Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monthly Twitter Roundup - August Edition

Twitter Roundup

I have quite a bit of fun over on Twitter! I love finding new people to follow, so I would love it if you would follow me and let me know you found me through my blog and I will be sure to follow back!!

I love sharing interesting articles, motivating quotes, pretty and/or funny pictures, and just other generally great stuff!

However, I know some people don't have time for all that twittering or just don't get it, so I thought I would share the best tweets from the month on my blog as well!


This month has been more traveling, if you can believe it! Mostly just back and forth to Tennessee. Otherwise I've just been trying to get into the swing of "real life" as it is now, being unemployed. It's a rough gig, let me tell you! Anyway, on to the good stuff from Twitter:



Yep! That's about it! Excited for lululemon in Pittsburgh, and other randomness!

Have you seen any links you really liked this month? Anything interesting going on with you? Leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making Conversation: 5 Easy Tips for Introverts

I have always been an introvert and the thought of making conversations with people less close than my family and best friends made me feel a bit nauseous.

However, I have tried pretty hard to break out of my shell so I can talk with people without fear and maybe even make some new friends! At the very least, it is nice to talk about interesting things that both parties enjoy in social situations.


Source: Valentina Ramos


1. Be nice.

This one is a really obvious one, and it's also the one people talk about the most. A bunch of things fall under this one like: being polite and positive, making eye contact, paying attention and being interested in the person with whom you are speaking.

Lots has been written on this topic, one of my favorites being: How to Charm Anyone. All the Time. Ever. by Sarah Von. In general, just treat the other person you are speaking to nicely - the way you would like to be treated. Also, if you are not feeling particularly nice (hey, we all have those days) look to #2:

2. Learn everyday phrases.

Those little trite and sometimes fake things that people say? Learn them, practice them, and use them. At first it may feel uncomfortable to say "take care!" to someone when you are walking away, or telling someone who lost a loved one "my condolences" but after doing it for a while, it will become second nature.

Even though the words may not be 100% genuine, it is nice to know what to say in certain situations rather than just standing there and feeling really awkward. This can go a long way in making you feel better about the whole conversation - even if it is just a quick "hello, how are you?" in passing.

A good way to learn these is from an etiquette book (love Emily Post's) or just by listening to others and picking up ones you like.

3. Parrot questions back at the asker.

For us introverted types, it is often very easy to be left blabbing about ourselves forever, while the other person in the conversation just seems to be asking the questions. We walk away feeling awfully self-centered. Never good.

The best thing you can do after talking about yourself is to ask the other person "And what about you?"



Source: 47 Project


4. Keep an arsenal of solid questions.

These questions will be your ammo for keeping the conversation going when there is an awkward pause. These questions need to be things you can ask pretty much anyone, and things people generally like talking about. Whatever you do, don't ask them "so, what do you do?" (if they wanted to talk about it, they would bring it up themselves - this is the general rule with touchy topics).

I recommend coming up with 5-10 questions and memorizing them. Some questions I really like:
  • Have you been on vacation this year or are you planning a vacation?
  • Have you seen any good movies/read any good books/watched any good shows recently?
  • What is your favorite restaurant in {the city you are both in}?
What if the person says no to these questions? If they are trying to make conversation with you, they won't. It's as simple as that. And if they aren't interested in conversation, give them a polite everyday phrase (like: "Well, I've gotta run - but it was so nice catching up! Take care!") and move on.

You can even tailor these questions to your own interests so that you have good follow up questions and things you can say easily in response (for example, if you are a movie buff, ask them about movies they like).

5. Have something going on.

Nothing is more boring than when someone asks you how you are and you say "good." A much better response is "good" + something else, in order to start a conversation. This tip is basically saying to be interesting and to have something you are either looking forward to or just did that you like talking about.

So your life is totally mundane and you have nothing to say? Well, that's partially another issue for another day, but my recommendation is to watch an out-there movie, read some fun news and form an opinion on it (Twitter is a great place to collect conversation pieces!), or just do something new in your city, like trying a new restaurant, and that way you can bring it up: "I'm great! I just tried Bob's Diner a few days ago. Have you ever been there? No? Do you have any favorite restaurants here?" See? Not so hard.


