Summer Loving #4: Succulent Plants + Beyonce VMA performance

Music: BeyMA’s, Beyonce VMA Performance

Beyonce is everything. She is not only creates beautiful music but is an inspiration and true empowering feminist woman as well. If I could only listen to one artist the rest of my life it would be Beyonce. Always, Beyonce. Her VMA performance on Sunday was AMAZING. I have watched it multiple times since then, and am still blown away by her true star quality. I loved the dancing, the sass, and her dedication to her fans. I think she is a perfect role model and empowers women to not settle for less but fulfill their worth. Love her. Watch her performance here.

Home Decorating: World Market

One of my favorite stores is World Market, Cost Plus. World Market has some amazing finds for your home, kitchen, and easy decorating. I personally love their kitchen and cookware sections. I have found some of my favorite ceramic mugs and bowls that have beautiful designs. I also really like browsing their grocery/food section. They always have different teas and unique bakery mixes along with many different kinds of international foods. I can always find something fun here. A couple of weeks ago I picked up these polka dot straws and this cute bamboo tupperware.

App: iBooks + GoodReads

I never thought I would be one of those people who stop reading actual books. However, today I do almost all of my reading on my iPad through the app-iBooks. Because of my busy lifestyle it is so easy to download a book to my iPad and instantly be able to start reading it. Although I do miss going to the library and the smell of new books-this app and technology has changed the way I read. I am currently reading one of my favorites “On Dublin Street by Samantha Young” Another useful link is Goodreads.com. Here the website suggests books to read based off your previously read books. It also groups similar books in different lists that are based around common themes. I find almost all of my new books to read off of this site.

Nail Polish: Sinful Colors Verbena

I received this nail polish as a sample from Pinch Me and I am very impressed by the staying power. It lasted an entire six days before chipping-Wow! More expensive brands such as Essie and Julep will average about 2-3 days before chipping on my nails. I love that this polish lasts so long. I also love the consistency and opacity as well as the beautiful purple color. Currently I have it on my toes!

Magazine: Glamour Magazine

I recently started getting Glamour Magazine for free and I am really liking all of the content. I think that Glamour perfectly targets their audience including me-a 20 ish young professional woman. One of my favorite parts of the magazine is their fashion and life advice column. As far as fashion-their picks are on point and include styles from the runway to more affordable options. The ‘life advice” personal section is also very informative. I particularly liked this article on a More Productive Monday and this interview with Hillary Clinton.

Happy Moments: Succulent Plants

IMG_20140827_193010Aren’t these guys just the cutest?  I picked them up at my local farmers market (only 2$ each!!)  and they make me extremely happy. Best part is that they require little water-very low maintenance.

Color Scheme & Palette: Graphic Design Inspiration

Watermelon Color PaletteInspiration is a tricky thing. If you are desperately looking for it, it  mysteriously disappears. Especially when a deadline for a school assignment is approaching. That’s why, when inspiration does hit me-I immediately  grab on to it.  Yesterday, I was instantly inspired by a  graphic design blog I discovered called Iola. After scrolling through page after page of author Stephanie’s posts, I was inspired to “play”  with some graphic design elements in In-Design.

Although writing is my main passion, after being exposed to design classes at my University, I discovered I really enjoy the graphic design world. Programs like In-design and Photoshop can be tricky to work with, but half the fun is learning new techniques and tricks. One of Stephanie’s  posts on a floral color scheme inspired me to recreate my own version. I was instantly drawn to this photo that originally appeared on the cover of August’s Martha Stewart Living Magazine. Sometimes, a light-bulb moment is just around the corner. -Rachel

Whats Cooking #4: Eggplant + Soy Vay

Zucchini Tots

I really need to dedicate a whole post to zucchini. It is by far my favorite vegetable because it is so versatile and easy. Recently my favorite healthy blog Skinny Taste posted a list of all of her fabulous zucchini recipes and these “tots” caught my eye. They remind me a lot of my mom’s unspellable dish  called “keulikeith” which is a  ricotta, egg, zucchini tart. These mini delights were superb!. A super easy side dish that is very flavorful with a dense muffin-like texture. Side note: it is very important to spray the pan with a cooking spray so they do not stick. lesson learned. Here is the Recipe. (Image via Kim’s Healthy Eats)

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 1 packed cup grated zucchini
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 medium onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Grate the zucchini into a clean dish towel until you have 1 packed cup.  Wring all of the excess water out of the zucchini, there will be a lot of water. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lavender Rice

I call this imitations of what you really want. Have you ever tried Whole-wheat pasta? Compared to regular pasta, it is disgusting. However pasta in large amounts is not all that good for you-especially every night. The same goes with white rice. Although brown rice is the healthier option, I can not get myself to eat it. I was making an Asian inspired dinner a couple of nights ago and decided to try a wild rice brown rice blend from Sundance. It turns a beautiful lavender shade when cooked. It is delicious and is a great replacement for white rice and much better than plain brown rice. Check your specialty food stores or bulk sections for this.

