Saldra El Sol

Coconut Cream… Tea?

Recently, I picked up a can of coconut milk, and I always want to try new ways of using it.  Earlier, I would put it in hot cocoa to make it extra thick, but hot cocoa just doesn’t sound good in this hot weather lol, but tea always seems like a good idea, and I really wanted to make some this afternoon before supper, but I also wanted something a little more substantial to hold me off.  So, I had the idea of putting some coconut milk in my tea, which worked out really well!  One of these days, I would love to make some whipped cream from coconut milk, but all of my attempts have kind of sucked.  They always come out too watery, so I just give up and use it as a creamer.  If any of you guys have any suggestions as to how to make good whipped cream from coconut milk– they would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, for the tea, I used ginger, and I put in a little bit of stevia, too, because everyone needs a little sweetness in their lives ;).

Coconut Cream Tea

Ingredients:

1 cup of tea (your choice :))

1/3 cup of coconut milk (from the can! Not that watered down coconut milk in the carton!!)

a couple drops of stevia (or you can use honey, sugar, agave… etc)

I loved this, and I plan on using it for coffee, too 🙂

I’m almost done packing for college– just need to get some supplies from the store and I’ll be ready to go!  My energy’s coming back today, since for the past few weeks, my sinuses were just dragging me down.  I’m so glad that the antibiotics are working for me!  I’ve been so bored these past few days, and so eagered to move in!  It’s like everything’s moving in slow motion!  Of course, once school officially starts, I’ll be begging for summer break again haha!  I’m virtually done packing all of my (clean) clothes and I just need to do the laundry and pack the rest!  Maybe before school starts, I can go shopping for a new top or something!

How do you take your coffee and/or tea?

I love my coffee with a bit of creamer (non-dairy, of course lol)

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Gallo Pinto :)

This past March, I had the privilege of going to Nicaragua in Central America.  It was the first time I ever went to a new country, and to be perfectly honesty, I had a blast and I made plenty of friends– so I plan to go back one day.  The weather was always hot there, but I didn’t mind, and the food was absolutely delicious– it was either fresh or fried lol.  Also, the people were so hospitable.  We worked with Bradley’s House of Hope which helps disabled kids and their families, and we worked at Chacocente– which is a project that helps people from the dump get a new life through giving them land, education, and a way to make money.  Even now, I still keep in contact with people from Chacocente.

The food was amazing, and my favorite meal was the Gallo Pinto– which means Painted Rooster– but, don’t worry, it doesn’t typically have rooster– well, the kind I had didn’t have any.  It’s just basically stir fried beans and rice.  However, I forgot to take a picture :(.  Next time for sure though!

Gallo Pinto

Ingredients:

1.5 cups of cooked beans (preferably red)

2 cups of cooked rice

1 tablespoon of coconut oil

dash of various seasonings (I used basil and chili powder, but you could use cilantro, cayenne, or anything)

Steps:

1. Heat up the oil and seasonings in a pan on medium heat.

2. Add the rice and cook for about five minutes.

3. Add the beans and cook for another five minutes.

4. Done and enjoy 🙂

This isn’t just a dinner or lunch– I had this for breakfast actually in Nicaragua, but whenever I make it here, I always have it for dinner :).  I definitely miss Nicaragua a lot, and I plan to return one day.  Mangoes were everywhere 🙂 and one girl at Chacocente just kept giving me all these different types of mangoes that her family grew.  Noni fruit also grows– but it’s really gross– all of us called it the “poop fruit” haha.

However, I really feel like I could go there as a medical missionary, because when we visited the hospital there, I felt like crying.  It was all open air, really dark, and all together kind of scary.  Also, this nation is the second poorest in the western hemisphere– after Haiti, and the unemployment is 70 percent.  They’re going through a lot of political stuff right now that I don’t completely understand, but still, we should pray for them and help them through missionary work or donations.

Have you ever gone on a mission trip?

