Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quinoa Salad

Every year, I find that the holidays become somewhat of a Food and Drink Olympics. I start each day with good intentions-a bowl of cereal there, a workout here- and then by lunchtime I'm eyeing leftovers, candy dishes, and cheese plates from the couch, where I am buried six feet deep with my dog watching a Modern Family marathon. This year, I'm going to try reaaallly hard to be a bit more balanced during the day. I'm going to do my best to keep breakfast and lunch as healthy and small as possible, allowing more wiggle room later in the day for plenty of wine, cheese, and big dinners with family and friends. However, there are only so many salads and soups one can eat before you feel like you're going crazy. Enter...grains. More filling than lettuce but healthier than bread, grain salads can be the perfect way to curb holiday cravings. Plus, you can throw any kind of protein in with them and get a full meal going. Quinoa is my favorite because it's easy to make, not too filling, and goes with everything. Also, you can eat it hot or cold, which is ideal for my sloth-esque laziness when it comes to preparations when I'm home for break. I throw in as many chopped veggies as I possibly can, then come up with a great dressing to drizzle on top. You can keep a big tupperware of this and put a scoop over greens, by itself, or what I did with my friends for an impromptu dinner party: throw in some marinated shrimp and chopped mango, and scoop into butter lettuce for little tacos!
-2 cups quinoa, rinsed under a strainer for 2 min.
- 4 cups chicken/vegetable broth.
-1 red pepper, chopped.
-5 green onions, chopped.
-4 basil leaves, chopped.
-3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar.
-juice of 1 lemon.
-1 tsp. paprika.

-Once the quinoa is rinsed, place it in an oiled saucepan for 2 min on medium to evaporate water.
-Add the chicken/vegetable broth. Wait until it boils, then place a cover over the saucepan for 15 min, stirring occasionally.
-In a bowl, combine all chopped vegetables.
-In another bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, paprika and lemon juice. Whisk gently.
-Strain quinoa, pour into large serving bowl, and add veggies and dressing. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Ahhh, to be sitting on my clean, fully upholstered sofa at home with my feet up on a fancy glass coffee table, eating breakfast cereal out of a clean bowl that is not plastic or paper but ceramic!!! Was I just released from prison, you ask? No, but just about. Being home from college is one of those amazing things that changes wildly from freshman year to senior year. See also: the difference between senior year and freshman year. I remember as a freshman there would be near-tearful goodbyes with my freshman year people I didn't talk to after first semester BFF's as we left for the six day Thanksgiving break, wondering what would change while we were gone. Please. Senior year, the week before Thanksgiving break, going home was all my friends and I could talk about. In the gym, in the library, on the way to class..."AREN'T YOU GUYS SO EXCITED TO GO HOME?!?! FOOD, PARENTS, LAUNDRY, MY BEDDDD????" it makes seniors giddy. For me, being able to relax and dine at home is one of the most amazing things about leaving school, in addition to surprisingly fun high school get togethers and group sleepovers reminiscent of sophomore year of high school. While the real world is looming not so far ahead, getting to be a kid isn't over until the last college break occurs. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Here are some wonderful scenes of home that I have enjoyed and will be missing next week when I'm back in the land of cafeteria food.

1. Iced coffee done right, homemade with a newspaper. I conveniently wake up about 3 hours after my parents (being a morning person goes out the window when I'm home) and the lukewarm leftovers of their coffee make the perfect base for iced coffee. I fill a glass with ice, pour the coffee over, and let it sit for a minute or two before adding milk and sugar.

2. Thanksgiving table! Grandma looking on. This was pre-everyone digging in, of course, but it looked so pristine and un-splashed with gravy that I couldn't resist.

3. The big man himself. Totally unglam just out of the oven, thermometer and all. SO tasty. Already had a leftover sandwich...last night. Best part of November!
4. Welcome home dinner: trying to keep it light before Thanksgiving, we had gorgeous New England mussels in broth with baguette and butter on the side. To dieeee. You can also prepare these a little spiced up, which I want to try next time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Caprese Egg Sandwich.

