Monday, November 23, 2015

Screw Perfection in the Kitchen with These Messy Meals

Here's another article I wrote recently for Three Little Sparrows, which includes some of the easiest go-to meals I know!


You’ve probably heard the saying before, “stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.”  Well, it rings true in the kitchen, as well. We all chase perfection, and in this digital age, it’s all too easy to crop out a mess, apply a fancy filter, wipe out the dark circles under your eyes, and make your world look picturesque. And sure, it’s pretty; but is it honest?
A quick sweep of Pinterest or Instagram can instantly give a girl dinner envy—among countless other envies!—but the truth is, it’s okay to cook an unattractive meal. Since when did everything coming out of our kitchen need to be healthy, tasty, fast, easy, AND beautiful? That’s a lot to live up to! (Not to mention, no matter how closely I follow someone else’s recipe, mine never seems to turn out looking as cute!)
For example, here’s a photo from some Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos, found on Pinterest.. (Note the avocado in the background – there isn’t even any avocado used in this recipe!) :
Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos
Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos

And here’s my photo of the same recipe:
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.27.21 PM
As you can see, my meal – although it was delicious – just didn’t stack up, aesthetically speaking.
Comparing photos gave me a giggle, but I wasn’t ashamed of that dinner. It was really good! (In fact, it ranks #1 in my house, and I make it often… although it hasn’t gotten any prettier. Try it for yourself.
So did my boyfriend wrinkle his nose at my less-than-picturesque tacquitos and complain about the presentation? Nope!
There is beauty in being honest and real, unabashedly yourself and unapologetic about it. No one is perfect, and this extends into the kitchen.  While there’s a time and a place for exquisitely presented food, let’s be serious – how much time do you spend appreciating the plating of your meal? Unless your interests sway toward the culinary to begin with, my guess is not much! I once asked my boyfriend to stop at the store and grab some parsley, because I needed it for dinner.  He came home with this huge bunch of parsley; I chopped up one leaf, and sprinkled it on our plates as garnish.
“Seriously?” He asked. “That’s all you needed that for?” If you’re ready to throw presentation to the wayside, I have four easy meals for you that taste great, whether or not they look pretty, because screw perfection in the kitchen!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Confused about contouring?

I was talking to a girl at work today (hi, Erica!) and she mentioned she had a blog.  I told her I did, too... and then immediately felt really guilty for somewhat abandoning my blog.

I know I need to get back into the swing of things, so I'll begin by sharing some blogs I've been writing for Three Little Sparrows.

Here's a peek at my most recent work, a newbie's guide to contouring:


Ah, contouring! It’s one of those subtle makeup techniques that looks great on celebs, but can be really intimidating to try yourself for the first time. I still remember the first time I attempted: armed with a bottle of Bare Minerals bronzing powder, I pulled up some YouTube tutorials and applied the powder just the way the girls on my screen did. But when I was finished, I wasn’t sure. Had I used enough powder? I couldn’t tell I had anything on. Was that the point? Had I blended too much? Maybe I wasn’t using the right brushes…
Contour newbie
Contour newbie
Over time, I experimented with different bronzer types and bronzer colors. Bare Minerals made me itch, another brand was too yellow-pigmented…NARS was pretty good, but I wanted one that also had a built-in highlighter…
Most recently, I’ve settled on the cream of the crop, Marc Jacobs. It does the trick, but sometimes I did wonder if I was putting this stuff on right.
Enter one of my besties, Sara Thompson. Sara is a makeup artist (she studied under Mario Dedivanovic, the legend who gave Kim Kardashian her signature sculpted look) and the gal I go to with all my beauty inquiries. She was all too happy to help, and showed up at my door with her makeup bag in tow, for a beginner’s guide to contouring.
Sara Tompson the beauty expert
My girl Sara Thompson, the beauty expert

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Oh, hey guys!

If you've been looking for me, let me catch you up on my life:

  • I graduate from grad school on Sunday!
  • I'm doing a lot of freelance work for multiple clients. 
  • I'm a contributing blogger over at Three Little Sparrows.  My first article was published last week, and there are lots more scheduled! 
  • Took my somewhat annual Florida family vacation
  • Saw Hedwig in NYC with Ivy

    All for now! I have a bunch of backlogged Stitch Fix and DailyLook entries, so I hope to be back to blogging somewhat regularly soon!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bucket List Updates, NYC Edition!

A few months ago, Sara had a conference to go to in NYC so I tagged along.

I love going to NYC with Sara because she basically tells me she's up for whatever... which results in me being able to plan a bunch of fun stuff!

For this trip, I crossed two things off my bucket list.  First, we went to Serendipity 3 (the restaurant featured in the John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale movie Serendipity) and had the famous "frozen hot chocolate."

The frozen hot chocolate was good, but not amazing. It did have a distinct "hot chocolate" flavor to it. There were some other interesting flavors, but I wanted to stick to the famous flavor. If I go back, I'll definitely be more adventurous. 

Next, we went to The View Restaurant and Lounge.  I'd literally been trying to get into this place FOREVER, but it always happened to be on the other side of town at dinner time, or the reservation lady was rude and hung up on me. Whatever! Finally the stars aligned and I was able to use those crazy glass elevators (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment for sure, I was quoting it with the other people in our elevator) and eat at the spinning restaurant.

