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February 28, 2014


taking selfies like it's my job #sorrynotsorry
missing R already because his week here flew by too fast.
devouring Where'd You Go, Bernadette. 
sipping coffee through a straw because I got my teeth whitened.
thinking about where I want to live the next year or so of my life starting this summer (Cali is in the forefront of that for suuuuuure).
keeping up with my project life and looooooving it.
testing out the products that came in my first ipsy glam bag and already getting excited for the next one.
wearing leggings every day because it's just too cold for me to care what I look like.
enjoying my starbucks coffee when I can wake up early enough to make a stop before work.
planning to bake vanilla bean donuts and more oreogasms (patent still pending).
listening to the fray's new album, helios.
writing anything and everything down on post-its, to-do lists, and in planners.
getting really frustrated that I seem to have to charge my iphone halfway through the day, everyday.
using hashtags in my speech #donthatemecauseyouaintme.
dreaming of warmer weather.
starting to get excited for my birthday next weekend.
loving how I'm organizing my every day schedule at the minute in terms of variety of tasks and productivity, but wishing that I could get to the gym a little bit more (or that it would warm up so that I can run outside without losing my voice and feeling like an icicle).
welcoming March + spring + sun.

February 27, 2014

how to: get creative juices flowing.

There are a lot of things that boost my creativity whether I'm going through a drought of inspiration or if I'm stuffed full of ideas in my head, planner, and phone. I find that my creative juices very much burst out of the glass at times and at other times I'm cramming the straw into the bottom of the glass to slurp up whatever is left. When I feel like that straw is coming up air-only, I turn to a few different sources to restore faith in my creative tendencies.

Books. Cookbooks, idea books, books of photography, DIY/handmade books, basically anything bound together with flipping pages. Even novels inspire me from time to time. When I can't think of a single creative thought I turn to a book to inspire me and get me creating/baking/thinking. Cookbooks are good when I feel like I need to get into the kitchen and relieve some stress. In creating foods in the kitchen created by others, I always either add my own twist on things or get inspired to create a spin off dish. ABM's photo idea book did wonders for my creativity, even just in terms of my life in general and photographing the every day.

Coffee + an empty desktop. When I flip open my computer and there aren't any unfinished projects popping up in photoshop or a half finished blog post looming over my internet pages, I feel like I can conquer the world. While I sip my coffee I check out the blogs I read on the regular (see a few in the blogroll on the bottom right of this blog), and pinterest for whatever new and exciting my favorite followers are pinning. Usually just by doing that the creativity starts coming in like a wave and my blank sticky notes don't know what hit them.

Surroundings. Sometimes when I know I have a lot of blogging to do I head over to a Barnes & Noble or a Starbucks just to get a nice coffee and a change of scenery. I get a lot done in these types of places for whatever reason, and it's nice to get away from the house sometimes so that I can come back feeling accomplished. On the flip side of that, sometimes I get the most inspiration from my desk. If I give it a good clean, put some new stuff on the shelves or pin something new to the corkboard at my eye level, I find that I can get a sh*t ton done in no time and feel really inspired to jot down some new ideas while I'm at it.

Shopping. I know, I know, this seems like a scam, but I promise, it's not! After a good walk around Michael's or Paper Source I could have a week's worth of ideas in my head and a fresh new creative mindset. Even taking a trip to lush or sephora inspires me because I do like to post about beauty and makeup from time to time. It half gives me an excuse to try new makeup (it's for the blog, wallet...get on board!) or buy a bath bomb or seven so I can read a book or scour pinterest on my ipad for an hour in the steamy water and clear my head. Hey, whatever works psychologically, I can sell it myself with ease.

There are definitely a few other random things that get me going creatively, but these are my go-to's and they haven't failed me yet!