Source: Bonnie Tsang

At first this stuff will all be pretty awkward. At least it has been for me! I say the wrong everyday phrase, or I ask someone about something they already told me about (d'oh!) and yeah, I feel like an idiot. But the more you practice and work on it, the better you will get and the more comfortable you will feel making conversations.

So, do you have any conversation tips? Good questions that you keep in your arsenal? I would love to hear them in the comments!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mod in Tennessee {Outfit Post}

Finally someone else who can take my picture! Back at home visiting my parents in Tennessee, seeing friends, laying around on the couch, and taking in the beautiful views. Also! Raiding my sister's closet...

Mod in Tennessee
Tulle dress, Old Navy flats, Target cardigan (my sisters), and Target bracelet

I NEED a patterned cardigan like this, maybe even a few of them! I love how it adds some texture and color to a solid colored dress... must find some for this fall.

Having so much fun here in Tennessee with family!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Most Favorite Teas

The thing I am most excited for about cooler weather is my tea drinking habit. In the summer, I just don't really want it - but when the temps begin to drop, hot tea is all I want to drink!

Favorite Teas

1. Yogi Green Tea Kombucha: This is my all-time favorite tea of all. It has a subtle fruity and sweet flavor. I love it!!!

2. Tazo Zen Green Tea: I am not the biggest green tea fan, and yet, here is another green tea! I love this one because it is minty, but not overpoweringly so. It's subtle and so tasty.

3. Numi Rooibos Tea: Rooibos is a really great tasting caffeine-free tea. Numi makes the best one I've ever tasted.

4. Yogi Bedtime Tea: I love to drink this one before bed, and I think it helps me get to sleep, but really, who know? It tastes great and relaxes me.

What are your all-time favorite teas? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

5 Reasons to NEVER Cry in Your Bed

I believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good cleansing cry from time to time - sometimes it is exactly what you need.


Source: Cranberry Jam

Obviously, some issues need to be dealt with and it's best to put your big girl pants on and confront them! However, some things you just need to feel!

I let myself cry whenever I feel like I need to, except for one time: when I am laying in bed.

If I really feel the need to cry when I'm in bed, I remove myself from it and go sit somewhere else. Often, I don't want to leave the bed, so I decide crying isn't really worth it!

Why? Well, these are my top 5 reasons to NEVER cry in your bed:


1. Too comfy: Something about being wrapped up in blankets in a cocoon just makes you want to cry and cry for hours. You dial up the drama and think of anything that has ever gone wrong. You just lay there and wallow. Being in bed almost transports you to this world of irrationality where all your worst thoughts seem true. Somehow getting out of bed, sitting up, and looking around will sober you so you don't waste hours sobbing away about things you haven't cared about in years, or don't even really care about at all!

2. Time of day: If you are in bed, there's a good chance you are about to go to sleep or you have just woken up. Crying is never a good way to end your day or begin it!! Personally I tend to cry at night when my brain gets going, and if I am in bed, I will go for hours. Just don't even start. Briefly write down your issue and think about it at another time. Instead of thinking about the thing that makes you want to cry, journal and write down some things you are grateful for!


Source: Emilie Schwenk

3. Bad angle for sinuses: So this one is a bit vain, but ladies, we all know the day-after crying face with swollen eyes. Laying down while crying just multiplies this issue because of the angle of your sinuses: they can't drain properly. It's just not pretty. And the headache you get will make you just want to cry more!

4. Sheets as tissues: I know you didn't just drop hundreds of dollars on the perfect bedding to stain your sheets and pillow cases with mascara marks and tears. C'mon! And from personal experience, mascara marks are really hard to get out.

5. Negative associations: Bed should be the place where you feel comfortable and relaxed. If you are doing too much crying in bed, you will begin to think of it as a place where you go to be depressed and sad. And that is no good because it will make you start thinking negatively when you tuck yourself in even if you weren't before! Then you are just perpetuating the habit.


Source: Fire Panther

Crying is a natural human reaction to emotions and I believe that crying can really help in some cases. It can get out all the anxiety and craziness you are feeling inside, and after the crying storm passes you feel clarity unlike before. However, crying in when you are laying in bed is never good!

Do you like a good cry? Do you have any rules about when you will let yourself cry?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Easy Roasted Tomatoes {Local Flavor}

Last week in my CSA box, I received about 30 various tomatoes and I had just bought some at the grocery. So I had a lot of tomatoes on my hands. And I don't even really like tomatoes (raw) that much.

