Friday, February 12, 2016

Here & There 2.12

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Happy Friday, guys. What do you have planned this weekend? Last weekend was a total bust for me, so I'm looking forward to a re-do over the next couple of days. Winter temperatures have finally befallen Philadelphia -- it's supposed to be 19 tomorrow! -- so on Saturday I'm planning on spending some time updating my Poshmark closet, doing our taxes, and reading. Chris was called in to work on Sunday, so our Tattoo Convention plans were dashed, but we're hoping for an afternoon Star Wars date (still haven't seen it and it's imperative that we see it on a big screen) and then planning to make a nice dinner at home. Avoiding all restaurants on Valentine's Day -- except I wouldn't mind a diner breakfast... February is such a crazy month, I can't believe we're already halfway through. It's been so cold lately I feel as though I've been spending more time hibernating than I did in January, when I really intended for this moth to be more active. I've been dying to get out and start running again.

This vintage hooded sweater would be perfect for these freezing cold days

How pretty are these branch hoop earrings?

The best wine bar in every state. I've actually been to the one in Pittsburgh... and here I didn't think I was fancy

Those harem pants up there are pretty much the best ever

Moorea Seal is having a pretty epic sale - love this dainty ring and this gorgeous handmade bag

More sale goodness: Save an extra 25% off sale items at Free People, including this perfect spring sweater and these perfect boots

You can buy books read by famous people... like, the actual books

This dress would be perfect for a casual beach wedding

How gorgeous is this epic woven wall hanging?

Can't get enough of these perfect jeans

Romance after 10 years

Have you tried this brand? I'm curious...

What is "cool girl" beauty?

Some really exciting workout pants (love these sneakers too)

My new favorite Etsy shop

Well... this dress is gorgeous

I loved these candles as a teenager... I think I need to get them again!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

3 Easy Vegan Cheesecake Recipes (That Don't Taste Vegan, Promise)

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Personally, I have a lot of love for February 14th. While, yes, one would hope we're expressing our love for friends, family, and maybe a special someone all year round, there's something to be said for a day crafted expressly for saying those three little words. Think of it as a bright pink heart-shaped reminder in the middle of an often cold, bleak season to slow down and do something sweet for the ones you care about most.

I come from a long line of people -- men and women alike -- who show their love through cooking. A special meal, a favorite dessert -- the time taken to nourish the ones you love with whole, real ingredients - a simple, quiet and meaningful way to wear your heart on your sleeve. An action that speaks so much louder than any material gift, especially when material gifts are sparse. While I'm quick to write myself off as the most basic of cooks, without totally realizing it, I picked up on this tradition through my love of baking. I love dreaming up which treats I'll give out for holidays and special occasions, and begin planning out my husband's birthday cake (or pie, or tart) months before I've even celebrated my own. If you're looking for a unique way to celebrate love this Sunday, why not take a page from my family tradition and find your way straight to your Valentine's heart with something sweet, beautiful and secretly healthy.

Something like cheesecake.

Have you ever met a dessert quite so indulgent as cheesecake? Dense, deeply flavored, easily customized, it's long been a favorite of mine for special occasions, especially Valentine's Day. I have fond memories of the variety my mother makes, studded with candied ginger and lemon rind, towering at three inches tall. However, traditional cheesecake -- while undeniably delicious (I could go on and on about it, clearly) -- isn't what you'd call "nourishing" in any sense of the word. But after getting my hands on some raw chocolate goodness from Rawmio, I felt inspired to whip up a raw vegan version of my favorite treat -- actually, I love you so much I made three versions. Chock full of antioxidants, thanks to the raw chocolate and berries, and filled with essential vitamins and minerals, thanks to the activated nuts, dates and seeds, the vegan cheesecake recipe below is sure to convey your fondness for the lucky ones you present it to.

