Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes with Kiwi & Clementines

Last night, I had a craving for vegan waffles. I don’t have a waffle-maker, but I could whip up some pancakes! However, I was lacking blueberries for my signature vegan blueberry pancakes. So I thought I’d add in some cinnamon.

Then I saw my bag of clementines and thought, why not? Below the clementines was a can of pumpkin I’d been meaning to use to make my popular vegan pumpkin bite cookies. Pumpkin and clementine sounded like a pretty good combo to me.

I added the kiwi in last minute because kiwi and clementine go very well together. The result was sinfully delicious, and my taste buds were so pleased that I thought outside the box!

I also used generic gluten-free flour for this recipe, which replaces regular flour 1:1.

vegan pancakes

Ingredients:

1 c flour, 3 tsp baking soda, 3 tsp cinnamon, 3 Tbsp applesauce, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 can pumpkin, 1/3 c maple syrup (or sugar/sweetener alternative), 2 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil), 1/2 c water (or as needed for pancake batter consistency), 3 peeled clementines, 1 peeled kiwi, dash each of: nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger

Makes:

6 medium pancakes (I ate them all)

Directions:

1. Whip everything except the fruit together. Add additional flour or water as needed to get the pancake batter consistency.

2. Coat a griddle in coconut oil. Plop the batter blobs on there once the coconut oil is melted.

3. Cook each pancake on low-medium heat. You may have to press down on them with the flipper to make sure they cook all the way through.

4. Arrange the clementine slices and cut up kiwi on the pancake stack. I recommend squeezing some of the fruit juice over top of the pancakes, too!

5. Top with maple syrup, coconut whip and/or almond butter.

6. Serve, eat, enjoy!

20 Ways I’ve Smiled & Stayed Sane Since Trump Happened

The week after the election, I cried non-stop. I cried for my gay friends and black friends; I cried for women and children and the poor and handicapped. I cried for the environment. I cried for my Latino friends and Muslim friends. I cried for the man I met from Iraq.

I cried on my walk to work. I cried at work. I cried on my lunch break. At the end of each day, I pounded my fists into my bed out of despair. I had no appetite. When I caught myself in a chair collapsing from exhaustion, I said, “Fuck this.” And then I changed tactics.

I needed to let myself have my feelings, just like everyone else who was processing the results in their own way–many in a similar fashion. And then I needed to get on with my life instead of letting a government I don’t agree with suck me dry of my passion for living.

I began to bring joy and peace back into my life, and this is how I did it:

 1. Girl Power Songs

Including but not limited to: “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson and “This Is My Fight Song” produced by Elizabeth Banks for the Democratic National Convention. These and others were listened to on repeatrepeatrepeat.

 2. Dancing to Said Girl Power Songs

 3. Singing

I looked in the mirror and sang “I Won’t Give Up On Us” by Jason Mraz. I sang it to America and I sang it to the world until I believed it.

 4. Creativity

I poured myself into my artistic talents, writing and acting as much as possible.

 5. Social Media Moratorium

I took a break from social media, because I just couldn’t stand all the fighting.

 6. Conversations with Conservatives

I had verbal discussions, not arguments, with Trump supporters because I needed to understand. I wanted to believe that people I loved who supported a man who was so vehemently hateful were not hateful themselves.

And I do. I really do believe that this world is full of more love than hate, and I am grateful to my conservative friends for showing me that.

 7. Nature

I went into the mountains for a week.

 8. Dogs

I signed on Instagram only to follow funny dog accounts. If you’re in need of suggestions, I am an avid fan of @dogsbeingbasic, @itsdougthepug and @bark. I also hugged every dog that came into the vet clinic. They were living their lives happily despite who was President, and I knew I could, too. Thanks, canines of the world.

 9. SNL

It is 100% biased and has been 100% hilarious.

 10. The Kindness of Strangers

I have been very keyed into my surroundings. When a homeless man helped a blind woman off the bus, I smiled and cried happy tears and it gave me hope.

 11. Change of Residency

I was living in Washington but registered in Florida and didn’t need a new license until 2021. I don’t drive out west. Florida is a swing state for elections. I didn’t have $89 lying around. All very good reasons to not switch my residency over.

But I wanted to be able to say yes to canvassers who ask me if I am registered to vote in Washington, so that I can sign petitions to help the homeless and save the bees. And Washington is finally a place where I feel like I’m meant to be. So I saved up and got a hideous new photo taken for a WA driver’s license and registered to vote in the Evergreen State.

 12. Marches

I joined the Women’s March. I will be marching for Black Lives Matter and Science. I make uplifting signs and I display them in my bedroom window.

