Grad Weekend Recap

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Better late than never right? In May, we were lucky enough to take a break from our post-grad lives and return to Williamsburg for a few days. We were both graduating so it was a weekend full of pomp and circumstance, but we also found some time to revisit our favorite college spots. It was amazing how even after a few months away, Williamsburg still felt like home. Below are some of our favorite moments from Graduation weekend! IMG_8770IMG_8648IMG_8654IMG_8691IMG_8694IMG_8773

Irish Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes

Posted by Sara

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I first had an Irish coffee at the Jameson Distillery in Dublin when I was there on a family trip a few years ago. It was such an amazing vacation overall that the classic Irish coffee (brown sugar, coffee, Jameson, and some whipped cream) became one of my favorite drinks to have in cooler weather. As I was thinking about my St. Paddy’s Day plans, I was inspired to make an Irish coffee dessert as one way to celebrate (hopefully I’ll also be able to indulge in real thing). I adapted this cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart and used 1 1/3 cups of flour and 2/3 cups of unsweetened cocoa rather than the 2 full cups of flour Martha suggests (I wanted these to be chocolate cupcakes). I also left out a bit of the coffee in the liquid mixture and poured some Jameson in instead to try and replicate the flavor of Irish coffee. I used this frosting recipe and because these cupcakes are quite dense, I liked that a lighter frosting kept them from being too heavy. If you are a fan of Irish coffee, you will love these cupcakes!

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What We’re Reading

Posted by Sara

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  1. domino.com: I loved Domino when it was a montly magazine and was equally heart-broken when it stopped printing (my subscription was replaced with Architectural Digest, which I was not into as a high-schooler).  I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier, but it’s been revamped with an extensive website (the magazine is now printed quarterly rather than monthly) with both their usual articles and a Domino Shop. There’s something about the decor, entertaining, and DIY ideas from Domino that seem much more accessible to me than other shelter magazines.
  2. “The World’s Most Dedicated Natural Perfumer” (T Style Magazine): This article chronicles Alice Gregory’s process of creating a custom scent with Mandy Aftel, a natural perfumer based in California. As a sense, scent is so powerful because we associate specific smells with certain people, places, or times in our life. There’s a certain Bath & Body Works lotion that will instantly bring me back to middle school. I love the idea of creating a custom scent free from synthetic ingredients – not only would it be unique to you, but it would also become incredibly meaningful as you began to associate with specific moments and memories.
  3. “The Secret Behind an L.A.’s Salon’s Signature Waves” (Refinery 29): The so-called ‘cool girl hair’ is something I have struggled to pull off. My messy buns tend to be a little too messy and when I curl my hair, it looks polished rather than perfectly undone. I’m excited to try these tutorials and see if I have a few new hairstyles to add to my arsenal.
  4. The Taming of the Queen: Though rife with fictional liberties, this novel by Phillipa Gregory presented a thought-provoking view of what it meant to be a woman in the court of Henry VIII and the emotional weight of being the last wife of the infamous king. I’ve read about Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I, but this novel piqued my interest about the other wives of King Henry VIII.

Blood Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake

Posted by Sara

Blood Orange Buttermilk Pound Cake // Candid Statement

Spring is fast approaching and while I’m very excited for warm weather and for the flowers to bloom, I’m trying to savor these last few weeks of winter- I know that as soon as the temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees, I’ll be missing my boots and sweaters. I took advantage of the last blood oranges of the season to make this pound cake and it turned out beautifully. In my opinion, buttermilk adds wonderful flavor to baked goods and it was moist without being overly dense in the way some pound cakes can be. My glaze was pretty thin (I was running low on blood-oranges so I added less sugar), but I didn’t mind how it soaked into the cake and the lower sugar made it less overwhelmingly sweet. I think grapefruit would be a good substitute for the 9 or so months that blood oranges aren’t available. Overall, I was so impressed with how well this pound cake turned out. An added bonus- my house smelled amazing for hours after I made this!

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Walk on the Wild Side

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Jacket: Michael Kors, Dress: Asos, Boots: Cole Haan

It was love at first sight when I saw these booties last weekend and I was lucky to get them on a killer sale – seriously, now is the time for boot shopping with all the end of season sales. The low heel and black suede accent keeps the leopard print from being too overwhelming, though in my book you’d be hard pressed to find such a thing (I’ve always had a thing for leopard print). I’ve never been one to shy away from all-black ensemble, especially in cooler weather, and I think a statement shoe keeps a monochromatic outfit from feeling flat.  I’ve also worn these booties with a white sweater and dark-wash jeans and even the simple upgrade from black boots made it feel like I’d put together an outfit rather than just thrown on the same old basics. Needless to say, I’ll be sad when I have to put these boots away for the season in a few weeks.

