Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful.

I try to constantly be thankful for the little things in my life. I mean, it's one of the major focuses of this blog, right? I still haven't figured out exactly how I want to approach weekly roundups and where the confetti has its place in all that, but that's neither here nor there. I don't think being thankful for the things in your life should be confined to once a year.

Even so, I figured I would be remiss if I didn't talk about all the things I'm thankful for this holiday season.

I'm thankful for getting to spend three days with my family this week, including some time with just my brother. Garrett and I decided (kind of last minute) that we would just split up for Thanksgiving. So now he's just going to drop me off in Chapel Hill at my brother's on Wednesday afternoon, and he and I are going to head to the beach to my parents' condo for a few days.

I'm thankful for pumpkin dip in my fridge right now. #sorrynotsorry

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving. This is definitely my favorite holiday. I love Christmas, but there's always so much pressure surrounding it that sometimes it's hard to REALLY love. But Thanksgiving is usually pretty easy, and it kicks off the Christmas season for me. What's not to love, right?

I'm thankful for getting a chance to catch up with my college BFF. (He lives in San Diego so we don't get to talk that much.)

I'm thankful for fleece-lined leggings and super thick socks.

I'm thankful for three-hour coffee dates with Jenna.

I'm thankful my car passed inspection. (One day, I'll have my life together and do it BEFORE the end of the month.)

I'm thankful for beginning to get my blog back on track.

I'm thankful for a cute apartment that we get to decorate together on Saturday.

I'm thankful I got to see Kelsey twice last week.

I'm thankful for cute umbrellas (seriously, the weather around here is SO GROSS).

I'm thankful for board games and wine with friends last night.

I'm thankful for this blog and all the awesome people I've met through it.

And I'm thankful for YOU! Yes, you. I hope you guys all have a great great great Thanksgiving!! Stay safe, eat a lot, and I'll see you on Monday!!!!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Appetizers: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dip


True story: this might be my favorite fall thing ever. Well, pumpkin lattes might be my first favorite, but this is a close second. 

This is a really simple pumpkin dip that I like to make once a week to eat during football games early on Thanksgiving, so you can munch on it while you cook everything else. It really gets you into the Thanksgiving spirit.

The good thing about this is that you can really tweak to be exactly how you want it. If you don't want a super pumpkin-y flavor, you could only do half a can of pumpkin, and you can alter the cinnamon, etc to suit you.

Ingredients:
One can (15 ounce) pumpkin
One (eight ounce) block softened cream cheese (if you forget to take this out early to soften it, you can microwave it for about seven seconds per side)
Two cups confectioner's sugar
A teaspoon-ish of cinnamon sugar
A teaspoon-ish of brown sugar
A sprinkle-ish of pumpkin pie spice
(All the best recipes have "ish" in the instructions, right?


1) Combine the cream cheese and sugar with a hand mixer. I keep it on the lowest speed until it gets creamy, and then I turn it up a bit.
2) Once they’re combined, gradually add the pumpkin. Once again, start slow and increase speed as ingredients combine.
3) Sprinkle in spices. Start with the recommended amounts, and then go from there.
4) Try your hardest not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.


And that's it! I mostly eat this with pita chips, but it's also really good on bagels (duh.) Other people tell me it's also good on vegetables like celery or whatever, but I can't vouch for that. 

If you end up making it, let me know how you like it!!!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Update-y Apartment Things

I was sitting at the kitchen table the other day, typing away at a blog post, when I caught myself looking around our apartment, kind of in awe that it's... you know... ours.

It's not an exceptionally fancy apartment... our furniture is pretty simple, and the transition hasn't been flawless (or easy, to be honest), but it's our apartment. There are days where I still can't believe that we actually made it to this point. There were a lot of tears and a lot of "only ___ more months" along the way, and there were times where I was sure it was never going to happen, because living together always seemed so far off in the distance.

But we made it, and we're in, and now we have a pretty freakin' adorable little apartment with nice neighbors and friends close by, and that's awesome, because you know what? We earned it. Being in a long distance relationship is the worst and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

This wasn't supposed to be THAT sentimental, I was really only going to show you a few pictures. Honestly, I was going to wait till we were a little more "finished" (are you ever really finished decorating a home? no.) but I love it so much in here, so I thought I'd share.


