Friday, December 13, 2013

Mixtape #8: Best of 2013

Just sharing a quick playlist with y'all today because I'm studying for finals.  I was looking at NPR's Top 100 Albums of the Year article earlier and it got me thinking about my favorite CDs and songs of the year.  I somehow narrowed it down to ten songs.

I actually got to see one of the bands, Local Natives, in concert here in Dallas at the House of Blues a couple months ago. A friend of mine that works for Radio UTD got me the tickets!  Wild Nothing was the opener and it was such a great concert.  They just had great energy and you could tell they love doing what they do. Definitely check out their album "Hummingbird," you won't regret it.

Local Natives at Dallas House of Blues, Oct. 8 2013

I found out about CHVRCHES because their lead singer spoke out about the harassment female singers face every day, and why it's not something we should just shrug off as "the norm."  I am always happy to support someone doing good work for feminism.  I try not to talk about that kind of thing too much on here because that's not the purpose of this blog, but between her and Grimes it was a great year for women in music.

Also speaking of awesome women, I'm so glad my Aunt Melissa let me burn her copy of Kacey Musgrave's debut CD.  I'm still kind of in disbelief that there's a country singer who sings about kissing girls.  We've come a long way, baby (Gloria Steinem really should trademark that phrase...).  Plus Kacey is a native Texan :)

Hellogoodbye came out with their third album this year and they seriously just keep getting better and better.  It's so different from their early emo-pop rock, but I love it.  Plus Forrest Kline seems like such a nice guy and his house is awesome.

And of course I had to close it with an M.I.A. track, because who doesn't love M.I.A.?  She is fearless.



If you too are studying for final exams, best of luck!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Autumn Mood Board

Here's a collage of some of my favorite images from my Autumnal board on Pinterest...

Autumn Mood board photo AutumnMoodboard_zps98616e97.jpg

...and a great track from Camera Obscura's latest album:


Hope you're all enjoying the cooler weather!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hibernating

The good news is that it's Thanksgiving break for school and I really needed a break from homework and tests!  The bad news is that I didn't pack nearly enough warm clothing and it's unexpectedly cold this week.  Even inside the house with the fireplace going I'm still cold.  So this post is a manifestation of my warm clothing longings :P

I'm on a reading binge lately.  I finished The Cuckoo's Calling the night before I came back to SA for Thanksgiving break and man, I seriously don't think people give J.K. Rowling enough credit!  I have loved all of her books, the HP series most of all of course, but definitely her adult novels as well.  The ending totally surprised me (though maybe that's because I don't usually read mysteries and I'm not trained to guess the killer yet?  haha).  And frankly I think her books are great because they are just plain funny!  That was always one of the things I loved about HP, all the great comic moments.  I also just finished Bridget Jones's Diary.  It was both hilarious and horrifying.  My not-so-inner feminist (it's very outer haha) was cringing for most of the book, but I did laugh a lot.  It's nice to read fluffy books sometimes, you know?

I hadn't been on my Goodreads page in a while so I had forgotten all about my yearly reading goal of 25 books.  I'm only about 52% there!  How pitiful; it's not like 25 books is a lot.  Maybe if I counted textbooks my count would be higher...

But anyway, I got some new literary magazines at B&N the other day (which totally count as books in my opinion) that I'm really excited about (one is published in Austin) and the short story collection pictured below.  I have about five a half weeks left and I am determined to still make my goal!

I've also decided that I need to just shell out the $25 for a B&N member's account.  Free shipping, coupons, discounts... and I'd definitely make up for the $25 through savings in no time.  I was just telling my mom the other night that if B&N went bankrupt like Borders and had to close, I'd be severely depressed.  There is just nothing more relaxing for me than spending an hour or two in the bookstore leisurely picking out some new titles and enjoying all the beautiful covers (maybe that's just the marketing major in me).

I do have some school homework/projects to take care of this break, and I'm working a few days at the La Cantera Anthropologie again (including Black Friday.  Yay?  :P), but otherwise I will be wrapped in a blanket reading the rest of break.  Here are my dream picks for optimal cold-weather comfort:
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Casado Cardigan by Saturday/Sunday at Anthropologie
Snowflake Boot Socks from Eddie Bauer (they don't bunch up in boots, they're great!)
Pommed Peak Beanie also from Anthropologie
Ex-Boyfriend Flannel Shirt from Madewell
Classic Banded Sparkle Sweatpant from Aerie
Sunchoke Soup Recipe by Happyolks (really want to try this)
Indigofera Monochrome Blanket via the Dreslyn
Holiday Mercury Candle in Creamy Chai from Anthropologie (smells divine you guys!)
Pumpkin Spice Brulée Tea from Teavana (Mom and I are hooked on Teavana now)
Bobcat short stories collection by Rebecca Lee (currently reading)

Seriously kicking myself for not bringing any of my sweatpants home with me.  Especially my comfy lounger pants from Anthro :(.

Also digging this week:
The Anthropologie blog.  I know I'm biased because I work there, but... yeah :P
The baby blanket in this post is responsible for me caving and creating a baby board on Pinterest.  It was just too cute not to pin.
This Kat Von D liquid lipstick.  It lasts forever, even through eating and drinking.  I wear it to work :)
This Sufjan Stevens Christmas cover (I got his Christmas songs boxed set!):


Stay warm, friends!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Clarisonic Plus Review

I have been neglecting this blog pretty badly the past couple months, but no more!  Tonight I am taking a break from homework to write this long-promised Clarisonic review!  Lots of text coming y'all's way, so brace yourselves.  I also overshare a bit in this post, but that's okay, we're all women here am I right?  Just kidding, guys are welcome too.

I had heard about the Clarisonic system a long time ago but I was always wary of it.  I just figured the brush heads would be a breeding ground for germs.  Well, I was persuaded to give it a try by one of the sales associates at our local Sephora, Marlen (if you go to La Cantera's Sephora, always ask for her!  She's great.).  My mom wanted to treat me to a makeover for my birthday, and she'd had a makeover from Marlen before for a special event and highly recommended her.  At the time I was really frustrated with my skin because I was having pretty bad acne breakouts (this is a real talk zone by the way :P), and I couldn't seem to find a good foundation or concealer to help deal with it.  Marlen not only gave me some great recommendations for makeup, she also helped me figure out a new skincare routine that was perfect for my VERY sensitive skin.  I've been following it pretty faithfully since the beginning of August, with just a few modifications.

