Monthly Archives: December 2011

Goals for 2012

Okay, guys (girls?), it’s time to get serious. I don’t know about you, but I cannot take another diet pill/cardio machine/workout video advertisement or magazine article/tv segment about weight loss in the new year. I’m all for getting fit and healthy, but the media seems to focus largely on appearance. Sure, some people need to lose weight for their health, some need to gain some, and some need help maintaing. If it’s for better health, I 100% support you and am cheering you on all the way. But regardless, I want you to keep one thing in mind:


You are beautiful just the way you are.

A number on a scale is just that, a number. So get fit, get strong, get healthy, but never lose sight of the real beauty that is inside.


Whew. I don’t know about you, but I feel better now. I just can’t take any more beauty-bashing! Start 2012 off strong by knowing how amazing you are, not by lamenting the things that didn’t go your way in 2011. Mmmkay?


Now onto my New Year’s thoughts. For this year’s edition, I thought I would do a little something different. Inspired by Caitlin @ HealthyTippingPoint, here are some of my goals based on 3 categories (personal, college, health/fitness).


  • Put myself out there. I’m naturally introverted, but that doesn’t mean I have to be un-involved. Even though I’m taking a rigorous course load right now (and probably will in college, too), I want to be more involved with my  friends.
  • Hold my tongue. I truly believe that honesty is the best policy. However, there is a time and place for everything, and sometimes I need to learn to keep certain things to myself. I’ll continue to be 100% honest if I’m asked, but if it’s not crucial that I volunteer my thoughts, I will try to use discretion.

College (fall 2012):

  • Choose wisely! I’ve applied to 19 schools, so hopefully I’ll have a selection to chose from when it’s time. I want to make an informed decision based on happiness and finances. If I’m at peace with my decision, then I know it’s the right one.
  • Keep in contact with my family. I love my family and am going to miss them when I go off to college. No matter where college takes me, I want to call my mom a few times a week + emails.
I’m lobbying for an iPhone for college hardcore. Seriously. [Source]
  • Be involved in a few clubs/activities. Like I said in #1, I’m pretty introverted and dedicated to my studies. In college I want to branch out but not overextend myself. Choosing just a few clubs/activities that I really love will keep me happy but not overwhelmed.
  • Manage money wisely. I honestly have no clue how the college money situation is going to go because I’m not sure what I’ll need while I’m there. No matter what, I want to use the skills my mom taught me and always have a safe amount of savings.


  • Evolve my workouts and stay active. I’m a yogi through and through, but I know the importance of cross-training. This will become especially important when I go to college because I may not have access to a yoga studio. Perhaps I’ll try swimming?
  • Drink more water. I can’t even believe I’m saying this. Seriously, I used to be a fish! Now sometimes I’m so busy I forget to drink. Aim for 64 oz a day.
  • Indulge in more (healthy) treats. I eat a diet heavy in fruits and veggies, but could use a little more spice in my life. Indulging is good for the body and mind, and I oddly do not do enough of it.
  • Make at least one new recipe a week (inspired by LVP). Every week, I’ll blog about a new recipe or two that I try. Hopefully this will help me try new things and continue my love for cooking. (*However, in college this may be hard to do. We’ll see!)
These are on the list! [Source]
  • Write more Operation Beautiful notes. I LOVE these! I smiled the whole day after posting one, just thinking about all the other girls who needed it, too.
What are your goals for 2012? I can already tell 2012 is going to be a good one! 
Have a lovely day!




WIAW #11: Sale Edition

Heya! Can you believe it’s already Wednesday? I’m really starting to get into the relaxation swing of things and can hardly imagine going back to school next week. Oh well, at least there is one good thing about Wednesday

Yesterday was kind of a weird day of eats, so I considered not posting at all. But hey, life happens. Sometimes you sleep in until noon. Sometimes you grab a handful of food rather than sitting down to a full blown meal. Sometimes all you want is fruits and veggies (okay, ALL the time, but regardlesss). Basically, sometime came yesterday.

Pinned Image

After a glorious 10 hour sleep (yes, I went to bed at 2AM and woke up at noon; I’m seriously convinced I’m nocturnal), I had a giant bowl of chocolate protein ice cream made with vanilla sun warrior + cocoa powder + cinnamon.

Always a favorite.

Fueled up and ready to go, my mom and I headed to the mall. Thanks to a gift card from Christmas (thanks, Nan and Mom!) and a crazy-amazing sale, I got all of this from Madewell for only $8 (2 pairs of jeans, 1 V-neck shirt, + 1 scarf). Score!

Madewell is the ONLY place that fits. At. All.

These jeans fit me like a glove. Seriously.

