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Mile High Vegan Eats: Lowdown Brewery

MHVE: Lowdown Brewery

Yah, I know… I had you at Brewery 😉 

The Lowdown Brewery & Kitchen is on Broadway and 8th, just a short walk from my office, and one of my favorite places for a special lunch. As you can see it’s a cool urban spot, and they have tons of space, both indoors and out. Their patio is even dog friendly! They have lots of great, seasonal food for everyone AND all vegan items are clearly marked. Can’t beat that. They also have some great beer choices- The Patio Pounding Pilz is my favorite!

This sandwich is one my favorites: They Call Me Portobello- braised portobello mushrooms, edamame hummus, pickled carrot, red onion, roasted red pepper, toasted pumpkin seeds, mixed greens on lightly toasted sourdough. And as you can see, it came with a little side salad. 

MHVE: Lowdown Brewery

MHVE: Lowdown Brewery

I also love, love, love this salad, The Boulderite- Watermelon radish, asparagus, dried cranberries, carrots, quinoa, roasted pumpkin seeds, spicy cashews over arugula tossed in charred orange vinaigrette. This is a seriously pretty salad!

MHVE: Lowdown Brewery

They also have a rotating selection of hummus, all of which have been quite delicious. I can’t remember what kind this was… but right now they offer Edamame and Ginger Hummus, and they’re always accompanied by lots of crispy veggies and crostini. 

MHVE: Lowdown Brewery

Check out their website… They really are a great spot for beer and food, with options for everyone! 

Want more Denver-area restaurant reviews? Check out my Mile High Vegan Eats page!


What I Eat (When I’m Not Blogging) Part 10

First, don’t miss your last chance to enter the Super Amazing Awesome giveaways before they end- Superfun Times Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra, Superfood Soups cookbook by Julie Morris, and 4 bags of delicious Activated Superfood Popcorn!

Second, I hope you all had a lovely ThanksLiving! I spent it with family, and most importantly with my mom- it was our first Thanksgiving together in 17 years! I made so much food… Isa Chandra’s seitan roast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, corn, rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies. It was insanity. Delicious, delicious insanity.

Here’s the obligatory shot of the table, and my plate:



We did have a little drama on Sunday though… I woke up to sweet Teddy with a snout so swollen his eyes could barely open! Poor kid. I got him in the car and called the ER vet on my way  and Alex the vet tech was waiting for us in the lobby to make sure right away that Teddy was breathing okay. He was, so she took him back for a more thorough exam. The vet told me it was an allergic reaction to something, but since they couldn’t find a stinger and he wasn’t on any new food or medication, they didn’t know what it could be- so they treated his symptoms and sent us home. Thankfully the swelling started to go down right away, but it was still really scary!

I’m off to a work conference this week, so I’ll just leave you with a few shots of the amazing food I’m lucky enough to have here in Denver. I hope you all enjoy your week, I’ll be back next Tuesday!

Pho! This time to go, but as always it was from Phonatic– the best pho in Denver! What made this even better is that it was raining and I somehow convinced a co-worker that HE really wanted to Pho… and since he was going anyway, could he just pick mine up as well? 😉 

wie3Another delicious lunch at work- Falafal wrap and fries from the Shish Kabob Grill in Cap Hill. They make this dairy free sauce, it’s not quite tzatziki, but more like a thinned out hummus? Whatever it is, it’s tasty!

wie10I know this bowl looks like a crazy mess, but I promise you it was delicious- it was tater tots with nacho toppings, except not nearly as organized as Totchos. I just baked the tots, mashed an avocado, chopped some veggies, and covered it all with that Wayfare nacho cheeze dip. Excellent!