Asian Stir Fried Chinese Eggplant+ Zucchini

IMG_20140823_193136

Gorgeous round globes of pretty purple eggplant caught my eye at the farmers market last week. Eggplant would by far win the “prettiest veggie award”-It also helps they are my favorite color. However I have never really enjoyed eggplant. Sure, I like eggplant Parmesan but who doesn’t like something fried and battered smothered with cheese. I decided I needed to give  eggplant another shot, and try cooking with it again.  When  I was debating what kind to purchase, someone at the Saturday market came up to me and started chatting about how he saw on TV that the long-ombre ones(which I later discovered online that they are Chinese Eggplant)  were supposedly really healthy. Stranger-approved: Check. Buying something I  didn’t like: check.

Regardless, I really liked this technique of cooking. Basically it is  cooking a veggie on high heat. Then, adding oil and garlic for a couple of minutes with the veggies till fragrant. Finally adding soy sauce and a little bit of sugar to caramelize and give a nice sear. Verdict: Delicious but still not a fan of the eggplant texture. Here is the Recipe from Steamy Kitchen. I omitted the Chile pepper and green onions and instead used red pepper flakes. Also used rice wine vinegar instead of black vinegar.

Continue reading

Eugene Eats: Ox & Fin

As a celebratory outing out with one of my good friends in Eugene, we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner out at Ox & Fin. Ox & Fin is an upscale restaurant that describes themselves as a “NW steakhouse with Italian sensibilities”. Their menu includes a variety of meat (Ox) and seafood dishes(Fin).

I love the name, and think it accurately describes their establishment. Although I am not a huge fan of their logo, I do like the atmosphere at Ox and Fin. I love the dark rustic color scheme, and when you walk inside plush deep burgundy leather seats greet you with dark wood accents. A very rustic/upscale cabin, woodsy feel.

IMG_20140811_191605I ordered the bacon cheeseburger that was surprisingly worth every cent of the 12$ price point. The meat was perfectly cooked and extremely tender, oozing of garlic juices.  The burger was topped with crisp bacon and a creamy lemon aoili all on a house made bun. Also on the plate were pickled cauliflower and red onions which were superb. I would have ordered those as a side in a heartbeat. One downside was that the fries were cold-however I wasn’t too upset since I shouldn’t have been eating them anyways.

IMG_20140811_191557Although I enjoyed my burger and would order it again, the best part of the meal was the bread and olive oil that came with the meal beforehand. It was a whole wheat seedy bread that was warm and fluffy, while still being dense,  with a slight honey taste. Yumm, drooling. I honestly do not know what it was that made it that good.  My friend ordered the chicken in a lemon butter sauce that was  just as tender and packed with summer flavors. (Pictured above)

This is a great “special occasion” restaurant that provides drool-worthy dishes and homemade artisan breads that are worth the trip alone! -Rachel

Summer Loving #3: Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love + Movie “Chef”

Books: Colleen Hoover, Ugly Love & Hopeless

I can’t stop reading this summer. During the school year I barely have time to paint my nails yet alone do any “fun” reading besides textbooks, so having a little bit of extra time to do some pleasure reading this summer is very exciting. I am a book worm at heart and love getting immersed within a story. Laying out in the sun relaxing with a good book is the epitome of summer. Recently I have loved reading books by the author Colleen Hoover. She writes stories that are real and relatable with amazing character development with saucy delicious romance on the side.  My all time favorite is Hopeless, but I adored her latest novel Ugly Love.  Ugly Love is  heart-wrenchingly beautiful and one I couldn’t put down. Amazon describes the synopsis of Ugly Love  “When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends…Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future.” Side note if you don’t like crying in books or romance, these are not for you.

