Category Archives: Nature

Ain’t No Sunshine


I’ve been in a funk lately. Blame it on the weather.

I think spending most of the past 3 years at college in Colorado has made me dependent on sunshine, completely slave to its connotations of optimism and happiness. Regardless of the fact that my fair shoulders are still sporting sunburn lines from 2 months ago, I am itching for the impending (hopefully soon) days where I will require more SPF than the 15 included in my still-too-dark-for-me tinted moisturizer. Month of May, I’m counting on you.

Alas, hurumph. Seeing as the past week has looked like this at school…

Mountains? Hello? Are you there?

And this at my grandparent’s cabin, where I stayed for Easter:

Where is the horizon?

A few peeks of sunshine here and there, but no consistent beacons of light from the heavens. Being Easter weekend and all, I was craving warm weather like my Christian upbringing should have taught me to crave the coming of Jesus. Too far? Ok.

Thank God for the arrival of my mom and sister, who nourished me with good food!

Fancy brunch with fruit and waffles. Fruit > Waffles, at least lately.

Cafe au lait (with rice milk and a laughing sister)

Shrimp salad! Pescatarianism is nice now and then.

Chocolate covered expresso beans. What? I had a paper to write.

Sister cleavage and other in-your-face-sexy things at happy hour.

Pear-drenched Brie

Spinach-Artichoke Dip.

Mussels. You know what they say, when dining on a parent's tab...

Butternut squash burger. Surprisingly not my fave!

More shrimp. There's tilapia in there too, but I think I just have to accept that it is not the fish for me.

Oats with strawberries, cinnamon, and chia seeds!

Spinach salad, sweet potato, and some crazy blend of Mexican leftovers. Mmm.

Peach-pear-apricot smoothie from a coffee shop. I think I simply prefer green monsters!

Awesome salad for Easter brunch at a vegetarian restaurant in Denver!

Lil sis and Mom also lovin' vegetarian Easter. Who needs ham?

(The x’s on her hands add to her naive charm, no?)

Topped off with vegan carrot cake. The best carrot cake I've ever had in my life, in fact.

Obligatory Easter candy, with a random and wonderful inclusion of Burt's Bee's lotion. Thanks Aunt Julie!

 The sun did come out sometimes, and those times seemed to call for a beverage with rice milk. Funny how that happens!

Mate latte with rice milk. Mom with her unsweetened iced tea, an obsession that my sweet tooth will perhaps never understand.

Iced cafe au lait with rice milk, which the barista oddly termed a "Rolait."

What are your thoughts on…

Rain?

Until last week, when this precipitation marathon commenced, it had rained all of 3 times that semester, and I had loved that. There’s only so much tea-sipping and novel-reading I can do before I get antsy.

Milk in your coffee?

I usually roll with soy, but I like to switch it up and get other alternatives when they’re offered. I still need to try hemp milk!


Feeling Foggy


Have you ever had days where your mind feels more than a smidgen awry, and you think, “Who the hell am I?”

Of course, I could be feeling foggy for many reasons. Shall I count the ways?

  • My head’s a little shaken from my rugby game this afternoon. We were missing a couple of key players, so it was rough and everyone got considerably banged up.
  • I was drunk on Friday night. Not that unusual for a college student, but I don’t drink often, and I didn’t plan for it while eating dinner (read: did not eat bread to soak up the alcohol!) so 2 shots and I was done for.
  • I pulled an all-nighter to write a paper on Thursday night. In my defense, I had dance rehearsals & performances every night that week, and I didn’t start the paper until 1 a.m. Ok, that’s a pitiful defense.
  • I’ve been listening to Ree Drummond’s The Pioneer Woman on my iPod. Ergo, my head is spinning with dreams of my own real-life romance with a cowboy.
  • My mom and my sister are coming to visit in a week, so I need to finish my final paper for class before they arrive. Good thing analyzing Ramakrishna’s mystio-erotic spirtuality through the lens of Hindu masculinity will be an exciting paper to write!

Who the hell am I?

School-produced vegetarian goodness! That blue dot conveys how local the ingredients are; I think the blue is the closest?

The dinner that was not sufficient to withstand alcohol a couple hours later. Being a lightweight is both a gift and a curse!

Not just an egg..

An egg on top of a spinach, onion, mushroom, & chickpea salad. It was lovely.

And yes, it was really sunny that day! Hence the summery, east-coast-y dress. Topped with a J.Crew sweater, no less. You can take the girl outta Connecticut...

