Feb
05

Valentines Day is one of my favorite Holidays because I love celebrating love. And this year, I’m in love. Like, LOVE, love. Like, it’s all I can think about love. Like, my heart flutters 24/7 love. 

I also love chocolate, and hearts, and cute DIY valentines, and baking, and the mini love-themed surprises that come with Valentines Day. I wish I could tell you what I’m doing for Valentines Day but my love reads my blog and I don’t want to spoil it.

I also love my blog, and food, and Pinterest, and all of the Valentines Day inspiration that keeps me excited for weeks, eager celebrate love. And I love you all. 

My enthusiasm for the holiday this year and my love for PLQ readers has sparked the desire to 

GIVEAWAY

3 Vegan Dessert-Themed Books
to one lucky reader,
on Valentines Day.

The 3 books I’m giving away:

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra:
This book includes my all-time favorite cupcake recipes. Actually, all of Isa’s recipes are my favorites… she’s good.

Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats by Debbie Adler:
Debbie Adler has a popular vegan/gluten-free bakery in LA that draws in A-list celebrities. I’m dying to visit. Until that day, I’ll have to live vicariously through her recipes, and you can too! (if you’re the lucky winner!!)

Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily von Euw: 
I haven’t had the opportunity to make any of the recipes out of this book, and it’s killing me. I want to keep the book but I’m giving it away to a lucky reader, because you deserve it! (don’t worry, I’ll be ordering another copy for myself!)

Vegan Book Giveaway

Enter To Win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all of you, and thank you for supporting peace. love. quinoa! 
ps. There ARE affiliate links in this post, however this post is sponsored by me, PLQ.

Love

Crista


Dec
03

ahhhhhh.
finally, i can breathe.
not only did i just come off of the busiest work travel season i’ve had in a long time, i also shopped for, purchased, and moved into my new home.
buying a home may be the single most stressful situation i have been a part of-
people kept telling me it’d be worth it in the end. i was skeptical during the process, but now, while i sit on my couch, with my feet kicked up, in MY home, i realize that they were right – it was TOTALLY worth it!
…and every time i step foot in to my home, i fall in love all over again.

just a few days (4 days!) after moving in to my new home, i hosted my boyfriends family for Thanksgiving.
i cooked, although modestly. i made homemade hummus & veggies, cranberry whiskey applesauce, pumpkin cornbread, and a killer kale salad. we ate plenty.

so, this is my new life. in Colorado
in my new home.
with my amazing bearded Colorado boyfriend by my side.

as i sit here alone, i know that i am not alone – there is an entire team of people out there who have helped shape my being. people who have encouraged me, and hugged me, and pushed me to keep on keeping on even in the most difficult of times.

my heart is filled with love and gratitude. my life is filled with love and gratitude.
i’m ready to get back to life as it once was – as a foodie and a blogger.

let’s get this party started, again!

xox

Love

Crista


Nov
12

A few days ago, I got an e-mail explaining the final steps of my home purchase – that’s right, I’M BUYING A HOME. In Colorado. I thought I’d NEVER buy a home simply because up until this point I was never satisfied enough to plant roots. BUT, this is Colorado. Home. It’s good here. I think I was sent here to stay for a very long time. Shit is about to get real.

When I loved in Chicago, I was in a hurry to get things done, oh I rushed and rushed until life was no fun.
((“all I really wanna do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”)) 
Yeah, it’s a song. you probably know it. Relatable to my life prior to my CO move. 
Colorado has taught me to slow down and enjoy life.

Everyone asks (jokingly) if I moved to Colorado because of legalized marijuana… which is weird because I’ve had never wanted anything to do with it my entire life. When people ask me that silly questions, I tell them “No, I moved to Colorado because it’s socially acceptable to drive a Subaru there.” They get all confused and shut up then. 

Rocky Mountains

My new home is further west of where I currently live, near the Highlands area which means easier (than ever) access to the MOUNTAINS !! Literally, a 20 minute drive puts me in the foothill. Yeeeeeeeeah babyyyyyy!!!