I love going on mission trips.  My brother goes to Philadelphia once a year to help the inner city kids get off the streets and have somewhere to go during the summer.

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Tree Trunks Oatmeal

Cannot get over how cute this is!

Have you ever watched Adventure Time?  I love that show.  Yes, I’m an eighteen-year-old, college student who still watches Adventure Time and Spongebob Squarepants, but, hey, I figure, as long as I get good grades and have a job, who cares if I still have child-like tendencies?  Besides, cartoons are about five times better than normal television shows– like CSI or some other show where someone gets gruesomely murdered.  Who needs more stress in your life?  But if you prefer those intense shows– more power to you!

Anyway, I’m mentioning this because there’s a specific character on Adventure Time who always makes the best apple pie– Tree Trunks– and I’m going to attempt to make an oatmeal-version of this because I’m too lazy to turn on my oven.  All I really wanted was a lazy-girl’s way of having apple pie and eating it too :P.

I loved it– tasted just like apple pie, but I only used up two dishes! (plus a spoon).

So, for lunch, I had this oatmeal and some veggies, tempeh, and almonds later, too :).

Tree Trunks Oatmeal

Ingedients:

1/2 cup of oatmeal

1/2 cup of milk of choice (I definitely suggest vanilla almond milk because I can’t vouge for the results of anything else :P)

1 chopped apple (diced into little pieces– you can remove the skin from the apple if it bothers you).

plenty of cinnamon 🙂

Steps:

1. In a pan, combine the oats, milk, and apple and cook on high, stirring, until the apple caramelizes.

2. Take off the heat and add cinnamon.

3. Stir.

4. Leave it alone for a minute, and then transfer to a bowl and add more cinnamon if desired :).

5. Enjoy!

Yummy 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cinnamon apple bake on nutrition in a peanutshell’s page also inspired this recipe, but I never do well with oatmeal bakes lol.

Later today, my younger brother and I are going to see the Dark Knight Rises with my older brother– I’m super excited!  I saw the Dark Knight when it came to theaters a few years back and ever since, I’ve been excited for this new movie!  However, I hate the theater food :/, so between you and me, I always sneak food in, and I’m thinking of making a granola mix with almonds, granola chips, and chocolate chips.  I also like to bring in candy, because the prices are always so outrageous– especially at the movie theater we’re going to haha!

Do you ever sneak stuff in a movie theater?

I think everyone does, but I’m not sure if they’d get mad at me if I’d got caught or not… so I just hide it lol.

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Peppermint Tea and Life Questions

I adore tea.  It helps in so many ways.  When I have a cold, ginger tea helps tremendously.  When I can’t sleep, chamomile is amazing.  When I’m having a hard time staying awake, (besides the usual coffee) I’ll have green tea.  There are so many different types of tea that it can be overwhelming.  However, of all the different types of tea, right now, I’m in love with peppermint.  It’s not bitter– like black tea– and it has many uses.  It opens your blood vessels so it can help energize you without the use of caffeine.  It also helps to sooth stomach aches and (of course) bad breath.

teabenefits.com has an extensive list of teas and their various uses, so if you’ve always been curious about herbal teas and what to do with them, visit this website– it’s pretty interesting!

Ahh, my “tea pot” doesn’t look as cute lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, not only can peppermint help with stomach aches and foggy minds– but it does help with mild asthma by opening up the blood vessels and reducing the inflammation.  However, of course, if you have an asthma attack, please use an inhaler and not peppermint tea.  Finally, mice are allergic to peppermint oil– so if you have a mouse problem, just dab a bit of oil in the corners or somewhere like that– or leave a bit of food with peppermint oil in it.

Personally, I prefer a bit of stevia extract with my tea (which is a sweetner that doesn’t affect blood sugar), but as we have no stevia in our house at the moment– I’m going with honey this afternoon.  Earlier this weekend, I went out to lunch with my dad, and we, of course, went to Hot Head Burrito– which is pretty good– and it’s very convenient for vegans since you get to choose the ingredients in your burrito (or taco).  Today, we went out for Mexican again, but still, it was excellent since I was able to see my older brother and spend some time with him and my mom.  I’m not going to be able to spend much time with my brothers when I’m in college so it’s great that I’m able to do it now.

