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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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what i think about during spin class

Are these leggings see-through?

Is it rude to ask the instructor to turn the fans on?

I should’ve brought a bigger water bottle.

Would it KILL her to play some reggaeton?

If she plays Taylor Swift again, I’m leaving.

I thought this was a 45 minute class, not an hour?!?!

Why do 2-pound weights literally feel like the heaviest things on earth?

Next time, I’m doubling up on sports bras.

Is it weird if I get off my bike and go to the bathroom?

I wonder if I’ll be too sweaty to get a bagel after this.

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five summer footwear staples

It shouldn’t be a secret that I love shoes. Especially of the open-toe variety. So, I pretty much live for warm-weather footwear. I really think women’s shoes have been having a renaissance, and these are some styles I’m lusting after this season.

White Leather

Something about smooth white sandals is just so appealing this time of year. These would look just as great with a t-shirt dress as a pair of cut-off denim shorts.

hot, hot, heat. SCAMP in white patent. ☁️

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Feminine Flair

Brother Vellies makes a similar shoe (the Burkina sandals) and I love the understated femininity of gathered fabric in a pastel color.

Block Heel

Ah, a style I will NEVER tire of. I own so many sandals and shoes with a block heel, and I adore them all. It’s the chicest and most comfortable way to add an inch or two to your height.

Pink Jardin Heels

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Woven Elements

If you’re over espadrilles, take a gander at summer shoes that incorporate raffia/straw or something else that looks like a picnic basket for your feet.

Something See-Through

Channel your inner Kardashian and find a sandal with some kind of plastic-y element. Tip: these Who What Wear shoes are literally $30 at Target. They have a higher-heeled version, too.

Basket bag ✔ Sunglasses ✔ @whowhatwearcollection Piper Sandals ✔

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anxious allison

When I get anxious, I write. I always have, and I probably always will. I don’t know whether it’s the act of writing itself or the public sharing that makes me feel better. But there’s something about leaving it all on a page somewhere whether in a journal or on here, my corner of the world wide web.

I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember. Not butterflies before a recital or first date jitters, but nail-biting, vomit-inducing, near-crippling anxiety. Go to bed at 8pm and sleep for 14 hours anxiety. Watch a movie that I know will make me cry so I can feel like I’m releasing something anxiety. Laying in bed unable to sleep, heart beating three times as fast as it should anxiety.

Anxiety over everything and anything. It goes up and down, of course. Stable relationships help. So does regular income. Reassurance from loved ones. Regular exercise. A routine. Basically, anything that makes me feel like I have some control over my life.

But often after I get a mixed signal, whether from someone in my personal or professional life, I start to spiral. I think about how little I really do have control over. I start to question every little thing I’ve ever done and fixate on all of my mistakes. I ask why I’ve done so little (traveling, socializing, corporate ladder climbing) compared to my peers.

I take a deep breath. Or four.

Close my eyes. Imagine all of the possibilities of what my life could be like this time next year. In five years. In ten years.

I fight through the bad. Unemployment. Aloneness. Loss.

I imagine the good things. Another stamp in my passport. Another degree. A healthy body. A home. A walk-in closet. A baby. Two babies. Happiness.

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instagrammable food orders

I post a lot of food photos on Instagram. You may or may not know that I LOVE to eat, and I really enjoy checking out new restaurants and hunting down trendy foods. When I go out to eat with other people, I like to coordinate orders with them so we get a good spread – both for budget/taste practicalities AND Instagram reasons.

Here are some of the prettiest and most photogenic foods to order at any eatery.

Avocado toast

I know, I know. So basic. So overdone. But SO DELICIOUS. And so pretty. You literally can’t go wrong.

big breakfast gal 🥑 @bluestonelanecoffee

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A gooey cookie.

Something with melty chocolate, ideally.


Pizza.

The love I have for pizza is truly endless, but I love the stuff even more when the pie is particularly instagrammable. Ask one of your friends to hand model for extra depth.

ILYSM ❤️❤️❤️ @lilfrankies

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A smoothie bowl.

Another trendy brunch item that I just can’t seem to quit. Big fan of this one, with candied orange slices and perfectly arranged toppings.

wish my personality was this vibrant

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Ice cream.

It’s a lucky coincidence that my favorite ice cream flavor is M&M, which almost always has a colorful, tie-dyed look. Perfect for the ‘gram, and my belly.

not not breakfast 🍦

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