Beet infused vodka shot from the Red Square Bistro. I’m not sure what flavor the other one was. They had close to 20 different infused vodkas, and we tried a lot of them. A. Lot. They all come with pickles, which is fun.

wie4This was a dinner at home with the fam… my Best Fall Casserole, Orange-Vanilla Massaged Kale Salad, and a yummy pasta salad my mom made.

wie2My mom and I had brunch at City O’ City a while back, which consisted of Buffalo Seitan Wings with vegan ranch, and …

wie7Cauliflower Chorizo Tacos which were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten! From the menu: “chorizo spiced cauliflower topped with chipotle aioli, chimichurri slaw and vegan sour cream. served on corn tortillas.” Freaking amazing!


Oh, and there were more Buffalo Wings too… this time to go, from The Vegan Van, Denver’s very own all-vegan food truck. I had just finished dinner and was walking home with my cousin and brother when I spotted them. Even though I wasn’t hungry I had to show them so love, so I got the wings to go and ate them for breakfast next morning. Delicious! They came with buffalo and bbq sauce, and they made their own vegan ranch, which was super tasty!

wie5This was Birthday Sushi I had with my bestie Eric at Tokyo Joe’s- not the best sushi but I was craving it, and it really hit the spot.

wie8I learned about Sushi Burritos from my blogger friend Hannah, and set out immediately to try one. I wasn’t disappointed! This monster is from Komotodo (which, funny enough, is basically next door to the beet vodka place!) and is called The Green’ Go: it’s got tofu, portabello mushroom fries, avocado, asparagus, and other stuff, all with a teriyaki sauce. The sauce it was supposed to come with has dairy in it, so you have to be a little careful when ordering. Also prepare to be a bit annoyed- their menu reads “Dairy free cream cheese option”… the option is to not have cream cheese added to your burrito. Huh? But, anyway, the sushi burrito is enormous and delicious and I can’t wait to have another one!



Giveaway: Superfood Soups Cookbook

Don’t forget to enter our other two giveaways here and here!
Superfood Soups

Are you guys ready for tomorrow? I’m very excited to give Teddy his first Thanksgiving, I just know he’s going to love it. My fam is coming over and we’re having an all-vegan feast, and I can’t wait. I know the dogs (and foster kittens) will all get spoiled, and it’ll be a great day. I hope all of you and your critters have a fabulous day too!

But first, you need to enter another giveaway, because this is “Teddy’s First Thanksgiving Week of Giveaways” and he’ll be disappointed if you don’t.

Today, for our third and final giveaway we have Superfood Soups by New York Times bestselling author Julie Morris, a natural food chef, writer, and advocate of whole, plant-based foods. Beautiful color photographs, amazing recipes, and helpful soup-making advice make this one of those must-have cookbooks!

I’m also sharing a recipe for White Bean and Winter Squash Soup that I think you’ll enjoy!

Superfood Soups

Soups are obviously perfect for this time of year, but I also think they’re really great for newbie vegans, or for making for your non-vegan friends and family. They’re full of real, whole foods, nothing “strange” or scary to people that aren’t used to eating vegan. So enter to win a copy for yourself, or as a gift for someone you love! Because, after all, this is the “Enter a Giveaway For Someone You Love” week, right? Happy Thanksgiving!


White Bean & Winter Squash Soup with Kale
Serves 4
You can use just about any variety of hard winter squash in this recipe, from butternut to kabocha (my current favorite is blue hubbard squash, which is so good I’ve vowed to put it in my garden next year). This great weeknight soup comes together in less than half an hour, and it is packed with protein, fiber, and minerals for an easy, balanced meal.
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  1. 1 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  3. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  5. 1 lb winter squash, such as hubbard or kabocha, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (3 cups)
  6. 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (2 15-oz cans,drained)
  7. 4 cups Miso Broth (store bought)
  8. Sea salt and ground black pepper
  9. 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  10. 5 cups (packed) baby kale
  11. 3 Tbsp tahini, divided
  12. 1/3 cup hemp seeds, divided
  13. ¼ cup micro greens, for serving (optional)
  1. Warm the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and rosemary, and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the winter squash, beans, and broth, along with ½ teaspoon sea salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper.
  2. On high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the squash is very soft. Remove the pot from the heat and use the back of a soup spoon to mash some of the squash into the broth until the soup has slightly thickened. Stir in the vinegar, baby kale, 1 tablespoon of the tahini, and 2 tablespoons of the hemp seeds. Cover the pot and let the soup rest for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
  3. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and lightly drizzle each with the remaining tahini. Generously scatter the remaining hemp seeds on top of each bowl and crown with a small bundle of micro greens.
  1. FEEL GOOD FACT: Hemp seeds are a wonderful beauty food, full of omega 3 fats and vitamin E, two nutrients which are well known to promote shiny hair, strong nails, and radiant skin.
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/

