Wanderlust: My Travel Journal

I'm planning a new year of travel for myself, and wanted to reflect on my recent trips. In the past three years I've traveled to five countries and three cities in the USA and shared some of my packing tips. Above are some of my guidebooks from the countries I've traveled to.

My trip to Bali was an amazing experience!

I loved my fourth trip to Thailand, which is one of my favorite countries! I wrote another post on the delicious food and luxurious experiences I had there.
I spent two weeks traveling around Spain including a trip to the island Ibiza where I did some club hopping. If you're wondering what a vegetarian eats in Spain check out this post.  And here's my recipe for making your own authentic paella.

             Los Angeles                               Santa Monica                                Vegetarian in LA

I had a weekend in New York that was a blast!

Packing Tips                                             Plane snacks                 Panama rainforest (wild monkey attack)

More from my Panama trip  here and here.

Last year I spent Christmas in Cancun which was such a relaxing experience on the beach! I also did some side trips to see the sights nearby. What does a vegetarian eat in Mexico - click here.

If I had to move to another city, it would be San Francisco!

My bucketlist for 2016-2017:

Antelope Canyon, AZ

Phuket island in Thailand

French Riviera -haven't been in a LONG time.

Cuba - I hope Obama's trip there last week leads to looser travel resistrictions.

Easter Roundup

Image Source
Image Source

My family is doing something a little different this year for Easter, we're going to vegan buffet brunch which I'm very excited about! Here are some of my past posts on Easter:

If you're looking for a good breakfast casserole recipe try this one. 
If you're making an Easter basket for your boyfriend check out this post. 
Tips for healthy Easter baskets for kids.
Pictures from last year's Washington Post Peeps Contest. 

Oh She Glows Cookbook

The Oh She Glows Cookbook includes over 100 wholesome, nourishing, plant-based recipes. If you're looking to add more nutrient packed meals with veggies, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, then you need to pick up this book!  I have tried a lot of different cookbooks which I've reviewed here and this is one of the best vegan cookbooks out there. Usually I only find a handful of recipes that I like in a cookbook, but this book I've been working through for the past few months. Every recipe I have tried has now become a repeat item in my cooking rotation. Each recipe is easy to follow and so delicious and filling that I often forget I am eating a vegan meal. She doesn't use imitation products and only has a couple recipes with tofu in it, so no exotic ingredients you need to look for. The pictures are beautiful and nearly every recipe has a full-page, color photo. 

This winter I made a different tasty soup recipe of hers every Sunday to have for lunch throughout the week. I made hummus from scratch for the first time thanks to her. It was oil-free and delicious. For a superbowl party I made her Warm Nacho Dip which was a hit! I make her balsamic marinated tempeh all the time for tacos. I love her kale chip recipe! She turned me on to buying a tofu press.  If you buy only one cookbook, make sure it's this one! She's releasing a new cookbook in September and a recipe app coming out soon. Here's the first ever Veggie Burger I've made and the insanely delicious Goddess Bowl that I make quite often:
Veggie Burger

Goddess Bowl

So far I've tried: 
~Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip 
~Classic Hummus
~Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew
~On the Mend Spiced Red Lentil Kale Soup
~10 spice vegetable soup with cashew cream
~Walnut, Avocado & Pear Salad with Marinated Portobello Caps
~Broccoli & Cashew cheese-quinoa burrito
~Quick & Easy Chana masala
~Luxurious tomato-basil pasta
~Creamy Vegetable curry
~Marinated Balsamic, maple & garlic tempeh
~Perfect Kale Chips
~Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Happy 3rd Blog Anniversary!

First of all thank you for visiting my blog and reading my posts, I'm grateful for all of my readers. I can't believe I've been growing this blog for three years now, 550 posts to date -eek! Especially since my blogging history goes further back than that on other blogs. I try to be authentic and genuine in my posts as I enjoy this blog immensely. I've learned many things about the world of blogging and even set some blogging goals this year. I try not to compare myself to other bloggers as we all have a different path. I've made many friendships in the blogging world. My post inspiration goes on a wavelength, sometimes I'm chock full of ideas and other times I feel uninspired. But I continue to go with the flow looking for inspiration wherever I can. I wanted to share my most popular posts on this blog from the last 3 years.

Folding Clothes Vertically
DIY Glitter Champagne Bottles
Medicine Cabinet Makeover

February Beauty Favorites
Winter Skin Care
Winter Skin Savers 

TJ Brown Rice & quinoa pasta
Tips for a  Beautiful Cheese Board
Eat Clean Stripped Meal Plan

I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. I love reading comments from my readers! The easiest way to keep up with your favorite blogs is to use Bloglovin. It's like pinterest but for blogs! You'll get a daily email with a summary of all the new posts from the blogs that you follow so you never miss anything! Bloglovin makes reading blogs fun and easy! It's takes 30 seconds to sign up, it's easy, no ads, there's no catch. There's even a free App for iPhones. So be sure to subscribe to my blog so you never miss a post!

