A Day on the Farm

Back in July, I had the opportunity to visit my friend Blyss in Ithaca, New York where she is doing summer research with the Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell University. Knowing I didn’t have much time left to spend with her, I took the short road trip for the weekend and had an amazing time.

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Blyss is one of my absolute best friends. She’s is cool, compassionate, and has a deep concern for the environment and living things, which is the thing that really forged out best friend bond. So when I visited her, it was only natural that we would journey to the local farm animal sanctuary a few towns over. Originally, we had planned to go hiking and swimming at Watkins Glen, but a few quick Google searches told us that there was also a sanctuary in that area, which is something we had wanted to do together for quite some time.

Farm Sanctuary encompasses 271 acres and is home to over 500 farm animals, all rescued from a life of pain and suffering. Most days, you can take a tour of the farm, led by one of their guides. The tour includes seeing cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and goats, all of which have their own unique personalities.

 

Even though it was a scorching hot day, Blyss and I loved every moment we spent on the farm. The animals brightened my day, and reminded me of all the reasons I decided to stop consuming meat and animal products. Even on the days it seems hard, the days I am craving cheese like you would not believe, and on the days I go to a restaurant and the only thing I can eat are french fries, it is worth it. Like people, animals can experience a wide range of emotions– but when they are living in the conditions prevalent in agribusiness, these beautiful creatures feel limited emotions– fear, anxiety, apprehension, and pain. By spending an afternoon with these animals, I was reassured that all the challenges of eating vegan are beyond worth it.

Easy Banana-Almond Butter Granola Bites

The weather in Northeast Pennsylvania has been all but predictable lately. With back-to-back Nor-easters, it’s easy to imagine that everyone gets sent into a panic about what the impending storm will bring. Due to fears of heavy and consistent snow, I got a snow day from work today, which gave me a lot of free time to catch up on some much needed cleaning I needed to do around my apartment. Once that was finished, and my GRE studying was complete too, I was at a loss for what to do with myself.

I really needed to use up one lone, over-ripe banana. I knew that one banana would not be enough for banana bread, and besides, I have given up bread for Lent, so that was out. I purused on Pinterest, but couldn’t find anything that really peaked my interest, so I decided to try a recipe of my own. The result was tasty, crispy, granola bites loaded with almond butter, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and banana. So if you have a banana laying around and aren’t quite sure what to do with it, why not give these quick and simple granola bites a try?

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 over-ripe banana
  • 1/4 almond butter or nut butter of your choice
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • Other nuts and seeds of your choice

Directions:

  • While pre-heating oven to 350, toast oats on the stove over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring and flipping often
  • Mash banana in a small mixing bowl until well-mashed and no lumps remain and add almond butter
  • Pour warmed, toasted oats into the almond butter and banana mixture and stir until well combined
  • Sprinkle in flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and any additional seeds you want to add! I just used whatever was available in my pantry
  • Form into patties in a small muffin tray and bake for 12 minutes

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This recipe is really so simple, yet so delicious. It can also be customized with whatever nuts, seeds, or spices you have in your cabinet. Next time I make this, I may try adding in some shaved apple and cinnamon! Let me know in the comments if you tried this recipe, what you think, and how you made it your own!

 

A Northern Girl Goes Down to Georgia

The summer after my junior year of college, I navigated an airport alone for my first time. I boarded an international flight alone. I got to know the woman sitting next to me and I slept. After all, it was an overnight flight. I was heading to Ireland, a place I had never been before, to spend nine days with a group of fifty strangers who all shared the same wanderlust I felt inside. On my first day in Ireland, I met my roommates. Two girls from Minnesota, a girl from Mississippi, and two girls from Georgia. And we all went from strangers, to close friends in the duration of the trip. We all swore we’d see each other again, we made a snapchat group, we had a group text, but as always, those relationships are hard to keep alive, especially when considering the distance. But while we didn’t speak nearly as much, we all knew that when it came down to it, we had all shared a wonderful experience that connected us. And I used that connection to quell the longing inside of me to travel somewhere new.

Using the Hopper App, I found a roundtrip flight to Atlanta, Georgia for $145. Yes, a roundtrip flight for $145. I was amazed. I immediately texted my former Ireland roommates and planned a trip to the South. I booked my hotel using some of my Hilton Honors Points, courtesy of my job and long fall travel season, looked up parking prices at the Philadelphia airport, and packed my very small personal bag full of just enough clothing for the weekend and a hairbrush. In that moment, I was incredibly grateful that my job taught me how to pack just the essentials.

Flying down in January, I expected that I’d be getting a break from the cold weather in Northeast Pennsylvania. And while the temperatures were warmer than NEPA, the Saturday I spent in Atlanta was only just above freezing. That did not stop me from having an amazing weekend. Here are some of the highlights of my trip:

  • Eating at Cafe Sunflower, the fanciest vegan restaurant I have ever been to.
  • Getting vegan donuts in Atlanta.
  • Playing spoons with strangers.
  • Home-cooked vegan meals.
  • Experiencing church in the South. Let me tell you, it was no Catholic mass.
  • Sliding down the concrete slide in Downtown Macon.
  • Spending time outdoors, without snow on the ground.
  • Eating southern-style comfort foods, veganized of course.
  • Drinking Guinness like we were in Ireland again.

As you can tell, I did a LOT of eating on this trip. It’s not every day I have so many vegan options available to me that I don’t create in my own kitchen. My four days in Georgia really were an amazing experience. And I am so grateful I got the chance to spend some time with my long-distance friends.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 2017

I began 2017 with high hopes that it would finally be my year. I was going to graduate college, hopefully find a job I love, reclaim my personal fitness, and cultivate loving and nurturing relationships. After the whirlwind year I had in 2016, I truly believed the only way to go was up.

2016 had not been good to me. Between health problems and eight months of intense fighting before ending a long-term relationship over infidelity, it had been a rough year. Top it off with an overload of upper-level classes and increased responsibilities as a resident assistant, all while battling the demons that come along with declining mental health, and you have the recipe for a complete dumpster fire year. I really have no other way to describe it.

So when 2017 started off with my car breaking down, I felt incredibly resentful. How much more could I handle? Next came the ending of my first “serious” relationship since my break-up: one that I rushed into too quickly, developed feelings too strongly, and projected my subconscious desire to be the other half of someone else because it was all I had known for the past three years.

But then it all began an upward swing. I spent an incredible amount of time with friends (hello, Snowpocolypse), dove into my work, and vowed to enjoy my last semester of college. When I finally walked across the stage at graduation decked out in all of my regalia, Summa Cum Laude, I finally realized the culmunation of all I had achieved. I had been an active participant in my education. It was also this moment when I finally realized where my path in life was taking me: Academia. Sure, I wasn’t going to graduate school immediately in the fall, but I would get there, one way or another. It was my passion, my joy, and the thing I always took the most pride in. So when I got hired in higher education three months later, I was overjoyed. Better yet, my job allowed me to travel. I was able to visit cities I had never been to, like Baltimore and Wilmington. I also walked on the beach in early November, feeling completely at peace with where I was.

I also made other huge steps this year. I moved into my own apartment. I switched to my own cell phone plan. I began adopting a vegan diet.

So while 2017 may have been a rough start for me, I believe this year took me exactly where I needed to be. My personal growth has been astounding. The people who have lifted me up over and over again I’m sure have not failed to feel their worth to me. And maybe I can’t talk about a significant other when I attend holiday gatherings, which seems to always be a hot topic at the dinner table, but I can talk about where I see my life going, not just in the next year, but in the next five years. And I couldn’t be more excited to keep traveling down that path.