, because I thought I finally knew what I wanted to do. Now that I attempted school for the third time and made the decision to drop out, I think it's safe to say that I am done with school at this point.

I now have a great job that pays enough that I can actually do fun things every once in a while and not just pay my bills and barely get by. I know I am fortunate to have this job that allows me to do those things when many people do not have that luxury. 

We all have control over our lives, each one of our decisions has an impact on our lives be that small or lasting. But I do believe that some things are just out of our control and that's okay too. Learning to go with the flow and ride the waves that life throws at you is a part of the trip.

Love deeply xo

*Original questions found here.

Spiritual Questions 8/50

Friday, June 23, 2017


"If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?"

Oh man, I wish I could say that I wouldn't live my life any differently, that I already live my life just the way I want, but that just isn't true. I'll be 27 at the end of this summer, so if my life would only last for another 13 years or so I think I would do everything differently.

I think I would travel without worry of not having enough money to get by.

I would love whoever I wanted to love and not waste my time waiting.

I would buy that tiny house or camper van and go on an adventure without worrying about the finances.

I think I would adopt a lot more animals, buy the land I want to put them on, and start my sanctuary no matter what anyone else thinks.

There are a lot of "would's" in this question for me, but some of those things just aren't possible right now. Maybe I'm just too much of a realist in those regards to just go for it without worry. Maybe I'm a little bit too pessimistic. Whatever the reason is, I am trying to work on not worrying about the future and just focus on the here and now. So many mindfulness speakers I've been listening to and reading speak of living in the now and I don't think enough people do that these days.

Love deeply xo

*Link to original questions here.

Spiritual Questions- 7/50

Thursday, June 22, 2017


"Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?"

I'm going to take this as an overall life question and not necessarily an occupation question. I do think I am doing what I believe in and not just settling for whatever life has given me. I made the decision to go vegan over a year ago and it is amazing to suddenly feel like you are living life by your morals.

Have you ever done something like that? Made changes to your life that made you feel like you were living your life in alignment with your beliefs and inner self? It really is remarkable how much of a calming effect it can have on you.

I'm not saying going vegan was easy, and sometimes it still isn't for various reasons, but knowing that I am living life in accordance to my inner self is far too rewarding to ever think of going back to the way I used to do things.

Love deeply xo


*Link to original questions here.

Spiritual Questions- 6/50

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


"If happiness what the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?"

Helping those who can't help themselves, that's what would make me rich. A sanctuary for animals and people alike to live together in harmony, taken care of and protected for the rest of their days. I've never been the kind of person who goes out of her way to help total strangers or sometimes even friends, as selfish as that is. But as I get older and (hopefully) gain more knowledge, I have learned that speaking for those who can't, or helping those who may be having a hard time, makes my heart swell and my soul shine. I dream of having an animal sanctuary one day, one where people can come and sit with the animals for as long as they would like to refocus on their own lives. After all, nothing relieves stress like the warmth of an animal.

Can you just imagine it? An oasis out in the middle of no where for every living thing to live life as they choose. Having that as my legacy would make me the richest person out there.

Or I could just travel the world, to anywhere I would ever want to go. That would be pretty awesome too.

Love deeply xo

*Original questions here

Spiritual Questions- 5/50

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


"What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world?"


It took me a while to finally sit down and answer this question because just saying" Oh my god, a LOT" didn't sound fair. This world is beautiful and so full of life, I think the problem is that most people have stopped looking for the beauty. There is so much hate and disaster in the world these days that I think it has turned the majority of people sort of cynical. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there any more hate now in 2017 than there was a hundred years ago, but we live in such an informed society now where information is right at our fingertips whenever we want it. We hear about a bomb being dropped in Syria hours, if not moments, after it happens. We watch live footage of an apartment tower engulfed in flames in London because people have smart phones. The world is so very different than it was a hundred, even fifty or thirty, years ago and I think that has a lot to do with it.

But if there was anything that I could change about the world it would be that more people would know peace, and love, and empathy. Can you imagine what that world would be like? Where instead of waging war, people would sit down and debate and talk it all out? Obviously that isn't how reality is or how it ever could be, but just imagine a world of peace. I wouldn't mind raising a family in that sort of world.

Love deeply xo


*Original post with questions here.

