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WEDDING RECAP (Part 2)


If you missed my first wedding recap post you can read that here. That post basically fills you in on what was going on in the days leading up to the wedding, including the rehearsal dinner, and also has pictures of most of the decorations, cake, etc. I know I left off the last post after the wedding day brunch but I want to back up a bit and talk about some more details of I left out.

I don’t remember much about the morning of the wedding, at least not while Ross and I were still at home. I do remember waking up with a smile on my face, feeling completely peaceful and happy (and excited!) but that’s about it. I know I wasn’t nervous at all, I had no doubts or second thoughts, I was just ready to go and do it! At the same time I wanted time to slow down because I knew the day would go by way too fast and I wanted it to last forever. I would give anything to be able to go back and relive that day just the way it happened, imperfections and all.

Ross and I went to Starbucks on our way to the venue and I really wished I could have gone in wearing my wedding dress so everyone knew we were getting married that day. I loved that dress so much I was also coming up with a scheme to convince Ross that we should go out after the reception, make the party last longer and let me enjoy wearing my dress just a little longer. Spoiler: that did not happen.

Our venue had a wedding going on the night before our wedding so we had our ceremony rehearsal the morning of the wedding. The plan was for close family to get there at 8:30 to help set up the tables for the brunch before the caterers arrived, have the rehearsal at 9:00 and the brunch at 10:00.

Ross and I were the only ones there at 8:30 and ended up setting up most of the tables by ourselves. I’m not going to lie; I was kind of irritated by this. I didn’t tell anyone (except Ross) because I didn’t want to be accused of being a Bridezilla, which is every bride’s worst nightmare. The best man was the next to arrive and he helped us finish setting up, but everyone else showed up just in time for the rehearsal. At least they were on time for that, right? Gotta stay positive!

I’ve attended my share of weddings and have been in four (Lisa, Cova, Tess, and Elaine!) so I thought I could handle this whole rehearsal thing. Elaine offered to run the show but I wanted to feel in control and be in charge so I politely told her that I had it covered. About five minutes later I realized I really had no idea what the hell I was doing so I turned it over to her. Luckily she spared me the, “I told you so,” and did a great job making sure everyone knew what was going to happen.

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Confession: I sometimes get an idea of what things are going to be like in my head and then I get irritated when reality doesn’t live up to my expectations. Anyone else do that? Unfortunately, my wedding day was no exception. I pictured everyone just standing around patiently (and quietly) waiting for my instructions, but also intuitively knowing what I wanted them to do, where I wanted them to stand, and no one questioning how I wanted things done or why. Too bad real life doesn’t work that way.

There were no blow ups or anything crazy but the ceremony rehearsal was a good early-in-the-day reminder that I just needed to let go. Things were going to happen and I just needed to accept it and get on with the day. So I did. (at least I tried to…)

After the brunch my bridesmaids and I stuck around the venue for a bit to help get the ball rolling with the decorating. I tried to be really organized going in to this so I had my wedding binder that I handed off to Vicki, all of the boxes we clearly labeled with what was in them, I had a diagram of how I wanted to reception hall set up, and a list of what went on each table. I was pretty confident that things would turn out just fine! Alas, there were several things that didn’t go exactly as I had imagined (see the last post for a few of those details) but those things really meant nothing in the scheme of things.

I actually had a hard time getting some of my bridesmaids to leave with me so we could get to our hair appointment. They wanted to make sure the flower poms at the ceremony site were just right and what better way to make sure that happens than to do it yourself? I finally convinced them that it was okay for us to leave, someone else would take over, and everything would look great.

Our hair appointments started at 12:00 at Sandy’s house. One of my bridesmaids (Lyndsey) has an aunt and a sister who do hair and they did such a great job on all of us, and they were incredibly fun to hang out with! We sipped on mimosas and kombucha and ate pizza while we all fluttered around the house.

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Travis, our main photographer, had arrived at 2:00 to take pictures of us girls getting ready and the other photographer headed down to the venue to get some shots of the decorating process and the guys getting ready. I was happy that Ross appeared to have a pretty stress free day!

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I had a schedule for how the day was supposed to go, what needed to happen and when in order for the day to go smoothly and the ceremony start on time. We were running late leaving Sandy’s house and heading back to the venue to finish getting ready and I started to feel really anxious. Everyone kept telling me that it would be okay and we were fine on time, but what I really wanted was for them all to hurry the hell up!

Travis rode with us in my car back to the venue and we had a lot of fun on the drive back. We talked about marriage, having babies, stay-at-home moms, where we all went to high school, and all kinds of other stuff and it was really relaxing a midst the chaos of the afternoon.

