Thursday, February 27, 2014

Goodbye Portland, Hello Park City!

{original image source}
Happy me!

That's right, I have the day off tomorrow because tonight Cameron and I are headed to Park City, Utah! I have never been before, so I'm looking forward to a long weekend full of skiing and relaxation. We are actually going with a group of alumni from U of M, so it should be a pretty fun few days!

To be honest, I am really ready for a little mini vacation. I feel like life has been weirdly hectic since we got back from Thailand, and I can't believe it's almost March! This week in particular has been full of ups and downs - while I've had some fun plans (including an awesome food crawl I'll be posting about soon!) it's also been kind of draining on the house hunting front. Looking to buy a home for the first time is somewhat daunting to begin with, and when you're in an ultra-competitive real estate market like Portland where houses consistently get multiple offers over asking price in one day, it only makes the process more overwhelming. Even though I know it's important to keep a clear head when making a big decision like this, it's tough not to get emotionally attached to things aka envisioning where you want your future Christmas tree to go...ha! It's hard not to feel frustrated when something doesn't work out, but I know that in the end, everything will work out like it's supposed to.

In the meantime, I'm excited for a long weekend in the mountains! I know we're planning on skiing tomorrow/Saturday, but I'm hoping we'll have some time to explore Park City as well while we're there. If you have any recommendations on cute places to check out, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Copycat Potbelly Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

So this month, I have been on a major sweets kick. Don't get me wrong, I always love sweets...but this month, it's been exceptionally bad. I've been giving into temptation way too much (as evidenced by my Instagram) but I've been trying not to beat myself up about it too much and I've just been going with it. I've realized that health is a journey and when I have little detours like this along the way, it makes me realize why I like eating healthy overall because it does make me feel much better. As we start to head towards spring, I look forward to re-focusing myself on making more healthy (and Paleo!) recipes...but in the meantime, I have a really delicious cookie recipe to share!

If you've been reading my blog for basically any length of time, you'll probably know I'm a big fan of chocolate chip cookies. Seriously, they are my favorite! I got the urge to bake something last week while watching the Olympics and got it in my head that I wanted to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I stumbled on this recipe for copycat cookies resembling the ones they serve at Potbelly, which are SO GOOD. I don't know if this recipe gets it exactly, but it's pretty darn close!

Copycat Potbelly Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe Source: Adapted from Pardon the Dog Hair

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups quick oats (or regular, which is what I used)
2 cups flour
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream margarine and sugars. Add in egg, one at a time, beating after every addition. Mix in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix together then slowly add into the margarine mixture. Add about a cup at a time, mix, then add another cup. Do this until it is all blended together. Mix in chocolate chips.
Form dough into medium size balls, place on cookie sheet covered with a silpat or parchment paper, and bake for about 10-12 minutes.

 The key to make these cookies similar to the ones from Potbelly is to make them BIG. I made my cookies more golf ball sized vs. my normal rounded tablespoon size when putting them on the cookie sheet, so they took awhile to bake. However, it's really important NOT to overbake them. You actually want to underbake these cookies slightly, that way, they stay really moist and chewy when they cool. 
(Plus, this way they taste much more like the ones from Potbelly's!)

I had high hopes for this recipe going in, so I actually made a double batch, which ended up being a great choice. I put chocolate chips in one half of the dough and then put butterscotch chips in the other half. Cameron isn't a fan of butterscotch but I LOVE it! The butterscotch and oatmeal together is divine, and I'm sure that the cookie would be great with other types chips as well.

I feel like I say this a lot, but these cookies are truly some of my favorites that I've ever baked and I'll definitely be making them again in the future!

Friday, February 21, 2014

20 Questions

TGIF friends! Who's ready for the weekend?!

First things first, I got quite a reaction when I posted this picture on Instagram earlier this week but I feel like it needs repeating. Do yourself a favor and go buy these Oreos. They are amazing.

Moving right along...earlier this week I saw my girl Alex shared her answers to 20 questions that Marie Claire recently asked SJP. (And then I saw Alexa answered them too!) I always love reading things like this and thought it would be the perfect topic for a fun Friday post! Here are my answers...

1. What brings you the greatest joy? My dog. Sure, my husband, my family, and my faith give my life meaning and bring me great joy as well, but when it comes to really putting a smile on my face? Lola does it every time.

2. What are your vices? Shopping at Target/Sephora (those places are my kryptonite!), any kind of sweets (as evidenced by the photo above), and staying up way too late all the time. 

3. What is on your nightstand? My Kindle - I'm currently reading this book but haven't gotten too far into it yet - hopefully I'll make a dent this weekend!

4. Do you have a secret talent? I make a pretty good chocolate chip cookie...but that's not really a secret talent, I suppose. 

5. What is your greatest indulgence? Going out to good restaurants - Portland has so many of them, that I probably indulge a little too often! 

6. What should every woman try at least once in her life? Camping. Disconnecting from social media, going sans makeup, and sleeping in a tent for a few days is good for the soul. 

7. What makes you laugh? My husband - for being an engineer, he can be quite silly and he has a great sense of humor. Most recently, he'll do this thing where he hides behind the curtains of our pantry when the dog isn't paying attention and then when she walks by, he'll jump out at her - I realize this is slightly ridiculous (because it is, ha), but it is seriously HYSTERICAL. I need to film it and put it on the Internets ASAP. It never gets old :)

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I am a huge procrastinator. It might appear as though I have things together on the surface, but I'm really terrible about putting things off. However, I also hate letting people down so if something has to get done, I'll typically stay up the night before until it's finished. Ugh. 

9. What is on your bucket list? It's always growing, but right now I'd say that hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru is at the top of the list for me. 

10. What is on your feet right now? Fuzzy feet are always cold!

11. How did you make your first dollar? Babysitting for one of our neighbors...when I was 11. Seriously, what parent lets an 11 year old watch their kid?! It seems crazy to me now.

12. What superstition do you believe in? I am not superstitious but I am kind of OCD when it comes to things like making sure I lock the front door before I got to bed or making sure that unplug my straightener when I leave the house! 

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most? My yoga pants, hands down. But because that's kind of embarrassing boring, I also wear these legging pants (so basically glorified yoga pants, ha!), my anorak jacket (from the bottom of this post), my Hunter rain boots (this is Portland after all!), and scarves I've collected from my travels. 

14. What is the best gift you've ever received? My engagement ring. 

15. What is on your liquor shelf? We typically don't do cocktails at home - I like to enjoy those at places that have inventive drink menus vs. making them myself - but we usually always have wine/beer on hand...since it's winter, right now it's a lot of red wine/dark beer. 

16. What is on your kitchen counter? This cutting board, this griddle (which we use ALL the time for eggs!), and pink roses from Valentine's Day :)

17. What would you never leave home without? My phone. I'll be the first to admit, I'm way too attached to that thing. 

18. What movie has the greatest ending? Gone with the Wind, which is my favorite movie. I actually sort of hate the ending and it makes me mad because I want Scarlett and Rhett to end up together. However, there are some classic lines in that last scene and you really believe that Scarlett is going to go out and get him back. "After all, tomorrow is another day!"

19. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party? Oh you know, just an intimate dinner for four consisting of Beyonce, Jay-Z, Cameron, and myself. Classic. 

20. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were younger? You'll save yourself a lot of stress if you don't leave things until the last minute - actually, I still haven't learned this lesson. At all. Oh well, I'm still young, right? :)

If you decide to play along and answer these 20 questions, definitely comment and let me know!
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Makeup Obsessions: Revlon Balm Crayons

Finally, finally, I am getting around to doing a makeup post, woo!

First and foremost, I should say that I am a total beauty junkie. Like I love it. From Sephora to the drugstore, I absolutely adore trying out products and have enjoyed playing around with makeup for as long as I can remember. More recently, I've gotten hooked on watching beauty videos on YouTube; I find them so entertaining, plus it's an awesome way to find out about new products. I was looking back through my posts and realized I haven't blogged about my favorite beauty products since last summer, which is crazy because I have so many new things that I'm using (and loving!) now. There is no way that it would all fit into one post, so I figured it would be easier to break it up and share about specific products/groups of related products. So without further adieu, let's get started!

Today I wanted to share about a lip product, or rather trio of lip products, that I have been loving lately...Revlon's ColorBurst Balm Stains, Matte Balms, and Lacquer Balms!

It seems like chubby lip crayons are all the rage these days and every brand from the drugstore to higher-end has their own version out. The Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stains have been out for awhile, and I randomly picked one up from Target a few months ago. (They used to be called the JustBitten Kissable Balm Stains as evidenced by some of the packaging, just FYI) I was intrigued by the concept of a moisturizing lip product that was pigmented and stained the lips for more long-lasting wear.

I don't even remember which shade I initially bought, but I immediately went out and bought a few more colors! What can I say, when I find something I like, I want all the colors :)

I really love these Balm much so that the writing has worn off of most of the tubes from being in my purse! First of all, the crayon shape makes them super easy to apply, which is particularly helpful for the darker colors. If you are nervous about doing a red or a dark lip, these are an awesome option because they allow you to easily apply the color with out having to be super precise or bother with lip liner/lip stick. The balm itself is pretty moisturizing, but once that wears off, the color remains on your lips. I really like all the colors I have, but my favorite is definitely Honey (the color on the far left). I think the name is somewhat deceiving because it's actually a little more of a deeper mauve raisin-y color (on me at least) vs. a warm nude like the name would imply, but I really love it!

After getting hooked on these balm stains, I was super excited when Revlon recently released two similar products - their ColorBurst Matte Balms and Lacquer Balms!

I am a huge sucker for packaging, so I immediately loved how these new balms are chubby crayons like the Balm Stains. However, the packaging for the Matte Balms are super matte (obviously), while the Lacquer Balms are shiny and metallic...super cute! (I know, I'm a marketer's dream...ha!) It's important to note that these are different from the Balm Stains in that they are not stains, rather they are just lip colors and so they don't have quite the same staying power that the Balm Stains do.

So far, I have two of the Mattes and one of the Lacquers; out of the two, I like the Matte Balms better than the Lacquer Balms for sure. The Matte Balms are very creamy and pigmented and even though they are not stains, they do stay on for a long time. What I like best is that while they are matte because they are also balms, they are not super drying on your lips which makes them awesome for the winter months! I wore the deep red shade, Standout, a lot over the holidays while I think that Elusive, a warm rose color, is perfect for spring!

As far as the Lacquer Balms, they aren't nearly as pigmented and they also have rather chunky glitter, which is why I don't really care for them. The color I have, Demure, is very light, so it's not super noticeable; however, I've heard that in the darker shades it's very obvious when the color wears off as the silver glitter remains on your lips. However, I will say that the Lacquer shade I have is pretty creamy and I really like the color, a light pinky nude. It's one of those colors that's easy to apply on the go without a mirror and that it has a glossy sheen without the stickiness of a lipgloss.

Here are swatches of all the colors I have so you can get a better sense of what they look like:

As it says, the Balm Stains are on the right and the Matte and Laquer Balms are on the right. Even in the photo, you can see a difference in texture between the different formulas. One last thing to note, all three of these lip products do have a minty scent/taste. It doesn't bother me at all (I actually like it), but if you're sensitive to that type of thing, it's something to be aware of.

Finally, this is not a sponsored post (however, if Revlon wanted to send me some of these, I wouldn't mind...ha!) but rather I just really love these products and wanted to share them! Also, let me know what you'd like to see in future beauty posts - I've already got a few things in the works, but I'd love to hear your suggestions on what types of posts you'd be interested in seeing!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Our Day in Seoul

If you've been reading my blog for awhile now, you'll know that travel is one of my biggest passions. That's why I've decided I want to feature travel posts more regularly here on my blog...aka I'm introducing Travel Tuesdays! I don't plan on doing travel-related posts every single week, but hopefully this will be a fun feature that will be popping up from time to time. For my first official Travel Tuesday post, I thought it would be fun to share some photos from the day Cameron and I spent in Seoul, South Korea on our way home from our trip to Thailand over the holidays!

