Feast Friday: Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Alright, confession time: I would be a horrible food blogger.  I completely forgot to take pictures of any part of the cooking process for this dish.  Just completely slipped my mind.  Oh well.  These potatoes are a super simple side dish though, so I think we will be OK without visual aids.  This is hands down my favorite way to make potatoes, and also Mr. Man’s favorite way I make potatoes.  These are a great alternative to french fries because they are slightly healthier, since they aren’t fried, but they still give that nice crispy crunch.

Ingredients:
3-4 red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 cloves of garlic, minced OR 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of aluminum foil (this will help this clean up later).  Peel your potatoes, then cut into cubes.  The size of the cubes is up to you, keeping in mind that the smaller you make them, the crispier they will turn out.

In a medium sized bowl, toss the cubed potatoes with 1/4 cup of olive oil, until all the potatoes are evenly coated.  Toss the oiled potatoes with the salt, pepper, and minced garlic.  If you don’t have actual garlic, or just don’t want to mess with mincing it up, 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder is a perfect substitute.  Once the potatoes are evenly coated in the seasoning mixture and oil, pour the potatoes out onto your baking sheet and spread out into a single layer.

Place baking sheet in the oven, on the center rack, and bake for 45 minutes. I like to stir the potatoes around after about 20 minutes, just to make sure none of the potatoes are sticking to the pan and that they brown evenly.  If the potatoes don’t look as done as you want them after 45 minutes, you can leave them in for up to 60 minutes, but I wouldn’t recommend baking them any longer than that.

And that is all there is to super easy and delicious garlic roasted potatoes! These go great with simple grilled chicken, but also work well with burgers or any meal that you would serve potatoes with.  Apologies for the lack of pictures…I’ll try harder next time!

What I Like Right Now

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I cannot say enough good things about the weather here in Chicago over the past week. It has been cool and crisp, a nice transition from a mild summer into a (hopefully) mild winter and fall.  I have just wanted to be outside, and take long meandering walks with a cup of coffee or tea.  Even my dog has a little pep in his step when we go for his morning walks.  It’s been overcast today, but I managed to snap this picture late this afternoon as the sun began to set.  This is the courtyard of my condo building, and our apartment just happens to have the best view of it from our front deck.  Nothing is better than sitting outside in the refreshing air with a good book and just enjoying.  I hope that, even though it is not technically fall yet, this weather sticks around for a few months, before we have to go back to snowy winters.

Nightly News

In an effort to establish more of a nightly routine, I’ve started watching the local news.  For some reason, I always associate the late news with a sense of routine.  Perhaps it is because growing up, my parents watched the 11 pm news each night right before bed, and that habit of theirs rubbed off on me.  Before I moved to Chicago, I would watch the Atlanta news every night on CBS. There are so many ways to get news today though.  There is the Internet, of course, which can be a real landmine of fake stories and gossip that gets labeled as important.  There are shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that repackage world news and current events into a form that is more humorous and satirical.  And of course, there are still newspapers and the nightly news.

It has taken a while for me to get used to the news coming on at 10 pm instead of 11 pm here.  Chicago has a whopping five channels that broadcast late-night news: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, & WGN.  I’ve been watching all five to figure out which station I like the most, and I’ve noticed a trend over all five networks. They can all go an entire broadcast without reporting on one good thing.  For thirty minutes, the news is shootings, robberies, molestings, and kidnappings.  Now of course, these are things that should be covered.  People who live and work in Chicago have a right to know what is going on in all of the neighborhoods.  But does that automatically mean that the news has to be all about fear?

