Wednesday, November 27, 2013

24 never felt so good!

Man, this one really sneaked up on me. I knew it was coming, but I've been so wrapped up in my own drama, that I didn't really take the time to realize how rapidly it was approaching, and just like that all the Facebook posts come rolling in.

I always find myself doing some serious reflecting on my birthday, as I think we all should. I mean, it's a great time to just review your past year and see how far you have come. Even if you are feeling down on yourself, or under-accomplished (like me), you have kept yourself alive for yet another year. That has to be worth some sort of congratulatory dance, right? Well, I sure hope so. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for making it to 24. 23 was not good to this girl, but as I reflect, I realize that for as many ridiculously discouraging things that slapped me in my face during my 23rd year, I also experienced some rather fantastic things: I spent another year with a guy that loves me in spite of my anxiously analytic approach to everything in life and this morning, he was up at 5:30 am making me a fancy breakfast before taking me to work :)! Also, I have a job that pays me enough to be able to support myself (mostly) independently. Lastly, I have the most supportive and loving family/friends out there, and they are (while I may not always be) proud of me for simply trying at everything I do. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When we are in the thick of things, we seldom see the sunshine through the trees. With my birthday always falling so close to Thanksgiving, I can never find a better time to thankful. And I really, really am.

Cheers to 24, and all the POSITIVE things it has for me!

Short post today. Trying to soak up my first day in my 24th year :).

Now I have flying home to Charm City to look forward to, and I can't wait to share my mommy's fabulously decadent Thanksgiving feast with you all (even if you can't taste it, which is a true tragedy)!

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

AMAs and Heartbreak

Music award shows never cease to disappoint me these days, but I always find myself tuning in time and time again. Why is that??? Do any of you have that experience? So many cringe worthy moments and poor vocals, yet I freak out if I turn on the channel a moment after the live broadcast begins. 

Despite the ridiculous content, one thing is consistent and entertaining year after year - all of the different fashion choices {good or bad} made by the celebs (which really means the choices made by the people that they can afford to pay to dress them). This year's American Music Awards, though, was not the worst. I have to say that, despite Pitbull opening the show with an unnecessary moment of objectifying women in black onesies, it was pretty entertaining, far beyond the pretty dresses! 

So, instead of my usual award show tweet fest, I wrote all of my would be tweets into a draft blog post, and now I am going to share them! I know...you can barely hold your excitement...

- As I re-read these this morning, I have reaffirmed for myself that I am thee weirdest and most random human. And I apologize in advance to those of you who didn't watch. This random stream of thought will probably do nothing for you...here goes! -
  • Ariana, you have a great voice, but you sound too much like 90s Mariah for me to take you seriously. Your management needs to find you some original material.
  • Ugh. Rihanna when will I be able to party and drink like you and still look AMAZE...probably when I give up my constant need for food. Sigh. And is your hair in a wrap? 
  • Who are these guys? This drum action is pretty cool. (apparently they were Imagine Dragon? I am so behind on pop culture these days)
  • Chris Daughtry still does stuff? As I type this Anthony says "Daughtry is the man." Guess I missed that memo.
  • Taylor Swift just won her 12th AMA...SHOCKING. But you know what will be more shocking...how surprised she's about to act. Whoops. Just kidding that was the most composed she's ever been.
  • Seeing Pitbull and Ke$ha perform is literally the last thing I want to do right now, so please don't remind me it's coming up.
  • Excuse me? Why are Michael Bolton and Akon even sharing a stage? I'm so confused.
  • KENDRICCCCCK. 
  • I'm sorry...Macklemore is great and I love him, but he is not hip hop. Yep. I said it. 
  • That woman grinding on Pitbull in this performance looks like Toni Braxton. I was SO worried for about 10.5 seconds.
  • Ke$ha, go home. I'm bored.
  • Like, we haven't seen Joan Jett in years and they are just gonna bring her out of the vault to announce an award at the AMAs?
  • Marc Anthony seriously has a great voice. He looks like the descendant of a street rat, but the man can SING. aaaaand won! Go Marc.
  • Justin Timberlake, marry me. You will never have to drink me away.
  • One Direction over JT...puke.
  • Nelly, you and country music don't mix. Please don't ever do it again. Thanks, Mgmt.
  • OOOOOOMG I forgive you, Nelly! HEY MUST BE THE MONEY. Bring it baaaack! If he sings "Hot in Here" I'm will faint.
  • Hmm. Rihanna, the voice of our time? hmmm....but I mean she's really pretty! But hmm....I mean "Umbrella" is my jam. I guess I just have some mixed feelings here. She is strong though, I cannot take that from her.
  • Oh so she's gonna wear the hair wrap the whole night. Oh ok. 
  • Okay guys I really like Rih, but she looks a little like a toddler having a tantrum performing this song....just me?
  • Awwwww if I ever win any sort of award in life, I hope they bring my mommy out!
  • Great speech, Rih Rih.
  • Jenny you should sing in Spanish all the time. It does something extra for your voice and by extra I mean makes it sound decent.
  • But really, J-Lo sounds 10x better singing Spanish. I would have never guessed...and NO that was not her voice in Selena. Don't get me started.
  • She is gonna look approximately 27 forever.
  • She killed that!!!!
  • NO. I will not accept this country/rap mash up winning an award.
  • YESSSSS. Justyyyy! He is killin' it this year!
  • Look at X-tina, looking gorgeous! and sounding amazingggg
  • KENDRICCCCK. Gosh he's just too good!
  • Gaga and Kels, this should be interesting. 
  • Does R. Kelly have to sing all of this thoughts? This is not a rhetorical question....
  • Okay so I can't help but love Gags. She is a true talent. Say what you wish.
  • "WHO PUT DESE PITCHAS ON INSTAGRAM!?"
  • This guy from One Direction has the same hair cut as Miley Cyrus. Cute.
  • Good thing Luke Bryan has so much rhythm....
  • Waterfalls!!!!!! Taking me BACK.
  • Meh. Just kidding, this isn't doing it for me.
  • Miley, what is this kitty business?
  • Those vocals were pretty decent though, Miles.
  • um no NO. NOOOOOOO. I'm sorry tswift. NO. Absolutely not. CONSPIRACY. If I were there, I would pull a Kanye.