Marlen told me that she always starts her makeovers by using the Clarisonic to cleanse her client's face. I was hesitant at first, but she explained to me that the brush heads actually stay perfectly bacteria-free as long as you rinse them with water daily after use, and massage clean with soap once a week.  The brush heads are good for three months and then you replace them.  I say brushes plural because the Clarisonic system is very customizable depending on your skin concerns.  I'll talk more about that later.

So she tried the Clarisonic out on my face and I was very impressed.  It was very mess-free (keep in mind I was sitting at the beauty bar in the middle of Sephora and was having my face washed, basically!), the brush circulation felt great, and honestly, my skin did feel better after just that first use.  It felt truly clean.  She followed the cleansing up with a toner from Caudalie (all the product details will be provided later on in this post of course).  I honestly had never used toner, so she explained to me that it helps to balance the skin tone and reduce redness.  Or at least the one she recommended for me does, anyway.

As luck would have it, there was a rep from Clarisonic at Sephora that day and he was super helpful in explaining the different options available.  I ended up going with the Clarisonic Plus which has three speeds (and you know I leave it on the fastest speed all the time!).  I mean, I am serious business about managing my acne.  It's a pain (sometimes literally) and even though I try to keep my self esteem up, it used to really bum me out.  I mostly get breakouts when I'm stressed, so... all the time when I'm at school.  The Clarisonic system has been a huge help.  It seriously does clean your pores out.  I mentioned earlier that this post is a real talk zone, and I'm going to get very real with you:  it can be kind of gross watching a spot that you thought was a freckle forming get cleaned out after a few washes with the Clarisonic.  But at least it's a clean pore afterwards!  They aren't kidding when they say it cleans deep into the pores.  All of this talk of pores is making me think of Quinn Morgendorffer, but anyway...



The very kind Clarisonic rep gave me a free acne brush head to try.  It's got the softest texture out of all their brush heads, which is funny because I would think firmer bristles would help more, but I guess it's just one of those things that is counterintuitive.  I also got a deep pore cleansing brush to try as well.  All of the base models (Plus, Aria, and Mia) come with a sensitive brush head, which is really good for all skin types.  I know they also have one made for men's skin, and the new luxe brush head that's got very soft, long bristles for delicate areas like the mouth, sides of the nose, and under the eyes.  The Plus that I got came bundled with a body brush, a cleanser, exfoliating body polish, a nice brush extension for scrubbing your back/feet/harder to reach areas, and a bronzer (which I gave to my mom, because I embrace my paleness), all pictured above.  Plus a cute little waterproof bag that I use when traveling to hold my Plus and any brush heads I feel like bringing on the trip!  It's pretty roomy.  Of course they sell just the base models and brushes separately, as well.  Since the Clarisonic rep gave me a free acne brush head, I also go the travel size acne cleanser that it came with, which I have tried and is definitely great for fighting acne, but a little too drying for everyday use.  The Plus model comes with a nice charging dock as well.  I can't remember how long you can go without charging it, but it's pretty long.  The Clarisonic also has a built in timer, so it lets you know when to move on (the standard setting is 20 seconds for chin and nose, 20 for forehead, and 10 for each cheek, with pulses in between each interval).

I will acknowledge that Clarisonics are pretty pricey.  It's easy for me to say how great it is because I received it as a gift, but I do think that the price is definitely fair if you think of it as an investment.  The brush heads themselves are not expensive, and you only have to replace them every three months (I still have a couple weeks before my first replacement).  And I cannot emphasize enough how dramatic of an improvement I've had in my skin.  I can't eliminate breakouts entirely because I cannot eliminate the stress in my life from my college classes and such, but when you use the Clarisonic every day, breakouts never get that bad.  You're nipping it in the bud, so to speak, and it becomes manageable and over time, hardly a problem at all.  And you can use pretty much any cleanser you want, as long as it doesn't have hard exfoliating beads (apparently there is a difference between cleansers with soft beads and hard beads), so if you have one that's already done wonders for your skin, the Clarisonic will just take your skin to the next level.  My skin has been softer, smoother, more evenly skin-toned (I used to have pretty uneven skin tone), and more vibrant.  I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but it's been true for me.

So that, in a nutshell, is why I am a total Clarisonic devotee now.

I'll do a roundup of my favorite skincare and makeup products tomorrow (homework allowing :P).

Also digging this week:
This Nars Ride Up to the Moon eyeshadow palette.  The green is killer.  I've used it as a liner and shadow both.
The best product ever from Vera Bradley, a TSA-approved clear case for your liquid travel needs.
Mom and I discovered the joys of Teavana today (I'm in SA for the weekend).  Pumpkin spice brulée tea!
The trailer for Wes Anderson's upcoming film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Now with more Voldemort Ralph Fiennes!
File this beaded top under Impractical Things That Working at Anthropologie Has Convinced Me I Need.
Also related:  My Newfound Candle Addiction.  I got the Snow on Cedar scent and it smells like Christmas and happiness.

Speaking of Christmas, I am going to make a real effort to do some gift guide posts in November.  I love Christmas so much.  It is seriously my favorite time of year.

On a final note, it is finally fall in Texas!  And by that I mean it stayed below 80 degrees for a whole week.  A whole week!  All is well in the world.

If  you have any questions about the Clarisonic system, drop them in the comments!  If you made it this far in the post, you are great and I appreciate your readership :).



