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May 30, 2013

simple salsa grilled chicken.

I am not a chef.

I enjoy cooking thoroughly, but I am not a chef.

With that said, I made some kick ass chicken for dinner last night. A little back story on how I came up with it: me and my best friends Alyssa and Meagan were out at an "authentic" Spanish restaurant in Brooklyn, and the meats we got in our meals were okay to put it simply, so there wasn't much else but the delicious rice and beans and the simple mild salsa on the side. When you think of salsa you think of liquidy goodness with chunks of tomato, but I'm talking salsa like when you ask for mild tomatoes in your burrito at Chipotle - just tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, and cilantro. Simple, fresh, delish.

So while eating that salsa I said to the girls, "wouldn't a piece of grilled chicken drowning with this stuff be amazing?" Neither of them were as excited as I was, but that's okay.

So last night I got home from work early and went to town on my fantasy meal. I chopped up three vine tomatoes, a little less than half of a large red onion, mixed those together, then added a shit ton of cilantro, because I love it. Then I squeezed in the juice of one lime, seasoned with salt and pepper, and that was that. Easiest thing to make in the world. I set that aside and went to work on the chicken. Before work I had mixed together some olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro in a little bowl to sit all day and stew together. I let the chicken sit in it for about 30 minutes while I prepped the salsa, and then, because I'm grill illiterate, my dad BBQ'd the chicken for us.

Disclaimer about this method of prep: lime juice actually cooks meat. It's totally normal, it's a chemical reaction, but you don't want to sit your chicken in the lime juice mixture for more than 30-45 minutes, because it starts to cook (this is the way ceviche is cooked) and you want to make sure that you take it out of the mixture and let it grill all the way through rather than letting it cook with the lime juice. I'm no professional, and maybe you could leave it in there for days and have amazing chicken, but I think it's a little weird, so I don't like to let it go too far.
I made a couple of side dishes, including a Trader Joe's multigrain blend with vegetables, and planned on taking a picture of my colorful plate, but was so excited to eat that I forgot. So here's the leftover chicken in a fancy plastic chinese food container:
Mmm mmm good.

Let me know if you make this, have made it, or make a variation of it!

May 27, 2013

summer bucket list.

Now that it's memorial day and summer has "officially" begun, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this summer and what I want to do. There are a lot of things on that list. So I figured I'd write them all down so that I have a record of them and can see how many I accomplish. I want to get most of these things done, but obviously time and money will restrict me a bit, so I've compiled a list of pretty doable things as long as I can find deals and find a lot of people to join me to save money on certain things. I'm challenging myself to complete as many of these things as I can, and I suppose I'll take you all on a little ride with me and keep you updated on what I'm getting up to on my weekends and vacations this summer! So here's my bucket list for summer 2013.Now, this is a truly ambitious list that I've got here. BUT. A bunch of the things are free, some are just to better myself, a few are already in the works, and all are very possible. There are quite a few places I want to visit and those are going to be the hardest because vacations in the summer are expensive, but I'm going to keep an eye on discount sites and such.