And just like that the show has been ruined for me. How on earth did Taylor Swift win over Justin Timberlake. His album was magnitudes better. "Red" was really cute, but Artist of the Year worthy? Nah bruh. 

Overall it was a good show. Honestly, one of the better music award shows I've seen in a bit. I was a little thrown by the last 10 minutes, beginning with Miley Cyrus' 90's bodybuilder apparel and kitty background singer, and ending with that robbery of Artist of the Year.

My favorite look of the night was Naya Rivera:



Her beauty is unfair, but cannot be ignored. This look is classic.

So yeah, that's my random play by play of last night's American Music Awards. Bring on the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Those are the award shows I live for.

Cheers <3


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spent.

Sigh...

I haven't been feeling very motivated this week, hence my 2-day hiatus. I'm sure you all missed me terribly ;). Aside from feeling less than inspired, I am swamped! Like, when did I get so busy doing so many things for other people, but still having trouble figuring out what to do for/about myself??? How did this even happen? Oh, I know, I've thrown myself into so many projects hoping that's where I would find all the missing components in my life: friends, fun, inspiration, creativity....

Sigh...

My entire life amounts to a bunch of disconnected plans in my iPhone calendar. My brain will not even put forth the effort to remember what's on my plate anymore. But what sense does it make that I am exhausted and over extended AND unhappy. I am at a loss. I feel like I have followed the formula, positive attitude + perseverance - self-doubt + volunteering and giving back = success! Right? Okay I lied. The positive attitude is not always a part of my equation and neither is the elimination of self doubt. But I tell you what, I am working a full time job, a part time (remote) job, volunteering for two separate theatre organizations, and trying to fit in time for my personal relationships and my personal health.

Sigh...

I am also dealing with some superficial issues. I have been reluctant to speak about it due to embarrassment, though I feel that my experience could be comforting and a subject for those who have experienced something similar to find solace in. I recently, as in October 11th, hopped on the ombre train...MISTAKE. It was beautiful for maaaaybe 3 days, and then my hair started to feel like straw and would break if it thought someone was going to think about touching. I ignored it for a few days, but then while I was washing it CLUMPS would fall out. I'm talking the floor of my shower looked like two girls got in a street fight. It was alarming to say the least. Now, I knew my hair was very reluctant to respond well to any chemical treatment. But shoooooot, girlfriend had hang time, couldn't tell me nothin'. I dealt with a similar nightmare back in 2008-2009 when my hair decided that it was going to fall out in protest of my choice to get a relaxer. So chopped it, and went back to my natural roots. Fast forward to September 2013 my hair was longer and healthier than it had been since I was about 10 years old. Then I thought "YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD MAKE IT BETTER?!". Yep. I thought hopping on this overly abused trend (no offense, I still think its pretty when it works out) was just the obvious choice. Couldn't have been more wrong. In a little over two months, I have gone from relatively healthy hair falling to about the middle of my back to unhealthy strands that fall a little below my shoulders. And while I'm constantly treating it and seeing my stylist. The chop is inevitable, and I cringe at how fast it all happened. I try to see the bigger picture, but not only am I embarrassed that my poor decision resulted this way, but also that something so superficial has me crying myself to sleep at night (sadly this isn't an exaggeration).

Sigh...

I'm just so tired in so many ways, and I feel like 2013 has been some  sort of endurance test. Is this the third installment of The Hunger Games?! Because if that's the case, where is my baller wardrobe team? I want Lenny Kravitz at my service, stat. Seriously though, I'm still alive, so I guess I'm passing said test, but I won't lie and say that I don't get discouraged from time to time all of the time. I know this is not uplifting reading material, but these are the impromptu twenty-something, melodramatic rants I promised. At the very least, I hope it's relatable. 

