Favorite Vegan Blueberry Muffins!

I’ve recently been trying a lot of vegan recipes and I am amazed out how great they have tasted! A lot of people hear vegan and are immediately turned off. The truth is, vegan can be delicious! This is especially true when it comes to sweet treats! Check out my favorite vegan blueberry muffins!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar or artificial sweetener

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup soy milk

1/4 cup oil

1 cup blueberries

Sprinkle of chocolate chips (optional)

Combine all ingredients and evenly distribute into 6 muffins tins. Top with chocolate chips if you choose. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked completely through.

And there it is! I made a batch of these the other day and they were gone sooner than I care to admit. Let me know if you try this recipe and how you like them!

Exciting news coming up this weekend!

Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

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5 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

I’ve been blogging on and off for years now. I’ve had several blogs and a lot of opportunity to speak my mind. Even though i’ve had one blog or another in the last several years, I still consider myself to be a novice. I know a few tricks of the trade, but I’m still learning. And there are ALWAYS new things to be learned (especially when it comes to being a successful blogger) Sometimes I’ll read other blogger’s articles on how to have successful blogs and I find it really helpful. Sometimes…I find it not so helpful. I didn’t want to write a generic list so I’m speaking from the heart. Here’s 5 things i’ve learned about blogging for other like-minded people who want to grow their blogs.

ย You need to do your own thing

Blogging is EXTREMELY competitive in the sense that there are so many of us trying to share the same recipes and become a go-to for our respective audiences.ย  It can be hard nowadays to get your blog shared with new people. This is why it’s so important to be uniquely you! Everyone is cranking out articles that they think others will want to see. Sure, you want to appeal to your audience, but you don’t want to give up your style and personality in the process. I almost didn’t write this blog because I was worried I’d be contradicting myself. However, I think this will really help a lot of people and it’s something that I’ve found very interesting of late. I’m amazed at how much more successful bloggers are when they stay themselves instead of putting up a front. Let your hair down…be YOU! Who cares what others are doing? Somewhere out there is someone who will like your blog just because you’re an awesomesauce and bloggerific! Ugh…I’m such a dork. ๐Ÿ˜›

It makes everything more excitingย ย 

Before I started blogging, I would sit on my couch all day doing nothing (I mean…I still do somethings because I’m human). Now, I actively try and get up and do something interesting so that I have something fun to write about and a memory that I’ll love to read about in the future! Now, a trip to the store to pick up discounted cupcake decorations is something fun I can photograph and share with you guys! Now, I can remember exactly what my son is like a 9 months old. I can’t wait to look back on my life and remember everything so clearly. In the meantime, I’m going keep living exciting adventures and writing about how much fun we’re having!

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Blogging helps people

I know this from my own experience. I read a lot of blogs and there have been so many that have helped me through hard times. Not just that, they have been with me through happy times too, and have provided me with a lot of entertainment. Bloggers share their worlds with you and open their hearts to their readers. Sometimes, that can really touch a person and speak to them on a personal level. I’ve been reading some blogs on anxiety and it’s really incredible how much better it makes me feel knowing that I’m not the only one who’s going through those sorts of things. Blogger also helps the blogger! It provides stress release and a way to express yourself. I know, for me, it’s helped me get past a lot of things and feel like my slate has been wiped clean. I love blogging- it’s so therapeutic!

Read one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers here.

It’s a bit of a puzzle

Using the right keywords, tags, and topics…

Writing content that’s perfect for your niche…

Connecting with people in the most efficient way…

SEO…

Looking at stats and figuring out what works and what doesn’t…

These are all things that make up the puzzle of blogging. And you know what?! It’s actually REALLY FUN!

You know sometimes you do a task and afterward you feel really accomplished? That’s how blogging makes me feel. It’s fun to figure out what you guys like to read and seeing where you all come from! It makes me heart happy. โค ๐Ÿ™‚

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It connects you with some awesome people

There are a few people who have left comments and have followed me on my social media sites. I LOVE getting to chat with those people and seeing more about their lives. Blogging is really a chance to meet new friends and connections that will last a lifetime. Isn’t it amazing that we have a chance to share our lives with the world, and people respond and send their love? I thinks that’s a really incredible thing.

This week’s questions:

  • What do you love/hate about blogging?
  • What’s your niche?
  • How do you connect with other bloggers/readers?

~Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic Attack On Valentine’s Day

Hi everyone! So sorry I didn’t post on Wednesday! We have a lot going on here in our little nest! More on all the exciting things we’re doing in future blog posts…

So, I look forward to Valentine’s day every single year. Every since I was little, I’ve always loved Valentine’s day!

I know what you’re probably thinking, “It’s because you HAVE someone!”

So not true! While I do love to celebrate my relationship with my husband, I also love Valentine’s day for other reasons.

Isn’t it a wonderful thing that we can have a day where we celebrate love? Sure, love should be a part of your daily lives, but I think it’s nice to have a day where we take a step back and acknowledge everything we have.

You could celebrate a relationship with a significant other, your relationship with your parents, your love for your fur-babies, or just that love in general exists. Plus, everything is pink, red, white, and just all around pretty which I love! I’m such a girly girl…

I used to love making my own Valentine’s mailbox at school and getting cards and candy from my classmates. I took picking my own Valentine’s very seriously, and I still do today as an almost 27 year old woman. BECAUSE I’M AN ADULT…THAT’S WHY!

This is beside the point, but it’s something that I always want to say around Valentine’s day when all the haters come out.

I wanted to write this post to share with you what happened to me on Valentine’s day and how our evening ended up in the end.

Like I said, I always look forward to February 14th. So, naturally, I had really been excited since it was coming up!

We took a Valentine’s Day picture before my husband went to work that day.

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Can you tell we’re tired? Flynn is cutting two teeth right now and waking up a lot in the middle of the night.

On Valentine’s Day…you get Valentine’s toast.

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If you’re a fan of The Office, you’ll like my Valentine to Zack…

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So do I, Pam…So do I.

Anyway, the day was going well and I was so excited for going out that night! We were planning on going to the Valentine’s Cabaret that my husband’s students were putting on. However, things didn’t go as planned…

After work that day, I started feeling kind of anxious. I instantly knew that this was going to be bad.

It happened like it always does: heart starts beating faster, cold sweats, feeling nauseous…

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

I breathed in and out trying to make it go away, but I just couldn’t stop the inevitable.

Panic attacks are horrible and they happen sometimes for no reason. I had friends going to this party and had to text everyone (including our babysitter) that the night was a no-go.

My husband was really understanding and we ended up having a wonderful evening. Actually, everyone was really understanding. I really love that more people are starting to take mental health seriously now.

We watched Gilmore girls, drank some hot chocolate, and got one of our favorite dinners!

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YUM! right?!

Even though I was feeling bad, we ended up having a really nice night as a family.

Zack had a very “dad life” moment at one point. ๐Ÿ˜›

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We even had some fancy chocolate covered strawberries!

This point of this blog is to remind you that panic attacks don’t have to ruin all the fun. Sometimes they make you change your plans, but don’t let that ruin anything for you. Pick yourself back up and find a way to get through it.

Would I have loved to have done our original plans? Of course! But the important thing is that I can say my Valentine’s Day wasn’t ruined by my panic attack.

You can let them consume you or you can work through them. The choice is yours.

Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

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Weekly Recap: Surprise Party, Dream Job, & Baby Turns 9 Months Old

Welcome back, everyone! Glad you have you on my little corner of the internet again. Last week, it felt like nothing interesting happened. However, this week was a WHOLE other experience! I had a lot of fun and had some wonderful things happen to me!

Where to start? How about here: I GOT MY DREAM JOB!

I am now working as a professional blogger! I get to work from home and take care of my son while working part time…WRITING FOR A LIVING! I mean, come on! That’s the dream! I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity. My boss is a very kind person and I think we’re going to work well together. It’s really one of those moments where you can’t believe that something is happening to you. I’m just so grateful- I can’t stop saying that over and over again to myself. I almost didn’t apply for this job because there were so many applicants, but something inside me said I should go for it. And I’m so glad that I did!

In other news, my baby turned 9 MONTHS OLD THIS WEEK! Can you believe it? I certainly can’t! So far, getting these monthly pictures has been a breeze. This month, well…it was a different story. These were the best one we could get (still love them!)

Isn’t he just the cutest? I could just eat that little nugget up!

Also, I love how he’s like, “Holy crap, mom! It’s a bear!”

Not only did he turn nine months old, he also got his first tooth! It’s bothering him so much but we’ve found a product that really works for him. I’ll share that with you in my nine month update post for baby Flynn!