Use the base as a jumping off point, then decide which version you'd like to make. Or, split up the batter into three bowls and make all three at once. Because there's no oven involved, it's easy to take this in whichever direction you'd like! Note: this makes one large cheesecake or three to four small ones.
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For the crust:

1 1/2 cups raw dates, pits removed

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup walnuts (or any other nut)

3 tbsp coconut oil, melted

For the double chocolate crust: Mix 2 tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder into the crust before pressing into pan.
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For the vanilla base:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 4 hours (this softens the cashews, so they can be pureed and activates the nuts, drawing out their nutrition)

2 packages silken tofu

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon zest
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9-inch springform pan OR 3-4 small 4-inch springform pans

Large food processor or high speed blender

Parchment paper

Raspberry Raw Chocolate Cheesecake:
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Line the bottom of the pan or pans with parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan onto the paper and cutting out the shape.

Place all crust ingredients in the food processor and pulse until crumbed. Press into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Rinse out the processor. Place all filling ingredients + 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries in the processor and blend until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust and place in the freezer until completely set, about 4 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with chopped raw chocolate (I used Rawmio's Simply Hemp Raw Chocolate Bark) and fresh raspberries.
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Chocolate Mint Cheesecake:
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Line the bottom of the pan or pans with parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan onto the paper and cutting out the shape.

Place all crust ingredients + 2 tbsp chopped raw chocolate or raw cacao in the food processor and pulse until crumbed. Press into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Rinse out the processor. Place all filling ingredients + 3 tbsp raw cacao and 1 tsp peppermint extract in the processor and blend until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust (to make the swirl, reserve 1/4 cup of plain filling and swirl with a toothpick into the top of the chocolate mixture) and place in the freezer until completely set, about 4 hours or overnight.
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Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with chopped raw chocolate or Rawmio's Mint Chocolate Hearts and fresh mint.
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Ginger Blueberry Cheesecake:
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Line the bottom of the pan or pans with parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan onto the paper and cutting out the shape.

Place all crust ingredients + 1 tsp grated ginger in the food processor and pulse until crumbed. Press into the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Rinse out the processor. Place all filling ingredients + 1 tbsp chopped fresh or candied ginger in the processor and blend until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust and place in the freezer until completely set, about 4 hours or overnight.

Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh blueberries.
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This post originally ran here as part of my full-time work with Free People

+ All of the Rawmio treats mentioned in this post are on sale for 25% off on through 2/14!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Here & There 2.8

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Sunday night already, where did this weekend go?  Just kidding, it's Monday now. This was sort of a 'non weekend' for me, to be honest. I started off with high hopes of doing my taxes and getting some other stuff done, but I ended up having to work for most of it. Ugh. I did manage to get out for a coffee date with a friend on Saturday, and met up for more coffee with more friends this afternoon. After January's quiet weekends, I can already tell February is going to be just the opposite. This month is always about action for me, I started my 3rd Whole 30 last Tuesday and am feeling really wonderful about being more mindful with my food, even in busy times like this weekend, it forces me to slow down and prepare a meal for myself, rather than just grabbing fistfuls of granola and dried fruit (I think I need to reread my post about balance already...) I also finally picked up a library card last weekend and have blown through two novels in the past week (this one and this one), and am excited to start this one tonight. The weather has been so mild here, and even though I know in the back of my mind it's still winter, I'm feeling so expectant and excited towards spring. I received Home Made Winter in the mail from my mom and picked up My New Roots this weekend and have been making long lists of new recipes to try and new ingredients to pick up. My cookbook collection has been growing more and more lately, and I'm not mad about it.