Related Posts:
Second Anniversary
First Anniversary
200 Posts

The Best of the Light Ice Creams

I'm an ice cream lover and wanted to give you the scoop on two new ones I've tried and loved. They have less fat, minimal added sugar, and will allow you to satisfy your sweet cravings while keeping you in line with your calorie goals. So get ahead and indulge on these!

First up is the brand Yasso which makes frozen Greek yogurt popsicle bars for 100 calories! So far I've tried the flavors Cookies and Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Sea Salt Caramel. All three are delicious! A package of 4 popsicles costs $5 and while the bars are short they are thick. I bought my mom a package of the coffee flavor and she raves about that one as well. The first three ingredients are nonfat milk, greek yogurt, and sugar, it has 5g protein, 2g fat and 14g sugar.
Enlightened Fudge Popsicles have more nutrients than regular ice cream as they are made of  Skim Milk, Milk Protein Isolate, Erythritol so they are 70 cal, with 8g of protein, 2g fat and 3g sugar.  Compared to regular ice cream it has one-third the calories, 75 percent less sugar and twice the protein. It has fewer calories and sugar than a Skinny Cow or Weight Watchers ice cream fudge bar. If you're focusing on losing weight but still want to indulge in healthy treats, give these bars a try!

Related posts:
Healthy Popsicles
Homemade Healthy Popsicles
Low Cal Peppermint Ice Cream

2016 Style Resolutions

So far every month this year I've set a new set of goals.  First were my personal resolutions for the year. Then in February, I decided I needed blogging goals. Now in March I've come up with some style-related resolutions I'd like to try to keep this year. And by writing these down, I’m ensuring that I make myself accountable.

Goal #1: Shop my closet more. Using the stylebook app, remember to wear what I own. Toss all the things I haven't worn in years, I have a ton in that category. The great thing about the stylebook app is that it tells me the last time I wore something since I've been using it since July 2014. I use the "one in, one out" rule. Whenever I buy something new, somehint old has to go.

Goal #2: Wear more tunics. They're such a versatile wardrobe piece that you can wear year round that are flattering to a variety of body types. The key is to pair it with a slender bottom like leggings or skinny jeans so you're not adding volume everywhere. I can wear them to the office and look casually chic in them.

Goal #3:  Wear more plaid. I know sounds like a strange goal but I typically only wear solid colors and owned no plaid prior to buying this shirt. I want to branch out and pick up more pieces in a feminine cut.

Goal #4: Buy better lingerie. I've been a loyal Victoria Secret consumer since high school, only worn one bra model, but don't buy new ones years like you're supposed to. I've learned that wireless bras don't show any bulges on your back because the fabric lays flat on you so I've tried out that style with this bra which I love. I'm branching out and trying new brands as all I've ever known is VS, in fact I was at a loss for where to each search for replacements. lol

Goal #5: Try out hair extensions. Seems like I'm the last one to try this. I would like to try them out to get more volume in my hair, but keep the same length. I talked to my hairdresser about this and she's going to buy the hair then I will come back in for a fitting so she can cut it to the right lenth then color it to match my hair.

Goal #6: Wear a cape dress. I haven't found the right occasion to wear one too, but I'm so loving this style and can't wait to wear it!

2016 Best Reggae Album

The Grammy's were held last month and the winner for Best Reggae album was Morgan Heritage. I had never heard of this group until they did a concert in town recently but they've been performing for 22 years now. The list of nominees for reggae albums are primarily soul reggae, while I'm more a fan of dancehall reggae.  I was surprised by Barrington Levy's album Acousticalevy, it's an acoustic version of his popular songs. My favorite song from Jah Cure's album is Rasta which you can listen to below. I also included some tracks from the other nominated albums and a couple tracks from Mavado and Vybz Kartel tracks to show you what dancehall reggae is like.  Let me know what you think, do you prefer soul or dancehall reggae?

Quantico TV Show

Quantico is a Sunday night drama on ABC that follows the lives of FBI recruits who are in training to be special agents on the base in Quantico. They’re young, attractive, and the brightest of the best. And their secrets and past lives have all been officially and unofficially vetted on the show. The lead character is Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World and one of Bollywood's highest-paid actresses. Last season during filming of Quantico in Montreal she’d fly back to India on the weekends to finish a project there. She also won the People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series for Quantico.