While studying in Italy, my friends and I noticed that eggs were rarely on the menu. Other than spaghetti carbonara, which I can't exactly condone as breakfast food in the interest of health, we rarely encountered egg dishes. This, of course, was a big problem for our American hungover selves, who all should have been gifted one of these Kate Spade bags as we walked around Bologna on weekend mornings:
We finally found an adorable restaurant, Ca'Pelletti, that served eggs in all their glorious forms, from omlettes to hard-boiled to poached and beyond. Annoyingly, we didn't realize there was an English menu until the fourth month of our stay, so many a headache was worsened by our desperate attempts to translate words on our phones as we sat in front of an impatient waitress who was probably confused as to why we didn't just order pasta and get on with our days.
Since being back in America, I have whined and griped about missing all things Italian except the lack of breakfast eggs. Even in that department, though, I have missed Italian flavors. Thus, I decided to experiment with the classic BEC (bacon egg and cheese) that Americans are so obsessed with, and even add some healthy twists. Say buongiorno to the Caprese Egg Sandwich!

This bad boy is easy and delicious, and a welcome break from the boring BEC's so common in college life. The spicy red pepper jam adds a depth of flavor, while the cool tomatoes and salty pesto get nice and cozy with a blankie of melted provolone. As chewy and delicious as everything bagels are, the bread can drown out the other flavors and make the sandwich bland. A toasted, whole wheat English muffin has the perfect amount of crunch without making you too full or taking away from the taste-bud extravaganza taking place between the muff. Additionally, swapping a half of a grapefruit in as a side instead of fries or chips lightens the calorie load and leaves you feeling refreshed instead of entering into a sodium-and-grease coma which becomes a food hangover in its own right.
-1 Egg, over easy (a little runny yolk never hurt nobody)
-1 Whole Wheat English Muffin, toasted and halved.
-1 Slice Provolone Cheese
-1/2 Grapefruit
-1 tbsp. Red Pepper Jelly (I used this)
-1 tbsp. Pesto
-2 Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
-Fry an egg over easy on a small frying pan.
-While the egg fries, halve your cherry tomatoes and the grapefruit, and toast the English Muffin.
-Once the egg looks about ready, place the cheese on top for a little under a minute.
-While the cheese melts, spread the red pepper jelly on the bottom half of the English Muffin.
-Remove the egg and cheese from the pan carefully with a spatula, and place on the bottom half of the English Muffin.
-Place the pesto in the middle of the egg, and arrange your tomatoes around it.
-Add some salt and pepper to taste!

What other non-traditional egg sandwiches have you come across??

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back on the Bandwagon and I'm Bringing Barbecued Chicken Pizza

I'm back on the bandwagon, and I've got yummy stuff to share. While senior year is slowly but surely eating me alive teaching me valuable skills in anger/stress management and forcing me to revert to 5-year old tantrums when presented with stressful situations i.e. the real world and my English thesis, it is also a lot of fun. My seven girlfriends and I are lucky enough to live in a house off-campus, which is fantastic for theme parties but not so much for cooking. Our kitchen, even when clean, is home to roughly 67,000 solo cups and a sad, kind of broken faucet. However, where there is a will, there is a way. And the beauty of having other friends with nicer kitchens around campus is that I am always welcome as long as I can cook!
To be honest, I'm not the hugest fan of barbecued...anything. I know that sounds terrible but I'm a New England girl and I've just never caught the BBQ bug. I always find myself wishing that BBQ sauce would just decide whether it wanted to be sweet or sour or spicy or salty. However, when cooking for males, BBQ is almost foolproof. I even found myself surprised by how tasty this was, and the flavors couldn't be better together. Pizza is easy and fun to make, and generally a crowd pleaser. However, I find it pretty difficult to find anything tasty in the store-bought tomato sauce department, which led me to the idea of making this bad boy.
Ingredients (serves 2, especially if 1 is really hungry, with leftovers)
  • 1 Boboli pre-made pizza crust
  • 3 Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (I used Mexican for a little extra spice to complement the tomatoes and cilantro)
  • 1 cup Cilantro
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse BBQ sauce (you can use any kind for this
  • Lay the crust out on a counter or other surface, preheat oven to 450
  • Heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil at medium high on a frying pan. Add chicken breasts after 2 min, allow 2 min on each side.
  • While oven is heating and chicken is cooking, dice red onion and halve the cherry tomatoes.
  • Place .5 cup of the BBQ sauce into a tupperware container. Remove the chicken from the stove, shred it with a knife and fork, and place the shredded chicken into the tupperware. Cover the tupperware and shake for ~15 seconds so that chicken is fully covered in sauce.
  • Spread a generous layer of BBQ sauce on the crust, and sprinkle the cheese over it.
  • Add the shredded chicken and red onions to the crust, sprinkle a bit more cheese on top, and bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the crust and add tomatoes and cilantro. Finish with a last dash of BBQ sauce.
What's your favorite non-tomato sauce based pizza? Dying to try other alternatives to the jar-sauce boredom. Also- I didn't add avocado to this but I bet it would've been delicious. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Egg in a Hole: Avocado Breakfast Bowl