The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win a copy of Superfood Soups by Julie Morris! To enter, leave a comment below telling us what your favorite kind of soup is!  Contest ends Wednesday, November 30th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US and Canada only excluding PR, Hawaii, and Virgin Islands, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!




Giveaway: Activated Superfood Popcorn!

Check out our other giveaways here and here!
Activated Superfood Popcorn

Welcome back to my little blog, where it’s Day #2 of “Wow What a Bunch of Great Giveaways!” week. Today I’m here to tell you about Activated Superfood Popcorn, a nutritious and delicious snack from Living Intentions. They’re already known for their cereals, trail mixes, and nut blends, but just last month they launched a new line of ready-to-eat popcorn (Which, BTW, I just saw on the shelf at Nooch, my fave vegan grocer, yesterday). 

You guys, this popcorn is so good AND has probiotics and superfood ingredients like turmeric, chlorella, maca and more. They come in four flavors:

  • Cinnamon Twist with maca root and mesquite pod
  • Tandoori Turmeric with turmeric and Ashwagandha extracts
  • Salsa Verde with spirulina, chlorella, spinach, and kale
  • Berry Smoothie with macqui berry, banana and beet powders, and lacuma fruit

Because I usually have samples delivered to my office, my co-workers get to share. 

Denise is kinda my fave so she got first pick- and she went with Salsa Verde. I feel like I should mention this picture was taken on Halloween- she doesn’t always wear devil horns around the office:

Activated Superfood Popcorn

Look at the popcorn- you can *see* the flavor on there!

Activated Superfood Popcorn

Later in the afternoon I brought the Berry Smoothie to a staff meeting:

Activated Superfood Popcorn

It tasted fruity, but not in a weird way. It was mellow and smooth and was definitely evocative of a smoothie. Everyone loved it, and my co-workers are not all “healthy, eat-carrots-as-a-snack” type people either. What I’m trying to say is, this popcorn is delicious and doesn’t taste as healthy as it actually is!

Okay! Because this is “The Three Days of Thanksgiving Giveaway Week!“, it’s time for a … giveaway! Big surprise, right? Well, one lucky reader is going to get a big ol’ bag of each of the four flavors, so you can try them all! 

The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win Four bags of Activated Superfood Popcorn, one in each flavor! To enter, leave a comment below telling us when you snack the most! While you’re watching TV with your dog? On the bus home from work? In the bath? Contest ends Wednesday, November 30th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US only, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!



I’m also giving away Activated Superfod Popcorn and Superfood Soups by Julie Morris!
Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook

It’s “Who Needs to Shop on Black Friday Giveaway Week” here at TWV? and we’re starting it off right with an amazing book by the OG Vegan author/chef herself, Isa Chandra Moskowitz! The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook is enormous and full of every recipe you’ll need to celebrate every holiday all year long. And because Isa wrote it, it’s awesome and fun and totally superfun times!

I’m so excited to share this book with one of you lucky readers during this “Three Fabulous Days of Giveaways Week” (that’s right- come back tomorrow and Wednesday for two more giveaways!) because I know you’ll love it- even if you’re not vegan, it would make a fantastic Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus gift for the plant-based person in your life!

Or just keep it for yourself. I wont blame you, because I’m 100% not re-gifting my copy!