Easy Roasted Tomatoes

Obviously the best thing to do with them all was to make a favorite summer recipe of mine: easy roasted tomatoes.

Also, this is perfect for a party because when they are done, your whole house will smell like you are an italian chef.

Ingredients:

  • Tomatoes, roma work best, but you can use anything
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Favorite spices, I use rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and garlic

Easy Roasted Tomatoes

Directions:


Pre-heat oven to between 200-250 degrees.

Wash and slice the tomatoes up. For Roma tomatoes or small, I simply cut in half long-ways. For larger tomatoes, I cut into large wedges. You don't really need to worry about cutting the stems off, unless you want to.

In a large bowl, pour the rest of the ingredients on the tomatoes and mix with your hands.

Lay tomatoes out on an oiled pan, face down if they were cut in half.

Roast in the oven for as many hours as you can. The minimum time should be around 6-8 hours depending on the temp of your oven. You just look at the tomatoes periodically, and when they look really wilted and they smell amazing, they are ready. But even if you take them out earlier, they will still be really tasty.

You can remove the skins if you would like.

Easy Roasted Tomatoes

Serving:


I love to use these tomatoes paired with some fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil (if you have it around) for an impressive appetizer. Delicious!

Easy Roasted Tomatoes

Another way to use the tomatoes is in pastas with your favorite cheese.

You can also put the tomatoes on sandwiches, pizzas, or you can just eat them plain.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hot Pink {Outfit Post}

Usually I don't really consider hot pink as a color I wear a lot - for some reason it just doesn't go with most of the stuff in my closet. However, I love this dress so much I try to find a way to make it work. Plus I think it is the perfect mix of classic, flirty, and sexy for a date night!

Hot Pink
F21 dress, thrifted necklace, Paris Hilton heels

I wore this outfit on Friday night out to dinner. There were crazy storms all day long and 3 of the restaurants we tried to go to were closed because of flooding and power outages.

  

I love these Paris Hilton heels so much - they are my most comfortable heels. I would have never thought I would be saying that about something she made, but it's true - they are my favorite shoes.

This necklace was a free find at a yard sale. Some of the jewels had fallen out but nothing a little super glue couldn't fix!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Perfect Nails? Shellac Manicure Review

It's no secret that I always love to have my nails looking impeccable. I adore bright hues in the summer and crave dark shades for winter. And I pretty much feel naked without some type of polish on my nails. 

However, keeping my nails polished to perfection requires a fair amount of effort with all the painting, drying, chipping, re-painting, and so on. Well, that is until now.


Source: Meringue Love

What Shellac Promises:

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to get a Shellac manicure with a friend. I'm usually not up for salon manicures because of the expense and also because I do a better job at home than pretty much anyone else! Yet my friend raved about the Shellac manicure: it pretty much ensures a chip-free 2-4 week manicure that stays shiny and doesn't damage your nails at all - in fact, it makes your natural nails grow stronger!

I chose a basic nude color with the promise that I could paint over the polish/gel hybrid color at any time and remove it with regular polish remover to still have the shiny nude Shellac underneath. 2-4 weeks is a long time for me to commit to a color! Plus, by painting over the polish/gel, it ensures that the color on top will be much less likely to chip as well!

How Shellac Works:

The process of putting the Shellac on is a little more intense than a regular manicure, but much, much less intense than acrylic nails. The nail tech does all the typical manicure stuff (cuticles, buffing, etc) and then paints on the Shellac base, color, and top coat, curing your nails under a UV light in between each coat. They have to be more precise when painting the Shellac on and the UV curing time (about 2 mins for each coat) adds about 10-15 minutes to what a regular manicure would take. However, I love having my nails done, so I actually don't mind at all!

The finished result will be perfectly polished shiny nails that require no drying time. The Shellacs may be a tiny bit thicker than regular nail polish, but nothing overly noticeable like with acrylics. After 2-4 weeks you return to the salon and the color is cured off. Totally painless! Then it will be re-applied fresh, never filled.


Source: CND

Final Results:

So how did the Shellac fair for me?