There's something so incredibly satisfying about avocados. Maybe it's the color, or the smoothness, or the way they can be turned into something as amazing and near holiness as guac. I love them in nearly everything, particularly anything with bacon, like this salad from one of my favorite food blogs, and I would love to try it on something a little more dressed up for dinnertime, like this amazing looking pizza (adobe...? cilantro...? shredded roasted chicken...? greek yogurt...? HI). Although it's filling and somewhat of a dominating texture on foods, avocado also makes a great accent in that it's flavor is not overwhelming, and it compliments other stronger tastes like citrus, smoky, salty...you name it. Since the versatility of this fun little guy can work at almost any meal, I decided to try it for breakfast. Here at college, I am probably malnourished most of the time (do cheezits and Franzia have protein...?) so working healthy foods into my diet is imperative. I made this all the time while I was abroad in our tiny third world-esque kitchen in Bologna, and I'm dying to try it here too. It's the perfect mix of warm runny egg and cool, refreshing avocado, and I put a bunch of black pepper on it and a bit of sea salt to spice it up. You could also try red pepper flakes, or throw in some chunks of toasted bread. My sad, limp, cold cinnamon raisin bagel from this morning is green with envy.
  • 1 egg fried over easy (still runny but with a golden brown crust)
  • 1 whole avocado, halved. Keep one of the halves intact and place the egg directly over it, and chop the other half up for extra bite sized chunks on the side.
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Sundays in college are lazy, hungover, generally low key days that I always try and make productive but almost never succeed in doing so. This used to stress me out during my freshman year because I always felt like there was something I needed to be doing, but could never quite crawl out of bed for. Somehow homework always went unfinished, gym sneakers making puppy eyes at me from the closet, and I almost never remembered to call my grandma. However, as college has progressed, I have come to embrace Sundays for what they are, and I now realize I have precious few left before The Real World commences next year (AHHHHHHH) so here are a few of my favorite Sunday things!
1. My friend's new puppy. We have the great fortune of hosting this little lady for a week before she gets picked up by her rightful owner, my friend's older sister. She is a cavapoo and there are few things more enjoyable on a lazy Sunday than lying in the grass watching this chick roll around and learn to use her back legs.

2. Fun expensive hangover cure drinks. This was my newest foray into one of my favorite Sunday activities, finding new and fun ways to cure my hangovers. Coconut water still tastes like the stuff at the bottom of the dishwasher for me. I liked this, but I definitely will continue to can't spend $6 on it.
3. Explorations. Since lying down is probably my #1 Sunday activity, I was absolutely thrilled to be able to do that in this setting all summer while living on Martha's Vineyard. I would literally wake up, lie in bed for an hour, grumble about how much effort it took to put on my bathing suit, walk five minutes to the beach, and lie on my towel for hours. Soooo nice.
4. BRUNCH. This is absolutely vital duh everyone knows there is nothing better than Sunday brunch. I love this lox and bagel combo and capers make a great accessory. My friends and I have been known to spend hooouuuuurs at brunch and never ever regret it.

