Another Year Older

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I turned 21 on Monday! I’ve been having to remind myself that I am, in fact, now 21 ever since. I love that feeling of birthdays: you always expect to wake up and the world will have shifted, something will be illuminated. You’ll be another year older, and another year wiser. Usually, that doesn’t happen. But with 21, I have to admit, I do feel a little different.

As a society, we build up this birthday so much. Visions of drunken debauchery danced in my head as I planned my quiet, small gatherings with friends.  I even had the thought: am I doing this wrong?  Wow. That is how permeated we’ve become with the idea of a crazy, wild 21st. My friends, thankfully, reminded me that it was my birthday. I could spend it in any way that I saw fit.

So we had a fall celebration, complete with popcorn, candy corn, orange dark chocolate, and homemade dark chocolate yogurt brownies. There might even have been some hot cocoa with Baileys.

I am excited for this year. 20 brought challenges in many forms. 21 is sure to bring more. But I feel like I’m finally beginning to know myself. Even when I don’t know exactly what I want, I can recognize that I’m on a journey, and the present moment is just as important as the coming ones.

I’ll be posting my Bucketlist for Age 21 soon!

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Ode to the Honeycrisp Apple

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I am not sure that I can express my delight upon seeing that honeycrisp apples are now in season. I almost keeled over in Walmart when I saw them nestled, gleaming in their sunset-pink glory, amongst the granny smiths and red delicious.

And then I almost keeled over again when I saw the price tag. At $2.00 a pound, these guys are a little outside of my price range, considering I go through about 9 apples a week. (I feel a bit like an addict: “I can do that, I can make that work! I just won’t buy bread this week; yea, that’s a solid trade off, just give me the apples!!!”)

I forewent them for a few days, rationalizing that it’s early in the season and I can always buy more. But upon visiting our local natural grocery the other day (in search of fresh basil. Which no one has. Sigh.), I saw my favorite natural wonder again, sitting in prominent end cap display. And I caved.

The amount that I savor these guys cannot be compared. It’s almost like dessert: I try and enjoy every single bite, relishing the sweetness and crispness that reminds me, yes, autumn is actually here. And I am in love with it.

Here are a I’m excited to try. The common wisdom is to go with cheaper apples when you’re cooking, but I’m interested in trying some desserts with my favorite variety and seeing if I can taste the difference. Now please excuse me while I go delight in my lunch, in which a Honeycrisp features prominently. Happy fall, everyone!

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Salted Caramel Apple Handpies from Just a Taste

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Crockpot Baked Apples by Skinny Chef

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Upside Down Apple Cinnamon Cake by Behind the Curtain (this looks hard, but is made with Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Life hacks are beautiful.)

Friday Fancies

Here’s a short and sweet list of things I’m crushing on this Friday. I hope you are having a lovely day!

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1. Beyond the Pencil (Skirt) Interviews from the Levo League. I’m obsessed with seeing into the inspiring lives of working women who are absolutely passionate about what they do, in all kinds of creative fields.  Today’s interview with Samira DeAmdrade was particularly inspiring.

2. These apple cider muffins are happening. I’ve been craving fall flavors, even though the heat won’t seem to cooperate.

3. I’m so excited about attending the state fair! I don’t know why, but I have been determined to go since freshman year and haven’t made it yet. But this year will be different. This year, I will drag my friends if I have to.

4. Date night! The Boyfriend and I will be watching Hot Fuzz while sipping on some brews…not going to lie, it will probably be warm apple cider for me. Or I might go for the Arctic Zero ice cream I’ve been craving for awhile. And speaking of Arctic Zero and healthy options…

5. I’m heading to Whole Foods for my first real shopping adventure tonight! I can’t really afford to get all my food there on a college kid budget, but I have some specialty items to pick up that you just can’t get at the regular store (for the record: spaghetti squash, PB2, and Arctic Zero are on the list. I’m going to try very, very hard not to impulse buy but. We shall see how that goes.) I feel like Whole Foods is a shopping experience in and of itself. I love wandering around and looking at all the delicious healthy options that I could be eating! Someday, someway.