 13. Baths

I’ve never taken so many baths. Magnesium flakes are glorious.

 14. I Started Saying “No”

Some people need to vent constantly about the state of the world, but I enter into a downward spiral when I’m surrounded by repeated negativity. So I’ve learned to politely say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about that now.”

 15. Good Things

I remember that there is still so much beauty surrounding us, and I make a point to reflect on it.

 16. Meaningful Relationships

I threw myself into maintaining friendships that mean the most to me.

 17. Health Care

I saved up for insurance and addressed burgeoning health concerns I’d neglected before. I tackled doctor visits at the beginning of the year to protect myself in case my plan was suddenly unavailable to me.

 18. Massage

I treated myself to a massage because dammit, I deserved it.

 19. Delayed Filing Taxes

Normally, I do my taxes in January. But I had a lot to learn about self-employment tax this year. And I needed to focus on myself before I focused on my taxes. So I set a personal record by waiting until mid-March to file.

 20. Goodwill Closet

I bought myself some dresses at Goodwill so that I could feel sexy. Yes, sexy.

The U.S. government’s attack on arts and science and basic human rights has been a personal attack on my careers and my fundamental beliefs. In many ways, Donald Trump has shaken awake the hibernating souls who never knew what they believed in but now are budding activists.

I will not bury my head in the sand, but I will take care of myself. If I forget to look after me, then how can I help the rest of the world? I’ve learned that there is a dotted line between ignorance and knowledge. As an empath, I remain informed, but I don’t have to know everything. And no matter what I do or do not know, I won’t stop standing up for what I believe in.

 

I Met a Man from Iraq

On the evening of Tuesday, November 7, 2016, I flew from Idaho to Washington. In the airport terminal, I stopped at a burrito bar. It was there that I met a man from Iraq.

I made small talk with the man taking my order. He asked where I was from, where I was heading. Friendly and bright-eyed, he asked who I thought was going to win the election. I was confident a racist, xenophobic misogynist would not be taking the presidential oath in January, so we didn’t talk much more about politics.

I asked him how he liked living in Idaho. He said he hadn’t been here long, but it was suiting him fine.

“Oh, where did you move from?” I asked innocently.

He looked at me and said, “I’m from Iraq.”

A woman in a hijab emerged from the kitchen to begin fixing my burrito.

In that moment, I fumbled for words. I wanted to pour my heart out to them, to offer my sincerest apologies for all the hate–so much hate–being spewed in their direction. I wanted to ask them what it was like to live in Iraq, what it was like to listen to the news in America, what it was like to pass through airport security every day. I wanted to know how they came to run a burrito business and what were their hopes and dreams. I wanted to tell them I was sorry for the state of the world.

I wished to reach over the counter and take that man’s hands in mine and tell him I would fight for him. I wanted to look that woman in the eyes and tell her she was beautiful and so was her hijab.

Instead, hoping my enthusiasm would show I didn’t care where they came from, I uttered, “Oh, wow, that’s cool!”

Then I asked the man, “How did you choose Idaho?”

He shrugged and said, “It’s quiet out here in the middle of nowhere.”

I gave the couple a generous tip.

Early in the morning of November 8, 2016, I cried for the man and woman I met at a burrito bar.

I have wished countless times since then that I could rewind the clock and speak my thoughts aloud. Silence and inactivity are a crutch for the weak, confused and insecure. Fear paralyzes us and accomplishes nothing. Hate begets hate begets hate.

I cannot time travel, but I can work for the future. I will not stop fighting, and America, I hope you won’t either.

 

29 Things That Turn Me On A.K.A. Guide for How to Steal My Heart

Sorry, boys. This is not a guide for how to get in my pants. (Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad.) It is, however, a window of opportunity for you to learn the ropes to dating me. Even though you probably weren’t wondering. But if you were.

Or really, just for the sake of hilarity and complete honesty, here is a list of qualities I find attractive. Rated PG:

 1. Politeness

If a date with a guy shows him being rude to the wait staff, then bye, see ya, peace.

 2. Good communication

Most men fail at this. I’m holding out for the one who skews the statistics.

 3. Pants that fit

Enough with the saggy bottom jeans. How do they even stay on?? HOW!?

 4. Healthy cuticles

My eyes tend to stray toward nail beds. If you’re barefoot, I’ll be eyeing those up, too.

 5. Musicality

If a man can play an instrument, then hubba hubba. Actually. There needn’t be a man involved. I get turned on just looking at a piano. Saxophones aren’t too shabby, either.

 6. Outgoingness

I have dated many introverts, but that doesn’t mean they stray from a challenge. (They dated me, after all.)