What are your Sunday habits?? Please do not even tell me if it includes working, homework, chores, etc. JK! not really.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fit Friday: FUN

Happpppy Friday!! I have the great fortune to be done with classes by 11:15 on Friday, which is amazing in many ways because I can do whatever I want all day without feeling pressure to be productive. However, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, I am 99.9999% sure I have an undiagnosed case of ADD, and this limits by Friday chyll time considerably. I cannot sit and watch TV for longer than an hour, aimlessly wandering through Target eats up only about 35 minutes, and cleaning my room is a generally disastrous task that results in half of the room being OCD level clean while the other half bores me and remains messy. SO, I am left with a few other options. One of them is working out. While there's something that feels inherently wrong about working out on a Friday, I do feel obligated to get in a workout of some kind before the weekend commences. Enter, yoga.
As someone who spent most of my 13-18th years swimming competitively, I find any form of exercise that does not involve a coach barking at orders at me to be very difficult. I was so conditioned over the years to mindlessly exercise that once I retired from swimming, I felt lost in terms of what to do. I would run a mile and then become bored and stop, or try and swim laps and end up lazily doing handstands in the shallow end. The only time I felt really engaged in my workouts was when I would attend a spinning/yoga/pilates class and drift back in to the serenity of having someone tell me exactly how to exercise. However, this was not exactly a great lifelong plan. I needed to find a way to self motivate myself and find workouts that I loved. 
I tried a few different things: kayaking, paddle boarding, running, Zumba (HUGE mistake...most awkward hour of my life.) hiking, skiing, tennis, yoga. And while they were all fun in their own right (if you've never tried paddleboarding DO IT while it's still summer) I have found yoga to be the most intensely relaxing, soothing thing ever for days like Friday when you want to move your body but you also kinda don't. It settles your mind and body in a really amazing way and makes you feel super flexible. So go do some yoga! And then have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pesto Mozzarella Chicken with Asparagus

When all else fails and you run out of ideas for a meal, chicken breasts are an easy option. The only problem is that they get boring VERY fast. There's only so many times you can throw one on a salad or with quinoa without it beginning to taste rubbery and boring. The answer to this is the answer to everything: PESTO. I'm serious. I have a mild/severe obsession with pesto and pretty much everything it entails. I love the pine nut flavor, I love the basil, I love the olive oil...it's just a wonderful thing. It goes with everything too: meats, pasta...I've even been known to dip a cracker in it. You actually cannot go wrong. Thus, pesto dresses up a boring chicken breast like a pro. (A little fresh mozzarella never hurt anyone, either)
-1 chicken breast
-2 slices fresh mozzarella, gently cut or torn into thin but substantial pieces
-7/8 spears of asparagus
-3/4 fresh basil leaves
-2tbsp olive oil
-salt and pepper
-1tbsp pesto

Heat up 1tbsp of olive oil on medium heat. Once it is sizzling a bit, put the chicken breast on and cook until golden brown. In another pan, heat the asparagus on low heat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Once the chicken is done, arrange the two pieces of mozzarella on top and drizzle the pesto on. Add the basil leaves for garnish! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Half Dozen: Wishlist

Happy Tuesday! I'm currently agonizing over the bizarre Indian Summer that is occurring in Central Pennsylvania this September. It's literally freezing when I wake up, forcing me to wear long sleeves/pants. BUT THEN, as soon as lunchtime rolls around, I'm so hot that I get wistful for those sad, weird cargo pants you could zip off in middle school. This weird weather requires me to change outfits once every hour SO, I'm going through my clothes pretty quickly. Thus, my inevitable online shopping wish list begins. As a college student, I can almost never actually click purchase on the items in my online shopping cart unless they're on 70% sale. It's depressing, but they can definitely be used as inspiration in more realistic shopping! Also, there's always Christmas and birthdays, and perhaps employment someday. Til then, a roundup of some things I'd buy if I didn't have to spend my money on frivolous random items and wine food.

1. J.Crew Jeweled Baseball Cap
I don't know why but I'm obsessed with this. I barely ever wear  anything sparkly/bejeweled unless it's jewelry, but ever since I saw this on the website, I've been imagining myself as one of those stylish girls who wears this to a fall tailgate. Unfortunately, since I definitely DON'T have $125 to throw around, I will prob stick to my $2 bright green dirty Kappa hat. 