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Current Favorites

Current Favorites // Candid Statement1. I’ve only recently started wearing lipstick and really wanted to try the dark lip trend, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money in case I hated it. I love these matte lip creams from Ulta. Not only is the price very budget-friendly ($9), but they’re also super pigmented and stay for several hours. I wore the dark red out a few weeks ago and it lasted through a night of drinks and dancing!

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2. My sister bought me this small tray as a Valentine’s Day present and it’s such a nice way to corral the jewelry I wear everyday. Previously, I’d just been piling it all on top of my dresser when I took it off at the end of the day. This tray not only prevents me from misplacing earrings, but also keeps the top of my dresser looking much tidier.

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3. Where I’m currently interning is just down the block from a local, artisan chocolate shop. It’s such a nice afternoon pick-me-up to walk down on nice days – not only does the short walk and fresh air get me through that afternoon slump, but these amazing chocolates are a perfect after-lunch treat that I don’t feel too guilty about.

Current Favorites // Candid Statement

4. I bought these teeny succulents on impulse when I was at Home Depot last weekend. I placed them on the window sill by my kitchen sink and seeing them everyday makes doing the dishes a little less awful. The one on the left came pre-potted and I haven’t yet decided how I want to pot the other two. IMG_8233

5. I bought this notebook about a month ago, needing away to organize and consolidate the lists I’m constantly making on scraps of paper and sticky notes (to-do, grocery, etc.). I’d tried keeping these notes on my phone, but could never commit to it. I keep this notebook in my purse and am constantly pulling it out to jot down random thoughts, things I suddenly remember I need, etc. I feel like a madwoman sometimes with how often I scribble and if I leave it at home, I feel as bereft as I would if I had forgotten my phone.

Mindfulness & Journaling

Posted by Sara

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In January, when it came time to make my New Year’s Resolution, I was a little uninspired. The resolutions I had relied on for the past four years (get good grades & be more organized) no longer were as applicable since I’d graduated. I thought about resolving to get a job, but that seemed boring. I knew I wanted something that would encourage me to set up my post-college, adult life in a positive way and ultimately, I decided to resolve to embrace mindfulness in 2016.

College, like it is for many people, was full of ups and downs and I constantly felt like I was letting myself be controlled by outside forces.  Adopting mindfulness seemed like a way to break these not so-healthy patterns and infuse a little balance into my life. I planned to be more aware with my emotions (and what was causing them), establish a more regular sleep pattern, and overall live a healthier lifestyle. In the past two months, I’ve been less than successful in maintaining my resolution. A frustrating job search  has often left me upset and questioning my abilities. With much more free time on a daily basis than I’ve had in awhile, it’s been far too easy to indulge in frequent Netflix binges rather than taking the time to do the productive and active things that I enjoy and that often make me feel far better than being a couch potato does.

Realizing how hard it was to break old patterns, two weeks ago I started journaling daily in hopes that it would help me embrace mindfulness. I’d heard from friends and family how it helped them be more productive and it’s amazing how much better I feel even after this short time. Rather than obsessively over-thinking the things that are bothering me and allowing myself to give in to my anxieties, I’ve been working those emotions out at the end of every day. It’s not always easy to sit down and write – mediocre days don’t exactly lend themselves to pouring one’s soul out on paper and because I’ve been journaling on my computer (wouldn’t want to get a pesky hand-cramp on the cusp of a breakthrough), it’s far too easy to let myself get distracted.

Overall, I feel that my mind is quieter throughout the day knowing that I will have my journaling session in the evening and I’ve found the entire process to be very cleansing ( I cringed a little bit as I wrote that; it sounds hokey, but the benefits of journaling can’t be denied).  I’ve also found that writing every day has made it easier to begin and get in the rhythm across the board, which has been beneficial for job applications and writing blog posts. It feels good to know that I’m taking proactive steps towards mindfulness and a healthier lifestyle, even if I still have a little ways to go.