In one of David Sedaris’ essays called “Repeat After Me,” he notes how paranoid his older sister is about everything from applesauce to telephones, and blames it on the fact that she watches the “fear segments” of her local news.  I think fear segments is a great way to describe the local news here in Chicago, especially when newscasters focus on the south side.  Yes, the south side is where a majority of the violence happens.  It’s where there was a mass shooting around this time last year.  It’s where some kids aren’t safe walking to school because they have to cross gang lines.  But does that mean that nothing good happens  here? Of course not.  Just last month, Jackie Robinson West, the little league team from the far south side of Chicago won the US title in the Little League World Series.  It was the first time that the nightly news seemed to claim the south side as part of the city, which is perturbing for a number of reasons.  Local news paints the south side as a place to be wholly avoided and afraid of, which is not true, but it speaks to the fear-mongering culture that we have been letting pass for news.

That fear-mongering works.  I know plenty of people who won’t go past Roosevelt Road and who I constantly have to explain living on the south side to because they’ve seen on the news that it isn’t safe.  The problem with the way local news stations report on the violence is that it’s sweeping.  They paint everything south and west of the Loop that is within the city limits as dangerous, and then report on crimes and shootings that happen on the south side as though it is to be expected.  News casters are not shocked when they have to report on another drive-by here.  But here’s the catch.  Bad stuff happens on the north side too.  Earlier in the summer, there was a shooting in broad daylight in the Roger’s Park neighborhood, near a crowded intersection.  It was a case of mistaken identity, and ultimately a real tragedy.  The news coverage on that story focused on the shock and outrage of the neighborhood that something like that would happen.  This was not the first shooting to happen in Roger’s Park, not even close.  All shootings and violence are shocking, no matter where it happens.  Not everyone who lives in a particular neighborhood is dangerous or violent.  Plenty of average citizens live in East Garfield Park or Englewood or Great Grand Crossing or Austin-Gresham, four neighborhoods that seem to make the news for violence a lot.

So my question is this: when did local news become more about scaring people, than it did about reporting news?   Surely there is room in a 30 minute broadcast for a little less talk about how bad Chicago sports teams are, and a little more talk about positive things happening all over this city, because I refuse to believe that every day is as bad as the nightly news would have me believe it is.

Three Things

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1. Chicago has been having some glorious weather this week.  It’s been cool and crisp, perfect for aimlessly wandering around the neighborhood in the afternoons.

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2.  Fall is always synonymous with candles for me.  I don’t know why, but I love getting big candles from Bath & Body Works in the fall and burning them, and this week I had the chance to stock up.  My favorites so far this year? Warm Caramel Cider & Pumpkin Apple.

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3.  This is an old snap from the Michigan v. Northwestern football game last November, but I have been getting into watching football this season, but especially on this past Saturday.  It was a day with not much doing,  so it was perfect for watching football all afternoon.

September 2014 Birchbox Unboxing

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Yes, two posts in one day and both are unboxings! My September Birchbox arrived this morning, so of course, because I have no patience, I had to rip into it.  I was actually really good this month and didn’t peek at what was coming in my box, so all of these products were a complete surprise to me.  But before we get into that, you all know that I like to look back at how I fared with August’s products.

Harvey Prince Ageless Perfume: I loved this scent. It’s really light though and strikes me as more of a spring / summer scent.  Probably won’t repurchase, just because I like to change up my fragrance so much.

Number 4 Leave-in Conditioner: This worked really well and untangled my hair.  Not keen on the smell (it’s very chemical-y to me) and I already have a leave-in conditioner that I love.

Paula’s Choice Wrinkle Repair Serum: This is probably my favorite product in August’s box.  It’s hard to say if it’s “working,” and removing wrinkles, but it feels so good on my skin.  I’ve been using it every night after I wash my face, and the sample size is fantastic.

theBalm Cosmetics Stainiac: This is a big fail.  The gel formula of the stain makes it hard to use and it wears really patchy.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream: I really didn’t like this product.  It smells great, but I didn’t like the lack of lather, and it left my legs red and bumpy, which is not something I usually have to deal with.  Big dud for me.

So as you can see, August’s box brought in some mixed results, but I’m really glad I got to try these products.  On to September!