Not only am I sharing a copy of the book, I’m also sharing a recipe for Banana Eggnog Pancakes because Thursday is Thanksgiving and if we can’t eat vegan eggnog-based breakfasts this time of year, when can we?

Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook

Here’s what I want from you: Pin this recipe and plan to make it ASAP, then enter the contest. Then come back tomorrow and Wednesday to enter the other giveaways and make this the best “Thanksgiving Week O’ Giveaways” ever! My fingers are crossed for all of you!

Banana Eggnog Pancakes
Yields 8
You are going to want these pancakes around throughout December the same way you are going to want to hang up vintage candy cane lights and listen to indie-rock Xmas playlists and watch Love, Actually over and over again. They’re perfect for Christmas morning, and you won’t be able to live without them. After January 1, though, put them away, let their powers recharge, and do it again next year! I’ve included a little extra nutmeg just to drive home the point that these are eggnog pancakes! If there still isn’t enough of that woodsy perfume for you, shave a little bit more nutmeg over the top of your stack, because yum.
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. 2 very ripe medium bananas 1¼ cups eggnog
  2. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  3. 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 2¼ teaspoons baking powder
  5. ½ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg, plus extra for sprinkling
  6. ¼ teaspoon salt
  7. Refined coconut oil, for cooking
For Serving
  1. Banana slices
  2. Fresh or dried cranberries
  3. Pure maple syrup
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a small masher until they are almost pureed. Add the eggnog, canola oil, vinegar, and vanilla and set aside.
  2. In a separate large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the banana mixture. Use a fork to mix until a thick, lumpy batter forms. That should take about a minute. It doesn’t need to be smooth; just make sure you get all the ingredients incorporated. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat a large nonstick pan (preferably cast iron) over medium-low heat. Lightly coat the pan with coconut oil. Add ⅓ cup of the batter for each pancake and cook until puffy, about 4 minutes. Flip the pancakes, adding a new coat of oil to the pan, and cook until golden brown, another 3 minutes or so.
  4. Transfer the pancakes to a plate tented with aluminum foil while you cook the rest. Serve with sliced bananas, cranberries, and maple syrup.
  1. Since vegan eggnogs vary from brand to brand, your results may vary, but I can’t see anything going drastically wrong from using one brand over another. Some are thinner than others, some are spicier, but you always have to play with pancake batter a little anyway, adding a tablespoon of extra flour or a splash of extra liquid to get the right consistency. Don’t sweat it.
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/

The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win a copy of The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook! To enter, leave a comment below telling us which holiday is your favorite to cook for! Contest ends Wednesday, November 30th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US only, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided free product to review but the opinions are 100% mine!



I have to preface this review with the fact that I’m not gluten-free, nor do I buy gluten-free bread products on a regular basis… So my opinions are probably a bit skewed. But! The fact that, as someone who isn’t accustomed to gluten-free, I actually enjoyed all the products so much probably means if you’re already eating gluten-free breads, you’ll love BFree even more!

First a little background on the BFree company: Their products are all allergen free, meaning they have no gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, nuts, or soy! So whatever your intolerance, these breads are safe for you and your family. They’re also low in fat and high in fiber compared to standard alternatives… and they taste great! 

They sent me a bunch of products to try, and here are a few of my favorites:


The Hot Dog Buns, available in Plain and Brown Seeded are both incredibly soft. My mom used to eat GF, and when I gave her one (pictured above with my Tuno Salad) she didn’t believe me that it was GF. It was softer than some regular hot dog buns I’ve eaten, plus it’s healthier! 


The Quinoa and Chia Seed Wraps with Teff and Flaxseeds were also surprisingly soft and flexible! As you can see from the picture (I made a breakfast burrito with my Tofu Scrambz, some potatoes, beans, and vegetarian green chile) it wrapped without splitting or breaking. Plus it has all those healthy seeds in there that give it a very satisfying texture, and being high fiber I know it’s a lot better for me than the white flour version I tend to buy. 


