Yes, I may be listening to Charlie Brown Christmas and I may be getting weepy. And yes, I have dreams about spontaneously buying a plane ticket home to surprise my grandma on Christmas Eve. All of these things are true. You know what else is true? I am so very thankful for all that I have, both here and in Seattle. When my posts take a nostalgic, “I wish I was there” turn, it’s nice to reflect on the reasons I am thankful to be here, in this place, right now.
Here is what I’m thankful for.
1) I am close to my sister. She is my other half, the pants to my pants, the only person I trust with 100% of my secrets and heart. Living with her for this past year has been nothing short of magic, and I am so very thankful for our morning walks, our afternoon catch ups and our evening popcorn gorging. My sister, she is a light.
2) My friends. Down here, people exude friendliness. Everyone is game to try new things, meet new people, be daring and adventurous. The daily activities include bike rides and endless tacos. The friends I’ve made are from different parts of the country and bring a unique energy to my life. They’ve taught me to be a stronger, braver and happier person.
3) My puppy. I can’t make a thankful list and not add Zeppelin in here. Sure, he’s kind of a pain in my ass as he hates other dogs, squirrels, garbage trucks, buses and cats. But you know what he loves? Me. And when he runs at me wiggling his rear end and leaning up against me like he’s found true love, I know he’s worth it. This dog has been around the country with me, and my love for him is overwhelming. If you don’t have a dog, get one. Or at least borrow one for a while so you know what unconditional love feels like.
3) The sunshine. True, my skin isn’t the biggest fan of that unfamiliar orb, but oh my goodness… it feels so good. It’s currently cold and rainy, and everyone is a little disgruntled about it. I find myself complaining about the cold and then I remember where I’m from, and how there it’s nearly always cold and rainy. So yes, I am thankful for the many, many days of Texas sun.
4) in.gredients. This place. They took a chance on me. Gave me a job and told me to run with it. Allowed me to be daring and try new things. Because of this job I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life professionally, and that feels so damn wonderful. As someone who has spent the last few years wandering around, not sure where to settle, it’s so nice to at least have an idea of what my strengths are. I owe this huge step in my career to this little, sustainable grocery store. A tiny place with a lot of heart.
5) Change. If nothing else, this town has taught me that I can thrive with big changes. My life can be thrown around like a whirlwind, and I come out the other side a better person. Austin has taught me that the only thing I can depend on is change, and to depend on it means to let go of any preconceived notions of what happiness will look like. Happiness is being present in this place and letting all the new wash over me.
6) Missing people. That may sound like a strange thing to be thankful for, but being away from my family and friends in Seattle has made me realize how much I need them. When I was living there, I took their love and closeness for granted, and living in Texas has made me realize that. When I get back to them, I will hold on tight and never let go. I come from a family that is strong and supportive. I have a group of friends that are nestled into so many places in my soul. I am so grateful to know what it feels like to miss them, and to know that my place is there, with them.
There’s the start of a list that could go on and on. I am so blessed. My life is full of love, and as we come into this holiday season, it’s nice to take some time to remember that.
Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with Food for Lovers Vegan Queso
Queso is a thing in this town. Almost every restaurant has some version of it, and I’ve gone so long without eating it. Sometimes I’ll sneak a bite, because cheese is so darn good. However, if I really was to indulge in a melted bowl of cheesy goodness, my stomach would never let me live it down. That is why I am so thankful for Food for Lovers. Not only are these two people simply lovely, they make delicious vegan queso. It’s gluten-free and vegan AND it only has 10 calories per serving. Which means if I do accidentally eat the entire jar, I can’t feel too bad. I popped it on top of a bowl of quinoa, and my life was as right as rain.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup black beans, cooked
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach or kale
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 avocado
- 2 Tbsp vegan queso
- 2 Tbsp salsa of choice
This recipe is basically a taco, sans the tortilla. This is my go to when I want to eat healthy, as I almost always have these ingredients at my house. It’s always nice to have quinoa on hand, as it’s a complete protein and makes for a delicious burrito or taco filling.
Start by cooking your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Next, bring the water or the vegetable broth to a boil and add in the quinoa. Turn to low/medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, chop your veggies and heat up a small pan with a splash of coconut or olive oil. Saute the onions for 5 minutes, and then add in the red bell pepper. Let cook for another few minutes until everything is soft. Add in some salt to taste. Warm up your black beans, and chop the rest of your veggies. Once the quinoa is down, mix in the black beans and sauteed veggies. Put the two cups of spinach in the bottom of the bowl and spoon in your quinoa mixture. Top the bowl with the cilantro and avocado, spoon on the queso and salsa, and call it a day.