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nashville: 12th Avenue South

This post is a couple weeks late, but school has been very busy!
My mom and I took a trip Labor Day weekend to Nashville to stay with my aunt and uncle.  They have a drum shop, Fork's Drum Closet, on 12th Avenue South, and every year they host a concert that they call Fork Fest at their farm in Springhill.  My uncle's band The Midnight Riders played, as well as another band from Clarksville.  It was a very fun and relaxing weekend, and I got to see some of my family, so that was nice.  We also did a little exploring around the 12th Ave S area.  Here are some of my favorite places we checked out:

The Frothy Monkey
As cozy as it looks!
This was a sweet little coffee shop a few doors down from Fork's.  It had a great atmosphere (we walked in to hear Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" playing, so I was sold immediately), a nice selection of organic teas, bakery items, and coffee, and an interesting clientele.  I always joke that 12th Ave S is hipster central, but Nashville hipsters are very different than, say, Austin hipsters.  I like to people watch :P.  I had a cup of their seasonal tea blend, and Mom had the turtle latte, which she let me sample.  Delicious!  We'll definitely be back at our next visit to Nashville.

Sadly the dog was not there the day I visited.
I'm sure you've heard of this store from another blog already, but if you haven't, it's a denim company that makes all of their jeans in the USA (mostly regionally) and will custom tailor them to fit you in-store.  The day I went in I tried on the high-waisted jeans but they were out of my actual size, so I'll have to try again when we go back in December for Christmas.  But let me just say, they were a true high waist!  You don't see jeans like that very often.  The dark wash that I tried on was beautiful.  Imogene + Willie also has home goods in the store, and they are a showroom for Warby Parker eyeglasses (and sunglasses).  I tried on a few pairs that caught my eye, and since Warby Parker will send you five pair to try on for a week, I think I'll be testing them out at home soon.  And only $95 for prescription glasses!  Plus they give one pair of glasses away for every pair sold.  
Warby Parker "Crane" eyeglasses in Mallard Green shade
One last funny thing about our visit to Imogene + Willie:  the sales associate that helped me with the jeans was named Peggy Sue.  Can you believe that?

Located down the block from Fork's, I can easily see why this is my relatives' favorite lunch place.  Burger Up sources all of their ingredients from local farms for a seasonal menu that beats any other burger place I've ever been.  There are large communal tables inside and small tables on the patio, where we sat.  Since this was our third time there, we knew we needed to get the cheese plate.  Mom and I shared the patty melt, but I've had their regular burger too and it's great.  They also have a lot of salads and vegetarian options.  I wish there were more places like this where I live in Dallas that cared about environmental sustainability.  

We also spent some time in downtown Franklin, about halfway between Nashville and my aunt's farm in Springhill.  It's a really quaint city with lots of boutiques and antique stores and, most importantly, a new Anthropologie!  I looove my employee discount...

I already can't wait to go back in December.  My family will be joining a bunch of our relatives in Nashville for the holidays, and this time my boyfriend will be coming with us.  I can't wait to show him around!  

A couple bonus Nashville-related links:
-Local painter and blogger Rebekka Mann Seale just opened a new online yarn shop, Camellia Fiber Company.  She dyes all the yarns by hand with natural dyes!  I have my eye on the Sea Glass and Spanish Moss yarns.
-The Gulch is the next up-and-coming neighborhood, according to my aunt and uncle.  We had lunch there at the Whiskey Kitchen before they dropped Mom and me off at the airport.  

Do y'all have any favorite Nashville spots?  I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School!

I have not abandoned this blog!  I have just been very, very busy.  

Mostly with my new job at Anthropologie (and yes I am taking FULL advantage of the employee discount), but also because I am getting ready to go back to Dallas for my final year of college!  To say I am excited to finish these last two semesters is an understatement.  Not that I have any idea so far what I'll be doing after graduation (maybe law school?).  

I whipped up a fun, little playlist that's perfect for listening to while you're packing or cleaning or moving in.

Speaking of playlists, because I am ever so slightly OCD and love making playlists, I've been compiling one of all the songs I hear in Anthropologie that I own.  I started this long before I began working there, actually.  It just so happens that whoever makes the playlists for the stores and I have very similar taste in music!



Speaking of playlists, because I am ever so slightly OCD and love making playlists, I've been compiling one of all the songs I hear in Anthropologie that I own.  I started this long before I began working there, actually.  It just so happens that whoever makes the playlists for the stores and I have very similar taste in music!

Also digging this week:
The new Marc Jacobs Beauty line at Sephora.  Love.
This beautiful smelling candle from Anthro.
Super comfy looking sweatpants from Gap that would be great for lounging/studying/etc.
A recipe for homemade funfetti cake!  Can't wait to try this.
Pretty much everything from the new Madewell collection, but especially coveting these skinny jeans.

Hopefully after I get moved in I'll be back to regular posting.  Keep a look out next week for a peek into my makeup bag, and a review of the Clarisonic brush.

Send positive packing vibes my way, because I've barely packed anything at all and I'm leaving Friday.  Yiiiiikes.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dachi


As promised, I'm going to share a treasured family recipe with y'all (yes, I have permission).  My Oma brought this recipe with her from Germany.  I have done countless Google searches to see if I could find out its origin, but I have yet to find anything.  I'm going to assume it's either a recipe exclusive to the region Oma is from (near Munich), or a recipe that Oma or one of her ancestors created and named themselves.

It is somewhat similar to strudel, but not really.  It's much simpler to make, and I would argue more delicious, too.  This is one of the easiest desserts you will ever make.  And probably the most addicting--just a fair warning.

This is a nice dessert to take to a party because it's good hot or cold, but it won't last very long.  Or at least at our family reunions it's gone within 30 minutes.  It's also great at breakfast!

It's a nice recipe to make with a friend or family member.  One person takes care of the dough, while the other slices the apples.

I'm not going to put a serving size here, because honestly, it just depends on how hungry you are.  Mom and I made three pans today at around noon, and we've already eaten one and half of another between us, my sister, her four kids, and my dad.  I fully expect the rest will be eaten by dinnertime.

My family named our first miniature schnauzer after this recipe (schnauzers are a German dog breed).  When I told my niece today that we were making dachi for dessert, she looked horrified.  In hindsight, maybe it was weird that we named her Dachi, but the name really does suit her somehow.

Here's the recipe!