Sigh...

My birthday is next week, followed by my favorite holiday of ALL TIME and I don't  have a countdown in my phone for either! If you follow my Insta, you know a girl loves a good countdown. Who have I become?! Thanksgiving is one of the reasons I wake up in the morning, and I'm not excited. I'm. Just. Tired.

Sigh.

At least it's Thursday eve.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Football Feastivities

Happy Sunday! I spent my day pulling together what turned out to be a delicious and comforting Sunday meal. I have been so busy this month, but had that itch to really throw myself into creating a delicious meal from scratch with no help. No couples in the kitchen this time! I decided earlier this week that this Sunday was the PERFECT occasion. Ravens v. Bears. As a born and bred Baltimore girl, I am true to my Ravens. As I type this, I am, for the very first time this season, watching them from the comfort of my own home! Which works out quite perfectly since the weather took an apocalyptic turn this afternoon. Weather and football aside, food is the focus of this post. I had been jonesin' for some chili, so to Pinterest I went. Now I'm a pinning fool, so I knew there had to be something on my 'Yummies' board appropriate for this meal, and I was correct. In fact, I had options. So, I finally settled on "Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili". And, I mean, what goes better with chili than cornbread?! So, "Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread" is what I chose to accompany my hearty (and protein filled) dish!

Let's start with the chili,

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili

What you'll need:
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

  • One 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • One 14 can diced tomatoes with green chilies - I used two 10 oz cans; 1 mild and 1 spicy w/habenero peppers
  • One 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 oz can of chili beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained - this is also my addition, love me some chick peas and the color dynamic it added.
  • One 15 oz can of corn, drained
  • Two cups chicken broth
  • Two large boneless skinless chicken breasts (use three if they're small) 

  • Two teaspoons garlic powder
  • Two teaspoons onion powder
  • Two teaspoons cumin - I used curry powder because I didn't have cumin, and I was not buying it. Turned out great!
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes - I'm always a little heavy handed with my red pepper flakes. Love the spice. Lucky I didn't find a way to use sriracha.
  • Three teaspoons chili powder
  • One cup of quinoa, rinsed 

  • Toppings of your choice - I used non fat yogurt in place of sour cream w/ reduced fat Mexican blend cheese and chopped scallions. DELISH!

First, you'll want to make sure that you have all of your ingredients out and available. In the recent past, I was not a follower of this rule. MISTAKES! I was always a hot mess, running around the kitchen searching for seasonings and more. A few minutes of ingredient prep goes a looooong way.

FLAVAH!

Okay. This part is so easy, take all of your ingredients (except your toppings, silly) and throw them in a 6 qt slow cooker. 

Time to turn this baby on and get to cookin'

If you are planning on having it for dinner, and you begin the process in the AM, I suggest cooking on low for 6-8 hrs. If you're like me, and you want this meal to be done like yesterday, go ahead and set your cooker to high. Mine was finished cooking in about 4 hrs. At the end of the 4 hrs, make sure your chicken is cooked through by removing and cutting open (if you use frozen chicken your cook time may be longer). If chicken is cooked, shred with two forks and mix back in with your chili, give it about 5 more mins to simmer. 

Chicken shredded so easily! Cooking it with the chili fixings makes it so tender!

Turn off slow cooker, serve, add your toppings and NOMNOMNOM. You're done!


:) All Done! Just needs some cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread 

What you'll need:
Recipe adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

  • 1 1/4 cups stone ground yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour - I'm pretty sure my whole wheat flour was all-purpose, but it worked.
  • One tbsp baking powder
  • One tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped, reserve one tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Three jalapeno, chopped
  • Two small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • One cup corn kernels, I get mine in a can
  • One cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low fat milk - I used non-fat...I'm trying to be good before Thanksgiving. Then, you'll have to watch out.
  • One egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus two tablespoons for sprinkling over corn bread
  • 1/4 cup canola oil - I used coconut oil because I have a newly developed obsession.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" square pan and set aside. Again, make sure all your ingredients are within arms reach.

Just a few of my dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together your milk, yogurt, egg, oil. Then add your cheese, corn, jalapeño, garlic and combine.

Next you want to add the rest of your dry ingredients: flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder and fold in with a rubber spatula. I mixed my 2/3 of my scallions in at this point, but the recipe suggests you sprinkle on top after it is added to pan...to each his own.

Lastly, you will want to pour your mixture into the pan (add your scallions if you decided to wait), and pop in the oven for 35-40 mins.

About to go in the oven!
At the last 5 mins of cooking, take out and sprinkle with your reserved tbsps of cheese (and scallions - which I didn't do. I added my reserve to the top before baking.), bake for an additional 5 mins and BOOM. Magic in your mouth!

All done!