I know I've talked about this couch ad nauseam at this point, but I love it. I wasn't completely sure how it was going to look, and I definitely wasn't sure if Garrett was going to like it (he's very traditional in his decor choices) but I think it looks really cute in the room. Our living room isn't huge, so the bold print makes it fill up the room a bit more. I also love how the blue and yellow go well with it without being too obnoxious. And of course, if you follow me on Instagram, you know how much I love that Relax pillow.

I know it's probably silly to love a bookshelf so much, but I seriously love this bookshelf. We had a hard time arranging everything on there that we wanted, but I think it looks awesome in our little office nook.

I actually turned down this console table when we originally came into this furniture (I'm sure you remember we got it from my grandparents house) but I'm so glad I changed my mind. It fits perfectly in this area beside the window, and it looks awesome with my Birchbox tray and all of our wine corks and a few other little knick-knack type things.
Garrett surprised me while I was gone last week and put up these mirror tiles I'd had my eye on at Target . Originally, the plan was to put a mirror (or six) back there because the living room/office area doesn't have any overhead lighting, and we were thinking that the mirrors would bounce a bit more light through the apartment. I don't think it's really done that, but I think they look awesome back there regardless.
Also, I took two or three pictures of this area before I realized hellooooo, those are mirrors and you are in all these pictures, so there's me looking ridiculous. You're welcome.
 
This isn't a great picture because of the sun coming in through the window (we still haven't bought curtains), but I wanted to include one picture of the (working!) fireplace and the living room all together. I've never had a fireplace/mantel in an apartment before, and I think it's so great.
(The carpet looks really stained here for some reason, and it isn't. It was actually installed right before we moved in, which is both awesome and terrifying.)

We found out we can actually paint, but I'm not sure we will. For one, it's a lot of work, and two, what color would we do? Gray would be the only color that would really go with everything we have in there, and most of the time, going from one neutral to another neutral just seems kinda silly. So we'll see.

Overall, we're really fortunate that we already had most of the stuff we put in here and only had to spend money on updating some of it, and we were able to pull together an apartment that is cohesive and honestly, pretty stinkin' cute. (I may be biased.)

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Totally Legitimate Guide to Buying Gifts for your Favorite Blogger this Holiday Season





















Now that Christmas is jus a mere 35 days away (not five, like the Target holiday section would have you believe), it's time to start thinking about... Christmas presents! Shopping for Christmas presents is hard enough as it is, but shopping for a blogger is even more difficult. They have such specific, ever-changing tastes, and you want to get them something good, because, well... it's probably going to end up on their blog. So what's a person to buy? Here are some helpful suggestions:

Bloggers love coffee. Bloggers REALLY love fair trade coffee from local coffee shops, but since you can't hunt down each blogger's favorite place, Starbies will have to do. You can think of a Starbucks gift card as the gift that keeps on giving, as each gift card will result in at least five sepia-toned coffee photos. That's what I call a win-win situation. Also? bloggers LOVE pumpkin spice lattes. (Send an e-gift card and save on shipping.)
Starbucks
Bloggers love being organized. Even more than being organized, they love talking about how organized they are. Cue Erin Condren Life planners, the Mother of All Planners (TM). With this, your favorite blogger can keep all of her work, personal and blog things in the same place. Sure, it's huge, but bloggers love big totes and they cannot lie, so the size is fine. Plus, you can monogram them. And what do bloggers love more than planners? MONOGRAMS.
Erin Condren
This is an especially good gift if the blogger is your wife/girlfriend/sister/best friend, because anyone who spends time with a blogger knows that anything (no really, ANYTHING) can end up on the internet. Even though a lot of bloggers keep their blogs a secret, they would still love a tshirt. Trust me on this one.
CafePress
Most bloggers have blogs because they missed their calling in a more interesting, more fabulous profession. You can deny it, but it's totally true. Also, there's nothing bloggers love more than interesting decor they can highlight during their house tour vlogs.
Skoope Home Designs via Etsy
Sure, a blog is KINDA like a journal, but sometimes you need a place to put your innermost thoughts, AKA all the things that are too scandalous for the public. This is a guided journal, so you you can leave the content creation for your blog. Also, all of us bloggers are a little unhinged, right? A journal called "My Dysfunctions" would be a great gift for any of us.
KnockKnock Paper Products
Bloggers love champagne. Okay, bloggers love drinking in general, but they ESPECIALLY love champagne. Also, jewelry. That genius Kate Spade combined the two into one affordable earring set! Buy a pair for you, and a pair for your favorite blogger. These would be perfect for New Years.
Kate Spade via Bloomingdales

What are you buying your favorite blogger this year?