2. Kate Spade watches
I love a good watch and ever since I lost my Michael Kors tortoise shell one sophomore year of college (still mourning the loss/kicking myself for that one) I have been looking for a new one. The new Kate Spade watches come in a plethora of colors/designs, some with those fun little quotes too. LOVE those. 

3. Pomandere Button Placket Dress-Steven Alan
I have a mustard yellow fall dress that I got a few years ago from Anthropologie that I love. It's lightweight, flowy, and the color is always perfect for the first few weeks of fall, either with sandals by itself or, as it gets a bit colder, with a lightweight jacket. Unfortunately, fast forward a few years from getting this dress and it has begun to show some signs of old age. A few too many train rides/being thrown into cramped suitcases/being washed in stone age machines during my time abroad/in college have led to its demise. I wish I could snag this dress instead, with its great pattern and cinched waistline, but for now I will do my best to jazz up my yellow dress, which is a potato sack in comparison, with some high class Target belts.  

4. DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom
When our flight home from Italy was canceled (LoL) we had aLOT of time to peruse the duty free section. Perfumes, like purses, give me anxiety because I always feel ill equipped to choose the right everyday item. For some reason though, on our seventh or eighth stroll through the perfume department, I kept coming back to this perfume. It's fresh, clean, and sweet smelling a bit less intense than its green counterpart. However, I still might just be attracted to it because I hadn't bathed in 48 hours and it smelled like something other than sweaty travelers. Ya never know!

5. Free People New Romantics Yellow Tie Dye Maxi
As a 5'8 girl, a Maxi dress can go one of two ways: extremely flattering, or giving me the silhouette of Yao Ming. I have yet to find one that is just right, but this chick seems to be pulling this one off pretty well. The lower neckline and cinched waist seem like a good bet, and the pattern and lacy details soften the intensity of the color and length. This is the type of item I will keep my eye out for a sale on even if it is winter and I would look like a sad yellow clown walking around campus in.

6. Maya Brenner Sharktooth Necklace
The perfect everyday necklace with my first initial that I wear every day is from this website and I'm obsessed with it. I check out the website, Maya Brenner, every now and then and I always find something new that I love. Even though sharks are my biggest and most fearful fear, I LOVE the look of this necklace and I want it now.

aaaaand that's the half dozen wishlist roundup for today! While you will probably not see me sporting any of these items unless it is immediately after Christmas or my birthday, the wishlist is the perfect way to inspire a less expensive purchase. If you spot anything that looks similar but with a slightly less aggressive pricetag...send a link my way!!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Lilly Pulitzer Salad [Spinach, Strawberries, Mozzarella, and Balsamic]

I have some issues/anxieties with salads. I am definitely one of those college girls who will talk your ear off about how I "would totally eat anything, I mean, ANYTHING!!! on a salad!!!!!" whilst ordering a hamburger, but I have stress about this hypocrisy because it really is true. If you slapped that patty on a salad with cherry tomatoes, a little flavorful cheese, some cornichons, and a great mustard vinaigrette? You bet I'd eat it AND be just as happy and way less full than eating the full burger. But sometimes all the switcheroos and custom orders at a restaurant feel a little pushy and I have a weird fear of waiters defacing my food if I'm rude to them. (you never know!!!) so anyways, while sticking to the anything-on-a-salad girl mantra is difficult at a restaurant, I'm actually pretty good at adhering to it at home. I make it a priority on any grocery list to buy a gigantic family sized bag of spinach. I'm lucky to have been one of those weirdos children who enjoyed spinach to the point of asking for it with a dash of olive oil, sea salt and minced garlic, so having it raw in a salad is right up my alley. Also, raw spinach is a really pretty color of green and looks great in pictures. In order to diminish my salad anxiety, I try to choose two or three ingredients and one dressing that pair well together, and then get it goin'. You never want to be that girl who puts fruit, crunchy asian noodles (which for the record, I loathe) olives, cheese, and anchovies in the same salad with heinous blue cheese dressing. SO bad. Do less. Instead, simplicity without being boring is key. Here's one of my favorite creations, which I have aptly named the Lilly Pulitzer salad because it is pink and green and I want a new one every day.
For this masterpiece (there I said it)...
  • 2 cups spinach, ripped up and washed to minimize toughness and make bites smaller.
  • 8 ripe/somewhat soft strawberries (the softness soaks up the dressing and tastes amazing with the cheese)
  • Buffalo mozzarella in water. Gently, with your hands, make small chunks of the cheese and put it on at the last second.
  • 2 parts olive oil one part balsamic vinaigrette. Can't go wrong with this, and balsamic and strawberries are definitely winning cutest couple this year.