This meal was easy to prepare, and was very rewarding because it turned out great! Anthony and I both really enjoyed it. I will say, if you are used to a sweeter cornbread, this is not it. It took some getting used to, but after my second or third taste, I was hooked. It is especially delicious with the chili...that I'm still recovering from. SO FULL. Here are some pics of the finished project 
that I served for Anthony:





What is chili and football without ice cold beer?! The answer here is nothing, folks.







I hope you guys enjoyed this recipe! Let me know if you try it out or of any variations you come up with. I'm always down for a freestyle. 


Cheers <3

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bloglovin'

As a fresh face to the blog scene, I am so intrigued by the different platforms that have been created for bloggers, allowing us to communicate and get the word out about our blogs. When I first decided to create a blog it was for no commercial gain. No sort of recognition. I was feeling pretty blah, and needed a creative outlet. As I began to build from nothing, I became proud of the work I was creating and wanted to ensure that I was not the only one who got a chance to read it. So, I explored different avenues of getting my blog "out there". I am by no means a super blogger, nor do I think my content would stop anyone in their tracks at this point, but I have high hopes, and I can feel myself growing daily. 

The discoveries I have made in my exploration of blog promoting platforms are a result of some self discovery and some help meeeee discovery, meaning other helpful bloggers pointed me in the right direction. My introduction to Bloglovin' was by no accident. I was told by a fellow blogger, whose blog you should definitely check out {J is for Jord}, of this awesome site that would allow me to explore tons of blogs in one place. I had to check it out! I gave it a few days though. Had to get my blog lookin' sexaaay first. Couldn't just show up lookin' busted, you know what I mean?! In all seriousness though, I've found that Bloglovin'  gives me the opportunity to learn from veteran bloggers, while engaging in conversation with my fellow bloggers to create a name for myself in the blog community. I have also discovered some great blogs that I had heard of, but never got around to reading!

Bloglovin' is becoming one of my favorite places to pass the time on the Internet. In the same way that I immediately became obsessed with Tumblr, I am quickly making Bloglovin' a part of my daily "OMGI'vebeenonhereforanhourwherehasthetimegooooooneeee?!" routine. It really is such a convenient tool! And while I can tell it was certainly created for bloggers, you don't necessarily have to have a blog to enjoy it. I know that I was a blog reader for many moons prior to creating my own. I would consider myself to have been a lurker, because I never took the time to subscribe to my favorite blogs *hangs head in shame*. But I would visit them all at least once or twice a week, promise!. Now though, with Bloglovin', I have a dashboard! I can follow all of my favorite blogs (and bloggers) from one location, and Bloglovin' even sends me a nifty little email telling me about all the interesting posts on my dashboard that I haven't read yet. As you have probably already garnered, I'm becoming mildly obsessed...

My point...hop on over to Bloglovin' and do some exploring! While you're at it, go ahead and click my little Bloglovin' button over there on the right side of this page (little plus sign), and follow me :) and any other blogs you find interesting. I call Bloglovin' my big girl Tumblr (Tumblr, boo, I love you for life don't take offense to this), because it's time we all start mixing a little more reading with all those pictures and memes, dontcha think ;) ?

Happy Saturday! 

I'm planning a yummy meal for Football Sunday that I can't wait to share with you guys!

Cheers <3

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Couples in the Kitchen

I have always been a kitchen hog. Once I wrap my mind around preparing a meal I want absolutely 0% of anyone's help and I won't have it any other way. Usually, this is not an issue. I find that people like to be treated and served, and if I am offer to do everything, I don't usually hear much debate on the subject. That is until my loving boyfriend and I decided to co-habitate. I would find the one man in the world who actually WANTS to help me cook dinner (I understand that this is a glaring generalization, sorry guys!). It has been a difficult task to let go of the reigns in the kitchen and give him to freedom to create, help and sometimes take full control over a meal. I have to admit that when I put my anxieties aside, and we tag team in the kitchen, it can be a great couple's activity. A bonding experience. Tonight I really tried to stay quiet and let my man be the star of this meal. He prepared the main course (grilled salmon), and while I did chime in a few times, I think I'm getting better at sharing the chef's hat. I made the side dishes, my quinoa creation (quinoa, black beans, diced shallots and green peppers) and kale. 

Our meal was nutritious for the mind and body. The heart and soul. A true labor of love. I need to let it happen more often.

Here's some quick iPhone shots of our meal in progress (I should probably invest in a real life camera if I am going to continue my blogging journey, huh?)

In action!         
His lovely salmon fillets. 
Quinoa Delight! Not so pretty, but delish!

Short post tonight because Scandal's on! If you're reading this, thank you for keeping up with me and your continued support! Also, if you want the recipe to my random quinoa creation, let me know. It'll give me an excuse to write it down.

My words of wisdom for tonight are: If you want a cheap and easy date night idea, share the kitchen with your loved one! It can be so much fun! It would be even more fun to prepare a full course meal, but I'll save that for a Saturday :).