Dachi
Makes 3 pans for sharing

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
3/4-1 cup ice water
6 apples, peeled and sliced thin
Cinnamon
Sugar
1-1 and 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat in the Crisco with a pastry blender.  Slowly add ice water and combine into a dough.  Do not add more than needed, or it will stick to the rolling pin.  Roll out the dough onto a flour-covered surface, and use a rolling pin to get the dough very thin.  You should cut the dough in half to make this easier, and work with one piece at a time.  When the dough is thin enough that it is almost translucent, carefully transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet.  Put a little flour on your hands and use them to mold the dough to the sides of the baking sheet.  If there is any excess dough, cut it off from the sides and add it to the rest of the dough.  Continue this process until you are out of dough.  It should cover at least two full size, standard baking sheets and another slightly smaller pan.

Layer the sliced apples in four columns lengthwise (see photo).  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar generously over the apples.  Finally, drizzle the melted butter on top.  Place the first pan it the oven and bake for between 18-20 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is golden brown.  Repeat with the other pans.


Note:
The secret to this recipe is getting the dough and apple slices as thin as possible.  You will inevitably have some apple slices that are thicker than others, so try to alternate thick and thin ones while you layer to keep the pastry from getting too thick.

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Picnic and a Family Trip

I am writing this post from my aunt and uncle's house in Tennessee!  Clarksville to be precise, where both my parents are from.  We're here for my Oma's 88th birthday/Stefko family reunion.  All nine of my dad's siblings will be here for the party tomorrow.

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Dad, me, Oma, and Tomcat.  This might be the first picture of myself I've posted.

We went to visit Oma today for a few hours.  She was very surprised to see us, but I don't think she'll be surprised about the party we're all throwing for her tomorrow.  After having a surprise party every year for the past few, I'm pretty sure she's cottoned on by now.

We had some delicious dachi that my aunts Jane and Teresa made.  It's a German apple pastry recipe my Oma's taught us all to make.  She assures me that it's not a secret family recipe, so I'll probably share it here on the blog soon.  The secret is getting the apples nice and thin.

It's great seeing my relatives that I usually only see once a year, at most.  Even better, my sister is coming down from Indiana tomorrow with my niece and nephews for the party, and then they're coming back to Texas with us for a couple weeks.  I can't wait to see them!

Now for today's post.  I've had picnics on the mind lately.  The weather's not scorchingly hot yet, so now is the perfect time to take a blanket and a basket out to the park with some good food and a bottle of wine.  Here are some pieces that would be perfect for a picnic with your family, your partner, or a friend!


DIY Picnic photo DIYPicnic_zps0e1a80da.jpg

Top row:  A Perfect Day for a Picnic cookbook by Tori Finch // Circo cheese board at BB&Beyond //  To-Go Ware utensil set
Middle row:  Korken bottle from IKEA // Bamboo picnic basket from World Market // Center Border kitchen towels from West Elm (set of 4, comes with other colors)
Bottom row:  Queen hammock from Yellow Leaf Hammocks // Rustic European picnic blanket from Williams-Sonoma // Sangria from Llano Estacado

One thing I learned while researching picnic baskets:  THEY ARE EXPENSIVE.  This one, however, is a reasonably-priced and simple model from World Market.  A lot picnic baskets I saw online had pockets and lining and all sorts of nonsense inside, but I figure it's more fun to take a couple kitchen towels (like this one from West Elm) to line the basket yourself and keep food clean and protected.  I thought the clear bottles from IKEA would be great for bringing along some iced tea or water.  And if you're picnicking in the backyard, a hammock would be nice for a post-food nap.  Surely I am not the only person who takes naps after eating sometimes...

The sangria is from a Texas label (go local!) and it is delicious.  Highly recommended.

Anthropologie has a lot of great cookbooks (like the one I featured last post).  I saw this one the other day and thought it was pretty neat, because it has recipes for different themes (cuisine, occasion, etc.).  And I am pretty clueless about what foods are portable/fairly non-perishable for a picnic.

On that note, do y'all have any recipes that would be great to take along on a picnic?  Please share!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer Solstice Chicken

Let me introduce y'all to an excellent cookbook:

Chicken and Egg by Jessica Cole

I picked it up on a whim one day at Anthropologie because it was on sale.  It was a good decision!  Every recipe that I've tried so far has been delicious, and there are so many more that I still need to try.  

As you probably guessed, all of the recipes involve chicken and/or eggs as ingredients.  Those of you who know me in person know that I don't eat a lot of meat in general (not that I'm a vegetarian), but chicken is definitely my favorite meat.  The nice about this cookbook is that almost all of the recipes have common ingredients and are easy to make. 

The book also doubles as a memoir of sorts.  The author raises her own chickens in her backyard.  If you're interested in urban homesteading, you would probably enjoy that part of the book.  My sister has chickens on her farm, so I got her this book for her birthday last year.  

One of my family's favorite recipes to make from this cookbook is the Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts over Roasted Potato Salad.  It's got radishes, green onions, and hard-boiled eggs in there too, and it's a great meal for summer days.  The salad is even good without chicken.  I would recommend this cookbook for that recipe alone.

The recipe my mother and I made tonight, which I am going to share with you here, was the Summer Solstice Chicken.  It was easy to make and extremely flavorful.  

You make a (very) bright green marinade (see below) with springy herbs and onions the night before, and then all you have to do the day of is grill the marinated chicken!  It's so nice for hot summer days when you don't want to use the oven and heat up the house.  

The recipe wasn't kidding when it said bright green.

We also grilled up some fresh corn on the cob, and my mom made these biscuits that have 7up in them (sounds weird, but they're surprisingly good).  

Mom was grillmaster for the night

And the end result:


The author also suggests slicing the chicken and serving it in pita pockets with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, with sour cream and a lil' dill on top.  I think we had some leftovers tonight, so that'll probably be my lunch tomorrow.

Here's the recipe!

Summer Solstice Chicken (from Janice Cole's Chicken and Egg)
Serves 4

4 green onions (green parts only), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1/2 lbs)

Combine all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a blender container and blend until smooth and bright green in color.  Put the chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them.  Put in a shallow pan and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Oil the grill grate and grill the chicken, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink in the center. 