Chopra’s character is the one suspected of a deadly bombing of Penn Station in NYC. She avoids arrest by trying to find out who the real terrorist is – one of her classmates who framed her. There’s lots of twists in the story line that will keep you enthralled for the whole hour. The format of the show does lots of flashbacks between time periods to give you little clues of who could have done it so you can try and solve this mystery, every episode pointing to a different person. If you’re a fan of Homeland, I think you’ll like this show.

Part two of Season 1 starts March 6 and you can watch old episodes on ABC’s website.

Black Cherry Soda Roundup

While doing my #30 day detox from alcohol, I was on a search for a more natural, flavored replacement beverage. Being on a mission to lose weight I wanted to find alternative beverages to drink that are packed with flavor and not sugar. As a kid I never liked sparkling water and rarely drank soda but now I appreciate the carbonation as an alternative beverage. Here's my sparkling bubbles roundup of black cherry flavored drinks. Many are sweetened with stevia which I've discussed in this post about artificial sugar

 Deer Park Sparkling Black Cherry
 It's a little bland because there's no added sugar, but it has crisp carbonation and a hint of cherry flavor. It's reasonably priced at $3 for a 6 pack of 16.9oz bottles.

Bai Bubbles is a sweetened water beverage with only 5 calories. It has a dark red color from cherry juice concentrate and has a nice cherry taste with bubbles, but the after taste is a bit sour. The sweeteners used are erythritol and stevia. It contains juice from coffee cherries,  the fruit around the coffee beans and is filled with antioxidants. Also it has a little caffeine in it, about the same as green tea. Their website lists cocktail recipes you can make with their drinks, I tried one last year. This was the most expensive to buy at $2.50 a can. 

Zevia turned out to my favorite in this taste test. It's a clear color and very sweet with strong carbonation. It has a nice cherry flavor and even smelled of it while containing no calories. It's sweetened with stevia and monk fruit. You can find concktail recipes on their website including this skinny margarita. They have a whole line of products I'm looking forward to trying their other flavors including  Ginger Root Beer, Mountain Zevia,  Dr. Zevia, Grapefruit Citrus, and Cherry Cola.
Honest Fizz  tasted a little flat to me, and the color was an ugly light brown from the added carmel coloring. This was my least favorite for flavor quality.

Izze Sparkling So technically this is blackberry but the flavor is close enough. The bottle has a label on it that says "no added sugar", but I didn't realize this had 130 calories in it and 29g of sugar! But it comes from the natural fruit juices they use, not added white sugar.

For more suggestions on what to drink besides soda check out this post.

#30 Day Detox

For the month of February, I challenged myself to a #30 Day Detox, to give up something that has been a vice for me.  I gave up wine (and alcohol) to shed a few pounds. I friend of mine did a Dry January where he abstained from alcohol for the whole month. I thought it was a great idea but alas I couldn't do it because my birthday is in January. I've heard that people give up for Lent what they failed to achieve in their New Years resolutions, but I couldn't wait for Lent, I wanted to start Feb 1.

I find that drinking makes me hungrier and I end up consuming more calories. I love wine and have made a habit of enjoying a few glasses of wine on the weekends which leads to late night pizza on days I don't exercise. My favorite wines are the sweet ones which have a smaller alcohol percentage so I don't get a big buzz but I enjoy the sweet taste. I have a fully stocked liquor cabinet that I never touch, it's only for the parties a throw. So wine really is my drink of choice unless I'm in a restaurant with a fancy cocktail menu.

I had a few social engagements last month that I was worried would tempt me. There was a Superbowl party, happy hours, a local bloggers event and a charity event I go to every year that had a reception before showing all the Oscar nominated movies. In fact, I was so worried I thought about postponing this challenge, but then thought well next month other events will pop up as well. I meant to buy some alcohol-free wine but it was so cold this month I couldn't motivate myself to go out of my way to the stores that sell it.

You can use an app stickK to keep yourself accountable for challenges, but I chose to just put gold stars on every day in my planner. I confirmed that I can go out with friends and not wine. I was surprised at how easy it was to not drink in social situations. But I did miss having a glass at home to unwind on the weekends. The results of my 30-day journey without wine are that I have to say it had little impact on my life. Well, I probably don't drink enough for it to make that big a difference which is good. But I did notice the scale finally moving (lost 9 lbs so far this year) and that's my reason to continue this detox until Easter. See can't have Easter dinner without my traditional Manischewitz wine. However, I should mention I did celebrate the end of the #30 day detox with some cocktails before I start my next #30 day detox. But now I'm back to drinking the healthy soda I've discovered, will post about that tomorrow.

Have you ever done an alcohol detox, how long did you last, how'd it work out for you?