Spiritual Questions- 4/50

Monday, June 19, 2017



"When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done?"

This is one of those questions that I seriously hope I can answer truthfully in the end. Because I hope, and maybe even pray sometimes, that I will do more in my life instead of just talking about it. But life is hard that way, as I'm sure it is to everyone, where circumstances are working against you. 

There are so many things I want to do in life from walking Hadrian's Wall to rescuing animals to finally having a job that I actually love to go to every day. But until I can save the money for the trip to England, or until I can save enough money to buy land to live on and create an oasis for animals on, neither of those things will happen. And until I find that job that I love, but that also allows me to save money and not live paycheck to paycheck, neither of the first two goals will happen either,

My life has thrown me a fair share of curve balls and I pride myself in how easy I have come to accept and adapt to change. But in the end, when I'm old and wrinkly and sipping green tea on a porch swing, I want to look back on my life and admire all of the things I've done, not the things I said.

What about you? Feel free to answer the question yourself and let's talk about it!

Love deeply xo

*Original Questions found here.

Spiritual Questions- 3/50

Friday, June 16, 2017


"If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don't like and like so many things we don't do?"

For me personally, I think there are two main reasons for this one- money and social norms. Since money is usually the obvious contender, I won't talk about that one but social norms and the pressure people feel from society is important to think about. I think this goes along with the question I have heard before- "Who would you be if no one told you who to be?".

Ever since childhood we are told what to do and when to do it, before we even really know what we're doing. Obviously in the beginning boundaries are needed to be set because we aren't yet capable of creating our own, but sometimes those boundaries can harm more then help. We may begin to think that doing what we like just because we enjoy it isn't how life works, that everyone has to do things they don't like. Although I can attest to this as I have had my fair share of jobs I have disliked, I think it becomes a problem when you never do anything you do like and always do whatever society or your peers want you to do.

I was just speaking to a good friend about this the other day, that I was feeling tired of always having jobs that I didn't really like to go to every day. Maybe not jobs I hated or disliked so much that it was hard to get out of bed, but it wasn't the sort of happy-to-go-to-work jobs either, and I'm not okay with that. I refuse to live my life in a way that I will look back and be sad that I wasted all of those years at jobs I hated or not doing something that I loved. I want to love my job. I want to love every aspect of life.

Maybe there is a third aspect that can make a person do more things they dislike than like. Maybe inner drive and confidence play a role too. You don't like your life the way it is? Change it. No matter how hard or scary that change may be, no matter how hard you may have to work to produce the life you want, never settle for being unhappy. Life really is too short.

Love deeply xo

*Link to original questions here.

Spiritual Questions- 2/50

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Which is worse, failing or never trying?
When I first say down to answer this question it was going to start with "Easy, it's..." but then I stopped. Is it really that easy of an answer? Maybe for some people it is and although I am certain of my answer now it still warrants some discussion.

I was born to very supportive parents who always supported me, sure they encouraged me to do my best, but if I didn't get straight A's in school it wasn't the end of the world. But I have known people in my life who's parents weren't like that. That if they didn't get A's in school or didn't get the job that they really wanted, it was a failure, and failure wasn't okay.

But take it from me, who very recently decided that graduate school wasn't for me, and subsequently withdrew from the program-  I'm so thankful that I wasn't raised to see trying something and not doing well as failure. Do I still feel slightly like a failure for not sticking with grad school? Sure, and I'm working on that. But to have never tried? I may have still been wondering if I should've done it 20 years from now, and that's not okay.

It's always better to try something, whether you do well or you fail doesn't matter. What matters is that you tried your hardest and maybe it didn't work out the way you had planned, but that's life.

Love deeply xo

*Link to original questions here.

Spiritual Questions- 1/50

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

This isn't the first time I have seen this question posed to someone or to myself, but I never really thought that hard about it. I would likely have just said that I would probably be a lot younger than I am because I still love so many things that I loved as a child. And maybe I would still say that but I think I would also say that I feel a lot older than I am sometimes too.

