Scenes From Snowpocalypse ’16!

Leave a comment Standard

February2016Storm03

When I woke up to get ready for work last Friday morning, after a warm-but-kind-of-rainy evening in Northampton the night before- my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach when I looked out my window and saw the beginnings of what looked like a horrendous blizzard. The roads were awful (not only did my car slide all over the place- but so did I when I tried walking to the entrance of my office), it was so bitterly cold outside- and no one knew when it was scheduled to stop- making being trapped at work for the weekend until my co-workers and I could dig ourselves and our vehicles out of our parking lot an actual possibility.

To say I had panic-inducing flashbacks of last Winter’s endless onslaught of snow and ice storms would be an understatement- and not even the large quantities of pizza my company sent us to get us through the day could put my mind at ease. I just kept thinking about the shoveling, the cabin fever I experienced throughout last January-March, the shoveling, dodging sliding vehicles when I braved the outside world- the shoveling…

Thankfully, by the time I left for the day- the snow had stopped and the sun had actually come out. Sure, it took the help of two of my co-workers to dig my car out of the snow so I could get home (and the roads weren’t nearly as bad as they had been in the morning!) but it was the post-storm scenery that stopped me in my tracks. In all the years I’ve lived in New England- I’ve never, not once- seen the trees look the way they did on Friday afternoon. They were all covered in so much snow that they didn’t even look real. I had to stop and take a few photos before the temperatures rose again and everything began to melt.

February2016Storm08

Snowpocalypse16CoffeeMug

I’ve been keeping warm these past few days between my home and my office in my usual fashion- bundling up in all the layers ever, drinking plenty of hot cocoa (with marshmallows, of course!), and getting as much writing done as I can here on ‘Legally Redhead’ from the comfort under my fleece blankets.  It’s been a fun little balancing act between work, play, and blogging- one that has definitely kept me busy!

But, of course, I managed to put aside the time this past weekend to enjoy the Super Bowl, the advertisements (I’m still really, really confused by that “Puppy Monkey Baby” thing,) and do what everyone does during the big game- stuff my face with the unhealthiest foods imaginable. Last year, my contribution to my friends’ annual Super Bowl party was an impressive buffalo chicken dip. This year- I opted for tater tot nachos (served on paper plates, because amped up football fans and breakable dishware is not a good combination.)

Like conventional tortilla chip nachos, there are literally 100+ ways to prepare tater tot ones depending on your tastes and how much time you have to get the ingredients together and do a little cooking- but I chose the fail-proof old fashioned method of cooking up the tots, spreading an even layer of seasoned ground beef and shredded cheese over them in a glass bowl, heating them in the stove until the cheese melted- and then smothering them in shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream (salsa and guacamole were separate!)

SnowpocalypseTaterTots01

SnowpocalypseTaterTots02

SnowpocalypseTaterTots03

They were a pretty big hit. I’m thinking my next attempt will incorporate Monterrey Jack and maybe some Gouda cheeses. The possibilities with these are endless!

And now that you’ve all been given the updates on the past few snowy days- I’m getting ready to share some fun collaborations I’ve been working on, review a couple of my monthly subscription services, and dive into my February Hits List in the coming days!

‘Til next time!

xx

Quick Eats: Baked Breakfast Cups

Comments 3 Standard

BreakfastCupsRecipe01

I’m fairly certain I’ve said it before- but I am a breakfast food fiend. It’s my favorite meal of the day and the meal I could eat any time of day, really. With that being repeated, I’m always looking for new and delicious ways to kick-start my morning so that I’m left feeling full but not bored with the same old routine (I can’t eat the same thing every single day- even if I love it!) so when I first saw this recipe for “Breakfast Cups”, using hash browns as a sort of bowl to hold the ingredients together- I knew I had to give it a try. Worst case scenario if the cups didn’t come out as planned was that I’d have a very funny shaped omelette- but I’m a firm believer that there’s no such thing as a bad omelette.

Having recently and unexpectedly been snowed in (I did NOT anticipate the storm that hit us last week to be as bad as it was!) my mother was kind enough to lend me some of the ingredients for this concoction until I can drag myself to the market- as well as her mother (my grandmother’s) antique muffin pan- which looks rusted, I know- but I SWEAR it’s just discolored from years and years (50+!) of use. It’s completely clean and sanitary for anyone looking at the photos in this post and recoiling in horror.

Give me a little credit, please!

BreakfastCupsRecipe02

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 breakfast sausages
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) of shredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese (or any cheese you prefer!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 cups of frozen country-style hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives or green onion

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400°F.

2. Prepare the breakfast sausages according to the package instructions, cool slightly, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Set the sliced sausage aside.

BreakfastCupsRecipe03

3. Combine/whisk the eggs, cheese, and pepper in a bowl- and set that aside as well.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the hash browns, butter, salt and pepper. Divide evenly into 12 greased muffin cups.

5. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the muffin cups to create a bowl-like shape to hold your egg/cheese mixture and sausage.

BreakfastCupsRecipe04

6. Cook the hash brown bowls for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

7. Once you remove the muffin pan from the oven- divide sausage pieces into the hash brown bowls. Top each bowl evenly with the egg/cheese mixture. Sprinkle each bowl with chives and onion.

BreakfastCupsRecipe05

8. Return your muffin pan to the oven and bake another 12-15 minutes or until set.

9. Serve and enjoy!

BreakfastCupsRecipe06

I was really pleased with how well these little cups turned out- and even more pleased with how good they tasted. They were the perfect combination of saltiness, crisp-ness and cheesy-ness- and were very, very filling. I managed to scarf down two before I felt stuffed- and I also felt inspired to re-create these for my next brunch gathering (I do love a good brunch, too!)

One word of advice, though- just make sure you grease the muffin pan properly! A couple of my cups got a little stuck around the edges, which made for a not-so-clean removal when it came time to serve these. Other than that- these are incredibly simple to make an I urge anyone who may be finding themselves in a dreaded “breakfast boredom rut” to give them a try!

xx

BreakfastCupsRecipe07

January 2016: In a Nutshell.

Leave a comment Standard
January2016InANutshell01

Getting my Mexican food and margarita on at my ‘Dirty Thirty’ birthday party last night!

My goodness! How on Earth have we reached the end of January already? It feels like just yesterday I was kicking off 2016 in Newport- and now here I am- preparing for February and recovering from my belated ‘Dirty Thirty’ birthday celebration my friends had for me last night with dinner and drinks at Papagayo in Somerville, followed by a screening of ‘The Boy’ at the theater around the corner (and it would have been last weekend, if not for Mother Nature gifting me with a lovely little blizzard like she does every year around this time!)

January was a whirlwind- and I attribute it feeling like it came and went in the blink of an eye to my being very busy most days- which is a good thing! I finally got into the groove of my new job (and am liking it very much so far!), began my usual beginning-of-the-year-cleanse-and-detox-program by vigorous cleaning, organizing, and healthy eating/exercise- and celebrated an influx of friends’ birthdays- including my own. It really is the Age of Aquarius right now!

Yes, indeed- I hit the milestone of turning 30 just a couple of short weeks ago- and I’m still getting used to answering “thirty” whenever anyone asks me how old I am- although it usually sounds more like “twenty-ni-oh, wait” at first (and God bless every single person who has seemed/pretended to seem genuinely surprised when I tell them my age in recent days.) Although I’m new to this whole post-twenties thing- I have to say it’s looking pretty fun and very promising so far!

January, of course, was not without it’s shocking and even sad moments (even the best of months have them!) My uncle, who has been on/off ill for a few weeks now- recently learned the reason behind his bouts of fatigue and nausea and is scheduled for a quadruple bypass tomorrow to fix a couple of tricky arteries in his heart. I’m visiting him a little later on today- but my whole family has been worried sick about it leading up to the procedure and have been trying to surround ourselves and immerse our minds in good thoughts and positive vibes.

Pop culture took a series of blows this past month when the world lost David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Eagles’ member Glenn Frey, and most recently, ‘The Godfather’s Abe Vigoda (“Tell Michael it was only business. I always liked him.”) – in quick succession.

In the spirit of things- my mother also had a Patriots-themed birthday cake made for me as a surprise.

In the spirit of things- my mother also had a Patriots-themed birthday cake made for me as a surprise.