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Say What Now?


Do you hate Jenny McCarthy and the anti-vaccine crowd as much as I do?
Julia Ioffe posted an article this week called "I've got whooping cough. Thanks a lot, Jenny McCarthy." I've been a LONG time hater of hers, so it instantly piqued my interest. Julia, a healthy 31 year old woman living in New York has contracted an illness that we should have wiped out a long time ago.
Here's what: I know Jenny McCarthy isn't the EXACT reason Julia contracted the whooping cough. But this is something we've been vaccinating against for years and years. So why is a healthy 31 year old woman getting it now? Probably because someone didn't vaccinate their kid. The anti-vaccine crowd is pretty scary, and quite frankly, they piss me off. Whether or not you vaccinate your kid is a conversation that should be between you and your doctor, not some former playmate whose son was never even diagnosed with the disorder she enjoyed talking about so much. People who don't vaccinate are becoming more and more prevalent, and we're seeing the nasty affects of it. I'll never forget the rage I felt reading one blogger's post about not vaccinating her kid.. she said she didn't need to because everyone else vaccinated THEIR kid. Are you for real? ARE YOU?

Here's some news for you: your if you hurt someone's feelings, your intentions don't matter.
Jamie over at Everyday Feminism (there are a lot of J names in this post today.) talked about how lots of people are excusing their actions under the guise of "but I didn't mean to!" She says that when you keep talking about your intentions (instead of the feelings of the person you've offended, you're still making it about you, instead of the other person. And that's not cool.
Her advice? Listen more than you talk, reflect on what you've done, and apologize. Like... a real apology. None of this "sorry you got offended" crap. (I think we've heard this story before, right?)
Here's what: I think there are two important sides to this. If you've offended someone, whether you meant to or not, they're still offended, and you should apologize. BUT: I think there's a level of patience and tolerance that everyone should have in situations like this. For example, one time I made a comment about how awesome the 50s were. I was referencing the clothes, the music.... okay, mostly the poodle skirts. One of my friends said to me "Alyssa, you know the 50s were awful for everyone who wasn't a white man, right? It was a horrible time for civil rights." What? Duh. As soon as she said it, it made sense. And instead of yelling at me, or telling me to check my privilege, she explained why my thoughts were problematic. I think that's important. Sooo while I definitely agree that impact is more important than your intentions, you should always keep in mind that awareness is something that's learned, and we should work together to make sure we all become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift don't want to identify as feminists, but Courtney Stodden and Miley Cyrus sure do.
Both these ladies have said recently that they're definitely feminists. Miley says "she's for everybody" and Courtney says "real women support other women."
Here's what: Being comfortable with yourself and your sexuality doesn't automatically make you a feminist. Sure, they often go hand-in-hand, but one doesn't always equal the other. When you take your clothes off and make women feel like props, or less than human, how much of a feminist can you be? And Courtney? You can wear whatever you want to wear, and I'll never shame you for that. But "real women" don't support other women just because they're women, because women aren't delicate little flowers who can't stand a little criticism. That defeats the whole purpose. Also, stop using the phrase "real women." Because it sucks. You feel me?

What have you read recently that was really interesting? Anything good?!
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why I'll never apologize for taking too many selfies

Well, first things first: I kinda hate the word 'selfie.' I do not use it. Even after it was officially added to the Oxford dictionary in August. I think it sounds ridiculous.

But! that's not what's important here.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love a good selfie, especially if I'm having a good hair day or my outfit looks great. I enjoy compliments just like anyone else (show me someone who says they don't enjoy compliments and I will show you a lying liar who lies), but I document these days for myself just as much as I do others. Sure, I have a decent social media following, but none of that is going to matter in ten years, or five, or maybe even one. What will matter is all the pictures (of myself and of others) I'll have to look back on. That's pretty cool. (We'll leave the conversation about how you can't do ANYTHING without it being documented for another day.)

Everyone loves to rip on girls who take selfies. They LOVE it. And since selfies really became A Thing this year (the selfie hashtag has grown over 200% since January of this year), there's a whole lot of ripping going on. People love to use selfies as evidence that millennials are selfish and narcissistic.