Cheers <3
It's Friday eve!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Limit To Your Love

I am one of those lucky people that you envy. You know, the people who get to wake up every morning and ride public transportation to work!! Don't hate. In all actuality, there are so, so many negative things I could say about this, but what I will say is that this experience has provided me with some lovely material for conversation (and blogging). You will never catch me without at least one story from my 'CTA Chronicles'.

Lately, as in only twice now (but I tend to exaggerate when something really bothers me), I have seen this couple on my morning commute. I cannot imagine them being anything less than madly in love, LET ME TELL YOU. And, I mean, I'm happy for them I guess. Love is a beautiful thing. As a person in a relationship, I know how important it is to show the person that you love that you do in fact love them. I am guilty of not being sure to do this more often than I am prepared to admit (sorry, boo boo :( ). But, like, isn't there a line or something? A limit, if you will? And if there is, where is it? Please enlighten me. Because I was kind of under the impression that it was probably right before you begin making out right in front of the girl [me] sipping on her [my] tall americano with SF vanilla and room for skim (this is my new favorite drink from Starbucks, and I wanted to squeeze it in somehow). 

Call me the Relationship Grinch, but I am over it! Passionate kisses at approximately 7:24 am are not my idea of a balanced breakfast. I take sugar with my coffee occasionally, but not THAT kind. I have a heart, I promise. I am not against publicly acknowledging my feelings for another person. I love holding hands as much as the next person, but you will not catch me giving obvious sex eyes and doing a seductive runway walk towards my lovah in the middle of Red Line Run 495. I just won't do it. I am a people watcher at heart, and I have seen some adorable showcases of love that did not make me uncomfortable. Kissing in public is not gross. I don't think that at all. I have seen moments that couples probably don't even know I was present for. I realize I'm sounding borderline stalker right now, but hopefully you know what I mean. You know, when you catch an exchange between two people that completely melts your heart, but they have no idea you even saw it and that's what makes it even better? Maybe that's what bothers me so much. P.D.A. when you know someone's looking. It's just not tender! If you sneak in a kiss because you were just overcome with how much you love the person standing in front of you, and I happen to look up at that very moment, and then *poof* moment gone, cool! That's just the cutest! BUT...if we are on the packed southbound Red Line towards 95th/Dan Ryan and people cannot even squeeze by you to make their connection to the Brown Line because you are too engrossed in the most passionate kiss I have seen since Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful, I am angry at you. WE ARE NOT FRIENDS.

There are ways to make it publicly known that you are in love. I have seen it. There are also ways to annoy me and make the fact that I am awake before 8:00 am a more devastating fact than it already is. Couple McNasty, that is what you did to me this morning.

So, I don't think I am against P.D.A., but there are levels to this stuff. 

What do you think? Am I a Grinch?


Monday, November 11, 2013

New Start November

Monday is almost behind us! Hallelu-yer.

I hope you all had a surprisingly prosperous Monday. I have to say, mine was not that bad. Poor Monday gets such a bad rap, but it certainly has the ability to surprise you.

My Monday turned around when I received an enlightening group iMessage from one of my very best gal pals:

Say what?!

Now when someone wants to escape from social media, my first thought is "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!" In my experience it means one of two things, you have royally screwed things up this time OR you are attempting to be productive and you could use one less distraction. As the conversation with my lady friends developed, I was delighted to find out that the reason for this message was the latter of the two:

Brilliant!!

In an effort to detox her life of the unnecessary drama that is holding her back from her full potential, she has decided to detox for a week, and the first thing to go is social media. Now, I love social media. I don't think I'd be sitting here writing this post if I wasn't a social media enthusiast, but the saying's true, you absolutely can have too much of a good thing.

So, after she told us about this amazing idea, I had to see said list. Luckily enough, my friends are the most generous, and she volunteered to send along for my viewing pleasure before I even had to ask. Her list had some wonderful ideas, and while I'm choosing not to exploit it, it got me thinking about my own list, and what I needed to do to detox. November is my birthday month, and what a better time to work on a better and brighter me. Sometimes we get so caught up in all of the things going wrong, that we lose sight of the power that we have to make most of those things go right. GO FIGURE! We have control over our lives. Yeah, it takes a little lot of effort, and I'll admit that I am not always up to the challenge, especially after the way life's been laying it on lately. But, this really inspired me. And once she suggested doing it together, I was sold. 

So this week, my friends, I challenge you to a detox. Whatever works for you 3-day, 5-day, or maybe even go all out and take it all the way to next Monday. Write up a list of the things in your life that you feel are clouding you and your judgment, and then make a list that you think will allow you to eliminate those little monsters. Whether it be social media, alcohol, food, people....this is a big one, folks. Sometimes you really need to detox your life of certain people, and that is the biggest challenge of all. But how much are you willing to risk to be the happiest version of yourself? 

I took a little time to draft my own monster eliminating list, and that I will share:

Newvember Challenge <-- See what I did there, NEWvember.

