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Monday, August 11, 2014

Summer Manifesto Check-In

Being nearly two months into summer I thought that today would be a good time to check in with my summer manifesto. I made the list as an experiment, which is why I never shared the list here. I'm a compulsive list maker as it is, and I already have a curated life list that I maintain, so I wasn't sure if adding another list to that plate would be a good idea. The idea of a seasonal manifesto is to set small, achievable goals with the intent of making the most of that season. I struggle with finding things to enjoy about the summer months so I thought this would be a good trial run and I must say that I am loving it! It's been a great way to find things to focus on and enjoy, and it makes a handy list for thinking up things to do on open afternoons. This is a habit that I plan to keep, and something I will definitely be sharing about more in the coming seasons.

Are you interested in starting a list for summer? It's not to late! Think about the next month and a half and jot down the things you want to be sure to experience before autumn rolls around. Here's where I'm at with my list...

1. Watch 10 new (or new to me) movies.
I'm normally a movie nut during the summer, if only to escape the heat. Generally I get stuck in a rut of re-watching old favorites, which is why I made this goal. This summer I'm running behind. On the bright side, the two I have watched have both been enjoyable. Burlesque (Such a fun movie! I loved the costume design.) and The Hundred-Foot Journey (This is a must see! The acting was fantastic and it was one of those movies that makes you want to chase after your dreams. Not to mention the visuals, gorgeous.).

2. Watch the World Cup final somewhere fun.
Check! My mom won tickets to watch the match at The Chelsea theater and it was absolutely worth the price to upgrade. A giant leather couch, good margaritas, and watching the final surrounded by other passionate fans. The World Cup will definitely be a highlight of my summer.

3. Make homemade ice cream and gelato.
I've gathered up the recipes, now all I need to do pick up a few ingredients and follow through.

4. Find the perfect sangria recipe.
I made an attempt with a white wine base featuring fresh cherries and blackberries, but it was definitely a flop. Do you have a favorite recipe?

5. Read 10 new (or new to me) books.
Another slow start on this goal. Now that I'm actually going to the library regularly again I should be back on track. I haven't been thrilled with the two I've read so far, but I'm hopeful.

6. Write something.
Ever since attempting Camp NaNoWriMo back in April my fingers have been itching to write again. I have several lists of prompts bookmarked, I just need to actually set aside some uninterrupted writing time.

7. Make 10 pretty things.
I've been bad about actually documenting my craft adventures so I'm not 100% sure where I stand on this goal. After a trip to the craft store over the weekend I am excited for some upcoming DIY projects.

8. Fill some pages in my sketchbook.
In general I want to be more intentional about taking time to create again. I'm looking forward to sharing some finished pages with you later this month.

9. Organize my space.
With the purchase of two giant new shelves this is going well. I purged a ton of books last week and now I have a better idea of how I want to organize things going forward. This is probably the goal I am most excited to complete.

10. Visit the Bellagio Conservatory and art museum.
The summer kites display is always one of my favorites and the museum is currently running an exhibit of women painters from the 1870's to the mid-twentieth century with a focus on impressionism. I'm looking forward to checking both out in a few weeks.

11. Try Giada's new recipe at the Cromwell.
Check! After getting lucky with being able to reserve a table I was able to cross this goal off of my list a few weeks ago. Giada herself even made a surprise visit that night! With so many delicious things on the menu I went with her seasonal tasting menu and it didn't disappoint. I will definitely be going back, with an in-depth blog post and photos to follow.

12. Make friendship bracelets.
I did this all the time as a kid and I thought it would be fun to revisit. I picked up the supplies over the weekend so this will be happening soon.

13. Have a picnic.
With the heat we've been having I'm thinking this will be a breakfast picnic, but still something to look forward to.

14. Take a class.
This summer I applied to go back to school, but due to some life circumstances I was unable to follow through with enrollment even though I was accepted. Looking at that experience I decided then and there that even if I won't formally be pursing studies again I can still decide to keep learning. Do you have any favorite online classes that you've taken?

15. Make a summer memory book. I've been saving concert tickets and little trinkets for as long as I can remember, but I almost always just end up putting them in a giant box. This summer I want that to be different! I want to put together a memory book of some kind when the season is over to commemorate it by.

What's on your summer manifesto? Are there any goals that you're trying to accomplish before autumn arrives?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Simple Joys

Happy August, lovelies! Have you ever noticed that when you don't stop and celebrate the little things that life becomes a blur? Other than a few notable exceptions, when I look back over the summer so far I get an overwhelmingly bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I've been doing the opposite of celebrating, I've been retreating. I've allowed myself to get caught up in my hurt, to feel too overwhelmed to breathe. Today I'm taking a stand. I refuse to allow my circumstances to dictate my mood. Today I renew my resolve to find joy in the simple things. Would you like to join me?

