Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spring Break Essentials

I will be spending over 24 hours in a car next weekend.

As horrifying as it sounds, it will be worth it. Four friends and I are road tripping to Sanibel Island, Florida for our spring break next weekend. Five girls in a hotel, zero plans or obligations, and lots of sunshine are what I'm craving right now!

I never really understood when people would say that they need a vacation from work or life. In high school, I was always relatively relaxed and took time off when I wanted it or needed it. However, lately I have really felt the stress of being a college student creeping up on me. 

Social events (which are much more stressful than they sound), study abroad applications (TBA), tough Economics classes, and extracurricular obligations have really piled up this semester, and there's been more than once that I've found myself under the covers, a giant bowl of breakfast cereal in my hands, binge-watching House of Cards to ignore everything that was going on.

In other words, I really need a week of sun, friends, and relaxation!

If you're heading out for spring break with your friends, here are a few essentials to bring with you (besides car snacks, audio books, and some good music!)

A cute and trendy carry-all:
1. straw tote 2. sport mesh bag 3. striped duffle 4. leather backpack

Also, for some fun accessories, make sure to pack:

  • cute sunglasses
  • a fun towel (New Yorker towels at are on sale and super cute!)
  • quirky luggage tags 
  • a bright makeup bag

1. ray-ban sunglasses 2. new yorker beach towel 3. luggage tag 4. floral makeup bag

Are you going on a spring break trip? What are your spring break essentials? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spotlight: Spring Sneakers

As a Massachusetts native, I always laugh when it snows here.

At the first sign of a few snowflakes, Durham, NC completely shuts down. Streets are abandoned, schools are cancelled, and people sit inside, staring out their windows, afraid to go outside.

Not me.

Last snow day we had, there was 1 inch of snow. I wanted to buy some oranges from the Whole Foods down the street, so I got in my car, wiped the snow off my windshield, and drove down the road. Ignoring stares from people in snow boots and scarfs, hats and gloves, I coasted over ice patches and bought my oranges. 

That's how we New Englanders handle snow.

That being said, I'm done with winter. I can't wait for fresh asparagus and strawberries at the farmer's markets, cool, sunny mornings and warm afternoons, and dresses, flats, and short sleeves.

However, when winter blossoms into spring and the ground is still soaked, I have a hard time figuring out what to put on my feet. Boots are too warm, flats too delicate, and sandals are a long way away.

Enter one of spring's biggest trends: sneakers.

They are practical, comfortable, athletic chic, and super trendy. Take advantage of a trend that is as practical as it is fashionable.

Even though I tend to gravitate towards more sophisticated, feminine clothes, I love this look. You can dress them up or down, and they look great with skinny jeans, a graphic tee, and a big scarf. 

1. new balance for j.crew 2. vans for j.crew (on sale!) 3. nike for j.crew

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Weekender

~farm fresh eggs from the Durham farmer's market~

~a snow day in the south~

~duke beating university of north carolina in over time!~

~last day of the Miro exhibit at the Nasher art museum~

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chai Snickerdoodles

I went through a period of a few days (okay, maybe two weeks) where I would drink NyQuil every night before going to bed.

It wasn't good.

However, I was having a hard time falling asleep, because each time I would put my head on the pillow, my mind would race with obligations and plans and to-do lists, and I would feel like jumping out of bed and doing jumping jacks to get rid of the excess anxiety. The only way that I was able to go to sleep was with cold medicine.

Not okay.

Eventually I stopped taking NyQuil (crisis averted) and started creating other relaxing, natural bedtime solutions.

One of my absolute favorite ways to relax after a long, stressful day is a warm mug of chai tea, a few yoga poses, and some soothing lavender essential oil. My yoga instructor always uses lavender essential oil to adjust us in our final poses, and it is an extremely relaxing scent to fall asleep to.

The ritual of a mug of chai tea has become incredibly comforting. The warm, spicy drink warms up my body and signals my mind that it is time to go to sleep. It works really well! (although arguably not as good as the NyQuil....)

With this relaxing, soothing bedtime ritual in mind, I made Chai Snickerdoodles over the weekend.

These soft, pillowy cookies have the buttery, sweet taste of snickerdoodles, with the added spice of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger. They crinkle in your mouth and melt on your tongue, and are best minutes out of the oven!

