Hiking Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

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Last weekend my parents came down to visit me at school to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It also happened to be the day UC Santa Cruz was having their organic plant sale and so of course my mom wanted to stop by and “take a look.” Which means we were there for two hours. Some people spend hours clothes shopping, some in bookstore…for my mom it’s nurseries and plant sales. It’s awesome that all of the money goes back to supporting my campus’s organic farm.

By the time she finished making her purchases my dad and I were starving for breakfast so we headed straight to the Windmill Cafe. It’s a really cute tiny cafe that serves vegan options like V&GF waffles and tofu scrambles. They also have a large selection of vegan and GF baked goods.


While we finished up breakfast we tried to decide what we wanted to do during the day and ended up settling on a hike! Hiking is pretty much my favorite thing to do, probably because it feels like an adventure. We headed to Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and after driving through some bumpy dirt roads we finally arrived at the parking lot.

We poured over the trail maps and decided on trying to hike to the falls (about a 6 mile hike).

It was absolutely beautiful on the trails!

The best part of hiking is feeling completely separate from the busy world. No wi-fi. No cars or busy roads. Just peace and quiet. It was also nice that it was a hikers only trail so we didn’t have to worry about any bikers whizzing past.

The hike wasn’t just easy-peasy. There were quite a bit of hills and we accidentally went a bit off path so we ended up climbing across some logs back to the trail. All part of the fun though! We also spotted some banana slugs (my mascot)!

Their actually kind of cute! Haha. I hardly ever see them on campus even though they’re our mascot so it was cool to spot at least 5 on our adventure. We didn’t actually reach the falls because there were some logs across the path that couldn’t be climbed over and the trail seemed to collapse into the stream after that so we headed back.

We stopped for a snack break on the way back and I enjoyed a pineapple ginger V&GF muffin we had picked up that morning from Windmill Cafe.

On the way back we were starting to feel our tired feet and I checked the Health App on my phone to see how far we had walked. 5 miles already! Apparently the length on the map was a little of because we ended up hitting 7 miles by the time we got back to the parking lot and had climbed 30 flights of “stairs” (hills) according to the app.



The hike was just what we all needed. Some family time without phones and distractions, plus it’s great exercise. I really enjoy hiking as a form of exercising because it feels like fun, not work.



I can’t wait to go back! I could spend every day hiking and be happy.

My First Time Leafleting + Earth Day

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This past week for Earth Day, Banana Slugs for Animals set up a giant tarp sent to us by Peta2 on the lawn by the Humanities building at UC Santa Cruz. The tarp was 20×30 feet and represents the size of the rainforest cut down every 1/10th of a second for meat production! We also passed out flyers about the environmental impacts of our food choices. It’s frightening when you get down to the nitty gritty facts about our food system and that’s why it’s so important that we all do our part and try to make a change.

This was my first time leafleting and so I had a mixture of emotions. I was excited to hopefully hand someone information that might change their mind about what they eat or at the very least get them thinking, but I was also nervous that someone might get angry or confrontational because emotions run high when discussing our food system. Luckily most people were pretty receptive and it was kind of cool to see people do a double take when they realized what the tarp represented.11215988_901399029926368_877332714_n

One professor was passing us and he stopped when he saw our sign, rummaged in his bag and then passed me a paper and said “This is what we’re reading in my class today.” It was all about the environmental affects of eating animals! Pretty cool. He even invited us into his class to talk to his students about our food choices and what we were advocating for.

We also held a screening of Cowspiracy that night and though we only got a few people to show up, those that did seemed genuinely interested. We also served vegan popcorn and cookies so those that came got to enjoy some yummy snacks! I love that documentary. It’s so powerful and I encourage everyone to see it. We need to start changing now in order to keep our planet habitable.


Earth week was so awesome on campus because there was vegan options everywhere and lots of talks happening about our food system. It should be like that all the time! Hopefully one day it will be.

Here’s a little Earth day inspiration and humor:



Idaho Summer 2014

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Almost every summer we’ve taken a road trip up to my grandparents property in Idaho. They lived on a 160 acre plot in Sandpoint, ID with a simple house and a large garden. My grandpa was a National Park Ranger and when he retired he and my Gram moved up to Idaho and turned the property into his own mini National Park. He was big on preserving the land and promoted the belief “take only pictures, leave only footsteps.” When he died a few years ago and my Gram moved into a care home for dementia, we took over maintaining the land and upkeep. 

Their property has such a special place in my heart. You’re miles from town and all you can hear is quiet. The birds, the wind, the creek…just the sounds of peace. You can’t really get a good cell phone signal up there which forces you to go mostly tech free. It’s actually a pretty awesome experience. It’s amazing how much time and brain power you have for other things when you’re not glued to the internet or your cell phone. 

Plus coming from a city, where interactions with wildlife is limited, and quiet is hard to come by it was fascinating to me. As a kid I would get so excited about waking up to a moose visible in the meadow out the kitchen window or deers at the salt lick by the trees. (I still do). I wish everyone could experience that way of life. 