Bread Loaves come in Soft White and Brown Seeded so everyone’s preferences can be met. I haven’t tried the Brown Seeded yet, but quickly went through the Soft White- I even made a grilled cheese sandwich and tater tots for my Grandma’s lunch one day :) Although it’s a little dryer than regular bread with gluten in it, it was still delicious and didn’t fall apart on me at all. 


These Rolls, also in Soft White and Brown Seeded are ready to go- they don’t need baking or anything! When I used them as a sort of dinner roll, I just heated them up for a minute or two and slathered them with Earth Balance, and they were great. Softer than what I’ve experienced with other gluten free rolls.



Finally, the Bagels: Multiseed and Plain (pictured with Earth Balance and raspberry jam). These were probably my least favorite, but again I’ve never had gluten-free bagels before so I had nothing to really compare them too. It seemed a bit dry to me, but the flavor was still good. 

So! If you’re in the market for some delicious vegan, gluten-free bread products, you should definitely check out BFree. Visit their website to find out where they’re sold in your area. 

*I was provided free product to review, but the opinions are 100% mine!


The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty

I’m SO excited about this giveaway because I’ve really enjoyed this book- The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty:125 Recipes for Vegan, Gluten-free, Cruelty-Free Makeup, Skin & Hair Products by Sunny Subramanian has really gotten me into DIY beauty stuff! If you’re into makeup and fashion and vegan reviews you’ve probably heard of Sunny from VeganBeautyReview.com where she blogs. She’s also quite prolific on ‘gram, which is where I first discovered her. 

Obviously all the recipes in here are vegan, but they’re also full of easy-to-find ingredients, which is important. Many come from your local grocery, and the others can be found at health stores or online. Here’s a glamour shot of me in the Green Clay Detox Facial Mask (pg 106) and the Cedarwood Essential Oil Hair-Growth Treatment (pg 188):

The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty

And you know what’s even MORE exciting than a Saturday night spent with a clay mask on your face? Sharing a recipe AND a copy of the book with you guys! You can scroll down to grab the recipe for the Black Forest Chocolate Cake Mask and then enter to win your own copy of the book!

The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY Beauty

The Giveaway

One lucky reader will win a copy of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty! To enter, leave a comment below telling us about the craziest beauty treatment you’ve ever tried! Contest ends November 20th at midnight (mountain time). One winner will be chosen at random and announced the following day. Be sure and log your comment into the Rafflecopter to make it count! Open to residents of US and Canada only, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Black Forest Chocolate Cake Facial Mask
This recipe is made with such yummy ingredients, like cocoa powder and luscious ripe cherries, that you’ll need serious willpower not to bake up a vegan cake to match. Oh, what the heck, why not make both? As Oscar Wilde wrote, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Best for: All skin types Top Tip: Cherry juice is useful for lightening skin and clearing up dark spots. Cherries contain the antioxidant vitamins A and C, plus the minerals potassium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. The fruit and juice are anti-inflammatory, moisturizing and healing for damaged skin. Superstar ingredient: Cocoa powder is antioxidant-rich, so it helps neutralize harmful free radicals and repair skin cells.
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  1. 3 large ripe cherries, pitted (3)
  2. 1 tbsp kaolin clay (15 mL)
  3. 1 tbsp almond milk (15 mL)
  4. 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (10 mL)
  1. In blender, purée cherries, clay, almond milk and cocoa powder until smooth. Spoon into a small bowl.
  2. Using fingers, spread mask all over damp cleansed facial skin. Let stand on skin for 10 minutes.
  3. Rinse face with warm water and pat dry with a towel. Follow with your favorite toner and moisturizer.
  4. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  1. Courtesy of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty by Sunny Submaranian & Chrystle Fiedler © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.
  2. Image credit: Michelle Cehn
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/

Super Moist Zucchini Bread

Super Moist Zucchini Bread

This isn’t a political blog and I’m not going to get political. I will say though that I’m in a bit of shock still and don’t really feel like blogging or pretending to be my usually cheery self… but I promised you this recipe and also #25 of my 40 Before 40 list is to rededicate myself to the blog, so here I am. Dedicated, but still SMH. 

