Remember That One Time …

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Zach and I had a pretty mellow night last night. We went to a bar called Big Time Brewery, had a pitcher, watched Dragon Ball Z and rang in the New Year with about fifteen strangers. It was perfect; low key and not crowded.

Since 2016 ended as a relatively peaceful year, I guess it was guaranteed that 2017 would start like no other.

On our walk home, it started to snow. When we turned onto our road, I noticed a pile on the sidewalk in front of our house. As we got closer, it became apparent that the pile was a person. Specifically, a young girl in a long red coat and a not long cocktail dress.

“Are you OK?” we asked her. “Mmmmm.” groaned the lump. “Do you need help?” “Yuuuugh.” She replied.

We took that as a yes and helped her to her feet. I slung her arm over my shoulder and started helping her make her way into our apartment. I asked her a few basic questions, “Do you want us to give you a ride home? Did you take anything other than alcohol that we should be worried about? Do you have a roommate that I can get ahold of?” She couldn’t give me a straight answer, so I figured once we got her inside we could get her a glass of water and let her collect herself a bit.

Because this is America and we live near a college campus I knew I had to ask, “Did anything bad happen to you?” She said no and and there weren’t any signs of distress. I breathed a sigh of relief.

We got her inside and Zach went to get her some water and a bowl in case she needed to throw up. Much to our surprise, instead of sitting down on the chair, she flung herself backward onto the couch and immediately passed out. The only other words we got out of her were, “It’s super cold,” so we covered her with blankets and turned up the heater.

After all, it was below freezing outside and aside from her coat, she didn’t have a lot to keep her warm. Her legs and hands were bright red from the cold. About two minutes after we covered her, she stuck her feet out from under the blankets and mumbled, “shoes.”

I briefly debated calling the cops, just in case something went wrong. But, other than being a little too drunk and needing to rest, it didn’t seem like anything was the matter. So, I took her shoes off and left her to sleep it off.

I stayed home for college. My wild Friday nights were made up of sharing a couple glasses of wine on the couch with my parents while watching a movie. I told Zach, “I can’t believe this! Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.” I expected him to agree, but turns out he was not too surprised. Not only did he have a few wild nights of his own at Penn State, but has some “epic” tales from the Navy. These include the time in Florida where he woke up on a roof after a night out and the time a girl wandered into his apartment in Japan in the middle of the night and just hopped into bed! Apparently, her buddy lived next door and she was just a little confused in her drunkenness.

Our young adventurer woke us up around 5am when she needed to use the restroom. As she was putting on her shoes and coat, I offered to give her a ride home, walk home with her or let her stay until it was light outside.

She just smiled, half-drunkenly, opened up her arms and gave me a bear hug, “it’s fine. It’s fine,” she said and patted my face. After watching her make her way down the flight of stairs and down the sidewalk, I closed and locked the door.

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I slipped into bed next to Zach and fell back asleep in just a few minutes. When I woke up this morning, I had to think for a minute to make sure it wasn’t all just a buzzed dream. But, the dirt on the couch and the pile of blankets on the floor assured me it wasn’t.

I’m not sure what 2017 has in store for us, but it already seems like we are in for quite an adventure …

Year In Review – 2016

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Happy New Year!!!

I have a tendency to focus on the negative; Zach didn’t do the dishes. I miss my family. I ate too many chips, now my tummy hurts. Seattle is a terrible place to live. Basically, I hate ______ . Apparently, complaining all the time gave Zach the wrong impression about my outlook on life. “Why aren’t you happy?” he asked me one day.

“I am happy!” was my first thought when he asked that. But, I’m not giving that impression, am I?

So — instead of saying how sad 2016 made me, I’m going to focus on the positive or put a spin on things. What good is a master’s degree in marketing if I can’t spin my own life in my favor?

  1. We have an awesome opportunity to explore a cool new city!
  2. I have the opportunity to make new friends here!
  3. By living in a new place, I can ditch old, toxic relationships and “friendships”!
  4.  Zach and I got married! (which is good on its own, no spin needed!)
  5.  …

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2017 is going to be AWESOME! Yes. Ok. I’ll still be sarcastic, as shown above. But! I’m going to be happy. When I thought about Zach’s comment, I’m not as happy as I should be and the only thing to blame is my mindset. One really hard thing happened to me this year and that was Kitty’s passing. She was my best friend and with me since I was nine. But, other than that, my unhappiness is my own.

I have a few great resolutions. The top two being: make friends in Seattle and work on mindfulness. A few of the more random ones are run two 13.1 races, read 52 books (I read around 60 this year), eat more veggies! Isn’t that on everyone’s list?

Happy New Year friends, here is looking to 2017 and may it be 1,000,000% wonderful! I love you all! xoxoxoxoxo

New Year’s Eve – 2017 Resolutions

We just got home from our trip to Utah. We were there from the 18th to the 28th of December and it was wonderful. We ate a lot of good and spent a lot of time with my family and our friends.

