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January 21, 2016

semi-personalized semi-DIY mug gift.

I saw a DIY on a blog ages ago that included a soda and mini bottle of alcohol, and the soda can was sitting in a mason jar. It was the cutest thing, and I thought that it would be such an adorable gift idea for a housewarming, or even just because.I finally had a bunch of mini bottles lying around (stocking stuffers from my roommate), and some soda (my roommate's boyfriends' cans), so I decided to give putting them all together a whirl. However, even though we have 4,920 mason jars in this house — we drink out of small ones, we make salads in big ones — I couldn't fit a can in the opening of any of them (I'm not sure what type was used in the post I saw all those months back. I could swear it was a mason jar, but I can't find the freakin' post). So to improvise, I used initial mugs from Anthro, which actually worked perfectly because they're one of the most common gifts I give people (even though I make custom ones, these are too classic to overlook). Once you have the mug/mason jar/drinking receptacle ready to go, you can use twine like I did, or ribbon, to attach the mini bottles to the top. If I were actually giving these two as a gift, I would have slipped a tag into the knot with a little note, and probably would've wrapped them up in a clear gift bag with some confetti. It's a small gift, but it's a sweet idea for little occasions or just to have something so as not to show up empty-handed to a party. Friends, you may see one of these puppies in your near future (spoiler alert).

January 20, 2016

project life weeks 28 - 32.

July 6 - August 9.What went on during these weeks: Summer was truly in full swing, which meant going to outdoor bars, eating al fresco, drinking iced coffee (and coronas), sitting by the pool, and devouring strawberries by the pound.Details + interesting tidbits: Summer sun equals great lighting, so the spreads with outdoor photos were so clean and bright, which made me happy (especially since there's snow out my window right now). I have been using tons and tons of journaling cards in the spreads I didn't have enough photos for, and rather than stressing me out, I'm actually enjoying those. I also decided to start including my monthly train passes (week thirty one), because they're full of color and add a bit more of the mundane details of my life to the album.Photo Breakdown: W28: phone photos: 8 // DSLR photos: 0 // polaroid photos: 0. W29: phone photos: 9 // DSLR photos: 0 // polaroid photos: 0. W30: phone photos: 11 // DSLR photos: 0 // polaroid photos: 0. W31: phone photos: 8 // DSLR photos: 0 // polaroid photos: 0. W32: phone photos: 10 // DSLR photos: 1 // polaroid photos: 0. Taken by me, the self-timer, and shutter remotes.Materials Used: PL Core Kits: midnight edition & seafoam edition, PL Add-On Kits: heidi swapp foil kit & Studio Calico PL kits, smash date stampfiskars corner rounder, tiny attacher staplerfiskars paper trimmerstaz-on jet black ink, zig photo signature pen in black (on photos), zig writer marker in black (on journal cards), canon selphy wireless printer, canon selphy ink + paper kit.
Project Life is a simplified solution to scrapbooking created by Becky Higgins that helps you record everyday memories. 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, and 2015 here. Some links may be affiliate links.

January 19, 2016

blueberry swirl muffins.

Be still, my blueberry-lovin' heart.I went through my pinterest for the first time in absolute ages (can't believe how much time I used to spend on that app!!) and spotted these babies, patiently waiting for me on my "sweet tooth" board. I went to the supermarket the next day to grab anything I didn't have (though stick around, I totally forgot something), and used my MLK day off to bake them.This was my first time making muffins ever, and they're the most delicious muffins I've ever eaten, hands down. Normally I eat the full top of a muffin and then nibble at the dry bottom, but these are too good not to eat the entire thing. The bottoms were moist and dense, the tops were crispy and sweet and gooey, and ugh. I can't rave about these enough.Ingredients:
for the streusel topping
// 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
// 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
// pinch of salt
// 1/4 cup flour
// 2 1/2 tablespoons warm melted butter

for the muffins
// 2 cups blueberries
// 1 1/8 cup sugar
// 2 1/2 cups flour
// 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
// 1 teaspoon salt
// 2 large eggs
// 4 tablespoons butter melted and cooled
// 1/4 cup vegetable oil
// 3/4 cup yogurt (I used strawberry banana because I forgot to buy plain, but loved the extra flavor. For pure blueberry bliss, go with blueberry yogurt, or to keep the spotlight on the fresh blueberries, go plain)
// 1/4 cup milk
// 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extractDirections:
1// Preheat oven to 425*F.
2// To make the streusel topping, mix the sugars, salt, and flour together, then slowly mix in the melted butter and combine all of the ingredients with a fork. Once it's lumpy and mixed, set it aside.
3// To make that delicious-looking blueberry swirl, add 1 cup of the blueberries with a teaspoon of sugar to a small pan and mix together (frequently) on medium heat for five minutes. Smoosh the blueberries as you go, and set aside to cool to room temperature once the mixture is thick and melty.
4// To make the muffins, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
5// In another bowl, combine the eggs and sugar until thick, then add in the oil, melted butter, milk, yogurt, and vanilla.
6// Fold the dry mix into the wet mix until mostly combined, then fold in the remaining cup of blueberries until you have a lumpy and thick batter.
7// Spoon the mixture into your muffin tin, filling the slots completely.
8// Add a teaspoon of the blueberry swirl mixture to the top of each, poking into the middle with a fork to let it seep into the middle of the muffin a bit.
9// Add the streusel topping to each muffin. Note: the topping will have gotten a bit dry while it was sitting, so use your fingers to crush and sprinkle it all over, but be sure to leave some chunks!
10// Bake for 16 minutes, and let cool before devouring.Adapted from this recipe.