OK! I mentioned this bread in my recent review of Nocciolata hazelnut and cocoa spread, and it really is divine. A delicious way to make your kitchen smell amazing and your tummy happy. Especially with a chocolate spread on it. 

Put this on your menu and bake some up this weekend. You wont regret it, and if you’re feeling like I am, maybe it’ll cheer you up a little bit too.


Vegan Zucchini Bread
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  1. 3 cups shredded zucchini (2-3 medium)
  2. 1 2/3 cups sugar
  3. 2/3 cup apple sauce
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  5. 4 Follow Your Heart eggs
  6. 3 cups AP flour
  7. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  10. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  11. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8x4-inch) loaf pans or 1 (9x5-inch) loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, apple sauce, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan. Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.
  4. I recommend serving warm schmeared with something chocolatey!
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Adapted from Betty Crocker
That Was Vegan? http://www.thatwasvegan.com/

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What I Eat (When I’m Not Blogging) Part 9

I’ll be back on Thursday with that Zucchini bread recipe I promised, but for now… More of the everyday stuff I like to put in my face!

This lasagna was made with tofurky Italian sausage, peppers and onions, and Trader Joe’s vegan mozzarella shreds. Have you tried them? Look how well they melt! 


A delicious falafel pita wrap from Melita’s, which is just a few blocks from my office. It’s one of my favorites and while they don’t have a ton of vegan options, they have enough to keep me coming back!


A dinner I made at my mom’s house- mac n’ cheese with beefy crumbles, salad and garlic bread with a ton of earth balance on it. Yum. 


My mom came and met me for lunch the other day, and we walked to Mad Greens. This was the Da Vinci, my favorite salad on their menu!


Lunch at my desk was an easy, delicious mix of millet, tofu, beans, canned tomatoes, and all the veggies I had in my freezer :)


Had to include the chilled glass of wine I enjoyed at my hair stylists!


Last but definitely not least… Tuno Salad mixed with a bit of pasta and served over lettuce and chopped tomatoes!




40 Before 40

40 Before 40

I’ve never been obsessed with my age, other than the obvious milestones of turning 16 and being able to drive, or turning 21 and having my first legal drink. Turning 30 didn’t make me feel old or make me question my life choices, and neither will (I hope) turning 40.

But first comes turning 39. This actually happened on Sunday, and while I feel exactly the same as I did the day before, the approaching milestone birthday has made me think about my goals, hopes and even some concerns that I’m growing complacent in my life.

I know life can change in the briefest of moments and I never want to take anything for granted. I want to continue to learn and grow and take on exciting new challenges, and that’s why I’ve come up with a list I’m calling 40 Before 40!

40 things I want to do, learn, try or accomplish before my next birthday. As you’ll see (if you make it through the list) some are BIG and some border on mundane. Call it my “bucket/personal growth/wish/to-do list“. The only thing they all have in common is my dedication to crossing them off before I turn the big 4-0.

And what happens if there’s something I don’t finish before my next birthday? Why, I’ll just keep going easy on myself of course!



