If you’re just starting on your vegan journey, or maybe just want to eat a little bit more plant-based, this post is for you! These are some really easy vegan grocery list swaps you can make. These were all purchased from Whole Foods, but any large grocery store should have most of these items.

Vegan grocery list: For your fridge

  • Nut Milk. This is so standard these days, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding non-dairy milk options at any grocery store. If you don’t want a nut milk, try Oat Milk!
  • Sour Cream. Did you know that vegan sour cream is actually SUPER easy to make yourself with cashews and some apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in your blender? If you aren’t the DIY type, I love Tofutti for a non-dairy option. While it doesn’t taste the same as the dairy version, I think it’s great mixing up with some chipotle adobo sauce and making my own sour cream sauce!
  • Butter. There are so many non-dairy butter options available, but my favorite by far is Miyokos! You can use it as you would to spread on top of your toast in the morning, or melt in a pan before cooking your hashbrowns, etc. It’s also great for baking too!
  • Yogurt. Again, this is a super simple one to make a swap! There are cashew yogurts, almond milk yogurts, oat milk yogurts, coconut milk yogurt, honestly the list goes on and on. They come in all the same flavors that dairy yogurt does so there isn’t any reason to keep buying the one that harms our cow friends!
  • Tofu. Tofu is SO versatile. Not only is it a winner for protein and essential amino acids, it’s really awesome to blend up in a food processor and use to make creamy sauces for pasta!
  • Mayo. I was NEVER a mayonnaise fan before becomming vegan. Honestly, the stuff just grossed me out! But I have to say, the ingredients in vegan mayo do not gross me out and I’ve come to realize that sauces is where SO much flavor comes from. Vegan mayo provides a really awesome base to use for a lot of sauces over some protein bowls!

Vegan grocery list: For your pantry

  • Nutritional yeast. This is another really versatile item to definitely add to your vegan grocery list. Nutritional yeast is not only…wait for it…super nutritional, but it also has a really rich almost cheesy flavor. It’s delicious for adding on top of popcorn, on top of pastas or mixing in with sauces, adding into pestos, mixing in with tofu for “scrambled eggs”, and so much more.
  • Agave. A great natural sweetener and alternative to honey. Maple syrup is another good option, but agave has a bit more of a “honey” flavor. I love adding it in smoothies for a little extra sweetness, and it also is great in some Asian style sauces when you just need that little hint!
  • Flaxseeds. I would recommend buying them pre-ground if you don’t have a spice grinder. These are one of the best things to use in baking as an egg substitute. Just mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds with 2 tablespoons of water to sub for 1 egg. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and it will coagulate similarly to an egg and help bind your mix. Flaxseeds are also dense in fiber, omega 3s, vitamin B, and more. You can add a tablespoon to your smoothies in the morning too for a little extra kick!
  • Coconut Milk. I’m talking about canned coconut milk! This is another favorite way to make creamy sauces! Sometimes I cook rice or pasta in the coconut milk instead of water for a coconut flavor, extra nutrients and a creamy texture! When you open the can (depending how cold it has been), you may find a thicker, denser bit of coconut cream on the top. You can also scoop that out carefully, and you can use that to make your own whipped cream in a mixer!
  • Organic Sugar. It’s not very well known that non-organic sugar actually isn’t technically vegan. Regular sugar gets ground through animal bones before it makes its way into your kitchen. There’s really no way to guarantee that little flecks from the bones don’t also make their way into your kitchen! So, be sure to add this to your vegan grocery list. All sugars labeled organic (confectioners, brown sugars, coconut sugars, etc) do NOT use bones.
  • Chocolate Chips. Many grocery stores now also carry chocolate chips made with oat milk instead of cow milk. They honestly taste exactly the same, and don’t harm the cows or the planet, so that’s a win in my book! Lots of chocolate is vegan if it’s dark enough, but always double check the package ingredients for any animal products, or just look for the “vegan” symbol on the packaging.
  • Liquid Aminos. This is a great addition for any sauces that call for fish sauce! It’s great mixing in for dressings in Asian dishes. Liquid aminos are amino acids from fermented coconut sap, or from soybeans. It has a salty flavor, almost like soy sauce. Bonus that you get in some of your essential amino acids!

grocery shopping in general

Even if you’re not ready to make a switch to vegan at this point, keep your eyes out next time you go through the grocery store. Maybe walk a bit slower, and you might find there are actually TONS of vegan alternatives for you to try! Going vegan is often seen as a “limit”, your “limiting” what you can eat. Really, that’s just a frame of mind. I eat WAY more foods now that I’m vegan than I ever did previously and don’t see it as a limit at all. And for all the favorites like ice cream and sour cream, I can still buy the vegan version!

vegan grocery shopping

Learning how to set goals and achieve them does not need to be a scary thing. It does not need to be an end-of-the-year thing. And most definitely should not make you feel guilty about where you’re currently at.