Pear & PB oats. I stirred in a spoonful of plain greek yogurt at the end that made them really gooey!

Golden delicious.

Orange. It tasted amazing when I was very slightly hungover.

Roasted brussels sprouts! It's been too long.

Post-rugby spinach with chickpeas, brussels sprouts, & nutritional yeast.

Despite the fog, here’s what’s making me happy at the moment:

My roomate did not pick up ORGANIC spinach like I asked, but for the first time I'm having Popeye-mascot-branded spinach!! How cute!

On that note, the apartment fridge is STOCKED. Can you spot the questionable purchases?

Not only did I roast brussels sprouts today, but I prepped my smoothie for tomorrow morning!

I enjoy creeping on my roommates playing frisbee. The mountain background is irresistably epic!

And last but not least…

I can't wait to keep listening to this on my way to school tomorrow! Yum.

Questions:

Anything not-so-nice about your weekend worth ranting about?

What is your opinion on frisbee?

 


Free-soloing.


Maybe it’s because Colorado is experiencing some freakish weather right now.

Maybe it’s because I’m ashamed that I haven’t learned to rock climb yet.

Maybe it’s because I climbed the mountain in this video too long ago (not even 2 years!) and that was without being on the constant verge of a 1000 ft vertical drop.

For whatever reason, I’m obsessed with this gem of a clip about a female rock climber named Steph Davis. I think I’ve played it at least 10 times now:


Watch it. You’ll get dizzy, but it’ll be great. Trust me.

The Youtube channel it’s on is chock full of amazing feats of outdoor adventurers. I think it was just what I needed for a little kick in the butt to start the week!

On this manic Monday, I started with the (really) lazy girl’s version of overnight oats: about-an-hour oats 🙂

1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/3 cup soy milk, cinnamon, apples

Meaning that I mixed these together, walked to my hour of student teaching at the high school, and then devoured them on the way back to campus. Not too shabby!

But as I arrived on campus, my mind (body? same thing) realized how early I had gotten up, and wanted caffeine.

I’ll say one thing: coffee is a powerful, powerful force.

Looks gigantic, but it just fits a "tall" size.

I stayed awake through class, but my heart would.not.stop.thumping afterwards. Can’t complain, though; I wasn’t really hungry, so I got ahead on some of the night’s reading and ended up munching a red bell pepper for lunch:

Strangely enough, it was enough!

Know what else is a powerful thing? Planning ahead. I knew I’d be starving after ballet and gym, so I pressed and marinated a block of tofu in balsamic vinegar & garlic powder before I left, popped the pieces in a 375 degree oven when I got home at 5:15, and took them out in time for 6:00 dance rehearsal in the form of a beautiful, fulfilling salad.

Complete with nutritional yeast, sauteed onions, and spinach.

Mmmm, portable goodness.

Now my reading’s all done, and it’s not even 9 pm yet. I could get used to this 😉

It’s no free-soloing the Diamond face of Longs Peak, but it’s been a day of achievement.

What are you proud of doing today?


Spring Showers


Can I go back to spring break?

I mean more than just recapping the first part of it, which was spent frolicking around the splendid sights of Denver, Colorado.

Like, can I have another one? Please?

Whenever I break out of the Colorado Springs bubble and travel to other parts of Colorado, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the state. It’s gorgeous! I never get tired of the breathtaking drive north towards Denver. Thank goodness I have a good friend just outside the city that lets me invade her house once in a while 😉

We’re just two hippies that like to explore.

Whether it’s chatting a hookah bar in which we were the only non-Arabs (win!),

grabbing a 1 a.m. meal at Pete’s Diner,

(we’re both vegetarians now, which made dining extra sweet this time around!)

snarfing down greek wraps

visiting the Denver Botanical Gardens on a free admission day,

My religion major mind was on vacation; I didn't try to figure out what this symbolized.

local ice cream joints,

Chai tea yogurt in a gluten-free cone. Why? Because it was an option! Tastes just the same.

walking in Washburn Park,

with her majestic great dane, Lucy

and a plethora of fruit and naan

baking banana bread

pasta,

and then, more cooing over animals which are not mine 😉Between when I got back home and leaving for Oklahoma, things got bland.

I did attempt to make cauliflower pizza.

Looks cool, but not so tasty.

Snackage was random:

and at the same time, completely predictable.

Green monster smoothie with banana, spinach, vanilla protein powder, soy milk, & cinnamon

Cereal, my favorite.