Even more amazing is the fact I didn't touch my phone FOR THE ENTIRE MEAL so I could record this video:


Pretty awesome, right? I thought so! I'd love to go up there on the 4th of July and see all the fireworks go off as we spin.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Less than thrilled by DailyLook Boxes so far!

A few months ago, I was checking out DailyLook (a service similar to Stitch Fix) and they were offering your first three boxes for free.  I figured it couldn't hurt to check them out, so I did.

These are photos from my second DailyLook box, which -- while admittedly better than my first -- still isn't quite right.
1. This body con dress was cute... but SO short, and the material was really uncomfortable. I never would have worn it.  (Another downside about DailyLook is they don't make it easy to figure out the brand you're trying on.)

2. This dress was cuuuuute and comfy, but holy BOOBS batman! The style was flattering around my stomach and hips, but that super low scoop neck wasn't made for anyone bigger than an A cup. Next!

3. I loved this dress... it was a beautiful color (the photo doesn't do the color justice) and the material was super soft. BUT, what on earth is up with the slits in the side? Am I Angelina Jolie at an award show? Also, I'm five foot eight, and I tried this dress on with heels... and it STILL dragged on the ground.  I really wanted to keep it, but it would have required so much tailoring.  At a price point of high $70s, I couldn't justify that purchase.  Too bad, I really loved the TOP of this dress!

4. I'm having non-buyers remorse with this one. My reasoning behind returning it was that it was SUPER short and I never would have felt comfortable in it... but, golly, it was cute.

Here is dress #2 tried on with a bra that has a built-in modesty panel.  I was hoping I could make the dress into something I could work with, but the modesty panel just made it all look silly.

Not pictured: A pair of jeans that were two sizes too small, and a purse, even though I'm fairly certain I requested no purses.

The pros: After giving feedback on my (colorless) first box, I really felt like my stylist listened to me regarding colors, as I love all these colors.  

The cons: I didn't feel like I could comfortably leave the house in any of these.

The verdict: I sent everything back. Womp, womp.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stitch Fix #10

(As you may or may not have read, I was recently laid off, so I've paused my Fixes.  However, I still have some catching up to do. Fix #10 was the last one I received, so I'll be going back through my past-but-not-yet-blogged-about Fixes until I can reinstate them.)

Here we go!

1. Renee C Melody Cowl Neck Dress - $38

I saw this on a lovely lady on Instagram and had to request it for myself.  However, it runs small.  I did like the dress, the color was great, (and the price was right... only $38? Wow!) and I didn't think it was terribly unflattering, but I didn't think I would feel very comfortable wearing it... I'd always be adjusting! Verdict? Sent back!

2. RD Style Pasha Textured Dress - $74

Cute, basic black dress with some texture.  I might have considered this if it weren't for the piping that ran down the front of the dress... I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but it was another element that I knew I'd always be struggling to straighten and stressing about.  Verdict? Sent back!

3. 41Hawthorn Sheyna Halter Blouse - $48

Ordinarily, I would have been miffed that my stylist sent me tops.  I had specifically requested dresses (I can never have too many wrap dresses!) and I don't wear pants very often, so blouses are pointless.  HOWEVER, since I just got laid off from a very casual work environment, I know I'm going to need to invest in more office-appropriate attire.  So I gave the blouses a shot!  This one was okay, a dark gray, but I felt it was a bit shapeless.  I could possibly have gotten it tailored, but who has the time/money for that?  Verdict? Sent back!

4. Daniel Rainn Rylin Pintuck Detailed Silk Blouse - $78

I've read a lot of minimalist wardrobe articles that say every woman should own a silk blouse.  I wanted to put this blouse back due to the price, but my brain kept saying, "you don't have a silk blouse" and "you don't even have a nice black work shirt."  I guess this is a wardrobe staple that I needed... and it's cute, right? I justified it by pointing out that I would need it for job interviews and I wouldn't be buying any new clothes for a long time, anyway. Verdict? Kept!

5. Fun2Fun Janina Split Neck Tulip Sleeve Blouse - $44

This top was much more reasonably priced, and the prettiest shade of blue.  I figured it was both office appropriate, comfortable, and my style.  Now I have two blouses for those days I don't feel like wearing a wrap dress!  Verdict? Kept!


My Fixes have really improved since I've requested a specific stylist.  I think going with a "senior" stylist is the way to go!

If you're interested in joining Stitch Fix and having a personal stylist send you clothes based on your style profile and Pinterest boards, please sign up using my referral link! 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Checking in on my goals for 2015...

I've made a bit of progress on my goals so far this year, let's take a look:

4. Graduate with distinction in September. When I first published this list, I had five classes left to go.  Now I only have three! I get to "walk" (participate in the commencement ceremony) next month, but I won't really be done until September.  Still, I'm on track!
5. Complete LASIK eye surgery. I am now optically balanced, my old glasses have been donated, and my contact solution has been given away! Happy to report 20/20 vision!
10. Publish AT LEAST one short story, one personal essay, and one poem. So far, one essay of mine has been published at  I need to finish up a short story (still undecided about an ending!) and get submitting it, too!
15. Get some business cards. I have some business cards and they are pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

So, we're four months into the year and I've completed (or at least made some progress on) four of my 15 goals.  Not terrible, but I can do better!