 7. Good with kids

A guy who goes beyond making an effort and actually enjoys playing with children is a winner in my book.

 8. Animal-lover

If a man’s best friend is his dog, and especially if that dog is a Pit Bull, then sign me up.

 9. Close to family

I get all warm and fuzzy when a guy is affectionate with his family and talks with them often.

 10. Flannel 

Those flannel button ups? Yes, please.

 11.  Good cook

Not gonna lie, if you’re a beast in the kitchen, you’ve stolen half my heart. (Food owns rights to the other half.)

12. Humor

I can’t date you if you don’t make me laugh. A lot. End of story.

 13. Unique laugh

And also, it is imperative that the guy finds me funny and that I make him laugh out loud and that he has a really genuine (maybe even obnoxious) laugh. Ugh. I love laughter so much. Maybe I should just date laughter…

 14. Smile

Speaking of genuine, a genuine smile is a must. When we take photos together, show your teeth.

 15. Respect

Damn straight.

 16. Brown hair

I must be attracted to this because all the guys I’ve dated have had brown hair. I also like green eyes or brown eyes. These physical traits are not make or break, but in keeping with full disclosure, you should know your chances can be improved.

Addendum to the brown hair: I also enjoy running my fingers through my man’s hair (possibly as encouragement for my own head scratches). So, I gravitate toward hair that can make both of our dreams come true. There have been exceptions.

 17. Activism

It’s a huge turn-on when men stand up for the rights of others. Especially women and children.

 18. Wait for the kiss

Don’t kiss me on the first date. Not even if I’m salivating in anticipation. And when you do decide to kiss me, make sure I want it out of respect and also to avoid this.

 19. Get to know my friends and family

Men who make little to no effort to know my friends and family will never, ever last. Those people are my everything.

 20. Outdoorsmen

I’m sorry if you expected us to spend all of our dates snuggled indoors watching Netflix. While this is delightful, let’s save this for the conclusion of a long day hiking in the mountains. Or after a day saving handicapped goats. I’m open to suggestions.

 21. Surprises

In case you’re in need of suggestions, I will happily drop hints for you.

 22. Adventures

I will always choose an adventure over something tangible. Men who get this about me will go far.

 23. Sensitivity

I like my men emotional. I myself am very sensitive, and it means a lot that even if my feelings don’t make sense, my man understands. Also, periods suck. Compassion during the menses, while difficult, is quite charming.

 24. Self-control

This can be exhibited in many ways. Sobriety is an obvious head-turner for me, but a rare trait in this day and age. What is even more of a turn-on is a man who knows when to rein it in.

 25. Celebrating accomplishments

I sincerely celebrate other people’s accomplishments like they’re my own, and I wish for my partner to similarly partake in my own happy dances.

 26. Dance with me

Speaking of dancing, for God’s sake, dance a slow dance with me. My heart will melt and we will be soulmates henceforth.

27. Nice to old people

I really, really like old people. If a guy goes out of his way to help an elderly person cross the street, there’s a 98 percent chance I’ll propose to him right then and there.

28. Non-smoker

Non-negotiable.

 29. Honesty

Above all else, be honest.

Alright, your turn. Ladies and gents, what turns you on in a significant other? Share in the comments below. PG please. PG.

Exciting Book News!

In case you missed the original announcement:

I’M WRITING A BOOK ON TURTLES!

Untitled design (2)

In case you missed the most recent announcement:

MY BOOK ON TURTLES IS GOING TO HAVE 3 VERSIONS!

1. Kids (lots of pictures)

2. Adult (lots of text)

3. E-book

Since second grade, I have wanted to be a writer and work with animals. It is possible to have many dreams and follow them all with hard work and perseverance–like a turtle!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next announcement in about a month when the books are released!

As always, thanks for supporting my dreams. Now, go follow yours!

In a World Full of Sorrow, I’m Writing to Make People Smile

I’ve written over 400 articles for Wide Open Pets since I started with them a year ago. It began as merely an opportunity for me to merge two of my passions and skills–writing and animals. But it’s turned into so much more.

The world is full of some horrible news. My job is to put a smile on people’s faces with articles like these:

 1. Texas Goldfish with Swim Bladder Disease Gets Little Wheelchair and the Internet Cannot Handle

2. 11 Chicken Shaming Pics That Aptly Characterize Farm Life

3. The Meaning Behind the Honey Bee Waggle Dance

4. 10 Handicapped Pets on Wheels That Will Steal Your Heart

5. Meet Princess Aurora, Who Is Basically a Fluffy Cloud

6. Peanut Butter Dog Photographer to Release New Book with Just Rescued Pit Bulls

7. 18 Dogs in Tuxedos and the Hashtags That Perfectly Describe Them

8. 14 Times #StraytoBae Reminded Us of the Perfect Relationship

9. Holiday Pets: 26 Awkward Family Christmas Photos

10. Trending on Twitter: Farming Pickup Lines with Pet References

11. Psychologist Says Dogs May Dream About Their Owners; Twitter Hilariously Responds

Find meaning in everything that you do. And also, animals are the greatest.