New England Patriots fans took a blow when Brady & The Boys couldn’t quite clinch the AFC championship and a slot in Super Bowl 50 in last week’s nail-biter of a close game against the Denver Broncos (I swear, those final minutes aged me forty years.) The loss also marks my own losing of a high stakes bet made with a friend of mine in California who I got a little cocky and competitive with- and now we’re in the process of ironing out the details of my having to pay up in the form of a cross-country visit sometime within the next couple of months where I will undoubtedly be picking up a hefty bar tab after a night out…

… Although would it still be considered “losing” the bet when I adore San Diego so much and don’t mind being there at all? I don’t think so!

Anyway- what’s in store for February? Apart from working as usual- a trip to NYC, for starters? How about a couple of really fun collaborations I’m excited to share? Maybe a few recipe posts? And of course we can’t forget the return of ‘The Walking Dead’- which is set to make my Valentine’s Day even more romantic once Daryl Dixon is gracing my television screen again!

Post-snowstorm hike! 1/24/16

Post-snowstorm hike! 1/24/16

All in all, January was a very, very fun month- the perfect way to begin 2016- and I’m excited for the coming weeks!

xx

POPSUGAR Must Have Box: January 2016

Leave a comment Standard

January2016POPSUGAR01

January2016POPSUGAR02

Finally, to wrap-up my subscription service review posts for the month of January is my personal favorite- my POPSUGAR Must-Have Box! I’ve only been a member of this service since last Summer- but I have yet to receive anything I didn’t really love- and the value of the items that are included always surpasses the cost of the box (and shipping & handling) each month. More than that, the variety of the assorted products is always really unique and interesting- ranging anywhere from food, beauty, books, tech, and home decor- among other things.

I had received the outline of January’s inspirations/theme a while back- and was pretty excited to see what was inside the actual box since I’m very much all about that New Year renewal/rejuvenation thing. To kick off 2016, POPSUGAR turned to RENEWAL, ORGANIZATION, DETOX, NEW YEAR, and HEALTHY HABITS for their inspiration with putting the assortment of products together.

Let’s take a look and what I received!

January2016POPSUGAR03

To kick off the ‘ORGANIZATION’ aspect of January’s POPSUGAR box, I was really happy to receive this beautiful 2016 planner from Blue Sky. I have a small planner I keep in my purse to jot down appointments or reminders (and it was recently featured in my ‘January Hits List’ post!)– but this one is very detailed and designed specifically to meet and maintain both short-term and long-term goals. I’ll be keeping this at my desk at work for motivation!

I was also sent a copy of Maria Kondo (a bestselling author and cleaning consultant)‘s manual on tidying up, ‘Spark Joy’. Although I’ve flipped through the book, I have yet to fully implement it’s teachings as of yet- although I plan to in the coming days after I get home from work! I want a spotless, organized home!

January2016POPSUGAR04

January2016POPSUGAR05

I was so, so thrilled to receive this set of body washes from Not Soap, Radio in this month’s box. Each decently-sized bottle has a different fragrance, infused with different extracts to illicit a range of emotions/feelings- and they all smell SO good. These are perfect for travel, too- since they’re not too big to pack and not too small where they’ll get lost easily in the shuffle of everything. They come in a handy, clear zip-pouch, as well- which makes keeping track of them all a little bit easier.

January2016POPSUGAR06

Sheet masks are all the rage right now, and I am shamelessly and helplessly aboard that bandwagon. I love them- and there’s nothing that makes me feel more relaxed than taking off my makeup after a long day of work and resting a sheet mask over my face while I kick back in my bed or on my couch in my fleece pajamas and let it work it’s magic on my skin.

It’s nice to see POPSUGAR keeping the trend alive and well by sending a trio of five-minute sheet masks from Patchology in January’s Must Have boxes- each one made to target a different skin concern. I’ll definitely be using these up in no time at all!

January2016POPSUGAR07

I was actually a bit surprised to see a simple tube of chap stick in a POPSUGAR box- but I’ll never say no to it since Winter is awful on my skin/hair/lips. This new age-defying formula is vanilla-scented and is loaded with argan oil to help repair my lips from current damage and protect them from further dryness/peeling/cracking. I’ll take it and I won’t complain about it.

January2016POPSUGAR08

Priced at $40, this pebble-speckled storage bin from Pehr Designs is officially the most expensive item included in January’s Must Have box. I like the colors of this bin, since they match pretty much anything in my home- and despite how compact it looks in the packaging all folded up- this bin can hold a LOT of stuff! I’ve been using this to keep my hats and gloves in one place so I’m not left scrambling before I leave for work in the morning- and it’s definitely come in handy!

January2016POPSUGAR09

I don’t know how many of you have ever tried Project 7 Gum– but it’s pretty wild. It comes in a variety of off-the-wall-flavors, all of which taste exactly like they’re described (I recently had the birthday cake flavored gum and it blew my mind how spot-on it was to tasting like actual vanilla cake)– so to receive a packet of one of the newer taste tests- sno-cone- was fun. I’m still searching for the kettle corn popcorn-flavored Gum- but this’ll do ’til then!

Also, Project 7 does some serious charity work across the board- so it’s nice that POPSUGAR is helping get their name out there to their subscribers and beyond so more people can get interested and support their causes. You can check out Project 7’s website for more information on their partnerships and charitable contributions.

January2016POPSUGAR010

Finally, this month’s coupon (the unique code was edited out so I could post this online!) was for 25% off any order from Pehr Designs- the company who created the storage bin shown above. I actually think I’ll be ordering a few more bins to place around the other rooms in my home, so this will come in handy when I sit down to make the purchase! It was nice of POPSUGAR to include this.

All in all, I liked January’s Must Have box very much. The chapstick and the gum threw me off a little- if only because they were small compared to everything else in the box and nearly got misplaced for a second during my opening of everything- but I thought the composition of items was well thought-out and interesting. I’ve already been getting a lot of use out of most of the things I received, and I can’t wait to start the ‘Spark Joy’ book!

I’m not sure what February’s theme/inspiration will be just yet- since those spoilers usually arrive in my inbox during the second or third week of the month- but I’m suspecting it will be something Valentine’s Day-related. Chocolate, maybe? (Hopefully.)

I’ll just have to wait and see.

Until next month’s unboxings- that’s it for my January subscription service reviews!

xx

Loot Crate: January 2016.

Comments 2 Standard

LootCrateJanuary201601

Next up in this week’s wrap-up of my January subscription services is my 2nd favorite company- Loot Crate. For those who need a refresher, Loot Crate is a monthly subscription box service that sends out different “nerdy” and geek-centic items for gamers/comic book fans/cult classic enthusiasts/etc. centered around the designated theme for the month (for example, past months’ themes have included but were not limited to “Villains”, “Combat”, and “Horror” just to name a few.) Items can range anywhere from toys to t-shirts, accessories to books. You never really know what you’re going to get until it arrives at your door!

January’s theme, to coincide with the recent limited-episode reboot of ‘The X-Files’ and new trailer for ‘Independence Day II’ (WHERE IS WILL SMITH?!) was ‘INVASION”. Now, having openly admitted my fear of all things outer space (‘Gravity’ was essentially a horror movie for me)– I was a little nervous in my not knowing what to expect. Fortunately, Loot Crate didn’t include anything too traumatizing- and I actually enjoyed January’s box very much.

Let me show you what I received!

LootCrateJanuary201602

First up in January’s Loot Crate are the usual items: the monthly collector’s pin and mini-magazine. It looks like Loot Crate might be trying something different with their pins this year, because the one I received this month was actually pretty nice quality (no offense to the company, but their pins leading up to this point looked pretty flimsy and cheap.) I can’t say for certain I’m going to start becoming an avid collector- but it did catch my eye!

This month’s magazine, touching more on the “INVASION” theme, offered tips on how to survive an extra-terrestrial takeover (everything I learned about that I learned from the movie ‘Signs’, however,) and a really handy guide to catching up on ‘The X-Files’ with key plot points and character breakdowns.  The magazine also featured a rather freaky article about different types of invaders already here on Earth (castrator barnacles, anyone? Yikes.) and small games and puzzles within it’s pages. I always turn to the mini-magazine when it comes to reviewing the products I’ve received, too- since it includes a lot of helpful information.

LootCrateJanuary201603

Part of Loot Crate’s re-vamped style for 2016 included the promise that each month’s box would feature a t-shirt, and although some of their past designs and collaborations have been questionable- I’m really liking the look of this ‘X-Files’ shirt- a collaboration with Threadless and created by the winner of a design contest. The fabric of the shirt is soft-not scratchy- and it’s big enough to not have to worry about shrinking it right away. Awesome!