Head to Jelly Toast for the recipe, and bake up some spicy, comforting cookies that make the perfect bedtime snack.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monday, February 16, 2015

Loving Yourself While in College

Sometimes it's hard to feel like a real person while in college.

You study, eat at strange times, try to sleep a minimum of 6 hours, drag yourself to the gym, and see your friends in drunken, hallucinogenic states at frat parties at night. Sometimes, when I sit down and make myself a cup of tea and read the newspaper, or a magazine, I feel little tendrils of guilt creeping in, like:

"You don't have time to relax! What is relaxing? You can read the news when you're dead!"

(which is obviously NOT true, btw)

In general, I think I have a better handle on this crazy lifestyle than my friends do. I'm always the one who goes to bed by midnight before exams, goes to the gym when I want to, takes yoga classes and goes to the farmer's market.

Yet, I still fall prey to believing that I'm stuck in a sort of limbo- one in which we don't need to take time for ourselves or our relationships, one in which our well-being and sense of self don't matter.

That's why, when there are opportunities to slow down, savor a morning, and spread self-love, I jump at them.

How I show self-love:

1. Read the New York Times everyday
2. Eat a really, really good breakfast! (like the one below- yum!)
3. Keep a lot of yummy fruit and tea on hand
4. Exercise at least 4 times a week
5. Listen to and make Spotify playlists

a fruit plate at brunch this weekend

What do you do to nurture yourself?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: For Her

Here's a Valentine's Day gift guide to celebrate all of your girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and cousins. Treat them to something amazing this Valentine's Day!

clockwise from top left

1. A pair of cheeky studs (75% until 2/12!)
2. Soft, sweet pajama bottoms
3. A fun tumbler for cold drinks
4. Chic, inexpensive d'Orsay flats
5. Adorable Valentine's Day cards from Rifle Paper Co.
6. Double chocolate covered figs from my favorite chocolatier
7. A sweet pink crop top for spring

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vogue's Vegan Salted Dark Chocolate Cookies

There's something about salty-sweet flavors that is completely addicting to me.

I realized how far I had taken this when I was eating oatmeal for breakfast in the dining hall and I started shaking salt onto it.

My friend immediately exclaimed, "What are you doing?" as I put salt on my strawberry/walnut/brown sugar oatmeal.

Although I don't know the scientific reasons behind this, I know for a fact that sweet things taste much sweeter when a little salt is added.

Ever heard of salt on watermelon?

Or salted caramel? (salted peanut butter caramels courtesy of Minimalist Baker)

It's definitely a thing.

So this weekend, in preparation for Valentine's Day, I made salted dark chocolate cookies.

And they are vegan. And from Vogue.


I found this recipe for Ovenly's Famous Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies on Vogue.  They were SO delicious! They were a cinch to throw together, too.

Add some extra flavor to these cookies by sprinkling some coarse sea salt over them. I used Celtic Grey Sea Salt. Let me know how they turn out!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A New Look: The Lob

I still have nightmares about a haircut that I received in 3rd grade.

I remember it clearly; I was living in Fort Myers, Florida and I badly needed a haircut. I was rocking a shaggy, sun-bleached and split-end 'do, and my mom told me that I needed to go to SuperCuts.

I think you all know where this is going.

When the stylist turned me around in my chair after I kindly asked her for a shoulder length trim, I gaped into the mirror. All of my hair was gone! I had a page-boy pixie cut that barely grazed my chin, with soft wisps of bangs that curled on my forehead. I was horrified.

I remember staring into the mirror and gasping for words, but nothing came out of my mouth. 

Numbly, I walked out the door and got into my mom's car.

"Your hair looks so cute!" she exclaimed.

Immediately, I burst into tears. "I hate it! That woman needs to go back to hair cutting college! She'll never work again!" I screamed, hysterical.

Looking back on it now, my hair was actually really cute, and I don't think the hairstylist at SuperCuts needed more hair education. Oh well.

However, this experience led me to fearing the dreaded "6 month trim" for the next 10 years. All through high school and into college, I would keep my scraggly, long, dark hair. 

That is, until this year.

Coming into my sophomore year, I knew I needed a change. I looked into the mirror and felt blah. I never wanted to change my makeup or my clothes, and I was bored with my appearance in general.

As I began to get more interested in fashion and art, I began to be interested in how one's appearance can change their whole personality and attitude. I began to slowly change my style of dress, change up my makeup, and finally, change my hair.

I ended up going for the famous lob that so many celebs have been sporting lately. And let me tell you, the effect was amazing.

By going a lot shorter and lighter, I felt free, lighthearted, and fun. I could shake my head around and put too much hairspray into it and it would look amazing. And I have received SO MANY compliments on it. If you're nervous about cutting your hair, don't be!

It was life changing.

Tips for styling: The Beauty Department

What I asked for at the salon:

Color: Bright, honey blond with lighter ombre pieces

Cut: Collarbone length lob with a lot of texture and movement

Friday, February 6, 2015

Weekend Reads

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I can hear the sobs and strife of single girls everywhere.

Not for me, though.

I've never thought of Valentine's Day as a day only for lovers, meant to exclude those who are not in relationships. Instead, I've viewed it as a day that everyone can celebrate, showing those they love that they are loved (disregarding when I was in 3rd grade and gave the kids that I didn't like the ugly Spongebob valentines).

As I've gotten older, Valentine's Day has been a day to celebrate with friends, parents and boyfriends and girlfriends. It's the one day of the year when you can buy heart socks, lust over Tory Burch Valentine's Day coin purses, and eat tons of chocolate (just kidding... that's every day).

So this year, don't view Valentine's Day as a day that is exclusively for people in conventional relationships. We are constantly in dozens of relationships all throughout our lives, and Valentine's Day is a chance to honor each one of those.

Here's some reading for the weekend to prepare you for the festivities:

1. Sweet rose flower crowns for a Valentine's Day brunch.
2. Adorable heart cookies for a special someone.
3. Quirky homemade Valentine's for kids (or for kids-at-heart).
4. Ever wonder what magical rainbow sprinkles are really made of? Don't worry, you can still eat them.
5. Hard to hear advice that every 20 something needs!
6. Raw chocolate pudding for Valentine's Day dessert (or breakfast!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to Host a Fancy Brunch

I love breakfast.

Honestly, if people want to get a good idea of who I am, just watch what I eat for breakfast. Usually, it's a bowl of creamy, steel cut oats with raisins and dried apricots stirred in, topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and a dab of coconut cream. I whip it all together and savor every bite, grinning like an idiot while I eat.

I also love getting inspired through these mornings. When I need some stress relief, you can bet that I'll be surfing recipes for breakfast foods and sweets, or reading articles on throwing fancy get-togethers. My passion for brunch and breakfast, as a sweet, quick way to gather friends and throw some sparkle into everyday life- led me to name this blog brunch and bijoux. 

Thus, when I feel as though I haven't seen my friends in awhile, and I am craving an escape from schoolwork and social situations, I plan a fancy brunch for me and my girlfriends, complete with delicious, homemade food.

Here's a quick guide to throwing a quick and easy get together that dazzles:

1. Set the table

A brunch or a dinner party would not be the same without some simply table decorations. My placemats are from Sur La Table, and the French hen towels are from Marshalls. The plates are from Pottery Barn. A few mismatched candles in different heights add some ambience to the table.

2. The food

The most important part. For brunch, I could afford to spend a little more time on the menu because I was feeding 5 women who appreciate presentation and healthy living.

I made:

Spiced Quinoa Granola with Apricots, Coconut Yogurt, and Clementine Jam Parfaits

Cinnamon Coffee Cake Muffins

Tropical Fruit Plate

These recipes came together quickly. You can make the muffins the night before with any flours/sugars that you have, use any fruit you have, and make variations on the granola.

I used drinking glasses for the parfaits, and served this meal with copious amounts of coffee and orange juice!

I will post the recipes for this brunch in a later post!

3. The people

Last element- the people. I invited 4 of my best friends over for this brunch, and it was great to sit together on a Sunday morning and catch up on our weekends. This is a great excuse to put off writing that paper! 

Next time you need an excuse to bring together friends, eat good food, and add some sparkle to your morning, follow these tips to create a brunch worth remembering!

Let me know in the comments if you make any of these recipes, or if you decide to throw your own brunch!

About Me

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Hi! I blog at Brunch and Bijoux. Celebrating les belles petites choses in life.
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