Before I knew how to properly set goals, I was overwhelmed with trying to meet all the goal “criteria”. Is it measurable, achievable, blah, blah, blah. My version still uses these pillars, but in a less structured way. These buzz terms just make it way more complicated than it needs to be. Goal setting does involve time — after all, it’s your process of how you’re going to get from A to B, but it can be a fun and insightful process.

So here are my tips…

how to set goals starting process

This part requires the most up front thinking. It’s probably the part you least want to do, but is also the most important. DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. Start by writing down (yes, write down) all of your ideas. Some good prompts are:

  1. What you want your future to look like?
  2. How do you want to feel next year? What do you want out of the next year?
  3. Who do you want to be? What kind of person?
  4. What makes you excited?
  5. When looking back on this pas year, what worked and what didn’t work?
  6. What do you imagine saying “yes” to, and what do you imagine saying “no” to?

This process should take a good hour. Really dive deep on what you picture for the following year.

consolidate your vision

Once you have all of these ideas written out, start to look through for patterns. Do you see certain words popping out a lot? Or maybe certain names? Do you get a general vibe or feeling from what you wrote down, perhaps growth focused, perhaps health focused, etc? Once you go through and pick out some patterns or ideas you really love, start to reconfigure those into initial goal ideas. This may involve re-wording some of your ideas, or combining words you see throughout into one consolidated goal idea, or simply picking out patterns. My goal ideas at this point usually are just categories, for example “Less Waste”, “Exploration”, “Balance”, “Personal Fulfillment”, “Financially Responsible”.

draft your goals

From your goal ideas, pick 1-8 that you are most passionate about. Are you willing to sacrifice things to meet these ideas? Will you get closer to where you want to be with everything you wrote down in your first step? Consider adding in a verb here (this is where that “actionable” comes in). But honestly, if your goal is “take care of myself” that’s fine too because we’re going to build out the action part in the next steps to make it more specific.

how to take action on your goals

Once you have your goals written out, you are going to take a deeper dive into each one to create actions around it, and a timeline. To come up with the actions within the goal, I find it’s best to think about what needs to happen from now, to the end of the year (or quarter, however long you want to have this goal for) – what are all the things you’re going to DO from now until then? Then, break the goal down into 2-3 mini goals, each mini goal having 1-3 actual steps to achieve. For example, a goal of “Enhance Relationships” could have mini goals of “Enhance family relationships” with actionable items of – make a list of fun activities to do with my nieces – plan a recurring bi-weekly facetime call with my parents – plan a quarterly family activity; “Enhance friendships” could have – text a check in every week to 3 friends – Host a quarterly dinner or game night – write down birthdays and purchase cards to have on hand. And the third mini goal of “Prioritize my marriage” could have- date night on the 19th every month – put away our phones after 8pm – read the marriage book together. These are just examples, yours may look totally different!

goal timelines

The next thing you’re going to do is make a deadline when you are going to complete those smaller tasks under each mini goal! Some of these tasks might be monthly, like a monthly date night, or some of them are quarterly, like planning a family activity. Schedule EVERYTHING out in your calendar and make sure you’re spacing these steps out throughout the year so you aren’t overloading yourself in January, February and March. If you try to do too much at once, it’s not going to stick! Maybe some goals you’re in okay shape on, so you can wait to work on your finance goals until July, etc.

goal tracking

I honestly hate this term, but it is important to make sure you’re actually sticking with your goals and that they’re working for you. I set up a calendar, basically a “To Do” list, so I can make sure I’m tracking if I’m taking my vitamins, how many times a week I’m working out, if I checked in with my friends, etc. If there is a task or part of a goal that just doesn’t excite you, then maybe remove it next quarter, or reword it so it motivates you and change the mini goals! Look back at your big picture of where you want to be as well, sometimes that lights a fire.

why set goals?

