Our Wedding Video!
We never planned on having a wedding video made. When we hired our photographer we were on a budget, and video just didn't make sense financially. I didn't think that it mattered to me until the day of the wedding, when all of a sudden I realized I really wanted some kind of video documentation that I could look back on and relive; there's just something about a video that evokes a million more feelings than a photograph could. To my surprise and sincere joy, Alex's brother Spencer had arranged for one of his closest friends, Ryan Todd, to come film our big day. We've known Ryan for years through hockey, so it was amazing to see him there and realize he'd be filming for us. And he killed it! Ryan and our photographer, Natalie, bonded and kind of hung together, catching shots and footage together all day. I couldn't be more thankful! It was the best wedding gift we received, and has made me cry every time I've watched it since. I love seeing all these people we love so much in one place. It was my favorite day ever!
I so hope you guys enjoy re-living a bit of our big day! Special thanks to Ryan Todd for filming and editing the video, to Spencer Owens for making it happen and for generally being the best brother (in law!). Check out both of their sites to see more of their creative work - they both rock. And enjoy the video! ❤️
OUR PLANT-BASED WEDDING: THE DETAILS
If you missed our first post, Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding, go back and start there! I cover booking a venue, picking a theme and colors, choosing a photographer, deciding on food and drinks (including our highly coveted cannabis-infused wedding cake), our FULL playlist, finding a dress and shoes (and the groom's outfit!), and a little sage advice from this happily married gal. There's a ton of great info there if you're planning your wedding - especially if you're looking to keep it plant-based and under $10k! Here I'll break down some of our smaller (but JUST as awesome vendors) and share way more of our gorgeous photos from Like morning Sun Photography. And next week - I'm sharing our WEDDING VIDEO! It'll be like you were there. Except I didn't save you any cake...sorry guys.
We chose to get ready as close (and cheaply) as possible to the venue, so I got ready with my Mom, sister, a few friends, and my hair stylist, Kady, at our small house in Downtown Fullerton. Alex headed a few miles toward the venue to our friend Marce's place to get ready with the boys. All of our outfit info is on the last wedding post, but here is a close-up of Alex's rad Insecta shoes, my gorgeous flower crown and matching bouquet from The Crown Collective, and a sneak peek pf Alex tying his bowtie on the big day. Beneath, a snap of our vow books (I got them on Etsy here) and our matching rings from PointNoPoint Studio - I'm obsessed with their custom, unique designs! The vow books were the most helpful and looked SO much cuter than notebook paper up there at the altar!
Alex's mom helped us hugely with her design skills and essentially created all of the tablescapes and arranged decor for us. She made the space look SO incredibly beautiful - with lots of help from our other friends and family, too! She used a lot of fresh produce and greens cut right from her own backyard. We didn't have a ton of flowers on site, but enough to make the space look beautiful without spending too much money. We found that baby's breath was the perfect accent floral and was really cheap - like 10 HUGE bunches for $100 at our local florist. Jen, Alex's Mom, also used lots of lace and natural color fabrics to accentuate the greenery and our hanging macrame at the altar. Air plants and antique blue glass ball jars studded all the tables. It was gorgeous! I couldn't have designed it better myself. Our altar space stayed empty until the ceremony was over, when we moved our couples table there for the duration of the party, which gave us a great separate place to eat and connect throughout the ceremony. We had gorgeous, hand-lettered signs made by Katie of DottieSoul - everything from our entry sign to our Photo Booth signage, plus a few flavor signs for the donut bar and of course, our instagram hashtag sign! (#mainecalifornia ✨)
In the picture above, Alex and I are literally RUNNING to get food as soon as it was announced to the wedding that it was ready. Traditionally the bride and groom eat last - NOT US! We beat everyone there for first dibs on everything. We love food, and we really love Falasophy - and we wanted to be well fed. Haha. One of my favorite pictures, for sure.
If you're curious about our gorgeous, cannabis-infused wedding cake, you can check our last post for the details. It was AMAZING! One of my favorite parts of our wedding were the giant jenga sets and corn hole game we had. Th giant jenga sets we knew were coming but the corn hole was a hand-made gift from our woodworking friend Eric Gianetti at EricBuilt. Alex's brother Spencer customized them for us with some hand-lettered 'A Team' designs. So cool, and we'll have them for life. One of our favorite wedding gifts! And jenga was a HIT - we've played a bunch now that we have the sets in our backyard, too!
I'm just so in love with all of the photos our photographer, Natalie, took! She is queen of the candids. There are so many great photos of us and our guests. And I find new favorites everytime I scroll through them! She makes our venue, The Riverbed Farm, look even more magical than it did on the big day - and it looked pretty darn amazing. I so hope you guys have enjoyed this little wedding photo share!
The last few photos are the wrapping up of the wedding; a shot of us singing our marriage license with our marriage officiant and my best friend, Devin, on the right and our witness and the person who introduced us, Ingmar, on the left. One of my favorite shots and something I didn't necessarily think would get photographed - but I'm glad it did!
Next, some of our guests - mostly Alex's 'hockey boys' hanging out as the sun set, and some of the early photos from our bumping' reception dance party. Such a blast! The wedding ended before we were ready (isn't that ways the way?!) so we grabbed a bunch of friends and headed to downtown Fullerton to hit the bars with our friends. We ended up at HopScotch, a whiskey bar, until closing time. The after party was just as fun as the wedding - and the perfect way to keep the party going for a few more hours! Plus, we didn't pay for a single drink - perks of being the bride and groom! 😝
What an amazing day! It was the wedding of my dreams, and it stayed within my budget. The sparkler exit may have been my favorite part. In the end, I walked away having married my very best friend! I'm going to call that a win-win-win. Feeling pretty lucky over here that I get to spend my life with such a rad dude. If you missed the planning stages, you can read up on Planning Our Plant-Based Wedding here! My biggest takeaway: just enjoy it. It flies by, and you'll always wish you had more time. Enjoy what you get and cherish those memories!