LootCrateJanuary201604

LootCrateJanuary201605

I think my favorite item in January’s Loot Crate was this plush Facehugger from ‘ALIENS’. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it- and then I turned it over, saw it’s adorable little face- and laughed even harder. This is going in my bedroom for sure- because I know it’s going to look pretty incredible when I prop it up against my pillows.

The plush also came with a rubber band so that I could attach it to my face if and when I decide a selfie is appropriate (and I suspect I’ll be taking one in an hour or so.)

LootCrateJanuary201606

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted my best friend Sean’s 30th birthday party at Dave & Busters. For those who are not familiar- it’s a chain restaurant/bar/arcade for adults only- even though there were a ton of toddlers running around for some inexplicable reason. But I digress. While we were there, waiting to be seated, we made our way to the arcade and I made my way to an old school style ‘Space Invaders’ game to brush up on my skills. Ten intense (and infuriating) minutes later, and I had to walk away to rest my cramped up joystick hand.

This candy-colored figurine is definitely less stressful than the pixelated ones on the screen- and dare I say, cuter? I shouldn’t have any difficulty finding a spot for this somewhere.

LootCrateJanuary201607

The second and final ‘X-Files’ related item in January’s Loot Crate came in the form of this water-resistant LED flashlight (with batteries!) which is actually INSANELY helpful and has found a home in the glove compartment of my car in the case of an emergency. I love when Loot Crate includes items like this from time to time, because they’re not only fun- but they’re practical, too.

I always recommend keeping a flashlight and batteries somewhere in your vehicle- so this came right in time just as I was getting ready to update all of my emergency kit gear for the next big snowstorm we have here in New England!

LootCrateJanuary201608

Oh God. I knew this day would come. The day where I’d have to finally open up and admit that I’m not a fan of ‘The Fifth Element’. Not at all. I actually can’t stand the movie- and I cringed when I opened up this prop replica of the Multi Pass featured in the film. I’ll be gifting this one for sure, since I have a couple of friends who love TFE and will no doubt get a kick out being able to use their own identification cards in place of Leeloo’s (the ID card can be replaced by simply sliding it in or out of the plastic holder.)

If I were a fan of the movie, I’m sure I’d be happy with the quality of this replica- but I’m just… Not… So…

Moving on!

LootCrateJanuary201609

My mother is currently in the process of making preparations to convert a large workshop my father built in her backyard a long time ago into a mini-movie theater- complete with reclining seats, lit aisles, a marquee and a vintage popcorn maker and concession stand- among other things. Since she began the project, she’s been collecting old Hollywood memorabilia- so when I saw these two high quality vintage sci-fi art prints in this month’s Loot Crate, I knew she’d love to place them on the walls when she eventually got the place decorated. These are fantastic prints (and I love ‘War of the Worlds’!)

Overall, I was pretty happy with this month’s Loot Crate. I thought the items that were chosen to be included were unique but consistent with January’s theme. I have a couple of things I’ll be keeping for myself and a couple of things I’ll be gifting to loved ones- which is always a plus with a subscription service.

I was just recently notified that the theme for February’s crate was going to be “DEAD” (as in ‘Deadpool’- yay! And ‘The Walking Dead’- YAAAAAAYYY!) so I’m already super excited to see what I get!

xx

GLOSSYBOX: January 2016 Review.

Leave a comment Standard

January2016GlossyBox01

Before I write about my birthday, the blizzard, or do my wrap-up for the month of January- I wanted to go over my three monthly subscription services, all of which arrived in my postbox within days of each other- starting with GlossyBox. After last month’s red and white holiday-themed assortment of items, this month saw the company return to it’s trademark pink and black packaging and no specific theme laid out in the information card included in each month’s box.

With two full-sized items inside- the products I received in January’s GlossyBox covered makeup, moisturizers, and hair care.

Let’s take a look at what I got!

WHAT I RECEIVED:

MeMeMe Lip Glide in ‘Playful Peach’ (*Full Size!*)

Beautiful Nutrition Lemon Rinse Gentle Clarifying Treatment

Emite Makeup Diamond Heart Base Primer (*Full Size!*)

Royal Apothic Moisturizing Body Cream in ‘Cutting Garden’

-417 Nourishing Foot Cream

January2016GlossyBox02

January2016GlossyBox03

Product # 1: MeMeMe Lip Glide in ‘Playful Peach’ ($12.50)

Ah, yes- we are officially in the season of all things matte. Matte eye shadow, matte lipsticks, matte leggings (it’s a thing that exists!) and while I’ll never shy away from a matte red, wine color, or neutral tone for the Fall/Winter- a matte coral seems a little unusual, if not downright unseasonal for mid-January. Regardless, I still tried this lip pencil from MeMeMe for reviewing purposes.

The color, a bright peach/coral- is very pigmented when applied with 2-3 swipes over the lips- and appears matte as promised on the packaging and in the product’s description. Unfortunately, with my pale skin- the tone almost immediately washed me out completely. While the application of the pencil itself is smooth, the formula does seem to make my lips look a little dry once it sets in. Lines and creases are clearly visible- and the product doesn’t last very long. A few sips of my coffee and the color was all but gone and needed to be re-applied again to keep my lips from looking patchy and uneven.

Thankfully, this pencil doesn’t dry my lips out the way other, similar products tend to do- but even still- I wasn’t all that impressed with this.

Would I Purchase?: No. This pencil was just not for me at all. Between the unflattering color, the dry-looking appearance, and the disappointing longevity- I’m going to have to pass on this product and stick to my usual matte lipsticks for long-lasting, rich texture and tone.

January2016GlossyBox04

Product # 2: Beautiful Nutrition Lemon Rinse Gentle Clarifying Treatment ($10)

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you- the label on this bottle of clarifying hair treatment is indeed a little wonky. So much, in fact- that I had to go online to research and read the instructions before I used this lemon-scented rinse to make sure I was doing it correctly. Thankfully, the directions are pretty simple. After shampooing and conditioning my hair as usual, I combed some of this product through my still damp curls and let it sink in for roughly 30 seconds to a minute or so before rinsing it out and styling as usual.

What I was left with was shiny, soft, healthy-feeling hair that was free from breakage and frizz (and it also smelled like lemonade which was admittedly very nice!) I didn’t think anything that was left on for the bare minimum of time would have such great results- but I was pleasantly surprised by this product- and for $10 for a full-sized bottle you can’t go wrong.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This rinse was a great find and worked wonders on my hair. I was very impressed with the results I achieved after just a couple of uses, and the fact that it smells nice and is safe for color-treated hair is an added bonus. The price point is ridiculously fair, in my opinion- and I plan on ordering a couple of full-sized bottles to keep in my shower and in my overnight bag the next time I travel to maintain my curls looking clean and vibrant.

January2016GlossyBox05

Product # 3: Emite Makeup Diamond Heart Base Primer ($29)

It’s not very often I fall in love with a makeup primer, as many in the past have either caused breakouts, made me look shiner than usual, or just didn’t keep my makeup in place, period- but here we are and here I am- swearing by this primer by Emite Makeup. This lightly-tinted formula that has a faint and familiar scent I couldn’t quite put my finger on- applied easily and felt lightweight on my skin- not greasy or slick. When it dried, my face appeared dewy without looking overly oily- and it helped keep my foundation in place all day without sliding off or creasing anywhere.

I think what I like best about this primer is that it sort of doubles as a skin perfecting and brightening BB cream. You can wear it on it’s own for sheer coverage and not have to worry about it clogging your pores or anything. I like to throw this on (with some mascara and lip gloss) when I’m just running a couple of errands and don’t necessarily want to deal with a full face of makeup- and it still makes my skin look nice!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This is one of those rare instances when a makeup primer actually worked really well for me. I love this formula, and how it can be worn under foundation or by itself. I loved it’s staying power- and I especially love it’s price since it costs a fraction of what I’ve spent on other primers or BB creams in the past that didn’t work nearly as well for me!

January2016GlossyBox06

Product # 4: Royal Apothic Moisturizing Body Cream in ‘Cutting Garden’ ($30)

I’m a pretty big fan of nearly every Royal Apothic product I’ve received in my subscription services to date, so I was excited to see this lovely packaged tube of body cream by the company in January’s GlossyBox. ‘Cutting Garden’, a very pretty floral fragrance, rubbed into my skin quickly and evenly- instantly hydrating any dry spots or patches without making the not-so-dry spots and patches feel slick or greasy (my biggest pet peeve with moisturizers!)

