Creating a buzz…

September 30, 2014

As was reported by multiple media outlets this summer, the website BuzzFeed is expanding several of its verticals, including its Life section…and I’m excited to announce that later this month, I’ll be joining the BuzzFeed team as a Senior Lifestyle Editor! Oh, and the position is in New York, which means I (we!) will be relocating to NYC later this year!

BuzzFeed win

I’ll share more details about all this in the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, I’ll just be over here freaking out/getting my life in order (and, um, purchasing the new shoes I told myself I could buy if I got the job).

Foodstuffs: Hot ham and cheese sandwiches

September 29, 2014

Hot ham and cheese sandwich with bacon and caramelized onions

Photo by: Pinch of Yum

As someone who literally ate a hot ham and cheese sandwich (on a croissant) every day for lunch her senior year of high school, I was pretty pumped to give this recipe a try. The sandwiches turned out so well! A few things of note…

  • We didn’t have much bacon so I had to skimp on it; I actually don’t think it made much difference overall. I probably won’t even bother with the bacon the next time I make them.
  • The recipe took a while to make (it took about 45 minutes for the onions to caramelize) but it was a pretty hands-off and easy process.
  • The onions and the melted butter mixture are the star of the show here. The butter mixture was great because it made the bottoms of the sandwiches very toasty and delicious.
  • I know people bitch about sponsored posts, but this one was really great because 1. the recipe is amazing and 2. I’m actually really happy I discovered King’s Hawaiian makes hamburger buns. I also used them last week with this pulled chicken and they were just so good! I’ll definitely be buying them going forward.
  • Eric and I ate the sandwiches while watching “How to Get Away With Murder,” which I think is off to a good start! It seems like the fall TV lineup is going to be really good (though I’m a little bummed that “Outlander” is already over for the time being).
  • One of my favorite wedding gifts that we received was a set of stainless steel measuring cups and spoons from Williams-Sonoma. One of the cool things about the cups is that you can put them directly on the burner; I did that for the first time when I was melting the butter for the recipe. It’s such a silly little thing but was still completely delightful.

The best birthday gift ever

September 24, 2014

My friend Dallas and I share the love language of gifting. At the beginning of the summer, we started exchanging small pen pal gifts each month, a fun little activity that we had both been wanting to do. And, unsurprisingly, she went all-out with my birthday gift. (So all-out, in fact, it took a little while for her to collect everything and I didn’t receive the gift until September. Which was fine because 1. I didn’t care at all and 2. it was totally worth the wait!)

The best birthday gift ever

She basically brought my Pinterest boards to life BUT did it with products I’d never seen before, thus making the entire gift totally perfect, surprising, and delightful. 

The best birthday gift ever

The best birthday gift ever

Each little present was wrapped in brown kraft paper with a note written on it to explain why she chose it. Here’s what each one had in it…

For your princess hair, on days when you just can’t: a light green turban. (I started freaking out as soon as I read the note because I knew what it was going to be, and I’ve been saying I need a turban forever.)

Because flamingos y’all: fun flamingo clutch.

Because every girl needs a little KSNY: Kate Spade iPhone case. (Also the reason I will NOT be upgrading to the iPhone 6. I’m so excited about this.)

Because I knew you’d love it: “I’m a grown-ass woman and I do what I want” temporary tattoo.

Because…truth, am I right?: “Bitches get shit done” pin.

For inspiration to one of my favorite writers: mint green “write that shit down” pencils. (!!!!!!!!!)

Because who doesn’t love a bow? And also…Kate: Kate Spade bow earrings.

(And on the one that said “Open me last please”…)

Because we’re in a lean-in circle of two: prints of Dallas and me having long-distance girl talk. (It took a second for me to figure out that they were’t just totally adorable…but that they were actually designed to look like us! Also I love that Chuck makes an appearance in mine.)

The best birthday gift ever

She TOTALLY nailed everything and I love it so much! Also, I have a lot to live up to come December. 

Hello, fall!

September 23, 2014

I decided to follow up my summer goals post with a new one for autumn. Here’s what’s been going on around these parts, and what’s to come!