We all have an inner child inside of us, one that is so full of imagination and love that it can never be destroyed but just hidden away for a time. Most people are so caught up in their everyday lives or have so much weight to bare on their backs that the inner child gets pushed away and silenced. I am proud in the fact that I have never allowed that to happen to myself. I am proud that I can still lose myself in the characters of a movie, book, or tv series. That I can still go for a walk in the middle of the woods and just imagine how much it feels like Middle Earth. My vivid, and sometimes unstoppable, imagination is what make me me, but that doesn't mean that it can't also make me feel so much younger than my peers my age. But is that such a bad thing?

"You have an old soul" is what I have been told a few times growing up, and it always made me smile. It's true, that I do often feel like I should have been born a long time ago or even that I was born too soon and the world I know in my heart isn't how the world is just yet. Even in high school and college, I would feel older than my peers- not finding jokes funny, acting more mature than the people around me, not going out and partying all night when I have class the next day (or ever, for that matter). I view the world differently, I always have, but I have never considered it to be a bad thing. Being empathetic and (I like to think) somewhat of an intellectual, has only opened my mind further to the wonders of the world and how powerful one mind can be.

So how old would I be if I didn't know how old I was? I'm not sure, but I suspect probably somewhere around 23-25, younger than I am but not by much. I wouldn't want to be very young or very old, but somewhere in the middle. The middle is the best place to be, where you can have balance, with a little bit of your childhood self and the wisdom of growing older. Balance is key for everything in life, you just need to be able to find where your sweet spot is.

Love deeply xo

*Link to the original questions here.

50 Spiritual Questions

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hello my loves, how are you feeling today? And before you even answer that question quickly in your mind (or out loud), take a minute to self-asses and really see how you are today. I try to check in with myself every morning right after I wake up because there's no other time of the day when you can really see how you are feeling before outside elements affect you. If you are feeling mentally or physically tired, you will realize this. If your mind already seems distracted and unable to focus, it could mean your day will be full of stress and an inability to focus, so a short meditation or prayer may help calm your mind. I find that by checking in with my mind and body first thing in the morning always makes me more focused, calm, and ready for the day than if I were to just jump out of bed and go.

Now that we know where we are mentally and physically today, I found something fun on YouTube the other day and thought it would be a great blog series. "50 Spiritual Questions" is a post that originally appeared on marcandangel.com but it was thanks to this youtube video that it was brought to my attention.

I thought these questions would be fun, and also very eye-opening, to answer one or two a week. Or whenever I feel like answering one, really.

Some of the questions are simple and don't take much thought, and yet some are harder to answer and require you to look deeper within yourself to find the answer.

I'm going to make every question its own post as to not limit myself in how deep, or shallow, I wish to answer a question. Hop on over to the Mindfulness page so you don't miss any of the 50 questions, or click the 50 Questions tag at the end of this post to view them all (you know, when I post them all).


Love deeply xo

Letting go is self-care

Sunday, June 11, 2017


"Change your path, be willing to, and don't see that as a failure. That's just life." -Diane Hendricks.

Well, it's been a bit or two, hasn't it? Life got away with me again and I can honestly say that I lost myself in it for a time. I had been so excited for my next two classes to start up and yet when they did it was like a slap to the face. Now I'm not saying I had expected them to be easy by any means, but I guess I just expected to feel more right in my place there. But isn't that what we all want? To feel like be belong somewhere or with a someone, to feel like everything is right in the world and finally, all of the cards are the right ones?

But sometimes, we find that the cards we had been wanting so bad actually came from the wrong deck and don't match up with the rest of the cards already in our hand.

So what's a girl- or anybody for that matter- to do? You change your deck. Or get rid of the wrong cards, in my horrible analogy.

Change is inevitable, it is the one constant thing in life that you can always count on. Making big decisions is never easy and I don't think it should be easy either. If it was easy then it wouldn't help you grow, or realize what it is you really want. And if you are faced with letting go of something that you thought you wanted, even if you worked so hard to get to the point you were at, but are realizing that it isn't what you wanted after all- let it go. Let it go with the courage and strength you used to start the journey. Let it go with your head held high and your heart full of love and pride for what you did accomplish. Because letting go of something because it no longer makes you happy or matches the cards in your hand is okay.

"There is a big different between giving up and letting go. Giving up means selling yourself short. It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck. Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you. Giving up reduces your life. Letting go expands it. Giving up is imprisoning. Letting go is liberation. Giving up is self-defeat. Letting go is self-care." -Daniell Koepke


 
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