Hours later, my skin was still soft, smooth, and lightly scented. To say I love this cream is an understatement, and although $30 is a little on the steep side for a full-sized tube- I can easily picture myself picking up a couple for friends who appreciate a good hydrating cream as much as I do! (I sense a giveaway coming up soon…)

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Royal Apothic had yet another hit with this body cream. I loved the results, the fragrance, and the beautiful packaging. Although the price-point is a little more on the expensive side- I think this is a great item to splurge on for yourself and an even better item to give as a thoughtful gift for those trying to get through harsh Winters, too! This formula comes in a variety of fragrances, but I’m quite keen on ‘Cutting Garden’ as it is!

January2016GlossyBox07

Product # 5: -417 Nourishing Foot Cream ($18)

The other night I was telling a friend how long overdue for a decent pedicure I was. Winter- and my knee-high boots- have been absolute Hell on my heels. They’re dry and cracked- and no amount of lotion or cream seems to do the trick even if I vigorously and religiously apply it. I wasn’t expecting much from this small yellow tube of cream- but I gave it a whirl anyway.

First things first, this cream does not smell like your usual, every day pedi-product. There’s no traces of mint, or lavender. Instead, this lightweight cream has a woodsy fragrance- almost like men’s cologne- but not nearly as strong or potent. I rather liked the smell of it, and didn’t mind that it stayed on my hands well after I applied this all over my heels, soles, and toes.

The cream IS moisturizing- and my skin definitely felt softer as I wrapped my feet in fuzzy slipper socks and went to bed- but by the next morning, my heels still felt a little dry and scratchy. After two more nights of pre-bedtime application, my feet slowly but surely began to feel a little smoother and less dry overall- so this is a product that will work gradually over time. If you’re looking for a quick fix- this isn’t the cream for you.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. I think this foot cream would be ideal in the Spring/Summer when the air is less dry and cold and I’m not wearing boots at all times- but for this time of year- I don’t think it’s heavy duty enough for me as I battle through Winter. I’m going to need something much stronger to keep my skin from perpetual dryness and cracking- but I could see myself using this product when the weather warms up.

With only one product I wasn’t a fan of (and one I’m still a little on the fence about)– January’s box was fortunately anything but a bust for me. I loved the hair rinse, the body cream, and especially the makeup primer- which makes this assortment of items a really good way for the service to kick off 2016. It’s a strong start- and I hope GlossyBox can keep up the momentum into the new year.

I was recently sent a spoiler for February’s box- a themed one (my favorite!)– that I’m really looking forward to receiving and reviewing next month!

‘Til then!

xx

Twenty Things I Learned In My 20s

Comments 6 Standard
DirtyThirtyComparison

On the left, me in NYC for my 20th birthday. On the right- me getting ready for the day this morning (my 30th birthday!)

I’m not going to lie- it’s kind of blowing my mind that I’m even writing this post right now. Good morning, world! Today is my birthday, and not just any birthday- but my 30th birthday. That’s right- the big 3-0. Some fear it. Some dread it. Some do everything they can to avoid it. Me? I’m kind of excited for it! I’ve been told by many people that “thirty is the new twenty”, and while it’s still a little too early to tell how accurate that sentiment is- I’m hoping that thirty is the new, wiser twenty.

Listen, getting older can be scary. It wasn’t that long ago, maybe a couple of years or so- where the mere thought of turning thirty all but made my blood run ice cold. Apart from facing my own mortality (I know, I know- I’m turning thirty, not ninety- but still..) and re-evaluating every decision I’d made throughout my twenties to reassure myself that most of my choices were, in fact, the right ones- I was terrified of how I could and would potentially change physically. Grey hairs? Fine lines? Things that I’d successfully managed to evade for most of my life were eventually going to show themselves within the next decade and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It sounds superficial, sure- and maybe a little conceited (not my intention)– but when you’re used to seeing your reflection a certain way for so long- it’s a bit overwhelming to think that someday you’d be seeing a different version of yourself. What if I didn’t like what I saw?

Once I got over that fear, and rationalized that aging is not a crime or a punishment- but a blessing- the ease and the buzzing excitement followed naturally. I began to realize that as fun as my twenties were- they were a learning period- a trial and error part of my growing up. Now I had to take what I’d learned throughout my triumphs and challenges and apply it in the next phase of my life to ensure I wouldn’t repeat any of my mistakes.

And then, as I looked back and reflected on what exactly it was that I learned- I also realized that I wouldn’t, for any reason, want to re-live my twenties again- because the person I am now, the evolution and maturing of my mind, body and soul- has led me to a much better place than I was ten years ago.

I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’d learned- the obvious, the not-so-obvious, and maybe even the embarrassing- in the hopes of preparing/easing the tension for those embarking on a similar impending ‘Dirty Thirty’ journey as myself, and to give those still in their teens or their twenties plenty of time to consider my words carefully.

Take it from me. I’m older now, after all.

Twenty Things I Learned In My 20s

20. You don’t know everything there is to know.

In my late teens and into my early twenties- I thought I had it all figured out. Well-intentioned advice from my parents, older co-workers, teachers or mentors were met with scoffs and eye-rolls. They couldn’t possibly understand life the way I did, right? Wrong. As it turns out- those people who were giving me their (often unsolicited) opinions were speaking from their own experiences and were simply looking out for me in an attempt to help me avoid any pain or anguish that they, themselves, had gone through and bypass the difficult lessons learned in their own hard way. Once that humbling hurdle was crossed and I dropped my stubbornness and opened myself up to gaining new insight- even if I didn’t like what I was hearing or agree with it- I almost instantaneously noticed how much more perspective I inherited and how much I grew as a thoughtful and eloquent individual. Sure, I occasionally disregarded words of wisdom and faced my own consequences for it- but I still walked away with knowledge I hadn’t had leading up to it- and that’s a pretty good thing to have in your twenties.

19. But if you want to know a little more- is is never too late to further your education.

Sort of related to #20, but an important lesson I learned in my twenties was that it is never too late to learn something new and further yourself educationally. I bowed out of attending University when I was 18/19, since I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do and didn’t want to waste time/money being thrust into a major or a degree (and a career) that I might not necessarily be interested in by the time I graduated. I eventually returned to college and a legal studies major when I was 24- after much hesitation and deliberation. I thought maybe college wasn’t a good idea, that I was “too old” for it or that the opportunities that came with obtaining a degree had passed me by- and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I studied with people of all ages and from all walks of life when I went back to school- but we all had one common goal- we wanted to learn more and better ourselves.

My point is- if you’re not sure what you want to do- it’s okay to take some time for yourself to figure it out. Explore your options. Do your research, live a little- and when you’re ready- go back and attend that class, take your notes, ace the exams, and get your degree or your certificate whenever YOU’RE up for it- not when someone tells you to. You have plenty of time and it’s never too late to start or complete that journey.

18. The friends you have in your early twenties may not necessarily be the same friends you have by your late-twenties.

Upon entering my twenties, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I had about 100 friends I considered my “besties”. I was a social butterfly who went from concert to concert, party to party, and talked to anyone and everyone I could. Since then, my circle of trusted and true best friends has dwindled down to about 10-15, if that. I haven’t seen my best girlfriend from my early twenties in more than a year- and we rarely speak anymore (when we used to text every other minute way back when and hang out every single weekend.)

It’s not because I’m an unlikable monster (at least I don’t think I am!) but because people grow apart as they get older- and it’s okay. Marriages happen, children happen, as well as jobs and careers- and as people evolve and change and the things/interests/hobbies that once tied you together with a person or persons can seem not-as-important or interesting with age and life experiences. The best thing you can do is to let the changes happen naturally- and not try to solve/fix/repair/hang on to anything to keep someone close. Chances are, if you’re growing apart from someone- it’s because you’re growing as a person (and so are they- but a different kind of person!) and you will eventually meet new people who support and nurture the person you will become and whatever new interests and hobbies you acquire.

Look back at your past friendships fondly- not with sadness or anger- because they helped shape you in some way- and that’s a big deal.

And you never know- you may cross paths with those friends again in the future! Just let everything happen in it’s own time and pace.

17. Learn how to cook, do laundry, change a flat tire, file your taxes and other “grown-up” survival basics.

This one is important. As a twenty-something, there might be some pressure on you to be able to do an abundance of ‘grown-up’ things since you’re an adult and are expected to have some level of self-reliance, but I’ll make it easy for you:

  • Learn how to cook a handful of meals from scratch- not only to feed yourself but for those occasions (and they WILL happen) when someone or multiple people unexpectedly drop by and are inexplicably hungry for some reason.
  • Learn how to do your laundry because it’s YOUR dirty clothes and your parents/siblings/significant other shouldn’t have to deal with that kinda’ gross burden for you.
  • Learn how to change a flat tire on your own because it’s just a good idea and if you ever get stranded without cell reception or a AAA membership- you won’t be screwed. You can change your tire and get where you’re going- safely- as opposed to waiting on the side of the road for help to arrive.
  • Learn how to file your taxes correctly- if only to save yourself some stress and to avoid unnecessarily hemorrhaging money that should go into YOUR pocket. It’s a daunting task, I know- but it gets easier each time you do it and now there’s plenty of apps and services available out there to help you out with the process!