Serve immediately.

Note:  We put the chicken in a casserole dish and poured the marinade on top to leave overnight in the fridge, then flipped the chicken in the morning so it would get coated on both sides.  It was less messy that way than using a plastic bag.  We also added a smidgen more garlic than suggested, because why not?  I personally would go a little lighter on the dill next time we make it, but my parents thought it was perfect as is.  

If you give this recipe a try, let me know how you like it!  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

DIY Spa Day & Mixtape #6: Unwind

I've been out of school for two full weeks now and yet I still feel exhausted somehow.  It definitely wasn't the best semester in terms of my stress levels, so perhaps I just need some more time to recover.  What better way to do so than with a relaxing spa day at home?

Here are some of my favorite beauty products for a personal spa day, and a couple that I am excited to try.

Spa Day photo SpaDay_zps7b9ed10c.jpg
From top right and spiraling clockwise:
The robe is no longer available, but it was too darn cute not to include! // Voluspa Japonica Mini Candle from Anthropologie // Godiva Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (stores only) // Murad Intensive-C Radiance Peel // Tazo Calm Chamomile Tea // Soap & Glory Scrub 'Em and Leave 'Em Body Buff // Illamasqua Nail Varnish in Lament // Philosophy Raspberry Sorbet Bubble Bath/Shampoo/Body Wash

Let me begin by saying that that candle is one of the best I have ever smelled.  I love the Murad peel for its brightening qualities and great smell (scent is important to me, obviously).  My mom used to have this great scrub for hands, legs, and elbows, and this Soap & Glory product looks like it would be a close replacement.  I smelled it in Sephora the other day and it had a nice scent, too.  Speaking of my mom, she has me hooked on these Illamasqua nail varnishes now.  The colors are all beautiful, and the varnish is incredibly long-lasting.  I'm talking a week plus without any chips (or that weird cracking that some nail polishes do after a while).  I have yet to use that Philosophy body wash as a bubble bath yet, but it's on my to-do list.  Finally, some hot tea and a few chocolate covered strawberries would make a great snack while you're kicking back.  Or chocolate of any kind, really.  One can never have too much chocolate in my opinion.

Just add a nice book to read and you're all set.  At the very least, you will smell great!  Haha.

Some bonus links:
-I love the idea of a mimosa bar if you wanted to do a spa day with some friends
-Or you could do epic reflexology foot massages with your partner. Date night!
-If you're on your own, try these unsightly but effective pore-purifying strips
-Here's an easy-to-make but filling salad (yay, kale) if you get peckish

I've also made a playlist of summery, relaxing songs to enjoy alongside the mini-spa.  I may or may not have included some Hawaiian music from the Spongebob Squarepants soundtrack.  I definitely did not rip said music from YouTube.  Just between you and me.

This playlist would also be great to listen to while chilling poolside.  Let's pretend that college doesn't exist for a couple more months, shall we?  (If you're in summer school, I am so sorry.  Stay strong!)




Positive vibes, everyone.  Enjoy :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Poolside

School is over!  For a few months, at least.  I'm back home at my parents' house for the summer and enjoying the relaxation.  It helps that they have a pool in the backyard.  Summer comes early to Texas, and the pool water should be warm enough by this week for us to start swimming.

Using some new tops and swimsuits I got from Aerie as inspiration, I put together a couple poolside outfits and accessories:

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From top to bottom, left to right:
Aerie Perfect Boyfriend Tee in Hurricane // RayBan "Chris" Sunglasses (also available at Target, which is where I got mine) // Aerie Light as Air Tank in Lemon Lime Infusion // Aerie "Juliet" Printed Balconette Bikini Top and Floral Ruched Bikini Bottom // Fieldguided "Endless Bummer" Tote (she has a great blog btw) // Aerie Plunge One-Piece Swimsuit in Hurricane (just ordered this and really hope it fits!) // Mossimo Women's 3.5' Inseam Colored Rolled Cuff Denim Short in Mint // Mossimo Lavinia Slide Sandal in Black (I have these in red as well and I love them) // Fossil Girlfriend Short in Vintage Indigo Denim

I thought I would make a more realistic dream outfit post for once.  I own all of these items except for the Fielguided tote (which I actually might order because I love its simplicity) and the Target shorts.  Those Aerie shirts are so comfortable and lightweight--perfect for summer in Texas.  It's already in the 90s here.

Also digging this week:
NPR's first listen of Laura Marling's new CD
These pants from Anthropologie (and this romper)
How to make banana bread in a jar as gifts/favors
My new iPhone case!  Love the textured sides.
This maxi dress I got at Nordstrom.  Perfect.
Watching blogger Sara Sherman's cabin renovation progress.

Hope y'all are enjoying the summery weather!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mixtape #5: Desperately Seeking Summer

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Because aren't we all?  

I cannot tell y'all how eager I am for this semester to be over.  It has not been the best.  I'm looking forward to the summer though.  My parents and I are going to visit some relatives in Tennessee, and my sister and her kids will be visiting for a couple weeks, then I'll go back up to Indiana with them for a few days.  Plus I'll be doing lots of visiting back and forth with my boyfriend while he's doing research at A&M.  

I've got a lot of goals for the summer, too.  I've been learning how to code using Codecademy.  Have any of y'all tried it?  It's really fun!  I completed the HTML/CSS track, and now I'm learning Javascript.  It helps that I have a programmer boyfriend to help me :).    I also want to learn how to use the Adobe Creative Suite of software I got this semester.  I've been fooling around with Photoshop a little, but I want to find some good tutorials or maybe take a class.  

And there's also my summer reading list!  I'm looking forward to reading Lean In, Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and The Interestings, just for starters.  Got any recommendations for me?  Right now I'm reading Norwegian Wood by Murakami, and although I'm not very fond of the story or characters, I do like his writing style, so perhaps another novel by him?  I hear Norwegian Wood is not his best.