Have you heard the phrase, “nothing changes if nothing changes”? Learning how to set goals is important to help you live a life that YOU want to have. There are bound to be curveballs, and that’s okay. Some things might not get done, but just because one or two things didn’t happen or you fell off the wagon for two months straight, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the bag. Any progress is good, and we’re all about progress not perfection! Goal setting has become a big part of my life to hold myself accountable to ME. Only add goals on your list that YOU want to achieve, because if you are doing something for the wrong reasons, believe me, it won’t stick and you won’t achieve it! Take care of yourself and give yourself grace – life is sticky and messy and sometimes but flowers grow through dirt, and so can you!

my favorite goal planners + tracking

Spark and Bound

Cultivate What Matters

Enlightenment Planner

spark and bound notebook

This year may look a little different with COVID keeping many families apart this holiday season. So I’ve got a 4 person Christmas table design ready for some inspiration! Just because all of your family may not be together, doesn’t mean you can’t still make it cozy and intimate for the loved ones or friends in your household. All photos below are by The Ganeys.

christmas tabletop design
christmas desserts
christmas table design napkin
christmas table design treats
christmas star bread
christmas sugar cookies
christmas table design apple cider
christmas menu

For more tabletop designs, check out our tips on How To Design a Modern Thanksgiving Table.

I love the push to be a conscious consumer, so please know none of this is meant to encourage unnecessary spending. Being realistic, I know we’ll be buying gifts this season, so here are my picks for more sustainable holiday gifts for everyone!

Cooking and Home

This KITCHEN BUNDLE or this FARMER’S MARKET BAG are great options for someone just beginning their sustainability journey. Who doesn’t love some cozy ORGANIC COTTON TOWELS for their bathroom? A home isn’t complete without some natural earthware CERAMIC MUGS.

Workout and Activeware

I love this STYLISH BLUETOOTH SPEAKER that also supports reforestation and ocean preservation with every purchase. Or what about an upgrade on those WORKOUT LEGGINGS that are made from recycled bottles AND donate to charity with every purchase. Use my code “EXPANSIVE” for 15% off! If she needs more equipment, what about NATURAL LATEX BOOTY BANDS that won’t wear out. And if my husband is reading this, I’ll take this MONTHLY WORKOUT SUBSCRIPTION.

Wellness

I love the idea of unique gifts for your meditation loving friends like this RELAXING DRUM. Or you can give the gift that keeps giving by enhancing their air with a low maintenance POTHOS PLANT. What about a JOURNAL made from 100% recycled stone, and from a completely carbon neutral company that plants a tree with every book purchase? Lastly, NATURAL BATH SALTS will always be a hit for the friend who needs some help relaxing.

Skincare + Beauty

What about encouraging them to ditch the plastic and give the gift of salon quality SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER BARS. Or check out my favorite RETINOL SERUM that will leave your recipients skin so soft and smooth. Any skincare junkie would also love a GUA SHA to help their products absorb more deeply, and reduce inflammation. And finally, a totally CLEAN FRAGRANCE PERFUME that is from sustainable sources and natural.

Fashion

Look no further than this all VEGAN LEATHER JACKET from one of my favorite brands. Or go for a VEGAN LEATHER CROSSBODY that is sure to get some use for years to come. Another great gift if you’re looking for jewelry are these LAYERING NECKLACES that are sustainably sourced and from a brand that gives back. Lastly, if your recipient is a summer lover, why not give them something to look forward to with this ECO CHIC SWIMSUIT made from recycled plastic bottles.

Gifts that keep giving

Choose Love is a wonderful organization that allows you to gift a variety of items to refugees. They will send the products to where they are most in need. Another one of my favorite non-profits is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which I had the privilege of visiting in Kenya. They have so many projects in support of their mission of wildlife conservation and habitat protection, most famous for their hand-raising of elephants orphaned from poaching. Another great place to donate this season is Feeding America. The numbers of households that experience food insecurity in this country are staggering. Finally, The Trevor Project is another fantastic non-profit to give to that provides crisis intervention to LGBTQ+ youth, who are 4x more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. They work on important advocacy campaigns like ending conversion therapy, and have expanded into 100 other nations.