Eating / Quesadillas. I had quesadillas probably…five nights a week for dinner this summer? I made chicken in the Crock Pot at the beginning of the week and then used it in the quesadillas for the rest of the week. It’s easy, somewhat healthy, and I didn’t have to think about it. Perfect. This week I started living on the edge and added mashed-up black beans to the mix.

Drinking / Earl grey tea with creamer.

Practicing / Yoga. Still yoga. The good news is, I’ve been very dedicated lately. Since August 25th, I’ve done 14 sessions. I don’t know why I’m suddenly more committed, but whatever. Not gonna question it.

A note on my summer goal: In June, I said my goal for the summer was two weekday sessions plus one weekend session every week. I…did not achieve that goal.

Mastering / These curls.

A note on my summer goal: I TOTALLY mastered the omelet this summer. Or at least got decent at making them.

Trying / To put my laundry away right out of the dryer. The struggle is real.

Playing / Dress-up. It’s Halloween-time, and Eric and I are getting an earlier start on our costumes this year.

Finishing / All the unwritten blog posts. I have ideas. Sometimes I even have the photos. But sitting down and writing has gotten so, so hard for me when I write for 8-9 hours at work each day.

A note on my summer goal: I did put Things away, as planned! I’m really proud of that. Once that was done, I was able to fill my room with bricks.

Reading / Faster. I’m a pretty fast reader, but I only got through about a third of James Baldwin’s Another Country this summer. I read too much shit on the Internet, basically. But last week I sat down and read Boy, Snow, Bird in one sitting, so that was something. 

Wearing / A middle part. And my new(ish) “Midwest” T-shirt. I should probably just buy it in a few more colors so I can wear it every single day until it starts to get cooler. Like the quesadillas, I just don’t feel like thinking about it.

Cooking / New homemade meals. I was totally on autopilot this summer and cooked the same things over and over again. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been working some new or haven’t-made-in-a-while recipes back into the mix. Nothing huge, probably one a week. But I still feel pretty good about it.

Traveling / To NYC in October for Bridal Market.

Working / To create a new routine. Part of the reason I struggled to work out this summer is because I had a really set routine…and that routine didn’t include working out. I’ve read that routines are extremely difficult to break, so at the end of August, I committed to giving my routine a major shake-up by getting up and working out first thing. I didn’t end up sticking with the morning yoga past the first week (I just get more out of it in the late afternoon) but the earlier wake-up time did help reset my routine in a really helpful way. I’m still trying to figure out what the perfect routine is; this week, it’s getting up at 6:20, being dressed and fed by 7:35, not turning on my phone until after I’ve left the bedroom area (it’s too hard to get my day started on time if I do), and writing until 8:45 or so. (Oh, hi!) 

A note on my summer goal: I didn’t write about this (see also: my point on finishing things) but my trip to Chicago in July was amazing because I was able to see all my closest friends. I got to spend time with each of them one-on-one and was reminded just how great they are, and much they mean to me. I feel even more connected to them now and I love that. 

Wanting / Sweater weather!

Foodstuffs: The Feast

September 22, 2014

On Saturday afternoon, Eric arrived home after a five-day trip so I suggested we have a yummy dinner together as we caught up on some of the TV shows we’d missed. We ended up making “The Feast.”

The Feast

“The Feast” is a dinner that originated in 2008 when I lived in New York. My friend Jessica and I started calling it that after the first time we made it, and the name just stuck. Others call it a cheese plate, or a dinner of appetizers…but it’ll always be The Feast to me.

What makes The Feast feel like an event instead of just a regular dinner is going shopping for it. I suggest heading to a fancy(ish) grocery store or just going crazy in the bakery/prepared foods section at your regular store. Do it the day of with the person who will be joining you in feasting; it’s just a really fun outing!

Here’s what you’ll need to create The Feast…

Cheese. I typically opt for brie and Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar (though Eric convinced me to try another sharp cheddar this weekend).

Roasted potatoes. These crispy Parmesan squashed potatoes are my go-to because they are so easy to make and so yummy. To me, the roasted potatoes always take things up a notch and make it feel like more of a meal. I also like that there’s some cooking involved; this extra bit of activity makes it feel like more of a date/friend date.