Deer Creek CanyonRed Rocks

On top of that, Red Rocks amphitheater is only 25 minutes away. Do you know about Red Rocks? It’s incredible – it’s a musicians DREAM to play there. And it’s my dream to see all of my favorite musicians there ((which is coming true)). During the day, the amphitheater is an outdoor gym – I can hardly keep up with the fitness fanatics in Colorado, but it sure is inspiring to watch them all. Walking up the steps to the amphitheater still takes my breath away (I’ll blame it on the altitude).

yoga-on-the-rocks

Oh, and – Yoga On The Rocks at Red Rocks – 

Beet Box Denver

Beet Box is the very first vegan restaurant cafe/restaurant and I wasn’t mad about it. Do you see that cinnamon roll? Served with a side of buttercream frosting, and I’m sitting on Cloud 9. I don’t go to Beet Box often enough, I need to get there again soon. Very soon.

steamboat springs, co

Luckily I met an awesome guy in Colorado (boyfriend!), he took me to Steamboat Springs to fall in l-o-v-e. We didn’t take many photos during that trip because we were busy relaxing, napping, and bathing in the hot springs. As a bonus, Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan own a restaurant in the Springs that we (OF COURSE) went to for some pre-dinner moonshine. Couldn’t eat dinner there, steakhouse (idk).

 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado 

That same awesome guy rode took a trip to Glenwood Springs with my dad & I. We didn’t do much, besides enjoy the mountains and hike Hanging Lake. You see, living in Colorado is cool because you can take a “vacation” in your own backyard – in 3 hours, I can be in a location where people spend their life savings to vacation at.

palisade-peaches

Near Glenwood Springs is a little town called Palisade. In Palisade, there are several wineries, vineyards, and fruit trees. Some of the best peaches I’ve ever had come from Palisade. I feel like no one knows about Palisade peaches besides Coloradans. All the more reason I feel lucky to be a Coloradan.

starter plants from Farmers Market

I got all of my starter plants for the garden at the Boulder Farmers Market this year. While the Boulder Farmers Market isn’t the most amazing farmers market I’ve ever been to, it may be the most adorable. Plus, it’s in Boulder, you couldn’t ask for a better location.

waterfalls, colorado

Oh, in between Red Rocks i Morrison and this cute little mountain town called Evergreen, there are waterfalls rolling down the mountain. It’s a pretty sweet little drive between the two towns. After hiking a trail at Red Rocks, my mom and I went up to Evergreen to visit a winery …(duh)…. When I talk about these waterfalls, I feel like I’m straight up bragging – I’ve never lived so close to a waterfall in my life.

North Table Mountain // Golden, CO

Those are real, legit cowboys. On top of North Table Mountain. Seriously, cowboys. On horses. and a cute little dog. Oh, and that view. My life is complete.

Ypsilon Lake //Rocky Mountain National Park

I have a friend whose family visits Estes Park a few times a year, and they spend a pretty penny doing it. I get to drive to Estes Park whenever I feel like it. I can hike all day, have a few beers at a local brewery, and still be home in time for dinner. Oh, and I don’t have to spend much money doing it. 

Mt. Evans, Colorado

One of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life is hike to 14,000 feet. It was not an easy task, however a satisfying one. On the way up, I told myself that I’d never volunteer to do such a thing again. After a few days of recovery, and reflection, I was anxious to do it again. There are 54 fourteeners in Colorado, and I’d love to climb them all (we’ll see how that goes….) and if all goes well, I’d love to climb Mount Kilimanjaro some day….

I could give you a million more reasons why I love Colorado, I’ve even blogged about some of them but I’ll stop here. I feel like I’m bragging. I can’t help it, I’m smitten with my new life.

Love

Crista


Dec
20

love birds

Every time I see this photo, my heart melts.
I took this photo of my grandpa and his new-found love while dining outdoors at one of our favorite little restaurants in Florida, Cherry Pocket.
Just before this photo was taken, grandpa challenged Angela to spilt that homemade carrot cake 4 ways, evenly. She roared with laughter upon accepting the challenge.
Adorable, right?
In my eyes, this photo display love, joy, laughter, and vitality.
…living life to it’s fullest….

Earlier in the year, I blogged about my late grandmothers passing which left grandpa in a state of melancholy.
If this photo isn’t proof that there is Life After Death, I don’t know what does. 

Happy Birthday Grandpa!!! 
xoxo

Love

Crista


Nov
28

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the world becomes food obsessed! ….But it’s also a time to reflect on the things that you are thankful for and to express gratitude. As you prepare the biggest meal you’ll have all year, don’t forget to think about the things you are grateful for (before you hit the food coma).

On this chilly, chilly Thanksgiving morning, I’m curled up on the couch, cozy under the blankets with the pooch at my feet, and my dad preparing the big meal in the kitchen, and I am thinking about all of the little things in life that make me happy. Ten things I am thankful for:

1. Fuzzy socks
2. My cute, cute doggie
3. Yummy food
4. Chocolate & pomegranate
5. Yoga
6. Hot tea
7. Friends & family
8. Fresh, crisp air
9. Music
10. Hugs

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! 

Love

Crista


Feb
18

Prior to attending my grandfathers funeral this weekend, Chris and I were able to enjoy a romantic getaway for Valentines Day. We needed this. 