February 26, 2014


Lately I have been all about the baths. If I'm not in one every other night, it's at least a definite Sunday night ritual and once during the week. I grab a glass of wine and the book I'm reading, light some candles, drop a bath bomb into the hot water, and put my bath caddy over the tub.The bath caddy I received as a gift is amazing - it came with a wine glass holder attachment, a candlestick holder attachment, a book shelf attachment, and the base has two small rectangular compartments for soaps and such, as well as one huge one. I took a few baths when I first got it using all of the attachments, but I've ended up completely removing everything off of the base, using a compartment for a stemless wine glass, placing a huge, 3 wick candle on the corner of the bath ledge by my feet, and using the caddy itself to lean my book or ipad against (since I have to keep my hands dry anyway, I can just prop it up myself without the book attachment). The caddy definitely doesn't have to be fancy for this reason, but they are definitely worth the investment if you take baths all the time and like to either read or watch something while in the tub. For Valentine's Day my mom got me a bath pillow, which I've only tried once and am not sure how much I recommend it yet, but I'll list it below anyway.accessories // my bath caddy | alternate stainless steel caddy | bamboo caddy | bath pillow
bath bombs // butterball | avobath
candles // lemon mint leaf | eucalyptus spearmint | market peach
wine favorites (for those of age, or course) // line 39 sauvignon blanc | pumphouse white | apothic red (glass was a gift; get one here).
latest bath time reads // this is where I leave you | bossypants | where'd you go bernadette

February 25, 2014

tunes tuesday // daughter.

I've had this album for over a month now, and I honestly can't tell you half of the track names or how many of them go. Though I've listened to it constantly, it's such a great background album to whatever you're doing. I usually light a candle, throw this into my hi-fi, and spend some time blogging or creating and it really just sets the mood. There is one song though, that every time it comes on I'm excited for it, and that's Youth. I'm not sure why, but this is pretty much the only track I know by name and the one that I seem to know the words to. Listen to that one below, and if you like really slow, atmospheric indie music, then you'll really like the rest of the album. It is a bit dark, but like I said, it's great for the background of a calm activity.


February 24, 2014

creamy & crunchy mac + cheese.

There are several "perfect" mac + cheese recipes on pinterest and in magazines, and from what I've read, they all involve boiling the pasta in milk rather than water. I took this technique and switched a few things around to create a creamy mac + cheese with a crunchy breadcrumb top that was both delicious and nutritious (read: not nutritious at all).I realize that the topping of this mac + cheese looks like cinnamon. I assure you, it is burnt breadcrumbs, just the way the santoro family likes 'em. To create the same mac + cheese, you need:
// 1 pound elbow pasta
// 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
// 1 cup half & half
// 1 cup milk
// 1 Tbsp. butter
// breadcrumbs to taste (I covered the whole top layer with a few heaping spoonfuls)
// optional: grated cheese of your choice (after we ate it, we decided it would have tasted amazing with grated parmesan mixed mixed into the breadcrumbs for the topping)

1// boil the pasta in water.
2// once the pasta is in the water, in another pot melt the butter and pour in the half & half and the milk.
3// stir the mixture constantly until a slight boil occurs, then pour in the shredded cheese and continue to stir.
4// drain the cooked pasta and mix it into the milk and cheese mixture.
5// once mixed, put the macaroni in an oven safe casserole dish and sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, or whatever other toppings you choose.
6// bake on 325* for about 10-15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have browned (or burnt).So so quick and simple even though it seems like a mess. It is a bit more clean up with two pots, but I think by cooking the pasta in water first it avoids making the milk and cheese mixture all starchy and pasta-y. I have a feeling that variations of this mac + cheese will become a staple side dish in our house.

February 23, 2014

project life 2014 // week seven.