Planning our Plant-Based Wedding
It took us eight years to get here, but that happened to be just the right amount of time for us to get it together and plan ourselves a wedding. We were engaged for a total of a 18 months and I felt like planning took up every second. How does that happen?! Weddings are crazy guys, I'm not going to hold any punches there. They're crazy and stressful and beautiful and magic, all rolled into one. But man - am I glad it's over! I didn't start going into full on plan-and-panic mode until about 6 months before the big day. Before that, its hard to get other people interested in accomplishing anything. "It's still so far away!" they'd say, as I'd be obsessively reloading my email hoping for a response from a vendor. Here's my biggest advice for you: DON'T wait until the last second - on anything! The more you plan ahead, the more you can relax on the big day. I wasn't even stressed to get married - that was the best part, to me! Marrying my best friend and biggest supporter wasn't the stressful part - it was making sure everyone ELSE was where they needed to be, and that all the people who needed to be paid, got paid - on time. But they did, and it went off without a hitch! Okay, that's not true. Our speakers blew mid-reception and I literally ended up having to go bra-less, unexpectedly, in my wedding dress all day. But would we even remember the day if everything went smoothly? Probably not as well nor with as much fondness for all of the things that did go right. So without getting into too much madness, I'm going to break down how I planned this crazy thing and in a follow-up post we'll go over the event itself. I've broken up my planning into stages by vendor essentially, since that's how I went about planning. Now, we kept our wedding under 10K. How? Being smart + thrifty, whenever we could, and using any and all resources available to us! My Mom, Dad, and Alex's parents each gave us a little money to spend on the wedding, but we mostly paid for it ourselves. Look, getting engaged is the hardest part - the second is finding a venue. So we'll start there!
The venue was the biggest part for us. The first real decision to be made, and the first expensive thing we'd be paying for. We decided on The Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, CA for three main reasons: first, it was close to where we live, about a 15 minute drive from our house. That made it easy for us to get there for set-up, easier for our friends and family who live nearby to attend, and easy to bail at the end of the night! Second, we'd done a cooking event there months before so we were familiar with the venue set-up and employees. Third, the PRICE! I'm all about being transparent, so I'll be honest when I say we rented the space for just $2,000. Cheaper than almost ALL the places we looked at, and way nicer! We were only the 2nd couple to book a wedding here ever, so the price was still pretty low when we did. No guarantees what it is now - it's become a busy spot since we booked, nearly a wedding each weekend in the summer! We loved this space because as a working hydroponics farm, all vegetables and eggs raised on the property from the roaming chickens are donated back to the community. Schools and church crews regularly volunteer time here, as it's a totally non-profit organization. The space was about half-filled with guests and tables and decor and about half-filled with rows of towering, growing vegetables and ladybugs. We loved it! It was the perfect blend of our Maine and California lives. We set up a dance floor on a deck to the left and set up our ceremony and couples table on the deck at the front of the farm, so we could easily see our guests and socialize between snack breaks. All of the decor in the space was provided and arranged by Alex's Mom, Jennifer. We were so lucky to be able to use her design skills to make the farm into our perfect wedding venue!
PICKING A THEME / COLORS:
This is really a preference things, obviously, but there are a few things to consider before you decide. First, consider your location. If you're having a wedding with lots of green and brown - like ours - maybe you pick a more neutral, earth tones-based palette with lots of wood and natural decor. If you're getting hitched by the ocean, maybe you lean into blues, greens, and glass accents instead. Or maybe your favorite color is pink and you've always envisioned your wedding PINK. Then do that! I wanted to pick colors that both played up our outdoorsy theme and accented my skin tone and dress, personally. I have green eyes, so I wanted some green in there somewhere to help them POP in photos. We got married on June 10th, so I envisioned a light, summery color scheme. It was easy then to add cream and blush pink to our colors, and a bit of dusty yellow and maroon for contrast. I also used gold as an accent - no silver at our wedding. It's just not my fave! In the end, we had a gorgeous palette that wound in colors from from our venue and outfits, and looked beautiful in photos. We stayed as natural as possible with the decor. Since our colors were summer-inspired and our tones muted, we accented with a lot of lace + burlap, as well. We bought a few pieces - garland and hanging things, mostly - from Etsy, but the rest was conceived and brought to life by Alex's Mom, Jen. She's an interior designer, and we were so lucky to have her help decorating the space. She completely handled the tablescapes full of fresh fruit, greenery, blue glass jars and wood accents herself - and we loved how it turned out!
HOW TO PICK A PHOTGRAPHER:
If you can't tell by this post, I LOVE my wedding photos. I'm happy to show them off because our photographer did SUCH a great job! Her name is Natalie, she runs Like Morning Sun Photography, and she's a recent college graduate who lives here in the OC. I found her through Instagram (the best!) and we chatted through email before meeting in person. I found a LOT of great photographers on Instagram, but I was immediately drawn to Natalie's photography because of her unique use of natural light. Her photos are bright and romantic, and she captures candids beautifully. Also, she was affordable. People pay an INSANE amount of money for wedding photos. And I get it! They're forever, and you want them well done. Plus, it is a lot of work for the photographer - they're often justified and fair in their pricing. But we were having a smaller wedding at smaller venue and we didn't need all the bells and whistles (video, 2+ photographers, ect), and we just couldn't see spending more on the photography than we had on the venue + food combined. Nat gave us a fair rate for her work, and then went ahead and exceeded our expectations over and over again. Her shots came out beautifully, and her energy and presence at the wedding were wonderful. Our family and friends raved about her afterward, and I just hired her to do the new shots here for the site. If you're looking for a phenomenal photographer, she's your girl!
DECIDING ON FOOD + DRINKS:
This was my favorite part - and maybe one of my biggest stressors in the beginning! As someone who LOVES food, I was pretty set on having really great vegan food at our wedding. We even got a little kickback from Alex's family at first about keeping the food vegan - but we quickly reminded them that it was our wedding, and that frankly, they could choose to eat one great vegan meal or skip dinner - not our problem. And honestly, that's how it has to be; You can respect your guests dietary preferences without sacrificing your own!