Sure, there are plenty of people who post pictures of themselves for the headpats and the obsessive compliments. But selfies are hardly new: kings, queens, and other obnoxiously rich people have been posing for self portraits for centuries (and those take HOURS to complete). And don't forget the original: Narcissus died looking at his own reflection. Compared to those examples, a few teenage girls with an Instagram account hardly seem like a big deal.

Along with criticizing millennials for being too self-absorbed, it's understood that millennials are good at multitasking. They're good at balancing a lot of things at the same time. So wouldn't it make sense that millennials are capable of caring about themselves and other people?

I know. It's a real leap.

The Millennial Impact Report for 2012 stated that 75% of millennials donated money to a cause they were passionate about, while 63% spent some time volunteering. That's a pretty huge number, right? Surely millennials aren't THAT narcissistic if they spend that much time doing things for other people.

And also: why do people enjoy knocking other people down who have the self confidence to post a picture of themselves? I'm going to say it: I think people hate selfies because they'd rather insult a woman than accept the fact that her confidence has nothing to do with the men around her.

Selfies are reflective. They're a chance to look at yourself the way other people see you. Each one is kind of like a mini-autobiography, giving people a glimpse into your life and what you're doing right then. That's pretty freakin' cool, and it's something to be celebrated, not trashed.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

These are my confessions...


We've been internet-less the last week, so that's why I haven't been posting lately. Hopefully we'll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

True confession Tuesday used to be a thing over on Tumblr... is it a thing here? Can we make it a thing here? Even though they're not dirty secrets, they're mostly just some mind-dumpy, kinda boring secrets.

- It sucks not having internet, but I'll be honest, I haven't missed blogging that much until today. The pressure! It's too much! But I'm glad to be back now.

- Urban Decay announced the Naked3 palette today and I am DYING over it. I spent a good 20 minutes analyzing all the colors and a few minutes after that arranging to be at Sephora the day it launches so I can see it in person.

- I've been in a cranky mood most of the day because it's FREEZING outside and rainy and apparently it's supposed to snow later in the week and I think that is the worst. I am 100% a snow scrooge. Not sorry about it.

- I've been thinking a lot about changing my blog name again. I thought about it a few months ago, but I never pulled the trigger because I was never fully committed to any names that I thought up, but I think I might have one that I really love. Maybe a new name for the new year?

- There are a lot of times where I don't feel old enough or mature enough to be someone's daughter-in-law. Not because of anything specific that's happened (we spent this weekend with Garrett's parents and it was great), it's just... because, I guess.

- After I typed the title of this post, I started listening to Usher circa 2004, and I am loving it.

- I am stupid excited to start decorating for Christmas. Even though I don't decorate until Thanksgiving, I've been itching to start putting stuff out now. Too soon? Hmmmmm.

- I judge anyone who says they don't like Christmas. #sorrynotsorry

- I've decided I'm going to stop saying "I respect your opinion" when someone says something I don't agree with. Because usually, I DON'T respect whatever dumb statement came out of your mouth. I respect your right to have that opinion, but I think saying "I respect your opinion" is kinda dumb. So that's my ridiculous declaration for today.

- One of my friends lives in LA and posted today that she was trying to decide between spending $200 on a new iPhone and spending $200 on a 200 slice pizza. I laughed when I read it, but then I realized that I don't know how I would decide either.

- It's been one calendar year since I've had a haircut. Is that bad? I mean, I know it's bad, but it's it THAT bad?

- I didn't take a SINGLE picture all weekend. Garrett and I took a road trip selfie before we left (duh) and I didn't take another one until.... today, I think. That's sooo not like me and it's really freaking me out.

- This post is going up really late in the day and I'm kind of embarrassed by it.

Okayyyyy I think that's all for today. Meet you back here tomorrow for a real, actual blog post. How novel, right?!

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I've Learned In My Six(ish) Months Of Blogging

I started this blog about six months ago. Okay, like eight months ago. I created this blog in March of this year, but didn't start really posting until April. Anyway, I'm not an expert blogger by any means (lolz) but I have learned some things along the way, and I figured I'd throw them into a post in case they help someone else who's just establishing their blog.


You don't really need Passionfruit (or any other ad network) if all you're doing is swapping buttons. Don't get me wrong, I l-o-v-e love Passionfruit. When you're ready to actually sell ads, it's totally worth it. But if you're only going to swap ads with people, just add those boxes yourself. It's easy!! (If you need help with this, let me know, k?)

