the latest

little things i get excited about

I’m the type of person who always needs something to look forward to, whether it’s an exotic vacation or a brunch reservation. In part of my ongoing journey to happiness/self-love/daily joy etc etc, I’ve taken some time to reflect about the ordinary things in life that make me happy.

restaurants that give you a postcard with the bill

really good nail polish colors (currently obsessed with this one.)

clean sheets after a long day and a hot shower

making someone laugh

wearing new shoes for the first time

leftover foam at the bottom of your cappuccino

holding hands

picking out a perfect candle at Home Goods

popcorn at the movies (with a borderline disgusting amount of butter)

getting mail that isn’t spam or a bill

drinks that come with maraschino cherries

featured gif by Libby VanderPloeg
Advertisements
Standard
eat-a-city, places

eat-a-city: MONTREAL

You guys, I really love Canada. Particularly Montreal. I went there last month for a quick trip, and we also went to Quebec City – food tips to come for there! It was my third time in MTL, and even better than I remembered. It’s so clean, people are super friendly, and there’s a really exciting food scene. Here’s where you should eat and drink in this frenchy Canadian city…and, of course, all of these places have WiFi and are highly Instagrammable.

Tommy

I had bookmarked this cafe on Instagram and after a Google maps search once we were wandering through Montreal, I was happy to see that Tommy was nearby. I mean, look at those hanging plants! We went here twice – the first time, just for a cool drink, somewhere air-conditioned to sit, and free Internet access (oh, international travel woes…). We went back for breakfast the next day, where I got my usual avocado toast and sampled some pastries. I highly recommend the pistachio-chocolate croissant.

SUWU

My friends and I went to this bar the last time we were in Montreal for a bite to eat before exploring the nightlife. This trip, we made it to SUWU in time for happy hour, where the house specialty cocktails were 2-for-1. *Side note: happy hour is a major perk of weekday travel.* We all got different drinks, but they were all loaded with fresh mint, which was amazingly refreshing. We also ordered an assortment of stuff from their snack menu – the fried chicken was to die for (it came with three different sauces!), the burger was tasty, and the French fries came in a sharing size that was great for the four of us.

Bistro-Brasserie Les Soeurs Grises

As someone who has professionally written a lot about beer and breweries, I’m always eager to check out the local craft scene of every city I go to. We went to this one around lunchtime, and chose it because there were lots of positive reviews about the food. We shared salads and some appetizers, which were tasty, but the real highlight was (no surprise here) the beer.

La Finca Cafe

I needed an afternoon pick-me-up, and we stumbled across this cafe while walking back to our car. The exterior is pretty unassuming, but La Finca was beautifully airy, spacious, and welcoming. They have a quiet patio out back, too. I got a tasty iced matcha latte and some chocolate chip cookies to share that were TO DIE FOR. Flaky sea salt and two kinds of chocolate…my idea of heaven.

Terrasse William Gray

What do you do when you want to make the most of a short trip in a new city but also get a glass of wine? Find a rooftop bar. My sister suggested this one, at the top of a hotel in the Old Port. Since it was a weekday afternoon, we were one of the only groups there, and no one seemed to mind that we took our time sipping. We got a great view of the city (including the waterfront ferris wheel!), had some great cocktails, and shared an order of truffle fries that I’m still thinking about.

Standard
the latest

how to get out of a slump

I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I hit a slump. Sometimes it’s a productive one, where I can’t focus on anything and feel brain-dead. Sometimes it’s emotional, when my anxiety is at an all-time high and I’m psychoanalyzing things that don’t need to be psychoanalyzed. Here’s how I bring myself back to earth.

Scroll through Tumblr.

I freaking loved Tumblr in high school and my early years of college, but now I mostly use it when I need to relax and regroup. Something about scrolling past photos that appear in no order but still speak to me is very cathartic.

Exercise.

Can’t get a text back from the guy I like? Head to spin class. Feeling stressed or unfocused? Let’s pedal it out. Endorphins are real, you guys.

Shop.

Not online shop, but in-person. Like at Target or Whole Foods, preferably when they’re not crowded. Push a cart through the aisles and breathe in the organized-ness.

Have a snack.

Not an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s or a whole pizza (trust me, I know it’s hard), but something nourishing that your mom would approve of. Like an apple with peanut butter, or a grilled cheese sandwich. You know – one of the classics.

Standard
diy, the latest

idiot-proof recipes i vouch for

Sometimes, I have a hard time following recipes. If something calls for too many ingredients or takes 3+ hours to make, I’m really not interested. Every once in a while, I stumble across a recipe that is literally impossible to mess up…even if you get easily distracted or like to put your own spin on a dish. Here are some of my favorite idiot-proof ideas.