Dated: February 10 - February 16. Week seven has gone and passed & documenting it was a blast.What I did this week: The snow just will not quit. It snowed a little bit on Tuesday and then a ton on Thursday, so Max and I were cooped up in the house Tuesday and I had a mostly snow day on Thursday, which was nice. R arrived on Friday just in time for a take out Valentine's day dinner and some New Girl on Netflix. On Saturday we baked donuts for a friend's party, and life was good.About this spread: I didn't end up using my seafoam kit this week because my pictures were all a little crazy and I wanted to keep the inserts black + white. It featured a lot of journaling on the photos, as always, and lot more pictures with myself in it, which I liked.Thoughts, concerns + details: I really wanted to break out more of my stamps this week, so I used a camera stamp on the week card to spruce it up, one of my stamps, date stamps as usual, my "a" "&" and "r" stamps that I like to break out with R is here, and the "I love _____" stamp. I also used a heart stamp with white ink on the photo of Lucas but for whatever reason it just looks like a smudge. Oh well. I also used another calendar card this week because I found a free printable and thought the light pink with arrows was cute for this spread.Photo breakdown: phone photos: 10 // canon t3 photos: 1 // polaroid photos: 0. Taken by me and the self-timer. Photo of me with Max & his friend taken by his friend's mama.
Materials, supplies, and tools I usedmidnight core kit, design A pocket pages, elise joy stamp, elise joy calendar (the XO art card), less is more stamps, paper source camera stamp + ampersand stamp, michael's large initial stamps (still in the dollar section of select stores), michael's heart stamp (similar), oh the lovely things printable calendar, fiskars corner rounder (my PL one crapped out on me and I'm finding this one works well and does 2-3 photos at a time #bonus), fiskars paper trimmerstaz-on jet black inkhp everyday photo papersmash date stampzig writer for vellum marker in black.
Project Life is a simplified solution to scrapbooking created by Becky Higgins that helps you to record the memories of everyday life. Document your story either physically or digitally along with me and so many others. Find out more here, how to start here, & see all of my PL 2014 posts here.

February 18, 2014

baked funfetti donuts.

I was very interested in making my own donuts from scratch after I saw this post on pinterest. I picked up a six donut baking tray (probably one of my greatest kitchen investments to-date) and jumped right in even though I was nervous about how these were going to turn out being that they were baked and the recipe involved yeast, which I haven't used before (yikes).For approximately 24 donuts:
// 2 tsp. active yeast
// 1/4 C warm water
// 2 C flour
// 1¼ C granulated sugar
// 1½ tsp. baking powder
// 1/4 tsp. sea salt
// 1-2 tsp. ground nutmeg
// 2 eggs
// 3/4 C vanilla greek yogurt (a single container of yogurt is just a bit too little, but fine if it's all you have)
// 1/4 C unsalted butter
// 1/4 C milk (I used vanilla almond milk, any is fine)
// 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
// 1 C rainbow sprinkles

For the glaze:
// 1-3 Tbsp. milk (depending on consistency)
// 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
// 1 C powdered sugar
// rainbow sprinkles1/ preheat the oven to 300* and either spray or butter your donut tin.
2/ in a bowl, mix warm water and active yeast together. Leave for about 10 minutes, or until a foamy consistency that has doubled in volume forms.
3/ in a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and sea salt together.
4/ add the eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
5/ fill the donut tray with batter until each slot has been filled to just under the hole marker in the middle (for this step I created a piping bag out of a plastic bag, which I highly recommend because I found it difficult and time consuming to try and spoon the batter in).
6/ let the donuts bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the sides just begin to turn golden brown. Let the donuts cool in the tray for five minutes after removing them, then transfer to a cooling rack over wax paper.
7/ repeat steps 5 and 6 until all of the batter is gone (I made four trays, but probably could have done another few donuts with the leftover batter).
8/ while the first round of donuts are cooling, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk.
9/ spoon the glaze over warm donuts (this is why wax paper under the cooling rack is an amah-zing idea), then top with sprinkles.In the end, I found these super easy to make, and they were absolutely delicious. Don't be intimidated by yeast if, like me, you have never really worked with it before; it's not scary at all. After the glaze was dry on my donuts I piled them up into a few brown paper bags as rustic packaging (read: we are running low on tupperware) for easy transport.

February 16, 2014

project life // week six.

Dated: February 3 - February 9. This is the sixth week of project life and I'm still so happy to sit down and document the little things in life every week.What I did this week: Monday it snowed a ton so I had a day off and caught up on blogging and a few projects. I finally made a trip to the library to pick up my holds, I baked a huge batch of valentine's cookies, and planned a potentially awesome eurotrip at starbucks with my friend Jenna.About this spread: I kept the journaling cards all very simple because there was a lot of color going on with my photos this week. I used two "now" journal cards and did a Max edition and an Alessia edition next to pictures of us to kind of document where we are both at right now. Max changes so much every day, it will be nice to have things written down about him in the future. Thoughts, concerns + details: I used thickers to create the "let it snow. not." card because I'm sooooo over the snow and northeast winters. SO over it. Even though February technically started the last week I used a calendar card this week for the first full week. I used it to write a few things that were going on at the start of the month, which I think I'll continue doing in conjunction with recording the month's bests, like I did last week.Photo breakdown: phone photos: 10 // canon t3 photos: 1 // polaroid photos: 0. Taken by me and the self-timer.
Project Life is a simplified solution to scrapbooking created by Becky Higgins that helps you to record the memories of everyday life. Document your story either physically or digitally along with me and so many others. Find out more here, how to start here and see all of my PL 2014 posts here.