Gabby still hasn’t warmed up to Zach, but she did play with him a few times and we made cookies for Santa together.

It was nice to be home in Utah! I have been in a complete rut lately. Normally, I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. But this year, I am going to make a few to try and give myself a boost to feel better and have a happy year here in Seattle with Zach. Here are two resolutions from my extensive list:

  1. Make More Friends
  2. Practice Living in the Moment

I know both of these will be a ton of work for me. Making friends has never been one of my strong skills, I think it is mostly because I have always been so close to my family so I didn’t need as many friends and, I’m a little bit introverted. I don’t like crowds at ALL. For the second one, I’m going to battling against my anxious/worry-wart nature. I really want to commit myself though because I think both of these resolutions will help me have a better year and better life overall.

So, for the first:

Physically, I live in Seattle. Mentally, I’m in  Utah. All my family and friends are there and almost everyone that I talk to. I ever work with people in Utah! I don’t want it this way… I want to be happy where I am and explore my new city, which everyone is telling me is such a cool place to be.

So, I have a couple of ideas. First, make more friends here! I have a couple and that is a good start, but a few more would be great. This is especially important for different activities.

My current Seattle friends are great to grab a drink with or to sit on the couch and chat with. But would they want to go on a rigorous hike with me or want to grab last minute pedicures? I don’t know, I haven’t asked them. But, my real point is — it is good to have a lot of different friends for a lot of different things.

What I really need is someone I can laugh with. Whenever I make a joke and someone doesn’t get it or takes it too seriously, I have a Lizzie Bennet moment:

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How am I going to make friends here?

I tried volunteering at PAWS as a way to meet people, but that hasn’t gone as I thought it would. So, now I’m asking for setups! I’m asking friends who know people here to setup me up with them. I’ve also signed up for a “dating” app just for friends called, Hey Vina. It already has given me a couple of promising starts! Finally, I’m just being more aggressive. When I see someone I like and have a nice conversation, I invite them to hangout instead of just letting them walk away. Creepy!

The second resolution is going to be much harder! Even though making friends isn’t a strong point for me, being mindful is even more of a weak point. Like I said, it has been anxiety attack central over here and in the past I’ve had long bouts of depression and anxiety. I don’t want to get trapped in it.

To be more mindful, I’m going to start with meditation and self-help podcasts. I have a couple that I love a lot already; Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

When we first moved here, I couldn’t get a gym pass because Zach’s benefits didn’t start until school started. So, I would “workout” by walking around the surrounding neighborhoods while listening to podcasts. I didn’t realize how good it was for me mentally, until I started going to the gym every day. I really missed that quiet downtime or just walking around with my thoughts and podcasts.

If podcast-walking doesn’t help as much as I want it to, and really, I’m not sure it will, I’m going to go and talk to someone. I think counselors can be very helpful when you are having a hard time and need some action items for improving.

I want 2017 to be the best year ever. I’m sick of waiting to be happy. It isn’t going to happen unless I make it happen. Seattle can be great. I need to change my mindset. Zach is great and I love being married. I have a lot of great starting points, now I just need to get the gears in motion.

 

Vegan Hot Buttered Rum

Whenever I try to make something new, especially something that is not vegan to begin with but that I have to make vegan, I go to the internet and read a ton of recipes. Usually, between five or ten, but sometimes more.

When it is finally time to make the thing, I leave the recipes behind and put something together using whatever I decided to take away from each recipe — or more realistically, what I can remember from each recipe.

This amounts to me leaving out the parts that sound gross and adding stuff that I think might work, even if no recipe called for it. For example, I like to add spice to everything. Even things that no one would ever want to eat a spicy version of.

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Some like it hot.

This means one of two things happen when I cook; it tastes gross and we never want to have it again or it tastes AMAZING but nothing like the original. Zach is a really lucky man.

Earlier this week, I made torta. The first of those things happened. I mainly left out the non-vegan ingredients without replacing anything, so we ended up with weird, mushy potatoes. I mean … it was potatoes … so I still ate everything. But, it could’ve been much better.

Tonight, in an attempt to redeem myself, I made hot buttered rum. It didn’t turn out too bad! If you make this recipe and think it is gross, then just add more rum and you won’t remember whether you liked it or not.

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Makes four to five servings.

I like the idea of making the mix and adding the rum later. This is good if you have little ones or non-drinkers in the family who also want to enjoy a cozy drink.

  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Vegan Butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
  • Dash of Vanilla
  • 2 Cups of Non-Dairy Milk (I used almond)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water
  • Orange Zest (optional)
  • Vegan Whipped Cream (optional)
  • A Dash of Red Chili (COMPLETELY optional)

Add everything but the butter into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and add the butter. Stir until it melts completely.