Luckily, we're blessed with all kinds of great, plant-based food here in Orange County, so I hit up one of my all-time favorite food trucks, Falasophy, for a tasting. They killed it, and we were happy to hire them to feed our 100 guests. They ended up serving two main dishes, a falafel-stuffed pita bahn mi and spicy falafel tacos, and served them right from the truck. They also provided a range of apps for us and our guests, including tabbouleh, dolmas, pita + hummus, which went straight to the tables.
For desserts we had both a wedding cake and a donut bar. Our wedding cake, something I originally thought I'd make myself, was handmade by Meghan from Dr. Raw Organics. She made us a custom marijuana-infused edible 2-layer white cake with strawberry frosting that she decorated beautifully with edible flowers and topped with a matching garland. I am still OBSESSED with it! We let our guests know it was medicated, should they choose to enjoy some, and also set-up a 6-flavor donut bar across the venue for those who'd rather not indulge in cake. The donut bar was something I saw become trendy a few years ago and loved the idea of. We called up the best vegan donut purveyor in the area, The Caffeinated Kitchen in Long Beach, to help us make it happen. We decided on 120 donuts in 6 flavors: matcha, blueberry coconut, strawberry sprinkled, churro, blood orange, and cookies and cream. Alex's mom set up the table decor and it was simply gorgeous - the donut bar was the busiest spot at our wedding for sure!
When it came to deciding on drinks, we kept it cheap and biased. Haha. We don't drink much alcohol (read: any, really) and din't want to spend a ton of money on it at the wedding since we wouldn't be partaking. So we opted to just buy two kegs of beer (Golden Road Hefeweizen and 805 Pale Ale) and then served Whalebird Kombucha on tap, as well. We let our friends know ahead and a few decided to bring small flasks with them for their own party enjoyment. Since we also had an edible cake and we didn't want everyone getting toooo screwy, we kept the rest of our drinks for the evening non-alcoholic. We had wheelbarrows around the venue packed with ice, bottles of water, HonestTea in two flavors, and fresh juices from 1915 Organic - which kept everyone hydrated and happy in the June heat. My rec: have a variety of drinks! Our friends still drank plenty and we ended up moving the after party to a bar later, anyway. Plus, everyone was well hydrated and no one needed to call a cab. It was a win-win!
It's all about the music! From getting you down the aisle to grooving the night away with your guests, you want music that'll keep the party going all night long. I've included an upload of our full playlist below, but I should note that about 1/2 of our music didn't get played because the speakers blew at our wedding...TWICE. We had a big span in the middle with no music - which no-one seemed to notice except me, of course! We did have a DJ, but I can't really blame him for that. He did a great job getting the party going as soon as the speakers were working again!
In case you don't want to dig through the whole playlist, I'll highlight the best parts for you:
While I walked down the aisle and while we exited after the ceremony, my best friend from childhood, Emma, played live violin to the tune of Jeremih's 'Paradise'. Alex walked down the aisle before me to Childish Gambino's 'California'. Our first dance was to 'Breathless' by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
FINDING THE DRESS (+ SHOES!):
It only took me visiting 4 different salons before I found my dress. That may sound like a lot, but I promise it isn't many. I tried on a few dresses as each place and fit like none of them seemed worthy of the big day. Luckily, I kept searching - I knew I wanted a lace, floor-length dress with sleeves - and found mine at a tiny showroom nestled deep in the Hollywood Hills. Kite and Butterfly is a funky space overlooking the Hollywood Sign and literally own by two sisters named Kite and Butterfly, a set of long-haired whimsical twin ladies with an eye for gorgeous, unique dress designs. Their showroom was full of sunlight and I tried on about 3 dresses before this one. I didn't exactly have a "THIS IS MY DRESS" moment; more like I put it on and was like - yeah! I look good! And these sleeves!! Haha. My dress was handmade and unique in that way, but we customized it a bit more by taking out some of the bottom layer of the dress and lowering the neckline an inch. I ended up losing a lot of weight before the wedding because of the sheer amount of stress I was under, and my last fitting ended up being about 8 weeks before my wedding. I should've waited. On the day of my wedding, I tried on my dress and the bra I had bought to wear with it only to realize that my breasts had gotten SO much smaller, the bra didn't fit any more. I was SWIMMING in that top half of the dress. It was annoying, but I ditched the bra wore the dress by itself on the big day. And it worked out just fine!
The shoes were a little harder to find. I hate wearing high heels, and because of the soft ground at our venue I was pretty adamant about wearing flats or something at least under a 3-inches. I wanted to be able to dance the night away, not complain about blisters and sore feet all evening! I looked online a lot without any luck, and one day while driving through Silverlake realized MooShoes was down the street. I stopped in - no expectations - and walked out with my wedding shoes! They were about $80 and have a low, wooden heel. I liked the cut-out accents and that they matched my dress - PLUS were the kind of shoe I could totally wear again.
And since I know you'll ask: Alex's outfit! He put to together himself, mostly. His pants and shirt are from Zara, the suspenders from Express. He owned the bowtie already, and he bought the shoes super last minute (thanks for the rush shipping!) from Insecta Shoes. They make really cool, unisex shoes that we totally love. He found a pattern with some florals in our wedding colors, and they worked out perfectly. Oh! And the flower crown, bouquet, and boutonniere were all custom creations from The Crown Collective here in LA. Carolyn made them to order based on my descriptions and our color scheme an they literally could not have come out more perfectly. They MADE our outfits!
USE YOUR RESOURCES!
Use who and what you have! Your friends and family are going to be so happy and excited for you - and they'll want to be involved! Give them small jobs here and there to relieve your own stress, and if you have a wedding party (we didn't - oops!) then DELEGATE! You can save a lot of time and money by reaching out to your inner circle before jumping online to try and search through thousand of reviews from people you don't know. Alex's mom ended up decorating nearly our entire wedding and my Dad was totally in charge of arranging the keg arrival and set-up. That doesn't speak to the tons of friends we had helping us arrange pick-ups, set-up, and break-down. It was less for us to worry about, and our parents and friends were glad to help. If you have those people, use them! Then thank them profusely and give them all the hugs for getting you there. We all need a support system, and you'll be far less stressed if you tap into yours early.
