Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Five: Links I'm Loving

via we heart it
I've been in my head the past couple weeks. Planning, analyzing, problem solving and dodging anxiety fun. It could be because I'm more aware or open to advice or thoughts right now, but I've found SO many internet things this week I really connected with. I love a good, mindless internet surf session, but I was snapped out of the mindlessness so many times and it suprised me so I thought I'd share my internet findings.

As I've ramped up in my new job, I've found myself feeling a lot more drained. I used to feel this way a lot and not know why, now I realize my little introvert is rearing her head. It was relieving to hear I'm not the only one when I read these 7 tips for the Introverted Career Woman.  I'm going to start putting them more to use in my everyday life.

When I mix my type-A ness with my 'realist'-ness, I find myself struggling to understand what "just knowing" means. Santa. Jesus. Love. Friendship. All those things based on rumors or 'feelings' make me really uncomfortable.  Well....I mean we all know what happened with the whole Santa thing. I read this article on the Elite Daily and the questions really sunk in for me. I think whether you're choosing a friend or mate these are all good questions to help gauge the whole feeling thing. 

Honestly, I just heart the whole The Everygirl site right now

I have been  obsessed with getting to Paris in the very near future. I was even thinking about making it the destination for my birthday last year. There is a part of me that thinks its a bit silly though since I've been there and it is so accessible. There are plenty of more exotic places in the world to discover right now, why settle for Paris? I saw these article about 5 Places to Find Paris in Chicago while I was looking at the 7 introvert tips.  It could not be more perfect to my life right now. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

2016 ~The Golden Year

The 29th of last month was not only my Golden Birthday, but also marked the start of the last year "in my twenties".  I had been talking about my golden birthday for quite some time. Thinking of it as the epitome of birthdays. I was old enough to afford nice things and have a perfectly curated group of authentic friends, but young enough to still have fun. I wanted it to the 'anti-thirty' and next year we could forget birthday's even exist.

The scale of my vision was rapidly diminished in July. For 1, I was laid off and decided to move to Chicago. I had to switch my focus from vacation planning to life planning. Also one of my girlfriends from college found out she was pregnant and would be due the first week of January. There was no way we could plan something without her, let alone potentially miss the birth of the first, in our group of friends, baby.

Overwhelmed for many reasons, I left it in the hands of my friends. I have to say it was absolutely. perfect. Chicago had just had a winter storm plow through and despite the BF being stuck at the airport across the country having several flights cancelled, my 2 out-of-town girlfriends made a safe trek to the city. I was able to meet one of them, N, for brunch and girl talk then we headed over the K's. We were originally just going to meet for manicures a little later in the afternoon, but decided to head over early. We spent most of the afternoon on the couch, in our sweatpants, where we belong. Catching up, laughing and talking about things like birthing strategies and homeowners insurance {who are we right now?} We pried ourselves off the couch for a few hours to get manicures, but booked it back home when they were done. K had put together a beautiful cheese tray (that only half of us could enjoy) and her famous gauc for us to munch as we got all gussied up for drinks and dinner.

Before we headed out the door the surprised me with the gorgeous, super sparkly cake. We had cocktails at a modern speakeasy The Violet Hour, it reminded me a lot of Bourbon and Branch in SF. Then went to dinner at a new restaurant, The Bedford, that was built in a bank vault. The walls were lined with {gold} glimmering safe deposit boxes. The food was delicious and just as we were finishing dinner the BF made his heroic arrival after taking every mode of transportation invented to get there. Literally.  We topped it off with the cake that was brought in, glowing with candles.

It was honestly too much to ask for and even better than laying on a beach in Mexico as I had envisioned a year earlier. A really solid way to wrap up 2015 with a perfect, gold glittering bow. The simpleness of hanging out, talking, getting dressed up and sharing a meal with friends who I have always considered to be my 'home' couldn't have made it any better. I spent a lot of my time in California feeling restless and anxious. It was so good to just be. Enjoy the things that matter the most and reinforcing my biggest realization of 2015, that 'I'm okay.' Things are how there supposed to be and the most graceful (and least exhausting) way is to take it as it all is.