Church today was really convicting since it begged the question– are you just a fan or a follower of Jesus?  So often, I talk the talk, but do I really walk the walk?  Do I spend more time doing my “own thing” where I should be listening to God and following His purpose?  I’ve reached a critical moment in my life where decisions now can affect me ten or twenty years from now, so I want to make the right decisions and truly follow God by seeking His Plan rather than what I think is best right at this moment.  Right now, though, I’m so wrapped up in everything that’s changing that I’ve put my spiritual life and growth on hold :/.  Regardless of a rapidly changing life, we all need to realize what’s important in life and focus.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I definitely see myself completing my residency at a hospital :).

Verse:  “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.’” Jeremiah 29:11

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Awesome brownie recipe

Thursday I went to the doctor’s office for both my knee and my sinuses, and apparently, I may have torn some cartilage in my left knee which is why it won’t heal.  Also, he says I have a sinus infection so I’m on some antibiotics.  So, this Tuesday I’m going to get an MRI to see what’s up with my knee.  Hopefully, it’s not torn but just bruised or something like that.  Regardless, as long as I get better :).

Anyway, last night, my family and I agreed that it was time for some brownies, so I googled the “best vegan brownie recipe” and of course, vegweb had the best recipes, and one in particular stood out to me.  However, I just had to alter it because it didn’t seem “chocolate” enough for me.  So, rather than a whole 1/2 cup of oil, I replaced 1/4 cup of the oil with melted chocolate 🙂 which worked out splendidly.  I also used 1 full teaspoon of vanilla extract rather than just 1/2 but that was pure accident– oops.  It still tastes amazing, though, so I’ll just put exactly what I did down.

🙂

Super fudgy brownies

Ingredients:

1 cup of white whole wheat flour

1 cup of sugar (I used Florida Crystals because it’s less processed but it still tastes good)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of chocolate chips (try to get fair trade!) melted

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of water

1/2 cup of walnuts if you want (I didn’t use them because we ran out :/)

Steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Mix together all the dry ingredients in one bowl.

2. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (ten seconds, stir, another ten seconds, stir until smooth so it doesn’t burn), and mix together all the wet ingredients in another bowl.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir.

4. At this point, if you want walnuts, you should probably fold them in now.

5. Line an 8 or 9″ pan with foil and oil it slightly.  Put the dough in and place it in the oven for around 20 minutes.

6. Let it cool, slice into 16 pieces, and enjoy!

I loved these brownies and I will definitely make them again!  They also taste good a day after or so because they’re slightly more solid.  They may fall apart easily right after the oven, but just wait five minutes or so and they will solidify.

Unfortunately, I can’t visit my dad this weekend because he has to work again :/, but that’s okay since I’m having lunch with him later.  I really miss him– it’s been a while, and I want to visit him before I leave for college!  Also, next week, I’ll be going shopping for some school supplies!  I’m pretty excited, but right now, I have to fill out various forms for employment and medical history.  It seems like I’ve been filling out forms forever!

What have you been doing all summer?

I’ve mostly been cooking and cleaning– but I did visit California earlier in June.  It was a blast!  I loved visiting my mom’s friends and seeing the gorgeous pier in Imperial Beach!  I also found an amazing little restaurant that sells vegan crepes!  I hadn’t had a crepe in such a long time before then!

