5 Favorites: October Edition

Friday, October 25, 2013

October. This month has been especially crazy because I have begun working as a barista in a bakery. When I first accepted the job I had no idea I was going to be a barista, I had figured I would be in the back kitchen decorating cookies or delivering orders. My first day of work was quite a surprise, but so far, I have enjoyed it.
 The customers always keep work interesting.
And of course, since it is October, Halloween is just around the corner! This year I'm excited for the holiday because:
a. I love costumes
b. I get to volunteer with a great organization to hand out candy to kids while they trick-or-treat at the local zoo
My mom also sent me a care package that consisted of a trick-or-treating Halloween cat bag full of KitKat bars, a candy bowl and chicken broth (priorities! Thanks, Mom).

This Mahogany Teakwood candle from Bath & Body Works has a wonderfully fresh scent. It could definitely be considered a more "manly" candle scent because it does have a bit of a cologne-like smell,  but it is very subtle and not overpowering. I would recommend it to those whose significant other turns up their nose at sweeter candle scents like BBW's Pumpkin Caramel Latte. This mini candle costs $4.50, however right now BBW is having a 3 for $10 sale!

Maybelline Lasting Drama by EyeStudio Gel Eyeliner, Charcoal 954
Maybelline Lasting Drama by EyeStudio eyeliner. A while back I had heard Lisa Eldridge mention this product in one of her tutorials, so I decided to pick it up and test it out. I grabbed the color charcoal, put it in my makeup drawer and forgot about it. However, I have started working as a barista and noticed that my Rimmel and Urban Decay eyeliners were not staying put. In an attempt to avoid looking like a zombie in a caffeine induced trance after work I applied this eyeliner and crossed my fingers in hoped that it would be able to withstand the steam from all of the various machines and coffee creating gadgets. It stayed put for the whole day. I plan on purchasing this product in blackest black soon.

Enchiladas Bandera from Hilah Cooking. I've made these twice this month and they are wonderful, but actually, anything from Hilah Cooking is great!

Garden in a bag. I love my garden in a bag. It is cute and quite practical for apartment living. I've been growing this one for about little over a month. Just a few sprouts have begun to reach the top edge of the bag.

Jinx. As some of you may know by now, I really enjoy playing video games of all sorts. Jinx is the newest champion from from the game League of Legends. I love her crazy personality and she is a fun champion to play. If you have never played League of Legends, and have copious amounts of free time, the game is free to download.

October Playlist

Friday, October 11, 2013

The sounds of October.

The Autumn Tag

Sunday, September 29, 2013


The green forest gives in to the persistent cooler air. Striking gemstone hues bespeckle the twisting turns and neighborhood sidewalks. Slowly the heat fades away completely and the days become short. Umbrellas and rain boots become necessary on most Fridays. Scarves replace sunglasses. Leaves line our pathway and cushion our steps until only the evergreens remain standing tall and emerald.
Favorite thing about autumn? The afternoon rainstorms, slightly cooler days and the wonderful way the trees begin to turn golden yellow and sunset orange.

Favorite drink? Homemade pumpkin spice lattes and real caramel apple cider. Here is a link to my fav Pumpkin Spice Recipe.

Favorite scent/ candle? I'm not the biggest fan of fall scents because they tend to be heavy and I prefer light scents. However, I really love the scent of apple pie spice and pumpkin pie spice.

Best lipstick? Rimmel's Kate Moss matte lipstick in 107. It is a pretty great wine red, perfect for autumn.

Go to moisturizer? Yes to Grapefruit correct & repair moisturizer. This moisturizer has a strange scent, but the benefits are wonderful and it doesn't irritate my skin (rare!).

Favorite music? Come back in a few days and see! I'm working on my October playlist, it should be done soon.

Go to color for eyes? Coppers, golds and pretty browns. I'm especially liking Urban Decay's eye shadow in smog right now.

