Thursday Round Up! 1/30

Thursday, January 30, 2014

1. National Flags from Food // To promote the Sydney International Food Festival, an advertising agency recreated several country's flags from their national dishes. Um...HOW COOL! If that doesn't make you want to attend the event, I honestly don't know what will. My favorite flag was definitely the French (surprise, surprise).

2. This post from Love the Search // I can't even begin to explain how much I relate to this article.

3. A DSLR-esque iPhone Lens // With my history of traveling and taking a million pictures per second with my phone, how nice would it be to have a lens that makes them quality photos? Now I just need to get my iPhone fixed so it stops turning off at 80% battery...

4. Extreme Makeover: Helmet Edition // In honor of the Superbowl being this weekend, the NFL, Bloomie's and the Council of Fashion Designers of America teamed up to do a charity auction, where each designer decorated a helmet. I came across this on Pinterest and was astounded at their outcomes. Who knew something as manly as a football helmet could become so fashion forward? I love the Nicole Miller one! 
Bowled Over 
5. Shirts for a Cause // I'm going to gush about this company now, and I probably won't ever stop. They might even appear in future Thursday Round Ups. Yes, they're that great. Sevenly is a clothing and accessories brand that teams up with a different charity each week and creates new apparel that exemplifies the cause. This week, they've teamed up with one of my personal favorites: Polaris Project. PP is dedicated to fighting modern day human trafficking - something that has always made my blood boil. And I'm absolutely in love with the shirt designs. Just look at this simple tee with such a strong message!
Slavery Boyfriend Tee
6. Powerful Photography // Alright, this is my soft side showing, but I came across this photography series by Matej Peljhan, who made a young boy with muscular distrophy feel like a normal kid for a bit and I couldn't help but tear up. If only there were more people like that.

Cheers to the weekend! 


Foodie Review: Elly's Pancake House

Friday, January 24, 2014

This review has been a long time in the making. I've passed Elly's Pancake House a handful of times and always thought it looked adorable, with the iconic wall of plates clearly visible through its large windows, but I hadn't had the chance to venture inside until this morning.

With my best friend, Hannah, moving to the city this month, we decided to start a weekly ritual of trying different restaurants in Chicago - this is perfect because it goes along with my 101 in 1,001 list too!

Despite the freezing cold temperatures - and I mean freezing, we couldn't feel our hands or legs at one point - we braved the winter weather and headed down LaSalle to the corner diner. I wasn't surprised to see the place more than half-empty with the blustery wind keeping people at home, but the service was astonishingly wonderful. We were quickly seated and our mugs were filled with steaming, hot coffee.

I was immediately overwhelmed with the amount of choices on the menu. Pancakes, blintzes, skillets, omelettes and frittatas filled the extensive list. But being the traditionalists we are, we both settled for renditions on the spinach, feta and eggs combo. It was not disappointing. We got so much food that we both brought boxes home. And the best part, as if it could get any better, was the toast with homemade strawberry jam and whipped butter. Ah, I'm in love!

Up close and personal with this toast...

Spinach, feta & turkey sausage, oh my!

*mouth watering*

My lovely breakfast date!

Have you ever been to Elly's? What is your favorite breakfast place in the Chicago area? 



Thursday Round-Up

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Welcome to the new series I'm starting called "Thursday Round-Up"! I am constantly finding, reading and hearing about new things, most of which I don't really feel like I can dedicate an entire blog post to, but that need to be shared somehow. So every Thursday, I'll be rounding up a few of the things that have caught my eye recently and sharing them with you!

1. Project 7 // The last time I stopped in a grocery store besides Trader Joe's (it really doesn't happen often since TJ's has everything you could possibly need), I saw this little green and white package on the rack of gums, candies, etc. The quirky writing instantly intrigued me and so I had to pick it up. Once I read the message, I was locked in. Project 7 is a company that uses a portion of their profits to give back to communities in multiple ways. My gum pack for example? Ten fruit trees were planted because I bought it. Doesn't that make you feel incredible?? Check out their website for more details, they have a whole slew of beneficiaries, from the environment to the homeless to the hungry. I can't wait to buy more of their products!

2. Chicago Council on Global Affairs // I just recently got a membership to this organization, and as a student, is it quite a steal. For $40, you get access to a slew of free events, including talks from high-ranking officials. Maybe I'm just a sucker for hearing important people talk, but it never hurts to learn more about our nation and world! 

3. John Mayer Playlist // I've been in the mood for John Mayer pretty much everyday as of late. It might be the chilly weather that makes me want to curl up in my bed with hot tea, a good book and some mellow music. Winter always seems to bring out my acoustic-music-loving side. 