6. I’m living for this article on College Prepster about the Kate Spade Beau bag. Beau, indeed; I want one in every colour! It’s hard for me to imagine spending a lot of money on a purse, but this one might be worth the sacrfice. It’s gorgeous, luxuriant, comes in colors to suit every look, and it has a HUGE BOW. What more do you need? Be still, my little preppy heart.

7. I’m heading to Waffle Champion this weekend, after weeks of lusting after them.  This cute little eatery started out of a food truck, and grew to such heights of popularity that they’ve opened up a sit-down restaurant. Basically, you start with a delicious buttermilk waffle, and add whatever you like to make it the waffle sandwich of your dreams. They have savory options, but I think I’ll be heading more towards the sweet side. Lemon curd, fresh berries and whipped cream, anyone?

Books to Fall For: September 2013

It’s been hard to find time to read as I ease into the business of school, but I’ve been loving the little moments of relaxation I pick up here and there.  Here are my book recommendations for September!

1) The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Euginedes

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Read It If You’re Craving: sweater-cuddled New England falls accompanied by a stack of Great Literature and a cinnamon dolce latte.

Why I Love It: Oh, this book.  I picked it up by happenstance at the bookstore, and have been able to put it down only reluctantly since.  It speaks to so many aspects of my little creative soul: the characters are all liberal arts students at Brown who discuss the greatest authors of British literature wittily; there are scenes of New England weather followed by beautiful descriptions of European travel; and, my favorite, the author goes deeply into the emotional development of his characters, delving into the weird little ways our mind works out relationships. I don’t want to go into the plot too much, but it’s a love story for the wacked out world we live in today.

2) The September Issue(s)

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Read It If You’re Craving: a high-fashion infusion without the $5,000 dollar price tag, or a front row seat at Fashion Week.
Why I Love It: As a fashion lover/college student, I’m constantly embattled in the struggle for high style at a low price. Not to mention the fact that I spend most of my days clothed in some assemblage of Lycra/Spandex composites.  I love the little luxury that fashion magazines provides: gorgeous spreads, plus well-written editorials about creative subjects? I’m always ready. With the September issue, there’s always more to love.  Like, 800 pages.  I was so excited to get my Vogue that I had my mom send it cross country. You know you’re in love when…(Note: my favorites are Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but with the wealth of fashion tomes on the market, there’s something for every taste!)
3) Joy the Baker
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Read It If You’re Craving: tons of delicious recipes for comforting sweets, all with little twists to keep life interesting.
Why I Love It: This one’s on my wish list, but I had a chance to page through it at the bookstore and developed a deep love affair with the recipes in here. Joy has such a natural and friendly approach to baking, and injects humor into it–I love that in a cookbook!  Very reminiscent of The Pioneer Woman. Her pictures are also beautiful to look at.  I love getting a little photography style with my desserts. I get my daily treat from Joy’s blog, but I can’t wait to have this book on my shelf…and I’m sure my friends can’t wait for all the delicious treats in their future, either.

Baubles, Bangles, and Beads…

Let me indulge myself for a moment. Rue La La is currently having a Tacori sale. Which means $5,000 items on sale for $1,000. A steal, I am sure, but still a steal far, far beyond my current price range. Or even, you know, “ever” price range. That being said…sometimes you just gotta dream a little bit.  I had to post my favorites on here because these earrings are too perfect to be true. Full disclosure…there were also some engagement rings that might have ended up on my Pinterest wedding board. Do I want to get married at the moment? No, thank you. But are those rings that I would scream “YES!” for? Indubitably. Hope you’re having an indulgent Saturday of your own! For me, that means a couple of pieces of candy corn and possibly another cup of coffee.

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TACORI “Blushing Rose” 18K Pink Gold & Silver 9.63 cttw. Diamond & Gemstone Drop Earrings
The pink. Oh, the pink. Be still, my little girlie girl heart.