This salad tastes amazing, satisfies every salt/sweet/sour/ craving you're having, and pairs well with a glass of sauvignon blanc. Then again, I think everything pairs well with a glass of sauvignon blanc. Make this tonight and then tell me your favorite salad!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Happy Humpday people. I woke up this morning with a horrendous cold (think the guy in the Nyquil ads) so I dragged myself to my two classes and am now snuggled so deeply inside my bed I don't think I'll ever get out. Thank whatever Gods there may be that we have a day off in our sorority recruitment process, or I would probably be scaring hordes of younger girls away tonight with my terrifying croaky voice and gross amount of tissue use. Anyway, I bought myself my favorite sick snacks (V8, cranberry juice, and a bag of pretzels so spicy that they are surpassing my original intent of clearing my sinuses and instead making me weep like a child) and I will probably be spending most of the afternoon here. While I would like to be one of those people who can be obediently sick and just laze around in bed all day watching Friends, I actually have what I believe to be a truly shocking undocumented case of ADD. Even in my current zombie state, I can watch no more than two episodes of something without needing a new activity. Luckily, I'm a big reader. As an English major, I find myself spending the majority of September-May reading thick scholarly texts and critical literary reviews, or classical novels. Don't get me wrong-I love my major and can even read such assignments with enthusiasm and/or joy. (Joy might be pushing it.) But I always find myself missing my summertime pleasure reading during the year. So as policy, I always try to bring a few good books that have nothing to do with my classes to crack open on the rare night that I have neither homework nor a wine glass being shoved at me by my professors/friends respectively. (but wouldn't it be so nice if your professors handed you a glass of wine!?) anyways. I've tried to work my small collection into my decor this year as well, since I find books to be some of the best decorations in a room. They are colorful, take up a good amount of space, and best of all-you can take them down and read them. I've arranged them with some pictures and trinkets as you can see, and I find they really brighten up my space.
I go through books way too quickly, so I try to keep a fresh arrangement. "This is Water", by David Foster Wallace, (far right, small white one) is one of my all time favorites and I take it with me wherever I go. I've read it a million times (it's a convocation speech given before his untimely death) and it's great to flip through or read a section of when you're feeling uninspired. "Orange is the New Black" by Piper Kerman, about a white collar woman who spends a year in prison, is what I'm currently devouring. The Netflix show by the same title is allegedly great, but I haven't seen it yet. Leave it to the English major to read the book first. "New York Diaries", edited by Teresa Carpenter, is a collection of diary entries from people living in New York City from the 1600s-present. I haven't gotten to it yet but I can't wait. "The Art of Fielding", by Chad Harbach, is the big kahuna book I'm very slowly making my way through. It would take about twelve pages to explain the whole thing, but definitely worth reading, and not bad for learning a few tips and tricks about baseball as well. Finally, Anna Quindlen's "Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake" is one I tossed into my bag just before leaving home, and to be honest I haven't even read the back cover yet, but I'm excited and would love to hear suggestions!

Bottom line: books make great fodder for decoration, reading (Duh) and for when you've heard Ross' whiny voice one too many times during your sick day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Travel Tuesday

Now that I'm back at college in rural Pennsylvania, where Red Robin is considered gourmet and local style has not evolved past 1998 (I'm looking at you, floor length red and yellow checkered jumper on display in the window of the store across from my house), I find myself missing the pick-up-and-go feeling of living abroad in Italy. My friends and I experienced some of the most amazing places and people during our travels in Italy, and there was nothing more liberating than packing up for the weekend and jetting off to Prague, London, Morocco, Spain, Belgium, Paris, Florence, Sicily, Milan, etc. The phrase "jetting off" sounds glam but Ryanair is anything but (think three hour hungover flights with constant PA announcements for scratchcards, and first time Italian fliers taking selfies all over the place). But no matter how annoying the journey got, the destinations were pretty much always amazing. Undoubtedly, this blog will probably feature places I visited alot, including tips for traveling on a student budget. While we tried to stay frugal most of the time, we treated ourselves to splurging when it was the best way to experience a place. Tuscany in particular. You can't really "do" wine tasting, amazing countryside views, and out of this world eating on a student budget in Tuscany. It just ain't right. We stayed at an amazing refurbished monastery about two hours from Siena, and it was the perfect relaxing, traditional Italian experience.