These butterfly earrings would be so pretty for spring

A most gorgeous vintage dress for Valentine's Day

Etsy loves: this cotton candy pin, this Fleetwood Mac belt buckle (!!!), this beautiful silk ribbon, this Morrissey print, this moon necklace

A world without Black History Month

The dress to wear to all those spring weddings (this one too)

The best Super Bowl commercials (in case you didn't watch... I definitely didn't)

A pretty Valentine's gift for yourself (love this one too)

Definitely making this pie for Chris's birthday

Cheeky bags for your essentials (and some cute patches to put on them)

Basically my life (I drive and take the train, it's a one-two punch)

Loving these shoes for spring

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

7 Dresses for Valentines Day (+ A Few Date Ideas That Don't Suck)

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Pictured: For Love & Lemons mini dress (shop here) / Asos pink lace crop set / Red eyelet dress / Asos flutter back dress / Asos crochet midi dress / Red crochet dress / Free People white lace mini dress (shop here) / Enamel pins (options here) / Heart sunglasses / Valentine's cards / 'Girls' handbag / iPhone case (options here) / Playing card clutch

My favorite Valentine's Day date of all time took place at a monster truck rally in Pittsburgh. No dinner, no movie, no romantic candles, just giant trucks crushing other trucks shooting flames. Also nachos. It was awesome, and ever since, Chris and I have made a point to seek out something different to do on February 14th. This year, we're thinking of checking out the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention.

Now, just because I choose to eschew the typical doesn't mean I consider myself to be one of those Valentine's cynics grumbling about the holiday being invented by Hallmark -- frankly I don't care -- I actually really love it. In the middle of an otherwise blustery, cold month, I'll take any reason to celebrate, dress in pink and red, and proclaim my love for friends and family. And it's not that I have anything against dinner and a movie, or any other strain of "traditional" dates, it's just that I'd rather not be surrounded by a bunch of other couples, cloaked in a cloud of expectations and pressures of ROMANCE. I'd much rather seek out something beyond the ordinary, something we haven't done yet or seen yet, that we'll continue to talk about long after the day passes ("Hey, remember the time we finally got to see Gravedigger? Yeah, that was awesome.") Plus, there's the whole process of simply discovering the out of the box events and things to do happening around you. Who knows where the day will take you -- a demolition derby? A unique museum? Whatever you plan, you're sure to leave with a story and some new friends (after that demolition derby we went out for dinner -- and by "dinner" I mean hotdogs... -- only to realize mid-way through how absolutely, laughably, horrifically filthy we were. Completely covered in dust.)

Even though I might shy away from the traditionally romantic, I still love dressing up for the occasion. A little lace, a new dress... really, deep down I'm just looking for an excuse to add something pretty and heart-shaped to my closet. Another way to brighten up an otherwise gloomy month (love Valentines Day, not such a fan of February). I've had my eye on a few pretty things lately, and today I'm sharing a few of my favorites. Heart shaped glasses, a sweet card, a little lace, maybe add a funny bag... and you'll be sure to steal hearts.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Here & There 1.31

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January 31st, I can't believe you're here so soon. Slowly and then all at once. I'm fresh into the first five days of being 32 and have spent most of the weekend decompressing and generally being lazy -- if you count running countless errands on Saturday and gearing up for a work-filled Sunday afternoon lazy. This past month was all about coming down from December, thoughtfully taking it easy on my days off. Highly recommend it, if you can swing it, but maybe not so good when it comes to getting started on my goals for the year. Of those, I'm pathetically behind. There's always February, right?

This vintage silk scarf would look great peeking out from the collar of a denim shirt

I just blasted through this book in three days -- so good.

This coat would be perfect for spring

Etsy faves: This mermaid print, this bucket bag, these dainty earrings, and this kitty tote

Hollywood cinemagraphs

These sunglasses would be perfect for Valentine's Day (+ a cute card and my favorite candle)

The first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail was 67 years old -- and she did it twice!

This fruity sweater is so cute!

A 28 day creative project... project

Chris gave me this tiger's eye perfume for my birthday and I'm in loooove

The most popular reader comments on the New York Times

Asos is having a big sale! love this mint biker jacket and these classic booties

Would you match your hair to a Picasso?

