Tuesday, December 31, 2013


photo cred goes to my incredi-talented bff/roomie Sara!
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. --Neil Gaiman

May you send out the old and welcome the new with gratefulness and cheer.
Happy 2014 :)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Lessons from 2013.

This year has been a transformative one for me. I don't know what it was about 2012, but it was rough, man. 2013 was not without its obstacles, of course--but at the end of the day, it was truly magical. I have a lot to say on the matter (ahem, when don't I?), so I've been compiling this list of little lessons throughout the year. Now, friends, I certainly don't claim to have remotely close to anything figured out, but I thought at the very least, this is a place I can chronicle these reminders for myself and read them whenever I'm feeling a little lost or broken and maybe you'll read something that strikes you the same way it struck me. Maybe my feelings on these matters will change-- or maybe they'll be lessons I continue to learn over and over and over again. But without further ado, below are some of the most resonant things that 2013 has taught me.

1. Stay out until 3 AM so you can eat pancakes and giggle uncontrollably in a corner booth with friends while the rest of the bartime crowd rolls in. It will always, always be more important than getting sensible amounts of sleep so you can beat the rush at the grocery store on Sunday morning. I almost put myself to sleep just typing that second sentence.

2. Dye your hair. Oh, for the love of pete, do it. Don't worry that it'll make you stand out too much, that you will appear too fearless, too much. Because guess what! You are not too much, but you are indeed more than enough. You know?

3. Believe that they mean it when someone says they think you're beautiful.

4. Unabashedly forego 'good-enough' for 'can't-live-without'. Especially because 'good enough' was barely good enough to start with, baby.

5. Wear lipstick. Werk. 

6. Be kind to every, every, everyone. Dismiss the fear that you will not be accepted, or the lie that you are better, and be kind to every person you meet. This doesn't mean be a doormat, oh, no. But a smile and a reminder that we are all just humans goes a long way.

7. Leave some room in your heart for the unimaginable. (--wise lady, Mary Oliver.)

8. There is no such thing as overdressed. One of my favorite people once told me that you dress not only for yourself, but to show respect to the people you're with. I've learned I'd rather be the only one in heels than the only one in sweatpants.

9. Always make extra bacon. (always, always.)

10. Do not allow yourself to be with someone who has made you the only happy thing in their life. Balance the tendency to do this yourself this by keeping many happy things in your own life.

11. Sometimes you must work months of 60+ hour workweeks for zip diddly but grad school credit and you must do this with a smile on your face. You are not the first to make it on scrambled eggs and frozen broccoli for a while, and you will not be the last, child. Good things take time. Success requires effort. Life takes a little elbow grease, remember?

12. Never be afraid to be the first one on the dance floor. Because inevitably, you're not gonna be the only one out there for long.

13. Human beings are complex. People are not defined by patterns, or the histories they leave in their wake. The best things that have come to pass so far in my 24th year happened when I let the present unfold without expecting that I already knew the outcome.

14. Keep saying yes.

15. Buy a pair of red heels, and wear the shit outta them. Often. This is a bandwagon I can't believe I've only just now hopped on, but man. It's a thing for a reason. Don't be afraid to be sassy.

16. Stand firmly and fully in your commitment to your own life, but don't be so precious about it. All of this? It's supposed to be fun.

17. Respect other human beings. Respect their time, their thoughts, their emotions, their hearts. Don't let what someone has done to you or not done for you dictate the amount of compassion and consideration you give to them. Do not turn love or respect into a conditional thing. There is strength, not weakness in the benefit of the doubt. What you look for in others is what you will find.

What has 2013 taught you?

Monday, December 23, 2013

#MCSecretSanta: the goodies!

If you're anything like moi, you're spending today wrapping up things at work, wearing fleece-lined running leggings disguised as real pants, exclusively eating holiday rice chex mix and counting down the seconds until the holiday (also listening to this song, because relevant). In the spirit of festivity, though, I just had to share one last lovely bit of Christmas-sy goodness: my secret santa gift!

I was having a particularly stink-ish day last week and had kind of forgotten to be keeping an eye out for a secret santa treat in the mail. So of course, I was thrilled to come home to an unexpected package waiting for me on my doorstep! I loved even more to find out that my secret santa is a fellow sconnie blogger I was previously unfamiliar with-- not anymore, obviously! Girlfriend pegged me so well, to boot-- peanut butter chocolate santas, a travel-themed journal, super fun nail polish in my very favorite colors, and quite possibly the most adorable lace-printed scarf that I definitely maybe have been wearing almost every day since it came. HELLO. Love it all. Thank you, Nicki

And a big ol' thank you to the super-fabulous Carolyn for being such an excellent co-host. If you haven't checked out her blog yet: dooo it. Trust me. And thanks to all of our fantastic participants for making this such a fun & festive holiday blogger event! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

recipe: easy-peasy homemade chai tea concentrate

In high school and college, I was a barista at Starbucks. If you've been around here long enough, I'm sure you've heard some of my stories before-- like how my manager and I used to take espresso shots like tequila when we opened the store at 4 AM, or how I was once proposed to in the drive-through. Mm, such weird fond memories. My coworkers and I used to have the best time inventing new drinks and tasty concoctions on quiet evenings and testing them out on unsuspecting late-night customers. But it was in those pre-coffee years (ah, the irony) that my love affair with chai really began. I've since expanded my hot beverage repertoire, but I still have a place in my heart for those sweet/spicy tea lattes. I do not, however, have a place in my heart for their price tag. The only solution? Make my own, of course!

This concentrate is stupid simple to make, easily customizable & much more cost-effective than lattes or boxes of concentrate from the store. It will keep in the fridge for two weeks (if it lasts that long). Jarred and tied up with cute ribbons, it also makes a great gift! Trust me-- I've already given out a few this Christmas :)

10 black tea bags 
2 sticks cinnamon
2 large sliced coins of fresh ginger
Cardamom (a few generous shakes of ground, or a handful of pods)
2 whole star anise
10 whole cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
zest of one orange
1 c. coconut sugar or brown sugar (more or less depending on your preference for sweetness)
2 tsp. vanilla

Boil 5 c. water. When bubbling, take off of heat and add all ingredients. Stir, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. Once steeped to your liking, strain through a fine mesh strainer, or if you like things rustic like moi, pick the large pieces out and let the orange zest and ground spices float around like ya mean it. My favorite way to serve is with 1 part canned coconut milk, one part water (feel free to use just milk, or the equal parts warm milk + hot h20-- that's how it's served at starbucks!) and a tablespoon at a time of the concentrate until it tastes just right. Hot or on ice, the recipe is the same! Sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and you're good to go! You fancy, economical tea drinker, you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

4/24: Graduate with my masters degree!

just a few snaps from the big day!
For as long as I've been blogging, I've been a student. I started writing Undergrad Fab in my sophomore year of college (blast from the past, anyone?), and made the big switch to writing here at b+b once I transitioned out of my undergrad years to the big, fancy, graduate school ones that I think I just assumed I'd inhabit forever.

And then, almost as quickly as those years began, they're over. Yesterday I finally got to put on that fancy Masters hood, march across that stage in my shiny red heels & claim those extra two letters (M.S.) at the end of my name for my own. It has been an incredibly challenging, remarkably beautiful, literally life-changing two and a half years. For the first time in what feels like my entire life, I can carefully place the student label in my past and move into this next chapter of mine. I worked really, really, insanely hard. When I began, I don't think I ever could've fathomed that exactly how these years would've played out--and now, I can't imagine it any other way. And I'm so excited to see what comes next :)

Interested in following along as I do 24 new things in my 24th year? Check out the others here