Once home, I snacked on my props while I played with my new camera. I’m crazy about these agave-sweetened strawberry buckwheat muffins (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, DELICIOUS.)

Lesson #1 of food blog photography: if you want to have some pictures to share with your readers, save some goodies to photograph before you eat them all. I suppose I still have some things to learn since my supply quickly dwindled. 😛

Soon after the photo sesh, I headed off to yoga after a few bites of leftover roasted broccoli, butternut squash, and pinto beans (random?).

Much later in the evening I made a curry stir-fry with bell peppers, yellow squash/zucchini, green beans, and broccoli. I was in need of some healing ginger and turmeric after a strengthening yoga practice. It’s funny how I always seem to crave curry after yoga.

However, all I really wanted was a gooey, roasted purple sweet potato. Story of my life.

Swoon. These babies are right up with there with kabocha squash on my list of favorite foods. That’s saying something, folks!

Fun fact: while I cooked, I played Where’s Waldo with the mixed veggies my family had for dinner. Well, they used to be mixed at least. Now there’s only corn and a few lonely peas to be spoken for. Clearly my family calls me the veggie garbage disposal for good reason!

Dessert (or whatever you would call it at this point) was chocolate banana soft serve. A dash of peppermint extract made it an extra special treat. Mmm, I love the holidays!

Other delicious snacks were enjoyed as well. Sometimes my hand was just too quick for the camera!

What’s your favorite brand of jeans? And are you still enjoying holiday desserts? Hey, we still have one more holiday to go! Woo woo.

Have a lovely day!


P.S. I’m not loving all the night photography I’ve had to do lately. Actually, let’s be honest, most of the time I’m at home it’s “night.” Ugh. Any tips for working with the darkness?

Agave Strawberry Buckwheat Muffins

Hey, friends! How was your holiday?

As Allie said this morning, you know you’re getting older when Christmas is more about giving than receiving. My favorite gift this Christmas was simply having my family all under one roof. My uncle, my grandmother, my mom and I are not exactly the model nuclear family, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having a loving family is more than enough of a present (which I am thankful for each and every day), but there was something a little more this year…

A new camera, specifically an Olympus Pen E-PL1! It’s the guts of an SLR camera without all the weight. Score! I can already tell we’re going to be good friends.

Eager to learn all I can, I spent a good chunk of time with this baby yesterday. I’m just working with iAuto mode right now, but I hope to get the confidence to try out my own settings soon.

hmm... lesson one: figure out how to reduce yellow-ness in candle lit photos

Do any of you awesome photographers have any tips? I see lots of reading Ashley’s photography posts (her photos seriously make my mouth water!) and researching in my future.

[Ashley’s Lemon Basil + Grilled Corn Pasta]


For now, though, I do have a recipe for you. I’ve been holding off on posting some of my recipes because my photos have been… well… crap. Luckily, with the help of my new camera and beautiful daylight, I’m feeling re-inspired again.

These muffins are perfect for breakfast or a bedtime snack. Since they’re lightly-sweetened and full of (gluten-free) whole grains, they’ll keep you full and focused without the sugar crash. I personally love heating them up before cuddling on the couch with my favorite book. Ah, the joys of winter break…

The great thing about the buckwheat flour in this recipe is that it’s gluten-free but does not require any crazy flour mixing to mimic glutenous flours. I don’t know about you, but when I bake I like to keep it simple. Sometimes I just don’t want to mix a million different flours and pray like crazy that my muffins will stick together.


Do not fear the buckwheat! Although I am a fan of both Arrowhead Mills’ buckwheat flour and my homemade buckwheat flour, your tastes may be different. The pre-packaged flour is usually made from toasted buckwheat, or kasha, so it has an earthier taste. If you’re new to buckwheat, I recommend making your own flour by buying raw buckwheat + grinding it in your coffee grinder, Vita-Mix, or food processor until it resembles the texture of flour.

Agave-Sweetened Strawberry Buckwheat Muffins 

Makes 6-7 muffins, but feel free to double it for a whole dozen

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (120g)
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (scant)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2-3 TBS agave syrup (I used 2, but I would recommend 3-4 for normal taste buds)
  • modified flax egg (1.5 tsp ground flax seed + 2 TBS hot water — give it a few minutes to gel and stir with a fork)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (or more!), chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
  2. Mix buckwheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine almond milk, applesauce, agave syrup, flax egg, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until combined. (At this point, add more almond milk if your batter is too dry. Buckwheat flour is full of fiber so it really soaks it up!)
  5. Fold in strawberries.
  6. Evenly distribute batter among 6-7 muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

What’s your favorite part about the holidays? What kind of camera do you have?