Once we got back to the venue here’s what I wanted to happen:

3:45 – arrive back at the venue and finish getting ready (dress, makeup, etc.)
4:30 – pictures of me and Ross seeing each other for the first time
5:00 – 6:00 – group photos before the ceremony
6:30 – ceremony start time

I honestly don’t remember what time we arrived back at the venue but I know we were running late. This makes me more sad than upset because the afternoon didn’t play out quite like I wanted it to. I felt stressed out and rushed, which is not what I wanted to be feeling. I didn’t get to enjoy some of the little moments like I wanted, and I didn’t get all of the pictures I hoped for either.

Once we got back to the venue and headed to the bride’s dressing room I should have had all my bridesmaids get in to their dresses first, and then clear out some of the crap in there, or at least push it off to the side more.

We got some good pictures, of course, but I would have really loved for there to be less clutter in the background and for my girls to look all put together while helping me get into my dress, kind of like we were for Elaine’s wedding.

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I felt completely flustered while we were getting me into my dress and while I was putting on my makeup, like I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing. I kept waiting for someone to step up and take charge and tell me what to do. That didn’t happen. As the bride I was in charge and it was a little overwhelming.

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For a while we couldn’t find my shoes, some of the groomsmen needed us to steam their shirts before they could get dressed, I wasn’t sure if the boutonnieres made it to the groom’s dressing room, and the lighting in the bride’s dressing room really sucked. When it came time to put on my makeup I started with my eyeliner and mascara, and then remembered I hadn’t put on any eye shadow yet. I wear it so infrequently that I couldn’t even remember what order I was supposed to put everything on in.

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With all of this complaining I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t enjoy the day. That was definitely not the case! I just want to present an honest recap of how the day went and what I was feeling. It wasn’t all smiles and sunshine all day long. I seriously had fun spending the day with my bridesmaids, Lisa, and Sandy…

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…but there were still some stressful moments for me.

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Finally, it was time for me to go out and see Ross for the first time. As I was getting ready to walk out the door I could hear all kinds of voices out there. I was confused because the only people who should have been outside were Ross and the photographer. I asked Lyndsey if there were people out there and she said yes, there were several people standing around talking.

This was another instance of me assuming that everyone else knew I wanted. This was supposed to be a special moment between me and Ross (and the photographer), where we see each other all dolled up for the first time, knowing that in just a couple of hours we’d be married to each other. Why in the hell would I want other people standing around chatting during this intimate moment?

Lyndsey went outside and it took her a few minutes to get everyone else to disappear. She finally came back and said the coast was clear and they were ready for me. Ross was ready for me.

That’s when I crumpled.

I had been completely composed up until that moment. Once I got ready to walk out the door and see Ross in his suit I became overcome with emotion. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t having doubts, I was just so… Excited? Happy? Anxious? Emotional, for sure.

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I got two steps out the door and my whole body started shaking and I started to cry. I turned around and went back into the dressing room. I just needed a moment to compose myself and catch my breath. My lovely maid of honor tried to calm me down by saying sweet things to me but I told her (hopefully not too harshly) that I just needed everyone to stop talking to me, be quiet, and just let me be.

I couldn’t believe that it was finally happening. Even though the ceremony wasn’t going to start for two more hours I felt like this was the moment. I was about to marry the most amazing man and I just felt so lucky. So happy. So in awe. Just completely overcome with emotion.

After a couple of minutes I walked out the door and I could see Travis standing there. He motioned for me to come forward and to stand on the side of the building. Ross was just around the corner from me on the other side of the building and we couldn’t see each other yet.

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Travis told me to stand with my back to the wall and reach around and hold Ross’s hand.

“Wow, love, you’re shaking,” he said to me.

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The Travis told us to turn and face each other for the first time.

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I remember thinking he looked so handsome in his suit and hoping that he liked my dress. Leading up to the wedding I watched a lot of Say Yes to the Dress and Ross would comment on the lace dresses and say that they looked like doilies. I always wanted to punch him and tell him that my dress is lace and he had better like it, but I didn’t.

He told me I looked beautiful and we kissed. We joked about how emotional I was and how much I was shaking, and remember thinking how normal this all felt. And how right. As soon as I saw him I knew that I was doing the right thing, and while it took a few minutes for my body’s physical reaction to catch up with my mind and emotions, I felt so much calmer once I saw him.

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Once we finished taking pictures of just us I went back into the bride’s dressing room and immediately demanded a paper towel so I could soak up some of the perspiration from my armpits! Then I made sure everyone else was ready and we headed out to do our group pictures.

I think this is a good place to end part two. Stay tuned for part three (and maybe a part four)!