Insta Inspiration

Posted by Sara

Insta Inspiration // Candid Statement

Instagram is probably one of my favorite social media platforms. Between the perfectly styled fashion shots, the beautiful food photography, and the enviable vacation photos, looking through Instagram provides a little breath of fresh air on a daily basis (even if it sometimes leads to some serious FOMO). Recently, I’ve noticed that Instagram users are starting to post inspirational quotes from celebrities and scholars alike. The above message (which Caroline posted when she was knee-deep in studying for exams) has become my motto anytime I’m having a less than stellar day. Here are four more inspirational ‘grams that made me pause and reflect (and double tap lightning speed) when I saw them on my feed.

Insta Inspiration // Candid Statement

This message from Magnolia Rouge is an excellent reminder that when in the midst of a struggle (whether it be from the semester from hell or hitting a wall in the middle of a workout) things often seem worse than they are. Once you push through,  many struggles fade in the background and ultimately, we all becomes stronger people from our troubles.

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Reese Witherspoon posted this the other day and it resonated with me. When I am in the midst of any strong emotion, it colors everything I do and often becomes all-encompassing (especially when I’m upset or frustrated). This message is something I need to remember every time I’m feeling overwhelmed and letting that emotion dictate my decisions.

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The goop Instagram is inspirational in many ways- the bright shots have us all dreaming of early morning yoga classes followed by a fresh-pressed juice even if we tend to hit the snooze button more often than not. I’ve been feeling uninspired across the board lately and as spring swiftly approaches, this Instagram was the kick in the butt I needed to push myself a little bit more.

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Girls on the Run is actually the philanthropy that Gamma Phi Beta, the social sorority Caroline and I are alumnae of,  partnered with. We loved the program that teach young women social resiliency, good self-esteem skills and healthy living. As women, it’s so easy to compliment each other on surface level things (“Your hair looks great today!”). Compliments like these always make me smile and brighten my day, but I also love the idea of looking for other, perhaps deeper ways we can compliment our friends, family, and colleagues.

I’d love to know- where do you find inspiration in the day to day?

4 Manicures for Early Spring

Posted by Sara

4 Manicures for Early Spring // Candid Statement

All images found on Pinterest.

  1. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a red nail. This tomato red is a great update from the darker, moody reds we all favor in winter but isn’t so bright that it will seem out of place if a late winter storms hits.
  2. I love the star design on this manicure. The nude background and silver decals keeps it from feeling too juvenile, but I think it makes the classic nude manicure a little more eye-catching. Stars aren’t your thing? I think you could easily swap out another decal shape- just keep it monochromatic so that it doesn’t seem like nail art overload. Alternatively, this would also be a great idea for an accent nail.
  3. Light pink is great any time of year, especially if you prefer a more conservative look for your nails. This color is especially on-trend as ‘Rose Quartz’ was chosen as one of the Pantone Color of the Year for 2016. This manicure, with its cheery reference to spring pastels, can help get you through those last few weeks of winter.
  4. This shade is my current favorite nail polish. I wear variations on purple-grey tones on my nails throughout the year (I legitimately have about 5 different shades to choose from) but love the subtle shimmer on this color. In person, this color is a little more toned down.

 

Lemon Rasberry Scones

Posted by Sara

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I’ve talked before about how citrus is a great way to add a little brightness in winter and these lemon raspberry scones I made last week are no exception. Scones are great because they seem a lot fancier than they are. The recipes are usually fairly basic and the scone dough comes together quickly, but there’s something about homemade scones that seems a step above. I enjoyed them as an afternoon treat with a cup of tea, but I also think they would make a delicious quick breakfast.

To this recipe, I added about 1/2 cup of raspberry jammy bits that a good friend (and my main baking buddy- she was my co-chef on this pie) brought back from her recent visit to  King Arthur Flour in Vermont. The tart raspberry flavor was the perfect complement to the lemon, but because ‘jammy bits’ are a little obscure, you could easily use dried raspberries or blueberries in their place. I also think these would be fabulous with orange zest and dried cranberries.

My dough was a little dry when it was coming together so I added an extra tablespoon of heavy cream. I also chilled these scones in the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking them so that they would hold their shape better (the frozen grated butter softened pretty quickly from the mixing). The glaze is optional, but makes the lemon flavor a little stronger, and I ended up sprinkling a little extra lemon zest on top. I enjoyed them with a little lemon curd and raspberry jam, but they’re  fabulous on their own.

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