Here is a short playlist to get you (more) excited for summer.  I fell hard for the first band, Hungry Kids of Hungary, when I first heard them covering Tame Impala's "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards." As Josh would say, total Carolinecore right here.  I'm hoping y'all will enjoy the classic Little River Band song I threw in there as well.  

If you're in school, good luck with finals!  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Beauty Brawl #1: Murad Moisturizers

If you were not aware that Sephora will give you a free sample of any product you'd like, be aware!  I have learned to take advantage of it, and discovered some great new beauty products risk-free (and also discovered some not so great ones, but at least they were free!).  My mom sometimes gives me the free samples she gets from the rewards program, and it was this way that I discovered the Murad skincare line.

Let me say this upfront:  Murad products are not cheap.  But I have come to believe that they are well worth the price.  And no one is paying little old me to say this :-P.

The first Murad product I tried was the Acne Clarifying Cleanser.  My mom had gotten it as a rewards program sample and didn't have any need for it, so she kindly let me try it.  I saw immediate results.  I'm talking next-day, very noticeable results.  My blemishes were already clearing up, and my face felt smoother than I'd ever felt it.  And most importantly (this is the litmus test for me when I'm trying new products) it didn't cause any new blemishes.  I don't have the worst skin in the world, but it is pretty sensitive and it always makes me nervous to try new products that more likely than not will just make my skin worse.  This was not the case with the Clarifying Cleanser.  I've been using it consistently since Christmas break. and I've been very pleased with it.

Acne Clarifying Cleanser-$26
Intensive-C Radiance Peel-$49.50

Next, and again thanks to my mom, I tried the Intensive-C Radiance Peel.  I thought the results from the Clarifying Cleanser were dramatic, but boy, this amazed me even more!  You use the Radiance Peel 1-2 times a week, leaving it on for up to 10 minutes.  It instantly brightened my face up and evened out my skin tone.  I was super impressed.  It also creates a nice smooth feeling.  I've only been using this product for a few weeks now, but it's been serving me well.

Now on to today's Beauty Brawl, which is a new series I'm starting for the blog, wherein I test and review beauty products so you don't have to!  Inspired by the improvement in my skin from those Murad products, I decided to sample a couple of their moisturizers.  I went to my local Sephora (Dallas North Park!) and got samples of the Essential-C Day Moisture and the Energizing Pomegranate Moisturizer.  Here are my findings:


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You have to take this with a grain of salt though, because I have very sensitive skin, and what works for my skin might not work for yours, and vice versa.

A little bit about the process:  I was planning on testing each moisturizer for a full week, starting on March 21st, but only did so for the Essential-C.  That's because after three days of watching the Energizing Pomegranate continue to break my skin out, I had to give it up.  I didn't want to do any more damage!  I have been using the Essential-C since then and my skin is recovering :-P.

Again, there's no denying that the Essential-C is pricey, but I think it's worth the money.  It's a twofer; you've got sunscreen and moisturizer in one product!  Plus the smell is amazing.  Something about the smell of sunscreen cheers me up, and the citrusy smell added in is heavenly.

Have any of y'all tried Murad products before?  I'd love to know your experiences with them.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Wishful Thinking #2: Classic Black

It is a universal truth that black never goes out of style.  It is timeless, seasonless, and effortless.  Not to mention flattering!  This is a simple ode to the color black, Wishful Thinking style.

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Clockwise from top left:
AÃRK Collective watch
Mille Dørge iPhone case design via Society6
Shoes are sold out from Topshop, but I see that style everywhere (here's a pricey example from Chloé)
Kaweco fountain pen with screw cap
Kate Spade purse
Brooklyn Cruiser bike

School should be calmer for a couple weeks, so hopefully I'll be able to post more regularly for a while.  This is a rare weekend when I'm not going to visit Josh or vice versa, so I have a lot of free time on my hands.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 11, 2013

From the Bookshelf: The Age of Miracles


The Age of Miracles photo The-Age-of-Miracles_zps90b43ff2.jpg
Literary science fiction with a coming-of-age story twist

Perhaps titling my book review series From the Bookshelf is misleading since about half of the books I read are in iBook form now, this one included.  Either way, I always wish that more blogs in the great blogosphere talked about books on occasion, so here is my humble attempt to start the conversation.

I just finished The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, a science fiction novel more literary than the average sci-fi paperback.  In the novel, a mysterious force is causing the Earth's rotation to slow and days to lengthen, creating increasingly dire consequences.  Animals begin to die, plants wither away, and people begin to suffer from a mysterious sickness.  The narrator is a woman in her twenties named Julia, who looks back on the time when the "slowing" began, when she was 11 years old.  The world is teetering on the edge of a catastrophe, of which she is very much aware, but she is also preoccupied with the usual catastrophes of being a preteen in middle school.  She experiences her first real crush, loses her best friend, and fears her parents may be splitting up, all the while having to adjust to living on "clock time" while the real days grow ever longer. 

[Spoilers from here on out!]

The personal urgency of Julia's childhood crises counteracts perfectly with the anxiety, excitement, and fear created by the slowing.  Julia often wonders if people begin to act more boldly once they fear the end of the world is near, and she too begins to act with more urgency.  Every betrayal and disappointment she suffers is made all the more poignant by the fact that she may not get a second chance at having a best friend, sharing a first kiss with a new crush, or even see her friends and family again. 

My main issue with the book is that I found it to be largely predictable.  Not the actual premise or the scientific aspects; the research that obviously went into the book paid off, because the premise seemed totally plausible and the consequences of the slowing seemed reasonable.  The mundane events of Julia's life, however, were not elevated much in importance or weight by the slowing.  I suppose that may have been the author's point, that the human experience is common, no matter what the circumstances.  But I, for one, found the scientific questions of the story more intriguing and pressing than Julia's preteen woes.  I often found my attention drifting away from Julia's thoughts towards the unsolved mystery of the slowing.  I wish that we could see more of the causes of the slowing rather than just the effects.  My most recent creative writing professor was fond of saying, "if you use a sci fi setting, there better be a reason for it.  The story should not be able to happen in a normal world."  And that is exactly how I feel about this novel.  Julia even makes a point of saying that her life would mostly have unfolded the same way without the slowing, it just complicates matters.  It is interesting that most of the characters attempt to carry on, so to speak, and live normal lives despite the slowing, but ultimately this is the book's biggest weakness.  Why not use such an interesting premise to radically change the way the characters live and interact?  In the end this book was merely a sci-fi bildungsroman.