Other than those, everything else will come naturally. I promise.

16. Open a savings account and put an amount of money in it- big or small- every week. DO NOT touch the money unless it’s an absolute emergency.

I credit my dad for teaching me this one when I got my first job as a cashier at fifteen years old because the money I accumulated each and every week by resisting the temptation to spend all of my earnings on clothes or makeup really paid off when there was an emergency (car trouble, for example) or an unexpected bill or expense that I needed to make a payment for.

This one is simple- every week, without fail- put aside some money in a savings account that only you have access to. $100, $50, $20, $10- it doesn’t matter how much. Just as long as you do it every single week and don’t touch the money unless it is absolutely and completely necessary. This is going to teach you financial responsibility, priorities and budgeting- three things many twenty-somethings won’t learn until their thirties or forties (and after some fall into the dreaded credit card debt hole so many people get sucked into at one point or another.)

15. Get into a fitness regimen now before your super fun and super fast metabolism slows down.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to go out with my friends for a night of drinking and post-bar-hopping-cheeseburgers at 1:30 a.m. (like I did every weekend in my early twenties) and not have to worry about stepping on the scale the next morning or fitting into my jeans again- but those days are far behind me- and now I have to counteract any guilty, greasy, or chocolate-covered indulgences by busting my ass in the gym or eating salads and fruit bowls for four days straight.

It’s a fact- unless you have super genes- your metabolism is going to slow down a lot quicker than you expected in your twenties. Take it from me and take steps to prevent that annoyance before it becomes a problem (or an eventual and legitimate health concern.) Get into the good-for-you habits of eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly- and getting a decent amount of sleep each night. Not only will you generally look and feel better overall, but your body will have the head start it needs to start fighting off those excess pounds that tend to sneak up on you when your guard is down.

14.  Exfoliate, moisturize, and don’t forget the SPF. Don’t EVER forget the SPF.

If you don’t want to look like you’re pushing fifty-five by the time you’re in your mid-twenties, then you need to start taking care of your skin and you need to do it now. Exfoliate. Cleanse. Moisturize. Sunscreen. Those are the daily four that are going to slough away dead skin cells and germs, clean out your pores, keep your skin soft and smooth- and prevent the sun from ruining your gorgeous self with it’s intrusive-and-harmful-as-hell-rays. You don’t have to spend an astronomical amount of money for decent skincare products that do the job and do it well- and you certainly don’t have to hop on every overpriced and over-hyped trend that finds itself in the front window at Sephora. Do your research, browse reviews and testimonials- and don’t be afraid to ask a consultant or a dermatologist if you’re having any problems that might need a little something extra to manage (like acne or rosacea.)

Also- never, ever, EVER– fall asleep with your makeup on. You know better- and it’s just plain gross. Ew.

13. A relationship coming to an end, amicably or not, can be really tough- but you’re tougher. Hang in there.

Whether you’re doing the dumping or you’ve been dumped- the ending of a relationship can be a heartbreaking and soul-sucking ordeal to get through. There’s emotions, and history, and memories- and there will be points in the aftermath of a split when you feel like you simply cannot go on without that person- him or her- in your life. You might have questions, or need closure before you can move forward.

Trust me- you can, and you will- and you’re going to be okay. Better than okay, really. Take any wisdom and experience you learned from your past relationships and apply them to any future ones (like what you’re willing and unwilling to put up with, where you draw the line, your turn-ons and your turn-offs, areas where you can improve on yourself, etc.) Always remember that a healthy relationship is about mutual respect, building each other up, supporting one another- and bringing out the best in each other. It’s not about control, or fear, or manipulation- and if you find yourself in that situation- you need to do what’s best for you and your emotional/mental/physical well-being and get out of there. You’ll find someone better suited for you.

Don’t settle for less than what you want. If someone isn’t making you feel good about yourself or the relationship- leave. If someone cheats on you- leave. If someone cannot treat you like you are important or like they cherish you and all the goodness you bring to the world- leave. They don’t deserve you.

Also, if you are the one who gets dumped- please don’t ever think there is something wrong with you or that it somehow devalues you as a person. It doesn’t. You’re wonderful and you deserve the best- and you will find the best. The best just didn’t happen to be the person who left, is all.

12. Don’t fake your orgasms. Seriously. Just don’t.

I know this is coming out of left field- but it goes hand-in-hand with my relationship advice. Sex is a complicated, intimidating, and often weird thing- and even I still feel like I’m figuring it out half the time- but from one sexually active former-twenty-something to the rest of you twenty-somethings out there: make it easy on yourself (and your partner) and don’t fake it. It’s doing a huge disservice to yourself and to whoever you’re sleeping with because you’re allowing them to (falsely) think that they’re doing the job when they aren’t- and you should get that moment of awesomeness, too. Everyone should!

Of course, practice makes perfect- but so does talking. Communication during sex, even something as simple as “that feels good” to “that doesn’t feel that great” can make all the difference and improve the quality of bed rockin’ drastically. You’ll appreciate your honesty. Your partner will appreciate it- and your trysts will become a lot more fun and satisfying.

11. Even if you hate your job- work your ass off and continue to strive for something better.

I’ve worked enough crummy retail and waitressing jobs in my teens and early twenties to know that I have the patience of a Saint for putting up with kinda’ crazy customers and power tripping middle-management for as long as I did without completely snapping. Unfortunately, I know many don’t have that kind of resilience- but please hear me out. As terrible as you think your job is, and as insufferable as your boss/manager/supervisor and/or customers & clients are- tough it out. Be the best employee you can be. Come into work on time- bust your ass- and do your best to keep a positive attitude even when those around you are trying to plunge you into their level of despair.

Not only will toughing it out and rising above any workplace bullshit make you a better candidate for hire when you do apply for that job you actually want- because a strong work ethic is the first sign of a responsible and reliable adult- but your resume will look a lot better with a steady work history as opposed to bouncing from job to job to job.

You’ve got this. Just stay strong.

10. Travel as much as you can, whenever you can. Drink in different cultures, languages, art, and food.

I’m aware that traveling to a faraway or exotic destination for a month-long vacation may not be easy or even a feasible option for many- but when I say ‘travel” I mean to anywhere. It could be to an opposite coast- to one state over- or even to one town over. Just broaden your horizons and see as many places as you’re able to without breaking your budget. Try different types of cuisine you might have skipped over otherwise. Consider different types of art. Study a different culture’s history or try your hand at learning a new language. You don’t have to hop on a plane to travel- but I highly recommend opening your mind to other parts of your country and the world and compiling a list of the top 5 or top 10 places you’d like to see- anywhere on the globe- and then work your way to making it to each of them.

A trip I took to the U.K. ten years ago is still one of the best travel decisions I ever made- and one I hope to repeat in my 30s.

9. Trust your instincts.

Intuition can be a powerful thing- and it’s also something that needs to be trusted and not ignored or swept aside. If your heart/gut/instincts are telling you something is wrong- then there’s a pretty good chance there actually is and you should recognize that and think carefully about what’s happening around you before you proceed (with caution.) My own instincts became finer tuned during my twenties- and have never really led me in the wrong direction- be it avoiding potentially dangerous people or situations, making career and financial choices- or even just acknowledging “funny feelings” around my travels and tourism.

Your mind and your heart send you messages all day, every day. The key is to know when and how to listen to them. Once you’ve mastered that- you’ll trust and believe in yourself a whole lot more.

8. You don’t need a group of people to have a good time. Quality alone time is important, too.

There is an unfair stigma sometimes attached to those who choose to travel/attend events/dine out alone- and as someone who appreciates and cherishes her occasional alone time- I say screw that.

There’s nothing wrong with spending quality time with yourself and no one else. You’re important too after all, right? And being able to decompress, clear your head or just prioritize or put things into perspective free from the distractions of others (even your friends!) can be- at times- pretty damned refreshing.