this may be cheating, but I already have tickets for Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Ben Howard. Sue me.
I really want an excuse to send my parents out to a movie or something and make dinner with my friends and drink fun drinks out of paper straws in cute dresses. It'll end in a big game of beer pong or slap cup, but that's how we like it.
this is something I've been talking about with a friend for a while. I haven't looked too far into detail, but it looks like to get a NYS bartending certification, you only need 40 hours of training and it obviously costs money, but that's the part I need to look into more. Even if I do nothing with it, I just think it would be such a fun experience and a good thing to have. You never know when people are going to need fancy cocktails in an emergency.
last year me and my best friend Meagan tried to make it to an outdoor movie, but every time we tried to go, something else came up. At Scranton, my freshman dorm building had a movie screen on one of the walls that they would take down every few weekends when the weather was nice, and the whole school would crowd on the hilled lawn next to GLM and watch a movie. We'd make popcorn and bring out blankets and pillows and snuggle. It was great. I just want to have that feeling more - being totally surrounded by people snuggling, laughing, and tearing up at the sad parts. Movies are great for bringing total strangers together.
this is one of the ones that is kind of in the works. I really want to drive down to South Carolina or Virginia Beach in June when I have a week off of work. If that doesn't work out, I might head on over to Chicago when Rich gets here, which is something we wanted to do last year but never got around to. I just love being in the car with my sunnies on, listening to great tunes with great people.
All year long me, my parents, and my friends eat at all of the same restaurants all the time. We try a new one here or there, but at least one person has already been there and liked it. I want to get a group together and find a cool restaurant on the water or something alluring like that, and make it a new summer tradition to go there. Hopefully the one we find is delish.
my dog is crazy. Absolutely out of his damn mind. But he's also a puppy, so a lot of it has to do with how much energy my little ball of fur possesses. I really want to take him to a dog park or a dog run and just let him go nuts. He can make some new friends, which might make me some new friends, and he can come home and pass out and not chew up my new nike sneakers.
every year my mom's office gets a deal with six flags and all the employees are able to get half off tickets before the park opens in June. Every year I ask all of my friends who wants to go, and even though people say yes, we never get around to it, the tickets get expensive, and all of the new rides go unridden. It's a damn shame. So this year I texted all of my friends and I'm buying the tickets before this Friday so we have to plan when to go and we'll have a nice warm day with our stomaches in our throats and our eyes watering from laughter.
this one might seem silly, but to me it isn't. Ever since I got an iPhone, I do take a lot of pictures, but I've left my beautiful DSLR camera in the dust for most of the year I've had it. I don't really know how to use it that well, and I don't take it many places because I don't feel comfortable enough with getting good shots. I feel like I'll look like some wannabe with it around my neck at the park or something. I need to get more used to bringing it around when the time is appropriate and then the practice will hopefully help me use it and its features to the fullest.
ever since I turned 21 in 2011, I've been dying to go to AC. It's so close, and I have friends who have gone a bunch of times for a long weekend and have had the most fun. This summer it is going to happen. Even if it's only for a night, I'm going to go, sit on the beach all day, walk the boardwalk at sunset, and gamble away my allotted $20 with style.
last summer Rich got me a picnic basket for our anniversary because I had been saying since we met that I'd always wanted one. So finally I have one and we only went on one picnic. But literally, it was the best picnic ever. We went to Cold Spring Harbor, a few towns over from where I live, and set up our blanket right next to the water where all of the boats were floating. It was so nice and relaxing and we had a lot of fun drinking cheap wine and eating turkey sandwiches.
soooooo college. But I really want to do one during the summer when it's nice and warm. Obviously it won't be like college where we make custom tees and meet at someone's house for a pre-keg, it would be classier. I'm thinking somewhere on a boardwalk or near the water. Everything should be on the water during the summer. It's a rule.
this is semi classier than a bar crawl, and definitely on my general life bucket list. I loveeee wine. Love it. There is no place I would rather be than where wine is made. I just want to wear a floppy hat and drink with my pinky up to my heart's content.
keeping with the alcohol trend, I really want to go to the Boardy Barn. It is another thing that is so college, but seems so much fun. It's basically a big party every Sunday of the summer at this bar in the Hampton Bays on Long Island. It's close enough to my house that I should have already been like 32492678 times.
I really want to go to a music or food festival, or a state fair because they are somewhat similar. It would just be nice to be outdoors and eat some good grub and listen to good music.
today is one year that I am a college graduate. Kill me now. But really, I'm still taking it pretty hard. I just miss the lifestyle and my friends and not having to live with my parents. Not that I don't love my parents, but I'm 23. Come. On. Since this day last year, all five of my housemates have not been in the same room. Which is ridiculous! We've gotten four of us together at once quite a few times, but not all of us, and that makes me really sad. This summer, (with all five of our busy schedules) it's going to be hard, but I will organize it if it kills me.
I swear I'm not an alcoholic, I just really enjoy a nice glass of, well, anything really. I went to a brewery when I was in Denver last spring and it was really cool. I think it's awesome to support local breweries instead of say, Coors. Micro breweries are really awesome, so I want to find one close to, if not in NY itself.
this sounds dumb because I could just go get some nestle cookie dough and drop it around my friends houses in the neighborhood, but I mean like REALLY bake. Me and my best friend Meagan made our other best friend Alyssa a pretty cool birthday cake. It didn't make it on here because I was not really blogging at the time and it didn't turn out quite as cool as we'd hoped in the end, but it was so much fun and I'd really like to tackle a couple more fun baking projects that are on a bit of a larger scale.
my college housemate Cecelia will kill me if she sees this, because she tried to get my whole house to join her for hot yoga for four years to no avail. I feel like now I'm in a place where I want to try it and I think I have the money for it, whereas in college I so didn't. I want to be all zen and that while I sweat my ta-tas off.
two summers ago I read about fifteen books, starting with a trip to Puerto Rico in May. Last summer I read maybe one or two- can't remember really. So I want to read a few more than that, not quite fifteen because I have a lot of other things on my plate, but about five, just to enrich myself a little bit.
I already have three tattoos, which not many people know. I've been itching to get a new one since I got my last one over a year ago. It's time.
this one is also kind of cheating. I do have a pen pal for the summer already. We met on instagram and I think she's awesome and that we have a lot in common, so I'm really excited to start writing to her soon.
I've had this idea for a while. Create a giant list of completely random things all over IKEA, and give everyone a list. First person to make it to the meet up place with all of the items wins. Bragging rights, an ice cream cone, a plastic lawn flamingo? I don't know yet, but the whole thing would be hilarious.
this is self-explanatory. I spend too much time on my phone, like most people with smartphones. I want to spend a whole day with my phone off and left in my house so I can really enjoy myself for an entire day without it.
not only is walking healthy, but it's really relaxing. I want to walk around my neighborhood more and just appreciate where I live. 
lastly, I want to make a summer minibook or scrapbook to document all of the awesomeness of summer both on and off this bucket list. I'm really looking forward to the next three months immensely, but I know they will fly like my last 23 summers have, so I want to remember it forever in paper/photo form. 