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WEDDING RECAP (Part 1)


This past Thursday marked two months of marriage for me and Ross so I thought that now would be a good time to write a full wedding recap for you guys to enjoy. If I’m being really honest the reason I’m writing this is so I can look back on it in the years to come and (hopefully) remember our day perfectly. If you want to read more about the whole wedding planning process you can check out all my wedding posts on the wedding page of the blog.

The whole week leading up to the wedding was really exciting and meaningful, so I want to talk about that a bit first.

On Tuesday Ross’s dad and step-mom arrived from Minnesota and we scheduled a late dinner with them and Ross’s sister, Meghan. Before dinner Sandy and I went to a vegetarian/vegan wine tasting at the HEB near her house. Wine tastings are great but most of the time I can’t eat the food they choose to pair the wine with but in honor Earth Day they decided to make all the pairings veg-centered so it was really nice to not have to worry much about it this time.

After the wine tasting I met up with Ross and his family at Hula Hut on Lake Austin. It was nice getting to see his dad and step-mom and spend some time with them. They used to live in Arlington, which is only about a 3 hour drive from Austin, but they moved to Minnesota shortly after we starting dating. Luckily we were able to spend a weekend with them before they made the move, but it had still been over three years since we’d seen them last. They’re just so laid back and fun to be around that it’s guaranteed we’ll have a great time when we’re with them.

On Wednesday Ross’s Aunt Vicki arrived from California to help us with last minute wedding stuff and take over the decorating duties. Ross’s brother, Ryan, his sister-in-law, Mattia, and niece, Kyra (our flower girl) also arrived that same day from Wisconsin. After I got off work Sandy and I met up with all of them (and Ross’s mom) at the venue so we could discuss where we wanted things set up for the ceremony, reception, and rehearsal dinner. That actually took a while because there were lots of questions and opinions, and Sandy and Vicki both have very strong personalities. After we got all of that nailed down Ross’s mom took Vicki, Ryan, and Kyra back to the hotel and I took Mattia to go meet Ross’s sister, Meghan, for our sisters-night-out dinner!

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Ross is 34 and Ryan is 36 but us three girls are all 27 and we get a long great! After dinner us girls met back up with Ryan and Ross at Meghan’s apartment and watched Aladdin (requested by Kyra) and ate all the candy in Meghan’s candy bowl. I really wish that Ryan and Mattia lived in Texas so we could spend more time with them. It’s a bummer when some of your favorite family members life 20+ hours away and you only get to see them every few years.

Thursday I left work early and picked up Ryan, Mattia, and Kyra and they ran errands with me for the afternoon. We stopped at HEB and got the lemonade, iced tea, supplies for s’mores and hot dogs, and last minute snacks for the wedding reception.

That night we had a family dinner at Sandy’s house with my side of the family. My great Aunt Nancy and second cousin, Kim, flew in from New York for the wedding. I hadn’t seen them in like 18 years so it really meant a lot to me that they came for the wedding. Aunt Nancy is my grandma’s younger sister and she reminds me of her so much. The same laugh, the same talk, everything. My grandma died in July 2008 and it was hard for her to not be there, but nice to have Aunt Nancy there. Kim is also tons of fun to be around so we really enjoyed the evening! We talked about all of my family in New York that I haven’t seen in years and look at pictures. My grandpa also drove in from NY, which he probably shouldn’t have done on his own considering his age!

After the family dinner at my parents’ house we planned for me to drive home and get a good night’s sleep and for Ross to go to the hotel to spend and little more time with his brother. Their hotel was in Buda, which is south of Austin, and we live up in north Austin. I got all the way home only to realize that I had given my house key to Ross’s mom and I was locked out! Ross was 45 minutes away so there was no way he could come and let me in so I ended up having an impromptu sleep over with Hannah at her place! Too bad we were both too exhausted to have any real fun.

Friday morning Hannah and I got up early and hit the gym before meeting up with the everyone else at the nail salon. It was a little stressful because we were running late and a few of the other girls were running late too, and Sandy kept reminding us that we had and appointment… but it all worked out find and we had a really good time. We seriously had a ton of ladies drinking champagne and getting their nails done – me, all five of my brides maids, Sandy, Aunt Nancy and Kim, my sister-in-law, Lisa, Mattia, and Kyra. We pretty much took over the whole salon!

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Kyra was so cute and kept walking up to all the women at the salon that she didn’t know and making them look at how pretty her nails were!

One of the bridesmaid gifts that I made for my girls was coordinating dresses for us all to wear! I wanted something that would make us look like we belonged together as a group but I didn’t want shirts that said, “bridesmaid” on them because I knew they’d likely never wear them again. Lynn and I spent hours making these as a surprise for the other girls. I love the way they turned out! We used these instructions, which were great except that we couldn’t get the elastic thread to word so we ended up buying elastic bands that we sewed in. Those worked like a charm!