Favorite outfit? Where I live yesterday was the first real cool day we have had. My favorite outfit for autumn days is skinny jeans, my Steve Madden combat boots, some cozy socks and an off the shoulder sweater with my favorite scarf from Italy.

Autumn treat? Raspberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream.

Favorite place to be? In a comfy leather chair by a large window in the library at my university or outside at a table by one of the many fountains on campus.

What is your favorite thing about autumn?

5 Favorites: September Edition

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This salad. Spinach and kale mix, with feta cheese, strawberries and raspberry walnut vinaigrette dressing.

I must admit that at first I was skeptical of these crease-less hair ties and was reluctant to pay the higher price. I finally caved and grabbed a pack of Kistch hair ties at a local boutique. They're great!
Once upon a time I was an elliptical, treadmill and yoga only girl. However, I recently kicked the elliptical to the curb and have started lifting 2-3 times a week during my workouts. I am already starting to see a difference. If you are considering weight lifting, but think you will look bulky, read this article.

Urban Decay's Naked Basics Palette. The looks that can be created with this palette are lovely. The shade Venus also works as a great highlight.

This month I have finally found little time to play World of Warcraft and explore Pandaria. If you don't know what World of Warcraft is, watch this trailer.

September Playlist

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Music of the month. Here is my September playlist!

String Lights Done Right, Decorating. Finds & More

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Follow my blog with Bloglovin Last week it got a little pinteresty in my new apartment.

After utilizing some unconventional wall hanging techniques this was the result.

So without further ado...

String Lights Done Right

  • Mini LED string lights (they don't get as hot as regular strand lights)
  • Extension cord
  • A mechanical timer
  • Sewing pins or small nails
  • A small hammer 
  • Tape
  • Clothespins (optional)
  • Pictures (optional)
  1. Begin by taping the lights where you want them on the wall. Then, take a big step back and make sure they look even and centered.
  2. Now take a hammer and nails or sewing pins and gently hammer one in at each turning point of the strand. I prefer sewing pins because they leave holes that are barely noticeable, however there may need to be more than one pin placed at each end because the weight of the lights can be a little much for just one pin.
  3. Set up and plug the lights into your mechanical timer. Admire your work.
  4. Last and optionally, use clothespins to hang your favorite photos/magazine clippings/whatever.

My favorite timer is linked in the supplies list. I highly suggest purchasing it because it can be set to turn on for a 30 minute intervals or longer, and at one or more times a day.

Here are some of my other apartment decoration favorites.
An Eiffel tower wall decal, a lovely mirrored tray for my perfumes and candles, and of course sticky wall stars because I am still a 12-year-old at heart.
-Eiffel tower wall decal found here

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Target. I just really like shopping there.

Not Quite Panera's Potato Soup

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yesterday I decided to break all the rules and make a warm soup in the middle of summer.

This recipe was created about 4 years ago when I was attempting to duplicate Panera's potato soup. I had already tried several online recipes, but none could match the taste of Panera's soup.

Taking matters into my own hands, I tried to replicate the recipe. It still didn't end up like Panera's soup, but my family loved it.

This particular recipe is only about 300 calories per serving, is a little spicy when cayenne is added and like most soups, tastes better the next day. Cayenne pepper is the secret ingredient in pretty much everything I make. Add as little or as much cayenne as you would like.

Servings: 8

  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 4 dashes garlic salt
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • Cayenne pepper
  1. In a large pot combine potatoes, spring onions, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, then leave over medium heat until potatoes are softened.
  2. Begin adding cream cheese by gently adding and stirring a little in at a time until it dissolves.
  3. Add ground white pepper, garlic salt and cayenne pepper. Slowly add milk or cream, do not allow lumps to form. Add salt if needed.
  4. Allow to boil until cream cheese and milk are thoroughly dissolved. If soup is not thick enough use a whisk to break apart the potatoes.
  5. Allow soup to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with turkey bacon and cheddar cheese.

Happy potato peeling!

Reverse Culture Shock

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Italian fruit market. Need I say more?
This post is late, late late, but I hope you still enjoy it.