To make into a cocktail, add one shot of spiced brown rum into a mug and 1/2 a shot of white rum. Add one to 1 1/2 cups of mix.

Enjoy!

Five Ways to Create Holiday Cheer

Being away from home is hard! Being away from home during the holidays is even harder. It’s only been in the last couple years that I have had to spend any time away from my family during the holidays. While it has been difficult, I’ve decided that this year I’m going to keep my spirits up with some FORCED holiday cheer.

Recreate Your Traditions

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At first, it’s hard to carry out a holiday tradition when you aren’t around those you love. However, once I started to recreate some of my favorite holiday traditions, I started to feel better and less homesick. Yes, I cried. Yes, I felt sad for a little while. But, once the tears were finished, I was able to focus on all of the happy memories I had and even make some new ones with Zach.

Pick One Festive Thing to Do Every Day

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How many times will I watch Love Actually this year? SO MANY

This tip comes from my very smart friend, Caitlin. She suggested doing one festive thing every day in December, an anti-homesickness advent calendar if you will. As I write this post, it’s only December 2nd, but even in the days leading up to December I started to have fun planning out all of the fun, festive things I am going to do this month.

Send Cards

Just because you are far away from your family and friends doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them in meaningful ways. Communication is so instant now, but there is value in sitting down and writing someone a card. My friend Amy and I love to send cards back and forth. After a long day of missing home, there is nothing I love more than seeing something from a friend in my mailbox.

Host a Party

This is not something I have done. I know if I try to do it, it will be difficult for me to get over the social anxiety. That’s not always a bad thing though! Hosting a party or event in the place you live in now is one big step toward putting down roots and making it home.

One struggle I have is that Seattle is where I live, but it isn’t home. I spend my days here, but spend most of my time still trying to interact with my life in Utah. By engaging with some of the wonderful people here and inviting them into my space, I’m beginning the process of making this city feel like home (even if I’m not ready to give it that title).

Share the Love

This is something that comes up every year — holiday giving! But, I will argue that it has never been more important than this year. 2016 was a difficult year for a lot of people; personally, professionally and nationally.

Be kind to people. You don’t have to understand or even like them, but we can try to treat each other well. If you can’t treat someone well, then just walk away instead of saying something unkind.

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One awakening for me has been moving here. Seattle has the third-highest, per-capita homeless population in the nation. Every day I’m reminded of how lucky I am with what I have and that even when I am feeling low, there is always more I can do to make someone else’s world a better place. This is not something I was ever confronted with in my safe-Utah bubble.

This month, I am determined to do better! I will be cheerful with the upcoming holidays! While being away for Thanksgiving was hard, I am going to make Seattle much more homey and put in some effort. If all else fails, only two and a half weeks until I get to visit Utah again.

Haters Gonna Hate, Potatoes Gonna Potate

In preparation for this blog I Googled all things potato. Did you know there are a lot of bad potato jokes and a lot of cute potato pictures on the internet? Like this one:

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Post-Thanksgiving, we are drowning in potatoes. We bought two 10-pound bags. Why you ask? Because, “THEY WERE SUCH A GOOD DEAL.” Zach was so excited by the sale that he grabbed two bags and I had to talk him out of going back to the store to grab more. Thank goodness, the deal ended before he actually had a chance to go back.

We are two people, on a mission to eat 20 pounds of potatoes. To be fair, we did take some to Friendsgiving, probably like four pounds, and potatoes have a relatively long shelf life, so we can pace ourselves. But still, at the end of the day we have to put away 16 pounds of starchy goodness.

Like, I said, I’ve been Googling a lot and not just adorable Harry Potato pics. I’ve found a couple of great recipes that I want to try this week:

  1. Julie Child’s Potage Parmentier (Potato & Leek Soup)
  2. Vegan Poutine

I have high hopes for both! I’ve always said that potatoes are the best vegetable and will eat them in any form except baked because that’s DISGUSTING. By the end of this #potatochallenge2016, I hope I still love them as much and come out on the other end with some new favorite recipes!

I also plan on hiding the grocery money from Zach from now on. Who knows what he would come home with next …

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Happy Thanksgiving

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What am I grateful for this year?

That is a question that I have had a lot of trouble focusing on or keeping top of mind the last year, especially the last three and half months, but even before that.

So, back to the point — what am I grateful for and where to begin?

First, I’m grateful for a wonderful husband. Zach is my best friend and has been for years, even before we were a couple. I’m happy he is in my life. I’m happy we got married this summer and made things official. Even though, I knew I would marry him on our first date.

I’m grateful for my family. My parents and brothers have been cornerstones my entire life, and I’m happy that has been expanded to my sister-in-law Lindy and niece Gabby.

