Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Field Notes: September 2014

A few of the things that we've been loving in September.

In my free time lately, I've been watching a lot of TED talks. This one is one of my favorites. A rich life with less stuff.

Here's a great post from Kory Woodard about what she wished she knew before finishing college.

Broken, Made Beautiful. This wonderful site called One Day Lighter has lots of inspiring posts like this one.

We love clothes, but we also know that it's important to know how our actions and choices impact others. Shopping With Ethics: A 5 Step Guide to Ethical Fashion has some advice on how to do that.

Some of you may remember that I've mentioned Tirzah Magazine before for its inspiring, faith based articles. I'm so excited to get to share with you an article I wrote there called Growing Roots in Christ.

I've recently discovered a charming blog called 34 Magnolia Street. While there are lots of great posts, this one about hospitality as a lifestyle is one of my favorites.

Cupcakes are one of our favorite things. So, I can't wait to try this recipe for maple buttercream frosting

Jennifer is currently loving this blog - Southern Curls and Pearls.

I finished watching all four of the BBC episodes of Shakespeare Retold. My favorite was Much Ado About Nothing, of course. I also really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. I had forgotten that basically everybody dies in MacBeth and that one was a little too dark for me. Overall, I enjoyed the adaptations.

Finally, I'll leave you with an adorable bunny.


Did you see August's field notes?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Guest Post on Escape and Inspire

I'm just stopping by today to tell you that you need to head over to Escape and Inspire. Jenny was nice enough to let me share 21 Journal Prompts with her readers. 

Take your time to enjoy all of the posts on Escape and Inspire. You won't be disappointed.

Some of my particular favorites are How Journaling Can Make You a Better Writer and 5 Easy Ways to Be More Productive.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

International Travel Advice

Advice for International Travelers

Some of you may know that I'll be in France teaching English for the current school year. I've made the trip across the Atlantic to France several times now. As much as I love traveling, going overseas always leaves me exhausted. Still, I have picked up a few tips that can make the journey just a little bit easier, and I'm happy to share those with you today.

- First, as you are preparing for your trip, make a packing list. Before you even begin to pack, write down everything that you plan to take. You can add to the list over several days as you think of things. As you pack, check each item off the list. This will help you to make sure that you do not forget anything. If you start packing several days in advance, you'll know exactly what's in your bags already, and you won't end up packing multiples of the same item.

- After you have packed everything, go back through your list. Do you absolutely need every single thing that you have? Try to take at least a few items out. The fewer things that you have to carry, the easier your trip will be.

- Bring several snacks to eat while you travel. My journey from home to my apartment in France ended up taking almost 24 hours. While I did eat meals in the airport, I did not buy any snacks there. Instead, I ate the carrots and granola bars that I had packed. Trying to go through shops and standing in line while carrying a backpack and a bag is not fun at all, so I tried to keep the number of times that I had to do that to a minimum.

- Bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it up with water at a fountain once you go through security. It's much cheaper than buying water in the airport. Plus, you will want water to drink while you are on the plane.

- Wear layers. It is usually cold on planes, but walking through the airport from one gate to another can get pretty warm. Try wearing a nice shirt that you can layer a sweater over, so that you're not too cold or too hot during your trip. Also, a scarf that is wide enough to double as a small blanket is a good idea, too.

Do you have any tips of your own for travelers?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coca Cola Cupcakes with Ganache Icing

After heading to Atlanta to get my visa, I'd been thinking about making coca cola cake. Of course, since I love cupcakes, I decided to modify a recipe to make cupcakes instead. You can't necessarily tell that these cupcakes have coca cola in them, but you can tell that there's something different about them.

Based on this coca cola cake recipe by Linton Hopkins.

Makes 12 cupcakes



1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 oz. butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 cup Coca Cola
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a saucepan combine the butter, oil, and Coca Cola. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Then, remove it from the heat.
3. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the Coca Cola mixture to the contents of the mixing bowl. Stir.
5. Add baking soda, sour cream, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Stir.
6. Add eggs, and mix until well combined.
7. Transfer the batter into the cupcake pan. Fill each liner about half full.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before icing cupcakes.

Ganache Icing

3 TBS melted butter
2 1/2 TBS cocoa poweder
3 TBS Coca Cola
1 - 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Start with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add more if necessary. The icing should be soft, but not runny. Ice the cupcakes once they have cooled.

Enjoy your cupcakes!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal


When I first picked up Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal, I was not sure what to expect. It has a foreword by Alice Waters which is obviously a strong endorsement, but flipping through the pages, I found little that looks like a traditional cookbook.

However, this is exactly what the book is--a cookbook, meaning that it is a book that actually teaches the reader how to cook rather than just giving recipes to be followed.

Here are the reasons why I enjoyed An Everlasting Meal.

- This cookbook is meant to be read rather than simply flipped through.

- Adler's cooking philosophy is that nothing in the kitchen should be wasted.

- Every chapter stresses that ingredients used in each meal should build part of the next meal.

- You are encouraged to understand the cooking process and make it your own.

- The sections present the basics of cooking in a way that shows how they all relate to each other.

If I were to sum the book up into one statement, it would be - no fuss, just delicious meals.

If you were only going to buy one cookbook, this would be the one that I would suggest. An Everlasting Meal is highly practical for everyday cooks, but at the same time, the writing style elevates the book to something more than ordinary.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of year because of all the cozy, fun, and delicious things the cooler weather inspires us to take part in. Here are a few of my favorite things about fall and some fun ideas to help you make the most of this beautiful season.