Have a lovely day!


All I Want for Christmas…

All I want for Christmas this year is peace:

Peace between nations,

Peace between individuals,

and inner peace.

Merry Christmas to all! Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you have a wonderful day and keep working towards peace. It starts with YOU, so remember to love yourself and those around you.


With that, I’m off to enjoy the love and peace in my family.

WIAW #12: ACCEPTED Edition

Hey there! How’s your Wednesday going? Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends who started celebrating last night. I’m personally gearing up for Christmas on Sunday, which I know will be lots of fun. Whatever you celebrate, I hope your holidays are filled with lots of friends and family, good food, and relaxation.

[Go ahead, bake some cookies!]

My holiday break started off with a bang! After months of lost sleep, tears, and waiting, I am excited to finally be able to say that I’m going to college. Even though the school that accepted me is not one of my top schools, it’s good to know that I can go somewhere. 1 down, 18 more to go. Wish me luck!

And now, without further ado, it’s time for this week’s WIAW, hosted by the lovely Jen @ Peasandcrayons.

Here’s the food that’s been fueling my writing. 12 college apps are in, but I still have 7 more to go. Am I really applying to 19 schools? Haha.

Breakfast: buckwheat quinoa pancakes + apples

I love the real food ingredients and delicious taste. It really amps up the usual pancakes. Seriously, Gena can do no wrong. 

Lunch: sweet potato, steamed veggies, and refried beans + an apple (unpictured)

I’ve been playing around with my eats quite a bit lately, but I can’t seem to find exactly what I’m looking for. I remember a similar combo a year or two ago, and it seemed to work quite well.

However, I stopped eating lots of beans when I had some digestion problems (specifically gas–sorry TMI) a few months ago. Anyone else have this problem? 

Dinner: 2 homemade vegetable masala burgers + eggplant fries with tomato sauce

You know you love a recipe when it’s committed to memory just like this one is for me. Unfortunately I have to watch the sweet potato + carrot aspect, though. My hands are too orange already!

Dessert: black bean brownie with coconut butter + raspberries

I was feeling pretty snack-y today, so other eats included (but were not limited to) multiple bowls of fruit, raw cashews (from the freezer—yum!), watermelon, crackers, and salad.

How are you celebrating the holidays? Do you have any fun plans?

How to Survive the Holiday Madness and Finish 2011 with a BANG

Well, November, it’s been real. I honestly have no clue where the time has been going. But that’s not important; my desire to make the most of the new year certainly is.

I know it’s only Decemeber 11th, but why not start off the New Year’s Resolutions early? After running non-stop for the past few months, it’d feel good to do something early for once. Let’s do this.

How to Survive the Holiday Madness and Finish 2011 with a BANG

  • Smile. Simply taking time to smile at yourself in the mirror (or just internally) will increase your happiness. Seriously, it’s proven! And hey, while you’re at it, why not smile at someone else, too. Happiness is contagious!
  • Bake something. I don’t know about you, but I love the smell of freshly baked cookies. (Come on, who doesn’t?) They taste yummy and are great to share with friends as a surprise. You don’t even need to get fancy. It’s the thought that counts!
  • Get together. Holidays are all about family and friends. But in the midst of large gatherings, sometimes it’s hard to really connect with each and every person. Take a little time out of your busy schedule to meet a friend for coffee (or tea!) or call a family member or friend you haven’t talked with in a while. I know I definitely will be doing this since my social schedule has been virtually non-existant in the past few months (I’m looking at you, college apps).
  • Make time for YOU. School and work are busy wrapping up the year. Holiday shopping, planning, and decorating are in full swing. To Do Lists are out of control. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, set aside some time for yourself every single day. Whether it’s an hour spent taking a bubble bath or a few moments drinking hot cocoa in peace, “me time” will help you feel rejuvenated when you get back to the hustle and bustle.
  • Turn up the jams. That’s right, I’m talking about cranking up your favorite music, signing along, and dancing around your house in your socks. It’s a great release and will leave you feeling 10000x better. Jamming to your favorite beats while exercising or singing along to Christmas music on the drive home are also great optio
  • Dress for success. Wearing a favorite piece of jewelry or lounging in fuzzy socks always makes me feel special. Whether you dig out your favorite heels for a night out or snuggle in your comfiest pjs, putting a little extra effort into your apparel looks and feels great.



As I pound out the last of my college apps (there are still 7/19 left to go-UGH), I’ll make sure to do each and every one of these. Actually, as I type this I’m about to go make muffins. Bake something? Check.


What are your goals for the rest of the year? How do you survive the holiday season?