Friday, February 26, 2016

My Acai Bowl Recipe

I've been obsessed with acai bowls for years now. If you've never tried an acai bowl, it's essential a smoothie bowl with toppings. Typically the toppings are granola and fresh fruit. Acai bowls are perfect for a healthy breakfast or lunch. I've created a recipe I love and now I make my own all the time!

Acai Bowl

1 Packet Frozen Acai [I used Sambazon brand]
6 Frozen Strawberries 
1 Banana
1/4-1/2 Cup Milk [Depends on your thickness preference]
1/3 Cup Granola [I like Nature Valley Granola Crunch]
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter

1. Combine acai, strawberries, banana, and milk into a blender [I use a NutriBullet]
2. Blend until smooth
3. Pour into a bowl
4. Top with granola and peanut butter
5. Enjoy!

I always find that I stay full for several hours after this meal. If you try out this recipe, please let me know. I'd love to know if you like it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Best Coffee In NYC | Part 1

Hello all! Today I am starting off a new series on my blog that I am very excited about: a coffee guide to New York City. New York City is filled with amazing coffee shops around every corner. You can find everything from organic, fair trade to fast food chain coffee. I personally adore coffee shops that promote leisurely stays and give me an opportunity to get some work done or have a long conversation with a friend. I am sharing four fabulous coffee shops in this post. 

Bibble & Sip: I discovered this coffee shop through a friend's instagram feed back in October. I immediately rushed over for a lavender latte (right bottom photo) and was stunned by the quality. They are well known for their matcha jasmine lattes (beautiful foam art!), lavender lattes, and scrumptious desserts. Also, their mascot is an alpaca because why not? Warning: they are incredibly busy at all times of the day so getting a table can be tricky but I promise this spot is worth the wait!

You can check them out at:
253 W 51st Street

Ralph's Coffee Shop: Ralph's is actually located in the flagship Polo Ralph Lauren store. On the second floor, Ralph's Coffee is tucked away by the window. Surprisingly there are a good amount of tables and space. I came to this spot to work and saw many others doing the same. Not only is the coffee delicious but the chocolate chip cookies are pretty amazing as well. 

You can check them out at:
711 5th Ave

Coffee Project: The one you've been waiting for: the deconstructed latte [top right photo]. This is my current favorite coffee shop and for good reason. The staff, coffee, and ambience all make this spot wonderful. If you go, you must get the deconstructed latte: one shot of espresso, one shot of [almost] raw steamed milk, one latte [with both of those ingredients], sparkling water [to cleanse the palette], and a nibble [waffle cookie]. 

You can check them out at: 
239 E 5th Street

La Colombe: I was struck by the beautiful dishes at this cafe, which initially brought me in. I stayed for the wonderful beverages. La Colombe features coffee from all over. I highly recommend the black and tan. This company also has locations in other large cities in the US--you might have a location near you. 

You can check them out at:
[4 locations in NYC]
400 Lafayette Street [NOHO]

If you are ever visiting NYC or you live here, I highly recommend checking out these coffee shops. 

Would you like to see a part 2 to this coffee guide? If so, please leave a comment on this post!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lazy Sunday Outfit

There is no better feeling than a cozy outfit and a makeup free day. On Sundays, I opt for something comfortable to wonder around town in [or just wear around the house]. Yesterday I chose this wrap cardigan and leggings for sipping coffee, exploring Chinatown, and grocery shopping. 

This cardigan is surprisingly warm [although it was nearly 60 degrees outside!]. I love wearing it with this long sleeve top.

I paired my favorite brown boots with this outfit to bring the look together. 

As I wanted something easy, I opted for my go-to crossbody bag. It fits my phone, wallet, keys, camera, and lip products perfectly. 

Speaking of lip products, I've surprised myself recently by frequently choosing a lip oil that I initially thought would be reserved for the summer months. As this is my first winter on the East Coast [aka my first year with "winter"], my skin and lips have been so dry. 

On Sundays, I like to give my skin a break. I only apply my moisturizer with SPF in the mornings and swipe on a bit of this lip oil. It is hydrating, has a slight rose tint, and smells amazing. I couldn't recommend it more! 

I will probably repeat this outfit many more times over the course of this year. 

Do you have a go-to lazy day outfit?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Meet Nutmeg!