Winter Crunch Salad (from Bon Appetit)

This recipe makes a great side dish for dinner, then packs up beautifully for tomorrow’s desk lunch. It has all my favorite salad things – brussels sprouts, kale, apple, sunflower seeds, and parmesan – and takes literally 10 minutes to make. Last time, I roasted the sprouts for extra flavor, which took a little longer, and used balsamic vinegar instead of the mustard for the dressing. Still delicious.  salad.jpg


Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookie (from Alison Roman)

You’ve probably seen these cookies all over Instagram. The good news? They’re actually SUPER easy to make. There’s less than 10 ingredients, and they’re a more sophisticated (and slightly salty)  twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. You won’t be disappointed. cookie.jpg


Mini Asian Crab Cake Bites (from Martha Stewart)

I made these for a dinner party a few years ago, and it was the first time I’d ever worked with crab meat. These were surprisingly easy to make, and the easy addition of coconut milk, lime, ginger, and cilantro give these mini crab cakes fresh, Thai-inspired flavor. You can make and shape them ahead of time, too, then just quickly fry them up before serving. I made a corn salsa (fresh corn, red onion, tomatoes, and garlic quickly sauteed) to go on top!

crab cakes.jpg


Molten Lava Cakes (from Paula Deen

This dessert is a dream if you don’t want any leftovers! And everyone will think you’re an amazing pastry chef, when, in reality, it’s like 5 ingredients. The recipe uses a mix of milk and dark chocolates, and I always skip the orange liqueur because I never have any.

1485880987811.jpg

 

Standard
the latest

things that are still good about america

I read this piece on Man Repeller last summer, and was inspired to do my own version in honor of Independence Day 2018…especially since it’s getting increasingly harder to love America.

Beer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a frosty Heineken…but there’s something about cracking open a tallboy of PBR or Narragansett that feels so freakin’ American.

soda.gif


National parks.

I spent A LOT of my time growing up going on family vacations to America’s national parks. Places like the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park are great reminders of how unique the USA is, and they make me feel lucky to live here.

grand canyon.gif


Libraries.

I think this quote sums it up.

“It was my 2nd week in America and I was nervous when I was checking out 4 books at the local public library. I love libraries and where I come from you can normally checkout 3 books. I thought this being America I could try my luck and add another book. The nice checkout girl proceeded my order, out of curiosity I asked her how many books could I checkout in one go. Her answer: 75. This to me symbolized what America stood for.”


Planned Parenthood.

It’s pretty cool to me that even if you don’t have health insurance or any money you can go to PP for everything from a routine physical to a pregnancy test. I think it’s still pretty crazy that it’s 2018 and people are unable to afford basic medical care, so I’m glad that organizations like Planned Parenthood provide literally any health service a woman would need. P.S. Did you know that men are welcome, too?

happt.gif


State slogans.

Idk about you, but I think it’s pretty cute that every state in America has their own thing going on. I especially enjoy the state slogans on license plates. Like Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Wyoming, “Forever West.” Montana, “Big Sky Country.” Something that’s really great about the US of A is that different parts of the country are SO different, whether in terms of climate, terrain, language, or cuisine. Frozen custard? Give it to me in Wisconsin or not at all. King crab? Not Alaskan, not going in my belly.

Standard
pin-spiration

pin-spiration: kitchen

It’s no secret that I love food. I’ve also grown to love cooking and baking, especially when I get to share the finished product with my family and friends. I love the way food brings people together, and I think that the kitchen is the most important shared space in any home.

In my dream kitchen, there’s lots of light, a farmhouse sink, and plenty of space for people to gather. Here are some photos inspiring my future culinary space.

What’s a must-have for your dream kitchen? 

 

Standard
the latest

my mental happy place

I’ve written before about my sleep struggles and frequent anxiety. These are two of my least favorite things about myself, and when they join forces at midnight, I know I’m in for a night of laying flat on my back trying to slow a racing heart, or scrolling through the “Discover” section of Instagram wondering why everyone else has a better life than I do.

I was at a Girl Scout sleep-away camp once, years ago, and felt ill-at-ease among the overly assertive counselors and cliquey girls. One of said counselors, who had nicknamed herself “Willow,” did her best to help me sleep, asking me to close my eyes and picture lovely things like waterfalls and open meadows. It helped.

Later, in high school, I occasionally went to a stress reducing/teen-focused yoga class after school. After going through the motions, we’d end class by laying flat on our backs, palms upward, lavender pillows over our eyes (still my favorite smell). Our instructor, Alison, would narrate some lovely meditation that pretty instantly made me fall asleep.

This can’t be a coincidence. Though I prefer to ease my anxiety during the daytime hours with more realistic, rational solutions, bedtime is for dreaming. Over the last decade, I’ve really honed in on my happy place – the dream world I create in my head, a life I fantasize about. It’s not exotic or anything special, really, but it’s something I continue to come back to, and for whatever reason, it makes drifting off to sleep so much easier.

I live in a small house by myself, in the woods, but walking distance from town. I bake a lot of bread and go to the farmer’s market often. I don’t have a computer. I read and paint a lot. I mainly wear dresses and silk nightgowns. I have a garden filled with plants I’ve managed not to kill. Sometimes it’s raining and I plop myself in front of a fireplace or in the giant clawfoot bathtub. (As I’m writing this, I feel kind of pathetic because most of these things are totally doable. We’ll see.)

Every once in a while I’ll scroll through Tumblr or Pinterest and see a photo that instantly transports me to my constructed happy place. Here are a few of those.

Standard