Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries: Magical Moments and Improv Play

Magic Things Print on Etsy

Magic Things print on Etsy

There are some moments in life that just feel so perfect it’s unreal. Last night, as I was walking home from a day filled with friends, laughter, love, and great new experiences, I glanced up to see the first few snowflakes falling past the streetlights. Yes, it’s been a long winter and I’m a little sick of snow, but I could still appreciate the beauty of that moment. Then, just when I thought the evening couldn’t get anymore magical, a bunny hopped out of nowhere to lead me down the alley to my apartment. Perfection, right?

The sad thing is that there have been times in my life that I might have missed the magic of these moments. I have a tendency to live inside the labyrinth of my mind, forgetting to pay attention to the outside world. I overanalyze, over criticize, and just generally bring myself inward to the point that I sometimes forget to play and appreciate the simple things. So that’s my new motto: play more. I’ve been reminding myself of it every day and pursuing new interests that encourage it in the hopes that it will become a habit.

For instance, after avoiding it for nearly 5 years, I finally signed up for a Second City improv class. I’m a by the book, highly prepared, and planned out performer so the idea of doing improv has always terrified me to the core. Of course, I also know that some of the greatest opportunities for growth in life come from doing the that thing that scares you most. So a few weeks ago, I took a deep breath, made my payment, and tried not to throw up on my way to class. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was a lot of fun.

Since that first class, I’ve started attending a few improv jams and mixers around the city. I’m still such a newbie in this world that I love observing everything. One of my favorite characteristics about my new hobby is the lingo. When all is said and done and the evening is about to end, no one says “thanks for acting with me” or “it was great working with you,” instead they say “thanks for playing.” Because that’s exactly what improv is at it’s best: we’re just a bunch of kids getting together on the playground [or in some cases at The Playground] and playing pretend together.

Don't Forget to Play print on Society6

Don’t Forget to Play print on Society6

As for other areas of play in my life, I’ve made a point to break up the serious studies of my yoga teacher training [3 weeks left!] with a little project pose playtime.

Most of the inspiration for these poses have been found on instagram or in the challenge pose section of the Yoga Journal blog. It feels great to dare myself to grow in my practice as I photograph my progress along the way. If you’d like to follow along in my playtime, you can find me on instagram: @michelleshea.

And speaking of instagram, I’ve been posting a lot of photos of my new favorite cherry cheesecake smoothie lately so, as promised, here’s the recipe:

Life is Just a Glass of Cherry Cheesecake [inspired by Mind Body Green’s recipe]

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.25.45 PM


2 tbsp raw cashews
2 tsp Sun is Shining powder [or a few handfuls of greens like spinach]
1 tsp maca powder [optional, but good for you!]
1/2 banana, frozen
a handful of cherries, frozen
a splash of vanilla
1/2 c So Delicious coconut milk [more or less for desired thickness]
1 tsp cacao nibs [optional]

First, place cashews, green powder [or greens], macs powder, and coconut milk in blender. Process on high until smooth.
Then, add in the remainder of the ingredients & process on medium until smooth.
Add more coconut milk as desired to assist in blending or to make a thinner smoothie.
Serve in your favorite pretty glass & top with cacao nibs for a chocolatey crunch.


Testimonial Tuesday: Bethanie’s Newfound Confidence

Today’s Testimonial Tuesday comes from actress/singer/burlesque dancer Bethanie Louise, a recent graduate of the 6 month program who loved her results so much that she signed up for another round!

Here’s what Bethanie had to say about our first experience working together on her wellness goals:

bethanie as the black canary testimonial

Working with Michelle has been one of the best decisions I’ve made with my life! I’ve always had pretty low self-esteem and would handle my personal struggles in unhealthy ways, but being a performer, you need to show confidence and be able to put yourself out in the open. I was afraid to go on auditions because I never felt like I was talented or thin enough to belong there. I’d tried everything from fad dieting to therapy to lose weight and feel happier, but nothing seemed to work.

I went to Michelle at the heaviest I’d ever been. I felt miserable with myself and for once I wanted to try something I knew would be healthy for me. She taught me so much about what to look for in my eating habits. I never realized how much food could affect my mood, but with her help I incorporated healthier alternatives to help me to feel better both physically & emotionally.

Besides eating healthy, Michelle has taught me how to cope with my emotional issues in healthy ways instead of reverting back to old habits. She never judged me or made my problems seem insignificant. Not only did she listen, she also helped me set goals to work on between sessions and adapted her program to benefit my needs. Even in between our meetings, she would send me a friendly e-mail making sure I was ok and giving me useful tips to help me achieve my goals.