February 14, 2014

fitness apps I love.

weight watchers // fooducate // nike + running // myfitnesspal. All apps are free in the app store, but the WW app does require a subscription to the program in order to access the pointplus tracker.

Since last summer I have started to get a little more serious with the foods I put into my body and about exercise. I don't spend hours in the gym every morning (I wish I had tons of free hours!) and I'm not on a lettuce diet, but I do feel that with the help of these apps and programs I have become so much more food conscious to a healthy, non obsessive degree, and the exercise that I do is tracked well, all of which motivates me.

1// I joined weight watchers in October and have lost about 13 pounds since I started. I attribute most of the weight I've lost to weight watchers, and while I don't think I'll keep paying for it much longer, I have a great idea of the "pointsplus" system in comparison to calories and carbs and things like that. I will definitely keep all that weight watchers has taught me in mind moving forward and would consider revisiting it in the future if I felt I needed to.

2// the reason I don't think I'll keep WW for too much longer has a lot to do with not wanting to pay for it when there are plenty of free apps out there that can do a world of good if you know how to use them. Fooducate is an app that "grades" foods based on ingredients (especially sugar), serving sizes, and a few other factors. You can use the scanner as you do your weekly grocery shop and if something isn't graded to your liking (I like to consume things that are a B- and up if possible), you can click on the alternatives for that product and find something similar that has better ingredients. As a bonus, pretty much every food comes up with a point value that matches up to weight watchers points.

3// I've talked about nike + running before, here and here, and I'm happy to say I'm still obsessed with it, but I miss it. I haven't been able to run outside in a while and I'm really getting the itch to do so. Unfortunately I have found that the nike + running app doesn't work when you're on a treadmill because it can't rely on the gps and doesn't really sense enough movement because you're essentially running in place. I'm excited to get using this app again soon, but in the mean time I have been estimating calories burned using another app.

4// I have had the myfitnesspal app for about two years, and at a few different points I was using it daily (much like I'm doing with WW now) to track what food I was eating and calorie intake. I know it's not all about the calorie intake, which is how fooducate comes into play again, to make sure that certain low calorie foods are still good for me. I also use myfitnesspal to track workout calories. It's not completely accurate because it doesn't know how hard I'm actually working, but it is a good ballpark estimate to keep myself on track and make sure I'm working as hard as I can during a workout.

I am considering a fitbit flex band or another type of exercise watch to really track my activity, but for now these four apps combined are helping me stay on track with food and exercise as well as teaching me valuable information.

*this is not a sponsored post, I just love these apps and recommend all of them.

February 13, 2014

gold clipboards + a freebie printable share.

I saw this freebie calendar after clicking through a bunch of blog roll links one day in late January and knew that I had to have it on my wall somewhere. It's simple, classic, + clean. I have a few clipboards that I bought a while back (when my spray painting addiction began) that I had intended on spraying gold to replace the silver clip, and as soon as I saw this calendar and the way it was displayed on a clipboard I remembered I had them.

I wrapped the area around the clip and edges of the clipboard with washi tape and clipped in a piece of paper to cover the rest. I sprayed the clip gold in record time in the 18* weather when the sun was of course blocked by the house, and left it to dry completely in the shed (common sense, but don't bring freshly spray painted items into a closed up room in your house, it stanks and isn't great to inhale).I printed the calendar pages on cardstock and clipped them in. Simple + addicting (the spray painting, that is). The wall in the top picture (in all it's disgusting purple glory) is above my desk and hopefully going to become a gallery wall as soon as I can grab some of my dad's free time to help me out because I'm a novice at things like hanging frames and canvases. Stay tuned for a million more spray painted projects in the near future - I went a little crazy and my mind is still rolling through ideas of things that would look better gold.