4. This Quote // Self-explanatory.

5. These Hunter Packable Boots // With my track record of traveling, and the fact that I'm currently living between my home and my apartment, these little guys would be the perfect addition to my wardrobe. Boots are always in season in Chicago and the pop of red is so appealing - love it! 

6. Everything in the Evelyn Hanson Etsy Shop // I got a print from Evelyn Hanson for my French host sister for Christmas, and I was SO impressed with how fast she had it done and shipped to me - usually custom orders take a lot longer! I'm especially obsessed with her Bar Cart Collection right now.
 The Bar Cart Print

7. Wanderlust // After facing below-zero weather for the past month, how could I not reminisce on my summer adventures when the only enemy was humidity? I'm really missing Istanbul and its perfect temperatures. Ahh. 

Cheers to the weekend!  

What have you had your eye on lately?


That Time I Overanalyzed An E-mail

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two days ago, my statistics professor asked us to e-mail her - to verify she had all of our e-mail addresses - with our name and a short list of interesting facts about ourselves. All we had to do was write this e-mail, send it off and we could leave early. While I watched everyone around me rattle off a few sentences, I struggled. What was interesting about me? I though about all the things I've done and know, but was that really a part of me?

After realizing that I probably didn't need to do a self-evaluation on a pointless e-mail, I finally typed up a few generic facts, pressed send and packed up my things. Then later on at home, I stumbled upon this post from one my favorite bloggers, Carly Heitlinger. And so, I decided to really sit down and take a stab at writing down a few of the things that make me interesting. Plus, this helps me keep on track with one of my New Year's resolutions, so why not?

  1. I enjoy Slim Fast purely for it's chocolate-y goodness. 
  2. I would rather watch CSPAN than reality TV. 
  3. While I have two loving parents, I spent a majority of my childhood with my nanny, Gigi.
  4. I tend to pronounce things in the least common way (and get made fun of for it *ahem*). 
  5. More often than not, I dream in French. 
  6. I had to have three pints of blood transfused my freshman year of college after being anemic.
  7. That being said, I absolutely love giving blood. 
  8. I like my coffee dark and with a lot of sugar. 
  9. Even though I'm 5'10", I wear heels at least once a week. 
  10. I've been the same weight since middle school. 
  11. I tried escargot at age 10...and loved it. 
  12. Both of my parents were adopted. 
  13. I prefer nonfiction over fiction (hello, self-help books!) 
  14. Rap music is my guilty pleasure. 
  15. I love confronting issues right when they occur. 
  16. I am terrified of ice and riding bikes.
  17. Every morning before I get out of bed, I have to check my e-mail and read The Skimm.
  18. I can cook multi-step recipes easily, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out Easy Mac. 
  19. I was recently published on the Thought Catalog.
  20. One of my biggest pet peeves is being overwhelmed by retail workers in the store. 
What are some interesting things about you? 

101 in 1,001

Friday, January 17, 2014

I've decided to start a list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days. Although I just recently published my New Year's Resolutions, I can't help but think in the long term. I want to help keep my resolutions going and that means getting more specific! I'm also a hopeless list-maker and, like Mackenzie at Design Darling, I have vowed to put $10 in my savings account each time I cross off an item - learn more about my inspiration for the list here.

I won't lie, this list is a long time in the making (who knew thinking of 101 things could be so difficult?), but without further ado, my list:

Start Date: January 17, 2014

End Date:   October 14, 2016
  1. Inspire someone to make a list of their own. (Heidi - 01.25.14)
  2. Give blood for the first time since my anemia. (well, I tried - 01.22.15)
  3. Successfully make sushi. (7.2.14)
  4. Live in a different country. (8.21.14)
  5. Go to a Cubs game. (8.7.15) 
  6. Purchase my first piece of original art. 
  7. Take up pottery again, if only for a day.
  8. Go out to dinner by myself (no phone or book). (03.18.15)
  9. Take a calligraphy class. (2.18.14)
  10. See a large ballet production.
  11. Send my grandmother flowers out of the blue. (2.11.14)
  12. Have professional headshots taken. (03.16)
  13. Buy myself a DSLR camera. (09.16)
  14. Find my signature drink. (6.21.14)
  15. Buy a pair of nice riding boots. (3.18.14)
  16. Meet a fellow blogger. (7.21.14)
  17. Plan a surprise party.
  18. Learn how to tie a tie.
  19. Make macarons. 
  20. Watch every episode of Brothers & Sisters. (10.1.14)
  21. Teach someone basic French.
  22. Go skinny dipping. 
  23. Throw an elegant dinner party.
  24. Take an art history tour of Italy. 
  25. Get an internship that I love. (2.5.14)
  26. Exercise at least twice a week for three consecutive months. (multiple)
  27. Read the Harry Potter series in French. (0/7)
  28. Find signature stationary. (From Nico & Lala 3.21.14)
  29. Put my own twist on a classic recipe. (my killer chocolate cake!)
  30. Decide on a senior thesis. (09.15) 
  31. Go to a hot yoga class. (02.07.15)
  32. Run a 5K or half marathon. (07.14.16)
  33. Complete a DIY furniture project. 
  34. Host a guest interview on my blog. (4.22.14)
  35. Play a game in a casino. 
  36. Take the Chunnel. (11.28.14)
  37. See a Second City show. (7.11.14)
  38. Re-vamp my make-up routine.
  39. Master my own hummus recipe. 
  40. Get eyelash extensions. 
  41. Go scuba diving. (12.14 went snuba diving!)
  42. Learn how to shoot a gun. (6.21.14)
  43. See the châteaux of the Loire valley.
  44. Take a self-defense class. 
  45. Rent a vacation house with friends. (09.16)
  46. Go ziplining. 
  47. Floss everyday for a month. (4.15)
  48. Take a ballet class for the first time since high school. (6.14)
  49. See the East Side Gallery. (3.24.14)
  50. Watch Sweet Home Alabama. 
  51. Eat a cronut. 
  52. Adopt or foster a pet. 
  53. Buy a pair of Hunter boots.(8.17.14)
  54. Add a lock to the Love Lock bridge in Paris. 
  55. Apply for the Peace Corps
  56. Successfully bake an American flag cake. (7.3.14)
  57. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  58. Drink a butter beer. 
  59. Float in the Dead Sea.
  60. Pay for a stranger's dinner. 
  61. See the Stonehenge.
  62. Watch House of Cards. (3.23.14)
  63. Ride a camel in the desert. (12.08.15)
  64. Learn to open a bottle of champagne. (4.20.14)
  65. Try ten new restaurants in Chicago. (11/10: Elly's - 1.24.14, Seasons 52 - 1.24.14, Star of Siam - 3.2.14, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba - 4.4.14, Bandera/Sushi Samba - 4.5.14, Kingsbury Street Cafe - 4.6.14, BRUNCH - 4.20.16, Ann Sather's - 5.17.14, Derby - 5.27.14, Le Pain Quotidien - 4.4.14, Blue Door Farm Stand - 6.14.14)
  66. Keep a plant alive for more than two days. (6.12.14)
  67. Try two new fitness classes.  (2/2: Pilates 1.25.14, Spinning 2.6.14)
  68. Make a noticeable change to my hair. (6.24.14)
  69. Host a Superbowl party. (2.1.14)
  70. Go to Eataly. (7.11.14)
  71. Go without take-out for a month. (July & August 2014)
  72. Get a hot stone massage. Got a massage in Buda & realized I hate them - (10.20.15)
  73. Order from a food truck. (10.4.14)
  74. Find the perfect LBD. (07.27.16)
  75. Open a savings account. (01.28.14)
  76. Take my mother to show/musical. (07.11.14)
  77. Have my work published. (page 116 in Mille Feuille)
  78. Own my own domain ( (1.25.15)
  79. Watch 5 TED Talks. (5/5 - 08.16)
  80. See a politician speak live.
  81. Join a new organization. (01.16) 
  82. Learn how to play golf. 
  83. Go on a kayaking trip.
  84. Learn how to bake homemade bread. 
  85. Take a photo at the "City is Yours" mural. (05.09.14)
  86. Go to 5 new art museums. (3/5: Salvador Dali Berlin - 03.26.14, Helmut Newton Berlin - 03.28.14, Art Institute of Chicago - 04.05.14, Van Gogh Amsterdam - 11.22.14, National Portrait Gallery London - 11.29.14)
  87. Go to a country concert. (06.25.14)
  88. Have a T-shirt quilt made. 
  89. Karaoke. (03.29.14)
  90. Do a juice cleanse. 
  91. Visit Luisa in Germany. (03.22.14)
  92. Visit my brother & sister-in-law in San Diego. (03.18.15)
  93. Find and furnish my first solo apartment. (01.02.15)
  94. Have a job lined up for after graduation. (12.15)
  95. Find a way to incorporate meditation into my life. (02.01.14)
  96. Eat vegan for a week three days.  (08.13.14)
  97. Unplug for a day (no internet, phone, etc).
  98. Donate to a political group I believe in.
  99. Begin writing my first book.
  100. Watch the entire Titanic movie.
  101. Write a new 101 in 1,001 list when this one is finished!