We checked in to the Wicker Park Inn for the night, which is located in the same neighborhood as our old apartment. We miss that neighborhood dearly….

Wicker Park Inn

Wicker Park Inn

our gorgeous room

Valentines Day

gorgeous fireplace. after dinner, we lit a fire. (giggles)

Wicker Park Inn

“Love came into my life the moment we met and changed everything my heart has ever known about what it means to be happy”

Valentines Day

my gorgeous boyfriend looked amazing on this day

Valentines DayValentines Day

Vermilion, one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago….. this was not the first Valentines Day we’ve done dinner here.

a contemporary global medling of indian & latin american cuisines

Vermilion

here, we enjoyed a 5 course meal including dessert.
oh, and lychee caipirinha’s

Vermilion

to die for: blue corn heart of palm

Vermilion

one of my favorites: tamarind paneer + jicama koshimbir
melt in your mouth

Vermilion

although I wanted to take more foodie photos, I was too busy enjoying my food ….and my company :)

Vermilion

Vermilion, 10 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654
312.527.4060

Love

Crista


Jan
29

We are soo bored with the traditional dinner-and-a-movie Valentines Day routine. My favorite Valentines Day activities are those that invoke laughter and love, activities that require hands-on involvement from all persons included (whether it be your boyfriend or your girlfriends). Below, you’ll find 10 alternate things to do on Valentines Day that isn’t dinner.

Cupcake Collage

1. Take a Photo Booth Tour – Based on a recommendation from Refinery29, Chris and I spent Valentines Day 2012 hopping from bar to bar playing in photo booths. Beforehand we researched which bars still have photo booths around the city, and I made cute little props to use in the photo booths. This was a BLAST. We had a drink (or two) at every bar we photobooth’d in and we ended up bowling a few rounds at Diversey Bowl. We ate when we wanted, and did so multiple times. 

2. Camp out in a B&B – Since Chris & I have moved out of the city, we are going back to our old ‘hood to shack up in a B&B for the night. We miss Bucktown like crazy and look forward to eventually moving back. We made reservations at Wicker Park Inn but we also considered the Ruby Room. If you’re planning to visit a B&B, I highly recommend picking up a few bath bombs from LUSH for use during your visit.

3. Visit Lake Geneva for a Romantic Getaway – Lake Geneva is a short 1.5 car ride from Chicago. Offering a wide variety of overnight accommodations, expansive resorts, charming inns, and boutique hotels, Lake Geneva is full of romance and delight. Lake Geneva offers a variety of different activities for all types of couples: yoga, rock climbing, ziplining, live music, shopping, hiking trails, indulgent restaurants, and a soothing spa are among some of the options. My Lake Geneva recommendations: Grand Geneva {a luxury resort}, WELL Spa {a beautiful spa connected to a workout facility}, Baker House {a mansion turned B&B, offering live music and a beautiful view of the lake}, Lazy Cloud {romantic B&B – they will hook your room up for Valentines Day}, Simple Cafe {breakfast & lunch cafe featuring foods from local farmers}, Sopra Bistro {an adorable American Bistro}, and the Green Grocer {an organic grocery store and juice bar}

 4. Take a Cupcake Tour around the city – There is no better day to indulge in a variety of different cupcakes than Valentines Day. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a tour through Chicago’s best cupcake bakeries and share a cupcake with your loved one at every stop. Check out some of my favorites: Sweet Mandy B’sSwirlz CupcakesSprinklesMolly’s Cupcakes, and Flirty Cupcakes. Don’t stop there, Flaco’s Tacos has put out some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had AND offers yummy mexican food (call ahead for their cupcake flavors of the day!) 

5. Have a Girls Night out and do a gift exchange – There have been a few years where I am out of town for Valentines Day on business. Can you believe some companies actually take people away from their significant others on Valentines Day?! Doesn’t matter, I still had fun. We planned a Girls Night Out at a fancy restaurant (make sure to get reservations in advance.) We wore pink & red and had a “LOVE” themed gift-exchange. We ate strawberries dipped in a chocolate fountain and we all told “LOVE” stories {ex. tell us about your first kiss, or what is your idea or a perfect first date} We had a BLAST!

6. Go Dancing – Whether you take your partner Ballroom Dancing or to a dance club, take a night out on the town and heat things up on the dance floor. Begin the night with wine & chocolate, end the night with a romantic slow dance?

7. Go Ice Skating – If you’re as good an ice skater as me (or NOT) you’ll be holding hands with your partner as you skate through Millenium Park {or one of the various rinks throughout the city.} Bundle up and cuddle up and feel the warmth in your heart as your partner shows off his/her ice skating skills. Stop off for coffee or tea and a warm dessert after your skating session. 