And that's that. Super long-winded and very ambitious, but I'm excited about it.

What's on your bucket list this summer?

*09-29-13 edit: see my last SBL post and the rest of my completions here.

May 26, 2013

cherry culture NYX makeup mini haul.

I'm a bad girl. I have an issue with buying makeup lately because of all of the YouTube videos I've been watching, and I've gone a little bit nuts. I am also into lipstick now which is something I never thought I would like on myself. Turns out I love it. So there's that to add to the obsession now.
I went on this website a couple of weekends ago that a few beauty girls I subscribe to recommended called cherry culture. They were having a 40% off everything sale, which is awesome. Obviously I took advantage. Most of the things that I bought were lip products and all but one thing were NYX. This brand is for sure my favorite cheap-o brand because everything is so good. Their lipsticks, lip balms, lip butter glosses - everything for your lips basically - smell absolutely delicious. That's a big deal for me, I hate the way normal lipsticks smell. And in the drugstore the products are already really well priced, so 40% off of everything was like dirt cheap and I ended up getting 11 things for $22.80. Amazinnnnnng. One thing is not pictured above because it was a dinky chapstick that I threw in there to go over $20 for free shipping, and the other product is for a pen pal, so I don't want to show it!
Like I said, most of what I got were lipsticks, and these were the colors I got. The first two are black label lipsticks, which is the first type of lipstick I ever got from them. They go on really smooth and stay on forever. The second is a color lip balm, which adds just a little bit of sheer color while also mousturizing your lips. The third is a glam lipstick aqua luxe, which is super sparkly. The second to last is a lipstick in "lipsmacking fun colors", which I think smelt the nicest even though they all smell delish, and the last one is an LA Girl crème lipstick, which is more of a matte looking lipstick. Aside from the LA Girl one, there's a lot of red and corally pink there, but that's what I've been most comfortable wearing lately, so having a lot of variation within those two color groups is how I'm justifying having 4 million to myself.