Since the day I arrived back to the U.S. I've found myself struggling ever-so-slightly to adjust to the lifestyle of the good 'ole USA.
For example, one day before the 4th of July I was at HEB. For those of you not from Texas, HEB is a fantastic grocery store with tons of yum stuff.
On this particular HEB adventure, I was picking out avocados.
No big deal.
Until someone walked up behind me. In a panic I looked at my hands, then dropped the avocado back in the bin and leapt over to the place where the plastic gloves, worn by vegetable-perusing Italians, would have been located only to realize seconds later that I was in fact in Texas.
Prior to my return home, picking up veggies and fruit from the local Conad grocery store in Florence, Italy had become a biweekly routine for me. After my experiences of getting yelled at in Italian and then receiving a harsh explanation in English about where and why I have to always, always wear gloves while purchasing fruit, I now hold a special fear in my heart akin to the fear my four-year-old self had of being caught by my friend's mother not wearing socks while playing in the McDonalad's PlayPlace.
Dry-erase chalkboard art.
Besides embarrassing myself in the grocery store, I have also found myself yearning for a daily itinerary like I had in Italy. I loved knowing when there would be free time to wander throughout the city and when I would be held captive by an umbrella wielding fast-talking-quick-walking tour guide.
Of course, an itinerary or even a schedule of some sort is just not possible with my family. Everyone has a little too much going on times and dates are constantly changing.
When I arrived home I knew I had to have something to help keep everything straight. I am disorganized by nature, but as long as people don't look in my desk drawers, I am pretty good at appearing and acting organized. My planner is pretty much my extra limb during the school year, but it gets tossed aside as soon as May arrives. My sort-of-solution to not have an itinerary this summer was to buy a planner and actually write in it. The planner I bought from Target has been helpful and even sort of fun because it has a dry-erase chalkboard.
These are my reverse culture shock stories. Of course there are more small things I experience upon my return such as the love-hate relationship my body had with American food the first week I was back and my constant desire to go on walks around my neighborhood to explore, but overall I adjusted really well to America.
Now that I am not traveling I am faced with finding a new subject to blog about. If anyone has any suggestions, requests or ideas please leave a comment below.

When in Rome... Again!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On my third day in Italy I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to be sure I was guaranteed a return to Rome.
On my last day in Italy I regretted this earlier action when I found myself traveling to a hotel in the heart of Rome to stay for one extra day.

The morning we were supposed to leave was hectic, but our large student group had actually made it to Terminal 5 right before it was to open. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until we learned we had been told to go to the wrong terminal. When we reached the right terminal we were too late to make our flight. However, we still ran through the airport and tried to get someone to help us possibly hold the flight.
The problem was that in Italy no one really wants to do her job.
The woman at the help desk sent us to another group of employees. The other employees sent us back to the woman at the help desk. We were finally informed by the lady at the "help" desk that there was nothing she could do to help us.
As she got up to get her morning cup of coffee, she erased all of our hopes of getting back to Texas.
So we missed our flight. We re-booked our tickets. And we got a bonus day in Rome.
A lot of us were tired because we had stayed up all night long traveling to the airport, but we made the most of it.
We stopped by the Scholar's Lounge for food, free water (a rarity in Italy!) & soccer.

I also got to return to my favorite place in all of Italy.

We also stopped by a little cafe that is known for their hot chocolate.

And finally after a long flight and 23 hours without sleep I returned home to Texas.

Festival in Florence

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where have I been?
I've been away traveling and completing my final projects for school.

What did I do during my time away?
I traveled to Austria and Germany. Hopefully, I will have time to post about my travels.
I also spent some time photographing a festival in Florence. This festival was in honor of San Giovanni the patron saint of Florence. Usually there is a historic soccer game, but it was cancelled due to some really crazy thunderstorms that rolled into town just before the game was going to start.
Thankfully the storms didn't stay long. The sky cleared just in time for the evening fireworks show.
Here are a few (unedited) pictures from the festival.