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Tips for Learning a New Language

Besides baking and running and cooking and stuff like that, I adore learning new things– one of those being learning new languages.  For the past four years, I’ve been working on learning Spanish, and although it’s not perfect, I’ve taken great strides in truly understanding.  However, I often hear people giving up due to the difficulty.  When I was first learning, it took forever to understand– everything went right over my head, and still, I have trouble comprehending.  However, rather than just learning the language in the class, I tried to immerse myself in it.  Especially since I had the priviledge of going to Nicaragua this past March.  I wanted to really understand the language so I wouldn’t be totally confused in the middle of a foreign country.  So, to help others, I would like to put down what I did to help understanding a new language– because, for me, it’s a lot easier to read and write it than to actually hear and understand.

1.  Watch News and TV in that Language

Typically, they talk very fast in that particular language during the news– in my opinion anyway, and it’s a great way to understand the culture as well.

2. Practice, practice, practice

I know you’ve probably heard this before, but practice really does make perfect!  If you get the chance, travel to another country, learn the culture, learn the language, and you’ll probably make new friends, as well!

3. Immerse yourself

By immersing yourself, you’re just doing what your parents did to get you to learn English.  Read books in that language, talk to your classmates (if you’re taking a class) in that language, and change some of your settings on your computer to be in that language (such as your Facebook or Twitter).

4. Music

Music is a great way to learn a language– it helps you to listen without feeling like a chore.  Plus, you can learn a lot of new bands and artists that you never would’ve thought to listen to before!

Here’s the song that inspired the title to my blog actually:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW37cVp2x50

And here’s the translation:

http://www.streetsoflima.com/2009/01/pedro-suarez-vertiz-cuando-pienses-en.html

If you can think of any other tips, add them to the comments! 🙂

And here’s the verse of the day:

1 John 2:28: And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.

Have a great day!

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Breakfast Cookies

I have one cookbook that I absolutely love.  Really, it’s truly amazing, and practically every week, my mom asks me to make one particular recipe from it.  It’s oatmeal breakfast cookies with walnuts and blueberries.  She loves the recipe.  The cookies are fairly low in sugar, but personally, the way these cookies are, it would be weird to have it overly sugary.  Not to mention, since oatmeal helps the body sleep, my mom– and myself sometimes– eat these at night as well.  They are super soft and cinnamon-y.

Has everything from huge chocolate chunk cookies to healthy breakfast cookies.

I often modify the recipe, though, to fit what we currently have in the pantry.  Also, the cookies taste amazing with mixed berries, as well as with just blueberries.  Finally, the dough tends to be a little dry, so I always add more almondmilk.

So here’s my version of Oatmeal Walnut Blueberry Breakfast Cookies that appear in the Vegan Cookie Connosseur.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of almondmilk (or milk of choice– I’ve had success with hemp milk)

1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (kind of weird, but you don’t taste it)

1 and 1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup of agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 cup of almondmilk as needed

1/2 cup of mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

1/4 cup of walnuts

Steps:

1. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the 1/3 cup of almondmilk and apple cider vinegar and set aside for five minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

3. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the all of the dry ingredients besides the mixed berries and walnuts.

4. Pour in the agave nectar, the vanilla, and the almondmilk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture.

5. Stir, and if it starts to clump together, pour in a little bit of almondmilk at a time until it’s the right consistency (not to watery and not to dry).

6. Fold in the walnuts and mixed berries.

7. On a cookie sheet, use a tablespoon to put down little pieces of dough.  Depending on how many cookies you want and how big you want them, the recipe can make around 10-15 cookies.

8. Put it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

9. Take it out and let it cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!

Huh, when I last made these, the container was full…

I thoroughly enjoy the Vegan Cookie Connoseur.  I really hope that– if I have the time– I can make all of the different cookies in the book.  I especially enjoyed the espresso cookies.  These cookies, though, are perfect for a rushed morning when you can’t make a nourishing bowl of oatmeal!  My mom, especially, appreciates these because, often, she’s too rushed to make breakfast, and we all know how important breakfast is!  I certainly can’t go a day without eating breakfast– I don’t think I ever have.  Though, when I was younger, I sometimes skipped lunch simply because I wasn’t hungry lol.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this recipe, and I’ll write again tomorrow!