Here’s a couple of the deers we spotted in the yard 🙂


I also snagged a picture of a moose we spotted down by the creek: 


Moose can be pretty elusive. I’ve been coming every summer or winter since I was born 19 years ago and I’ve only seen 3. He was munching on some leaves and we watched him from a distance before heading off. Super cool! 

All of the wildlife around me makes me appreciate life so much more. All of these creatures are fascinating to watch and appreciate that I can’t imagine people killing them. Hunting is huge in Idaho along with fishing and I’ve definitely struggled with this when I’ve visited over the last few years. I’m glad that I know all of the life on our property is safe and won’t be hunted there. 

I loved picking some fresh organic strawberries and cherries from my Gram’s garden. The caretaker who watches the house for us while we’re in California has done a pretty good job of maintaining her garden. She loved gardening and I remember the hours she would spend out there when we visited. I can picture her even now kneeling in her cut off jean shorts and rolled up shirt with her wide brim straw hat pulling weeds. I’m glad to see that the garden she loved is thriving. 


We had so many adventures while we were there that it can’t all fit in one post so I’ll update soon about hiking beautiful Schweitzer and picking 40 pounds of organic blueberries as well as exploring the Oregon Coast on the way home. The pacific Northwest is without a doubt my favorite place to be. 

Berkeley Adventures

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Yesterday my mom picked me up from school to head home for my little brother’s 18th birthday! (ok so maybe he’s not so little anymore, but he’ll always be my little brother)


Picture from 1998

We headed to Berkeley with the plan of picking up some vegan cinnamon rolls from Cinnaholic. They’ve been on my list of places to go for a couple years and so I was super excited, but before we headed there we stopped and got lunch at Herbivore: Earthly Grill. Another vegan restaurant on my must-go list. 

Their menu was overwhelming! So many choices! My mom and I probably took at least 20 minutes to finally decide on what we wanted to order. Since it was a Sunday they were serving brunch until 2 so I ended up going with a brunch item despite they’re outrageously delicious sounding lunch/dinner menu. (check out the menu here:

We also shared their ginger ale made with fresh ginger, raw agave, lemon and lime juice and sparkling water! Yum! The fresh ginger gave it a nice spice and the agave balanced it out without being too sweet. 

I ordered their Southwestern Tofu Scramble (admittedly after eyeing a few neighboring tables who ordered the same thing). ImageTofu Scramble, Chipotle salsa, Guac, House Potatoes, Black Beans and sour cream (they use Daiya products). 

It was phenomenal. The Guac was awesome and had large chunks of avocado. The potatoes were amazing! Slightly spicy with a toasty deliciousness. The salsa and tofu scramble were both excellent and packed with flavor. 

It also came with vegan blueberry cornbread. ImageYup. So good. It was a surprisingly delicious addition. I need this recipe. 

After we left with full stomachs we agreed that we definitely need to come back and try more of their extensive menu. I wish there was one in Santa Cruz. Insanely good, approachable vegan food. 

Then it was time to stop by Cinnaholic! 

ImageImageThere were so many flavors of icing and toppings I was overwhelmed. It was SO hard to pick! Thankfully the cashier was super helpful and suggested good/ popular combos. Since my brother is a huge Oreo fan we got him a traditional vanilla with oreo topping. And since it was his birthday another one with pb frosting and brownie chunk toppings, and a roll with banana frosting and blueberries. 

I went for a almond frosting and raspberries combo. ImageImageI don’t find many vegan baked goods near me so I was excited. 

However, in all honesty I still battle disordered thoughts. I think I put way more thought into eating this cinnamon roll than most people put into eating foods. i kept feeling the need to justify eating an unhealthy treat. Vegan or not. But I pushed those thoughts aside and fully enjoyed it as breakfast with my family this morning. 

Worth every bite. These seriously live up to the hype. Gooey and warm. Sweet but not too sweet. The almond raspberry combo was delicious! 

When I go back in the future I want to try one with blackberry frosting. Sounds so good! 

As you can tell my brother also enjoyed his: ImageAnd no he didn’t eat all 3 at once. Haha! 

Even though he’s reluctant to admit enjoying vegan foods (yup. he’s “one of those” lol) he did love it. 

We also got the chance to visit the Republic of V (new all vegan grocery store in Berkeley, CA) and Lush Cosmetics. ImageImageImage

These were some of my vegan goodies I picked up on our day adventures. I’m finally trying out a dry shampoo bar from Lush after hearing great things! I also picked up some charity pot lotion, which feels amazing on my skin. It makes my skin super soft and smooth and feels awesome. It also smells great without fragrances and artificial ingredients. I picked up some tahini on sale at Republic of V and superfood fudge spread after sampling it at the store. So good! I’m thinking it will be delicious with some fresh fruit. Image


I also picked up a new Hurraw chapstick (I love their chapstick)! The grapefruit smells awesome. I already love it! And a very cute vegan pin to add to my backpack pin collection. ImageIt was an awesome day! I definitely see another Berkeley trip in the near future!