Not only that, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that before you can be in a loving and committed relationship with another person- you have to learn how to be in one with yourself, first. What better way to learn more about yourself and truly be in the moment experiencing different things than by trying that new restaurant on your own, or seeing a movie or an art exhibit, taking a vacation- or even reading a book alone or going for a solo walk? Appreciate your time with yourself- and it’ll make your time with others all that much more enriching.

7. You’re going to fuck up now and then- and that’s perfectly okay.

Here’s something that needs to be taught by more teachers/professors earlier in everyone’s life: mistakes happen- all the time- but that doesn’t mean your life is over and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You’re human- and just like every other human on Earth- you’re going to mess up here and there. The difference between a responsible and mature adult and an irresponsible and immature child is what you do when you make a mistake.

Here’s a tip: own up to it, learn from it- pick yourself back up- and do your best not to make the same mistake again as you move forward. There is nothing in this world that can’t be fixed with time, patience, hard work- and an open mind/heart- and a sincere apology (assuming your mistake hurt someone, that is.) Don’t let a screw-up ruin your ability to grow and become a better individual.

6. Go to the Doctor for checkups. Make (and keep!) your appointments with the dentist- and don’t rely on WebMD if there’s a problem.

Is there any worse feeling of pure dread when you look at your planner/reminders tacked up on your refrigerator and realize you have an appointment with the Doctor or the Dentist that day- or the following day? Or in a week? It’s like getting kicked in the stomach. Nobody likes making an appointment for potential pain or to receive any type of bad news- and in my early twenties I just opted not to bother with any of it at all for a long time. If I felt sick or had a question about my health- I turned to the good ol’ internet to help me self-diagnose and offer suggestions for care.

Here’s the thing: no matter what your symptoms are- be it a common cold or a UTI or a rolled ankle- the internet is always going to have you convinced you’re going to die by the end of the day. You need to suck it up and make actual appointments with licensed healthcare providers for annual checkups/cleanings/evaluations- and you need to actually be present for those appointments. A yearly physical, gynecological exam, visit to the dermatologist and periodic cleanings with your Dentist might sound like a drag- but you’ll be happy you stayed on top of your health in the long run. Not only will a clean bill of health put your own mind at ease (way better than WedMD ever could!)– but early detection of any potential health risks means you have a better chance of getting the treatment you need in a more prompt and effective manner.

Go make your appointments today- and keep them!

5. Treat yourself (occasionally.) You’ve earned it.

In between learning all of these lessons, working your ass off, and saving money- it’s really important that you treat yourself from time to time, too- otherwise- what’s the point? You have to stop and enjoy the little things now and then- and not restrict yourself from those same little things that bring you joy. Enjoy that cheeseburger or milkshake. Buy that new video game or outfit. Splurge on a spa treatment of a weekend away from home. You’re doing your best and you’re surviving one of the rockiest times people go through- you earned it. Believe me.

4. Not everyone is going to like you- and that’s 100% fine and nothing to stress out about.

A lesson I wish I’d learned sooner than I did is this one, for sure. I’m a people person, and with that personality trait came the unintentional worry about what those very same people thought of me. Everyone wants to be liked to some degree- but when you start to lose yourself in that eagerness or desire to please everyone is when there’s a problem. The truth is, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I know people out there who seriously dislike me- and you know what? That’s perfectly fine. I don’t care about impressing them or winning them over. They’re entitled to their opinion- just as I’m entitled to mine.

The older I get, the more I strive to surround myself with friends, colleagues and acquaintances who understand the type of person I am and who build me up and support me just as I do for them without cruelty, jealousy or just plain spite. THOSE are the people whose opinions I care about. The world is filled with diverse and interesting individuals with different ideals, passions, morals and values- and worrying about what each one thinks of you is completely and utterly exhausting. It’s also a waste of time. Find people who love you for who you are and don’t worry about anyone else. You’ll be much happier.

3. Don’t ever compare where you are in life to where someone else is in theirs. There is no comparison.

This one almost made the top of this list of lessons because of how often I saw (and continue to see) this happening among my peers. Do not, I repeat- DO NOT- compare yourself or your life with anyone else’s. Focus on YOU and making YOUR life the best it can be. That is the only thing that matters. Don’t dwell on so-and-so who has a great career and makes more money than they know what to do with. Don’t hang yourself up on so-and-so who is happily married with kids. Don’t stew with anger or resentment towards so-and-so left their material possessions behind to go hiking in the Alps or join the circus. None of it matters.

What matters is what you’re doing with your life and that you’re doing the best you can. What matters is that you’re happy and healthy. You might not be where you want romantically/financially/physically/career-wise by your mid to late-twenties- but that doesn’t mean you won’t get there eventually. Everyone goes through life at their own pace. Focus on yours and yours alone. Live YOUR life- and don’t focus too much on how someone else is living theirs.

2. Respect yourself- and don’t let anyone disrespect you.

Now that I have Madonna’s ‘Respect Yourself’ stuck in my head- let me just get to the point- this is a lesson that you have to implement now or you will regret it later on when you’re older because you’ll have more difficulty getting into the swing of this crucial and life-changing habit:

DO NOT LET ANYONE DISRESPECT YOU OR MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Respect yourself enough to put your foot down and stand up for yourself when anyone is trying to discourage you, tear you down, or make you doubt yourself. You are not a punching bag and you are not a doormat- and if anyone treats you that way- you have the right- no, the obligation- to defend yourself. Respect is earned, not given- and you don’t owe anyone any favors if they’re hurting you or trying to hurt you. Don’t put up with it- and I promise you- you won’t regret sticking up for yourself by the time you hit thirty. It will just be second nature by then.

1. Everything is going to be just fine.

Lastly, but certainly not least- relax. You’re not going to have all the answers by the end of your twenties. You’re not going to accomplish every single thing you set out to do when you were still back in your teens- and you’re going to hit obstacles and road blocks and question everything and everyone around  you (probably more than once) along the way- but it’s all going to be okay. Hang in there. Tough it out- and see it through.

Your twenties are about learning and gaining experiences- so get out there and do plenty of both!

 There’s other lessons too, of course- like drink plenty of water when you’re drinking plenty of alcohol, carry small bills on the outside of any money you carry in your wallet/purse to deflect potential thieves, phone-a-friend to stay on the line with you when you’re walking home at night or in a questionable area, how to tip properly- actively practice safe sex and take all the necessary precautions needed to keep you and your partner healthy, and read the fine print on any and every document you ever sign (and ask questions if you don’t understand it!)– among others- but I wanted to focus on the more mental/emotional/health lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years.

Everyone is on their own unique journey- but the above twenty lessons are what I’ve learned on mine so far. I hope they can help someone out there someday.

And with all that being said, I’m heading off to work for the morning before I kick off my official “Dirty Thirty” weekend with my family and my friends!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

xx

“I’ve got spirit- Yes I do!”

Comments 2 Standard

TeamSpirit01

It’s hard to believe that I- former Patriots fans antagonist, vocal Tom Brady “hater” (I even wrote a post about why I disliked him and the team six or seven years ago on my old blog), and New York Jets enthusiast- have since hung up my anti-Belichick banner and have joined and embraced “The Dark Side”, as I formerly called it. Yes, world- I am a fan of the New England Patriots- and I want them to win the Super Bowl this year.

While I’ve been given a good amount of grief (and rightfully so) over my past ways from longtime friends and fans of the team I used to rag on all the time during playoffs- many people in my neighborhood seem pretty thrilled that I’m finally showing a little support for Brady and the boys.

It didn’t happen overnight, of course- and I don’t consider myself to be what some may perceive as a “bandwagon fan.” It comes down to my simply having to give credit where credit is due. The Patriots are a good team. Tom Brady is hands down one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I want to party with Rob Gronkowski- and Julian Edelman’s very obvious “Single White Female” man-crush on Tom makes for some pretty funny early morning sports radio conversation the day after a game.

The team’s charitable side is both touching and entertaining (HERE, HERE, and HERE– just to name a few instances for any skeptics out there)– and last year’s ‘Deflategate’ and how blown out of proportion things got as Tom Brady got dragged through the mud by the league and other teams- including my former favorites, The Jets- was really the final push I needed to see that I had been pretty wrong about a very talented group of guys for a long time.

Sure, I still stand by my statement that some Patriots’ fans can be downright obnoxious and off-putting (as is the case with pretty much any team’s fan bases)– but the majority of Pats’ fans I’ve encountered since cautiously edging my way into local sports bars and tailgating parties have been beyond welcoming, fun, and informative- filling me in on things and stats I might not have known otherwise.