Because yesterday was stormy and gross and I couldn't wait to try everything, I photographed in the grossest light, but you can get a pretty good idea of all of the colors based on the swatches I did.
(From left to right)

1// LA Girl crème lipstick in 'True Love' 
2// NYX Lipsmacking Fun Colors in 'Peach Bellini'
3// NYX Glam Aqua Luxe in 'Razzle Dazzle'
4// NYX Color Balm in 'Sukriya'
5// NYX Black Label Lipstick in 'Ruby'
6// NYX Black Label Lipstick in 'Off the Beaten Path'

I also got a NYX blush in 'Pinched', a NYX eyeshadow in 'Nutmeg', and a NYX Jumbo Lip Pencil in 'Hot Red', which are shown in the first photo.

Peach Bellini
My favorite for sure after testing them all is the Peach Bellini. It goes on really smooth and just has a little bit of a sheen, which is nice. The Aqua Luxe is a little too sparkly, but looks more like a lip gloss so it's okay, and the LA Girl color is actually a really hot pink color, but if you look at the swatch, it doesn't look hot pink at all. Everything else on cherry culture was really true to swatch I think, except for this one. The lipstick isn't out of this world so I probably wouldn't even buy another of the same type anyway, so problem solved there.

Cherry culture is having a 20% memorial day sale right now, and they're definitely worth a look, but I think the 40% off sale comes around every once and a while so it's worth the wait I think. But 20% off is still good and that runs until May 28, and they always have a sale section between 20-50% off of popular items, not necessarily things that are on clearance or anything. So all in all, I enjoyed my experience on cherry culture and think I will definitely use them again when another good sale comes around.

Happy shopping!

May 24, 2013

book review // the great gatsby.

Ok so I'm not really sure how to organize all of my thoughts about this book because they are getting mixed in with how utterly amazing the on-screen adaptation with Leonardo DiCaprio is. But I guess I'll start with this: I did not read this book in high school even though all of my friends that I went to high school with seem to have. I remember discussing this book in short, but only to discuss the importance of symbolism in literature. So basically, when I read this book, I had an idea of what was going to happen because I knew the information behind the symbolism, and I honestly thought that it was going to ruin the book for me. It didn't. Not at all. Turns out that you can cover the whole "green light" concept and a few other big points without actually knowing much about the plot. Plus, throw six or seven years in between that high school English class and present day, and well, there ya go. So points established 1) No matter what you think you know about this book, read it anyway and 2) I'm getting very far away from my high school years. Scary.

So anyways, now that I've rambled on and you're all super bored (I say 'you all' like I have readers yet, but I'm working on it) I guess I'll talk a little bit about the book. 

Set in the 1920s on Long Island - what a GREAT setting for a story ;) - and narrated in the first person by a man named Nick Carraway, this novel covers one summer in which Nick lives next door to Jay Gatsby, a man made famous by his immense wealth. Nick is surrounded by upperclass members of society through the whole book, and because he is basically nothing like the other characters in the story, it paints a different picture than if the story were told by someone in the upperclass. We are told on the first page that Nick's father once told him, "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember the advantages that you've had." So in turn Nick reserves all judgements, making him likable and approachable, especially to these people of wealth with a million and one secrets.

Nick is a Yale educated bond man with not much direction, so rents a small cottage in West Egg, land of the "new rich", next to Gatsby's mansion to commute to New York City for work. His cousin, Daisy, and her husband Tom live in East Egg, the place where "old rich" reside, also in a huge mansion. His first meeting with Gatsby occurs at a lavish party at his house, one of many which are thrown every night of the weekend for the duration of the summer. Gatsby is mysterious- he throws parties that no one is invited to, but everyone shows up to, and he is never anywhere to be found. The people who attend his parties make up stories about who he is, where he comes from, and how he got so rich so fast. Nick paints a picture of Gatsby through the whole book, and after he learns more about him, he depicts him as he is: a man with endless hope, a trait he'd never found in a person before and is convinced he will never find again. 