And on a slightly morbid note, I was surprised that Julia never once considered suicide or even simply wondered what the point was in continuing, when it seemed obvious that the world would eventually cease to exist or become uninhabitable.

All of that being said, I really enjoyed reading The Age of Miracles (I even procrastinated on studying for midterms so that I could finish it).  Julia's voice is engaging and relatable, and I came to care about the characters and their relationships. 

l'd give it a 3.5 out of 5.  If you're looking for an easy read, or some science fiction that doesn't go on for a thousand pages, I would recommend this book!  If you check it out, let me know your thoughts. 

Up next:  whatever I get at Half Price Books tomorrow (coupon week, whoosh!).  Or Karen Russell's new short story collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove.  Speaking of Karen Russell, the iBook version of The Age of Miracles comes with a conversation between Russell and Thompson Walker that I found very enjoyable.  I'm sure the print version has it too. 

If y'all have any book recommendations for a review, let me know!

Completely unrelated:  My boyfriend is staying with us for spring break, and we just got that board game Settlers of Catan and played it tonight, and oh man.  It's fun!  Unfortunately Josh has a leg up on my family since he's played it before with his family.  He did a far better job of teaching us the rules than the rule book it came with, let me tell you. 

Happy spring break!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mixtape #4: Jangly Pop

School has been crazy busy lately, hence the lack of new posts the past couple of weeks.  I am going to try to work on some at the end of this week after my exams are done and schedule them for spring break.

For a quick post tonight I decided to post a playlist I've been compiling for some time now.  My boyfriend asked me once what kind of music I liked best and I jokingly said "jangly pop!"  The label has stuck, and when we listen to music together he'll say, "This is so Caroline, this is so jangly!"  I should note that for some weird reason most of this music originates from Australia... maybe they're just more cheerful there in general?

I hope you enjoy the mix!  Let me know if y'all have any requests for playlists (genres, occasions, etc.).

If you're battling through midterms like I am, hang in there, and good luck!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spring Fever Pt. 3

Here's the last part of the Spring Fever series, Design.  We're experiencing a cold spell in Dallas right now so this is especially wishful thinking.  And here I thought spring was right around the corner...

Design photo SpringFeverDesign_zpsd002e323.jpg

Letterpress fill-in invites by Pei Design
Part of a poster by Allan Peters for Artcrank 2012
Logo design by Oscar Morris for the Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (the aquifer beneath my home town!)
I don't have a credit for the last image unfortunately.  I particularly liked the color scheme though, so I had to include it.

I think the groundhog decided spring was coming early, right?  Let's hope so!  I can't wait to break out my tank tops and shorts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Adventures in Quesadillas

For someone who loves Mexican food as much as I do, it's crazy that I didn't think to make quesadillas before this week.  I was in San Antonio over the weekend and I brought some flour tortillas from Alamo Café home with me (seriously the best tortillas ever).  I'm going to freeze most of them for now, but I used a couple last night to try my hand at chicken quesadillas.  I made up the recipe as I went along, and while there are a few tweaks I would make next time around, it made for a delicious dinner. Mexican food is comfort food to me, and a week with two exams calls for comfort food!

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Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with Fresh Salsa
For the chicken:
1 Chicken breast, fat removed
Cumin
Mexican oregano
Chili powder

For the salsa:
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 Bell pepper any color, chopped
2 Green onions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
Small bunch cilantro, to your preference, minced
1/2 tsp Lime juice
1/4 tsp salt

Other ingredients:
1/2 cup Kraft four cheese Mexican, shredded
2 10" Flour tortillas
Butter or olive oil
Dollop of sour cream

Directions:
To season the chicken, rub the spices on the full chicken breast, trying to evenly distribute them.  Go easy on the cumin--trust me.  Alternatively, you could use a pre-made fajita or taco spice mix.  Then, cut the chicken into small pieces, anywhere from 1/2" to 1" depending on your preference.  Smaller pieces will make a flatter quesadilla, which will stick together more easily later on, so keep that in mind.    Using a skillet with a grill pan preferably, cook the chicken until it is no longer pink in the center.  You could also boil and shred the chicken if you prefer, but if you do leave out the seasonings initially.  Set the chicken aside.

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Don't go overboard on the cumin like I did!
Prepare the salsa by mixing all of the salsa ingredients together in a small bowl, adding the lime juice and salt last.  You could also chop the vegetables in a small food processor if you're pressed for time.  Make the salsa as chunky as you want!

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So Fresh and So Clean
Brown the tortillas lightly in a skillet using either butter or olive oil.  If you do use butter, use it sparingly.  Set aside one tortilla on a plate and leave the other in the skillet.  On the tortilla left in the skillet, pile a layer of half the cheese, a layer of chicken, a layer of salsa, and a layer of the remaining half of the cheese (you can always add more cheese if you'd like), then cover with the other tortilla.  Heat on medium or medium-high until cheeses have melted and the quesadilla sticks together.  You can try to flip the quesadilla midway if the bottom tortilla is getting too brown.

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Layer 1 (I realized later that I should have done a layer of cheese first)

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Layer 2
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Layer 3 (Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic)

When all of the cheese is melted, transfer the quesadilla to a plate, cut into four wedges with a pizza cutter or knife, and add a dollop of sour cream in the middle for dipping (bean dip or guacamole would also be great).  Enjoy!

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If you're not hungry enough for a full quesadilla, you can easily halve the ingredients and use just one folded over tortilla.  This huge quesadilla was too much for me to eat, but now I have leftovers for lunch today.

If you give the recipe a try, let me know how you like it!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring Fever Pt. 2

Here's the second post in the Spring Fever series, Living.  Plus, a (very loose) smoothie recipe below.