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After lunch Hannah and I went to pick up the desserts for the rehearsal dinner and then back to Sandy’s house to relax for a while and get ready for the rehearsal dinner.

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Hannah, Ross, and I all rode together to the rehearsal dinner and we were late! I felt so awful that we were late to our own party but traffic was terrible. Luckily we weren’t the only ones who were late and no one really seemed to care. People actually had a lot of trouble traveling that weekend due to bad weather up north. Several groups of people coming in from NY and WI had delayed flights and because of that ended up having to fly into Dallas and then drive to Austin.

Ross’s mom put together the whole rehearsal dinner and it was so amazing! The decorations were absolutely beautiful and, from what I hear, the food was delicious! Debbie spoke with the catering company many times to confirm the menu and was told that there would both meat and vegan options. She double checked more than once because she knew that myself and two of my bridesmaids follow a vegan diet and she wanted to make sure we would have a great dinner. Once we were in line to receive our food we realized that something was lost in communication and the only vegan options were the asparagus (which was delicious) and the bread.

Honestly, my first reaction was to get really angry and say, “I’m the bride and you’re telling me that I don’t get to eat at my own rehearsal dinner??” But, I didn’t. Instead I just got my asparagus and bread and sat down. I realized that there was nothing that could be done at that point so it didn’t make any sense to get mad. Plus, the desserts were all from Mr. Natural bakery here in Austin and they were vegan, so I just filled up on those!

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Me and Ross’s mom

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Me, Mike, and Sandy on the left, and Ross, Aunt Nancy, and Kim on the right.

For the decorations Debbie printed pictures of me, Ross, and all of the people involved in the wedding on velum and placed candles behind each of the pictures the illuminate them. My description doesn’t do justice to how beautiful it all was, nor does the picture above, but it really was breathtaking! Once dinner was over we got a game of giant Jenga started and that kept us busy for quite a while!

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Everything was very laid back and fun, which is just what Ross and I wanted! It was great to get to see friends who had flown in from out of state to be there (thanks John and Nicole!) and all of our family as well. I was so happy all night long, but by the end of the night I was completely exhausted and so ready to go home and get in bed!

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Ross’s Brother Ryan, Ross, his mom, her boyfriend of 10+ years, and Ross’s sister Meghan
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Me and Ross’s sister-in-law, Mattia

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Ross and I actually spent the night together before the wedding and I’m so glad that we did. It was really nice waking up next to each other, knowing that when we climbed in bed at the end of the day we’d be husband and wife!

I thought I was going to wake up and feel really anxious and excited, kind of like I do on Christmas morning, but I was actually really calm and peaceful. We had the ceremony rehearsal at 9:00 that morning so Ross and I got up and got ready together, grabbed some Starbucks, and headed down to the venue to help set up. While we were driving there I just kept looking over at him and thinking how happy I was that we were getting married and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful and supportive man to spend the rest of my life with.

Most of my bridesmaids wore the dresses I made for everyone to the ceremony rehearsal, plus pants and jackets because it was freezing that morning! Luckily it was sunny and we knew the weather was going to warm up later in the day.

My good friends from college, John and Elaine, co-officiated the ceremony and helped me to run the rehearsal. I had an idea of what we should do but it was hard to articulate it all and keep everyone’s attention so it was nice having her there to be the once in charge.

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Most of my bridesmaids wore the dresses I made for everyone to the ceremony rehearsal, plus pants and jackets because it was freezing that morning! Luckily it was sunny and we knew the weather was going to warm up later in the day.

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One of my bridesmaids, Alex, is married to one of the groomsmen, Daniel, and they made me a bouquet of kale from their garden for the ceremony rehearsal! That absolutely made my morning :)

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After the ceremony rehearsal was over we all went over to the building where the reception would be later that night and had a wonderful brunch! It was from the same catering company that did the rehearsal dinner and luckily they did have vegan options that morning. Everything was delicious! There were Belgian waffles, potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, baked quinoa, fresh fruit, coffee… plus meat and stuff.

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After the brunch I stayed to help all of our friends and family who were decorating have a better idea of what I envisioned for the decorations. I knew it was pretty much guaranteed that things weren’t going to be exactly as I wanted them, but I was okay with that. I just handed everything over to them and trusted that the day would be wonderful, everything would be beautiful, and I would be happy all day long (and I was!)  :)

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Hannah’s sister and sister-in-law decorated our sweetheart tabled and I loved it! I made the “Just Married” banner myself months before the wedding, and Debbie made the “Mr. and Mrs.” signs for the chairs, and Holly and Kaci made the whole table come together beautifully! The wine bottle int he center of the table had our names etched in it and the empty vase eventually held my bouquet.