So, do you often skip breakfast?

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Coconut Oil

Throughout the previous decades, doctors and nutritionists have been pounding in our heads about the dangers of saturated fats, and to an extent, they’re right.  Saturated fats– in the form of hydrogenated oils and heavy red meats– have contributed to heart problems in current generations.  However, not all saturated fats are bad.  Now, many nutritionists are toting the numerous benefits of the medium chain triglycerides which actually help the body rather than hurt the body.  Medium chain triglycerides are found in abundance in coconut oil, which is why I choose to use that oil for cooking and baking.

Not to mention, coconut oil has a substance called Lauric Acid which helps your body’s immune system and fights against bacteria.  I’ve been using it a lot recently, because for the past few weeks, I’ve been fighting a mild sinus infection, and so far, I’ve been getting better thanks to some r and r.

Here’s some other benefits of coconut oil:

  • It’s great for your hair (I use it occasionally on the ends of my hair to prevent breakage and splitting).
  • It’s good for your skin (a great lotion!).
  • Because of it’s antibiotic properties, it helps your immunity and your digestive system.
  • Regulates blood sugar.
  • Helps calcium and magnesium absorption– so it helps your bones.
  • Helps prevent heart diseases because it has been shown to not affect LDL cholesterol (the yucky bad cholesterol).

So, this is great and all, but what do you do with coconut oil?

Well, coconut oil isn’t like other oils– it’s solid when it’s lower than 76 degrees fahrenheit, so often times, I use it like butter on toast with a little bit of honey or agave nectar.  It tastes amazing and helps me to get some good fats in.  Also, I use it as my primary cooking oil as well as for baking.  If you don’t like the taste of coconuts, don’t get the virgin or extra virgin coconut oils because they have more of a coconut-like taste.  Because we’re on a tight budget most of the time, I don’t typically get the organic virgin coconut oil, but rather, a cheaper brand.

Today, I used coconut oil in my oatmeal to help me fight off infection.  Oatmeal in and of itself is good for you– it’s full of protein, fiber, and iron, and it’s so comforting when your feeling under the weather.  Here’s my recipe for an immune-boosting oatmeal:

It looks like just a little bit– don’t worry, I had a lot more for breakfast than just this!

Immune-boosting Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of oatmeal

1/2 cup of milk of choice (I used hemp :))

2 teaspoons of coconut oil

1 teaspoon of honey (or agave if you don’t use honey)

A dash of cinnamon

Steps:

1. Cook oatmeal using whatever method you so choose (microwave or stovetop?).

2. Add in the coconut oil and drizzle on the honey (honey is also an antibiotic!).

3. If you want, add some cinnamon (it tastes amazing this way!).

4. Enjoy with some coffee or tea if you want 🙂

The weather was so nice and cool today, so I decided to go for a nice walk around the neighborhood, and afterwards, I enjoyed some of this oatmeal :).  Maybe it’s just a placebo affect, but I feel better already and ready to start my day!  Later, I’m planning on some afternoon yoga, and then, a friend of mine is throwing a party, so I’m pretty excited for that!

What do you do to help your immunity?

Even though it’s not cold or flu season, it’s still important to keep your immunity up for those colder months!  Also, stress can only hurt your immunity, so don’t stress out today and stay positive!

Philippians 4:6-7  do not be anxious about  anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let  your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all  understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Sources:

http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html

http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/charles-mattocks/benefits-coconut-oil

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-worry-20-comforting-scripture-quotes/#ixzz22CxDE9Tf

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Cool Chocolate Cheesecake for a Warm Day

It’s the dog days of summer here.  Summer’s coming to an end, and back-to-school sales are rampant, but the weather itself is relentless.  It’s getting cooler though, and the air is remiscent of fall.  Only two or so more weeks until I’m moving in and beginning my training in the library (my new job!).