That Time I Had A Streak Of Bad Luck

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It's no secret that my new year hasn't been the best one already, and we're only a few days in. I seem to keep having the worst luck. From having to tredge outside in this arctic blast to losing my apartment keys to burning myself horribly on soup. It's just been rough. But, as I was sitting around the table playing cards with my friends yesterday, I realized that I was moving so fast through the bad that I was hardly giving myself a second to catch the good.
Sure, the polar vortex is like living in the tundra, but at least we had a snow day that I was able to spend in great company and in a warm, cozy apartment. Perhaps I have misplaced my keys, but it's not impossible for me to get copies and if anything, it's shown me how great my roommates are. And yes, I did burn half of my hand while heating up soup today, but for some reason, I had one more pill of vitamin E in my cupboard that healed it in no time.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I may be unlucky at a lot of things, but when it really counts, I'm the luckiest in all the land. And I need to give myself the time to see this, which brings me to my point (it took a while, I know). The phrase "be still" has popped into my life at the oddest of times and its act continues to ring true. I remember the first time it made an impact. I was standing, looking out at the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul after dinner with new friends. I was joyful and scared and overwhelmed at the beauty and the change. But I chose to let the worry go and instead heard the words of my favorite The Fray song: be still and know that I'm with you.

Most people who know me know that I'm not a super religious person, but I do take my spirituality seriously. Whoever it is that embodies the "you" in that phrase is irrelevant because it reminds me unfailingly that I am not alone. This upcoming year may well be the toughest one I will face yet, and so I am adopting my mini-ritual into a more permanent habit. "Be still" is my phrase, my mantra for this year and maybe forever.

Be still and remember what is around me. Be still and know that I will make it through. Be still and know.

What is your mantra? 


Cooking With Em: Chocolate Cake

Monday, January 6, 2014

I've never met a chocolate cake I didn't like, but when my roommate and I decided to bake a cake for our third roommate, I just knew it had to be perfect. I will admit that I used a box cake mix, but there was still a bit that went into it - especially the mixing without an electric mixer! I said I wouldn't tell my secret ingredient, but it was too delicious not to share: coffee grounds. I read somewhere that coffee brings out the flavors in chocolate, and honestly, I should have thought of it first with all the mochas I've consumed in my life. I thought this would be the perfect time to try it out, so I sprinkled in a half a tablespoon of French Roast coffee grounds from Trader Joe's, knowing that no one would mind if the coffee flavor came out too strong.

The amount of batter was too much for one pan, and with our dinky oven, I figured two smaller cakes would cook more evenly. So we decided upon a layer cake. Now, I've never done layer cakes before but how hard could it be? ...surprisingly easy!

Before filling the two, 8-inch round pans, we greased them with butter and put a thin layer of flour so they would pop out more easily (thank goodness we did!) and stay in tact for the layering. After baking, we let them cool for a good hour or so before lifting them out of their pans and lathering on the frosting. By the time I finished putting a slight decoration in the frosting, I was incredibly proud. Who says college students can't cook?

Once everyone had arrived, we made a unanimous decision to decorate the cake with a gold dusting - kudos to my roommate's boyfriend for doing the honors! Aside from the slight lopsided-ness and the lack of frosting on the sides - one can is simply not enough - it turned out beautifully. And it tasted even better than I could have imagined.

Have a look for yourself:

When is the last time you baked something new? Any advice for an amateur baker? 


That Time It Turned To 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It may be cliché to write New Year's resolutions, but I felt this year I truly need some direction in my life and what better way to help ensure that than to make a list?

I'm very particular about my resolutions and I took a long while before writing them down. My rules are as follows: there may only be a maximum of seven resolutions (anything over is just setting yourself up for failure), there may only be one resolution that is vague (it's not a list of resolutions if there isn't an unattainable one!) and they must be painfully honest.

So I sat up late with my best friend, whose beautiful calligraphy is featured on the title of my resolutions, and hashed out the ugly truth of what I need to work on in my life.

 Now introducing: My 2014 New Year's resolutions...

  • read more books; my to-read list is a mile long and I cannot remember the last time I finished a book - this needs to change
  • learn everything I can about another religion; I am so fascinated by other religions, but I must admit I've always been too comfortable with my own to dive headfirst into a different world of thought
  • blog at least once a week; I don't spend nearly enough time writing down my life and I like that I can hold myself accountable for this week after week
  • make time for old friends; I get so focused on the future and I forget where I came from, I'm hoping to work on making these relationships a bigger part of my life like I have in the past
  • start saving money; I have opened up a savings account, so now I just need to bite the bullet and start putting money away so I can be more financially independent
  • figure out what matters to me; yes, this is the vague one, but it is still so important that wherever I'm going and whatever I'm doing is for myself and not due to some expectation
  • let myself love; this may sound like the unattainable one, but I know I'm wholly capable of knocking down the barriers I've built to protect myself if I try

What are your New Year's resolutions? 


P.S. I've linked up with some other great bloggers, if you like what you read here, check out their New Year's posts!

 pop fizz one