Without giving too much more away, this book's pages hold a lot of scandal. I've stumbled enough over what I've written so far, so I'll leave it at that. It's so worth the read. I plan on reading it again at some point now that seeing the movie has clarified a few more things about the story.

A short note on the movie: besides the fact that Leo is my soulmate and he completely nailed this part, Baz Luhrmann surprised me. I thought that he could possibly take the story a little too far and overcomplicate things, but it turns out that he was the perfect man to make this movie. His over-the-top style is parallel to the nature of Gatsby's parties and the lifestyle of the obnoxiously rich people who are depicted in the novel.

It is completely in my nature to read a book before seeing the movie, even if I didn't know the book existed before the movie preview came out. It's a little bit OCD, but it has helped me appreciate screen adaptations of books for what they are - a not-as-good version of the story with attractive actors that is simply made to provide you with relaxed enjoyment. I don't take changes between books and their movies with a heavy heart, because books are so much more capable in every way than a movie. But with all that said, this movie adaptation was the bomb dot com. So many of the lines were direct out of the book, the plot went chronologically as it did in the novel, and the only thing that was a noticeable difference is where Nick tells the story of Gatsby from and how. This small change, I think, was a good one, because it conveys some of the Nick's emotions that he easily shares with us in the novel, but can't be completely translated in a film, especially to those who have not read the book and know nothing about Nick or any of the other characters.

So that's all I have to say about that. This was much more complicated and drawn out than I had imagined when I finished the book and knew I was going to do a review on it, but it is really hard to provide opinions and a brief synopsis when you're trying not to give anything away! I hope this makes you want to read the book before you see the movie, if you are even interested in the idea of either now that I've made everything complicated. But for real, read it. Then see it. Then read it again with me and we can talk about how great it was the second time. Then we can watch the movie together with popcorn in our PJs and be best friends.

I'm delirious now.

Goodnight friends.

May 22, 2013

things I'm loving lately.

So I've been reading a bunch of new blogs and watching a million and one YouTube channels lately and I can't help but be jealous of everyone who has established themselves as a "famous" online presence because I so feel like if I had the time to do more with my blog and with my crafts and cooking and everything else I love, I could be doing the same thing. And I would love it. So I'm going to start by just making more time to blog even if it's about nothing because let's be real - at this point in time I'm pretty sure I'm the only person reading my blog anyway, but if no one ever decides to read it, at least it'll be something I have to look back on. I want this blog to grow with me whether people are reading or not.

ANYWAY, I digress. These are the things that make me happy right now.

Reds and corals, specifically. I'm becoming a hoarder.
Check out JacksGap, SprinkleOfGlitter, Shaaanxo, Zoella, MarcusButlerTV, & PointlessBlog - a few of my current favorite channels.
See my previous post to hear about him.
Bringing Max to play dates with his friends really breaks up the day for us and I've met some really great nannies and mommies that have become new friends. My "co-workers", if you will.
I've always loved driving, but I'm really loving the spring weather and my air conditioner is broken, which seems like a bad thing, but it's forcing me to drive with the windows down and then I have to make my music louder and it just all feels so lovely. Hard to describe, it just makes me really happy.
On January 1, 2012 I started a five year memory book that has 365 pages, one for each day of the year, with spots to fill in five years of that same day. Now that I'm going through my second year, it is really nice to be able to read exactly what I did on the same day last year, compare notes, remember funny happenings, see little coincidences, and feel like I have grown, but am still so connected to last year me. This week last year was my senior week at Scranton and it's been a rough week writing in my journal because senior week was the best week of my life to this day. It makes me sad that it's been a year since I graduated, but I'm also really glad that I have most of it down in a nutshell to recall upon forever.
Along the lines of my One Line A Day, I downloaded an app on my iPhone called TimeHop, which lets you connect Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a few other apps and every morning a new timehop is ready to show you all of the things you did on social media in the years before on the same day. The furthest mine has ever gone back on any given day was five years to my facebook when that was really the only social media I used. So most days it's only last year or two years ago, when I started to get social media heavy, but it's still so fun to look through every morning while I eat breakfast. And like One Line a Day (probably worse), it was senior week last year so all of my loving Scranton tweets and pictures of events and facebook statuses about how much I love all of my college friends and the place I spent the best four years of my life thus far have been up every morning this week. It's hard to look at because I miss it so much, but it's really nice to have everything there so I can rememeber exactly how I felt one year ago today, two years, three years, and beyond.
Ok, so I didn't read this book in high school, we only used it to talk about our unit on symbolism, so I knew all about the green light and whatnot, but now that I've read it as an adult and seen the amazing on screen representation in the style of the amazing Baz Luhrmann, I'm obsessed. It is such a great story. It's a little bit crazy when you think about the plot of the story and what actually happens and how it all ends, but it's just so beautiful if you strip it down to it's core: hope keeps us going and as long as we have it we'll have something to look forward to, but hope can be deadly if things don't turn out the way that you had always planned. I guess it's all about finding a balance between having no hope and getting your hopes up. Either way, I just think the story is wonderful and Fitzgerald definitely knew what he was doing with words and storytelling.
If you've never tried Dermalogica precleanse, go get it. It's an oil-based, (exactly what it sounds like) precleanser before your makeup remover that clings to oils in your face and makes your skin feel fresh and light before you've even fully washed it.
what a magical character. Find my latest apparel purchase with this little beauty on it here.