 The next day, we did an incredible wine tasting at a nearby vineyard. Lucky for us, our study abroad program took the bill for that, but we enjoyed fancying ourselves wine connoisseurs, and were pleased to drink something other than wine in a bag. This pic was taken pre-vino to show the yummy food pairings they offered. Tuscany was truly decadent, and we all felt like divas, which is the only way to feel.

While Tuscany was a dish definitely best served on the $$ side to truly experience the amazing pleasures of food, wine, and comfort, I did muster up some frugal tips as pointers for anyone considering a trip there!

  • Go with a group. I can't imagine how expensive it would be to travel Tuscany with just one friend or a couple friends. Lodging in a villa is usually easier if you split costs, and it's more fun to travel around the gorgeous countryside with a big group anyways!
  • At a vineyard, do the wine tasting instead of buying a bottle or case of wine! It's cheaper, you get a bit of food with it so you don't have to buy lunch, and let's be honest: we college students don't REALLY need to begin our wine collections just yet. Write down the names of the wines you love and keep them in the back of your mind for when you can start a collection.
  • Recreate a wine tasting with your friends! Sure, you won't be gazing out upon rolling fields or hearing regional Italian spoken by hott vineyard farmhands, but getting some friends together for a couple bottles of your favorite wine (the $13 bottle, not the $65....cheers to Yellowtail always) and some cheese is always fun no matter what the setting.

Enjoy these pics and join me in my intense wanderlust today. What are your favorite places to recall on this Travel Tuesday? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

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Thursday Thought Process

Something I've realized after being a student for the past seventeen years (just counted that for the first time...on my fingers...) is that I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to the end of the week. I don't mean to be self deprecating, because I have the ability to focus very passionately on a range of subjects including a friend's boyfriend's inability to text her back within the hour or, say, my senior seminar, which scares me more than sharks and commands my wide-eyed attention each week. However, when it comes to mundane end-of-week tasks such as my hour and fifteen minute morning class or deciding between hot or iced coffee (Went with iced, duh), I just start to lose steam by the time Thursday rolls around. On Mondays you can find me prancing around my room color coordinating outfits and picking out the perfect jewelry, but by Thursday, I consider it a GREAT success if I brush my teeth hair.
THUS, making sure I eat healthy after hump day is important, and planning ahead is ideal. Enter: the Thursday salad bowl. By the end of the week, groceries have dwindled a bit and most of the good stuff is gone (cheezits, Chobani, pepper jack...I'm looking at you). So you're faced with the remnants. However, don't fret! All these leftover ingredients are dying to hang out in your Thursday salad bowl. You can literally throw whatever you have left in a pan with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few spices (I'm a big fan of fresh basil, a bit of garlic salt, lemon juice, and paprika). For this particular bowl, I only used my remaining mushrooms because my red peppers were frankly wilting, and that's gross. I chopped up some carrots, the last of my cherry tomatoes, and put it all over arugula. I opened up a can of tuna and put that on as well. While canned tuna is not exactly gourmet or fresh seafood, it is a good way to get some protein and tastes 10X more fresh without mayonnaise. I finished it off with some balsamic.