Give your blog some time to evolve organically, and give yourself time to find your writing voice. When I started this blog, I knew I didn't want to curse, and I wanted to keep it a totally positive space. I've stuck with the no cursing thing (for the most part. occasionally, a curse word adds the exact amount of emphasis I'm going for), and I keep it mostly positive around here. I posted in the beginning about how I didn't think that you NEED to post negative things to make yourself relatable, and I stand by that, but life isn't always happy and wonderful, and it's okay when your blog reflects that.

It's okay if your blog doesn't fit in a niche. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to find a place where I fit in. Then I realized that I've never worried about putting myself into one box, because there are so many sides to my personality. So why would I put that kind of pressure on my blog? You'll find people that love you and your blog no matter what your niche is. There are plenty of every type of blogger - you'll find your people soon enough. I promise.

Wait a few months before you purchase a blog layout (or be prepared to pay for revisions later.) You'll find that the things that you want at the top of your blog will change as your blog changes shape. Give yourself time to figure out what you really want up there before you spend $50-$100 letting someone design something awesome for you. It also takes a while to figure out what you like and don't like in a blog design. If you decide you DO want a fancy blog design immediately (I don't blame you), be prepared to pay a small fee for file storage and another one for revisions so you can change things as you need to.

Set goals, and then change them. My plan was always to center my blog around the set of goals that I set for myself. While I still DO try to stick to those goals, after I let my blog evolve on its own (ahem), I figured out that that I didn't want to limit the content on my blog to ONLY those things - I love having a place to talk about what's going on in my own life (duh) and a sounding board when I want to talk about politics/The Issues.

Blogging veterans might read this and think "well duh, Alyssa. How could you not know that stuff?" but for me, they're things I definitely have had to learn. In fact, I think I learn something new about blogging every single day.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Say What Now?

 
 
Have you ever written a review on Yelp? Because if so, they might owe you some dolla bills.
APPARENTLY there are some people in California who think that their fervent writing of Yelp reviews means that they're Yelp employees, not contributors. They claim that the website is so successful because of their reviews, which is somewhat true. Apparently, there's a whole Yelp hierarchy where you earn points and status with every review that you leave, and there's a subgroup of "Yelp Elite" member. Yelp provides perks in lieu of monetary compensation to these people, and apparently that's what they're so angry about. Perks may include badges, social media promotion, free food and free liquor. Wait.... this is a problem? You're pissed about free booze?
Here's what: is there something in the water lately? What is with all the "BUT I AM AN EXPERT! I AM A WRITER!" special snowflake garbage? Whether or not Yelp contributors should be considered employees (they shouldn't), the entitlement here is astounding. No one forced you to write Yelp reviews until your fingers fell off, and no one pressured you to write a misleading review except for yourself. If you don't like the way Yelp handles their reviews, stop leaving reviews there. And DEFINITELY stop calling Yelp a "slave ship." Are you FOR REAL? You remember ACTUAL slavery, right?
 
Rejection. We've all felt it.
One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel, wrote the best article on rejection and what she's learned from it. She discusses the feelings we've all felt at some point in our lives, whether it was professional, personal, or somewhere in between. Rejection is hard, and sometimes, learning something from it is even harder.
Here's what: It seems like every article written by a millennial lately has been some defense of "this is why we are the way that we are." While that's all well and good, at some point you have to stop talking about it, and start being about it, and that's exactly what Rachel does. Accept the facts as they've been given to you, figure out how you can use them to better yourself, and move on.
 
Do you call yourself a feminist?
Recently, Kelly Clarkson stated that she didn't identify as a feminist because she thought the word elicited negative feelings in people, and quite frankly, it's something I felt like I could relate to.
It's hard to identify as a feminist when there are radical organizations like Femen who don't represent REAL feminism at all. But that's the dichotomy that most people get stuck in pretty often, right? Identify as something, get associated with the absolute worst parts of that thing, and then.... what do you do at that point?
Here's what: if the singer behind a song called "Miss Independent" doesn't feel comfortable identifying as a feminist, there's a problem, right? Feminism is incredibly misunderstood and often used as an insult. (Do NOT get me started on Rush Limbaugh and the term "feminazi.") But what do we do about that? How can we teach people that being a feminist is a GOOD thing? That we're not all man hating, bra burning, 'I don't need no man' crazypeople? I value my independence a great deal, but that doesn't mean I don't love coming home to a man I'm very deeply in love with. And why shouldn't I love that? There's no reason it has to be one or the other.
 


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