Stay tuned for PART 2: Our Plant-Based Wedding!
WEDDING MEAL PREP with VEESTRO
As most of you probably know, we just got married! After 8 years of being in love and putting up with eachother's weird habits, we finally did it. It was so wonderful, and so fun - but the lead up was truly awful. The amount of stress near the end sent me into a anxiety attack - I wouldn't wish wedding planning on anyone...ha! I'm kidding, mostly. I should've hired more help. The one thing that saved my sanity the week before the wedding might've just been these Veestro meals; This is a sponsored post but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Veestro is a plant-based, organic meal delivery service that offers meal packs, juice cleanses and dishes a la carte on it's website. They have several different types of meal packs, including a 21-day kickstart, protein pack and lunchbox pack. I was excited to check out their unique Wedding Prep pack, which normally comes with lunch and dinner for 30 days, for either one or two people. We tried just a 5-day version, but it was so nice to have the option of NOT cooking the week of our wedding! All of the meals are clearly labeled, so I was easily able to avoid the dishes with soy, and the offer gluten-free dishes as well.
The meals are actually quite affordable, starting at $7-8 per meal, and a decent sized portion at that. The meals are shipped on dry ice straight from the prep kitchen here in Southern California. I loved that they came frozen because it gave us the option of picking and choosing, and if you ordered a larger pack - the full wedding pack with 30+ meals, for example - would allow you to save fridge space as you took out and defrost the meals one at a time. We don't own a microwave, so we had to make sure to take our meals out the night before to defrost before reheating the next day, which was the only downfall for us. That said, we were impressed that all of the packaging was either recyclable or compostable ad BPA-free and it stayed frozen, even after sitting on our front step for a few hours.
The meal variety was awesome, though I forgot to tell them I was allergic to soy (I'm still getting used to it!), so more than half of the meals we received became Alex-only meals. He didn't seem to mind! And he really, really loved them. Here's the full list of meals we received: Morccan Melange, Beluga Lentil Braise, Veggie Empanadas, Veggie Lasagna, Spinach Pie, Country Fried Chick'n, Thai Chick'n Stew, Roasted Beet + Kale Salad, Indian Kamut Stew, Portobello Steak Dinner and Raspberry Cheezecake. Alex's faves ended up being the Empanadas, Country Fried Chick'n, and Cheezecake, and I liked the Lentil Braise and Indian Stew next. Next time we order, we'll try different options - there are a bunch to choose from!
These meals are perfect for vegans and non-vegans alike, because the ingredients are simple, clean, and most important: recognizable! Yup, all the ingredients are real , whole foods - things I would cook with in my own kitchen. A lot of the meals come with sauces to spice them up, and it was easy to add our own fresh accents, like cilantro or parsley, when we wanted to make the meal feel a little more homemade. One of my favorite things about these meals were how fresh they actually tasted on their own - it didn't feel like we were being lazy or eating "frozen dinners". The meals were creatively and thoughtfully prepared with health and a real focus on vegetable in mind. Did I already mention there are NO preservatives? Because that's a pretty big deal. That's how you know it's fresh. I was especially thankful for the Wedding Prep pack because it took SO much stress off of me in the week before the wedding. So much less to deal with, plus we didn't want to buy many groceries just to be leaving on our honeymoon days later. Veestro made it easy! And if you're someone who's looking to stick to a lean, plant-based diet leading up to your big day, this may be the perfect option. To see all their menu options and meal packs, head over to Veestro.com!
'Pantry to Plate' Cookbook Recipe + GIVEAWAY!
Chances are, you've been to Heather's beautifully designed website YumUniverse. If you haven't yet, drop everything and GO NOW! Everything she does is gorgeous - including her website layout. So clean and user-friendly, which makes it a perfect extension of her cookbook as a useful tool for creating delicious meals! Her plant-powerful, gluten-free, whole food recipes are always thoughtfully presented and beautifully photographed, and definitely drool-worthy. Her website is a treasure trove of over 500 recipes, meal plans, do-it-yourself projects, and brilliant e-books. Heather is NAILING it! Her new cookbook, Pantry to Plate, is a testament to her skills as a chef and her creativity in creating delicious, exciting new recipes...this time with foods you already have in your kitchen! This book is teeming with 30 flexible recipe templates plus over 100 recipes that show the templates in action and keep a focus on whole foods and flavor. The book is as much a guide as it is a cookbook, with thoughtful substitutions and pairings laid out amongst gorgeous, hand-painted art and beautifully shot photos. With sections like Breakfast Cookies, Bites & Tots, Tacos & Wraps, and Hand Pies there's something for everyone in this book. I made the Sriracha Mac recipe Heather's shared with us below just before we left on our honeymoon and it was PHENOMENAL! Spicy, tangy, cheezy - perfect.
Heather began her journey into healthy cooking and eating as a way to help heal her body of health issues that started in her early 20's. As someone with a lot of unexplained sickness, I totally understand- that's why I went plant-based, too! Heather keeps it real and is super relatable in her writing and her simple approach to creating meals that appeal to everyone. These are meals I feel like I could confidently cook for my meat-eating family with no complaints. Pantry to Plate is more than a cookbook- its a must-have for anyone with a desire to get more of the food in their pantry, and to stay healthy while doing it. Scroll all the way down for Heather's Sriracha Mac recipe AND a chance to WIN her new cookbook!
Get a large pot of water boiling and prepare the macaroni noodles according to the package instructions.
While the noodles cook, combine the squash, water, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, salt, Sriracha, and ginger in the blender and purée until ultra-smooth. Taste and add more Sriracha if you like. Transfer to a large pot heated to low.
Drain the noodles and dump into the pot of sauce; add the scallions. Stir together, seasoning with more salt if necessary. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil if you like and serve warm.
(Recipe from YumUniverse Pantry to Plate © Heather Crosby, 2017. Photographs copyright © Heather Crosby, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com)
My Vegan Bachelorette Weekend!