I’m grateful that Zach and I don’t want for anything. We see a lot of poverty and struggling people here in Seattle. Even though he is in graduate school, we still have enough to cover our expenses with some money leftover every month to donate to causes we believe in and help others around us.

I’m grateful for the friends I have made here, the friends I found here that are from my childhood and the friends who travel long distances to see me.

But most of all, I’m really grateful that I got to meet Kate Middleton this year because, bucket list.

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Blogging & Goals

I started the WordPress Blogging Branding course. It is really fun, short (only ten days) and FREE! It is designed to help you build your blog and set achievable goals — one day at a time.

I want to do this because I’ve felt stagnant lately. I’ve been so busy getting settled that I’ve been ignoring the fun things in life and personal growth! I’ve always loved my blog and wanted to do more with it, so I’m focusing my energy on that this month! Another reason is because it is NaNoWriMo — or official novel writing month.

I have NO intention of writing a novel this month, but I do want to focus on my writing and am using this month’s focus as an excuse to do so 🙂


This course started by asking “Why do you write your blog?”

I started my first blog veganoutofthevalley.blogspot.com, my senior year of college as part of a branding project. I’ve kept blogging since then because it is something I enjoy, it helps me keep my friends and family updated when I’m away and I love reading my old posts to see what I was doing and feeling at the time.

Based on this question and a few others I was prompted to come up with three specific (and time constrained) goals:

  1. Publish at least one post per week
  2. In addition to my one post, create a weekly features — I’m going to focus on …TACO TUESDAY. My favorite day of the week.
  3. Spend one hour per week engaging with other bloggers on WordPress.

This post is the official assignment of Day One. For the next nine days, I’ll continue this challenge and then roll directly into the next one to fill up the rest of the month!

Rainy Days & About Time

I’ve been wanting to post this for a long time. But, every time I went to write about it, I got distracted and never came back. Who knows, maybe I’ll write this sentence and then forget about this post for another few months …


Seattle has a lot of rainy days. Most of the rainy days, I try to push myself to get out and carry on just like I would any other day. After all, if I let the rain stop me, I would never get anything done.

On the days where I do let myself stay in, I like to curl up with a good book or watch a movie. For the last three years my go-to movie has been About Time. I first saw it when I was going through a hard time in life, and I swear — as soon as I watched it, the answers were clear. Since that first viewing, I’ve watched it a number of times and hounded every one around me to watch it too. It is that amazing.

I had a co-worker sum it up perfectly about a year ago, “Every once in awhile, a movie can change your life, About Time is that movie.” And, for me that was true and I think it could be for a lot of people.

The movie is about a family and manages to have a time travel element without it being overpowering or sci-fi in any way. Not that I mind sci-fi, but this movie is about love. All love. Family love, long lasting love and building a life. It has Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson; both put on stunning performances.

If you are looking for something to do on a rainy day or a lazy evening at home when you don’t feel like going out, then watch this movie. Just keep some tissues near by 😉

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Exploring Seattle & Hating It (a tiny bit) Less

It’s been a couple of months since I have posted. Things have been up and down. I don’t hate it here everyday now, just sometimes. Zach has been incredibly busy with school. I love that he is working hard but some days, I barely see him.

It isn’t all bad though.

Since I last posted, we’ve done a ton of stuff. I met Kate Middleton, my mom and grandma visited and Zach has midterms this week. Also, I now have TWO friends. To clarify, I didn’t make any friends, I just got incredibly lucky and reconnected with old friends who now live in Seattle as well.

Going out and exploring has been good for me. For the obvious reasons of not being home alone, but also — if I can get to know Seattle a little bit better, I’ll hate it less. On my super optimistic days, I can see Seattle as a wonderful opportunity for Zach and I to have amazing adventures! And really, though he is busy at school most days, there is plenty for me to get out and see on my own.

When my mom and grandma came, we got the Seattle City Pass. It takes it you through all of the most popular touristy things to do in Seattle, like the Space Needle and aquarium.

And, even though they just left and we had a very busy three days, I already have a new list of things to do the next time they, or anyone else, visits. As far as planning for visitors and date nights in Seattle, Zach and I will never run out of things to do here.

For date night this month, I planned an adventure out to the Ballard Locks, which were absolutely amazing. They give free, guided tours of the history of the locks and how they operate. No one else was in our tour, so we got the whole hour with the tour guide to ourselves. Learning about the 100-year old lock system was amazing. I didn’t think I would be as interested in it as I was, but now I’ll recommend a visit to anyone who comes here. And, we got to catch the end of the Coho salmon run. There were only a few fish still coming through, however we are going back to see the seaward migration in April and again in July for the upstream migration.

We ended the day with a homemade brownie and whisky ice cream sundae from the Kiss Cafe. Both the activity and the restaurant get five stars, so today was a win for Seattle.