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Birchbox has really been spoiling me these last few months.  This is another six sample box, which is a nice treat, and I’m sure you can see that something is different about this month’s box.  Instead of the typical craft paper brown boxes, Birchbox jazzed things up for September.  This month is the company’s 4th anniversary and the theme of the month is “Fresh Paint,” which is all about sprucing things up for fall, and obviously a putting a fresh coat of paint on the boxes.  I believe there were three different color schemes for the lid of the box this month.  Mine is obviously the blue, pink, and purple one.   It is super cute, and I am already trying to figure out where I can use and display this box.  But enough about the box – let’s get to what’s in the box!

My first sample this month is Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee Fragrance.  This sample came in the cutest packaging.  Instead of just being in a cardboard sleeve, it came in a waxed paper envelope with a really cute postcard.  The fragrance itself is really nice, which is a shame because the full-size is really expensive.  It’s definitely vanilla, but it’s also a bit citrusy.  It’s light and refreshing, and I can tell it will be perfect for dressier occasions.  I also like that the sample came in a bottle without a spray nozzle, so you can dab just a little onto your pulse points.

My next sample is Macadamia Professional Healing Oil Spray.  This month Birchbox did the “pick your own sample,” thing again.  I didn’t choose anything this month because I wanted to be completely surprised, but this product was one of the samples you could have chosen.  This is a huge sample at 2 ounces.  This oil spray is supposed to tame frizz, boost shine, block UV rays, and nourish dry hair.  I’m really excited to try this, especially on the ends of my hair which are getting so dry as my hair gets longer and we move into fall.  This also smells delightful.

Up next is Real Chemistry Luminous 3-Minute Peel. This is what it sounds like, a facial peel.  This one is acid-free though, which I really like.  Used once a week, it is supposed to instantly smooth and brighten skin, so we will see if that is actually the case.

The next product in my box is a TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in Champagne Shimmer.  First off, how cute is this little sample? It reminds me of those puffy squeeze paints I used to get as a kid.  This is a seriously small sample, but it is a highlighter, so this should last for a while.  I don’t know much about the brand TEMPTU, except that they make a home airbrush makeup system.  At first glance, this reminded me of the Manna Kadar shimmer lotion I got in my August Ipsy, but the TEMPTU seems like a better product.  I put some on my hand and it actually left a nice sheen on my skin, and gave it a little color.  I don’t typically wear highlighter, so I’m going to have to play around with this and figure out how to wear it best.

My next product is Tocca Crema de Mano in Bianca.  This is a hand cream, and again a really generous sample size at 1 ounce.  Bianca is green tea and lemon scented.  It is so refreshing and light, but not overpoweringly lemon.  It’s a really lightweight cream, and it absorbed quickly and didn’t leave my skin greasy.  I’m always on the hunt for a good hand lotion, so I imagine that this will just get dropped in my bag to use while I’m out.

My final sample this month is a Chapstick Dual-Ended Hydration Lock in Night & Day.  This is a Birchbox Find.  Occasionally Birchbox sends out a mass market product to some subscribers that they think is really amazing.  I remember getting a Chapstick from them last year around this time as well.  This is full-size, and has two sides.  The yellow cap is the “day” side, which is an unscented conditioning lip balm with SPF 12.  The blue cap is the “night” side, which says it replenishes lips overnight with tamanu oil, and smells like chamomile.  This will be getting a lot of use, as I am addicted to chapsticks and stash them everywhere.

That is all that was in my September 2014 Birchbox.  It looks like another great month, and all of these samples are really good sizes.   If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Happy September!

September 2014 Ipsy Unbagging

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Yes, it is that time of the month again.  My mailman brought my September 2014 Ipsy bag yesterday, so I’ve had a chance to play around with some of the products that I got this month.  But first, you all know I like to recap how I fared with last month’s products, since these unboxings / unbaggings never really give an idea of how the product works.  If you want to immediately get to the new stuff, just keep scrolling.

I’ll be honest and say that August was pretty much a dud month for Ipsy, once it got down to actually using the products.