Michelle is someone who values her clients and wants everyone to succeed in their lives. I have never felt as happy as I have working with Michelle. With her help, I finally have the confidence I’ve been searching for and I no longer feel the need to hide myself or cope with food. I recommend her to everyone and I cannot wait to start my second program with her!

-Bethanie Louise

To learn more about the 6 month program
or to sign up & achieve results like these yourself,
click here button

Thankful Thursday 9/27-10/4

This week, I’m thankful for:

? Living in an exciting city where movies & TV shows [like The Mob Doctor] film on my street.
? Booking last minute trips to Indianapolis that include sushi dates with my BFF.
? Returning home to the beautiful skyline of the city I love.
? Making it to Chicago Veganmania just in time to grab some free food from closing vendors.

More things that make me smile:

? Mayim Bailik’s adorable new PETA ad. I love what she has to say about answering the “but what do you eat?” question.
? My ad* for Health Happiness & Hula Hoops is running on Gala Darling’s website this week.
? Speaking of Gala Darling, I love what she has to say about creating your dream online personae in her keynote for NEPABlog Con.
? I’m so excited for Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen that I might even pre-order it to gain access to her equally exciting Crazy Sexy Cooking Classes.
? One of my favorite food docs, Hungry for Change, is available to watch online for free until Saturday. Go watch it!

*Want to help support my health coaching & put an ad on your website? Here’s the code:
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Make Something Monday: Gluten-free Double Chocolate Oat Cookies

Happy Labor Day, lovelies!

The Omnivore & I spent the day exploring the Lichtenstein exhibit at one of our favorite Chicago spots: The Museum of the Art Institute.

Art is love.

Romantic, right?

And although our monday was not spent making something, I do have a little treat on reserve for you that’s almost as good as a day filled with pop art: Gluten-free Double Chocolate Oat Cookies!

apparently, cookies are also love…see the heart?

Ingredients [adapted from Babycakes‘ Double Chocolate Chip Cookies]

1 1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1/2 c gluten free rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c coconut oil
1 1/4 c maple syrup
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 c vegan chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, & cocoa powder.
In a medium sized bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup, applesauce, & vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry & stir until just combined.
Fold chocolate chips into the batter until evenly distributed.
Using a small melon baller or rounded spoon, scoop dough onto lined or oiled baking sheets.
Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are crispy. Rotate sheet halfway for even baking.
Enjoy…or, even better, top with an extra-thick choco-green smoothie & THEN enjoy. ♥

get your greens in…with dessert.


Thankful Thursday 3/8 – 3/15


This week, I’m thankful for:

♥ al fresco lunches downtown
♥ one of my favorite actresses going vegan
♥ spending my commutes with a former middle school love [found thrifting for $1]
♥ scoring second hand DVD favorites & a black & white photo strip on a sunny day in Wicker Park


♥ launching my health coaching business Health, Happiness, & Hula Hoops!

What are you thankful for?

Relish Tray: Chicago Diner’s Soul Bowl

relish: verb. to delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desires.


blackened tofu. avocado. black beans. kale. sweet potatoes. quinoa. enough said.

I tend to get bored with my food easily. If there isn’t a wide variety of colors & flavors on my plate, I probably won’t finish the meal.

That’s why the Chicago Diner’s Soul Bowl is perfect for my finicky tastes. Not only are the ingredients packed with healthy vitamins and protein [hello, quinoa!], it also provides my taste buds with the perfect combination of sweet, savory, & salty. Sometimes I can even skip dessert…the sweet potatoes are treat enough.

Faux Fashion Friday: This is Only a Test

Attention: This is only a test…had this blog post been an actual faux fashion friday, it would include an up to date photo of an ensemble from this past week. Alas, this blogger is still working on her self-photography skills so most of this week’s photos aren’t quite ready for posting.

So, to tide you over, here’s the rundown on one of my favorite past ensembles, photographed by a girl who DOES know her way around a camera:

new york is for lovers (photo by Lauren Oosterlinck @

dress – zara trf  [thrifted from crossroads trading co.]
jacket – kenneth cole [thrifted from buffalo exchange]
tights – target
socks – target
boots – target
scarf – purchased @ Chicago’s Field Museum

cute boy accessory – limited edition from San Antonio

On the to do list for next week: practice self-shots. Stay tuned for the results next Friday.

Relish Tray: Faux-stess Cupcakes at Chicago Diner

relish: verb. to delight in something that satisfies one’s tastes, inclinations, or desires.


Described as a “faux-stess” by our server Aaron, the Chicago Diner’s gluten-free marshmallow cupcake is pretty darn close to the real thing: the cake is just a little dry, but the icing is absolutely amazing!