Raw cookie dough, made with almonds.

 

Apple-cinnamon-peanut butter oats.

Another green monster.

Leftover garden benedict and mushroom omelet.

Strawberry-peanut butter oats.

Sorry for the blah-ness of throwing food pictures at you. I’m just a little cranky from being sunburnt (not enough SPF), bruised (rugby), impatient (wordpress! grr), and stressed (class + tech week for a dance show).

But hey, despite the fact that I just walked home in a snowstorm, Colorado is showing signs of spring. That means summer is just around the corner, right? 😉

What’s on your plate for this week?


Here, there, and everywhere (in Colorado)


the theme of Spring Break 2011:

Have car, will visit friends all over state.

My coffee-fueled drives are over for now.

I’ll be back soon. Off to Oklahoma to watch men boys play rugby!

 


Ready? Break!


My college is officially on spring break. So exciting!

But at the moment, I’m particularly thrilled, because I made dinner for the apartment tonight.

Not only did they love it…

it was vegan!

An eggplant bake, to be exact. I just told them I was making eggplant parmesean.

First-class kitchen organization, obviously!

I started off with this recipe, but ended up making some substitutions.

For one, we were out of marinara sauce. What to do?!

“What’s red, saucy, and in my kitchen already?”

Salsa!

See? Looks the same. And that’s all that counts, right? Hehe.

I also used boxed bread crumbs instead of almond flour, and lemon pepper spice instead of italian seasoning. Worked great!

However, the veggie course took a turn for the worse, due a misjudgment on my part of how oven-safe the pan was…

My bad.

They were salvaged, nonetheless.

I made up for it with another dish of roasted asparagus with goat cheese.

Ok, so the goat cheese detail wasn’t vegan. But the main dish was, and the roommates were shocked when I told them!

One of the guys even made a remark along the lines of, “If we let Erica cook every night, we’d be much healthier, cut down on our animal intake, save the environment….”

damn right you would!

I think it’s safe to say they enjoyed it.

And if I had actually used almonds instead of bread crumbs, it would have been gluten free!

Some good eatin’ was certainly called for, after some questionable food choices during these last days of class. Example?

Boxed mac n cheese at 3 AM.

But today, after sleeping until 11, handing in my final paper before noon, and sweating all my stress out in the gym…

Green monster in the sunshine. The way it should be.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! Any fun plans?

I don’t drink beer, but I want a festive grasshopper!

 


Life of Erica



Do you ever read or watch something that was popular years before, and even though it’s a good decade after it came out, you still want to chat about it like it’s hot off the press?

This is one of those times.

In a nutshell: An Indian boy survives 227 days after a shipwreck, while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a bengal tiger. He happens to be very spiritual, practicing 3 religions (Hinduism, Islam, Christianity) all at once, and also the son of a zookeeper.

A good part of the book was filled with elaborate, technically detailed descriptions of the process of staying alive in a lifeboat. I did not like this. But I highly enjoyed the spiritual imagery.

What does this have to do with anything?

Well, this weekend, my rugby team spent 10 + hours in cars traveling to the southwestern corner of Colorado to play a game (which we won). In my opinion, both road trips and rugby games are a great time for reflection and revelation.

Uhhh…why?

Well, think about it. On a roadtrip, you’re passing new landscapes….

If you’re lucky, you’ve got a mix of old and new friends.

You may stumble upon familiar landmarks.

(If you’re me, you may not be hungry for tamales and end up eating an apple, a pear, an orange, and 2 apple-cinnamon muffins for dinner without complaint, over the course of 5ish hours.)

On a roadtrip, you may get to your destination to find that it’s better (or worse) than you expected.

Better: mountain views, fluffy grass, 60 degree weather in March

Worse: field is behind a bowling alley, the opposing team plays and talks dirty

Comparing this new location to home is ok.

(Conclusion: Colorado Springs’ mountain views are prettier.)

You may want to play around a bit in the sunshine.

(If you play women’s rugby, that just means you’ll emerge a bit more scuffed up at the end)

Then you can explore the local dives…

Thanking God/Allah/Krishna/whateveryouplease for vegetarian options at a brewery…

As well as for the appetite for ice cream to fuel the 5 hour drive back home.

You may even encounter some blatant messages along the way.

(some are not necessarily to be obeyed)

And though you may come home physically worse for wear…


The reflection and revelation takes hold, some way or another.


What’s a good book y’all have read recently? What did you learn from it?


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