Lemons, Oranges, Islands & Sun

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I spent the weekend in Sorrento, Pompeii and on the Island of Capri. All of these cities are beautiful places with a severe lack of free wifi/ internet access. In Sorrento trees full of oranges lined the streets. In Capri the ocean was clear and the color of sapphires.
Now that I have returned to Florence I will probably be blogging more regularly again.
After a few days by the ocean it was difficult to return to class, but today we had a great guest lecture about the Italian mafia. I may write a little more about it later when I have the time to sit down and sort my thoughts.
On a totally different note, I will be traveling to Austria and Germany this weekend if all of the hotel room/ train ticket travel plans work out.

Oranges in Pompeii. These were located at stand that makes fresh squeezed orange juice and buffalo mozzarella pizza.

On the Island of Capri.

Lovers arch. We took a boat tour all around the island and got to pass under this giant arch.

Sorrento lemon orchard. Sorrento produces a lot of limoncello and grows a lot of lemons. I was given a free lemon at the orchard...

So I took pictures of my lemon. And then I made lemonade.

Night Photography in Florence

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The rolling hills of Pienza, Italy.

On Sunday my friends and I took a break from the busy city life of Florence.
We boarded a bus around 8 a.m. and headed off to see the Tuscan countryside.
Our first stop was in a small town called Pienza.
Cheese sports in Pienza
Pienza is the top producer of Pecorino cheese. There are cheese shops everywhere, and even the town itself smells a bit like cheese. There is also a cheese sport that the men participate in that involves rolling a wheel of cheese toward a stick. I'm still not sure how it works, but I do know it must be a lot more difficult that it looks. It seems that cheese wheels are generally not very cooperative.
After Pienza we were on our way to Salcheto Winery. This was probably the scariest part of the trip mostly because the charter bus we were on got stuck going uphill and most of the trip there was spent driving on winding dirt roads with high cliffs on either side of the bus. Somehow we made it to Salcheto Winery unscathed, and only had to get off the bus once so it could drive up a really steep part of the road.
This particular winery is very eco-friendly and modern. We got to take a quick tour of the facility before lunch and I tried to get some pictures of the underground rooms, but there was little light.
The dining and wine tasting area
A homemade pasta with tomato sauce
Wines and appetizers
Where the wine is stored
We got to try several wines: Rostato Toscana, Roso di Montipulciano and Vino Nobile. What I learned from my wine tasting experience is that I don't like wine as much as I thought I did. I guess deep down I might have already known this because in general I am usually a fan of alcohol-free fruity slushy type drinks.
Twilight: New Moon was filmed in Montepulciano.
After lunch and wine tasting was over we took off on the scary bus and headed up an even steeper hill to see the town of Montepulciano. This town was cute, small and nobody there was a big fan of Americans, which seemed strange because Italians and Americans are at the least cordial to one another most of the time.
While I browsed the shops and walked through the steep city streets I kept having a strange feeling of deja vu. Obviously I hadn't been to Montepulciano. Before this trip I hadn't even left the United States for longer than a day. Then we ran into a poster outside one of the local businesses. One of the Twilight movies had been filmed in Montepulciano. Suddenly, it all made sense.
After visiting the open markets of the city we returned to the scary charter bus and returned to Florence.

Monday Through Thursday From 3-6 p.m.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Obligatory artsy sunset in Italy photograph.
When I am not roaming the streets of Florence sampling Italian cuisine, writing, looking through a camera lens or sitting at a cafe sipping a latte, I am in class. At my university I am enrolled in two classes: Advanced Magazine Editing and Media Photography. Both classes are challenging and enjoyable in their own ways.
The objective of the advanced magazine editing class is to create a complete magazine about the Florence study abroad experience for future study abroad students. At first I thought it would be boring for the first few weeks, but it has been fascinating. Currently, we are working with another student who wants to make a documentary about the Madonnari or street artists of Florence. So far, we have compiled a list of questions for an interview we will be setting up with one of the most well known street artists of Florence.
In my media photography class we are moving a little bit slower, learning concepts class by class and not jumping into everything head first. We go to class, critique our photos and the photos of others, cover a new photography concept and then are given an assignment to work on before the next class. My current assignment is to photograph a silhouette, something colorful against a stark background (no flowers allowed), something that frames its subject, and leading lines/ interesting patterns. My next post should be filled with creative photos.
Tomorrow I will be heading to the Tuscan countryside for a wine tour with my professors and some of my classmates. I am looking forward to photographing the small renaissance towns and the beautiful countryside.