I have been wearing it now for over 3 weeks. My nails have grown out quite a lot (my nails grow fast!) so my natural nail is visible at the base. I had a bit of chipping on the corners of a few of my nails where my actual nail went with it but my nails don't usually do well with a blunt square shape - I was easily able to file these spots into a clean shape. Also, some of my nails are pretty weak near the top because my nails tend to flake. On two of my nails the gel started to raise up a bit and on one it chipped off, leaving a bit of my nail exposed. The most visible thing was the tip wear, but that isn't a big deal.

So that doesn't really sound like a raving review does it? Well, I still think this stuff is amazing. My nails are long and strong and I think next time around will be even better. I've been in and out of the pool a lot this past month, and also I am by no means gentle with my hands or nails. My nails tend to flake at the tips and split on the sides when my nails get too long so this is awesome for preventing both those issues. Also, I painted right over these beauties with a bright red orange (just one coat) and it stayed looking perfect for a full week and came off with not a trace that it was ever there.

Value:

I paid about $40 + tip for my Shellac manicure which is more than I would pay for a regular manicure (done about once a week, about $10 at a salon, but mostly I do it at home, which probably costs about $1 and my time), or than I used to pay back in the day when I had acrylics (about $35 for a full set every few months, and then about $15 every 2 weeks for a fill, plus unaccounted for nail pain and suffering), considering I wear the Shellacs for 3 weeks on average.

I believe some salons are less expensive, but I have read that $40-45 is a pretty standard price.

For me personally, I love having my nails done, but hated wasting money on a regular manicure that was poorly painted and only lasted a few days. I think this is an awesome solution and I plan on continuing to have it done.


Source: Meringue Love

Tips:

  • Have your nails done fairly short because you will need to account for several weeks of growth.
  • If you nails are like mine, you may want to consider a rounded-square shape instead of square so that the corners don't break (like mine did).
  • Go for a lighter color so growth isn't as visible.
  • Ask your nail tech if they can try to make the bottom edge as thin as possible so growth won't be visible if you paint over the Shellacs (good for stretching how long you keep them on!).
  • Have your toe nails done for the beach or during the winter: no sand chipping your polish right off or wearing flip flops out in the cold to prevent smudging!
  • Also, good to know: Shellac colors actually match their regular polish counterparts for easy at home corrections! (Unlike some other similar systems like OPI's Axxium, which my nail tech also said aren't as good as CND's Shellac)

More Info on CND's Shellac Polish:



If you are in Pittsburgh, I got mine done at Capristo in Shadyside and I would highly recommend them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Perfect Summer Dress {Outfit Post}

Finally it seems Pittsburgh is getting out of the vat of humidity it's been dipped in for the past few weeks and we are finally getting some beautiful summer weather.

The Perfect Summer Dress
LOFT dress, AE belt, Kors by Michael Kors wedges

Why yes, my dress is quite wrinkly isn't it? Yes, yes, it is. That's because it is the perfect summer material: linen. I just want to wear it every single day in the summer it is so cool and breezy. But then I remember how easily it gets wrinkled and I'm less inclined. Just slightly less.

And on another note, I am still pretty terrible at taking these pictures. I mean, there is definitely more detail visible in the trees than my dress. Ugh. I wish I had someone else to take these for me, but alas. Any tips are greatly appreciated! I think I'm doing the lighting wrong...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Nature... {Inspiring Words}

Schenley Park
Source: saburochaos

"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, 
which, if we unconsciously yield to it, 
will direct us aright." 
 - Henry David Thoreau

 Schenley Park
Source: saburochaos

Been walking, running, hiking, and biking all around Pittsburgh recently (loving Frick and Schenley Parks). This weather has been fantastic!

I truly believe that just getting outside and taking in the beauty of nature all around us can be one of the best remedies for anything that is bringing us down.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Fun {Outfit Post}

Aren't girls nights the best? On Wednesday night I planned to meet up with a good friend of mine for martini Wednesdays at the salon to also try out Shellac manicures (exciting!) and then go to half price wine night.

Summer Fun
H&M cardigan, Target long and lean tank (LOVE these), Francescas necklace, F21 dress turned into a skirt, Diba flipflops

I know, I know, this outfit is screaming for a belt, and also some better lighting. It was miserable out all day so natural light was out. Anyway, I'm sure I will get better at taking these photos eventually?! Maybe actually learn how to use my fancy camera?!?!