Meet Nutmeg! Two weeks ago Joe and I adopted a calico cat from City Critters. Nutmeg is the first pet that I've been completely responsible for [Izzie technically belongs to my parents!]. Joe and I were a little nervous and thought about this decision for several months before looking at cats. When we spotted Nutmeg, I was in awe of her beauty. She is one gorgeous cat! She was incredibly shy, as she was nervous around the other cats and did not want to be held whatsoever. I wasn't quite sure how things would turn out once we brought her home but I knew Izzie had been the same way when we helped my mom find her. 

When Nutmeg arrived in our home, she was immediately curious. She wanted to explore the apartment from top to bottom. To my surprise, she was extremely interested in being petted and let me pick her up [without trying to bite my finger off]. She naturally fell into her life here and settled down almost immediately. She enjoys playing with toys, climbing her scratching tower, and napping on the couch. She has the loudest. purr. ever. 

As Nutmeg is only two years old, it is crazy to think that Nutmeg will still be in our lives when we have our first (and probably second) child! [this isn't happening for a LONG time]. 

We couldn't be happier with our first (fur)baby. We look forward to all the cute memories to come! 

Please follow Nutmeg on Instagram to see what she is up to! 

Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?

Monday, February 15, 2016

New York City | 6 Month Update

Welcome to a new week! It seems like forever since I shared a New York City update. I have been living in New York City for six months now (exactly six months today!). It is incredible how fast the time has gone--it doesn't feel like it's been six months but I've also noticed I've experienced so much in my time here. 

I reflected on my first month and second month here. I re-read those posts and they felt more like adjusting to living in a big city (which I was doing). This post is much more personal--this is more about my life and less about just living in New York City. 

Once Joe moved in at the end of October and we started to establish our life together, things started to feel a little different (in a good way). I began to feel more like I lived here and I began to accept little challenges here (i.e. dealing with public transportation and groceries). I learned how to work around things that are a pain (like having groceries delivered instead of schlepping them up the stairs). You start to realize that quality of life is important while still living within your means. Joe and I have struggled with finances because New York City is a very expensive place to live but this has really taught us how to budget and be more conscious with our money. I'm still learning and I know these skills will be beneficial in the future. 

One of my biggest struggles has been motivation: motivation to work out, motivation to get out of the apartment, motivation to get ready. It may seem strange but doing all of these things requires more effort in a big city. Going to the gym right now means bundling up and dealing with the cold (I've never dealt with 15 degree F weather and it's cold!). Getting out of the apartment means gathering all my belongings for the day and trekking to a study/work spot and then dealing with the stairs later on with all of my stuff. I also tend to struggle with getting myself ready because the cold weather makes me want to work from home in my PJs all day and not attend my classes at night (leaving campus at 8:30 PM is not always the most appealing thing). 

Another hurdle has been leading a health lifestyle--something I'm still struggling with at the moment. New York City is filled with the best food in the world. There is pizza, baked goods, and ice cream on every corner. How can you resist?! On top of the lack of motivation to get to the gym in this winter weather, staying healthy has been a challenge. As Joe and I are on a strict budget, we are forced to cook more (which is good for our wallets and waistline). We've been creating weekly menus so we are at least prepared for dinner and this has helped a lot. We opt to go out to dinner once a week to keep out sanity and experience a great new restaurant in this beautiful city. Hopefully in my next six month update I'll be able to report that we got the healthy lifestyle thing down! 

I want to close with some things I love about New York City, as this post has felt a bit negative. I love that I will never run out of places to explore and things to see. I love that so many events and shows come to New York City. I love that I now have an NYC ID and can get discounts to amazing spots in the city. I love that I get to experience real seasons and watch the snow fall. Finally: I'm proud to call myself a New Yorker. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

What To Do In NYC | Valentine's Day

We've finally reached the weekend and this one is an extra special one because Valentine's Day is on Sunday! After living in New York City for six months (life update coming soon!), I've learned that there are an overwhelming amount of date possibilities in this city. I've narrowed it down to five options that are sure to wow your date/spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend/friend this year:

Dinner & Movie 
Spice up your traditional dinner and a movie date with Syndicated. This gastropub-cinema is located in Williamsburg and allows guests to enjoy dinner, cocktails, and a film all under one roof.