January 11, 2016

one little word 2016 | diy canvas.

The first year I did one little word, I made two canvases (this one and this one) to represent my word and keep it in the forefront of my mind by putting them somewhere I'd see them every day. I continued that tradition last year and made a canvas using my word's definition, so this year making another one was a no-brainer. Like the previous two years, I kept it simple, though this time I combined both methods used in the others — a little bit of black and white (and pink) paint and a gold paint marker (because, again, when am I not breaking that thing out? Exhibit A and B). I sloppily applied the paint, let it dry, then outlined my word, "contentment," in skinny gold capitals.I like making these simple canvases for this purpose because they keep the spotlight on the word itself without being in my face. The 2014 and 2015 canvases are a part of a gallery wall in my room (which I keep meaning to take photos of), but I put this one over my desk so it kind of has it's own little spot for the year. I'm hoping that seeing it every day will really help me work on myself this to truly be a more content person in twenty sixteen.
One Little Word is a workshop run by Ali Edwards in which participants choose one word to focus on for an entire year. Read about Ali's OLW here, and see all of my related posts for OLW 2014 here, 2015 here, and 2016 here.

January 8, 2016

friday link love | 15.

For the third year running, I'm printing out this freebie calendar from The Anastasia Co to clip into my gold clipboard.
This miniseries is taking the world by storm, and if you've seen it you know why — if you haven't, what the eff are you doing?
Best twitter response EVER.
Popsugar got a double shoutout in this hilarious video.
The NY Post referenced my post about being a hot nanny, which is pretty awesome.
If you use spotify and haven't seen your year in music for 2015 yet, DO IT.
From my coworkers: a compilation of insane theories surrounding Making a Murderer, Adele impersonating herself, Snape's story edited together in chronological order, and Harry Potter told in emoji texts.
And from me: a man and boy 57 years apart talking about life, an adorable, real life elf on the shelf, and a heartbreaking — yet heartwarming — letter from a mother to her daughter from beyond the grave.

January 5, 2016

products I used + liked in 2015.

1. Purity by Philosophy // 2. The Body Shop Grapefruit Body Scrub // 3. Tarte Brazilliance Self-Tanning Face Towelettes // 4. Lush Karma Kream // 5. Dermalogica Precleanse // 6. The Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Fade Night Lotion // 7. Co Bigelow Lemon Cream Body Wash // 8. Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray // 9. Revlon Lash Potion Mascara // 10. Oscar Blandi Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray // 11. Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer // 12. The Body Shop Aloe Protective Serum // 13. Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Hairspray

I used a lot of products in 2015. For whatever reason, I started to save the stuff I used up in a box, and in cleaning out my entire room this past weekend, I found it. These products are definitely not the only ones I used and liked this past year, but they're all awesome, so I thought I'd recap, even though I'm sure I've written about some of these in my favorites before.In terms of skincare, the precleanse is amazing. It's a first step when washing your face at night to remove excess oil and breakdown your makeup — highly recommend. I like the purity wash to get any of the leftover makeup after that, and to wash my whole face. The aloe protective serum was a really light moisturizer that I liked using during the day under makeup, and the tea tree night lotion was a bit heavier but kept my skin clear and moisturized.

The karma kream is a delicious smelling all-over body lotion, and goes on like a dream after exfoliating in the shower with the grapefruit body scrub. The lemon cream body wash was an awesome winter choice in the beginning of the year, because during those months it's impossible for me to moisturize "too much." If you're looking for an extra boost during the pale months, the Tarte self-tanning towelettes are amazing, and don't turn you orange. I used them mostly to keep the tan dream alive in September, once my natural tan started to fade.For makeup, the Too Faced bronzer is an everyday staple, and I can't stress enough how great it smells and looks. The lash potion mascara was definitely not the only mascara I used this year — if you read this blog, you know that all too well — but it was for sure a stand-out, and something I want to repurchase now that it's on my radar again. The setting spray is another daily staple. It makes me feel like I'm not wearing any makeup, and anything I put on stays put for the entire day (or as they suggest, all night).