  • GO TO THE GYM, YA FOOL! (I dont recommend insulting yourself, but sometimes I just need to remind myself who's boss)
  • Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. The food is not going anywhere, I promise.
  • Pick up the Kindle that you removed from your purse over a month ago, put it back in the purse, and finish reading the book you started.
  • Dirty apartment, Clean it up! With Anthony! (Yeah I said that in my head like the annoying Orbitz woman. This is a judgement free zone.)
  • When something is funny, laugh. Don't be miserable out of spite.
  • Do something kind for others everyday.
  • Do something kind for yourself everyday.
  • The only person allowed to affect your mood is you! <-- stole this one from my gal pal's list. It was too good not to.

This list could go on and on, and I am sure that I will think of things to add to it as I go along, and most of these things I will try to incorporate into my everyday life. But I think taking a week to focus on the good we can do for ourselves is one of the best gifts that we can receive...and its FREE.

So, hop to it! Oh, and my friend, her name's Lauren, and she's pretty much a big deal. I would tell you to Facebook her, but she gave that up this week, remember! Who knows though, I have a lot of Spotlight Sundays to fill, and she is certainly admirable. She runs a super cute boutique in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore City. Babe. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for some fashion tips, and if you are in Baltimore check them out!

Seriously though, make the list and make it count.

Cheers <3

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Spotlight's On!

Happy Sunday! I always say it...Sunday would be my most favorite day of the week if it weren't better known as Monday eve. Ew. What a buzz kill! 

To make our Sundays a little brighter, I will try to occasionally put the spotlight on someone else and focus on something (or many things) I admire about that person. This Sunday I've decided to give some attention to who some may see as the lesser of the Knowles sisters, but I must contest! This Sunday, the spotlight is on Solange Knowles

Solange has grown into quite an artist, but what I love most about her is her personal style, and the risks she takes in setting herself apart from the amazing force that is Beyonce. So, her uniqueness is what I will focus on in this post.

First. Let's talk hair. Ladies, the risks we take with our hair are some of the biggest risks we will take in our lives. As a woman dealing with some hair issues of her own right now, I'll tell you that statement could not be more true. Solange takes some major risks, and weave or no weave, that girl pulls it off effortlessly. It took me years to even figure out how to wear my locks  in their naturally curly state without looking like a mix between Scary Spice and Whoopi Goldberg from "Sister Act" (great movie!) pre nun apparel. Solange, however, seems to have it all figured out, even if the haterz gon' hate:

My Source: effyeahsol-angel
Solange by Marc Baptiste
My Source: Urban Dingolay
But seriously, she pulls off the full afro, the long braids and the short, baby bush. And if you are a fan, I'm sure you remember the phase when she was rockin' mabye a centimeter of hair and still looked flawless. Aside from her hair, the girl dresses her butt off. I seriously want to raid her closet. Like, if I went to jail for an unspeakable crime and they asked me what I wanted for my last meal, I would be like "Ummm, hold the food, boo. Can I just wear Solange's clothes until the end?" Okay I may have taken that one too far, but the thirst is THAT real. Her red carpet looks are some of my favorite looks of hers:

Grammys 2013
My Source: NecoleBitchie
This green dress is by far one of the best pieces of have laid my eyes on. It is so simple and flattering. It's emerald green, which in my opinion isn't always a safe, easy color to wear, especially on the RED carpet. I mean have you ever heard of Christmas. But, Solange pulls this scheme off with ease. It shows her amazing figure and it's a clean balance of sexy and classy. I just want it! 

Met Gala 2012
My Source: Hello Magazine
Yellow. Another great color. And the silhouette of this dress is what (my) dreams are made of. I acknowledge we all have different body types, but the cinched waist with the peplum action is perfect for the girls with the smaller waist but thighs that will absolutely not quit. And let me tell you my thighs are no quitters, they are in it to win it, but that's another post entirely. Peplum is also cute on a more slender build, as well as my curvy gals. This dress is great! Another flattering choice. Just a tall glass of sunshine.

Cannes Film Festival 2013
I mean, this just speaks for itself. The back of this dress is everything.  Before seeing this masterpiece, I would never dream of wearing a dress this color, especially with my (and her) complexion, but I have to say it doesn't even wash her out. She looks like an angel, and I am mesmerized.

So yeah, It's pretty clear that Solange is on my list of style icons. She takes risks, but also doesn't shy away from classic looks. She has a great attitude, and is uniquely herself; something I am still working on perfecting. She's a great mother, sister and artist. She is all of these things, and she's hasn't even hit 30 years young! So, yes, we all know I am a Beyonce fanatic and will always be, but this Sunday it's all about my girl Solange. She deserves a just as much spotlight as Bey. She is a completely different artist, with a different vision and look, and let me tell you honey, it is working!

Who is/are your fashion icon(s)? Talk to me people :)




Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pho vs. Ramen: It's a noodz showdown!

Hi guys! Happy Saturday. We made it through the week!