Bacon. Always.

A vegetable. I like green beans cooked in the bacon fat, but Brussels sprouts or asparagus would be really good too.

Fruit. Strawberries and grapes are a safe bet, but HEB had Honeycrisps this weekend so we went with those.

Carbs. We got pretzel rolls on Saturday night which were a good choice. I also like popcorn with a delicious topping or ROLD GOLD Honey Wheat Twists.

Booze. I usually like trying a new beer (or a few new beers) with The Feast! On Saturday, we actually opted for a new-to-us bottle of Malbec instead.

Dessert. I like a lighter dessert with The Feast, just because it’s easy to fill up and have no room for the looked-really-great-at-the-time-but-now-I-couldn’t-possibly chocolate cupcakes you bought. A yummy dark chocolate bar is usually my top choice, but we got grasshopper cookies on Saturday and they were perfect.

Whatever else looks delicious. Seriously, just buying what looks good is the most fun part of shopping for The Feast. I actually recommend going shopping somewhat hungry so that you are more likely to buy/try delicious new things. Get some hummus or other tasty-looking dips, try the new tortilla chip the grocery store is sampling, etc. We picked up pepperoni on Saturday night, along with croissants which we ended up saving until Sunday.

The Feast is extremely easy to adapt and I like to use one or two seasonal items to make it feel a little more special; a seasonal beer or cocktail or just an in-season fruit is an easy way to do this.

Once you’ve come home with your bounty, food assembly is pretty easy. I usually get the potatoes roasting, and then cut up the cheeses and arrange the carbs. Once the potatoes have been in the oven for about 20 minutes, I start the bacon. Then I cook the green beans in the bacon fat, pull the potatoes out of the oven, and put the bacon back in the pan for 60 seconds to warm it up. Easy! And then you feast!

A milkshake date

September 20, 2014

Last Saturday evening, I was feeling uninspired. Or maybe overly inspired? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I couldn’t focus on anything for more than two minutes and I was getting motion sickness from how quickly I was moving between writing (really, attempting to write) blog posts, editing photos, and browsing Pinterest and Instagram. Eventually I realized I just needed to step away from the computer and get out of the house. So I took my husband out on a milkshake date!

I had been wanting to take Eric to Grub Burger after going for the first time a couple weeks ago; I saw the boozy milkshakes on the menu and thought trying them would make for a perfect date night.

Eric and I were pretty heartbroken when our beloved Burger Guys closed earlier this year, but I hadn’t really considered that Grub Burger might be a worthy substitute. It’s not as good, but…it’s pretty good. I got the classic burger and added a fried egg like I used to do at Burger Guys and…it was a decent knock-off. Eric got the mac and cheese burger which was as ridiculous as it sounds. I took one bite and was like, “Nope.” It was good, just way too rich for me.

As for our milkshakes, I had planned to get the Dirty Kitchen Sink, which is made with chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and potato chips. I love sweet and savory together, so it sounded perfect. Unfortunately they were out of it (I’m…not sure how that works?) so I just kept it simple and went with the bourbon and caramel milkshake instead. It was great. (It also seemed really boozy, which was fine by me.) Eric got the Moonshine American Pie shake, which had apple pie moonshine, baked pie crust, apple pie filling, maple syrup, and kosher salt. It was yummy but the texture was a bit weird (with bits of apple pie coming up through the straw).

Maybe next time we’ll go totally retro and get one milkshake with two straws?

On the table: Things little black girls love

September 20, 2014

Misty Copeland photographed by Pari Dukovic via The New Yorker

Pari Dukovic, The New Yorker

Happy weekend, folks! Here’s what I’m reading/discussing/thinking about this morning…

Clair Huxtable. So, yesterday the New York Times had an epic fail with Alessandra Stanley’s racist article about Shonda Rhimes. It was just. So. Bad. Among Stanley’s errors was when she wrote that Shonda Rhimes’ leading black ladies are “certainly are not as benign and reassuring as Clair Huxtable, the serene, elegant wife, mother and dedicated lawyer on ‘The Cosby Show.’” But as Kara Brown pointed out in her (excellent) response piece:

“Clair Huxtable is an incredible character because she gets angry. She gets angry and frustrated at times that are angering and frustrating. She is a successful lawyer and a caring mother and devoted wife. She is sweet and measured but is also quick to put you in your place if you say or do something stupid. (And she could even do it in Spanish.) Clair Huxtable accepts foolishness from absolutely nobody, but she also picks her battles.”

