Falling for Skinnies

Falling for Skinnies

J Crew sweater
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J Crew top
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J Crew j crew shirt
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J Crew flat
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J Crew handbag
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J Crew necklace
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I am absolutely in love with all of the new skinny collections I’ve seen. I cannot wait to stock my closet with chinos and chords in deep, rich colors, and I’m especially interested in the new “coated jegging” trend.  Will I look classy? Or like a Hell’s Angel?  I guess I won’t know until I try! Also a huge fan of the lovely sweaters and long sleeved tops from J. Crew…but will be looking for similar styles at a college girl price tag. Hey, it’s good to dream!
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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.

 

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

 

I Wish You Joy: the gift of good food

Picture courtesy of SugarHero.  The pot de crème recipe I used can be found here.

My friend Liz has the most perfect anecdote that describes her wonderful father in a few words.  She was once sitting in front of her laptop after a very bad day, barely typing, worrying about life in general.  Her father had been sitting in the next room.  He didn’t say anything to her; for all she knew, he didn’t realize she was upset.

After a few moments, she felt her father’s comforting presence behind her shoulder.  He didn’t say a word, but he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of candy corn, which he then placed on the keys of her laptop.  He kissed her on the head and went back on his way.  In that moment, Liz felt the love and comfort of her father, exmplefied in a handful of Halloween candy.  I think that image is incredibly beautiful, and it made me begin thinking about the gift of food.

I’ve spent a lot of time this summer making more elaborate desserts and breakfast than I would have dreamed of.  Being health-conscious, I usually didn’t eat more than a few bites or a little piece of the sugary delights I made (most of the time. Sometimes, you just gotta indulge). So why did I go on making them?

Probably because of the look on someone’s face when you hand them a package of homemade sugar cookies.  Or my mom’s smile of delight and her compliments when I handed her a slice of beautiful flourless chocolate torte, dappled with homemade whipped crème and beautiful crimson raspberries.  All of these things remind me why we go to the trouble of cooking: to come together.  To reignite the feelings of community that are totally missed when you funnel down McDonalds or Lean Cuisines in front of a TV by yourself.  Cooking intricate meals means that you took the time to think about what those your sharing it with will like.  For me, that meant adding heavy cream when I would have preferred Greek yogurt, or using ground beef when ground turkey is much more my speed.

Giving the gift of food is becoming one of my “love languages,” I think.  When pondering about what I’d like to give my Little (sorority little sister), I immediately began thinking about Reeses desserts, before I thought about anything else.  Nothing shows caring to me more than remembering what someone likes to eat and taking the time to make something special.

With this in mind, I am currently chilling chocolate pot de crèmes in the fridge, which I will top with fresh homemade whipped cream, in honor of my parent’s anniversary. Mom is in love with anything chocolatey, and my stepdad always gets a little sad whenever whipped cream isn’t incorporated somewhere in the dessert.  I’ll probably just chillax with some strawberries and maybe a bite or two of the cream, but seeing the happiness on their faces makes the little bit of extra time in the kitchen a million times worthwhile.

Here are some of my favorite food gift ideas:

Lemon shortbread in a pretty little jar. This recipe is to die for!

Mickey Mouse French Macaroons #Disney #MickeyMouse #macaroons #recipe

Mickey Mouse French Macaroons…these will be gifted to my brother. As soon as I can possibly figure out how to make macaroons…hm.

Truffle Hot Chocolate Balls...makes hot chocolate when dropped in milk. A pile of these individually wrapped mounds with a mug would make for a perfect gift!

Truffle hot chocolate balls. I’m getting excited for Christmas super early, I suppose, but these look good anytime of the year!

12 Great Writers…and Their Favorite Snacks.

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Found this on the Kitchn, one of my favorite blogs, and just had to repost.  This is comedic manna for any foodies/literature nuts. Right now I’m siding with Proust or Dickinson…nothing beats coffee, except, perhaps, homemade bread.

This also got me wondering…what will people recall as my favorite snack, should I happen to write the next Great American Novel (cue audience laughter)?  Hopefully they’ll go with something respectable, but a little quirky…like my occasional light whole grain English muffin with melted light mozzarella cheese.  More likely, they’ll just draw a  handful of the semi sweet chocolate chips I find myself grabbing out of the baking cabinet at embarrassingly frequent intervals.