The Healthiest Ways to Start Your Day

I am a great believer in breakfast. It’s almost like a belief system.  Because I tend to eat smaller dinners, by the time my alarm clock goes off in the AM I am starving, so I usually tend to try and do something a little more special with my first meal of the day.  As my boyfriend found out when he suggested skipping breakfast in favor of a big lunch, I don’t do well when forced to skip out on an energy boost to my day.  Extra perks: it’s a moment of quiet time before jumping into a morning full of crazy. I like nothing more to sit with my cup of coffee and ease my way into the stress of the day. Here are some healthy and quick options to get you started!

My Go-To’s: sometimes, you don’t have a half hour to luxuriate over brunch.  On busy mornings, I have a few meals that I can throw together in a pinch and without a lot of thought–a good idea when I’m just as likely to pour milk into my coffee as into my cereal.

-Whole wheat toast with peanut butter and half a banana
-A cup of rice chex with milk and halved strawberries
-Danon Light n’ Fit vanilla yogurt with cinnamon Life cereal, berries, and banana
-Whole wheat English muffin with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and an apple
-Raspberry Faje greek yogurt with a little bit of Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal

When to Indulge: indulgent does it have to mean caloric! Here are some healthy options that take a little more time to cook, but provide a delicious and nutritious start.

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Vegan Banana oatmeal pancakes from Colorful Palette.

These are the easiest healthy pancakes I’ve found. Plus: they’re made from items you can find in your kitchen! No random flax or hemp seeds here.

Power Muffins with Yogurt, Blueberries and Oats from Domesticated Academic

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Another easy breasy beautiful recipes.  These are easily portable, too, meaning you can take them for snacks or lunch!

Healthy Greek Yogurt Lemon Blueberry Pancakes from My Recipe Magic

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Usually, interesting flavor combos in pancakes equals an unhealthy mix of sugars and carbs.  Not with these guys.  Anything lemon is an instant hit with me!

Good for Your Soul Choices: Sometimes, you gotta live a little.

Several Cinnamon Roll Recipes from the Pioneer Woman

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Though I may stray a little, I always come back to Ree Drummond for delicious recipes with great directions. All of these are decadent, creamy, rich, and will probably change your life.

Lemon Blueberry Drizzle Bread from Good Life Eats

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I made this this summer, and it was an instant family classic. Remember my love of lemon? It comes back full force with this guy.

Apple Cinnamon Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oatmeal from the Yummy Life

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This one is the perfect start to a chilly fall morning. Instant plus: you don’t have to wake up and get it going! And the delicious smells will be redolent in your apartment/home all night long.

September Song

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I turned my back on summer for one second, and suddenly it’s fall! Or so says my calendar. The close-to-100 temperatures here would seem to disagree. I’m of two minds when it comes to the advent of the fall season, which just so happens to be my favorite time of the year:

Life

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Con: This means that I do, in fact, have to get myself together and get back in the stream of things re: school/life balance.  Because I have not yet quite mastered this, the current week is basically an explosion of craziness. This summer I had very structured days, but I created the structure.  That has gone the way of the dinosaurs, in favor of weeks spent scheduling out my activities and commitments.

Pro: I am a major list keeper, I love being busy, and I have a lot of fun with my friends.  It was a little easy to get lonely in the summer–I pushed myself hard, but didn’t have a lot of people to share that with. At college, we are all in the same crazy boat. I am so happy to be back in this creative vibe!

Weather

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Con: Soon, the days of being able to lay out in the sun will be a memory as we transition into the rainy season. I am not overtly excited about trading bikinis for rain boots.

Pro: the return of fall weather, which I thrive in. There is no better afternoon than one spent on outside, nestled in a cosy sweater, a cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other as you ring in the sunset. Just writing that makes me all warm inside.

Food

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Con: No more summer fruit and vegetable recipes! At least, not on the same level. I’ve developed a very serious and committed relationship to corn, watermelon, pineapple, and assorted berries in the past few months. I’ll be sad to see them go (not to mention I’ll have to find new staple foods for my diet), but…

Pro: APPLE SEASON! I’ve mentioned this before, but I am obsessed with apples. With the coming of all the fall varieties, and the beckoning of delicious apple recipes, my kitchen is soon going to be redolent with the aroma of my favorite fruit. I cannot wait. Let the apple cider flow freely!