When I started this post about a month ago, I wanted it to be a list of goals for this year. I didn't make any resolutions because there isn't anything specifically I wanted to work on or change, that put a bit of a limit on my list of goals. After that my mind immediately jumped to that list of things everyone wants to accomplish by the time they're 30, since I have 1 year left.  Then, when I thought about it, I've traveled. I've splurged. I partied. I've had my idealized 'dream job'. I've found my actual dream job. I've loved. I've had my heartbroken. I've pushed myself. I've challenged myself. I didn't know what was left to put on the list. Not to say that I've done it all, by any means. I just can't think of anything new right now.  Then I realized, like I just said, that it finally feels good to just be 'okay'. To NOT be constantly searching, soothing, achieving or discovering. It's anxiety inducing and exhausting. My biggest accomplishment of 2015 was getting to that point and learning, that no matter how hard I wanted to be there before, I had to go through everything I did to really get there. Maybe I should just start enjoying that? I just finished reading the article on Ms. Witherspoon in February's Harper's Bazaar where she describes her motivation for starting her production company and clothing line. She had all this nervous, type-A driven energy that she didn't know what to do with and now, with maturity she's learning how to put it to use.  I don't necessarily think I'm quite at the stage of knowing what to do with it, but I am learning to be okay with it and put it to use.
"In my 20s I was scared of everything. I didn't know what my career was. I didn't know why people liked my movies. I was wary of interacting with people....I was scared. Really scared. Now I feel like a different person. I'm much more open now. It's a great thing getting older. You are who you are; you say what you mean."
This year I want to embrace that so much more, relax into it and, hopefully, make it my own.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

{Easy} Gluten and Dairy Free Seven Layer Bars

Seven Layer Bars are one of my very favorite Christmas goodies. We spent Christmas this year at my Grandparents in Florida. With all holiday craziness and travel no one really found time to make many holiday treats. After a whole day of vacation without a single, safe Christmas cookie I had to do something.

The small town in Florida that my Grandparents live in have very little gluten or dairy free options so I had to get creative. I had seen this recipes for Seven Layer Bars and although they look absolutely delicious, I didn't have enough patience or appropriate ingredients to make them. Target was my only shopping option so I took to the aisles with the classic Eagle Brand Milk recipe to see what substitutions I could find.

For the crust, I found these Annie's Gluten and Dairy Free, Snickerdoodle bunnies. They were a bit sweeter than normal graham crackers so I when I mixed in the butter I added a some more cinnaman hoping to dull it down.

Luckily they had Enjoy Life chocolate chips! I honestly like these better than regular chocolate chips any way. I used the whole bag at various stages of layering so they bars were extra chocolatey!

The condensed milk was the hardest to step by far. I found this recipe for Vegan sweetened condensed milk. I used 1 can of  coconut milk and 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. I simmered it at a low heat for about 30 minutes, I think it definitely could have cooked a bit longer but I was antsy. 

Full Recipe: 
1 1/2 cups (about 1 bag) of Annie's Snickerdoodle Cinnamon and Sugar, Gluten Free Bunny Cookies (crumbled)
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 package of Enjoy Life, Dairy Free Chocolate Chips
1 1/3 cups of flaked coconut
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups of Vegan Sweetened Condensed Milk

Pre-Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x9 baking pan.

Mix together crumbled cookies, cinnamon and melted butter. Press mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle in half the bag of chocolate chips and half the coconut.

Pour condensed milk over the bars. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips, coconut and nuts evenly over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes. Let bars cool completely before cutting or refrigerate for firmer bars.
They went so fast (eaten by my non-Paleo/food allergy family) I almost didn't get a picture of the final product!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Five: Winter Survival Kit

Despite spending much of my childhood in the midwest, I was officially de-conditioned after my 2nd winter in California. I remember coming back home for Christmas and wearing my Uggs and winter coat around the house....and still feeling like I was near hypothermia. So far this winter hasn't been too awful. The dryness has been the most irritating part (for both hair and skin).
I made some wise winter preparation choices back in November that I am thankful for.

In most of the country leggings would be an easy, comfortable pant choice that just happens to look great with boots. Unfortunately, there is ZERO wind (and wind chill) protection. The fleece lined ones are super cozy and add a much needed layer of protection.

I was debating getting new Uggs vs. the Bean Boot. I couldn't decide if the leather of the so cozy Ugg would just get gross in the salt or if the Bean boot would be cozy enough. I've had a pair of Hunters, but have only worn them a few times (California drought). They seemed PERFECT for the snow and slush and I could buy cozy liners for them. Best. Decision. Ever. They even keep your pants dry, which the lower Bean boot doesn't.

I came down with a post holiday cold while we were in New Orleans. My first night back I woke up from how painful it was to breathe. It felt like my lungs were drying out. I pulled out the humidifier and it hasn't been off since. It makes my skin feel so much better too.