  1. Take an international trip alone. It can be anywhere, as long as it requires my passport! I’ve traveled quite a bit internationally, but always with someone else. And I’ve traveled alone domestically, mostly for work. Taking a trip abroad alone sounds exciting and a bit scary, and a challenge I’m ready for!
  2. Take Spanish lessons. The benefits of speaking a least a little Spanish are obvious, especially since I’d like to start traveling in South and Central America more in the coming years.
  3. Learn a new sport. Will it be scuba? Will it be pickleball? Stay tuned to find out (even I don’t know yet!)
  4. Get in shape! This one is a little personal, and I’m not going to share the specifics of how many inches or lbs I’d like to lose. Instead let’s just say I want to be in the best shape of my life!
  5. Organize all 7 closets at home. An exciting goal, right? Well for me it is. I’m happier when I’m well organized, but since moving most of my closets have remained in a state of nightmarish messiness, and it ends now! (Or, within the next 12 months, haha)
  6. Run a race. Something I’ve never done, but I’ve always thought would be fun! I’m thinking a 10k maybe?
  7. Foster at least 10 animals. Although I’ve fostered dozens and dozens of dogs in my adult life, I’ve “only” fostered 6 since I moved and began volunteering with Dumb Friends League. My goal for the next year is a 66% increase!
  8. Learn to install my own lighting fixtures. My ex-husband and I remodeled two homes together, but honestly he did most of the labor (I was more into the design aspect). Since buying my townhouse I’ve had to take on a lot more of the projects myself, like swapping out outlets and such.The next logical step is replacing the 4 ceiling lights that are totally dated and have to go.
  9. Climb two more 14ers (doubling my current count!). This one is pretty self-explanatory. Climbing 14ers is hard and amazing and I want to climb more!
  10. Take a really long hike alone. Probably not a 14er (have you ever seen a 14er trail with no one else on it??), but a long challenging hike alone sounds like the perfect opportunity for introspection.
  11. Volunteer with humans. No clue what organization I’ll volunteer with, but I’m thinking something along the lines of teaching basic computer skills to folks trying to get back into or jumpstart their careers… homeless or elderly? This one will take some research.
  12. Create a log of all the books I’ve read (as an adult). Oh boy, this one is going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’d love to have. Sounds like a great winter project right?
  13. Read at least 4 books per month. I’m a pretty voracious reader, so this shouldn’t be hard.
  14. Read every book by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters (that I haven’t already). I’m an 18th Century British Fiction nerd and I don’t care who knows it! Charlotte Bronte wrote my all time favorite novel (Jane Eyre), but Jane Austen is also a favorite. I’ve read most of their major works, but there are still a few gaps I can fill in.
  15. Learn to crochet. I already know how to knit, but I’d really like to learn to crochet as well. This has actually been on my list for a while.
  16. Finish downstairs remodel completely. I busted my @ss with painting before I left for Iceland, but when I got back… I got complacent. Time to finish!
  17. Make 5 new friends. As we get older it’s so easy to settle in with the friends we already have, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I have more (and better) girlfriends now than I’ve ever had in my life and I love that, but my guy friends are awesome too. I want to continue to build on that momentum and add more, interesting, friends!
  18. Go river rafting in Colorado. Each spring when the Colorado rivers start to rage, I say I’m going to do it… so I guess this is The Year. I’ve been on the Snake River in Wyoming, and the Green River in Utah, but neither were exactly “rapids”, and that’s what I want to try.
  19. Do something that scares me. I don’t know what yet, so this one will stay open.
  20. Paint all my pets. I already painted Cooper, so now it’s Sally and Teddy’s turn- along with as many past furry family members as I can get done. I’m envisioning all the canvases organized on the staircase wall at home, so I see them multiple times a day.
  21. Hang art in my house. Call it adulting if you will, but I’ve lived here almost 2 years, and it’s time to decorate – and not just with my pet portraits either.
  22. Take my yoga practice to the next level. Every time I read a post by Angie on her yoga practice I’m reminded of how important it used to be to me. There were a few things that took me away from it- a repeatedly broken foot, perceiving myself as being “too busy”, etc- but I’d like to at least make an effort to explore yoga again.