Fashion

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Con: Saying farewell to cute summer sundresses and my favorite pairs of wedges will be hard.  The boho side of me thrives in the season of sunshine.

Pro: Skinny pants, sweaters, and chunky scarves are some of my favorite things in the world. Any style that allows me to be wrapped up in cosiness all day long? Sign me up.  I am also currently searching for the best new pair (or two…or three…) or boots that I can find.  Current faves? These eyelet detailed ones from Target! In love.

Events:

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Con: Farewell, summer cookouts and grilling.  Even more difficult was saying goodbye to the incredible Farmer’s Market in my home town. Try as I might, I can’t seem to find a replacement here at school.

Pro: Fall ushers in all of my favorite school activities. Highlights of the semester are participating in Homecoming with my Alpha Phi sisters (my school is small and mostly performance based, so the inter-organizational competition is the main event here. Sometimes I even forget there’s a basketball game that goes along with it) and beginning rehearsals for my newest play!

In the few minutes it’s taken me to write this post, I’ve become exponentially more excited about ushering in my favorite season! Excuse me while I go sip coffee and munch on an apple in my sub-zero office.

 

Things I love…back to school edition!

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1. Pineapple Jellies (and other school snacks) from Undressed Skeleton
Delicious and nutritious…and not super difficult to make! These would be great for afternoons where you just need something sweet, but don’t want to go overboard.

2. Toy Story Alien Bento Box lunch and other cute Disney ideas from Spoonful.com
 Necessary? No.  But adorable? yes.  Why can’t you get a dose of cuteness with your nutrition?

3. Easy slow cooker oatmeal from Shape Magazine
Only thing I love more than slow cooker cooking? Oatmeal.  My absolute jam.

4. Hot pink hunter boots
Every year, I tell myself that I need to buy rain boots. Usually as I’m trucking through the third or fourth monsoon of the season.  This year, I’m gonna try to be proactive.

5. Cosy tribal sweater
I am always freezing, so a sweater that I can throw on top of any outfit is always a plus.  I love all of these tribal styles that are in this fall! Super cute, and super comfy.

6. Classy carry-all
I love bags of all shapes and sizes, but I aspire to carry a classy tote like this one.  Pink and white chevrons? Sign me up!

7. Sparkly mason jar
Mason jars.  So many uses, so little time.  I love the idea of making one super glittery to adorn your bathroom sink! Better than shoving random brushes in a drawer, as I am wont to do.

8. Welcoming door wreath
So sweet and welcoming! I have been trying to decide what to do with my door all summer, but this mixture of burlap and polka dots is adorable!

9. Sweet tulle garland
I have decided that I do not have enough pink in my apartment at this point (why be a grown up till you have to, right?), so I am absolutely going to be making this easy tulle garland.  The directions are super simple, and the outcome looks absolutely perfect for hanging up over a window or a doorway!

What are you excited about this back to school season?

A Healthy Start: Kicking off the school year right

This is my third year of school, but the first time I’ve ever had to stock a kitchen for myself. I was SO excited for my grocery trip on move in day. Like, overly excited. I’m a dork. But it is something special to be able to finally decide for yourself EXACTLY what you want to be eating. No more trips to the caf and settling for broccoli and rice (again) because there are no healthy options! No more gazing with huge eyes in my home kitchen at the vast array of unhealthy snacks that I would love to chow down on.  My room is my space, and that decision making process is empowering.

And a little intimidating. We start school in a week, and while I love having my kitchen, I also realize it’s going to be a little bit of a struggle to find time to cook, workout, and maintain a healthy outlook. Here are some tips I’ve thought up to keep myself on the straight and narrow!