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Our cake topper got put on backwards and for some reason the caterer used black and white ribbon instead of purple on our cake, but we had a delicious vegan cake so the rest didn’t matter!

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The groom’s cake was three layers of giant rice crispy treat, which Ross LOVED!

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My bouquet wasn’t what I had asked for, but it was still beautiful so I didn’t really care. I made our flower girl’s basket and I loved the way it turned out!

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I think this post is sufficiently long so I’ll save the rest for part 2 (and maybe part 3). Stay tuned :)

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WHAT ABOUT EGGS?


Since switching to a plant-based diet in November 2011 I haven’t eaten any eggs. At least not directly. I will occasionally have a bite of someone’s wedding cake that I know is not vegan, and sometimes I’ll sample something at a store without thinking, “Hey, is this vegan?” Ross gives me a hard time for that last one and I feel like such a dope each time it happens.

I’m not too hard on myself, though. Really, in the scheme of things, what’s one bite of something that used 1-2 eggs in the entire recipe? In general I really do try to avoid them. I never cook with them and I don’t buy/eat products that I know were made with eggs (except that damn wedding cake). I even check the ingredients on the bread samples at Whole Foods before I grab a couple of pieces.

Lately, though, I have been CRAVING eggs. Lately as in the last 6 months or so (which is kind of a long time). Specifically, a fried egg sandwich. I don’t crave cheese, I don’t crave meat, I don’t crave omelets, just an amazing fried egg sandwich.

SIDE NOTE… Ross asked me last week if I would pick up some eggs for him the next time I went grocery shopping. I told him NO! No, no no. There is no way that I will ever buy conventional eggs again. I know how those chickens are raised (even the “cage free” and “free range” ones) and I know what happens to all the poor baby boy chicks that hatch. Not acceptable. I firmly believe that you vote with your money and I will not support that.

Instead, I told him that I would be happy to make a special trip to the Farmer’s Market and get him some eggs from there.

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It’s not that I’m against eggs. It’s completely natural for chickens to lay eggs and they’re going to do it whether or not we eat them. I do think it’s a little weird that we actually eat them, especially when I stop to think about what an egg really is…

Anyway, I went to the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday and now we have eggs in our fridge.

Did I mention that I’ve been CRAVING eggs?

I am honestly tempted to make a fried egg sandwich and eat it. Like, really tempted.

I initially went vegan for the health reasons. I read The Kind Diet, which led me to read The China Study and watch Forks Over Knives, all of which have compelling health-based reasons for why humans should eat a plant-based diet. The most compelling was the information from The China Study (that was also summarized in Forks Over Knives) that talked about how animal protein promotes tumor growth.

HELLO!!! I do not want cancer. Even if it’s not proven that animal protein causes cancer, why would I risk my chances? I know that not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer but I still choose not to smoke. For me they’re the same thing.

I remember the main culprits are dairy products, specifically the casein found in dairy. I also know that meat consumption has an awful affect on your cholesterol and greatly increases your chances of getting heart disease. Again, why risk it?  In addition to all of that, I know how these animals are treated if you’re buying what’s sold in grocery stores.

But what about eggs?

I don’t remember if they really talked about eggs in The China Study or Forks Over Knives. Doctors seem to be going back and forth on whether or not eating eggs really affects your cholesterol. There are lots of places in Austin to buy eggs from really happy chickens who are going to lay eggs even if no one buys them.

So what if I eat just one fried egg sandwich?

I don’t believe that eggs are a health food so they’re certainly not something that I want to include in my diet on a regular basis. So what if I decide that I want to eat one fried egg sandwich? Not one everyday, not every week, probably not even every month. But every once in a while. Is that okay? I mean, I know it’s up to me and I don’t even have to tell anyone else if I do it, but is it a big deal? Is there something that I’m forgetting in my fried egg craving state of mind?

I have a friend who was vegan for a couple of years but has gone back to including meat and dairy in her diet. She said it’s because of the bacon. “Bacon is the gateway drug that brings you back to living as an omnivore.” What if eggs are my gateway drug? What if I have the best of intentions to only have this one fried egg sandwich to get my egg fix, but then it’s all down hill from there and the next thing I know I’m eating Greek yogurt, tearing into baby back ribs, and eating queso by the bowlful?

This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot. I’ve talked about it with Ross and a few other friends and still I can’t make up my mind as to whether or not I should make this damn fried egg sandwich. As far as I know there’s nothing I can do with tofu that will replicate the flavor and texture of a fried egg.