Hi friends! This post has taken me a lot longer to write than it probably should have, between my crippling anxiety that dealing with this particular event gave me and the fact that my wedding was Saturday. If you wanna see some sneak peeks from our gorgeous, perfect wedding (posts coming soon!), check out my instagram page + story. If you're interested in reading more about my anxiety attack and how I am learning, in an ongoing way, to deal with it, you can check out my recent post on both subjects here. If not, then I'm going to dive right into this post and focus on the good: because that's really how I'd prefer to remember it! It wasn't a perfect weekend, but it was pretty great, and I'm really lucky that I had people there that had my back.
The weekend kicked off in a caravan to Palm Springs and a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see the new Jeffrey Gibson installation in the sculpture gardens. Our ultimate goal that afternoon before our AirBNB check-in would be to visit Desert X, his other running installation just a mile from where we were staying in PS. The sculpture garden was really neat, and I particularly loved the amount of blown glass artwork they had - so cool to see!
After the museum we headed a little further into town to the Palm Greens Cafe, one of my favorite places to grab a meal whenever I'm in town. They have a great, super vegan-friendly breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, plus a board full of fresh juices and smoothies that'll keep you cool in the hot desert weather. My favorite is their Pineapple Jalapeño Cucumber juice - it's sweet, spicy, and super refreshing. We met up with most of the rest of our group at the restaurant for lunch, and texted final grocery and alcohol orders to the stragglers meeting us at the house later. At this point I was getting super excited to see where we'd be staying and to finally head over to the Desert X exhibit. We headed to the AirBNB for check-in, and were a little surprised at how small it was; cute - totally! But also super much smaller than it looked in photos (isn't that always the case?) and a little dingier. But it would do the trick! It was a strange setup - like a house with most of the rooms combined, plus two attached in-law apartments. A strange structure that made for even weirder sleeping arrangements, but it had a pool and hot tub! Not even the semi-creepy on-property manager (yeah, that definitely wasn't in the listing) could kill the vibe.
We split into rooms, my sister and I splitting one of the larger and more personal in-law apartments, and then headed back to the outskirts of town towards Desert X. The exhibit is basically a large house made entirely of mirrors - and it is super cool! Only about half the group made the trip, but we all thought it was rad and made sure to get plenty of cool photos. I mean, we had to! It was incredible to be alone in an entire room of mirrors - which you might've seen behind the scene footage of if you're following my instagram stories. 😉
Since I want to be super transparent and honest with you guys, you should know that I was lucky enough to have some really great brand support the weekend through product donation from the following brands: Dandies, Eat Pastry, Harmless Harvest, YumEarth, Organic Gemini, Tater Tats, Larabar, Ozery, Juicero, Hippeas, NadaMoo and Utopia Farms. I want to give them all a HUGE shoutout for being involved and for sharing their products with us for the weekend. They kept us fed, hydrated, full and ready to party, and for that I am so thankful. I love and support ALL of these brands, and recommend their products for real: no paid advertisement needed!
The snacks made the weekend a freaking blast - and saved us a bunch of time and money. Our fridge was fully stocked - it was truly a thing of beauty. I wish I'd gotten a better picture, but the lighting info ur AirBNB was total crap - lots of shade to block out that hot desert sun. There's a picture of every product on here, but the Ozery + Juicero (in the bottom right of the first photo set) are unlabeled - though were maybe the most eaten products! 😝
We loved using Organic Gemini's tigernut-based protein for our morning smoothies along with some fresh fruit (especially those that indulged in alcohol the night before, haha!) and munching on Larabars all day long between meals to keep us full-time on healthy fats. The Harmless Harvest and Juicero kept us hydrated around the pool, and the Dandies, Eat Patsry, YumEarth and NadaMoo made delicious desserts! Most of the attendees had never tried Hippeas before and they were and instant hit at the party. Utopia Farms provided the medicated edibles - which was AWESOME for me because I don't really drink, and Tater Tats gave us the temporary tattoo entertainment!
The first morning we woke up and everyone was a little hungover - except me - so I practiced a little yoga and made morning smoothies for the group. The rest of the day was the perfect pool day - lots of sun, drinking, poolside snacking, and floating around in fruit-shaped inflatables. I brought along a tie dye kit and we made rad, very nineties souvenirs take home. Turns out you can get a super easy, 30-dye kit with easy apply nozzles at Michaels for like $20. It was so worth it! The evening was a blur of games of Cards Against Humanity, late-night hot tubbing, and some serious dance sessions. We headed to bed late and got up early the next day for our 11 am check out. Everyone was sleepy, a little hungover, and tired of being in the sun.
Lots of long and loving goodbyes later, we were on the road home. I was exhausted from the weekend emotionally and physically, and was so ready to get home to see (my now HUSBAND!) Alex. We cruised back past the Cabazon Dinosaurs and home. Over - a great weekend. My tips? I've got a few!
And once it's all over, just remember - no matter how it goes - you are that much closer to marrying your partner and that part is so, so worth it. A snapshot of the crew below - thanks to all my friends for sharing my bachelorette weekend with me!
Dealing with Anxiety + Preventing Anxiety Attacks
Last week, I suffered from my very first anxiety attack. Before writing this, I considered the terms 'panic attack' and 'anxiety attack' interchangeable. Turns out, there are subtle differences. For the purpose of this discussion, I will consider my attack that of the anxiety variety, which usually includes a direct stressor - i.e., an event or situation - as opposed to a panic attack, which is often unprovoked and unpredictable.