I'm good with what I've got

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

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Pictured: Mon Cahier planner + 'Leigh' card holder from Moorea Seal

A few years ago, when I was working as a copy writer at ModCloth, a coworker of mine shared something that changed my entire perspective on the idea of “work/life balance”. Up until that point, I had been on a never-ending quest to strike the perfect balance between my home and work life. After a soul-crushing stint as a visual merchandiser at American Apparel, and then working multiple jobs at a time between 2010 and 2011 (at one point I had four, plus a volunteer position), I wanted my life back. I wanted to find balance. But somehow, it continued to elude me. In my brain I pictured scales, like the scales of freakin' justice, always a little off balance. Things began to feel slightly more even when I made the move to Pittsburgh in 2011, trading in the three jobs I was working at the time for the myth of the 9 to 5. Suddenly, with just one schedule to contend with, I felt like I had time again. I even gave a few talks on the subject of finding work/life balance. Except there was one glaring problem: in my heart, I still felt as though I was constantly running myself ragged. Turns out, when you write for a living, and you write for your blog, and you take photos for a living, and you take photos for your blog, it’s really, really easy to suddenly find yourself completely burned out and exhausted, with no balance in sight. And something tells me the same rings true for every. other. job. out there.

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So, back to Molly, my coworker at ModCloth. At some point she gave a sort of mini talk (I think? Could have just been her talking over her computer at me...) on the myth of work/life balance. And it completely shifted the way I approached these things in my life. To paraphrase (and probably butcher): “There is no balance, there is only fit.”

“There is no balance, there is only fit.”

The idea being, that you fit your work and your life together. You fit the things you care about into your life because you care about them, while being conscious of the fact that work often overlaps. That work part, it's best to accept it and move on. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces often aren’t symmetrical. They’re funny looking and oddly shaped. One piece extends into another and vice versa. This was a radical shift in the way I visualized my time (if you can't tell by now, I'm a visual person), and I’m so thankful to have learned this before moving to Philly for my next job. Because, despite the fact that I had this new depth of knowledge to draw from, I was still shit at putting it to practice. Because while fit is important, boundaries are as well.

So, where is all this coming from? Last month, Jen asked for tips on how I manage work/life/self care. And I have to say, my knee jerk answer would be, “very, very carefully."

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The truth is, in my early days at FP, I ran myself just as ragged. A new job with new demands and lessons learned from my time at MC swimming through my head meant that I was often up well past midnight working, answering emails, and fretting over all that had to be done. I have a tendency to let past failures haunt me, which means I push myself hard to prove to myself that I can. But one look at photos of myself from that time and it’s easy to see just how exhausted I’d become. The bags under my eyes were darker than ever, and I was puffy from lack of sleep and eating things I normally steer clear from. I’m not sure when the turning point came, but at a certain point I had to loosen the reigns a little or else I was going to fall right off the (figurative) cliff. It was baby steps at first – turning my email notifications on my phone to vibrate, rather than a bell. Not checking email after 11 pm. Making time at the gym a priority again. And finally, admitting to myself that I had to cut back on the number of times per week I was posting on this blog. The changes were subtle at first, but over a year later, it's made an enormous difference in my quality of life. 

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Now, I realize things vary from person to person and job to job. but over time I've continued to shift and adjust my time and how I use it. Work is (obviously) still a huge and very important part of my life (I think that's pretty obvious), but I've been slowly learning how to make time for what's important to me and to make time for myself.

A few more things that have helped me strike some sort of equilibrium (notice how I'm not using the word balance)...

Email notifications went from vibrate to none at all because I’ve completely removed email from my phone. A brazen move for sure, and to be clear, I can still check it on the internet browser on my phone (and I do, at specific times), but I no longer have those unread messages staring me in the face and new message dings keeping me up at all hours. I’m thankful to have an amazing editor and coworkers who don’t shy away from texting  if something is urgent. This has, by far, made the largest difference in my stress levels. While I understand having your email on your phone is a necessity for some people, if you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself if it’s really, truly necessary and try taking a break from it for awhile, even just a few days.