It makes me want to peel off the top and leave the rest…just like the original Hostess cupcake.

A Taste of Veganism

Last week, the Omnivore and I attended the Taste of Chicago.  Truth be told, I was excited. Really excited.  The idea of scavenging for vegan items in a festival known for hot dogs and turkey legs was a challenge I was more than happy to accept.  It required a tiny bit of vendor research before the event, but for the most part, the selection was intuitive…& delicious:

The Loving Hut‘s Home Run Ball

baseball metaphor, Asian taste.

While I’ve heard a lot about The Loving Hut over the years, I had yet to try any of their Asian-inspired cuisine. Eager to remedy this, it was my first stop on our tour de Taste.  After a few moments of deliberation, I settled on their taste portion of the home run ball – fried TVP [textured vegetable protein] covered in a spicy sweet sauce.  While not really a ‘ball,’ the taste and texture reminded me a bit of General Tso’s chicken. Not bad at all.

Alhambra Palace‘s Falafel with Hummus

"he said he loved me and I said falafel." (How I Met Your Mother)

This was amazing! Granted, I love falafels so it doesn’t take much to please me in this department, but even the pita and hummus were totally satisfying.  The Omnivore sat right next to me devouring a [not so vegan] chocolate covered banana and temptation never struck thanks to this tasty medley.

The Abbey‘s Corn on the Cob

around the world or typewriter to you eat yours?

I know, I know, there’s nothing special about this typical fair-food selection, but The Abbey gets special mention for making sure my cob wasn’t soaked in butter. Nick’s reaction to the taste: “That’s so good! Why does everyone automatically put butter on it?” Why indeed.

Iyanze‘s Bissop Sorbet

what's a Bissop?

After passing up a multitude of Italian ice selections on the way, I was actually quite disappointed by this sorbet.  Granted, I wasn’t sure what kind of taste this purple ice would produce, but I found the flavor a bit too subtle [apparently it was hibiscus].  However, Iyanze gets bonus points for checking my preference before dousing the dessert with whipped cream.

Around the World in one little City

The Omnivore and I have been eating some amazing meals out lately [perhaps too many if you check our wallets].  He loves Mexican, I love Sushi, and we both love Italian so we bounce around a lot with our dining venues.  However, anytime a place proves to be extra vegan-friendly, I’m more than happy to return on many occasions.
Here are some recent meals worthy of a second stop:

Hiro’s Cafe‘s All You Can Eat Sushi

Vegan on a Roll.

While it pales in comparison to my all-time favorite sushi place, Hiro’s all you can eat sushi menu is always tempting at just under $20.  It satisfies my constant sushi craving while allowing the Omnivore to indulge in two of his favorite things: eating a ton and saving money.  This place only has a few pre-listed vegetarian rolls, but they’re very open to modifications on any roll on the menu.  Granted, I’ve baffled a few of the sweet waitresses by asking for the Organic roll without the salmon or the Angel’s Kiss without fish or mayo, but they are more than happy to oblige once they understand the concept.

Pie Hole‘s Pizza with Daiya cheese

*objects in photo are tastier than they appear.

My commute to and from work takes me right past Pie Hole nearly every other day.  So imagine my excitement when I read in their window that they now offer VEGAN CHEESE! I had to give it a try.  The menu is mostly build-your-own-slice style so you can put whatever veggies you’d like on top.  I chose artichoke hearts, baby bella mushrooms, and of course, vegan cheese…it was totally delicious.  My only complaint was that the counter workers weren’t sure if any of their specialty sauces were vegan. I was fine with the traditional tomato sauce, but it would be nice to know my options next time.

P.S. I have it on good authority that Pie Hole is looking into even more vegan toppings…so stay tuned!

El Nuevo Mexicano‘s Quesadilla Vegano & Platanos Fritas con Nieve Vegano


Thank God for the vegansaurus! post on this restaurant or I might never have known about their mouth-watering vegan menu.  Before going vegan, I loved Mexican food. However, much to the Omnivore’s dismay, it kind of lost it’s luster once cheese went off the menu.  That’s why I was ultra-impressed to find that El Nuevo Mexicano didn’t just create a list of vegan dishes from ingredients they already had, but included Daiya cheese and vegan chorizo in many of their delicious options.  I ordered the Quesadilla Vegano, savored every sweet, cheesy bite, then followed it up with a vegan dessert [yep, that’s right, the menu includes dessert!] of fried plantains topped with coconut ice cream.  The verdict: Heavenly! I can’t wait to go back for more!