After watching the embedded clip of a scene in which Phylicia Rashad plays Clair Huxtable as perfectly angry, I ended up going down the Huxtable rabbit hole. And it was lovely (if unsurprising) to read about the huge impact the character had on young girls, particularly young black girls. I know I watched “The Cosby Show” as a little girl, but in all honesty, I don’t have a ton of memories of it. In the past couple years, it has crossed my mind from time to time that I should just watch the entire show. Last night I discovered that the show is turning 30 today, so it seemed like the perfect time to start re-watching. So after finishing this article about all the ways Clair was a badass, I started with the pilot episode of “The Cosby Show” on Hulu Plus. I got through the first three episodes and I was literally laughing out loud alone in my room and texting Eric (who was traveling) like, “OMG, I just discovered the best new show!” If you want to re-watch, TV Land is airing a Cosby marathon today. And ABC news rounded up 30 interesting facts about the show, but you know I’m mostly interested in the sweaters.

Ballerinas. This morning I read Rivka Galchen’s profile on Misty Copeland in The New Yorker. I feel like the word “inspiring” gets tossed around a lot, but I truly find her story inspiring.

“Her memoir, Life in Motion, written with Charisse Jones, portrays her childhood as having been in some ways idyllic: swimming at the beach, a circle of loving and talented siblings, a charismatic and beautiful mother, and a gift for responsibility and leadership. But another version of Copeland’s childhood, which also comes through in her memoir, is the hardship tale: not knowing her real father, a succession of differently difficult stepfathers, and uncertainty about whether there would be dinner on any given night.”

When I was a little girl, doing my interpretive dance to the soundtrack from “The Little Mermaid” in our apartment, I know I would have just loved her. As an adult, I still think she’s really great. I don’t need any new workout clothes, but I kind of want to buy something new from Under Armour just to show my support.

Project Runway. I don’t follow this show, but this week there was an American Girl challenge. Like, OLD-SCHOOL ACTUAL AMERICAN GIRL NOT THIS MODERN BULLSHIT. I’m looking forward to watching that today and further re-living my childhood.

Handsome princes. This morning, I saw that Price Harry “rescued” a little girl who couldn’t see at a concert this week, putting her on his shoulders so she could get a better view. The only thing that’s been harder on my ovaries this week (well, along with Ovaries Week over on The Cut) was discovering the DILFs of Disneyland Instagram account.

A Facebook profile pic PSA

September 16, 2014

Dear friends,

If you change your name after you get married…

And then you have a baby…

And then you make the baby’s pic your Facebook profile pic…

I NO LONGER HAVE ANY WAY OF KNOWING WHO YOU ARE ON FACEBOOK.

So then this happens:

You post an update that says that you just bought a house and I’m like, “Who is this baby who was able to get a mortgage?”

You post an interesting article and I think, “Will this toddler think it’s weird if I like her status? Also…that toddler reads The New York Times?!”

You post a status about the funny thing your child just did and I wonder, “Did this baby have a baby? Children having children, what is this world coming to…”

For me, this isn’t about not liking baby pics on Facebook, or about how women’s identities change after marriage and children; this is simply about logistics. Please do everyone a favor and use Facebook the way God intended it to be used: with your own damn face.

Let’s all watch Sha’Condria Sibley deliver an inspiring and badass poem

September 13, 2014

My pal Chanelle shared this Upworthy post last night, and while I generally find Upworthy smarmy as hell, I’m actually glad I clicked through on this one. Here’s the video.