Lastly, the two hair items were both ones that I've continued buying over and over since the first time I used them — the dry heat spray is perfect for days you're using a hot tool but haven't washed your hair (um, most days?), and the argan oil hairspray smells like strawberries and provides a light-to-medium hold (my favorite part is that it doesn't feel sticky or crunchy and I can still run my fingers through my hair no problem).

All that this post has done is made me want to repurchase half of these items. That backfired.

January 4, 2016

november + december book report.

Everything, Everything. Oh man, I loved this book. It was typical YA — the characters were pretty perfect and the teenaged boy was proficient in the language of love in a way that no grown man has ever actually been, but it was incredible. The main character has a fragile immune system and has never left her home, spends all of her time reading and taking online classes, and only ever sees her nurse and mother — until Olly moves in next door, and the rest is history. I enjoyed the characters, their witty banter, the way the world was seen through the eyes of a girl who has never seen the world before, and most of all, I love the way it ended.
"prom • ise ('prämes) n. pl. -es. 1. The lie you want to keep. [2015, Whittier]"

Thirteen Reasons Why. This was this November's book club read, and another YA. About a young girl who took her own life and leaves 13 tapes behind for 13 people to listen to and hear why they were, in some way or another, responsible for why she killed herself. I didn't hate this book, but it was definitely a very easy read, super straightforward, not too shocking or surprising, and I finished it in three sittings. Overall, a good read if you're looking for something quick and easy, but other than that I wasn't totally impressed.
"No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same."

All the Bright Places. This book was tragically beautiful. Also YA and also touching on the subject of suicide, this book really opens your eyes to the struggles within the mind of someone contemplating taking their own life in a way that our book club book didn't. I also loved that it was split point of view between the two main characters, so you could see inside the minds of two troubled young people, but how each handled the cards life dealt them. Truly upsetting but ultimately beautiful, I definitely recommend this one as a more serious read.
". . . but the great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Every time I read these it feels like the first time and the millionth time all in one. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this series.
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

Carry On. I was so excited for this book to come out after I finished Fangirl earlier this year. Even though it has nothing to do with Fangirl, it's the fan-fiction story that the main character of that story started, and I knew it was going to be awesome. I was right. Bear in mind, in order to enjoy this book, you need to accept that it's not Harry Potter at all, and then it's fantastic. It's a different kind of fantasy story surrounding magical students at a school in England (I know, just ignore it, seriously), and the main character, Simon Snow, has spent the last eight years dealing with being the most powerful mage in the magical world. Loved it.
"You were the sun, and I was crashing into you. I'd wake up every morning and think, 'This will end in flames."

Invisible City. This was December's book club read, and even though after the first chapter I wasn't sure I was going to like it, I ended up devouring it. It's about a 22-year-old woman named Rebekah, who is in her first year out of college as a stringer for a newspaper. She is called to get information from a crime scene in which a Hasidic Jewish woman's was found, and Rebekah makes it her mission to find out what happened to her. I enjoyed it and there are apparently going to be more featuring this main character, which is exciting.

In 2015 I read 35 books and crushed my reading goal of 25 by ten whole novels — in 2016 I'm going for fifty. Wish me luck.

January 1, 2016


For the last two years I've chosen a word to take with me in everything I do throughout the year. In 2014, it was "grow," and it couldn't have been a more perfect word for me that year. Last year I chose "adapt," because after all the seeds I planted in 2014, I needed to work through it all and fit the pieces of the puzzle together. Both years I made massive changes to my life and both years I feel like my word served me. When I started to think about what word I wanted to look to in 2016, I thought about the past few months and how even though I have an amazing life — and am generally a happy individual — I tend to focus a bit too much on the things I think are missing from my life. I drag some of that negativity into parts of me that are already awesome, and it becomes kind of toxic. That's how choosing the word "contentment" came about.This year my goal is to be content. To sit and enjoy the happy little life that I've built for myself, and let the things that are missing come to me in time. I want to be happy just because I can be, I want to appreciate the things that I have to the fullest extent, rather than halfway because I'm searching for something else. If I can get myself to this state, I just know that everything else will fall into place — and better yet, if it doesn't, I'll still find a way to be okay with that.I've realized that I can make any situation awful with my attitude. All it takes is a bad mood to make a day terrible. I'm going to work on making the opposite even more true. I choose to be happy this year, no matter what. Bring it on, twenty sixteen.
One Little Word is a workshop run by Ali Edwards in which participants choose one word to focus on for an entire year. Read about Ali's OLW here, and see all of my related posts for OLW 2014 here, 2015 here, and 2016 here.