If I have to work on the weekend, I get up early and get it out of the way first thing. I write best in the early morning anyway, and getting it out of the way means I don't have to think about for the remainder of Saturday and Sunday.

Conversely, sometimes it's just worth it to stay late at the office on a Friday night to get it out of the way and just get it done.

I am conscious about making time for myself. Rather than pushing aside the things that make me feel human -- reading, baking, getting outside, painting my nails -- I have to constantly remind myself to just do it. To slow down and breathe and make times for the things outside of blogging and work and blogging for work.

Not everything has to be a blog post. I picked up an art book recently, the cover emblazoned with the phrase "Today is a blog post waiting to be written" and I use it as a sort of anti-mantra. In the constant search for content for work, it's very, very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of constantly taking photos and constantly thinking of copy. I intentionally leave my camera at home sometimes and often go light on social media, especially after work and on the weekends. Life is there, live it.

How about you? How do you find time in your life to do everything you do?

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WORN: Vintage Levi's 501s + ThredUp

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Two phrases I never thought would ever escape my lips: I love mom jeans and ...oh, these jeans? I picked them up in Paris. But here we are. In the words of the Beibs, never say never, baby. (Also, the irony isn't lost on me that I had to go overseas to finally find the perfect pair of American-made vintage jeans.) Fashion and your own tastes can surprise you, and while these jeans would have been (and very much were) the bane of my existence as a pre-teen, I love them now.

Like any good closet staples, these vintage Levi's 501s and sweet ballet flats from Repetto have been on heavy rotation lately. The shoes were a score from ThredUp. Arrived brand new in their box, which still had the original price tag on it... but I'll get to that in a second. If you're unfamiliar with ThredUp, it's an online destination for gently used women's clothing. ThredUp is chock full of great pieces at prices similar to that of a higher end thrift store or consignment shop. You can buy and sell, which makes it a nice option for offloading pieces from your closet you no longer need or want, and there are often discount codes available and free shipping at certain thresholds... phew! Which means these gorgeous little leather flats ended up being just over $50. A very far cry from their original price from Bergdorf's, which was marked with the original sticker on the box at $350. Seriously... This is why I love thrift shopping, guys.

I learned early on in life that taking the time to scour the racks at thrift and secondhand stores will often reward you with pieces that you might not typically be able to afford, along with giving you complete creative control of your wardrobe. I have a collection of classic Coach and Dooney & Bourke bags as proof (all priced under $20, thank you very much). And one-of-a-kind vintage. And multiple items crafted from high end fabrics that would normally be laughably out of my price range. Plus, the satisfaction that comes with saying "oh, this old thing? I thrifted it for $6 bucks" really can't be beat. The time taken to comb through racks and drive to far-off Salvation Armies is far more rewarding to me than just popping into the mall to get exactly the thing I'm looking for. I like a challenge. I like to let the universe help me out a bit. And this year, I'm taking control of my closet and rediscovering my love for thrifting and secondhand in all its iterations, both online and IRL. It took awhile to comb through ThredUp to find a piece that fit my criteria (a piece my closet is currently lacking, well made, good condition, could work with multiple outfits and more than one season), but I approached it as I would any other secondhand shopping trip. You're not always going to find something, but eventually you will. And it'll be great. And sure enough, on my third site visit, there they were. The pair of walkable, go-with-just-about-everything shoes I've been looking for. And for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Resolution realized. Control taken. Secondhand forever.

Get the look: Schott NYC 'Ex-Boyfriend' Jacket // H&M Sweater // Vintage Levi's 501 jeans // Repetto "Camille" ballet flats via ThredUp // Zodiac 'Aquarius' ring via Moorea Seal

Note: A portion of the cost of shoes + shipping was provided by ThredUp. All opinions are my own.