It’s so interesting to me that in recent years, more and more white kids are getting saddled with “big names.” While these names are the subject of plenty of mocking, I doubt the Kaybryns and Teiguns (it’s pronounced TAY-gun) will have the same results as the Sha’Condrias of the world when they send their resumes to potential employers. 

Pit stop: How to make your own deodorant

September 11, 2014

A couple months ago, I saw a bunch of people raving about this this natural deodorant recipe so I decided to give it a try. I mainly decided to try homemade deodorant because I was curious, had most of the ingredients already, love using coconut oil for pretty much everything, and thought it would be a budget-friendly alternative to store-bought deodorant (which is pretty pricey and doesn’t last that long). I don’t think natural products are the end-all, be-all, but I’m not a terribly sweaty person and don’t have sensitive skin, so I figured I was in a good position to experiment.

Pit stop: How to make your own deodorant

First, the recipe I used…

Ingredients

12 tbsp coconut oil

8 tbsp baking soda

8 tbsp cornstarch

Lemon and eucalyptus essential oils (several drops of each)

You’ll also need some sort of container to put it in. I was looking around my kitchen, wishing I had some kind of tube-like vessel to put the mixture in. My eyes landed on some popsicle molds I had never used. Since these particular molds are sort of short and fat with a wider handle instead of a stick, I knew they’d be perfect. It was quite possibly the most genius “life hack” thing I’ve ever come up with on my own.

Instructions

1. Melt the coconut oil over low heat.

2. Add the baking soda, cornstarch, and essential oils and let it cool for a bit.

3. Pour it into your container(s) and stick it in the fridge to cool.

The recipe above filled five popsicle molds and filled 95 percent of a sixth…unfortunately, the not-full popsicle mold led to a bit of a crumbly mess when trying to remove it, so that one is going to need to be applied by hand.

Pit stop: How to make your own deodorant

I wanted to try out the natural deodorant (and only the natural deodorant, to be sure I got the full effect) for a few weeks before I wrote about it; I’ve now been using it since late July. Overall, it’s working well for me. One downside: after about a week of using it, I noticed that my skin was feeling a bit itchy and I realized I had a bunch of ingrown hairs under one arm, which has never happened to me before. It was quite painful so I started swiping under my arms with witch hazel a few nights a week before bed and after shaving, and that seemed to solve the problem. (Showering would also likely solve the problem but I hate showering so…I guess I’ll just spot clean my body?) Now I just use the witch hazel a few nights a week to keep it from happening again. I actually recently read that some people use straight-up witch hazel as deodorant, so that may have increased the deodorant’s effectiveness too.

One clear difference between the natural deodorant and the Secret deodorant I used before this is that the natural stuff is lot harder/drier, texture-wise. I’ve been keeping it in the fridge because I didn’t want it to melt in my bathroom, but that means it goes on a little rough. I actually just pulled one of the sticks out of the fridge this morning to see how it does being stored at room temperature; I’m curious whether it will soften up a bit. On the other hand, if you made the deodorant in a jar, you could probably warm a little up in your hands before applying so it would be a bit more moist (SORRY) when you put it on.

Unlike regular deodorant, which I’d totally swipe on later in the day if I felt like I needed it, I don’t really like to pile on the natural deodorant. (Thanks to both the texture and the ingrown issue.) If I really feel like I need to reapply, I’ll use a little witch hazel first and then reapply the deodorant to clean(er) skin.

Pit stop: How to make your own deodorant

Like I said, it’s working pretty well for me overall. I love the smell of the lemon and eucalyptus and I’m happy with how dry it keeps me but I’m not 100 percent sold on the texture. On the other hand, store-bought deodorant is often kinda slimy, so I’ll continue to play around with softening the DIY deodorant, and I’d even try a different recipe/ingredients going forward.

My biggest takeaway from all of this is that witch hazel is kind of the best thing to keep in your bathroom! It cures all sorts of ailments, is a really good way to freshen up post-workout (especially if you’re shower averse), and the strong/weird smell has sort of grown on me.

Further natural deodorant reading/reviews that I enjoyed:

“Do I Smell Funny?” Natural Deodorant Challenge

The Great No-Deodorant Experiment

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie