These DIY Tassel Necklaces Are The Perfect Galentine’s Day Gift

DIY Tassel Necklaces

With Galentine’s Day just a few days away, it’s time that we all come up with the perfect DIY for our favorite ladies, and what better than these super easy tassel necklaces?

Tassel necklaces are pretty in vogue right now, which I’m a totally a fan of. Too bad I’d have to sell my first-born son to be able to afford one. Seriously, these necklaces are a waaay too expensive for something that you can so easily make yourself at home. I say make them in bulk and gift them to all of your favorite single (or not single!) gal pals this Galentine’s Day. Isn’t that what Leslie Knope would do?

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You’re going to need:

  • Embroidery thread. I used the kind of shiny thread, but any type is fine.
  • Long chain (I used gold). You can either buy chain and clasps at the craft store, or scrounge around for a cheap long necklace to steal the chain from.
  • Large and small jewelry rings matching the color of your chain.
  • Scissors.
  • Pliers.

Start off by taking the wrappings off of your embroidery thread and unrolling it.

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Then cut either looped end of the thread, and pull out 5-7 individual threads to set aside. You’ll use these laters to tie together your threads, making the tassel.

Next, fold all threads in half. You should end with one trimmed end and one end that’s like a loop.

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Using the looped end, pull your thread through your larger jewelry ring.

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Proceed by cutting all loops, so either end of your thread is trimmed. Then, take the 5-7 individual threads you put to the side earlier and wrap these around your threads to make the tassel.

Being totally honest, this is going to take a few tries — I even enlisted my mom for help. You want to make sure you have all of your threads pulled through the ring nice and smooth so to make this a pretty convincing designer dupe. You can either wrap the individual threads once around your tassel and then tie, or do it twice or even three times. It is totally your preference. I wrapped mine twice.

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At this point the hardest part is over; there are just two quick things you need to do to make your necklace dope as hell.

The first is to do a final trim of your tassel. The amount you trim off will completely depend on how long you like yours. I left mine probably three inches long. Pro tip: you know those individual threads you used to tie off your tassel? Trim those to the length of your tassel, not down to the knot. In the very upsetting and potential event that this knot comes untied, it’ll make things easier to have more thread to work with when you re-tie it.

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Now it’s time for that medium or small jewelry ring to come into play. This is what’s going to hook your tassel onto your chain. Using your pliers, wrangle that sucker open a little bit and slip it onto your bigger ring. I like to slide it onto my chain at this time, too, because I can’t fit it over the clasp of the chain. Don’t forget to close the ring. That’d be a really stupid thing to do.

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And there you have it! Whether you and your friends are going on romantic Valentine’s Day dates (lucky betches), or you’re spending a fantastic Galentine’s Day eating waffles with your hottest lady loves, I hope these tassel necklaces will do you some good. Happy holidays, everyone!

galentines day gif

5 Teams to Watch at UDA National Dance Team Championship 2016

NDTC 2016 Graphic Edit

If you all thought I loved UDA College Nationals, you ain’t seen nothing yet… I’m just dying for UDA National Dance Team Championships to get rolling.

I feel like the NDTC is something that really got me into dance team and dance in general. I’ll never forget seeing one of the great teams for the very first time, and seeing a whole new world of dance. I feel like every year I fall in love with dancing a little bit more in a little different way watching the NDTC.

I’m really looking forward to the UDA high school nationals this year because they have seriously switched up the game adding in the medium category. Honestly I think it’s a pretty good call. If you look at some of the winning large teams compared to the small teams, they really aren’t much bigger. It’s not super fair to the teams that really are big… Like 20-something dancers big.

Anywho, amongst all this excitement about the new categories, these are the teams I’m just dying to see this year:

Westmoore Pom Squad

I’m putting them first because it’s honestly no surprise. I ranted and raved about them last year because every time they dance I die. I think they’re dancing in medium this year, which will be really interesting considering it’ll be a brand new category and we really don’t know for sure who they’ll be against. Imagine if the medium category is like, Westmoore, Coral Reef, and Eden Prairie… Like shit, that’d be a killer division. I’m dying to know who is joining them in medium!

Eisenhower

Eisenhower brought something to UDA that isn’t usually brought… a fierce jazz. You see a ton of fierce jazz at NDA — both high school and college — but you see way more lyrical at UDA. But last year Eisenhower fucking brought it. Nevermind the fact that they have approximately nine thousand squillion dancers on that floor and they’re super clean… I really hope that they stick with their fierce jazz this year, because it was such a breath of fresh air.

Floyd Central

I don’t know much about Floyd Central’s program except that Todd Sharp is their coach, and I respect the actual fuck out of Coach Todd Sharp. If he runs his Floyd Central team anything like his Louisville teams, then I know that these girls are hardworking, strive for nothing but the best, and are driven toward success. For years Floyd Central has been in the mix for both hip hop and pom, and I really want this year to be their year.

Eden Prairie

What freaking technicians… I feel like Eden Prairie has been such an underrated team for the past few years, but they honestly have such a solid program and a great group of dancers. I feel like one of the reasons why they might not have done as well in jazz last year is because their routine was kind of confusing. Where they trying to do an Adam and Eve thing? Harkening back to Minnesota’s Garden of Eden routine a few years ago? I really don’t know, but pushing past my confusions I actually really loved what they did. I hope they bring it with something fierce this year, because they’re one of the teams I really think could take the whole competition.

Los Alamitos

So it’s probably cheating that I’m repeating two teams two years in a row, but Los Alomitos really deserves it. They had the hands down most entertaining routine from the entire NDTC last year, and they genuinely left me on the edge of my seat to see what they will do this year. Hats off to you ladies, Los Alos.

 

5 Teams To Watch At UDA College National Dance Championships 2016

 

UDA college nationals 2016

UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships are this weekend, and we all know what that means – my blog is about to go hog freakin’ wild.

Dance team nationals are honestly some of my favorite things ever. They’re these super boiled down displays of teamwork, an intensified showcase of athleticism and artistry all into one two and a half minute routine. I’ve always said that something that makes dance team so unique as a sport is that the stakes are so high – it’s not like we get multiple games to rack up a good record; we can’t just “play better next week.” We have to own it for those two minutes we’re out there, and if we don’t, all of the months of hard work are gone.

It’s so thrilling, which is why I keep up with it so closely, even when it’s a competition I don’t go to, and even when I’m already a year out of college.

In anticipation of the big weekend, here are my top picks to keep your eye out for at UDA 2015 college nationals:

  1. University of Minnesota and University of Tennessee Division IA Jazz

Yes, I’m going to put these two together because while I’m super pumped to see what these teams do individually every year, what I’m really looking forward to this year is seeing the absolute showdown that we all know is coming. In 2015 Tennessee blew up the universe by beating University of Minnesota in 1A jazz using the same song as Minnesota. Gauntlet thrown.

I’m going to have to preface my prediction with this: University of Tennessee has always been my favorite collegiate dance team at UDA, and their 2009 Iris routine is my all-time favorite. That said, I don’t think they’re going to win out this year. Minnesota has to be coming back with their talons blazing, ready to do anything to regain their dynasty. I know they’ve had good old Carl Mundt in practice from time to time, and their camp routine was flawless. Tennessee’s camp routine was more their usual thang, which means I was kind of underwhelmed considering their mind-boggling routine from last year.

Needless to say, I’m going to be on the edge of my fucking seat waiting to see how this one plays out.

  1. University of Cincinnati Division IA Hip-Hop

SLAAAAAY KWEEN, SLAY. Last year the University of Cincinnati took it all with their hip-hop routine, and rightfully so. It was honest to God the most innovative hip-hop routine I have ever seen (and I’ve seen Brigham Young University at NDA nationals live in the flesh four times, so that’s really saying something). I’m honestly just curious to see if Cinci can follow that up. I know they’re going to be amazing, but they made enormous shoes for themselves to fill, and I’m wondering if that’ll even be possible.

  1. University of Central Oklahoma Open Jazz, Open Hip-Hop

UCO!!! These bad bitches were always in my team’s division at NDA, and I was super shocked last year to see that they changed competitions. Truth be told, they usually got totally screwed every year at NDA, so I was really excited to see that they took the plunge in UDA instead.

Last year they got fifth in Open Jazz and 10th in hip-hop which is unbelievable for newbies at UDA if you ask me. I always loved competing against these girls, and really respected what they brought to the table. They’re fierce competitors, and I’m really pulling for them to improve both finishes from last year.

  1. St. Joseph’s University Division I Pom

What would this article be without a little bit of love for the pom girls? It’s so awkward because I feel like as a jazz dancer, I never really hear about pom, but oh my God is it hard to do. I have such respect for these ladies, and I have to tip my cap to them in this article.

St. Joseph’s was last year’s winner, and that’s especially notable because in 2014 they came in fifth. That’s an crazy jump and I have so much respect for that. I’m super curious to see if it was a fluke or if they’re going to create some sort of DI pom dynasty that we all follow as closely as Minnesota’s.

  1. Arizona State University Division IA Jazz

…because they got robbed.

Not to say the people who beat them weren’t good, but these girls got sixth place AND DANCED TO A GODDAMN A CAPELLA VERSION OF MY HEART WILL GO ON. Not only is that song generally epic, but dance teaming to a capella music is damn near impossible and I will forever be impressed by this. I could literally feel the passion of Celine dripping out of their pores.

Plus, they had a straight up fall on a girl’s butt during that dance and nobody talked about it (although maybe that’s because none of us could shut up about Tennessee and Minnesota). If that’s not impressive then I really don’t know what is.

I’m seriously so excited to see if these girls can go back to their circa 2012 prowess and not get absolutely screwed this year.

On writing better & 2016 resolutions

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The other day I read a really interesting article on Vox about “reverse outrage.” Overall, what I’m going to write about here and what they wrote about there aren’t going to sound very similar, but the article spoke to me and led me here today.

In sum (although I truly urge you to read the article linked above): In 2015 there were numerous trending internet topics that got massively out of control. Between #BoycottStarWarsVII (a pretty racist movement born out of a total rando who thought the new Star Wars cast wasn’t whitewashed enough to his liking) and those damn Starbucks cups, the internet via social commentary has taken some super obscure social commentaries and blown them to massive proportions that they otherwise would not have reached.

This is a wee bit of an issue because it gives these really negative stories a ton of fame, fame that nobody wants them to have.

But here’s the conundrum: we media types love these inflammatory remarks. Inflammatory remarks increase clicking and sharing and commenting, and every website needs that kind of traffic to stay afloat. There is no mainstream media outlet that did not benefit from the red cup debacle, and I can tell you that with great certainty. There is no mainstream media outlet that is not benefitting from Donald Trump, none that is not benefitting from a random racist tweet against Muslims, none that is not benefitting from a scare tactic relative to immigrants.

And it’s perpetuating a nasty little cycle.

As an aspiring professional writer, I’ve been struggling with that cycle for a few months now. Maybe it’s because I got a little too into The Newsroom when I was funemployed this summer (watched the series three times in a row, Maggie and Jim #4ever), but I actually left a writing gig because I felt a little icky about the stuff I was writing, feeling like maybe exploiting some issues just to get traffic was kind of trashy.

I was writing articles with purposefully inflammatory headlines (ones that I sometimes didn’t agree with) all for the sake of getting enough shares to be picked up by the Huffington Post. I was successful numerous times, but still couldn’t shake that discomfort that came with knowing I was simply baiting people into sharing my story. I eventually stopped writing for this website because as a young writer, I don’t want to shape myself into someone who mass produces trash.

I can pat myself on the back all I want for that move, but the awkward truth is that most of the media isn’t a PBS endeavor. We get by on clicks. We discuss sharable topics. We highlight things other people want to talk about. As someone who’s quickly learning that money definitely matters (chat with your rent-collecting landlord next time you claim otherwise), I know that it is important to cover things that people want to hear about. The catch, however, is to do so with the utmost responsibility.

I’m still finding my voice as a writer. I’m 22 years old, have barely seen anything besides New England mountainscapes, and am only starting to think about scratching the surface of what it means to be a writer. But what I’m learning about, and what I hope to continue to explore, are ways to always be better. Right now, being better means being responsible. Right now, being better means knowing that creating false ire in your readers in the name of “discussion” is not journalism, even though talking about trending topics might be.

In all of this talk about being better, I want to call your attention to these closing remarks to that Vox article I talked about at the top of this piece:

We often don’t care about the fixing the wrong or adding to the conversation; all we see is an opportunity to affirm some version of ourselves by taking a side and making a scene. And in doing so, we’ve figured out a way to dismantle complex ideas into simplistic, easily digestible things that, in the end, are ultimately disposable – until the next fight comes around.

It’s New Years Eve today, and as I keep pushing to get new writing opportunities, new writing jobs, new people to read and help me with my writing, I’ve decided to start peddling a better product. In 2016…

I resolve to add more links when I write. Not links back to my own stuff, but to facts, to further reading, to people who definitely can explain a phenomenon way better than I can. Adding facts is the key to responsibility.

I resolve to be myself, because I think that’s what I’ve been looking to do all along. Being myself (as opposed to someone else) is definitely what I do best, and I know there is nobody who can do it quite like me.

I resolve to shelf long columns/personal essays for three days before publishing. I’m great with deadlines, but sometimes to a fault. I tell myself I’m going to post on a date, and I do, but that means I rarely reconsider what I’m going to say; it is one of the curses in disguise in this blogging world. I need to put my money where my mouth is and triple check I’m saying something I actually want to say.

I resolve to fix the wrong. There are two certain occasions I can specifically think of off the top of my head where I’ve started off saying, “I don’t know the answer to this problem, but I’m going to talk at you about it anyways.” I’m proud of what I said, and I do not fundamentally think it was trash, but I hate that I qualified it with “I don’t know the answer.” Clearly I thought I did. Clearly I thought I could help right the wrong, even if in a peripheral way. I resolve to write constructively about issues instead of retweeting news breaks. I resolve to do the best I can in acknowledging what people want to talk about, but to always make sure the energy I’m putting out there with my words helps fix something in some way.

Writing Love Letters, Because the World Needs More

Our mission is simple- make love famous.The More Love Letters movement, spearheaded by the talented Hannah Brencher, is something pretty close to my heart. You see, Hannah is a graduate from the same school as me (and pretty cool fact, she also held the same position as me on the school newspaper when she attended Assumption).

Hannah inspires the hell out of me because she’s managed to make a life out of something pretty important to me – writing. Her words are beautiful and careful and deliberate, and every time she posts something new to her blog I’m sucked in like a vacuum, like her words were something filling an empty space I didn’t really know I had.

She also inspires the hell out of me because she’s managed to do all of this on a purely optimistic platform. As someone so consumed by the news and the little bitty world of new media, I’m blown away by people who can write without cynicism or sarcasm and who choose to use their talent to build a positive space in this world.

I learned how to write by letting love letters spill out of my soul for a boy who I was never going to let read them. I let them stack up in notebooks next to my bed and a special Microsoft Word folder on my laptop. They kept me company when he’d be sleeping silently beside me and wrote themselves in my head when his antagonisms were the loudest words in the room. And even though I don’t write him letters anymore, I’m glad the More Love Letters movement exists so I can write some for someone.

more love letters

I wrote to Anistazia for MLL’s 12 Days of Letter Writing because she spoke to me. I felt her somewhere in my heart. There are so many deserving people on the 12 Days list, and someone will speak to anyone, but Anistazia’s story was brand new to me and felt familiar all at the same time.

Anistazia had a once in a lifetime romance. She was a slave in Germany during WWII and after immigrating to America she married her childhood sweetheart. They kept their vow of, “until death do us part” but when he died a part of her did as well. Since his passing she had to enter an assisted living home but she still, “chooses to find the beauty in everyday and shares that beauty with everyone she meets.” Let’s give Anistazia all the love she’s given to others over the years.

I think it’s easy during Christmas time to get wrapped up in so many different things. You’re trying to find the perfect present for your family members and loved ones, deciding which charity to donate to, trying to fit in every special featured on the 25 Days of Christmas. But I want to let you in on this: this letter took me 10 minutes to write. It cost me the price of a stamp. It took me the drive to the post office.

If you’re looking to do some good this holiday (and aren’t we all?) this is something to look into. This is something to consider. Drop by the More Love Letters site and try your hand at donating a smidgen of your time and stationary to make someone’s holiday.

2016 Christmas Gift Guide: Companies Who Give Back to Charity

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

When you get older (hah… I’m 22), you start to realize that the holidays and Christmas time are about a lot more than just upping your Instagram game with pictures of your tree and drinking spiked hot chocolate (although there definitely is not age limit to enjoying that stuff, too!) It’s not even about getting the perfect present for your family and friends. Nah, when you get older, you start to realize that the holiday season is about helping those who don’t have much during this time of total extravagance. Nothing makes you notice the needy more than a season characterized by buying things.

But I’m starting to realize that I can have it all — the buying gifts and giving back, that is.

i can have it all

By looking into companies who actively engage with charity, you can easily find that perfect gift and help folks in need. Give consciously people — it’s the raddest!

The Body Shop

Buying from The Body Shop is cool because all of their stuff is natural and they have so many great values like protecting human rights and saving the planet. But did you know that this year, if you purchase one of their selected gift sets you’ll be helping them give one day’s worth of clean water to a family in Ethiopia? Too. Cool. Nevermind the fact that The Body Shop has some pretty great (and great smelling) products, this is an awesome cause to donate to.

Soap Box Soaps

Get off your dang soap box, you preachy asshole!

soap box soap

…except totally don’t because Soap Box products are awesome, and do awesome things. Similar to The Body Shop, purchasing Soap Box products helps provide clean water to a community in need. While I’ve never used a bar of Soap Box soap, I have used their shampoo and conditioner, and it smells dope as hell and makes my hair super shiny. What better gift than the gift that keeps on giving in so many ways.

Bird&Stone

Nothing better than some super cute jewelry… except for when that super cute jewelry that helps other people. When Bird&Stone’s founder, Elena, took her first trip to Kenya, she saw crazy poverty and wanted to do something to help. After seeing the positive effects microloans (small sums of money that help people restart their lives) have, she decided to start selling some of her gorgeous jewelry to help fund some more of these microloans. I can def get on board with some of that.

Warby Parker

Ryan Gosling wants you to buy your friend Warby Parker crap.
Ryan Gosling wants you to buy your friend Warby Parker crap.

Warby Parker is pretty well-known as a glasses company. Now, you might be thinking, wow Sara, what an awk gift to give someone. And you’re totally right. Giving someone a set of their prescription frames is a wicked awkward gift, but good thing Warby Parker also sells sunglasses, fools! If you’re looking for a great pair of sunglasses to give a dear, dear friend or family member (because I’m not going to be the type of person to say $150 sunglasses is cheap), opt not for Ray Bans or whatever, but for something just as cute from Warby Parker.

As a lot of you all know, Warby Parker donates a pair of glasses to a kid in need for every pair they sell. Pretty rad, eh?

Out of Print Clothing

Books and loungey, slouchy t-shirts are kind of the perfect combination, which is why you should definitely gift your friends something from Out of Print Clothing. Get your loved ones’ favorite book quotes on a shirt or coaster or mug or matchbox (super regular), and you’ll also be sending a book to a community in need through another awesome org called Books for Africa. We all freaking love books, so spread the love and help some get to the kiddos who really need them.

DISCLAIMER: Influenster sent me the Soap Box shampoo and conditioner. All of my opinions on it are my own!

Ryan Gosling photo credit via this Buzzfeed article.

The Thing With the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Whatever side of this you're on, the rhetoric we use to talk about these people who risk their lives... so their kids have a chance at not being dead makes it sound like we're talking about scraping gum off our shoes.

I’m starting off with this: I have absolutely no idea what I think should be done about the Syrian refugee crisis. I tend to have a politicly big mouth, but with this one… I can’t seem to make words. On the one hand, national security is of utmost importance and I’m perfectly aware that one of the Paris bombers got into the EU via a Syrian refugee program; but on the other, this massive humanitarian crisis is pulling at my merciful little heart.

(That said, you, dear reader, most likely don’t know what to do about the Syrian refugee crisis, either, whether you’re willing to admit it or not. In fact, most folks really don’t.)

The only thing I’m really confident in here is that we have got to change the rhetoric with which we’re speaking about these people — yes! people! — and remember that we all ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of humans trying to live freely and in peace. Whether their policy proposals are correct or  not, I’m disappointed at the way a lot of the country’s leaders are talking about the refugees.

This isn’t because I think we should admit them (but I’m not sure we should, either!). It’s because none of them are acknowledging that it is a tragedy that these people are displaced. It is a tragedy that our nation is having this debate at all. Deciding not to accept Syrian refugees might end up being the best possible decision (or it might not), but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t still be a tragedy. Where is the agony and heartbreak over deciding to turn them away? Where is the humanity?

Nothing explains this situation better than my spirit TV show character, Maggie Jordan of The Newsroom. In this scene she’s actually talking about undocumented immigrants and the passage of Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070, but I think the sentiment is exactly the same. There’s a clip right here, and you can fast-forward to 3:17 if you want to skip Maggie and Jim’s adorable argumentative banter (but like, seriously why would you want to?):

It’s Not Enough To Just Be “Cool With Gay Marriage”

same-sex-lesbian-couple

We were all sitting in a bar, unwinding with a few vodka sodas after a ridiculous workweek, when in walks the sweetest couple. They were probably on one of their first dates, and one of them brought the other flowers. They seemed completely lost in each other.

We were all smiling at them, secretly wishing we could have a little romance in our lives like they did, when my friend scooted in a little closer to me. “They’re so cute,” she whispered. “Which one do you think is the girl and which do you think is the boy?”

I wish it was just an innocent slip-up, that she didn’t really mean it and that she wasn’t being malicious. But the truth is, whether she knew it or not, her question was full of ignorance and bigotry and the single mindedness that’s all too common in our heteronormative society.

You see, the two that were sharing the bar with us that night were lesbians (or at least two girls on a date with each other). And while none of my gal pals seemed at all bothered by the couple, I was certainly bothered by my friends.

What my friend didn’t really seem to understand was that neither of them was “the boy.” They both appeared to be girls, and that’s the point. If one of them wanted to be with a boy, she wouldn’t be a lesbian.

The thing is, this kind of question is not at all uncommon. You hear it all the time when you see a gay couple where one of the guys seems “a little more into his looks,” and people assume he’s “the girl,” or when a lesbian has a pixie cut and rocks a rad suit at her wedding. Like what the hell, guys? Are we so effing stuck in a heteronormative mindset that we have to assign these two individuals a gender role in a “traditional” straight couple?

And heteronormative culture is all over the place – not just in bigoted (or at least ignorant) comments about who’s who in same-sex couples. How many times have we read a dating advice article where the writer describes “how to get the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend?” Don’t we think it should say “how to get the perfect significant other?”

It’s time to stop assuming that everyone is straight.

What kills me is thinking about what’s taken away from same-sex couples when people ask “which one is the girl.” You’re not asking about how long they’ve been dating, or how they met, or any number of things that would let into their love story. Instead, you’re saying that they’re different, that their sexuality is something that you don’t understand, that it’s a source of your curiosity. You’re making it about you, when their relationship should be about them.

It isn’t enough to be “cool with gay marriage,” or to go support at the Pride festival every year. It’s time that we start accepting all sexual preferences – really accepting them – as the norm and a part of society.

Featured Image via We Heart It.

Surviving New England Winter: Cold Weather Essentials

suriving-new-england-winter

When you think of winter, you think of New England (at least you better). With our incredible mountains, penchant for cold weather sports, and knowledge of all things REI and EMS, we kind of have the whole cold weather survival thing down. We got over 100 inches of snow last winter, for God’s sakes!

As a staunch New Englander who genuinely believes we winter better than anyone else in the country, I have a little bit of know-how in the cold weather, snowy survival realm. For help any New England novices or winter wimps, here are my top winter essentials:

chapstick-sally-hansen-oil

Keeping moisturized:

It’s no secret that the cold winter weather sucks the life right out of your hands an lips, and honestly, it’s not a cute look. To keep my lips from flaking, I regularly apply ChapStick Total Hydration — in fact, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m actually obsessed. This stuff is so smooth and tastes smells so delicious. Right now I’m using the vanilla scent, but it also comes in a citrus scent. Keep your eyes peeled for pumpkin and peppermint flavors around Christmastime!

I’m not sure if this is just a Sara thing, or any everyone thing, but during the winter my cuticles split like crazy. It’s not the cutest look, especially as someone who loves to paint her nails on the reg. By far, the best thing I’ve used to remedy this issue is the Sally Hansen Cuticle Oil. I just brush this directly onto my cuticles before bed, read a few pages of a book while letting it soak in, and then rub it all the way in before heading under the covers.

On the topic of reading a little bit before bed, a total winter move is to set up shop in front of the fire getting lost in a good book. Right now I’m chipping away at The Bully Pulpit, a book about the golden age of journalism and the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. While I’m kind of digging this book, I’m going to be real with you, it might not be for everyone. I was a history major in college and work as a straight up news journalist during the day, so this book is kind of my ish, but for people who aren’t into non-fiction, it’ll be hard to get into.

Winter Essentials 2

Dress to impress.

And by dress to impress I mean wearing necklaces with skis and really warm leggings. I got this necklace on Etsy and I’m literally obsessed with it. I wear it on the day of the first snow every season, and rock it pretty regularly the rest of ski season. These necklaces are super cheap (10 bucks!) and can be customized for anything — best friends, ballerinas, tennis rackets.

As an avid skier, winter sports and leggings enthusiast, I think it’s vital to have weather-appropriate leggings. These ones are from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS). While they don’t really come cheap (about $34), they have Techwick, which is really great for keeping you warm. It wicks any sweat out of the leggings, keeping you toasty your whole day.

Disclaimer: The ChapStick Total Moisture was graciously sent to me by ChapStick’s PR folks. However, all of my opinions are completely my own and entirely authentic.

 

Treats, No Tricks: 2 Delicious Halloween Candy Recipes

Treats,No Tricks.

Boo! It’s almost freakin’ Halloween folks, which leaves me all kinds of confused. As a college student, all I really had to do was gather up three costumes to wear each night of the weekend (Thursday, duh…) and kind of just roam around campus with my friends. Now, as an adult, I kind of have to do grown-up things, and that’s a little weird.

But my ultimate grown-up move is making friends, and to make friends, I make people noms. Here are two pretty neat Halloween recipes that are all the treat but no trick (AKA they’re super freakin’ easy, guys). Bonus points — you can make these with your not-yet left over candy that maybe you’re eating before you hand them out to the kiddies.

Ghostly Graveyard in a MugIMG_1990

Yeah, cake in a mug kind of changed my life… Which is why I’m so about having one that’s Halloween themed. This stuff satiates the cake craving we know we all have all day, every day, but puts in a portion that’s pretty reasonable. Plus, this one has a ghost in it, so it’s cute! Let’s dive in:

Ingredients:

  • Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (optional)
  • Peeps Marshmallow Pumpkins or Ghosts
  • 1/8-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/8-1/4 cup packed brown sugar (depends on how much flour you use; make it an even ratio)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk, coffee or water

Directions:

  1. In a heatproof mug, mix together dry ingredients until there are no lumps.
  2. Add in canola oil and milk/coffee/water.
  3. Cut peanut chews and Peeps into pieces and mix into mixture.
  4. Microwave on high at 30-second intervals until cake looks baked.
  5. Add a ghost Peep to it as a garnish, because you obviously want this to be cute.

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

IMG_2002

Way less cool of a name than Graveyard Ghost in a Mug, but these bad boys are still pretty delicious. Essentially, you’re making a Rice Crispy Treat, but it’s orange and you use a pumpkin cookie cutter to make it adorable (because why would you ever eat a treat that isn’t adorable?)

Ingredients:

  • Mike and Ike Fruit Chews
  • Peeps Marshmallow Pumpkins
  • Extra marshmallows
  • Yellow and red food coloring
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 6 cups of Rice Crispys (I used the off brand)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in large saucepan on low heat. Pro Tip: dice up the butter so it melts faster and more evenly
  2. Add in Peeps and stir until consistency is smooth. If you don’t have enough Peeps to make your mixture marshmallowy enough, add in some of those extra suckers and toss in some red and yellow food dye to make it orange.
  3. Remove pot from heat. Add in Rice Crispys one cup at a time so they get evenly coated. Pro Tip: spray spatula or wooden spoon with cookie spray so it doesn’t stick to mixture.
  4. Transfer mixture into pan (use your best judgement on pan size, but I went with a 9″X9″). Use cooking spray so that son of a gun will slide right now when you want to serve.
  5. Refrigerate for about 15-25 minutes. I cleaned my pots and pans during this time.
  6. Remove from refrigerator, and then remove from pan. Use cookie cutter to make pumpkin slices. Pro Tip: eat the scraps as you go.
  7. Use Mike and Ikes and/or Hot Tamales to decorate your pumpkins.

Disclaimer: The lovely people at Coyne PR sent the candies featured in this post to me to try out in baking. I didn’t get paid to do this post, and all of the opinions are originally and authentically me. These recipes are inspired by some provided to me by Coyne PR.