Your the Balm Lip Balm: I really like this.  I’ve been leaving it on my desk and I’ve used it so much.  Still not a huge fan of the potted aspect of it, but it’s really moisturizing and smells great.

Glamglow Youth Mud Mask: Nope. Nope nope nope.  This mask felt awful on.  It burned my skin and left it feeling like I’d slathered my skin in paint thinner.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara: I don’t have enough good things to say about this mascara.  It’s just wonderful.  I’m seriously considering purchasing the full size, even though it’s $22.

Lord & Berry Black Eyeliner: The pencil is too tiny to grip and the eyeliner itself is really hard and tugs on the skin.  This just went in the trash.

Manna Kadar Sheer Glo Shimmer Lotion: This is a fine lotion, but it doesn’t give much shimmer or highlight, so I’m pretty “meh” on it and will probably throw it out.

So as you can see, August wasn’t a banner month, but I really liked the couple of products that did end up working for me.  Now on to September.

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The theme of this month’s bag is “Street Style,” so I guess Ipsy was going for something edgier.  The bag is a square shape, silver pleather bag with a black zipper and four silver pyramid studs.  It’s really cute, I think, and it’s so soft.  Plus it doesn’t smell plasticky like a lot of Ipsy bags do.   As always, I’ll leave all the info about Ipsy and how you can sign up at the end of this post.

My first product this month is Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Hair Mask. I just recently starting hearing about this brand, and I’ve only heard really positive things.  This is a mask that you apply to hair after shampooing. It says it is supposed to increase hair elasticity and prevent breakage.  I have been in serious need of a product like this for the ends of my hair, which are getting really dry as my hair gets longer, so this is going straight into the shower.  This is a very generous sample at 1 fluid oz, and is worth about $5. (Full-size is $26)

The next product is Cailyn Art Touch Tinted Lip Gloss in Love Affair.  I was hesitant about getting another Cailyn product.  I got one in my April Ipsy that was supposedly full-size, but the product pot was barely full and the formula and color was awful.  This seems to actually be a legitimate full-size product.  This color looks really red in the tube, almost like a clay color, but on the lips it is a gorgeous berry color.  It is much more purple on the lips.  It’s got really good pigmentation, but it’s lightweight and semi-sheer.  This retails for $19.

My next product is Crown Brush Infinity Crease / Shadow Brush C476.  This is obviously a dual ended eyeshadow brush.  One end is skinny and tight, almost pointed like a pencil brush, and the other is flat and fluffy.  This seems like a good quality brush.  The bristles are really soft and there hasn’t been any fallout just from running it over my hands.  This will get a lot of use because my eyeshadow brush collection is pitiful (read: two brushes) and I don’t have anything like this.  It is a full-size and retails for $17.50, though right now it is on sale on the Crown website for $6.99.

Up next is the Pacifica Natural Waterproof Eye Pencil in Fringe.  As tired as I am of getting eyeliner from these bags (I’ve gotten 6 Ipsy bags, 4 have contained eyeliner), I will actually use this one because it is brown.  It’s also really soft and glides on smooth.  This is a definite keeper.  I can’t find exactly how big this sample is, but I would estimate that it is worth around $2, as the full-size retails for $11.

My final product this month is a NYX Hot Singles Eye Shadow in Chandelier Lustre. This is a single eye shadow in a neutral champagne color.  It’s very shimmery, and even though it’s neutral it does have pinkish undertones.  The formula on this eye shadow is nice.  It’s soft, but not crumbly, and the pigmentation is great.  This is a full-size product that retails for $4.50.

Overall, I am really impressed by September’s Ipsy bag.  There are a lot of full-size products, which is a nice surprise, and I can see myself actually using all of these products.  Some, like the mask and eye shadow brush, are even things I’ve been needing to get.  This bag is a definite winner for me, and comes out to about $48 worth of products, which is a great deal for a $10 bag.   If you are interested in signing up for Ipsy, you can click here  for more details.  It is $10/month, and you get 4-5 beauty products ranging in size from deluxe sample, to travel size, to full-size.  Ipsy does tend to lean more towards makeup products, but does throw in some skincare, haircare, and tools.   That is it for this month’s unbagging.  I am going to leave coupon codes from the brands I received this month down below, so if you see anything you want you can snatch it up for a discount.  If you also got an Ipsy bag, or have used any of these products, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

September 2014 “Street Style” Coupon Codes:

CROWNIPSY30 for 30% off at $25+ purchase on crownbrush.us (valid until 12/31/14)

FALLPROOF for 30% off Proof It! Waterproof Primer on nyxcosmetics.com (valid until 10/31/14)

FallBeauty for 20% off any purchase at pacificabeauty.com (valid until 10/31/14)

IPSYSEP14 for free shipping on any purchase from briogeohair.com (valid until 10/15/14)

IPSYGIFT for 20% off any purchase and two free samples of Pure Lust Lip Tint at cailyncosmetics.com (valid until 10/31/14)

Feast Friday: Gorgonzola & Bacon Pizza

I don’t know about you, but in my house we love take out pizza.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s tasty.  On nights when I don’t want to dirty up my kitchen, or I get home late from class, take out pizza is a lifesaver.  But let’s face it – take out pizza isn’t very budget friendly or waistline friendly.  Instead of ordering out, I’ve been taking a little help from the grocery store and making pizza at home.  It’s super easy, super quick, and I like having complete control over the toppings.  Lately, one of my favorites has been this gorgonzola and bacon pizza.   It’s the perfect combination of cheesy, savory pizza goodness to satisfy a pizza craving, without being too hard on the wallet or belt.

pizza1Ingredients:
1 – par-baked pizza crust
Pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles
5 slice of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Salt
Garlic Powder
Oregano
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
Aluminum Foil

I used a Trader Joe’s frozen, par-baked organic pizza crust.  These come two in a pack for about $3.  For sauce, I like Ragu’s Homemade Style pizza sauce.  The bacon is Boar’s Head, and the cheeses are both store brand.

pizza2Step #1:
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  This is also a good time to take your crust out of the freezer.  The Trader Joe’s crusts need to thaw for 15 minutes before you top and bake them.

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Step #2:
While the oven is heating and the crusts are thawing, place 5 strips of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook until crispy and drain on paper towels.

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Step #3:
This is also a good time to shred your cheese.  I shredded about 1 1/2 cups of pepper jack cheese, which I placed in a small bowl and set aside.  Random side note – I buy cheese from a local farm and they call their pepper jack ‘hot pepper cheese’ which I think is hilarious.

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Step #4:
In a small bowl, pour 1/4 cup of oil.  I prefer olive oil, but I was out, so I just used canola or vegetable oil.  A couple tablespoons of melted butter works well too.  Sprinkle the oil liberally with garlic powder and set aside.  You want the oil to get infused with the garlic powder.  We are going to coat our crust with this mixture in a bit.

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Step #5:
Make a foil tray to cook the pizza on.  This step is optional. The Trader Joe’s crusts are pretty thin before they are cooked.  The package says to cook them on a pizza stone, which I don’t have, or directly on the oven rack.  I tried cooking these crusts directly on the rack the first time I ever used them.  It was…a literal mess.  They were so thin, they fell through the racks, causing lots of burnt toppings on the oven and setting off the smoke alarm.  If you have a pizza stone, or a cookie sheet large enough, I recommend cooking the pizza on that.  If, like me, you don’t, you can improvise.  I made this “tray” by layering 4 long pieces of aluminum foil and folding up the edges.  I also cut slits in the bottom so air can circulate around the bottom of the crust.

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Step #6:
Once your crust is thawed, transfer it to your tray or cookie sheet.  Brush the crust liberally with the oil and garlic powder mixture.  Next, take a small amount of salt and sprinkle it on the outer edges of the crust.  Finally, sprinkle a little oregano on the inner portion of the crust.