Hopefully you missed me yesterday. I certainly felt a strange void going to bed without a post last night. I challenged myself to a post a day for the month of November, just to get a groove going. Last night, though, I was too busy stuffing my face with Vietnamese magic, better known as Pho. I gave you guys my Scandal night and I'm still recovering from that one. So, I had to be selfish last night. 

While I so delicately (and I use the term delicately very loosely) slurped my warm, brothy goodness, I was inspired. I hear people constantly comparing traditional Japanese Ramen to Vietnamese Pho, and since I promised not to be a downer anymore this week, I decided why not share my thoughts on the battling, brothy bowls instead of my emo twenty-something anxieties.

Alright, so first, let me give a brief description of each dish instead of just assuming that everyone is up on their Asian noodle knowledge.

** I am not ashamed to say that the definitions below are a little bit of me and a loooooota bit of our good girlfriend, Wikipedia. Thanks, Wiki girl! ;) **

Japanese Ramen: a noodle soup consisting of wheat noodles and served in a meat based broth (though sometimes a fish broth is used). Often times it is flavored with a soy sauce or miso and includes toppings like pork, dried seaweed, green onions and more. There are multiple variations based on region.


My Salt Ramen from last weekend from Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Hts., IL. YUM!
Vietnamese Pho: a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles (for my gluten intolerant friends), a broth, which I am going to assume is meat based. Served with toppings like basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños and more (I usually drown mine in Sriracha), and is usually served with varying types of beef, or chicken. Also a dish with many variations.


My Pho from last night from Pho Viet in Chicago, IL. Also, YUM!

I will admit, going into my Ramen experience already deciding that I was partial to Pho, was shocking because when I took my first sip and was immediately convinced that Ramen was my new favorite dish of all time, I was left bewildered and confused. In retrospect, I was ravenous having not eaten since about 7am and had recently completed a full workout. So, that was not a fair assessment. BUT, it was love at first sip with Ramen. When I first tried Pho, I was a tad skeptical. I am going to blame that on naiveté. I was a little too ambitious with my first order, getting any and all possible ingredients. SCARY STUFF, people. So as a little tip for you first time Pho-ers. Go easy if you have an aversion to interesting textures (tendon and tripe...not for Ness). I think its safe to start out with the flank steak, brisket, and meatballs, and then experiement a little more each time.

So back to the showdown at hand. After last night, I remembered why I love Pho so much, and it was actually a little difficult for me to choose which of these dishes I think is better. As far as taste goes, they are both outstanding! Rich in flavor, versatile in texture, and comforting like a nice bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup from your grandma's kitchen. So since those vague charactersitics were so similar I had to dig a little deeper. I am going to compare them using three categories which are most important to me: 

Presentation:

It is my non trained food critic opinion that Ramen is the prettier dish. It just is. Look at my picture. I mean, do you see the little white oval fish cake with the pink swirl that I am not even sure is a fish cake, but I am going to assume is a fish cake because that was in the description when I ordered and if it isn't a fish cake I ate something completely foreign?! I mean they even took the time to put all my beautifully thin cuts of pork on the same side of the bowl. So, I will definitely say that the Japanese are more concerned with the presentation of their noodle soup. While, Pho is still an attractive dish, partially because I know the amazing flavors that are to follow, and partially because of the greenery sprinkled throughout, it doesn't have a pink swirly, so it doesn't win this time. Sorry, Pho!

Nutrition:

Without getting too pretentious and technical, because I am no health professional, I am going to go ahead and say that Pho wins this race. Ramen is definitely saltier than Pho. You can expect your rings to fit a liiiittle tighter on those fingers after housing a bowl of Ramen. The sodium intake is real, y'all. Ramen also has, from my experience, a thicker broth...dare I say it's a tad..creamy? (just decided the word creamy is not my favorite and I'll try to never use it again) But, we all know thicker broth means more calories. One of the hardest decisions of my life is when I have to choose the vegetable lentil soup over the cream of broccoli or baked potato soup. With Ramen though, it is by no means as creamy (ugh I used it in the same paragraph. I FAIL!) as those soups mentioned. I don't think the Japanese are heavy cream crazed like we Americans and you won't find heavy cream in this dish. So, EAT THE RAMEN. But yeah, Pho is lighter with a little more green, and you can opt for Chicken, while Ramen is more so "go pork, or go home".

Taste:

Okay, see, this is where things get tricky for me and why I will never be able to live out my dream of being a judge on Iron Chef: America. If something tastes good, it's just good. Like, how can one amazing thing taste better than the other amazing thing. Let me tell you, both of these dishes are AMAZING. Ramen is rich, salty and comforting and Pho is rich, less salty and you guessed it...comforting. Man, I'm not very good at this....Pho is more filling for me, and I am going to give credit to the rice noodles for that one. Those babies expand in your stomach and you feel like you won't eat again until next week. The pork in the Ramen is delicious, but each bite leaves me feeling a little more guilty than the last because it's as fatty as can be. Like, you can see the fat. I feel a little less devious consuming my thin flank steak and sometimes chicken if I opt for the other white meat. I love the slightly thicker consistency of the Ramen broth, but it's definitely not something I could imagine myself eating more than once a week. Pho, though, hook me up to an IV and I am good Pho-evaaaa! The fun of chewing and slurping the noodles, mixed with the cool crunchiness of the bean sprouts, and the mysterious texture of the meatballs. It's a party in my mouth. Ramen, I love you....