Brand: Yes TO (Skincare)

Taking action today for the future is hard. Although you want to live in the now sometimes we must take action now for a betterf future. Such as internships that will help aid a future job search, going to the gym and working out when all you want to do is eat a spoonful of nutella, and….. skincare. All of these things will not produce immediate results but rather help you invest in your future. I am starting to get serious about skincare. I want to prevent fine lines and wrinkles while protecting my skin from the sun. The catch, without breaking the bank. As much as I really wanted to purchase this 99$ eye cream, I just couldn’t justify the money. Instead I went with a much more affordable eye cream- Yes to Blueberries Eye Firming Treatment. I don’t really have any fine lines so I can’t say if this is working or preventing anything but I love the feel of it and am glad I am investing in my skin. I also have been trying out the Yes to Carrots intense hydration night cream and loving it! This brand is not only natural and uses organic ingredients but also gives back to the community! Two things I can support.

Continue reading

What’s Cooking #4: Chia Seeds + Edamame Hummus

Zucchini Carrot Muffins

IMG_20140804_211259The best part about muffins is that they are actually little cakes disguised by the name muffins. And having a little cake for breakfast is amazing. I was craving blueberry or banana chocolate chip muffins but didn’t want to splurge on the unhealthy sugars so instead I made these. Although they do not taste  like a buttery chocolate muffins they are a really nice snack and packed with protein from the oats and zucchini. Plus who doesn’t love individual mini snacks? Here is the recipe I used.

Smoothies + Chia Seeds

Count me as jumping on to the smoothie train! Smoothies are a great snack option for after a workout or when you’re feeling hungry. The basis of mine are always Greek Gods honey Greek yogurt, cranberry juice, and ice cubes with whatever fresh fruit I have on hand. Usually some sort of berries or peach mixture. My favorite combo this past week has been honeydew + Chia seeds. I had some overripe honeydew I needed to use up so I added it to yogurt and chia seeds to make a smoothie/juice drink! Very delicious. Chia seeds are a healthy nutritious seed that are very absorptive. In just one ounce, there are 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. I found mine at trader joe’s for $4.99!

 

Southwest Zucchini Boats

IMG_20140810_184612Dinner last week were these easy scrumptious zucchini stuffed boats. Stuffed with ground turkey, black beans, corn, and jalepeno’s they were easy to assemble and were great as leftovers. I enjoyed them so much I gave the recipe to my mom to try out-which she loved as well. I used this  recipe by Skinny Taste and added jalapeno + paprika + red pepper flakes. I guess I was feeling extra bold at the time. A great tip is taste as you go because they were on the spicier end of my heat tolerance.

Continue reading

Eugene Eats: Tailored Coffee Roasters Review

If I could be a coffee shop. I would want to be Tailored. It’s the new kid on the block that is totally swoon worthy. It’s the one at school that is cool without trying-polished and perfected while still disheveled. It is like wearing expensive plaid that gives off homeless vibes but in actuality is so trendy right now. Their coffee is perfection, the atmosphere provides cool coffee vibes, the décor is beautiful, and as an added bonus they have adorably attractive male baristas.

In fact can we talk about these barista? Yes, I love Tailored we will get to the cool atmosphere and delicious Ethiopian coffee later but first the baristas are deliciously attractive. Talk about a tall, dark cup of coffee! Yes, I am a twenty-one-year old female and am blushing as writing this. An attractive barista is a very important factor of a coffee shop in my humble opinion.

Coffee Taste

Now the coffee. I opted for just a plain cup of drip coffee. The day I went in, it was an Ethiopian blend that’s slightly bitter. Usually I’m all about sweetness and cream and sugar. I know how can I be a foodie and not like black coffee. But its true black coffee disgusts me. Also coffee is my weakness, tea is so much better for you, but coffee is just something I can never give up.

My love for cream and sugar is probably because I have never experienced truly delicious coffee until I tried traditional Italian espresso, a couple of months ago in Italy. In Italy it is a sin to drink milk after 1:00 or even in the morning. Small shots of espresso are the classic norm. In the morning, old Italian men stand around the bar and casually read the daily news while gossiping to their friends sipping on espresso. I eventually started liking espresso but would still add 3 packets of sugar. I know, my sweet tooth is becoming a problem.

However with Tailored, I didn’t add that much sugar or milk and it was moan worthy. Perfectly caffeinated and  like nothing I have ever tasted. It reminds me of coffee in Europe but more earthy and bitter without being overwhelming. A Tailored employee was describing to me that this coffee is a light roast, single origin that gets sweeter as it cools down. Coolio!