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Step #7:
Spread 2 tablespoons of sauce on the inner portion of the crust.  I don’t use a lot of sauce – I don’t want it to be the star of the pizza – but you can use however much you like.

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Step #8:
Top the sauce with the shredded pepper jack cheese.  I like a really cheesy pizza, as you can see.

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Step #9:
Scatter the pizza with a couple handfuls of gorgonzola cheese.  I used about 1/4 cup of crumbles.

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Step #10:
Your bacon should be cooled and drained by now.  Crumble the bacon on top of the cheeses.

Now your pizza is ready to bake.  Carefully carry the foil try to your oven, which should be preheated by now.  Place it on the center rack and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is beginning to brown and the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Once the pizza is done, remove it from the oven, slice it up, and enjoy!

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Ten Books That Have Stuck With Me

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Challenges on social media are really becoming a thing.  Maybe they have always been a thing and I have just been oblivious.  Either way, my Facebook feed has been flooded with friends doing what I will call the Ten Book Challenge, where you list ten books that have stuck with you in some way.  While I am the first to admit that I usually find these virtual chain letter challenges annoying, I love this one, and decided to give it a go.  The point is to think of 10 books that have stuck with and influenced you in some way.  You don’t justify your inclusion of any books, you just list them and let that speak for itself.  Honestly, narrowing this down to just ten books was hard; there are just so many to choose from!  I probably “cheated” by including a series and lumping a couple of books together, but that’s just how it is.  Here are my ten books, in no particular order:

1.  The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

2.  Columbine by Dave Cullen

3.  A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

4.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

5.  The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

6.  Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

7.  Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

8.  There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz & High Rise Stories by Audrey Petty

9.  The Lifespan of a Fact by John D’Agata & Jim Fingal

10.  The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galleano

What ten books have stuck with you?

Routine

I’m a few years late to the party, but recently I have really gotten in to YouTube.  I mean, I’ve always known about YouTube, but I thought about it as a place to watch one-off videos of puppies, or to watch a music video, or something like that.  The fact that you could subscribe to channels and that people have literally made careers out of YouTube never occurred to me until seven or eight months ago.  I watch mostly beauty channels (think people doing makeup tutorials, unboxings, makeup hauls, nail polish) but I’ve noticed a trend.  Most of the YouTubers I follow have done videos they call “Wake Up With Me” videos.  This is basically where the YouTubers video tape their morning routines, from the time they wake up until the time they walk out of the door.

I spent an embarrassing three hours yesterday morning on my couch watching nothing but “Wake Up With Me” videos.  I just found them so fascinating.  For starters, most of the YouTubers prefaced their videos with the fact that it was one of their most requested, and I can see why.  In general, I think most human beings have a voyeuristic side.  We like to know what other people are doing, which is why social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine are so popular.   It’s even why blogging is so popular.  We want to know what other people are doing, I think, because we want to see how it stacks up against what we are doing.  This can be good and bad.  It can be good if it exposes you to an idea or way of doing something you were previously oblivious too.  It can show you that everyone faces similar challenges. But when it’s bad, it’s really bad, because comparisons to other people can often just breed insecurity, jealousy, and conjure up all kinds of negative feelings of self-worth.  How easy is it to forget that Facebook posts are (for the most part) thoughtfully composed to present one facet of a person’s life?

Now let’s be clear.  I hold no delusions in my mind that these YouTube videos I watch are not staged.  They clearly are.  Some of the videos even have bloopers at the end that poke at just how staged they are.  But even knowing this, I still found myself wanting to watch more.  Clearly this had gone past just wanting a window into someone else’s life.  And then it occurred to me why I found these videos so enthralling.  They all present established routines, and I don’t currently have one.