On Unrequited Love: The Art of Break-Ups From the Mouth of a Dumpee

When I commit–to anything–I give it my everything. I will nurture a relationship even as it is being dragged under, spluttering, drowning. I will throw it a life raft time and again, resuscitating it even when I can feel, deep down, that the river is going to win.

When I fall, I fall hard. My heart is an urn, filling with memories. And when it’s knocked down, each beat shatters the ceramic further, fissures growing into chasms until my storage of recollections explodes painfully before me.

I consider myself a strong, confident and independent woman. And while I’m proud to maintain my independence in a relationship, I still crumble in love. But when you give of yourself entirely to something, someone…how can you not?

I am two for three when it comes to unrequited love. I have an excellent track record of being the one who gets dumped in a relationship. And it has been over a decade since a man told me he loved me.

For so long, this had me questioning: Am I unlovable?

One of my first relationships saw an incredibly painful break-up. A few months after we started dating, I told him I loved him. But, notorious for my bad timing, I sobbed it to him to clarify a misunderstanding–that misunderstanding being why I was acting so weird.

I shouted, truthfully: “It’s because I’m in love with you!”

I wasn’t even in love with me at that moment, but I didn’t anticipate having to spend the next year holding back my feelings.

In whispers, I repeated my profession of love to him only three more times in our relationship. “You know I love you, right?” I once said. “I know,” he responded.

He knew.

And I knew.

You can’t force love.

And you can’t wait forever.

When I called him over one evening to talk, seeing our relationship disintegrate before my eyes, fearing its demise, the night ended with me punching my concrete wall repeatedly. I wanted to break something to counter my breaking heart. But the wall wouldn’t break.

We were both crying, but he was the only one who could see any practicality at that point, that our tears were only sucking us dry. He said I was amazing and beautiful, but we were just too different.

“Tell me it will be okay,” I pleaded.

And he did. He grabbed my shoulders and told me I would get through this, that I would be okay. And then he stood to leave.

But it was past midnight. I wasn’t ready to be alone with myself in a cramped apartment with a wall that wouldn’t break. I wasn’t ready to be alone with the memories of us and the hurt of that night that overshadowed any promise of tomorrow. So I ran.

I sprinted barefoot in forty degree weather down the street in my sketchy neighborhood. I ran from my pain and the puddles of my tears. I ran from the truth and I ran from him.

But he followed me. Goddammit, he wouldn’t let me run.

He walked me back to my apartment and made me promise to stay inside. And because I could see I was hurting him, I promised. I don’t break my promises.

I am an emotional, sensitive and empathetic person, but my pain blinded me to his.

I fight endlessly for my relationships because I believe so strongly in change, compromise, communication and second chances. But I’ve realized another reason I hang on so tightly.

I know heartbreak. I have felt it so deeply that it creates a hole in my chest. It has consumed me so much that I forget to take care of myself. Break-ups are a part of life. And though I always come out stronger, I would never wish heartache upon anyone.

Because of this, I would rather have my heart broken than break someone else’s.

But pain can make us selfish. Yes, the experience of heartbreak is unique for everyone but it is not unique to everyone.

I assumed that when I closed my door and he got in his car for the long drive home, his tears had stopped coming. I assumed that while I was wailing, he was watching the stars through his window, relieved. I assumed that when I dialed my friend to tell her I needed her, he was thinking of what time he had to get up in the morning for work.

Because he never loved me. So how could he be hurting just the same?

While I never fully knew the journey he went through to heal, or how long it took him to get over me, I do know his tears didn’t stop just then.

We didn’t talk much after that night. I try to be friends with my exes; it doesn’t always work out. But he did send a message a few days later to make sure I was okay, in the same breath admitting that he was still crying.

He’ll never know how that one message helped me, not just then, but in future relationships. I’ve never understood why a man doesn’t see that I’m worth fighting for, but at least I know that I am not unlovable. He didn’t love me in the same way I loved him, but he sure as hell cared about me.

Wherever he is, I hope he has found someone worth fighting for.

And one day, I’ll find someone who wants to fight for me.

**Please Note: Some changes have been made in courtesy of anonymity.

never stop dreaming. never stop doing.