Do you have other sustainable holiday gifts you love? Add them in the comments below!

sustainable vegan leather gifts

Traditional and stuffy is just not my jam. So today I’m going to walk you through how to Design A Modern Thanksgiving Table of your own!

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you’ll likely have a table of some sort for everyone to gather around. Normally, food tends to be the first thing we think of when it comes to Thanksgiving, but your tabletop design should not be forgotten! Your table setting has the power to give a huge amount of atmosphere and vibes to your thanksgiving. So be prepared to give it the time and attention it deserves!

modern thanksgiving table design

Components of a modern table design

  • You don’t need to have ALL.OF.THE.THINGS. Remember, less is sometimes more and let each item stand on its own.
  • Add Texture! Since we are scaling back on the volume of items, texture is really helpful to add complexity and interest.
  • Be thoughtful with color. There isn’t a rule about how many colors you can use, but what colorful or monochromatic tables have in common is how they bring the color to life. Be thoughtful about where and how you use the colors you’ve selected.
  • Include height variation. When your flowers and candles are all the same height, things can fall flat, so instead you should create layers and depth with height.
  • Incorporate uniformity. This doesn’t mean things can’t get a little funky. But ideally you keep everything tidy and intentionally placed. As a result, every item should feel like it has a purpose and reason for being there. Take the time to straighten the flatware, evenly fold the napkins, and place the glassware.
modern thanksgiving tabletop

How I brought a modern table to life

The main textures I used to execute my modern thanksgiving table design are these ceramic plates, gold flatware and other golden details, these velvet napkins, linen, and vintage crystal cut glass. The menus from Bourne Paper Co and have a vellum wrap with golden stripes to help add a little more *umph* to each place setting. The florals by Amanda Vidmar Design help keep us in the color palette and add both texture and height variation. I also include these pillar candles which add height variation, and help set a beautiful ambiance. The “cafe au lait” color is my favorite and very universal. Finally, I finish the design with some pears that were both on color theme, add a beautiful texture, and help fill the table so it isn’t too sparse. Most importantly, editing is typically the key to pulling off a cohesive table!

thanksgiving candle lighting

Step by step how to design a modern thanksgiving table:

finding inspiration and picking a theme

1. Firstly, find your color inspiration. This can be anything really. I would suggest starting with something fall related, or you can pick out a certain piece (like a beautiful serving bowl or platter) and base the colors off of that! For my table, I found inspiration in California’s beautiful golden fall tones and opted to use that as my color theme.

planning color execution

2. Secondly, decide how you’ll execute the palette. Will you keep the settings all white and just bring the color through the florals? Are you going to bring out the palette in the plates and the serveware? Or will you keep everything within a few shades of each other? As you can see, I opted to keep the color fairly monochromatic. I primarily used shades from caramel to golden, with a lighter linen base.

gather inspiration and begin creating cohesion

3. Thirdly, Create a Pinterest board of your ideas. Or get out your serving pieces and flatware and start playing around! Seeing everything all together can be a really great way to test it out beforehand and maybe you see there’s an opportunity to add a really unique piece you’ve had your eye on. I always take this opportunity to browse some of my go-to stores online for any unique inventory that I might want to include.

wrap it together with the small details

4. Finally, Select the little details. Maybe you already own all of the serving pieces, and place setting pieces – that’s awesome! You can still spice up your everyday pieces by investing in some new candle holders, or candles themselves. Candles are a fun way to bring in your color or play with shades of a color. What about cute salt and pepper shakers, or the centerpiece vessel? You can also spice up your table by adding some stationery – maybe a unique placecard (or names painted on pears if you’re feeling artsy!?), or a menu for everyone.

Table setting tips

  • Use one thumb distance from the edge of the table to your charger or plate. This keeps the chargers all uniform around the table, and from creeping too high on the table, or hanging over the edge.
  • Line up the bottom of your flatware with the bottom of your plate or charger. This again keeps everything more uniform and straight.
  • Line up your chairs evenly. if you are using a linen, you want the front edges of the chairs to just *kiss* the linen, rather than be pushed all the way in.
  • Polish your flatware! Keep it free from fingerprints.
  • Set the table the day before you use it! This one is a biggie. It can take me anywhere from 30-40 minutes to actually get everything on the table from start to finish, especially depending on how many place setting you have. But this does NOT include any last minute rewashing of flatware that wasn’t clean, steaming the linen if it hasn’t been used in a while, taking down the glassware from all of it’s hiding places, and making last minute swaps. Give yourself more time so the day of Thanksgiving you can just focus on cooking and hosting!