It was last Thursday, the day before my bachelorette party. I was about an hour out from leaving my house for LAX to pick up the first of the weekend's guests - my cousin, Devin. I had been cleaning the house all morning, wiping up stray water drops and scrubbing things no-one but me would pay attention to. I was already frustrated, knowing how little time I had left to prepare. As a crazy perfectionist, I generally can't relax until everything feels perfect. Which it never does, which creates a really shitty cycle of me hating myself for not reaching impossible expectations I set for myself. That morning was particularly hard, as I was also silently dreading going to my own bachelorette party. Don't get me wrong, because I'd really hate to some off as a bridezilla here; it's not that I didn't feel lucky to be having one, or that I didn't think it was grand enough for my expectations. Rather, as someone who generally considers herself an introvert, I was dreading dealing with the social pressures of making sure everyone at the party was socializing, happy, well fed. Things a host does. Things you'd think, just by following me on social media, I'm probably great at. But that's sort of the wonderful illusion of social media - I can show you everything I want and nothing I don't. And as honest as I try to be here and with this audience, I don't normally advertise how hard it is for me to be social. It feels likes it only makes it harder, pointing it out. And makes me feel awkward. If you're an introvert, you get it. If not - imagine social anxiety as one of your greatest fears in place of heights, spiders, or whatever normally gets your heart racing. That's what it feels like - like something you just would reallllly rather avoid if you could.
So, Thursday morning was stressful and feeling heavy and impending, and I don't remember when I started crying. It might've been after my cousin called saying his flight landed an hour early, it might've been when I realized I was leaving my sweet dog for a full weekend, it might've even been when I started packing my overnight bag. All of sudden, I was just a pile of stress and tears and extreme sadness. I've struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety my whole life, but this just felt different. It was like a wave, overtaking my throat, choking my breath, my tongue getting thick and sluggish in my mouth. My shoulders seized up my body was shaking as I just broke down. I sobbed for so long and so heavily it felt like I would never stop. I couldn't catch my breath or open my eyes, and everything hurt. I moved to the back yard and back into the bedroom, with Alex finally wrapping me in a blanket while I just lay there choking on my own snot. It was a mess. It took me about an hour to calm down, from start to finish, and I still feel nearly a week and a half later like it could happen at any time. I knew immediately it was anxiety attack because I'd seen people have similar instances before, but I really, truly thought that somehow (white privilege? societal constructs? all of the above?) it couldn't happen to me. I like to think of myself as well put together, strong, able to handle my shit - but this kind of rocked me. I hated not feeling in control of myself completely, and feeling like my emotions and stress could overwhelm me in such an abrupt and upsetting way.
I'm working on a recap of the bachelorette weekend now, and it should be ready in a couple of days for you guys. It took me a while to sort through my emotions about it, because it went neither like I wanted it to or like I expected it to. And that's okay, just frustrating. In the meantime, I've been spending as much possible time on self-care and things that make me happy as possible. I wrote a post on instagram about how yoga invasions have been helping me deal with stress lately, but I wanted to give you guys a few suggestions for dealing with your own anxiety and stress and hope you'll give me your suggestions in the comments below as well. I think the best part about this platform is the ability it gives me to connect with so many of you who are in the same or similar situations; We have so much to offer each other in terms of support and education!
Here are just a few ways I like to relax + practice a little self-care:
Now that I've had the anxiety attack, the scariest part is anticipating another one. DON'T DO THIS! Haha. It just stresses us out more! If you do feel an anxiety attack coming on try taking deep, regulated breaths (ujjayi breath in yoga), and think about something that makes you genuinely happy. Or just work on clearing your mind - its up to you to find which works best for you. I also try to be super honest with Alex when I'm feeling like this. If you're lucky enough to have an awesome partner, they want what is best for you. Let them comfort you and keep them in the loop when you start feeling more anxiety-ridden so they can help you. If you don't have alive-in partner or aren't comfortable getting super real with them yet, give yourself an outlet. Whether its a close friend or therapist, I'm a big fan of talking it out. Do what you gotta do to keep yourself happy + healthy. And I will too! While I'm sure a lot of stress will leave after the wedding, I'm still considering getting into therapy again. It's so nice to have a neutral outlet when you need it!
So I want to know: how do you practice self-care? How do you deal when you feel an anxiety attacking coming or strike? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️
Top 5 Vegan Finds at the 2017 Cannabis Cup!
Alex and I had the pleasure of attending our very first Southern California Cannabis Cup last weekend at the San Bernardino fairgrounds and had a total blast. We really didn't know what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when, after following respected magazine account High Times on instagram, we saw that tickets were reasonably priced. So we bought them! We arrived in the afternoon (the event went 3 pm to 11 pm) and got checked in pretty easily, barely bag searched, and sent in to get wristbands. Anyone could get in with a ticket, but to get into the sampling + smoking section, you had to have proof of your medical rec on you. After getting into the inner sanctum (and the sampling tents!) we started seeing similarities between this event and something like Expo West. It's basically the same idea - an expo of all the growers, sellers, and products hitting the market in one place, for people who consider themselves connoisseurs. There was everything from flower and bud to smoke, to crumble and shatter to dab, to edibles from every corner of the stoner culinary world - including some really great vegan ones! We scoured the show, taking the occasional dab and sucking down CBD water to stay hydrated, looking for the very best, newest vegan, GF, and better for you edibles at the show and found some really great ones. Scroll down for my list of the best in show - you may find yourself a new must-have treat!
1. Mary Jane Juice Co. Fresh-pressed Juices + Nut Milks
We found the Mary Jane Juice Co. nearly last at the show (pictured above 👆), but we're so glad we did! They had a sampling of at least 6 flavors at the show, but these two were the stand-outs for us; the 100 mg Vanilla Almond Milk and the 200 mg Ancient Healing Tea. They're both low-sugar, vegan, and totally raw, plus each packs a hearty cannabis punch to help sure whatever's ailing ya! The milk, smaller in dosage size, was $10 and the tea was $20, but it would also be more than one serving for most people. These drinks are packed with good-for-you-ingredients so you can reap the pain relief benefits of the drink along with the inherent nutritive value of the drink itself. They're guilt-free, great on the go, and taste great - no weird marijuana aftertaste. Find more info on their Instagram!
2. Cheef Naturals Chews + Super Fruit Bars
Okay guys, all terrible branding and racism aside (the name Cheef and their branding at the show -- white girls dressed as Native Americans -- realllllly needs to be reconsidered) these edibles are really phenomenal. They're one of the only edibles I've seen on the market with a focus on being super, super healthy. I'd tried their super fruit bars before and loved how they tasted like a raw, flax-y granola bar. The high was great too, but it just felt so nice to eat an edible that aligned with how I eat the rest of the time. The coconut caramel chews are a new product, very similar in texture to Cocomels, but infused with marijuana. And packing a hearty THC punch with 5 doses (100 mg) per chew! Find more on their products here.