Routines are great.  I am a huge fan because I am a planner.  I like having my days planned out and scheduled out.  I like knowing what is going to come next.  During college, when I lived alone, I had a solid routine.  I woke up at the same time everyday, did the same things in the same order every day.  It can sound boring when put like that, but routines are comforting and, I think, easy to slip in to.  Even when I first moved to the Chicago area and was living alone in Evanston, I maintained a strict routine, which curbed a lot of my nerves about starting graduate school and living 700+ miles away from home for the first time.  Now though? Well, I moved in with my man over a year ago, closer to two years ago in fact, and I don’t have a set daily routine, which I think has led to a lot of feelings of unease and restlessness on my part.  My man doesn’t really have a daily routine, which suits him just fine.  He is more of a take-things-as-they-come person.  Not having a routine rubbed off on me though and now I find myself struggling to take it back.  I read somewhere, though I can’t remember where, that you have to do at least 21 times before it begins to become a habit.  It can take up to 3 months for it to become automatic, meaning that you do it without really thinking about it.  Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to be in an established routine, but how hard it is to establish one?

Three Things & What You Can Expect

Happy Sunday everyone! It is such a beautiful, early fall day here in Chicago.  It’s sunny, and temperatures are so pleasant.  Today I am coming to you with three things that I was really in to this week.

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I grabbed both of these books on my birthday and I finished them both this week.  They are so completely different from each other, and yet strikingly similar.  Both were fantastic reads that really made me stop and think.  I already wrote a review of Days of Destruction Days of Revolt, and I cannot wait to sit down and write up a review for Men Explain Things to Me.

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This is the archway that leads on to the University of Chicago’s main quad, just off of 57th Street here in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.  Confession: I’ve lived in Hyde Park for over a year, and I’ve never explored U of C’s campus, even though it’s a huge part of this community.  On Labor Day, I took a nice, dusky sunset walk over to campus, and wow.  I’ve heard that it is beautiful, but words and pictures cannot do the quad justice.  It is easily my favorite new place to walk to, and to sit and read.  If you are ever in Chicago, a trip to the south side for a jaunt through campus is a must.

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This is my desk, which I am sitting at as I type this out.  Today I finally got my desk organized.  Not that it wasn’t before, but since I moved – you know, over a year ago – I just haven’t felt like my desk was right.  I took everything off the shelves, off the walls, and out of containers.  I tested every single pen I own, found my collection of glitter glues and Gelly Roll pens (please tell me other people remember these), and threw away a lot of stuff.  It is so refreshing to declutter, and now my desk is feeling like somewhere I want to sit, instead of somewhere I have to sit.

 

And now, for what to expect.  If you read my 26 Things Before I Turn 27 post a few days ago, you’ll know that one of my goals is to really get this blog into shape.  I have been really haphazard and all over the place with my posting schedule and what I post.  I honestly don’t like the idea of lumping my blog into one category.  I guess you could say this is a lifestyle blog, but that feels strange to say.  My life is so many things, and this is where I can share what is going on in that life, be it three things that are making me happy, a great book I read, or thoughts that have been rumbling around in my mind.  That said, I still feel like this blog could benefit from some consistency, so I sat down and thought about the kinds of things I want to post, and came up with what I think is a reasonable schedule of blogging.

On Sundays, you can expect a “Three Things” post, where I share three things that happened to me this week that have stuck with me.   On Mondays, you can expect a variety of things.  Mondays are going to be what I will call my “free write” days to talk about issues and ideas that I am trying to work through.  For example, if you come around tomorrow, you’ll find a post about routines and my latest YouTube obsessions.  On Wednesdays, you can expect a short and sweet post of one thing that I am loving right now.  On Fridays, you can expect a recipe of something that I’ve cooked or experimented with during the week.

Blogging four out of seven days in a week seems totally reasonable to me.  I may add more posting days, if my schedule allows it or I think of something else I want to share on the weekly with you all.  And don’t worry – I’ll still be doing unboxings of Birchbox and Ipsy, plus book reviews, and monthly favorites.  Obviously, monthly favorites will come at the end of each month, and reviews and unboxings will happen as they come in.   I am really excited about having a firm plan to follow for the blog, for now (because I do love a good plan).  It may change eventually, but for now I am looking forward to where this is going.