The Challenge: Each and every day this month (and beyond!) write down at least one thing that made you happy, made you smile, or otherwise brought joy into your day. While I encourage you to share on social media (I'm using #simplejoys on Twitter and I invite you to do the same), I suggest keeping a planner or journal as well so you have something physical to look back on when you need a reminder of how wonderful life can be.

Every Friday I will be sharing photos and snippets of my simple joys as well as fun projects, activities, and ideas for sprinkling your days with happiness. Please comment below if you plan on participating (it's never too late to jump in), I would love to share your links each week. Let's take a stand for joy together!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy Weekend!

This past week has been utterly fantastic. I have so much to share with all of you, and so many photos to sort through still. Even the little things this week have been fun! From making paper flowers at work for a Mother's Day project to some new books for late night reading. The best part, though? Taking a road trip to Newport Beach. My mom and I have been talking about taking a girl's trip to the beach for over a year now and this was the week to make it happen. With Mother's Day last Sunday and her birthday two days later, the timing was just perfect. As was the trip. We were only there for two days, but it felt like ages. The perfect sort of vacation.

The wind was intense on our first day there, but we still spent some time at the beach. My favorite part though had to be the hotel room with the wall of windows that opened up to a beautiful view of the bay. I'm so thankful to be at a point in my life now where I can treat my mom to things she enjoys. This definitely won't be the last you'll be hearing about Newport Beach. I've got a fun DIY project and some travel tips to share this week.

In other news, I had my first wedding cake consultation on Thursday. I'm really excited about the concept they're going for and I'm excited to share the process over the next few weeks. While I don't know if I'd want to pursue cake baking as a full time career, this has been a fun learning process so far.

Some of my favorite things from around the internet this week...

Food52 consistently inspires me through their Instagram feed. Gorgeous.
• This farmhouse kitchen is so dreamy.
• With the weather heating up, this Honey Plum Splash looks deliciously refreshing.
• I am completely smitten with the branding for the Oyster Inn.
• With my float obsession still going strong, these Root Beer Float Shooters look as delicious as they are charming.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Raspberry Pomegranate Float

Summer is coming and with it brings the season for tasty frozen treats. I love ice cream in just about any form, and this fruit sorbet is great for layering in beverages. Perfect for a Mother's Day bunch, a girl's crafting night, or just to sip on the patio with a good book, this drink in particular is quickly becoming a warm weather staple.

Raspberry Pomegranate Float

3 mini-scoops raspberry sorbet
1 bottle pomegranate soda

Scoop your sorbet into a pretty glass and then top with chilled soda. Finish with a colorful straw or paper umbrella.

It's as easy as that. Where this gets fun is the variations. You can layer different flavors of sorbet to mix it up (a raspberry/blackberry combination is a personal favorite) or change up the soda. For an adult twist, the sorbet pairs perfectly with prosecco. Making these for a party? To simplify your prep time pre-scoop the sorbet into a container and store in the freezer until party time to avoid the mess.

What are your plans for the weekend? With Mother's Day tomorrow and my mom's birthday on Tuesday we're heading to the beach for a few days to unwind and celebrate. This will be my first time actually staying in Newport and I'm excited to explore the bakeries.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Simple Spring Makeup

As much as I love playing with makeup and trying new things, sometimes you need to keep it simple. Over the past few months this has become my default look during the day. It takes less than ten minutes to put on, the layers are light for warm weather comfort, but there's still just enough sparkle to keep it fun. Added bonus? Without all of the extra colors and brushes this makes for a perfect vacation look that can be easily dressed up with a little eyeliner and a bolder lip.

My skin is crazy sensitive so you'll notice that I stick pretty closely to the same brands. I've been slowly adding some new pieces to my makeup bag, but after two years of painful allergic reactions (and their aftermath) I'm a little trigger shy. I have more freedom with my lip and eye choices, but after purchasing the Lorac TANtalizer set a few weeks ago I've become hooked on their gloss.

Preparation; My morning skin prep consists of a light mist of Evian Mineral Water Spray ($12) and a gentle massage of coconut oil. Lightly mist your face with the spray (or dab lightly with a clean washcloth and tepid water). Taking a dime-sized dollop of coconut oil in your palm, massage lightly into the skin. Finish off with another light mist.