One of my favorite things that happened this week was that my husband had his 29th birthday! He says he feels old now. ๐Ÿ˜›

My husband, Zack, is a professor at a college where we live and his students and I planned a little surprise for him AT 5:00 right outside his office. We had a secret Facebook group and everything, you guys! STEALTHY!!!

Everyone dressed just like Zack, backward baseball caps and flannel shirts. It was adorable and it meant so much to Zack! You can just see it on his face!

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It was a really great moment when he realized just how many of his students were there to celebrate with him! I brought cake but I didn’t get a picture of it because I’m a bad blogger and all I could think was, “CAKE IN BELLY!!!”

The kids also made him a “Dr. Pepper Cake” since it basically runs in his veins.

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I surprised him by giving him the game “Horizon Zero Dawn” that everyone’s been talking about lately. He was really excited…in fact…guess what he’s doing right now as I type this blog…

Flynn saw him playing it earlier and wanted in the action.

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Is that not the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?! I love my boys.

That night, I made garlic butter and herb spaghetti, brown sugar brussel sprouts, and roasted veggies. The pasta is his favorite and we always have it on his birthday!

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YUUUUM! And, honestly, so so so so so bad for you. ๐Ÿ˜› But it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, right?

Here are some other yummy/healthier foods we had to eat this week:

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I loved that skinny caramel macchiato. It was the perfect pick me up!

This week I also had a girl’s craft time with one of my besties, Morgan! She’s that adorable little redhead in the birthday pictures above! We’re in the progress of paining our Disney shoes! I’m doing snow white shoes and she’s making her shoes look like Belle! I’ll post the final picture when I finish them and link you to my Etsy store if you’re interested in purchasing some!

Morgan is such a sincere person and I’m so glad that we have become friends. She had a rough day yesterday and I’m glad that we could do some crafting to de-stress a little. Everyone send her some love! She’s such a sweetheart! โค

I also did a little early Valentine’s day craft for Zack to put in his office.

I had a seriously wonderful week. Everything went so well and was so lovely. Like I said, I’m just so grateful!

I even got some fresh flowers this week! They make everything better, don’t they?

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Thanks for visiting my blog today! I hope you enjoyed reading this recap post as much as I enjoyed writing it! I’ll see you all on Wednesday. Oh! Make sure to follow me on social media and let me know you came from the blog! I’d love to hear from you!

Instagram & Twitter: ellenvandever

Facebook: Millennial Mama Bird

Etsy: Quirky Girl Giftshop

Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

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Our 10 Year (So Far) Love Story

Even from the very beginning, he was a gentleman. He introduced himself to me and we hit it off right away.

A few months earlier, I had seen him in a concert production of Sweeney Todd and developed a HUGE crush on him. I remember thinking, “he’s too attractive to be a nice guy. It would be too good to be true.”

Cut to the day we started dating. He asked me to be his girlfriend in the light booth of our Alma Mater. Then, and i’ll never forget this, he said, “if i lean over and kiss you right now, are you gonna slap me?” I tease him all the time about that. It’s so adorable. That’s one of my favorite memories of Zack. And it’s so true to his character- always wanting what makes other people comfortable and being super considerate.

 

We started dating and it was clear pretty quickly that this thing was going to stick. Here’s Wednesday Adams and Repair Man Man Man at the Halloween improv show!

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I had a lot of fun digging all of these photos up…I think my husband will get a kick out of them too!

I’ll never forget the way I KNEW Zack was the one. It was so simple- we were meant to be together and we didn’t care what anyone else thought. Some people said, “date around before you commit.” We didn’t care, we were in love.

We dated the entire time we were in college and had the time of our lives! Always sticking together through thick and thin. And sweet Zack even let me get a puppy…yeah…I kind of wore him down.

Our sweet Willow:

On the night of my senior show in college (all Theatre majors were required to put on a show as their capstone), he gave me the surprise of my life by popping the question! Of course I said YES!

You can watch the proposal here on Youtube.

He proposed to me in the Theatre I grew up in. All of my siblings went to the same college as I did and I had practically lived there! I counted once, I saw 27 different shows in that Theatre and attended almost every performance. It’s a big part of why I love theatre today, and my husband knew that.

If you can’t hear him, he says,

“Over here is where we met.”

“Up there is where we had our first kiss.”