  23. Create a more aggressive financial independence plan. I’m fortunate enough to be one of those nerds who started contributing to her 401(k) in her early 20’s, and am well on the way to early “retirement” (which, if you’re a PF blog/podcast nerd like I am, you know actually just means financial independence), but I’d like to pin down a more aggressive plan that will give me that independence sooner. This is important to me because it would allow me the freedom to choose a job I love, without worrying about the salary.
  24. Transform my bedroom into comforting oasis. When I bought my townhouse I purposely took the smaller bedroom as the master because it has an exposed brick wall, and I loved that. I had an image in my mind of cozy afternoons spent napping, or evenings reading with candles burning, all while surrounded by tranquil beauty. Time to make that happen!
  25. Rededicate myself to TWV? This blog is incredibly important to me, but I’ll be the first to admit I’ve let it slide. I want to get back to posting meaningful content on a regular basis, and taking on more exciting projects!
  26. Visit at least 2 more museums. Denver has tons of great museums, and I’ve been to exactly 2 of them. I’m going to at least double that number.
  27. Write my will. My mom actually mentioned this while we were having lunch the other day, and it feels important. Mostly because I need to make sure that if something were to happen, the dogs are taken care of, but also because this is a good opportunity to think about which charities I want to include.
  28. Visit my family in Atlanta. I have all this wonderful family on my dad’s side, who I reconnected with at his funeral. Many of them live in /around Atlanta and I have a standing invite to visit, so it’s time to take them up on that.
  29. Take a road trip. Where, when and with whom are all TBD, but I love road trips and I haven’t taken on in years. My most epic to-date was when I was 21, and my step-brother and his at-the-time gf and I drove from NH to San Diego after I finished undergrad. Luckily that was before cell phones had cameras in them 😉
  30. Try to have a more positive outlook on Sundays and Mondays. I don’t walk around complaining about it, but I definitely find myself with a case of “The Smondays” most weeks. It’s silly and it’s a waste of time and of my life and I want to be more positive!
  31. Visit a farm animal sanctuary. I’ve visited wild animal and big cat sanctuaries (The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO being my hands-down fave!), but never one for farm animals. As a vegan, this is something that I need to rectify ASAP.
  32. Enjoy my yard and fire pit on a regular basis. I spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time and money making my little yard cute and comfortable (outdoor couches, a fire pit, landscaping) but I often forget to take the time to enjoy it.
  33. Meet my neighbors. I know one of my neighbors. And only because SHE made the effort to introduce herself.
  34. Get over my “fear” of baking. I say that I can’t bake, but this isn’t actually true. There are cake recipes on this blog! Still, I feel that I’m not very good at it, and I’d like to get past that perception.
  35. Keep monthly mileage on my car below 500 (6k annual). My car only has ~40k miles on it which is pretty good, considering it’s a 2012. And since I plan to keep it forever (or as long as possible), putting fewer miles on it just seems smart. A big part of this will be motivating myself to take the bus back and forth to work every day.
  36. Ride my bike more. I want to ride it more for fun (both on my local paved trails and in the mountains), but also as a way to support #36. I think it would be fun to ride my bike for more errands, or back and forth to my mom’s house, rather than driving all the time. Plus, it gives me more exercise!
  37. Practice eating only when I’m actually hungry. Yes, I realize this is a first world problem, but it’s still important to me. I’m one of those people who eats my feelings, who eats mindlessly, and who will eat something just because it’s there. It’s not healthy, and I think it lowers my overall enjoyment of food, so I’m going to work on only eating when I’m hungry.
  38. Hike Devil’s Causeway (and live to tell about it!)At 11,800 feet and just four feet wide in places – with sheer drops of several hundred feet on either side…” this sounds like a frightening yet AWESOME hike! I’ve wanted to do it for years but no one was brave enough to go with me. Maybe one of my new friends will, or maybe it’s the hike I do alone!?
  39. Watch more classic films, and become knowledgeable about the genre. I’ve always liked the well known classics that I’ve seen (Casablanca, Mommie Dearest, etc) but as I’ve been listening to this great podcast (You Must Remember This) I’m learning to much more, and being introduced to such a wider variety of classics than I ever realized existed. I think this would be a really cool topic to be knowledgeable about- plus it puts “watching movies” on my list haha
  40. TBD. Because who knows what the next 12 months will bring?







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