Check it out at:
40 Bogart Street

Ice Skating & Hot Chocolate
For a classic, romantic date: go ice-skating and sip hot chocolate. The Wollman Rink in Central Park is a New York City tradition and was a filming spot in the classic movie, Serendipity. After ice-skating, head over to City Bakery for the best hot chocolate in New York City.

Check it out:
63 Center Drive
3 W 18th Street

See A Show
Get a little cheesy with this musical-comedy improv “Your Love, Our Musical!” Performers Rachel Vigil and Evan Kaufman use audience participation to run their show. Rachel and Evan ask members of the audience how they met and fell in love. They use these details to craft an on-the-spot musical. Laughter is a key ingredient in creating the perfect date!

Check it out:
622 DeGraw Street

Dinner For Two
For an unforgettable experience, make reservations at Camaje for a dinner in the dark. At Camaje, guests don blindfolds and enjoy a four-course meal prepared by chef Abigail Hitchcock. This choreographed experience uses performance artists as “severs”. This experiment is meant to test and awaken the senses.

Check it out:
85 MacDougal Street (dinners in the dark)

Chocolate Tasting
Nothing says Valentine’s Day more than chocolate. Enjoy some of the finest chocolate from 20 different chefs at the Brooklyn Chocolate Takedown. This event will take place at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club from noon to 2 PM on Valentine’s Day.

Check it out:
514 Union Street

Which spot will you choose for Valentine’s Day?

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's Day Breakfast Ideas!

Hey everyone! I'm glad that we are finally halfway through the week and one day closer to our three-day weekend! 

I am excited that Valentine's Day falls on a weekend once again this year. My favorite way to spend holiday mornings is lounging in bed and enjoying a homemade breakfast. For this reason, I want to share some delicious Valentine's-inspired breakfast ideas.

Pancakes are by far one of my favorite breakfast foods. I think these strawberry pancake skewers would make for an adorable breakfast-in-bed. 

For a simple recipe, go with the classic eggs-in-a-hole--use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to remove the center of a slice of bread. Fry up the toast on a pan with a little oil and drop an egg into the center. Flip to evenly cook both slides. Toast the heart-shaped bread center and top with your favorite jam!

I love a good smoothie at any time of the day. Last year I shared a chocolate raspberry smoothie--this makes for a delicious & healthy breakfast option. 

For a decadent option, go for nutella french toast--your girl loves nutella on absolutely anything. I promise you can't go wrong with this meal! 

In the spirit of the holiday, celebrate with a strawberry mimosa! Mimosas are my personal favorite brunch drink and this Valentine's version is perfect for this special day.  

And finally...I once took Joe and his friend, Tom, to breakfast at an acai bowl (aka fruit bowl) shop. Upon looking down at his bowl, Tom asked, "where's the meat?". For all the Toms of the world: here's the meat. Try out these bacon-egg breakfast bites to meet your savory breakfast needs. 

I hope you enjoy one or more of these recipes this Valentine's Day!

What are your plans for the big day?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Galentine's Gift Guide

Welcome to my second annual Galentine's Day Gift Guide! What is Galentine's Day? This gal pal-centered holiday came about in the early days of Parks & Recreation [kind of an amazing show if you haven't seen it]. Leslie Knope [aka Amy Poehler] created this day to celebrate your girlfriends the day before Valentine's Day. Hers always consisted of a large brunch and gift exchange. For the past couple years, my best friend and I celebrated with a girly date night--usually dinner and a movie. Unfortunately she is back in California so we can't celebrate together this year :( But I'm mailing her gift today! If you're curious, I shared a gift guide last year as well. 

For a simple & sweet gift: go with these champagne gummy bears--I'm kind of hooked on them right now. These gummy lips would also be a fun option. Add a nice greeting card and make her smile. 

For the coffee lover, you can't go wrong with this tumbler and a Starbucks gift card--how gorgeous are the Valentine's ones this year?! 

Another fun option: this love potion flask and/or Galentine's wine--how appropriate is this for our special day!

Cute socks are always an acceptable gift in my book & these are on sale right now! 

Another good option is a 'pamper night kit'. Pick up a face mask [these ones are surprisingly good for how cheap they are!]. Snag a bath bomb [this one is lavender, which is ultra relaxing]. Grab a fun nail polish in Fiji--my personal favorite shade for this month. Pack this gift up in this fun reusable tote and you're all set with a great Galentine's gift. 

What are you getting for your Galentine?

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