These are absolutely key for checking bus arrival times (and instagram) in the negative weather. You think 5 minutes in the cold wouldn't be to  horrible on your bare hands until you experience it.

Fresh Flowers
There is nothing better than coming back home after a long, freezing, dead, dry day to fresh blooms. A helpful reminder that spring is exactly 64 days away.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Golden Globes

@katebosworth instagram
Award season is in full swing and I have to say that overall I am loving the red carpet trends this year! Most dresses seem to be very sleek and smooth. Lots of clean line lines and subtle details, being creative with color, cut outs (tastefully!) and small details. My idea of elegance in every stitch! I loved almost ev.ery.thing and cannot wait to see what the, more formal, Oscar carpet brings us.

Gun to my head, here are my top 5 orrr 7. What were your favorites?

Kate Bosworth

Laverne Cox

Sofia Bush

Jaimie Alexander

Malin Ackerman

Amy Adams

Olivia Palermo

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Weekend To-Do List!

It's been quite a while since I've done one of these. The last few months have been more a whirlwind. I think this will be the first weekend in a. long. time. that I don't have to worry about apartments, jobs, moving, traveling or entertaining. I just get to enjoy the little life I've spent 6 months trying to set up for myself.

This Sunday is also one of my very dear college friend's due date! I wrote this post, right after she announced she was expecting...I can't believe its already time to meet the little guy. She's the first of a handful of friends expecting in the next 6 months. #wegrowuptofast

As baby watch commences,  I'm hoping to finish the book I started {and almost finished} in Florida, hit the late pilates class at the gym, meal plan for next week, catch up on Netflix {Parenthood season 6!!} and clean out/organize my giant closet where everything gets stuffed when I quickly 'clean' between work and traveling. I can't tell you how pumped I am to have my shoe rack up and running!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wrapping up 2015!

The holiday whirlwind is finally over. I spent the last 2 months settling nto a new job, traveling to 6 different states and entertaining my on-a-winter-break-from-grad-school boyfriend in my studio sized apartment. It was so great to come home to his face (and sometimes cooked dinner!) everyday, but it made time go by so quickly.

I posted this quote on Christmas but I thought it was so perfect:
"We ate well and cheaply 
and drank well and cheaply 
and slept warm and well together 
and loved each other." ~ Ernest Hemingway

We drove up to my parents house in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. It was a quick trip because he was severely allergic to their dog (I know...we had the 'But what if we can never get a dog!?' convo on the way home). We were able to stop in Madison for an impromptu Engagement party/ baby announcement on the way home {don't worry they were separate couples :) }. I have to say it is amazing to be there and experience these moments with my college friends. For so long I was so far away and felt so detached. It's exciting to be able to sit with them, see the smile on their faces and smile back.  On the same cheesy note, it was super weird/great to have the BF there. I realized he's the only person in my life who knows both my California and College friend in a similar context to me. It was kind of special.

The week before Christmas we headed to Denver for some winter festivities with his family. Not before we missed our flight and spent the day in Ohare though.  We literally ran through the exact same terminal that they did in Home Alone with Christmas decorations and all. When we got there it was fun to be able to actually experience Denver with him, I went back in September and he had gotten mono so a lot of it was spent by myself or with his parents.

We split for Christmas; I headed back to Chicago for 1 day to work and then braved the airport, once again to get to Florida where I spent Christmas with my family. I had packed for San Francisco weather since the pan handle is usually pretty temperate, it was crazy weather though. 80 degrees and 100% humidity.  Once I relaxed I was able to spend a day or 2 in the sun with a book. 

I made it back to Chicago for another quick trip. Luckily I made it before the big storm. It was my 29th Birthday and some of my local college girlfriends put together quite the day of sparkles, catching up, champagne and gold! It was probably my favorite birthday yet. The BF making his heroic arrival at the end of dinner through the snow storm and flight delays.

The BF and I then flew to New Orleans for New Years Eve. Neither of us had been before so we were ready for the full the experience. The food was absolutely delicious and we ended up staying in an AirBnb a block from the LaLaurie Mansion....which was a little terrifying once we found out. 

We went out to the Bayou one day to see alligators. Unfortunately, its the cold season so we were only able the eyes of one peaking out of the water. There were tons of cute little raccoons though. Our guide said they've tried to feed them so many items and the only thing they respond to is marshmallows.

I'm settled back in Chicago now attempting to get ducks in a row for 2016! 2015 was filled with lots of exciting events and tons of self discovery, I can't wait to see with 2016 will be about!