Continue reading

Melons 101: Tips and Recipes

Juicy, Fresh, Sweet, and a delicious summer treat. Melons are in the peak of their season here in the Pacific Northwest and I couldn’t be happier. Farmers markets are filled with many delicious varieties and shapes and I am going crazy trying them all. My childhood was always filled with watermelon-it was a summer staple at our house along with lazy pool days. Sometimes my parents wouldn’t even slice it but just give us a half or quarter of the melon and a spoon and leave my brother and I to our pool shenanigans.

Continue reading

Staying Healthy Tips and Tricks: My Fitness Pal App Review

Living a healthier, happier lifestyle has been my 2014 summer goal. This was not a drastic change, but rather a mindful lifestyle adjustment. Growing up I was constantly dancing . My average week consisted of 25 hours dance up until I got to college. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a wonderful cardio activity and  I gained serious muscle.

Health-Quotes-31The past three years my fitness routine was seriously lacking-I had moderately gone to the gym here and there but nothing consistent. In addition to the lack of physical activity, my busy college student life took over and setting an hour aside to prepare a meal was difficult. I also have a huge sweet tooth and really enjoy baking-which didn’t help. Staying healthy requires two very important factors: working out and eating healthy. “It’s a no-brainer that diet and exercise are both crucial to your well-being and your waistline. And that generally adhering to recommended guidelines (like getting regular doses of aerobic activity and resistance training, filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and eating lean protein) is the best way to optimize your health overall.”-Real Simple

This summer I wanted to start taking care my body and mind. I didn’t make the decision to lose weight but rather make small changes in my daily life that would improve my overall health. Changes such as going to the gym on a regular basis and skipping binge cookie nights . Although getting my butt to the gym was hard at first, eventually I have made it a routine! I am so proud of all of my accomplishments and sticking to my goals. This includes going to the gym at least four times a week and eating healthy with fresh natural ingredients and cooking all of my meals-no more frozen processed food!

The first tip I am sharing is related to the eating healthy side.  It is a meal tracker/Calorie Counter App called My Fitness Pal.I know what you are thinking. A fitness app? Gag me. But hear me out-Keeping track of what you eat in a day is extremely beneficial and is proven to help people achieve their fitness goals. “Study after study has confirmed the benefits of keeping track of the food you eat and the activity you do. It’s simple – the more consistently you track your food intake, the more likely you are to lose weight.”( My Fitness Pal)

Mostly because writing down what you eat creates awareness and keeps you accountable. (My fitness pal) No way will I always eat perfectly everyday. But MyFitnessPal helps me make good decisions. Before eating a handful of chocolate chips sometimes I remember I will have to write it down and decide on a glass of juice instead.

Also I think the app is fun. The app itself is really easy to navigate. You can search for foods by name, brand, or a barcode. The app even has some of my favorite food blogger’s recipes-including my all time favorite SkinnyTaste. Its simple-you do not have to calculate all the calories or fats of a food-My fitness pal does it for you! You simply just type and click and Voila! Having a routine and sticking to it is enjoyable. I notice that I look forward to entering in my days when I consciously ate healthy or didn’t overeat. It is a nice reward to see in writing my progress! I also like the interactiveness of the app. My mom has the app as well and we can track each others progress and motivate each other-I love that part of it!

Recognizing your eating habits is important and can make a difference in creating a healthy lifestyle. Let me know if you want to hear more about fitness/health topics. Have a healthy, happy, summer! -Rachel

Friday Favorites: Fabletics Review, Freebies, & The Next Food Network Star

I love checking the mailbox and getting mail. Whether receiving a magazine or care package from my mom, even junk-mail flyers can excite me. Getting mail with my name on it is so fun! There is something thrilling about walking outside and the anticipation of seeing if your mailbox is full of goodies. Knowing that a loved one cares enough to write you a letter is very special. This week I am talking about a couple of things that are delivered to me by mail from workout clothing, to magazines, to freebies!

Fashion: Fabletics Workout Gear

Fabletics is a workout gear company that specializes in high quality athletic gear at affordable prices.  What is unique about Fabletics is that it is a subscription based company that offers complete “outfits”. After filling out a style guide, Fabletics releases new outfits the first of every month and you have the option to purchase the outfit or skip that month! Since I am working out a ton this summer-this was a nice treat to reward myself for all my hard work. The quality is amazing and their products come in unique styles and prints. My favorite item in my outfit was the Lima capris-I love the thickness and compression, I feel awesome working out in these leggings  I would highly recommend this company for athletic clothing! Your first outfit is only 25$ too! Click Here to learn more about Fabletics.

Continue reading