Yesterday, we celebrated my mom’s birthday even though it’s today.  Typically, we celebrate birthdays very chill.  We lounge around, eat good food, and watch movies.  We’re homebodies, and we like it that way haha.  A couple of years ago, I made a chocolate cheesecake for my mom’s birthday that she absolutely adored, and I replicated it yesterday.  It was so good!  I got the recipe from Vegweb.  I love that site!  There are so many comments from actual people so I don’t have to go through the work of testing the recipe myself! haha.

Here’s the recipe that I adapted:

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

very rich!

Ingredients:

1 Pre-made chocolate pie crust

1 block of Mori-Nu silken tofu (it’s in a little white box)

2/3 cup of chocolate chips (I used vegan fair-trade chocolate chips)

1/2 cup of agave nectar

4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Steps:

1. Press the tofu by placing it in a bowl and placing something heavy over it such as a book.  Allow it to press for about an hour or two.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave.  You can do this by putting it in there for about thirty seconds, stir, place it back in for a few more seconds, and stir again until smooth.  Make sure you don’t burn it!

4. Allow the chocolate to cool, and place the tofu along with the agave nectar in a blender or food processor.  Pour the chocolate in and blend until smooth.

5.  After you have a very delicious-looking pudding, put it in a bowl and stir in the vanilla and cocoa powder.

6.  Trying very hard not to eat the pudding, go ahead and pour it into the pre-made pie crust.  Place it in the oven and bake for about thirty minutes or until it looks solid on top.

7.  After baking, place the pie into the fridge and chill for an hour or two.

8.  Cut into it and enjoy!

Certainly, this is a long process, but it’s totally worth it.  It makes around eight pieces depending on your appetite, and I’m not sure how long it keeps– I guess until it smells bad!  But seriously, after a week, it’s probably not that good anymore…

I meant to go for a run this morning, but my knee is still bothering me since the half-marathon.  So, I’m going to the doctor this Thursday to hear his opinion and get some advice.  Hopefully, I’ll be better by the time I move in!  Instead of running, I just did some strength training and very soon I’m going for a swim.  All I can think about though is moving in.  I haven’t gotten anything yet besides a trash can and a computer!  No fridge, no comforter, no sheets, no nothing :/.  Oh well, it doesn’t do anything to worry about it.  Chocolate is certainly a Godsend for stressful times such as these!

So, what do you do to de-stress? 

I like yoga and chocolate for stressful moments.  I also have some Tension Tamer tea that I really like!

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Hi!

Hi! This is my new blog!  Obviously, the name is Saldra El Sol which means that the sun will come out in spanish :).  I adore this saying and I think it really describes my outlook on life.  I always try to be positive and look forward to something– whether it’s college or just a fun trip to the mall or something.  For the most part, this will be a blog focusing on enjoying life through good health, a positive outlook, and spiritual inspiration.

This past May, I graduated from high school, and now, in just a couple of weeks, I’m heading off to college.  Thankfully, it’s only about an hour and fifteen minutes away, and I’m so lucky to have a job on campus.  My school is small, and it’s very community orientated, so I’ll also be posting about some of the various fun activities that we do.   There’s also a nature preserve really close so I can go run and enjoy nature.

Right now, though, I’m living at home, cleaning and cooking.  I was raised by a single mother since my parents got divorced when I was very young.  However, I still see my dad a lot, and I’ve gained a lot of admiration for my mom.  We also live with two mutts– Pearl and Puddin.  They’re sweet and loving but really hyperactive haha.  I have four brothers– one of which I’ve never met.  Three are older and one younger.  Currently, only my younger brother lives with us.

I’m the odd one out in the family.  I eat a mostly vegan diet with the addition of honey and some sustainable seafood.  I think that everyone should eat what makes them feel good, and that no one fits a perfect mold.  God made us all unique and different, and therefore, we shouldn’t try to be someone we’re not.  I really hope you enjoy my blog, and if you have any questions just email me at: latpaa@bluffton.edu.

El sol saldra 🙂

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