And so I turn to you, my dear blog readers and contributors to Healthy Vegan Friday. What do you think I should do? Can I give in and make this one fried egg sandwich? Should I reread The China Study or rewatch Forks Over Knives and see if there’s something I’m forgetting? Should I just ignore the craving and continue to stay strong in my plant-based ways? (except for that damn wedding cake) What do you think?

**UPDATE: If you’re curious about whether or not I ended up giving in to my craving and eating eggs, you can read my follow up post here

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MY PERFECT PESTO


Last night my best friend Hannah came over for dinner and I made us a great summer time dinner. On the menu was some tangerine balsamic tofu, a peach and tomato salad in a balsamic dressing with fresh basil and mint, and zucchini pasta topped with my new favorite pesto sauce!

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Everything about the dinner was absolutely delicious. We would both take a couple of bites and say, “Wow, this is so good,” and then take a few more bites and say, “Seriously, I love this!”

I made this tofu last weekend for the first time and I’m completely addicted to it. I plan to post about it later with a complete how-to so that yours comes out the perfect amount of crispy, which is really important. I know it looks a little like it’s burnt in this picture but I promise it’s just the balsamic vinegar giving it that look!

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I got the peach and tomato salad recipe from this book and I knew by looking at the picture it was going to be delicious, so I wasn’t surprised by that one.

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I was surprised by the pesto recipe, though. I started using someone else’s recipe as a guide and wasn’t really sure what to expect after making all of my changes. I shouldn’t have worried because it turned out great!

My Perfect Pesto – serves 4

  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 raw walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp dark miso paste
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup water
  • freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions: Toast the walnuts in a small pan over high heat until they start to brown and become fragrant. Add all ingredients to a high powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

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I served the pesto with raw zucchini noodles.  To make the zucchini noodles I used this tool to simply peel the zucchini into julienned strips. Two large zucchini should serve four people and comes to only 25 calories per serving. Of course you could always eat this over some great whole wheat pasta too, but that would add another 200 calories or so per serving.

It was all room temperature and still absolutely delicious! This picture really doesn’t do it justice. Super simple, very healthy, definitely tasty.

My Perfect Pesto

*Note about the roasted garlic: I roasted two whole bulbs of garlic last week and have them in the fridge on hand to use when I want to add a little roasted garlic to something. To roast garlic, cut the top off of a entire garlic bulb (leave skins on). Wrap the bulb in foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until garlic is soft. Once it’s cook you will be able to squeeze the garlic out of the bulb. If you don’t have roasted garlic you can just use 3 cloves of regular garlic for this recipe.

I’m definitely submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

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SOYCURL JAMBALAYA (WITH NO BEANS)


When I got my wisdom teeth out a week and a half ago I was pretty much stuck at home for four days straight. I did get out and go for a walk everyday but I never got farther than about two miles from my house. This left me with a lot of time on my hands and I can only stand so much mindless TV watching.

On the fourth day I wanted to make something for Ross for dinner that I knew he’d like but I had no desire to go to the grocery store with my still swollen face. Cooking for Ross can be tricky since he doesn’t like beans or most cooked vegetables, and it’s especially tricky when I’m just relying on what I already have on had.

I did a little bit a Googling to see if I could find a recipe for Jambalaya (one of his favorite dishes) that doesn’t have beans or lots of veggies in it. No dice. So I decided to make my own recipe and hope for the best. I got lucky and it was a hit so I thought I would share it with you!

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Soy Curl Jambalaya – serves 6

  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used yellow because that’s what I had but green is more typical)
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of tomato, diced
  • 1/2 a bag of soy curls, rehydrated and chopped
  • 1.5 cups short grain brown rice (you could use long if you wanted but I really like short)
  • 5 cups very hot water
  • 2 cubes not-chick’n bouillon
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika (I used half smoked paprika and half regular paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (can use a whole tsp if you like the heat)
  • 1/2 tsp each sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning blend

1. Dump half a bag of soy curls into a bowl and cover with warm water. After they’ve rehydrated for about 10 minutes, squeeze the extra water from them and chop into bite sized pieces.

2. Saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper over medium-high heat until soft, adding a tablespoon or two of water as needed to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic other spices and and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Add the tomatoes and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the hot water, bouillon cubes, and tomato paste and stir to mix everything well. Add the rice, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes without removing the lid. After 45 minutes the rice should be tender. If it’s not then let it continue to cook about 5-10 more minutes.

4. Once the rice is done there may still be some extra liquid in the pan. Turn up the heat to medium and allow most of it to evaporate, stirring occasionally, and making sure you don’t loose all the moisture.