February 12, 2014

homemade lipstick cards.

For this project I resolved two issues: 1/ target kind of failed me with the cute cards this year and there are not enough hours in the day to run to paper source almost 30 minutes away; 2/ I have a lipstick buying addiction and not enough places to go to put them all to use. I saw this diy on the glitter guide that used lipstick prints for wrapping paper, a bouquet wrapper, or an envelope liner, and it got my gears turning about my valentine's day cards this year.I took a piece of plain white printer paper and with different lipsticks kissed lip prints all over the page. Then I scanned the page and cropped off dark edges left by the scanner. I then printed on epson matte presentation paper to give it a more stationary feel, but plain paper works just fine, especially if you are making a lot. First I printed a full page to see what the quality would be, which is now a cute 8x10 print to hang on the wall with some washi tape. To make the folding card I created another 8x10 canvas in photoshop and pasted the image only onto the bottom half of the canvas so that I could make either vertical or horizontal cards.Print, fold, write, repeat. Simples. This project is so quick and easy, doable in a matter of minutes if you have lipstick and a scanner/printer handy.Warning: your lips will be sore after this project #createthroughthepain. Download my lipstick print to avoid the excessive need for lip balm by clicking on the photo below:
*for personal use only, please.

February 11, 2014

fluffy valentine sugar cookies.

Back in college when I joined pinterest, I was so excited that I would have this little portal for recipes and projects, because I used to kind of do pinterest on my own with the bookmarks bar in my browser. I had folders for everything (boards) and would save various links (pins) to each folder (board) and go back to them when I felt like baking something or making something. You catch my drift.I remember this recipe was one of the first things I pinned, and in my tiny apartment kitchen I made a batch of these babies. About forty cookies were baked over the course of five hours. Some were sent overseas to R in his valentine's care package, some were saved for late night snacks in the apartment, and some were brought to my classes on valentine's day to distract everyone from the work we were supposed to get through. When I was thinking about something to make this year for valentine's day, I decided that even though I have a million pins that could come to life in my kitchen, these cookies made so many people happy that I just had to make them again.This recipe makes about forty cookies with a large cookie cutter (probably about sixty five small round cookies!) so I recommend halving the recipe if you aren't baking for a lot of people or a party.
// 6 C all purpose flour
// 2 C granulated sugar
// 1 C unsalted butter, at room temp.
// 1 tsp. baking soda
// 1 tsp. baking powder
// 1/2 tsp. salt
// 2 tsp. vanilla extract
// 3 large eggs
// 12 oz. sour creamThis recipe makes the type of cookies that you find in the front of the supermarket before every holiday with the really sickly thick frosting. There is sour cream in the dough, which keeps them super fluffy (so fluffy that my first batch of seven cookies are monstrously huge because the dough wasn't rolled out thin enough), and also pretty sticky because of that as well.
To make the dough:
1// mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
2// in a stand mixer (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon and your biceps), mix the butter and sugar together until combined.
3// add one egg to the mix at a time until combined, then the vanilla extract and sour cream.
4// add the dry ingredients little by little until all is combined and a sticky dough remains.
5// split the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap to set in the fridge overnight, or for at least two hours.Once your dough is chilled (I gave it about three hours) set your oven to 400* and start rolling out the dough over flour on wax paper in sections a little thinner than a quarter inch (I used a wooden spoon handle as a rolling pin, which worked fine. I really need to get my own place with kitchen tools). I used a giant heart cookie cutter for valentine's day, but any shape works because the dough holds it's shape in the oven. Bake cookies for about six minutes, until the edges start browning a bit, and immediately set on a cooling rack. Frost and decorate once the cookies are completely cooled, which takes a while because they are fairly thick.These cookies are a hit. They're not super sweet themselves, so adding some frosting and sprinkles doesn't overdo it at all. They're also a really good type of cookie to have a decorating party with kids because they hold up very well when being frosted and don't get crumby like some cookies do. Check my instagram later this week to see how Max does decorating his cookies for his mom and dad's valentine's day present.