We flew on Asiana Airlines to and from Bangkok, and on the way back we had a long layover at Seoul, South Korea. We had hoped to get out and try to see some of the city if possible, but weren't sure how complicated that would be. We were very pleasantly surprised to find out that Incheon airport in Seoul (which is super nice by the way!) actually offers free transit tours! These tours allow travelers to get out and see a little bit of Seoul, while taking care of all the details as far as transportation and timing to ensure that you won't miss your next flight. The tours are technically free, but for the one we chose you did have to pay a nominal fee for lunch and insurance; however, at $13 a person, it was totally worth it! The timing actually worked out really well because we arrived to Incheon airport around 8am (after taking a red-eye from Bangkok) and signed up for the 10am "Highlights of Seoul" City Tour, then got coffee :) Our tour was 5 hours long, which got us back to the airport in plenty of time to get on our evening flight back to the US. We were pretty exhausted at this point in our trip, so this tour was the perfect way to get out and see Seoul without having to do any work or planning :)

It took about 45 minutes to get from the airport to the tour's first stop, but the tour bus was really comfortable...and actually allowed us to catch a quick nap!
Our tour guide (whose name I can't remember...but she's the one with the flag!) spoke pretty good English and was able to give us some interesting information about Seoul and life in South Korea.
Our first stop was Gyeongbok Palace, which is actually a large palace complex with many different buildings. The palace has a long history in Korea, however, there wasn't much English signage and honestly, Cameron and I were both pretty tired at this point so we didn't really absorb a whole lot of information from our tour guide...ha! However, the architecture of buildings so it was really beautiful (and quite different from Thailand!) and so it was fun to walk around!
One thing that I thought was awesome about the transit tour is that they really thought of all the details for travelers like us on our layover. Coming from Thailand, we didn't have any warm jackets with us yet it was freezing cold in Korea. But it was not a problem at all because they actually had tons of down jackets (in multiple sizes and colors!) on the bus for everyone to wear on the tour.
Our group, sporting their borrowed down jackets :)
I was trying to get a picture of this courtyard and happened to catch Cam looking at me...for some reason this picture cracks me up, it reminds me of a Bigfoot spotting or those pictures of Buddy the Elf walking through Central Park (most random Elf reference ever, ha).
Even though it was quite chilly, the sun was out so it was perfect for walking around!
All the intricate details on the buildings were so colorful and beautiful!
Random story about this picture - we had this guy take a picture for us who was literally taking 1029832 pictures of his wife in front of every building...he was super nice about taking a photo for us, but then wanted to get photos (yes, multiple photos) of his wife with Cam and I...ha! It was super odd (and kind of hilarious), but whatever!
After we left the palace, we headed to see the Jogyesa Temple, which is apparently the most important temple in Korean Buddhism. Buddhism is not nearly as prevalent in Korea as it is in Thailand, and our tour guide told us that many people in Korea are really not religious at all.
For lunch, we had a delicious Korean beef dish...I don't remember what it was called though!
After lunch, we had some time to walk around Insadong Street, which is a very popular pedestrian walking street filled with all kinds of shops, snacks, and street vendors. 
The street even had a Starbucks, ha!
For the first part of the tour, Cam said he was fine just wearing his sweatshirt...but eventually he got so cold that he caved and borrowed one of the puffy jackets :)
Even though it was freezing out, lots of people were walking around with these weird, twisty ice cream naturally, I had to get one for myself!
It was OK, but there was too much cone to the amount of ice cream in my opinion :)
The people watching in Seoul was pretty fantastic :)

Even though it was a very short visit, I'm so glad we were able to see Seoul! 
It was actually quite interesting to see it in contrast to the cities we saw in Thailand, as the cultures were very different. I think that (naively) I assumed much of Asian culture was somewhat similar from country to country, however, this trip made me realize just how diverse and interesting the region is. I'd love to go back sometime in the future and see other countries as well!


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