Of course, with being a fan of any sports team- you have to be able to show your support in some way, shape or form for when you’re cheering your favorite team on at the stadium (I have yet to make it to a home game at Gillette- but here’s hoping I can pull it off next season!) or watching the big game with friends at the local sports bar or house party. The good folks over at TickPick.com recently asked how I show my new found Patriots pride as they continue on their Revenge Tour 2015-2016- all the way to the AFC Championship this coming weekend- and while my collection is still growing- I’ve got a few fun pieces I stick to.

For those not familiar with TickPick, it’s a site where fans can buy, trade, or bid on tickets for NFL games and other sporting events, concerts, and anything in-between. If you ever need a last minute ticket to an event you didn’t know about, unexpectedly found the time to attend- or if you ever find yourself with a spare ticket to an event you’re looking to sell through a trusted (see: not Craigslist) avenue- TickPick has you covered.

TeamSpirit02

Every Friday at work, from now until the Super Bowl- we have “Football Fridays” where our staff is encouraged to wear their favorite team’s jerseys, t-shirts, etc. Although I adore my Gronkowski t-shirt (which I’ll get to in a second)– it’s not exactly practical for an office that occasionally gets a draft. For that reason, I typically sport this long-sleeved navy Pats shirt with jeans and my knee-high black boots to look chic and sporty- but still stay warm and comfortable all day while I process paperwork and take phone calls.

TeamSpirit03

For those sporting get togethers I attend with friends that are outside an office setting- I always, ALWAYS- sport my semi-weathered Gronkowski t-shirt with some jeans and sneakers (and if we’re going to be outdoors for any length of time- I throw on a white or blue long-sleeved thermal shirt underneath and a down vest over everything to keep warm.) I know so many people love their TB12 shirts and jerseys- but Rob is my boy- and his shirt is actually the first piece of Patriots merchandise I ever bought. THAT MEANS SOMETHING, OKAY?

Also- every single time I’ve worn this shirt on game day- The Patriots have won. If I don’t wear it? They lose. I’m not saying I’m some kind of lucky charm or anything, but…

… Okay, maybe I am. I’m also a little superstitious. I’ll be wearing this on Sunday. Just in case.

TeamSpirit04

TeamSpirit05

And of course by now we’re all familiar with my love of berets and beanies in the Fall & Winter- so regardless of what I wear and what I pair it with- I always have my Patriots poof-ball hat pulled tightly over my ears (even if I’m indoors. It’s so comfortable!) It’s fun when I get together with my family- most of whom are avid sports fans and football followers- because my cousins and uncles have the same hat. It’s like being in a bizzaro world where everyone matches for a season.

Those three pieces are my favorites- apart from some ridiculously cozy fleece Patriots pajamas that are currently in my dryer and ready to be worn after this weekend’s game- and are the things I’ve been getting the most wear out of this past season. I’m hoping to add some new Super Bowl 50 championship memorabilia to my collection in the coming weeks.

And I could really go for a Patriots’ thermos to hold my coffee/cocoa in lately. It’s freezing out!

Thanks for opening up this can of worms and letting me show off some of my sports stuff, TickPick! Oh, how the times have changed and how far I’ve come these past few years…

Do you have any special outfits/items that you wear to show your support for your favorite team? Any pre-game rituals (the weirder, the better!) that you want to share? I’d love to hear them!

xx

January Hits List!

Comments 4 Standard

January2016HitsList01

For 2016, I thought I’d try something a little different and check in every mid-month to share the products, pieces, food, tech-stuff and anything (and everything!) in-between that I’m coveting and craving for a series I dubbed the ‘Hits List’. I still intend to keep my reflective month’s end ‘In A Nutshell’ posts, of course- since those are more about touching on the personal and emotional milestones I went through over the course of the month- but I thought this would be a fun way to offer a glimpse into the more “every day” part of my life every few weeks. The part typically only seen on my Twitter feed or my Instagram photos.

January for me- thus far- has been about long overdue organization, self-care, and keeping cozy in the ever-changing New England climates (one day it’s warm enough to go outside wearing only a sweater. The next day- it’s like snowshoeing through an Alaskan wilderness.) I have a lot of big plans this coming year, but I’m also still adjusting to my new job and work schedule- and with my birthday only a few days away- I’m trying not to overwhelm myself or prematurely burn myself out by taking on too much at once this month.

For that reason, January’s ‘Hits List’ is pretty low key and laid back.

Let’s get into the products and pieces first!

January2016HitsList02

Starting in the center of my laid-out belongings is one of my most important and valued little pocket-items: my 2016 planner- gifted to me by my Aunt this past Christmas. I think I have a pretty good memory most of the time, but this booklet has become a lifesaver when it comes to jotting down meetings, appointments, deadlines and other to-dos weeks in advance that I may have otherwise overlooked or forgotten about. It’s also been really helpful at work when I’m trying to remember co-workers phone extensions or office numbers! The size is perfect, since it doesn’t take up a lot of room in my purse- which means I can bring it everywhere with me.

Moving upwards is my new knitted cuffed beanie from Love Your Melon. I am a hat lover- but unfortunately I can rarely, if ever- pull off cute Spring/Summer floppy hats or baseball caps. I always end up looking weird. For that reason, I have a wide assortment of berets and beanies to adore throughout Fall and Winter (and they also keep my head warm, duh!) that I never take off from late September – early April. This year, I wanted something a little more durable and a little heavier- and I turned to the good folks over at LYM for a neutral-toned beanie I could wear with pretty much anything.

January2016HitsList03

I’ve mentioned LYM on here before, but for those who missed the memo- with every purchase of one of their hats, the company donates one to a child battling cancer. If that’s not a good enough reason to make you want to run out and order one in every color- I don’t know what is. The hats themselves are really great quality, too. They will last you a lifetime if you take care of them!

January2016HitsList04

January2016HitsList05

Moving onto the yearly casualties of cold and unpredictable Massachusetts Winter weather every year- my hair and my hands. I am a lotion fiend. I vigorously apply it all over every morning after my shower, and then again at night before bed- but for some reason, my hands and my cuticles still take a beating. They always feel stiff, dry, and scratchy to me. Enter these fuzzy hand warmers (which I have dubbed my “Chewbacca Gloves”) that I’ve been putting on, post-hand cream application, each and every time I step outside- even if it’s just to check the mail for thirty seconds. They’re super soft, still allow me to use my phone without complications or annoyances, and they keep my hands toasty and protected from the elements.

I’ve also been obsessively using this ncLA peach-scented cuticle oil morning and night (first introduced to me in one of my POPSUGAR “Must Have” Boxes)– and I’ve noticed a significant decrease in hangnails and dry patches along my fingertips. It’s a miracle oil, and for those interested- it’s available other fragrances, too!

If the shade of my hat and gloves weren’t enough indication that I’ve been sporting nothing but neutral tones these past couple of weeks- then let me introduce you to my current favorite Nail Polish, Sephora Formula X’s nail lacquer in ‘Elite’, from their 2015 Fall collection. It’s a long-lasting mocha color that compliments my current wardrobe and makeup choices perfectly. It goes with anything!

Finally, for my hair- I’ve been doubling down on hair mask applications and ultra-hydrating conditioners in recent days to keep my ends from breaking and my roots from frizzing up- but I’ve also integrated this Hawaiian Kukui Nut oil from OGX into the mix pre (and post!)– styling. It strengthens my hair through and through, gives it an incredible shine, keeps frizz and flyaways at bay- and it smells really good, too!

January2016HitsList06

While my hands and cuticles might require a little more TLC throughout January- my face remains relentlessly oily/combination at all times. In a way, it’s good- because I don’t have to really change my morning and nightly cleansing and moisturizing regiments too much- which means less hassle and more time. These past few weeks, I’ve been relying on two products to ensure a deep clean, enough hydration (without building up excess oil on my skin) and SPF protection- because even though it’s Winter and most of my time is spent indoors- the sun is still a sneaky, tricky devil.

In the morning, after cleansing my face and applying any serums- I like to slap on some of this Cetaphil moisturizer with SPF 15. It just gives my skin a little something extra when I’m braving frigid temperatures for any amount of time- and it keeps my skin soft and smooth. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be found in pretty much any pharmacy around.

At night, after removing my makeup- I apply this two-in-one mask/exfoliating cleanser from GLAMGLOW. The product applies like a mask, quickly drying on my face- and turns to foam after water is added and massaged into the skin. I swear by this stuff. Not only does it leave my skin feeling super clean without drying it out- but it brings any blemishes to the surface so they can be extracted and dealt with then and there!