Living photo SpringFeverLiving_zps0d09fe44.jpg

If only vintage cars like that were fuel efficient, eh?
The washi tape is still available at Madewell; I saw it the other day when I was there.
I wish I had an occasion to make a fancy cake for!  That decoration is so beautiful.

Part 3, Design will be up some time after Sunday.  I'm in San Antonio this weekend for my Dad's birthday and therefore without Photoshop.   Luckily I don't have too awful much homework this weekend, so I'm mostly relaxing and enjoying spending time with my parents.  Sometimes I wish my college wasn't so far away from home.

My mother and I made pretty delicious smoothies tonight for dinner, since we had a big lunch out (Alamo Café, my favorite Mexican restaurant in SA).

Here's a quick and easy recipe:
1 cup Italian soda blend from HEB in Fruita D'Isola
1 Sambazon frozen açai smoothie packet (any variety will work)
1 cup frozen mixed berries (ours had strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
1 fresh kiwi, peeled and sliced
Just a smidgen of honey.

Blend and enjoy!
 
I'm hoping I can find the Italian sodas at Central Market in Plano too (they're owned by HEB) because it really was a nice addition.  If you are not lucky enough to live near an HEB, you could just as easily substitute vanilla soy milk and I'm sure it would taste great, just not as tart and fruity.  I'd also recommend any type of simple fruit juice, maybe orange or apple.

What are some of y'all's favorite smoothie combinations?  One thing I really want to try is incorporating greens into the mix.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spring Fever

I have been incredibly busy with school the past couple weeks, but I've had this color combination my mind for a while and wanted to share it.  Even though it's still technically winter, Texas is already starting to warm up (for now anyway), and I'm getting excited about wearing tank tops again and trying to incorporate more color into my wardrobe.  I say that every year and still ending wearing mostly black though.  It's a hard habit to break.

Here are some nice spring looks to wear.  Design and living looks will be coming up soon.  And by soon I mean whenever I get a break from the never-ending schoolwork that's kept me from the blog for so long.  I really should be working on homework as I type this, but I needed a break!

Wear photo SpringMoodboard_zpsdd9bcf18.jpg

I honestly do not have sources for most of the images since I found them on Pinterest (pin responsibly, y'all!), but I can tell you that the dress is Hi There from Karen Walker for Anthropologie, and the hat is by Annie Larson.  The graphic sweater can be found here, though I'm not sure of the brand.

What colors really evoke spring to y'all?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Color Trend: Black and Green

Sometimes I think I spend too much time on Pinterest (I'm sure I'm not the only one), but it's a great source for fashion inspiration and outfit ideas.  Over the past few months I started to notice a color trend that I never would have thought to try:  black and green.  It's a great wintery combo that I can't wait to attempt.  I just picked up a pair of greyish-black legging jeans last night at Madewell that should work great for a similar outfit.

Here are some looks for inspiration.  Which is your favorite?  I'm partial to the third patterned look (and her hair is absolutely perfect!).

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Row 1:  The Sartorialist // Wit & Delight // Lookbook.nu user Lucy D.
Row 2:  Zara // Stockholm Streetstyle // Style by Yellow Button

I start spring classes tomorrow.  Good luck to my fellow students out there!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wishful Thinking #1: Cozy & Comfortable

In a perfect world, this is what I'd be wearing/eating/reading by the fireside.  Living in south central Texas, we don't get a lot of opportunities to use the fireplace, but it's been pretty chilly here lately.  I've been getting good use out of my Ugg Australia black Channing leather boots, which you might still be able to get for about $100 less at Nordstrom Rack (that's where I got mine).  They are so comfortable, and they have fur lining inside for extra warmth.

This segment is called Wishful Thinking because let's be honest, a college student living on a small scholarship stipend can't afford Isabel Marant clothes or fancy home goods from Steven Alan.  But I can dream!  One of the reasons I love websites like Pinterest and Polyvore is that you can get a lot of inspiration even from clothes that are well out of your price range.  I'll never own that Isabel Marant cardigan, but I know I've seen similar ones at American Eagle and Forever 21.  I like to think of them as shopping tools.  But if you are lucky enough to have the funds, I have provided the links to buy everything.

If you looked in my real closet you'd see mostly Gap (the best store for basic tees and sweaters) and sale-priced Anthropologie.  I've been living in various colors of the Eversoft circle hem sweater from Gap the past couple of weeks, as well as the boyfriend v-necks from last winter.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some fantasy picks for a cozy night by the fire, curled up with a good book and some delicious Bacon Cheddar Biscuits (can't wait to try this recipe!) and tea.  And don't forget the schnauzer!  My family has three miniature schnauzers, two black and one white.  I cannot wait till I can have a dog of my own, or maybe even a cat if my allergies have lessened enough.

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Shirt:  A.P.C. Baggy T-Shirt in Bordeaux 
Cardigan:  Étoile Isabel Marant Kiliann Oversized Cardigan
Sweatpants:  Aerie Dormwear Skinny Boyfriend Pant in Charcoal Sky
Socks:  Monki Marita Socks in True Kiss Red
Blanket:  Khadi and Co Multi Plaid Blanket
Recipe:  Bacon Cheddar Biscuits at Frites & Fries
Mug:  Room Essentials at Target Espresso Mug in Black
Tea:  Tazo Blush Berry Black Loose Leaf Tea
Teapot:  Teavana Claire Glass Teapot with Stainless Steel Infuser
Book:  St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (great short stories collection)

I'm seriously considering ordering those Aerie sweatpants tonight.  They were all out of my size in store today.  I used to be pretty anti-sweatpants, but it's hard to feel motivated to walk to the campus gym in 50 degree or less weather in running shorts.  Do y'all have a favorite brand, preferably ones that are long enough for those of us who are tall?

In other news, I found a pretty nifty French press coffee maker and tumbler combination at Sur La Table last night.  I used it this morning with a Bavarian Hazelnut blend we found at HEB and it was pretty tasty!  I want to try making tea in it tomorrow.  It's nice that you can make the coffee in the same container you'll drink it from.  And it's dishwasher safe (but what isn't these days?).

Stay warm!