“But this is the one you’re really going to remember.”

SWOON!!!! โค โค โค Am I right, ladies?!

Our engagement shoot…

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Gosh, I love that man. And that puppy…

Our wedding was beautiful. It was very DIY and EXACTLY what I wanted (thank you to everyone that helped make that a reality!).

It was truly the most perfect day.

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Our college professor performed the ceremony for us. It meant so much since he’s Zack’s mentor.

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Can you guess where we honeymooned? We HAD A BLAST!!!

I have never eaten so much as I did on that trip. I mean, LORD! Those Disney meal plans act like you’re crossing the Desert the way they load you up. NOT MAD ABOUT IT!

My favorite ride is The Haunted Mansion.

Zack’s favorite ride is Space Mountain.

Soon after we got married, we moved to Tallahassee for Zack to attend Grad School for Technical Design for Theatre at FSU. That’s where we met our best friend Rada and got our friendship tattoos.

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We stayed there and had the time of our lives for three years. While we don’t live in the same place anymore, we still talk to Rada all the time! He’s a part of our family!

Once Zack was done with Grad school, he got a job in the North Georgia Mountains as a Professor of Technical Theatre. We love it here. Everything moves a little bit slower and everyone is kind. We’re just not city people and we’re ok with that.

Suddenly, our lives changed. WE GOT PREGNANT!

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Nine months later and our beautiful baby boy, Flynn, entered the world.

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I didn’t think I could love Zack any more, and then I saw him with our son. Zack is an amazing father and husband. He is always working his butt off and continues to be our hero every single day!

Flynn is constantly saying, “DADA!”, and lights up when Zack walks into the room.

It was definitely hard when we were sleep deprived, but we worked as a team and it made us even closer together to learn how to take care of our little one.

Now, we are one small happy family and we feel so grateful and blessed.

It’s an amazing thing to meet your best friend. And when your best friend turns out to be your future husband, that makes it even better!

Zack, I love you. You, Flynn, and Willow are my everything.

I love forward to many more happy days, pasta nights, Flynn laughs, family hikes, Holidays, homes, and years with you. Thank you for everything you do for us. I can sum you up three words….

Awesomesauce

Caring

Badass

AWESOMESAUCE CARING BADASS…NEW BAND NAME I CALL IT!

Ellen ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Weekly Recap: Movie Star Grandmother & Awesome Recipes!

I’ll be honest…this week seemed LONG! My husband and I couldn’t wait until the weekend! However, it wasn’t all bad! In fact, there were some pretty awesome moments!

My grandmother (Meemaw), had her 92nd birthday this week. She has been a HUGE part of my life and I love her so much! I have so many memories growing up of doing fun things with her. My favorite memory is standing on the piano bench as a little girl, and Meemaw playing my favorite songs on the piano while I sang along.

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She is hilarious, sweet, kind, and talented. She is my grandmother…she is a big part of who I am today.

And doesn’t she look like a movie star?!

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That’s on of my favorite photos of her.

Happy Birthday, Meemaw!

In other news, I made some really delicious and healthy recipes this week! They were both really easy and fairly quick. I really enjoyed making these with my husband and we definitely enjoyed eating them!

Check them out:

Weight Watchers Broccoli Mac and Cheese

You can find the recipe and all the points (if you’re using the program) here.

 

Here is another DELICIOUS recipe, and probably my favorite thing we ate this week:

Weight Watchers Lasagna Soup

Here are the recipe and points.

Follow me @ellenvandever on Instagram to see everything we make and all our fun adventures!

And that’s the blog for this week! Super simple and short. I’m sorry about that, but next week will be FILLED with fun stuff! I hope you enjoy the recipes! If you try them out, let me know what you think of them!

Have a wonderful week and I’ll talk you guys on Wednesday!

Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

The Girl With The Sunflower Tattoo

Have you ever met someone who you instantly clicked with? Sometimes you meet a person and the conversation is so effortless, and it seems like you’ve known them forever.

That’s how I met mine and my husband’s best friend, Rada.

The three of us hit it off right away and we were inseparable…

That sounds like someone died or something. Let me explain.

We lived in Tallahassee for three years while my husband attended FSU for Grad School. Soon after we moved there, we met Rada and our friendship began. Now, my husband and I live in the North Georgia mountains and Rada lived in Rhode Island for his work.