January2016HitsList07

Thanks to POPSUGAR, I’ve also been obsessed with these candles from Capri Blue lately. I’ve ordered a few that I’ve been keeping lit around my home- since they smell clean and crisp and that’s just sort of the refreshing vibe I’ve needed and have been going for since New Years. I’ve kept one lit next to my bed- almost nightly- while I catch up on reading or do any stretches or end-of-the-day meditation in the designated section of my bedroom. These are just really great candles (in a beautiful, reusable tin!)

And now, for the stuff that couldn’t be photographed:

– MUSIC/MOVIES –

  • ‘The Revenant’ – Can we please give Leonardo Dicaprio an Oscar before he dies filming his next movie? ‘The Revenant’, although a little on the long side (by the two hour mark I was getting a little fidgety in my seat), the movie is beautifully shot and can get pretty intense at times. Although Dicaprio doesn’t do much more than crawl, grunt, and cry throughout this film- he’s still mesmerizing to watch. The fact that ‘The Revenant’ has been cleaning house at recent award shows gives me hope that the poor guy’s work will FINALLY be recognized and he can go a little easier on himself.
  • The Last Shadow Puppets – As a longtime fan of Arctic Monkeys, I had no problems falling in love with frontman Alex Turner’s side project- The Last Shadow Puppets- with former The Rascals’ singer, Miles Kane. Their debut album, 2008’s ‘The Age of The Understatement’ was pretty incredible from start to finish- but the band disappeared shortly after it’s release and success until a few days ago when they surprised everyone by dropping their first single, ‘Bad Habits’, off their yet-to-be-released second album. It’s awesome to have new music from them, and I’m hoping for a U.S. tour at some point this year.
  • David Bowie tributes – I was just as shocked and saddened as everyone else to hear of David Bowie’s passing last weekend (and the hits just kept on coming when the late, great Alan Rickman also passed away a few short days later,) but it’s been really touching to see the outpouring of love and admiration for such a brilliant and innovative artist in the form of many special tribute events and celebrations of his life and his work around the city. From karaoke nights, to cover bands, to art exhibits- and even to cupcakes– I’ve been having so much fun dancing and singing along to some of my favorite Bowie songs in recent days with friends and strangers alike.
  • ‘Ash Vs. Evil Dead’ – I’ve only recently caught up and finished the first season of this show (I don’t get the Starz Network- so I’ve been relying on a friend to DVR episodes for me that I binge watch whenever I’m over her apartment) but I’m already itching for the second season. This show- just like the ‘Evil Dead’ film- is campy, gory, and very, very funny. My friends and I have already committed on a group costume inspired by the show’s characters (with me as Kelly because OF COURSE)– so I’m just really excited to see more of it. I think it returns in October, making it the perfect companion series to get into alongside ‘The Walking Dead’ during my favorite time of year!

– TECH/APPS –

  • Lose It! – A free app. available for Android and the iPhone. This carb-counting/exercise monitoring application lets you set weekly/monthly goals for yourself, offers tips, tricks, and challenges- and allows you to scan in the bar codes of any packaged foods you’re eating to automatically calculate it’s nutritional value- to help you reach any and all weight loss goals you’ve set for yourself in 2016. I’ve been using this since New Years, and am already down five pounds by following the daily carb allowance I’ve set for myself since punching in my goals. It’s super convenient and helpful- and to make it fun, the app. encourages you to unlock badges and trophies with every goal met or surpassed.
  • Galaxy Tarot – Another free app. for Android and the iPhone- this one is, as you probably guessed- a Tarot Card reading application. Whether or not you believe in Tarot (or horoscopes or anything,) this one is pretty fun to use with your friends. Apart from giving you the ability to perform detailed readings- the app. also has a ‘Card of the Day’ function that teaches you about one of each of the cards every morning. The app itself is designed beautifully and is easy to control and use. My co-workers and I always have a pretty good time with this one on our lunch breaks.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • theSkimm – As I begin the grueling process of the yearly unsubscribing from 99.9% of the e-mailing lists I never wanted to be apart of in the first place (those in-store clerks are ruthless and online shopping has turned my inbox into a nightmare of promotions, sales, special codes, and spam)– I can never unsubscribe from the daily news round-up e-mail, theSkimm. Every morning, before work- this service sends me an e-mail containing quick and witty recaps of news stories from around the world: from politics, entertainment, music, etc. It’s a quick and fun read to stay informed- and I love their occasional book and wine recommendations, too!
  • PureWow.com – Another daily e-mail list I could never shake (and wouldn’t want to) are the fun reads I get from PureWow every day. With recipes I try ALL THE TIME, round-ups of happenings and hot-spots in and around NYC (where I frequent as much as I can) beauty recommendations, gift ideas, and contests- these e-mails make for good reading during my lunch hour or throughout my evening wind-down.
  • Last Message ReceivedThis fascinating Tumblr account is pretty self-explanatory. People anonymously submit the last messages they ever received from friends/family members/ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends/etc. either through text or screencaps. Some of the messages are heartbreaking, others can be downright cruel- but each one comes with a story from a real person somewhere in the world. It’s an intimate and sometimes shocking read- but it has really made me think about the people in my life and how I end each of the conversations I have with them. This site just makes me want to reach out and hug some of these people who are hurting so much.

And I think that’s everything for January right now! I’m sure whatever didn’t make this month’s list will be featured in February.

If you have anything you’re crushing/loving/obsessing over this month- feel free to share!

xx

Quick Eats: Carnival Casserole

Leave a comment Standard

CarnivalCasserole01

While most of the ‘Quick Eats’ posts I’ve shared on here have been inspired by recipes I’ve discovered all on my own (gotta’ love late night internet browsing), I do have a few concoctions up my sleeve that have actually been passed down to me from family members, great-grandparents, and so on. ‘Carnival Casserole’ is one of those dishes- and don’t let the name fool you- it doesn’t taste nearly as crazy as it sounds.

My grandmother (on my dad’s side) used to cook this up for my brothers and I when we were kids and would stay over her house for the weekend. It was quick to prepare, tasted good, and was filling- which meant we were less likely to go rummaging through her cupboards for a late-night snack after our designated bedtimes came and went.

Since then, my mom occasionally makes this dish- typically when she’s expecting a lot of people for dinner- but has shared the recipe with me to keep the history (and tradition) of this casserole alive and well- although even she couldn’t tell me why it’s called ‘Carnival Casserole’ in the first place.

CarnivalCasserole02

CarnivalCasserole03

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

* 1/4 cup of chopped onion

* 1/4 cup of chopped green pepper

* 1 lb. ground beef

* 1 lb-12 oz. can of diced tomato

* 1/2 cup of corn cyrup

* 1/2 teaspoon of salt

* 1/4 teaspoon of pepper

* 2 tablespoons of cornstarch

* 1 box of macaroni

* A handful of shredded cheese (your preference on the type!)

CarnivalCasserole04

OKAY, HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF

2. In a large pan, sauté the chopped onions and peppers until they’re tender. Add the ground beef and mix until it is browned and thoroughly cooked through.

3. With the exception of 1/4 cup (which you’re going to use momentarily)– drain the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes. Add them, the salt, pepper and corn syrup to your pan and bring everything to a boil- then let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

4. While your vegetables and ground beef are simmering, take the opportunity to boil, cook and strain your macaroni.  Using a casserole dish, pour the pasta in- creating an even layer of macaroni along the bottom of the dish. Return to your beef and vegetable mix.

CarnivalCasserole05

CarnivalCasserole06

5. In a separate bowl, combine the saved 1/4 cup of juice/liquid from the can of diced tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix until the consistency is smooth and then add it to your pan of beef and vegetables. Stir until the texture of your mixture is a bit thicker.

6. Pour the beef/vegetable mix on top of the cooked pasta in the casserole dish. You’re going to mix everything together one last time to make sure the macaroni is evenly coated in the sauce before you sprinkle your handful of shredded cheese on top (feel free to add more if desired.)

CarnivalCasserole07

7. Bake for 30 minutes.

8. Once the casserole is done baking, let cool for 5-10 minutes (it’s gonna’ be really hot otherwise!) and then serve!

CarnivalCasserole08

This casserole has a variety of flavors in it and all of them are good- and to prepare and bake everything takes just under an hour- making this a perfect go-to dinner when you’re in a pinch for time but want to serve something that tastes delicious and hits the spot.

If and when I have kids of my own, I plan on passing along this recipe to them, too. It’s pretty fun and more than a little neat to have something as simple as this this carry on for generations and generations!

xx

CarnivalCasserole09