8. Partner Yoga – Center yourselves, loosen up, and heat things up on and off the mat. Yoga has emotional benefits including enhanced moods and increased sexual feelings and pleasure. Visit a yoga studio together or try some poses at home

9. Karaoke – Nothing says “I LOVE YOU” more than serenading your loved one in front of an audience at a karaoke bar. Sing your heart out, have fun, laugh, and take the opportunity to sing a song together (c’mon, when’s the last time you sang a song with your partner??) I highly recommend Love Shack by the B-52’s.

10. Create an Aromatic Dinner together – Spice it up this Valentines Day by making an exotic & fragrant dinner with/for your loved one. Scents can be evocative and imprint experiences. Engage your senses with dishes such as Chana DalCoconut Saffron RiceChana Masala, or Cardamom Honey Pears & Spiced Candied Orange Peel for dessert.

 What are YOUR Valentines Day plans??

Love

Crista


Aug
19

the theme of yesterday’s yoga class was to think positive thoughts. throughout class the instructor consistently reminded us to think positive thoughts, “i can do it,” “i am good enough,” “i am beautiful” etc….

at the end of class, the instructor asked each of us to repeat a positive affirmation to ourselves 3 times. i panicked at first, i felt rushed, i wanted to find the perfect affirmation. i struggled. i wasn’t sure what to tell myself. i was doing the exact opposite of what the teacher had asked her students to do. then i finally found it. “i am love” 

Warren Dunes

i am currently reading a book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry. the couple in the book are in a marriage that has gone stale. through self-discovery they realize regrets about their marriage, love, sex, communication.
of course, this book has opened my eyes and allowed me take a look at my own relationships with others. AM i “love” ? 

on Friday, i had a conversation with a new friend. she is a 40-something year old vegan woman. she’s never been married, and she was telling me about a guy she has just started seeing. it is not easy to meet good people, it is not easy to find someone you would consider sharing your life with, but she found one she is considering. she even found a guy who is vegetarian! we talked and laughed. we said a few jokes about the male species, and we reminisced the ones who got away.

the topic of “new love” always sends hearts and butterflies running through my body. i mentioned how i miss that “smitten” feeling that you get when you are first getting to know someone, and then i immediately realized that i have always been smitten for my boyfriend. however, i have allowed life’s little annoyances to get in the way of pure love. things like making the bed, doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and running 10 minutes behind have gotten in my way of being love.

“awareness perceives change,” is a mantra that my colleagues constantly repeat and analyze. today and from here on out, i will work hard to ensure that i don’t have any regrets later in life. that i take advantage at every opportunity to love and to be loved. carpe diem, they say. 

as my yoga class ended yesterday, my boyfriend was sending me these text messages: 

text message

“The question is not what a man can scorn, disparage, or find fault with, but what he can love and value and appreciate.”
“If there were one thing I’d live by, it’d be that,” he said. looks like we’re on the same page. (although i have not voiced any of this to him)

“fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” – Swedish Proverb

“greatness is not in one special place, it is not in one special person. greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.” 

this weekend has brought one big message to my attention, and while it wasn’t the first time i can also guarantee this won’t be the last time that this message presents itself to me.

maintain a positive state of mind.
love, value, and appreciate.
find greatness in everything you do.

Love

Crista


Aug
06

Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes

over the weekend, we discovered a beach in Sawyer, MI at Warren Dunes State Park
which sits just opposite of Chicago on Lake Michigan.
this park is only 90 minutes outside of Chicago and is absolutely breathtaking.

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes

Warren Dunes

we hiked up the sand dunes and sweated our butts off

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

running/walking through the soft, dry sand develops power throughout your lower body and takes more energy than running/walking on a flat, smooth surface like asphalt.
it strengthens your ankles, arches, and all of your below-the-knee muscles. 

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we had so much fun!

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

once we worked our tails off to get up the sandy dune, we relaxed under the shady trees and then RAN DOWN THE HILL

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we made time for peace & love ..and play….

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we laid by the beach for some R&R and a healthy dose of Vitamin D 

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

we enjoyed the dunes so much that we’ve already planned another trip to go back.
next time we are taking the family with us.
we’re planning on hiking, water slides (!!), hacky sack, flying kites, grilling, swimming, and maybe even a game of beach volleyball. i won’t fail to get my sweat-once-a-day on either – maybe i’ll get brave enough to take a jog along the beach (it’s hard work!!) …maybe even beach yoga!

Warren Dunes - Sawyer, MI

Love

Crista