Plaid Shirt

1. Plaid
It's time to don your favorite plaid shirts. The plaid look is effortlessly cute with a side braid like the one in this tutorial How to: Reverse Side Braid by the beautiful Luxy Hair ladies.

Coffee Cup

2. Warm Drinks
My favorite hot drink during the fall is Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte. The rich, sweet pumpkin flavor is the perfect way to make any day more festive. If you want to brew up your own creation, try Celestial Seasoning's India Spice Chai Tea. This tea has the perfect balance of spiciness and warmth from black pepper and cinnamon. It also has the best iced chai recipe I've found on its box. I love to drink it to warm up on chilly mornings or drink it while I settle down with a book at night (decaf of course!).

3. Cozy Scents
Familiar scents have the power to bring us back to our favorite moments in life. I've become obsessed with candle warmer fragrances because they heat up so fast, and I don't have to commit to a scent with a big candle. Some of my favorite scents this fall are Better Homes and Gardens' Comfy and Cozy scents that are inspired by flannel and fleece. Fleece and flannel are the fall version of summer's clean linen fragrance. Some other more traditional scents that bring back joyful memories of campfires and family gatherings are Gooey Marshmallow S'mores, and A Thankful Harvest.

Candied Apples

4. Sweet Treats
One of the best things about fall are the tasty goodies! One thing I look forward to are the yummy veggies like Acorn Squash. Now, I know that vegetables are not what usually first on the list of tasty treats, but good roasted acorn squash is delightful! Yes, I just called a vegetable delightful. Sunny Anderson makes this treat super simple with her Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash recipe. Another one of my fall favorites is a thing called Spoonfudge. You're probably asking yourself what is a spoonfudge? It's only the most delicious homemade fudge that you've eaten in your life packaged into cute little jars with an adorable spoon . This fudge hails from the colorful Sebastopol, Mississippi. (Now you're probably asking yourself what is a Sebastopol? I am too y'all.) My personal favorite is the Salted Caramel flavor, but the Pumpkin Cheesecake is perfect for fall. It's like regular fudge but so much creamier and more fun to eat. Luckily for the world, Spoonfudge will ship its delicious fudge to you.

Fall Landscape

5. Go Outside!
The real magic of fall can only be enjoy outside! So go outside and take a walk, admire the leaves, have a picnic, go to a bonfire, play in the leaves, breathe in the crisp air, sit on a bench and drink coffee, read a book, and find local fall festivals. Enjoy the last few weeks of beautiful weather before it gets too nippy outside.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Drug store Beauty Favorite: Pantene Pro-V Color Preserve Cleansing Conditioner

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Pantene Pro-V Color Preserve Cleansing Conditioner

We all look for ways to cut down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning. For me, using a cleansing conditioner is one sneaky way I cut my shampooing and conditioning time in half. If you haven't heard of cleansing conditioners before, they're basically what the name suggests: a conditioner that cleanses. They're usually sulfate-free and gently clean the hair without stripping it and condition it at the same time. Because cleansing conditioners are shampoo-free, you really have to massage them into the hair. The benefits of time-saving and less distressed hair is enough to make up for the lack of lather for me.

The first cleansing conditioner I tried and loved was L'Oreal Paris EverCurl Hydracharge Cleansing Conditioner. However, the price and the smell were not for me. So after some research, I decided to try Pantene's Color Preserve because is a product with great reviews, is also for curly coarse hair, and is very reasonably priced. After trying it for myself I was sold. It works just as well as more expensive cleansing conditioners. My favorite part though is the invigorating minty and citrusy smell. It's not overpowering, but it definitely wakes me up in the morning! If the spa like smell doesn't energize you, then just massage the conditioner in well and let it sit a few minutes, and you'll start to feel a slight tingle from the conditioner. Not only does this cleansing conditioner help me save time in the mornings, it also helps me get past the initial early morning slump.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Ways to Take Care of Your Health in College

For our final post in our series of tips for students heading off to college, we have some advice for how to make sure that you stay healthy in college. You probably already know most of these, but with so many new people to meet and so many new things going on during the first few weeks, it's easy to forget and to develop bad habits that will eventually take their toll.

1. If your school has a gym, take advantage of it. Some schools have really nice gyms!

2. Some healthy snacks you can keep in a dorm room are popcorn, peanut butter and crackers, fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, granola bars, cereal and milk, and water.

3. Pick one junk food to have in your room during finals week. Since you will be stressed, you will want to eat a lot of junk food, but having too much will only make you more stressed.

4. Keep a grocery list. When you shop with a list, you will be less tempted to buy food that you do not  need. Plus, you will actually come back from the store with the things that you went there to get.

5. Invite a friend to go to an exercise class with you. If the class is absolutely horrible, you can laugh about it later. If the class is wonderful, you now have an exercise buddy and something fun to look forward to next time.

6. Do not buy fountain drinks when you go out to eat. Get water instead. You will save money, and you will not have to worry about all the extra calories.

7. If you really want a soft drink, get a can. It will limit the amount that you drink. One 12 oz. soft drink does much less damage than larger amounts.

8. If you were a high school athletic, understand that your body will go through some changes because it is no longer being used in the same way (i.e. you aren't practicing 10 hours a week.) Stay active, but know that you will most likely not stay at the same level you were at before.

9. Pick a healthy way to deal with stress. Draw, go on a run, dance around your room, pick a friend to talk with, clean your room (yes, cleaning works for some people). Decide how you will handle stress before you get stressed.

10. Finally, know that counseling services are available. If you need them, go to them.

Make sure to read 20 More Tips for College and 30 Study Tips for Success in College.


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