But, I think Pho is my overall winner. I'm THAT girl who usually goes for the lighter option of any dish. So, while Pho being the less fattening of the two does make me feel great, It isn't my main reason for choosing it. I love how rich Pho is without being too heavy. I love that I feel comforted and like I could nurse a cold or dare I say...hangover (hangs head in shame). I would NEVER try Ramen on a hungover stomach. Too much going on, in my opinion. But yeah, before I get too caught up in rambling, and because I'm getting hungry writing this, I'm gonna wrap it up. Pho Pho-eva! Pho Pho-natic! I <3 Pho. PHO!

Try both! They are BOTH impeccable, adventurous dishes, and it is a disservice to you and your stomach to not experience them at least once. 

Leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite is!

Muah! Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The actor's life for me?

I guess it's time that I finally admit why I moved to Chicago and how it's not everything I imagined...

I packed my life in the Summer of 2012 to move to Chicago with my boyfriend to be an actor. I bid a farewell to everything I know, love and care for, and I left. I took all the progress I made to rebuild myself from a previous hardship and packed it, along with the young woman I thought had reached her potential as a strong, functional human being, into my Chevy Cobalt and drove 12.5 hours in the middle of the night in hopes to start a budding career in acting. Because when you're an actor that's what you do...right? You move away from home because no actor can ever live at home, be comfortable and happy AND be an actor...right? I had been telling everyone my plan was to work a year out of college in a "real life" job to save money and then I was leaving, I was moving,  and when i say everyone, I mean e-ver-ry-one...I probably told you. So, I HAD to do that...right?

................................

Yeah, wrong...I know. It was a very rushed decision. I was moving with my boyfriend. In theory, it was magical and exciting. But since we're being honest, I'll tell you that the entire drive to Chicago, I kind of knew that this move wasn't for me. I mean I'm the girl who spent her entire young adult life dreaming of living in NYC and drinking Cosmopolitans and wearing Jimmy Choo's (how I was going to do this on an actor's salary is beyond me), what on earth was I doing driving to the Midwest to LIVE. Yeeeesh, Ness. Get it together! But yeah, I did it. And here I am on my couch, in Chicago, sharing it with you fine folks. I'm sad and I miss home. I'm working 8hrs a day in a job that, while I am grateful to have, is not in the field of any of my interests. And I haven't set foot on a stage since June 22, 2013 at approximately 12:00 am.

About a month ago, I decided that I was giving up on acting. I remember the night. I went to see my boyfriend (who has been relatively successful here in Chicago, acting wise) in a play he was doing, and he was fantastic. And for some reason, I felt that since I was struggling so hard to succeed, why not just let this be his dream. Let him shine. I'll be, like, his manager or something. Now, if you know me, I am no background dancer, but I had given up. I was masking it in selfless love, but it was really self hate. I wanted to stop trying, and this was my out. I was actually excited about this. I AM A GOOD MANAGER. I am so organized! Yeah, I was reaching. But if you understood, how for months, I had forgotten anything I was good at. I was too busy trying to convince myself to wake up and go to work in the morning to remember that I was actually worth something. Ish this is all so depressing, and I am sorry. But if you're going to understand where I am coming from, and where I am going, and where I hope you'll go with me, you have to know where I've been. It's gonna get better though, I wont have it any other way. Keep reading, here it comes....

Fast forward to Monday. I received an email from a theatre company I auditioned for in August, inviting me to read for a great role in a wonderful show being produced here in Chicago. WUT. I AM NOT AN ACTOR ANYMORE, GUYS! Did they not get the memo!? But uh oh. What's that I feel...is that...excitement?? It is...I am excited. And that other thing, what do you call it, oh yeah, hope. I'm hopeful. These are two emotions I haven't felt in months! I am also so scared, though, because things just haven't been going my way, and acting is just a bunch of no and a little yes, and I am just not prepared to hear another no, yet I know, it is a very strong possibility.

Back to the question at hand. The actor's life for me? Can I do this? I really don't know. What I do know is that I have spent the greater part of this week reviewing sides, practicing a dialect and reading a new script. I have imagined myself in the role, and I have loved every minute of it. I also know that it is 9:42pm, and I have now missed the first 42 minutes of Scandal and that is NOT okay. Lastly, I know that there is a glass of wine with my name on it and that IS okay.

The actor's life for me? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

Thanks for listening, guys. I have some less self involved posts in the works for you in the coming days. So please stay tuned!

Cheers <3