That Time I Tried My Hand At Calligraphy

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I have been a busy bee this quarter, and while I love it, I haven't had time to keep up with you all as of late! But better late than never, right?

Last Tuesday evening, my friend and sister, Lauren, and I went to a calligraphy workshop through Dabble (if you haven't heard of this website yet and you live in Chicago, go check it out immediately - it will change your life). The class was an hour and a half and only $20 - what a steal! We arrived to the venue early (it was at Bar Toma downtown) to grab a little food and chat. I highly recommend Bar Toma by the way; even though I didn't try the pizza, it looked and smelled absolutely delicious.

The class was being held in the back so the hustle and bustle of diners wasn't an issue. Lauren and I quickly made friends with the woman sitting next to us, a Colorado native, and we bonded over the horrid weather. Meg, our teacher, was probably the best calligraphy teacher you could hope for. She welcomed us all with a huge smile, started off with a small icebreaker and let everyone move at their own pace as she taught us different tips and tricks to holding the pen.

I'll be honest, I didn't take to the whole calligraphy thing immediately. I really was kind of wretched at first. But through trial and error, I can proudly say my writing looked half decent at the end of the ninety minutes. Yay!

My sad, first attempts...
Well on my way to a professional career!

The best part of the evening was really just getting to sit down with one of my best friends and laugh as we doodled and compared letters. Lauren was much better than I, but in my defense, she used to be an art major and is now in graphic design. You don't have to be artsy to major in International Studies or French.

Did I mention we got to keep the pens? I'm even thinking about picking up a couple more on Amazon...

Have you ever tried calligraphy?  What did you think? Any suggestions for Dabble classes to try?

That Time I Met Manny The Frenchie

Monday, February 24, 2014

This post is long overdue - I apologize for the wait.

A couple weeks back, I went to a blogging event at West Elm for my internship with Pretty & Fun. We decorated hearts for a paper heart chain that was to be donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in the spirit of Valentine's day - how cute, right? Anyway, I dragged my lovely roommate along with me and we got crafty. They had a huge array of decoration supplies and the store itself served as amazing inspiration.

My brilliant idea for a heart beat heart

Look at that chain!
I was so happy to be helping the cause and having so much fun with my roomie, I didn't notice that Manny the Frenchie - yes, thee Manny the Frenchie was there too! I had a bit of a fangirl moment (if you're reading this Isabel, I'm sorry for making fun of you when you met the YouTuber) and, of course, had to have my picture taken with the little guy. He is probably the most adorable dog ever. He was smiling (literally, see below) and climbing and running around the store. And the entire time I held him, he kept snorting. Ahh. I can't even; he was so cute.

Photos c/o Manny & Friends Facebook page
Needless to say, I want a french bulldog more than ever right now.


Cooking with Em: Stuffed Peppers

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hello, hello!

This one is for all you aspiring chefs out there. My mother made this delicious recipe when I was home over break and I couldn't wait to have it again, so I decided to make it myself! These stuffed peppers are probably the best thing that will happen to you in a while. I highly suggest you get yourself to the nearest Trader Joe's and pick up the ingredients ASAP.

Prep Time: approx. 20 minutes
Cook Time: approx. 1 hr and 5 minutes


2 TBSP breadcrumbs (or sourdough bread)
1/4 of an onion
1 jar of your favorite red pasta sauce
2 oz. Italian sausage (or Italian Tofurkey, it honestly tastes the same)
1/4 cup of tomatoes, diced
1 TBSP parsley
1 TBSP garlic
2-3 peppers (red and yellow taste best)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (half for inside, half for on top)
4 oz. ground turkey


Preheat oven to 350 F. Start by sautéeing the onions in a saucepan. Set aside. Then cut the tops off your peppers, gut them, and find a glass or ceramic dish to put them in - I had to use tin foil to hold one of them upright. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, add onions, ground turkey, italian sausage (this is for flavor only, I used Tofurkey sausage and it turned out great), parmesan cheese, parsley, chili powder, bread crumbs, tomatoes, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix together well. Then stuff the peppers with the mixture, careful to leave a little space for cheese at the top. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan over the peppers, cover with tin foil and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Take off the tin foil, then cook for 22-26 more minutes to broil the cheese - you won't regret it.



That Time I Attempted To Meditate

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's no secret that I'm a busy bee, and that I love my lifestyle. But sometimes after trekking home from the longest day of class, work, meetings, what-have-you, I wonder if I'm putting myself through too much. Am I going to be able to put my best foot forward in everything? What if I don't get everything I need to get done on time? Is this going to burn me out before I hit my 30's? (The latter is a real concern, since I was born to be in my 30's.)

After stressing and worrying all throughout my six-week break - in Hawaii, nonetheless - I realized that I needed to make a change. At first, it seemed I should just cut more things out of my life, but then I thought, that won't make me happy! I love having things to do, places to go and people to see! I was the most upset when I had nothing to do and no commitments. So I looked for an alternative: meditation.

I know it's stereotypical for college students to suddenly switch to a different religion, and Buddhism is probably at the top of the charts. The soothing idea of meditiaton, self-discovery and wise quotes is a haven for a student struggling with a heavy course load, social life and competing for jobs/internships. And while I've never been one to follow the crowd, I figured it might not hurt to try to live more introspectively.

After attending an event where Lodro Rinzler gave a talk on incorporating meditation into our daily lives, I was inspired. He started with a fifteen minute mini-meditation session, where everyone sat with our feet on the floor, hands on knees, backs straight and eyes forward while we focused on breathing - it's tougher than you might think! Interestingly enough, Rinzler encouraged keeping eyes open while meditation, because the end goal is being more aware of oneself and one's surroundings. (Plus, if you close your eyes, you will fall asleep. Believe me, I've been there.)

That short, quarter of an hour was the most astounding thing I've experienced in a while. I couldn't believe how many thoughts were flying through my head - reminders, ideas, observations, the list goes on. It was wretched, and Rinzler's method of silently telling yourself "you're thinking" each time you wander off into a daydream was excruciatingly difficult. But there was a glimpse of a peaceful moment somewhere in this and I knew I had to continue.

 I bought both of his books and have been reading them a little each day - his writing style is so down-to-earth, it's like having a conversation with my best friend! And I'm trying the meditation thing every once in a while until it becomes more natural. I can only get to 10 minutes before I have to get back to work on my ever-mounting to-do list, but hey, it's a start, right?

Rinzler also talked about the use of mandalas and putting a value at the center of your life, which hit home with me. I always have so much going on that I lose sight of what is grounding me and how it affects the people around me. The last topic he delved into was relationships, at which point he delivered my favorite message of the evening:

"We can be whoever we want to be, but let's not make that into the sum of who we are" 

I've already started to become more aware of my intentions and even put up some reminders on my mirror so I start and end the day right! (If you think that's cheesy, I'm sorry, but mirror messages will never get old.) Essentially, I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying my best to figure it out, be more present in my every day life, and become a little more compassionate along the way. 

Have you ever dipped into Buddhism or meditation? What was your experience?