The View From Above

Thursday, June 6, 2013

This may be the best view of Florence.
Late Post: This was supposed to be published the day I wrote it when I was in Italy. Unfortunately the internet was moody and decided to save it a a draft instead....
So here it is now months later.

After hiking up a really steep hill to Michelangelo's Plaza, I had the chance to shoot some sunset and night photos. This was my first nighttime photo shoot. I will soon have some amazing pictures, if they turn out how I think they did.

During the day, I crashed a fashion photo shoot with my photography class. It was interesting getting to see the different aspects of live outdoor photography and photo shoots. I tried my best to sneak a shot, but I couldn't get my camera to cooperate. The area was crowded and, as you can see in the photo above, the lighting was harsh so everyone had lovely raccoon eyes.

A longer and more detailed post should appear on my blog soon. Right now sleep is my priority. Starting at 4 a.m. the alleyway by my becomes a bottomless pit of construction sounds. So I must get as many hours of sleep as I can before the jackhammers and bulldozers start up again.

Navigating Italy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The larger towns in Italy are composed of tiny side-by-side shops that line streets so narrow that anything bigger than a MINI Cooper will struggle to wind its way through. Outside of these larger towns lies the sudden, sprawling, countryside which intermingles with various industrial fortresses. As I rode the bus to Florence I would see a lone field full of crops, a small farmhouse, then nothing but trees and flowers, and out of nowhere a Prada factory.
So different from Texas, but charming in its own way.
Adjusting to college was surprisingly more difficult than adjusting living in Italy. However, there have been a few funny and slightly embarrassing experiences my new friends and I have had since arriving in this foreign land.

My first Italian gelato.
It was our first day in Rome. My friends and I had just sat down outside of a cute cafe for a quick lunch. The waiter brought us a menu, we ordered our food, received our meal, finished eating and waited for our check. We talked about our afternoon plans and waited for our check. We tried to find a wifi signal while we waited for our check.
An hour and a half later. No check.
Finally we asked a waiter and he quickly brought us the check. We paid him and were off and on our way.
Later that day we learned that Italians view tables at restaurants and cafes as property of the customers. It is rude to give customer the check after the meal. Because of this checks must always be requested.
While on the subjects of checks. Split checks do not exist here. The one time I asked for a split check I got a confused look accompanied by a menu so I could split the check myself.
My advice: Go to a fruit stand. Their fruits are better than supermarket fruits.

A few other things that are different in Italy...

One must always wear gloves while selecting fruits and veggies at the supermarket. I didn't know this
and got corrected by an Italian man who gave me a pair of gloves and explained to me in crystal clear English that I must always wear gloves when I touch fruit.

Everyone wears jeans, even when it is hot.

Girls my age, their mothers and their grandmothers wear similar fashions. Everyone here dresses very well. I'm not even sure t-shirts exist.

Nice dinners take 3 to 4 hours and there is usually a 20-30 minute gap between the courses.

There are no lines, just large crowds trying to pass through the same door.

 On television tennis commentators say "Mama mia!!" every five seconds.

Italians like American crime television series and police tv dramas.

Some restaurants give free red wine to students.

Everyone walks everywhere.

I'm On a Boat (And a Train)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Today I successfully navigated the Italian train system, rode a gondola, survived a pigeon attack and smiled way too much.

From Diamonds to Sand