It’s hard being away from each other, but technology makes it a lot easier. I can’t tell you the number of texts, phone calls, skype sessions, and facebook tags we’ve had all together. We even have a secret facebook group for things we think the others will find funny. Shoot…guess the secrets out now. Sorry guys.

The point is: there are people that come into your life to change it for the better- that’s definitely what Rada has done for us. Some friendships follow you forever and rock you to your very core- those friendships are important.

Anyway, this story is one that I’ve wanted to write down for a long time. The story of our friendship tattoos.

Our time in Tallahassee was coming to an end and I was really feeling the time ticking down. The three of us were seriously insperatable for three years and that special time was about to end. IT’S THE END OF AN ERA!!!! I never doubted that our friendship would extend beyond Tallahassee- I wasn’t worried about that at all. But when you’re living your life, happy and content, and then you know things are going to change- well, that’s enough the make anyone anxious. Well, maybe not anyone…but me…definitely.

I remember the day well, actually. Zack and I were sitting on the couch watching tv, and Rada walked in (he had his own garage door opener, of course). Rada immediately headed to the fridge and started searching for a snack.

Side note: that’s how you know you have real friendship. When the other person searches through your fridge without having to ask for your permission. Who knew refrigerators were the true test of friendship? ๐Ÿ˜›

Before this day, I had only dabbled with the idea of getting a tattoo. My husband, Zack, always says that you should have your idea for a tattoo and be thinking about it for at least a year before you get it done. Well…I had at least been thinking that I might want one…but I wasn’t sure what.

All the sudden, the idea struck me- friendship tattoos! Sure, it’s a little cheesy but who cares, right?!

I brought it up to the boys and they looked at me like I was crazy. I’m pretty sure they thought I had been abducted by aliens and was replaced with an Ellen bot. I’m notoriously scared of needles and blood so they had every right to give me that look.

When I described what I wanted, though, they knew I was serious.

We all bonded over Doctor Who and the three of us have always identified with Matt Smith’s doctor, Amy, and Rory. I knew I wanted something to represent our friendship and this seemed like the perfect way to do it!

The idea of being able to look down at my wrist and see my tattoo when I was missing Rada (or my husband if he’s ever away) was a lovely thought. I knew I could get through the pain for that. Plus, sunflowers are my favorite flower and hold another special meaning for me- maybe I’ll write more on that at a later time.

We did a lot of research about places in the area and found somewhere with really good reviews. We settled on “The Iron Inkwell”. That ended up being a great choice because Lacy was really nice and talented. She listened to everything we wanted and made it a reality!

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So, what do our tattoos symbolize?

Mine: Amy’s Sunflowers that Vincent paints for her

Zack: Rory’sย centurion helmet (he did wait for her all that time…so romantic just like my hubby!)

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Rada: A tardis and around his wrist it says, “Come along Ponds”

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I hope any Doctor Who fans are geeking out right now…just like we did!

The boys made me go first in case I was going to wimp out on them. I don’t blame them at all for that! And honestly, I’m glad I went first- less time to freak myself out.

 

Strangely, I don’t think there are any pictures of me getting my tattoo. There is, however, a video of me cursing a lot…and I mean…A LOT!

I remember being scared to tell people I got a tattoo. I knew my family would be shocked and I was worried they would think it was a terrible idea.

My husband reminded me that sometimes you just have to do what you feel is right for you, and I’m so glad that I did!

After all was said and done, my friends and family thought it was pretty badass of me and I even inspired my mother to get a tattoo that she had wanted.

In the past few years, I’ve really learned how important it is to do what you think is right for you- as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else. Chances are, people will be impressed with your bravery and a little jealous that they don’t have the guts to go out on a line themselves. I truly hope that’s something you take away from this blog post.

Now, I have this beautiful reminder of friendship that I constantly carry around with me. Sometimes, when I’m writing, typing, working out, I’ll see my wrist and smile thinking about all the good times we had and will have in the future.

Friendships are so important and when you find one as pure and real as the one I have with these two boys, you hold onto it for dear life. I love my boys and I love our tattoos.

Rada even got a tattoo on his leg that I designed! I’ll have to get that picture from him and post it sometime.

Question for you:

1.) Who’s your best friend and how did you meet?

2.) Do you have any tattoos? What do they symbolize to you?

3.) Does your best friend raid your fridge?

More on Sunday!

Ellen ๐Ÿ™‚

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