There are really so many possibilities to design a modern Thanksgiving table, but I hope you got something out of this to bring to your own!

If you’re looking for an easy but delicious dessert to serve at Thanksgiving, check out my favorite vegan apple crisp!

modern thanksgiving table

There are a ton of Yosemite activities to take advantage of on your visit! We’ll show you what to do in Yosemite on your 5 day visit.

what to do in yosemite

Yosemite National Park is arguably one of the most beautiful national parks in our nation. Having gotten married in the park, I’m a little biased, but there are few places in the world that can hold a candle to it!

I grew up going to Yosemite many summers, so I was excited to share this beautiful place with my husband. It’s become one of our favorite places to escape to. It’s hard to narrow down what to do in Yosemite, so we’ve put together the best 5 day Yosemite itinerary.

5 days is an optimum amount of time to experience the park if you can. It allows you to see many of the highlights, and still get to less-trafficked trails.

There is a general store in the park for any food or outdoor needs. But, if you are within driving distance to the park, we recommend packing your own cooler with all of the food items you need. As a result, you’ll save valuable time so you can get on the trails sooner! All of the campsites and tent cabins have bear lockers for any food you bring, very convenient.

We have still only seen a small portion of what the entire park has to offer, but here are our recommendations for what to do in Yosemite.

our 5 day guide to what to do in yosemite

day 1

Arrive to Curry Village and check in to your tent cabin. Pack up your backpacks with a to-go dinner. We love bringing this brand, and pack our Jet Boil. Head to Tunnel View for some quintessential Yosemite photos. After that, continue up to park at Sentinel Dome/Taft Point parking area. We love Taft Point for it’s iconic rock, but we’re going to recommend taking the Sentinel Dome trail instead! Sentinel Dome is an easy hike and allows you to see both El Capitan and Half Dome (Taft Point you can only see El Capitan). Enjoy the sunset on top of the dome as it sets over these iconic rock formations. Sentinel Dome is also much less crowded than Glacier Point, and still gives you essentially the same view!

sentinel dome yosemite
Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

day 2

Wake up early and pack your lunch. We often bring pb+j and bread to make for our on the go meals. Eat a quick breakfast at Curry Village and head up to the lesser trafficked High Country! Drive along Tioga Pass to Tuolomne Meadows, stop and hike along the way. A must stop is the view from Olmsted Point. You’ll experience the opposite view from Tunnel View, looking down at the valley from the other side! Head back to the valley for dinner. If you plan on eating at The Ahwanhee, be sure to make your reservations WELL in advance of your trip for any dinners.

day 3

We love this day for a big hike! For instance, we recommend planning this day for Half Dome, if you got your lottery date. Otherwise, we love the long hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, or Vernal and Nevada Falls. If you are visiting July-October, be aware that the falls are not going to be as large and powerful as they are in the springtime, and by September are usually mostly dried up. The hikes are still lovely no matter the water content though, but the Mist Trail is definitely a different experience in the springtime 😉

day 4

Take it easy after your big hike and plan a day of bike riding and river rafting! The Merced River runs through the valley, and you can rent rafts at Curry Village when the river is high enough (before late summer). If you can’t rent rafts, you can rent bikes for either a half or a full day and explore the area. Bike down to Swinging Bridge and up to Mirror Lake (again, only a mirror of Half Dome in the Spring when it’s full of water). Stop along the way and eat lunch by the river and take off your shoes and wade through the ice-cold water! You can also pack your own intertube and float down the chilly river!

day 5

We love to take a leisurely morning and have breakfast at The Ahwanhee. Depending on what time you have to get on the road again, you could do your half-day of bike riding here. In the same vein, you could have time for a 2-3 hour hike, so you could finish up with Vernal Falls!

Have any other recommendations I missed? Have any questions about your trip in particular or the best times to visit? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you! Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth, even if you can’t stay for our 5 day Yosemite itinerary, I highly recommend taking the time you can!

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