3. Half Lit 25 mg THC Pops
These pops just get cooler and cooler! Not only do they taste great, pack a solid little punch, and are made with organic ingredients, but when you finish this pop you can recycle the stick by PLANTING it! It contains cannabis seeds, so when planted and watered will turn your trash into a big, beautiful plant. I love this idea! Such a clever way to cut waste and encourage recycling. Just make sure that if you plant the stick, you live in an area where you won't get in trouble if you get caught. Be smart friends. (Here in CA we are allowed to keep plants, but please check your laws before you plant anything! Duh. 😝) We picked up a pineapple and watermelon pop for later, and hope to start seeing these at more of our local dispensaries soon! Find out more about them here.
4. Zendo Infused Peanut Butter
This was one of my favorite product from the show, and maybe the one I'm most excited about for other people to try. It's literally just an infused peanut butter, which each packet 1 oz packet containing a 50 mg serving of THC (hybrid strains). It's the perfect healthy snack, literally containing just all natural raw peanuts and cannabis. With no added sugar or weird ingredients, this edible is perfect for people looking to stick to a specific diet or who have to eat healthfully because they're not well. Plus, it packs a great punch of protein! (If you have to do chemo and can't get a lot of food down, this may be a great option as well.) This same company also makes a similar single serving packet of coconut oil, perfect for eating raw or cooking with. I can't wait to slather this stuff all over my morning toast, add it to my smoothie, and make a soba noodle salad using this for the peanut sauce. It's so versatile! Find more at ZendoEdibles.com.
5. Cali Gold Genetics Cannabis Infused Body Butter
This booth caught our attention as we were walking by because they were one of the few advertising as a VEGAN product - which we loved, and of course stopped to check out. These body butters are made with quality, moisturizing ingredients like cupuacu butter, kokum butter, cannabis infused coconut and olive oils and vanilla infused jojoba oil, and rubs on super thick and emollient, but not greasy. There are 4 different types, all designed to alleviate pain, inflammation and irritation and to protect and nourish your skin. It's amazing stuff! I actually talked to the woman at the booth for awhile about my psoriasis and she explained that she actually started making these salves as an alternative to medicated psoriasis creams for her boyfriend. I've started using it on my psoriasis on my thighs and have been loving the results - super moisturized and no flaking! Find more about their salves other website here.
Vanilla Corn Cake from The First Mess Cookbook + a GIVEAWAY!
Hey guys! Back today with an amazing cookbook that I've recently had the pleasure of reviewing. If you haven't heard of Laura and her gorgeous, super popular blog The First Mess, you're missing out. Her culinary training-backed recipes and photography are next level, and I wish I could both learn to use light the way she does and have half the food styling talent. She's a mega babe and total girl boss and I am constantly enjoying her updates both on her beautifully designed blog and ever growing instagram! Follow Laura if you aren't already for a stream of gorgeous, beautifully-lit photos that feel real and make you feel like you're in the kitchen right alongside her.
I was gifted this book when it came out over a month ago but didn't have a chance to really explore it last week. Wedding planning, ya know? Although I did finally pick out my flowers for the big day, so that feels like a win. As soon as I cracked this book open I got lost in the gorgeous, glossy photos and well designed text. The book is clean, minimalist, and full of recipes that will make you want to hit your nearest farmers market lickety split. I went straight to the Mega Clump Granola (pictured below) after seeing it on several IG feeds this month - and I was so not disappointed. Even my sugar-free version (made with alternative sweeteners from Lakanto) turned out super clumpy and perfect for smoothie bowls, snacking, and even in place of cereal. I have about 15 other recipes from the book flagged, including Laura's Cozy Lentil Soup, Crispy Avocado Tacos and Earl Grey Tiramisu. They all look incredible! Congrats to Laura on creating such a must-have-cookbook. You (and your recipes) rock girl! Lucky for us, we get to share one of her recipes - for Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries - with you all! Scroll down for the recipe and to enter to WIN your very own copy of The First Mess Cookbook!
Before we get to the recipe, a note about the giveaway: the randomly chosen giveaway winner will be notified via email, so please make sure the email you enter below is valid and checked regularly. US + Canadian entrants only. Please scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to enter the giveaway. Good luck!
Now, a few words from the cookbook author, Laura, about this recipe:
I had a corn-based cookie from a wildly popular bakery in New York one weekend, and on the way to the airport to fly home, I had to stop at that bakery and buy up a bunch of those golden cookies to take with me. That trip started my love affair with corn-based desserts. It made so much sense because I had always preferred cornbread with a noticeable sweet edge. I love the slightly crumbly texture that cornmeal brings to this cake. It tastes perfect with the jammy, roasted strawberries, but I imagine you could do this with plenty of other summer fruits.
Vanilla Corn Cake with Roasted Strawberries
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) cake
¾ cup (175 mL) full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal (not coarse)
1 cup (250 mL) whole spelt flour
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon zest
1 tablespoon (15 mL) aluminum-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) fine sea salt
½ teaspoon (2 mL) ground turmeric (optional)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (125 mL + 30 mL) pure maple syrup
½ cup (125 mL) sunflower oil, plus extra to grease pan
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract roughly
1 quart (4 cups/1 L) whole strawberries (smaller berries are preferable)
Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271), for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with sunflower oil. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pan and press it in. Lightly grease the parchment, and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and lemon juice. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes so that the milk can curdle slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, spelt flour, lemon zest, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and turmeric, if using.
4. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture. Add the maple syrup, sunflower oil, vanilla, and coconut milk mixture. With a spatula, gently mix until you have a smooth and unified batter. Avoid overmixing.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and slide the pan into the oven. Bake the cake for 25 to 28 minutes or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).
6. Cut the strawberries into halves or quarters (depending on size), and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the strawberries until they become juicy and jammy, about 20 minutes. 7. Serve slices of the corn cake with a few roasted strawberries and some Whipped Coconut Cream (page 271) if you like.
Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright
Living with Reynaud's Disease
My first real memory of dealing with it was when I was about 10 and stayed after school for a soccer practice - or game? Those details are fuzzy. I just remember waiting outside for something organized to start happening and getting really cold - painfully cold in my hands. Soccer is a fall sport in Maine, so it was probably September-October, and probably not that cold outside. But my hands starting HURTING and I started complaining to my friends. By the time the coach came by, one of my hands was completely white in all the fingers with the palm a deep purple, and the other hand was quickly catching up. It totally caught the coach off-guard and I remember him sending me into the bathroom to warm my hands under the water. Which REALLY hurt. And took a while to actually begin to work. I came back out after about 20 minutes with normal looking hands and practiced and was fine. I know - anticlimactic. But it was the first instance I really remember thinking like, why aren't other people's hands doing this, too?
I was officially diagnosed with Reynaud's Disease in high school, but I struggled with it for years before I was given an official diagnosis. It's less of a disease - poor naming?- than a medical condition, in which small artery spasms cause episodes of reduced blood flow to the fingers, toes, and less commonly the nose, ears and lips. These episodes result in the fingers, toes, or affected areas turning white, blue, and finally a deep purple color. Usually numbness and pain accompany the reduced blood flow, and as blood flow returns to the affected areas is turns red and burns. Sometimes it lasts minutes, sometimes hours, and there is no cure or real treatment. It is usually triggered by cold and sometimes even emotional stress.
It is suggested that about 4% of people have the condition, of which there are essentially two types; the first, Reynaud's Disease or Primary Reynauds (which I have), affects mostly women with an average onset between 15-30 years. Secondary Reynauds, also called Reynauds Syndrome, is often seen in older people or as a result of another condition. Both forms are far more common in cooler climates. I'm 26 now and still deal with it constantly. It's a pretty low-key issue, which selfishly speaking is really nice. People don't usually know when it's happening unless I point it out and I can circumvent the issue oftentimes if I'm paying attention and am properly prepared. I've never had a time when I felt like emotional stress triggered an attack, but I can think back to being in situations of extreme stress and absolutely remember numbness in my fingers and toes, I just had never really known the two were related.
Growing up in Maine was tricky. I ALWAYS wore gloves and doubled up on wool (I know, but this was pre-vegan) socks in my 'bean boots. We spent a ton of time outside in the winter, but it was never weird that we were freezing afterward because everyone was freezing afterward. I spent a ton of time in hockey rinks in high school and just always thought I was more prone to the cold than anyone else. It wasn't until about my Junior year after a serious soccer concussion that the doctor told me that on top of being out for the rest of the season, he thought I might have this thing called Reynaud's because my fingers were cold, purple and swollen the whole time I was talking to him and we were inside. Go figure.
I moved to California not long before I went completely vegan, so I'm sure the control of my condition is due to a combination of the two lifestyle changes converging. For one, I'm rarely in very cold weather anymore without being ready for it. That said, I had a terrible foot injury a few years back where a doctor again confirmed my diagnosis. On top of wearing more supportive shoes, she suggested I started wearing warm socks again. Until that point, it simply had never occurred to me that by ignoring the condition, I could be doing real damage. I love walking around barefoot, even outside, and even when I know my toes are too cold. If persistent and ignored, Reynaud's can cause gangrene and ulceration of the fingers and toes. The lack of blood can lead to chronic infection under or around the finger or toenails. Southern California's warm weather definitely keeps me out of year round mittens, but I still have to often wear a fleece headband on runs - no matter the temperature - so that my ears won't ache, and always wear socks and a sweatshirt around the house when its anything less than 60 degrees.
While thought hereditary, people with Primary Reynaud's have seen relief by avoiding the cold (duh), eating a healthy diet with regular exercise, and avoid things like caffeine and smoking, which affect blood vessels. There is a hormonal component, and some people report birth control swaying it's affect on them. I personally haven't noticed, and I am on a low dose IUD. As someone who follows a clean, organic, vegan diet, I also avoid sugar, caffeine, and preservatives, and try to take in plenty of fresh, raw veggies. I workout regularly, including lots of yoga to help improve blood circulation and prevent numbness and tingling sensations. Even though I do my best to counteract it, sometime it just hits and your hands are tingling and number before you can do anything about it. On a recent trip we ended up having to take a pretty lengthy midday break because I had lost a glove and done a single run with no gloves; that was a big mistake. I was miserable and in pain while I worked the blood back into my hands swollen hands in the lodge. I won't be doing that again!
Even in photos, most especially our initial engagement photos, I'll notice that my hands are swollen and red - especially if we've been outside. We were snowshoeing in Mammoth when Alex proposed, so I had my gloves off in the snow for photos and kisses. My hands were getting super red and swollen - so much so that I thought the ring was going to be a tight fit, when it actually ended up being about a size and a half too big when my fingers went back to their normal size that night. I still look at those pictures and notice how red and puffy my fingers looked. Since I have Primary Reynauds, things like that are something I'll need to deal with and be aware of. I'll stay warm and eat healthily to combat any triggers within my control. And maybe keep my creepy hands out of photos.
It is suggested that a diet rich in Omega-3's, Vitamin B, and Calcium + Magnesium to your diet can help to increase circulatory blood flow and reduce stress within the body, thus counteracting some of the effects of Reynauds. I also read an interesting article about how a raw food diet could help in several ways; first, that eating raw foods forces the body to work harder to break them down, thus increasing internal heat and blood flow within the body. Second, that certain raw foods are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals and have the ability to improve oxygenation and overall circulation within the body. While I agree that this is probably true, and I'm all for working more raw foods into my diet, I also love cooked foods and am definitely not afflicted badly enough to need to go completely raw. Otherwise, all I can do is stay warm and keep eating well and working out! As I get older it will probably get a bit worse, but I just hope it doesn't work it's way to my nose too - my fingers, toes, and ears are PLENTY, thanks! 😝 Do you have Reynauds Primary or Secondary? How do you deal with it? Are there triggers for you I didn't list here? Let me know!