Base; Using a buffer brush (mine is most similar to the Buff & Go Retractable Face Brush), brush on your base in small circular motions. I use bareMinerals Original Foundation in Fair ($27), but substitute with your base of choice. Using the same brush apply a light layer of blush to the apples of your cheeks. Also using the same brush, sweep bronzer over the bridge of your nose, top of your cheekbones, and your temples for a subtle glow. Here I'm using bareMinerals Blush in Beauty ($19) and Lorac TANtalizer Baked Bronzer ($32).

Eyes; Sweep a neutral, shimmery eyeshadow on your lid from eyelashes to crease. I'm using bareMinerals Glimmer in Queen Phyllis ($14), but the goal here is to find something close to your skintone to give your eyes a low-maintainence subtle shimmer. Apply a single layer of mascara to the upper and lower lashes. Here I'm using Lorac Cobra Mascara ($20). If you want to transition this look to evening, apply a second coat of mascara and some winged eyeliner for a bolder look.

Lip; I've been hooked on this pale peach shade from Lorac, Lip Lustre Gloss in Peach Lustre ($15), these past few weeks, but any pale pink or peach will give you the same basic look. I'll be doing a spring lipgloss round-up soon with some of my favorites because I can't seem to stop picking them up.

And that's it! I've been doing quite of bit of traveling this spring and that's really forced me to find a simple look that I love because carrying around my full makeup bag is not my favorite. What are your go to shades this spring?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Twenty Seven

A little over a week in to being 27 and the word that continues to resonate is content. Twenty six was a weird year in a lot of ways. It was messy and often painful, but through the bad comes growth. For the first time in a very long time, I feel comfortable with who I am and who I am becoming. It's a nice feeling.

Now that I am officially in my late twenties I am at a place where I am ready and excited to move forward. Being more comfortable in my own skin, I'm ready and excited to make some changes to better reflect the person I want to become. New routines, new habits. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

I love the idea of choosing a word to reflect the year ahead, but I find that my birthday resonates more personally for a fresh start than New Year's Eve. This year, that word is delight. If there's one clear thing that I can be critical of in the past year it's that I spent much of it getting bogged down in my daily routine. Delight isn't just in the big gestures, delight is in the details too! How can my days be more delightful, and how can I share that delight with others? These are the questions I want to be intentional about exploring this year.

As for my birthday itself? This year was particularly lovely. Even though my birthday fell during a particularly busy week at work, my coworkers decorated my cubicle and surprised me with the darling birthday basket below. My mom surprised me with some beautiful flowers, and my parents took me to my favorite pizza place for dinner. At the end of the day I felt so loved and special.

This year also marked a new tradition of taking myself on a birthday vacation. I made reservations for my favorite hotel back in January and this past weekend I was able to savor a thoroughly wonderful stay at the Bellagio. More on that soon because I couldn't stop myself from taking a ridiculous amount of photos. This tradition, though? Definitely a keeper.

What are your favorite birthday traditions?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

It's no secret that I adore YA literature, or that I have a thing for murder mysteries. So it's no surprise that I couldn't resist a supernatural YA murder mystery set in France. That and the gorgeous cover led me to pick up Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender on a recent trip to the bookstore.

Heads will roll! Paris, France: a city of fashion, chocolate croissants, and cute boys. Colette Iselin is thrilled be there for the first time, on her spring break class trip. But a series of gruesome murders are taking place around the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours the sights, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks like Marie Antoinette. Colette knows her status-obsessed friends won't believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they discover that the murder victims are all descendants of people who ultimately brought about Marie Antoinette's beheading. The queen's ghost has been awakened, and now she's wreaking her bloodthirsty revenge. And Colette may just be one of those descendants . . . which means she might not make it out of this trip alive.

First impression? Love! This was the perfect book for curling up with a mug of cocoa after a long day. The descriptions of France, especially the food, had me closing my eyes to soak up the atmosphere. I've been on a French food kick ever since. I also particularly enjoyed how Katie was able to imbue modern-day France with an air of centuries old supernatural flair. The transitions between the two created the perfect amount of tension.

While the mystery itself wasn't packed with twists and turns, watching Colette come into her own as she navigated an increasingly complex situation was key to her character development. Starting out frozen at the thought of deviating from her popular friends she finds her voice as the novel progresses, and while the conclusion felt a little abrupt for my liking Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer is a worthy and enjoyable read.

Some favorite quotes...
"They resumed their conversation, Hannah glancing around the room, collecting bits of other people's envy like seashells." - Page 76
"Ah, but that's not me. That's France. Perhaps that's why I want to be a historian - so that I can become more interesting by knowing things about the past" - Page 175

Final Rating: ★★★★☆
Pick it up for a fun weekend read, especially if you love all things France.