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It was a solid week after I made this that I was finally able to eat it myself (thank goodness for a freezer) and it was delicious!

Soycurl Jambalaya (no beans)

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CAN I GET A BIT OF HELP?


Hey guys! I’ve got a favor to ask of you. I’m working on a project for the blog and I was wondering if you might be willing to help me out by answering a short survey of 10 or so questions. There’s no right or wrong answer for any of these questions, absolutely no judgment, and your name or other personal information provided won’t be used in any way. The choices you make regarding the food you eat are deeply personal and I’m simply curious about the way people eat and what motivates them to eat the way they do. I appreciate you taking the time to give me your honest answers to these questions!

Here’d the link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JNTS7C2 

THANKS! :)

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CREAMY AVOCADO PUDDING (TWO WAYS)


I feel a little silly sharing this pudding with you because it’s so incredibly simple, but it’s also so incredibly good that I just can’t resist.

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I’ve had avocado pudding before and it honestly was just okay. It was more like chocolate guacamole than anything resembling pudding – very thick and actually kind of dry.

While I was recovering from my wisdom teeth removal (which I’m actually still recovering from… my mouth HURTS!) I was really craving some pudding. I had some chia seed pudding in the fridge I made in anticipation of the surgery and not being able to chew anything, but I wanted something really smooth and creamy. I thought about making my go-to vegan pudding recipe that I cut out of a magazine a year ago but I couldn’t find it.

I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be that hard to find it online, or something similar, but I decided to try my hand at making some good avocado pudding. It turned out great!

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Sinful Avocado Pudding – serves 2

  • 1 avocado
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp almond milk (I used unsweetened)

Add all ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth. This comes out to around 215 calories per serving if you share it with someone.

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I was so happy with how good this pudding turned out on Saturday that I made it again on Sunday, and when I decided I needed more of it on Monday I thought I would give it a new twist. What about peanut butter pudding?! YUM!

Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding – serves 2

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp PB2
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened)

Add all ingredients to your food processor and blend until smooth. This comes out to around 245 calories per serving and is just as good as the plain chocolate version!

I’m not going to lie, the first time I made this pudding I did share it with Hannah. However, the next two times I made it I ate the whole batch all by myself. I’ve been so limited with what I can eat over the past few days that I’m actually down 4 pounds so I didn’t feel a bit guilty eating all of it by myself!

I bet the chocolate version would be really good with some freshly chopped strawberries stirred in. I can’t wait to try it!

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I think everyone should try avocado pudding so I’m submitting this to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

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RECIPE: EASY, CREAMY BLACK BEAN SOUP


I got my wisdom teeth out this past Friday. Let me tell you, that was not a fun experience. My surgery was at 12:30 on Friday afternoon and as of today it still hurts to talk or eat, I can’t open my mouth all the way, and I look absolutely ridiculous when I try to smile. Like a pained chipmunk.

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This is a picture of me on Friday afternoon and the swelling actually got worse on Saturday. I chose not to document that.

I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the surgery so the last thing I consumed was some toast a jam around midnight on Thursday night. After the surgery I did manage to drink 16 ounces of coconut water (90 calories) but that’s about all I was able to tolerate that day. I was prepared with soups and puddings waiting in the fridge when I got home and I even made Ross take me to the store to get my favorite vegan ice cream, but I just couldn’t eat anything. It was a weird, new experience for me.

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Saturday I was finally able to eat some soup and some chia seed pudding that I made but food still didn’t sound all that great to me. Luckily, by Sunday I was feeling a bit better and food was actually something that I was interested in. Not only did I want to eat it but I also wanted to cook it. I can only take so much sitting on the couch watching reruns of Law and Order: SVU — I needed to get up and make myself feel useful! My favorite useful thing to do: COOK!

Black bean soup is one of my favorite soups. It’s very comforting to me and I love the flavor. I have a great recipe for slow cooker black bean soup but I really wanted something easy and fast. I Googled a few recipes for black bean soup but wasn’t too impressed by any of them, so I did what I love to do and cherry picked the parts I liked from the various recipes, added in some things that I thought sounded good, and made my own soup.

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Easy, Creamy Black Bean Soup – serves 2

  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1.5 to 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1.  In a soup pot, saute the onion over medium heat until soft, adding a tablespoon or two of water as you cook to prevent sticking. Once the onion is soft add the garlic and a little more water and continue to cook for about one minute. Do not let the garlic burn!

2. Add the cumin and chili powder to the pot and continue to cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the diced tomatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes start to release their juices and loosen the spices from the pot.

3. Add the broth, beans, and nutritional yeast, turn the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook, covered, for another 20 minutes.

4. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the soup to cool for a few minutes. I chose to add all of the soup to my food processor and pureed the soup completely. I did this because it’s the only way I could eat the soup in my current condition. It turned out absolutely delicious, but if you still want your soup to have some chunks then you can just puree half of the soup and return it to the pot with the rest of the soup and stir.

Easy, Creamy Black Bean Soup

One rule that holds true for all soup: it always tastes better after it’s had time to sit and let all the flavors blend together. I made this soup around noon yesterday and had it for dinner around 6:00. I had the second serving for breakfast today (don’t judge, my mouth is still swollen) and it tasted just as good as it had yesterday. I wish I had made more of it!

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4 GREAT SMOOTHIE RECIPES


Back when I posted my Simple Green Smoothie Formula I promised that I would also do a post about some of my favorite smoothie recipes. Writing this post wasn’t actually as easy as it sounded because that meant I needed to actually come up with some recipes. You see, even though I have a smoothie for breakfast five days a week I don’t actually have any recipes that I use. I just look to see what’s in my fridge and freezer and start throwing things into the blender.

I’d say about 85% per of the time it tastes great. The other 15%… well, I usually add something else to try and salvage it or I just suck it up (literally) because I know it’s good for me. A promise is a promise though, so I’ve been at work the last couple of weeks trying to come up with some specific recipes for you.

I know I’ve been posting about smoothies a lot lately but it seems to be something that people are incredibly interested in right now. Drinking green smoothies is a super easy way to include more fruits and veggies in your diet in a way that tastes great. Who doesn’t want that?  I finally found 4 that I think are really good. I originally wanted to share 5 with you but I only ended up pinning down 4 for now, but I have a few more in the works!

  1. Apple Pie
  2. Chocolate Covered Strawberry
  3. Berry Berry Goodness
  4. Watermelon Refresher

I didn’t take a picture of each smoothie because they all kind of look the same – they’re either green or if I add berries of some kind then they’re brown. Neither is really all that appetizing to look at, but I did snap a couple of pictures for you!

Also note that all of these recipes make enough for two servings but I always drink the whole thing for breakfast, or I’ll drink 2/3 for breakfast and the other 1/3 later for a snack. Either way it’s always just me consuming these so the calorie charts are for the entire smoothie.

Apple Pie Smoothie

  • 1 tbsp flax seed (you can buy ground or whole. Whole must be ground in a coffee grinder first if you don’t have a high-speed blender)
  • 3 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp chlorella
  • 1 tsp maca
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large handfuls leafy greens
  • 1 banana (not frozen)
  • 2 apples (I use pink lady), cored, chopped, and frozen in a Ziploc bag overnight
  • 1.5 cups water

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. I think this one is my absolute favorite!

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This smoothie is a little high in calories, but I drink it over the course of about an hour and a half, so it keeps me full until around 12:30 or so (I start drinking it at 7:00). If you want to lower the calories then you can always leave out the banana or the hemp seeds, or use less of them. I wouldn’t leave out the flax but the maca and the chlorella are super foods you can also omit if you don’t have them, but those don’t add any significant calories (I think they’re 16 calories combined).

Apple Pie Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

  • 2 tbsp flax seed
  • 1 tsp chlorella
  • 1 tsp maca
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 1 tsp acai powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 3 large handfuls leafy greens
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1.5 cups water

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. This one is high in vitamin B12 thanks to the spirulina!

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

Berry Berry Delicious

  • 1 tbsp flax seed
  • 1 tsp maca
  • 1 tsp spirulina
  • 2 tbsp vanilla protein powder
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 3 large handfuls leafy greens
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful broccoli crowns
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1.5 cups water

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.

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I used a little protein powder in this one, just to give it a little extra something. The protein powder I used is Plant Fusion Vanilla Bean and it’s completely vegan.

Mixed Berry Smoothie - 05-21-2013

Watermelon Refresher

  • 4 full leaves romaine lettuce, torn into smaller pieces
  • 8 strawberries, with greens on top
  • 2 cups frozen watermelon
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (I always buy Silk Original Almond Milk – the one that’s 60 calories)

Add all ingredients to a blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. This one is very simple because I made it while Ross and I were are the beach with our family last weekend. I had the forethought to freeze some of the watermelon when I was cutting it and we had some lettuce and strawberries in the fridge as well as some almond milk. I used a blender I found in the cabinet at the beach house that appeared to be about 20 years old and I was seriously blown way by how good it was!

Watermelon Refresher Smoothie

I’m submitting this post to Healthy Vegan Fridays and I’m hoping to be back next week with a handful of more great recipes for you!