 While my ideal Thursday meal probably looks more like this:
I have neither the patience nor $$ by Thursday to create steak frites...for lunch. Lezbehonest, I never have the $$ for that. That's what parents weekend is for. And it's probably for the best, because the Thursday Salad Bowl is tasty, filling, and super easy. Also, don't be fooled by by running sneaker in the photo. My Thursday workout is a sad, bizarre looking walk-run that can barely be defined as exercise. I didn't have the energy to crop the picture. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back At It

So it turned out that this summer was crazy busy and I didn't have as much time as I would've liked to keep up a blog. BUT- I'm back at it. Senior year of college is upon me (hello aggressively busy social and academic life) and I think it's going to fly. Four days into the year, my friends and I are all nursing some pretty miserable hangovers (shoutout to Vitacoco orange flavor for saving my life) but we're already having a blast. Aside from a spectacularly awful astronomy class that I have to take, (liberal arts seemed like such a good idea before I realized I have to take a physics class senior year and haven't seen my graphing calculator since my high school graduation) I'm really looking forward to the year. In the coming days/weeks I'm going to start up a regular rotation of food/lifestyle posts and reach out to some other bloggers as well. Here goes!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thirsty Thursday-Dark n Stormy!

Been a minute but I'm back! Moving into my house in Martha's Vineyard has been an exciting/overwhelming/somewhat annoying process but I'm finally settled. Our house is adorable (if teensy) and while I fear I may fall through the stairs at least 86 times this summer, at least it is a five minute walk to the ocean. Speaking of which, I discovered a lovely private beach nearby (pictured below) which I promptly hopped the fence and enjoyed. Sincere cheers to June, before it gets so crazy busy that I'll probably be tazed if I try that again in a few weeks.

 The weather the past couple days has been pretty blah, with rain and storms. I attempted to give myself a serene island morning today with an iced coffee and a book in the park, but had to abandon my plan after the rain began. So it goes. Anywho, looking forward to making the best of tonight with these bad boys in honor of the shitty weather. I'm not the biggest fan of rum (the phrase "sickly sweet" has taken on a very real meaning on certain occasions in summers past) but something about it, combined with some spicy ginger and a refreshing lime wedge, feels right on a cold rainy summer night when you're just hanging out with friends. Happy Thirsty Thursday everyone!

Dark 'n' Stormy

recipe yield: 1 drink

-2 oz. dark rum (Gosling's Black Seal is a good bet for an authentic Bermuda taste)
-3 oz. ginger beer 
-wedge of lime

Fill a glass with ice and combine the rum and ginger beer, then add lime for garnish. Put on some good music/a movie (I'm thinking maybe something spooky for tonight...any suggestions?) and enjoy!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The place I left two days ago, amazing Bologna, Italy where I learned almost all there is to know about tortellini, gelato, how much Italian guys love their moms, and taking the time to enjoy a coffee (or mimosa) at a cafe for longer than my usual 10 minute Starbucks run.

On second thought, who am I kidding. Not sure I've ever spent more than three minutes, total, in a Starbucks.

Here Goes!

Hello! My name is Jules and I'm a college student entering my last year of school. Over the past three years, I've learned quite a bit about myself and what's going on around me. What I've learned thus far (though the list is long a growing) is that I love to wander. I never stay in one place very long, and I've been lucky to set my bags down in some pretty amazing places. I go to school in Pennsylvania but I've spent summers working in a fish-themed folk art gallery (and a sushi restaurant) in Catalina Island, with a publishing start up in New York City, and now nannying in Martha's Vineyard. I've spent my winter breaks working in retail and publishing in Boston and at rural schools in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps the cherry on top of these nomadic three years was the last five months of my junior year, which I spent in Italy. I got home two days ago (still not sure what time zone I'm in ) and the experience opened my eyes to some incredible things about the world and about myself. I've met some amazing people, seen some pretty fantastic sights, eaten great food, and collected quite a few ideas and pointers about how to make it all work. When things have become overwhelming for me at certain times in the past three years, I have always found that finding ways to bring elements of health to my life has been imperative in getting my head back in the game. Whether it be coffee and conversation with a friend, cooking a new dish, trying a new workout, or working on a new idea or project, overall wellness is something that covers so many different areas. To me, it's about finding the balance between the crazy, fun, up all night peaks and valleys of your twenties but also maintaining a sense of presence, joy, and understanding of all the changes. Leaving new places and setting new roots every six months is overwhelming, but figuring out how to navigate that and bring out the best in those experiences is a tricky and valuable tool. I love the strange up and downs of my life and the new people I meet all the time, and I'm hoping to document some of the ways I try and balance (or drop) everything that my early 20's are throwing at me. Advice always welcome, thanks for checking out my blog!