And that's pretty much it y'all. Happy hump day!

May 21, 2013

tunes tuesday // Frank Hamilton the best of #OneSongAWeek.


Right. So one of my favorite artists, singer/songriter Frank Hamilton, released a new album at the end of last year called The Best of #OneSongAWeek. Basically, you can read about it here on his blog, but in short: Frank decided in the beginning of last year to write one song a week and release it for his fans for an entire year. Super ambitious, super awesome. Unfortunately, I must have been too busy for ol' Frankie, because I didn't know that he was doing this or keeping his blog simultaneously. I also didn't know about the release of the album until I received it as a gift from my boyfriend who knows that I love FH very, very much so and also may or may not have just been getting sick of me asking to play the same five tracks from Frank's first EP - You, Your Cat, and Me - over and over again.

One of my favorite things about Frank is that aside from his amazing tunes, lyrics (see right), and style, is he finds these girls with amazing voices to collaborate either fully or a bit in the background of some songs and it just sounds really amazing. Most tracks on You, Your Cat, and Me have some kind of collab, though it's not included in the song info who the girl is. However, on the new album, one of my fave songs is feat. Lauren Aquilina, and she sounds a hell of a lot like the YYC&M girl. I could be wrong though, but either way, her voice is worth checking out as well. I just did some snooping for her on Spotify and I'm pleased with her talent and ability. So since I'm an official judge and that, yeah, check her out.

A little fun fact about this album, and perhaps about Frank in general is that his week 47 song, 'Wet Shoes', which appears on the album, is co-written by Ed Sheeran. I KNOW. The two met in 2009 and Ed went on to become the biggest singer/songwriter in the world in no time while Frank didn't. This is also in a blog post, but basically, they didn't write the song together, Frank received it after Ed wrote it and then changed a bunch of stuff around a re-wrote a few bits. But it's still awesome that they're kind of friends. Ed also mentioned Frank's project in a magazine interview which is awesome because not a lot of people know about Frank Hamilton aside from some trendy people in the UK and possibly out here in the US. I guess that makes me trendy. HA. Just kidding, but really, having an English boyfriend has immense perks, so I recommend it for sure.

This album has 20 songs, so it's really hard to pick a favorite because I love literally all of them, but if he didn't narrow it down from the original 52 to 20 then we'd have even bigger problems. So, since it's always nice to kill two birds with one stone, I'll feature 'Flaws and Ceilings' so you can hear Lauren Aquilina's voice as well. Short and sweet y'all: Go listen!

Flaws and Ceilings
Frank Hamilton (feat. Lauren Aquilina)