Tips for Kicking the Semester Off Right

1.  Fill your kitchen: if you have bad food in there, you will eat bad food. It’s as simple as that.  At the grocery, I focused mainly on fresh produce, a few healthy snacks (popcorn and pretzels are a favorite), and some protein options to keep my energy up. No chips. No candy. None of that oh-so-tempting fro yo.  I promise the amount of energy and happiness you feel will make up for those five seconds of joy as you plow through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s!

2. Declutter: After a long, stressful day of moving in, the last thing you want to do is unpack boxes.  And I definitely still have some work to do.  But in my opinion, it always feels better to clean up and just get the room done than it does to wallow in a half-unpacked hole for a few weeks.  You’ll feel more at home as soon as everything is in it’s place!

3. Make a morning ritual: this is a HUGE one for me.  I need some time to get centered in the morning and become my healthy happy self.  To get there, I need at least twenty minutes to sit with breakfast, a cup of coffee, and my devotional. Those twenty minutes change how I feel about my whole day.  Find something you really like that kicks you off on the right track. Meditating, jogging, journaling…there are so many ways to get there!

4. Get out there: if you’re looking to start a new healthier workout habit this year, it helps to start right away.  The first few days will definitely be difficult–I know the last thing I wanted to do this week was go for a three mile run.  But the hardest part of a new habit is starting it up, and there’s no better time than now, when you’re not totally bogged down by classes and homework.  Another good tip: don’t give up and don’t give in! There are days when I feel like I’m too busy to work out, but I know that even 20 minutes of activity will make me feel so much better about the day in general.

5. Organize your life: I am a planning queen, and I start early.  I recommend getting one planner for your life events, and one for class assignments, and keeping them current.  Knowing what you have on your plate makes it a lot easier to have time for fun! There is no bigger bummer than having to say no to plans because you have a last minute assignment you completely forgot about.

Books to Fall in Love With: August 2013

I am always in search of new soul mates. Usually the hunt takes me to Barnes and Noble, where I can sit for hours with a latte (or, more healthfully, a water bottle) and interview possible candidates, reading the first 20 pages or so of each in a stack of promising participants. The note on my iPhone of “Books I Need to Read” is beginning to get overwhelmingly long. As much as I love wandering onto the next love of my life, sometimes it’s nice to get a little recommendation and guidance!

That’s where this post comes in. Each month, I’ll suggest a couple new books for your reading pleasure.  My literature habits tend to be all over the board, so get ready for plenty of variety.

Note: I would love to hear about your latest great book finds!

1) Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

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Read if you’re craving…amazing contemporary writing, beautiful character development, and enough plot twists to make your brain explode. This is a great mystery novel for non-mystery readers!

Why I love it…I am a little late to hop onto this train, but I was absolutely engrossed in this book from the start. It’s been hard to put down! While the story line is intriguing, I’m a little more obsessed with the writing. The wordplay and skill with which Flynn crafts her characters is almost breathtaking, and something I find missing in a lot of contemporary work.  I will be rereading this one, I can tell you that!

2) Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

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Read if you’re craving…new characters to fall in love with, sunny summer Southern days, luxurious descriptions of a time gone by…and a heroine who deserves her spot in the top spitfires of literature.

Why I love it…for some reason, this has become my go-to for days spent outside laying in the grass. It’s a bit of a tome (kind of hard to drag around with my towel/sunglasses combo), but I have fallen for the charms of Scarlett O’Hara. Sometimes there’s nothing like a classic.  Even if you’ve seen the movie (I haven’t), I’d recommend checking this one out. Gotta love the conflict when your heroine is a total selfish brat.

3) Cooked, by Michael Pollan

Read if you’re craving…an inside look at how food has shaped our culture and the world today.  This book is good for anyone! I would especially recommend it to anyone interested in ANY aspect of food: cooking, nutrition, styling. Or, you know, eating.

Why I love it…Michael Pollan is one of the most arresting food authors of our time, in my opinion. In this book, he goes beyond recommendations for living your life, and into the complex nature of how food and the way we cook it shapes us.  The book is divided into sections of the elements.  My favorite is Air, in which he works with Chad Robertson, the baker of the best bread in America. Come on. A whole section about bakin