I love this outfit because the skirt is actually a dress from F21 that was a bit too short for my tastes. So I cut off the halter part and now it is much more reasonable! {This is actually a great tactic for a lot of F21 dresses and a great way to get inexpensive skirts - just look for things with solid waistbands and specifically two-fers} I love the rose details on the skirt and the way the bottom hem follows the roses. I also love the way it goes with the necklace which was also in Tuesday's outfit post - what can I say, I can't get enough of it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crazy Greek Pasta {Local Flavor}

I absolutely love easy, quick pasta dishes that can be made with ingredients on hand, and this Crazy Greek Pasta is one such dish.

Crazy Greek Pasta

This recipe originates from my half-Italian half-Greek roommate's collection and we absolutely love it here at my house.

It's cheesy, rich, and filling but it is still chock full of healthy ingredients like spinach and whole wheat pasta.

Crazy Greek Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions chopped or 1 bag of frozen chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or 4 frozen garlic cubes
  • 2 bags of baby spinach (can be frozen if needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ t. oregano
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese + a little extra feta for sprinkling
  • ¼ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ c. pasta water
  • 1 lb. of whole wheat pasta such as rotini, shells, bowties or campanelle (something with crevices to catch the spinach)
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • red or white wine (optional)
  • pine nuts for topping (optional)
  • white beans (optional)


Directions:
Set water to boil for pasta while preparing sauce.

In a pot large enough to hold cooked pasta, place olive oil and onion over medium high heat. Saute onions until they begin to brown. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute for another minute, and then deglaze with a dash of wine if desired. Add chopped spinach to the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Season with oregano, salt and pepper, keeping in mind that feta cheese is quite salty. Stir spinach until it begins to wilt and is coated with the oil. Cover and allow the spinach to cook down (spinach should have no trace of rawness and will have released a good bit of moisture) for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and turn off the heat. Crumble feta cheese evenly on top of spinach mixture, but do not stir it in, allowing the cheese to begin to soften (it will continue to melt once pasta goes into pan). Set mixture aside (the sauce can sit for up to an hour before the cooked pasta is added)

Boil pasta until al dente. When pasta is done, reserve ½ c. of the cooking water. Drain pasta and add it to the spinach mixture. Add parmesan cheese and toss gently- adjust seasoning if necessary. If the mixture seems too dry add a little pasta water to aid in coating pasta- if the spinach has released a lot of moisture you may not need to add any water (this pasta will not be swimming in sauce; a coating is all that is desired). Serve with crumbled feta cheese, pine nuts, parmesan and red pepper flakes as toppings.

Crazy Greek Pasta

Can you tell I like specific instructions? ;) Although it looks long, it is actually super easy and in no time, you have a quick and filling dinner on the table. I also like to add white beans to boost the protein for us vegetarians!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Navy and Gold {Outfit Post}

This is one of my very most favorite outfits and I usually wear it to more special occasions just because it makes me feel so good. I wore it this day out to dinner at my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh, Casbah.

Navy and Gold Outfit
J Crew cardigan, Dahlia dress/belt, Francescas necklace, Paris Hilton heels

I absolutely love this dress and the way it is not too revealing. I also think the stripes are really flattering. I wish that the dress was about 2 inches longer just for modesty's sake, but I still love it, so much so, I would love to have copies in multiple fabrics/colors - maybe one day when I actually learn to sew?

I love the necklace, cardigan, and heels as well, so it's no wonder that this is one of my all-time favorite outfits.

Other Outfits/Sets Featuring This Dress:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monthly Tweet Roundup - July Edition

twitter roundup

I have quite a bit of fun over on Twitter! I love finding new people to follow, so I would love it if you would follow me and let me know you found me through my blog and I will be sure to follow back!!

I love sharing interesting articles, motivating quotes, pretty and/or funny pictures, and just other generally great stuff!

However, I know some people don't have time for all that twittering or just don't get it, so I thought I would share the best tweets from the month on my blog as well!


This month I was getting in the swing of things over on Twitter, getting set up with Timely.is and Buffer (as well as a bunch of other Twitter tools like Storify, shown below) which schedule posts for you. I like this a lot because I'm not at my computer all day. Anyway, without futher adieu, here's a sampling of the tweeting I've been doing:



And if you want more? (Because there is A LOT more) Please follow me on Twitter, or check out my Delicious account where I save most of my links!

Let me know what you all think of this post. Like? No like? Hope you are having a great day!

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