Thursday, July 24, 2014

Life is Peachy

I found these glorious sunflowers on the way to work this morning, and it pretty much made my day. Nature is so incredible.


I think if my life were filled with sunflowers and peaches, I'd be pretty content. Peach season is definitely a highlight of my summer. I've probably eaten a record number of peaches in the past month...but I'm not going to think about it, because it's a little alarming how quickly I can consume a whole bowl of them.

Regardless, I made peach cobbler recently and thought I'd share the recipe. These aren't the greatest photographs, because they were taken hastily with a phone before the entire thing was quickly consumed along with vanilla ice cream by approximately 20 college students. It didn't stand a chance.


 I used a recipe from Allrecipes.com. To prepare the peaches, you can boil a pot of water, dunk each peach into the pot for about 20 seconds, and slip the skin right off.

Ingredients:
8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and
sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and
cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water
MIX TOGETHER:
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
4. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.





Friday, July 18, 2014

Speaking of Apples...



Last week I received a dress in the mail from Shabby Apple, an online women's clothing store that specializes in vintage and classic styles. Having heard of this company before and recalling my positive impression of it, I gladly agreed to do a product review when asked to do so.

Before talking about the dress itself, I want to highlight the fantastic vision of this company. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the importance of conscious style. There are many aspects of the fashion industry that are far from perfect and embody a lot of injustice and other problems. In addition, the way that we clothe ourselves daily is a huge part of how we choose to reflect ourselves to the world, and that image can often be influenced by trends and styles, for better or worse. Shabby Apple is a great example of a store that is making a visible effort to work against some of these issues, and I have a lot of respect for that.

The company is dedicated to making women's apparel that is both stylish and modest. I love that their clothing is adorable, but might be a few inches longer at the hem or re-envision a strapless style into a sleeveless one. So often I hesitate to order clothes online from mass clothing companies because I know that there's a huge likelihood that it will be too short or low quality. While this is in part caused by changes in social norms, a big part of it is also the clothing industry monopolizing on the chance to use less materials to make something that still sells.

Shabby Apple also donates a portion of their sales profits to charity. Built up as an organization that empowers women, they carry this through to their work culture at the company and also by investing in impoverished communities through international goodwill funds. They're currently partnered up with the Maya Relief Foundation, which empowers people to “work their way out of poverty, improve their health, and to insure a better future for their children and their communities.”

I think that's awesome. Within the greater context of clothing ourselves with a conscience, I have some other thoughts that I'll share in a later post about how we as individuals can care for the world and for ourselves as consumers. But this company is one of more impressive that I've come across in terms of their mission and impact analysis.

Now the dress itself...




I love this style. This dress is a faux-wrap style and has a full skirt, which is one of my favorite things. This might sound silly, but I love things that I can spin around in. Not that I run around doing that on a regular basis...

The material is fantastic in terms of quality. It's a lot thicker and heavier than I expected, but it's really comfortable and is still a stretchy material that fits to your form.

Like I mentioned earlier about their clothing, it's modest but not overbearingly so. I would venture to say that this dress was actually a tad longer than I would typically wear, but it works just fine with a pair of heels! In the photos above, I actually have the hem tucked a few inches shorter, because it works better that way for casual wear with flat-heeled shoes. I also added the bow belt, but I wore it without and at its original length on Sunday with nude heels and loved it just as much.

Two things I would change:

1. Color: I love this color. But I also wish they had it other variations...which might be available in the future. The design reminds me of Kate Middleton's famous navy wrap dress, and I think this dress would be a gorgeous take on that if produced in navy.

2. Pockets: This dress would actually be perfect if they put pockets in it. I'm a huge fan of pockets in dresses. I'm actually kind of tempted to put some in myself...

Otherwise, this dress is great. Now that I've basically looked at their entire inventory, I want to buy half of their items. Yikes. They have a summer sale going on right now, so if you use the code "Summer14" at checkout to get 25% off, you could score a pretty fantastic deal!

Monday, July 14, 2014

An Apple a Day?

I made these cupcakes last semester for a friend's birthday, and thought I'd share! They were super easy to make, so this one's for your teacher friends or children's birthdays or simply apple-obsessed individuals. 



This is so easy that I feel a little ridiculous writing out what to do, but here we go...
1. Bake cupcakes. (I actually used boxed cake mix for this one, shhhh....)
2. Add red food coloring to vanilla or cream cheese frosting. 
3. Use pretzel sticks as apple stems.
4. Flatten green gumdrops with a spoon, and cut into leaf shapes with a knife.

You could even be an overachiever and get some gummy worms to stick in some of them! 

Also, since it's not quite apple season yet, I'd like to take a moment to address the wonderfulness of peach season. I went peach picking twice this week. I may or may not have about 20 peaches in my kitchen right now. In my defense, I'm making cobbler for a large crowd of college students tomorrow, so I'm sure they won't last. But these pictures will! 






Saturday, July 12, 2014

Parrots and Prints

I got this great parrot printed top at Loft almost a year ago, and may be one of my favorite tops of the summer. Whimsical prints make getting dressed in the morning so much easier. I'm pretty sure I could put this top with anything in my closet and it would somehow work. Either actually work or work in the since that it looks just weird enough to be considered quirky and cool. 

 Top: Loft ($18)  ::  Skirt: thrifted ($3.75)
 Shoes: Target ($15)  ::  Necklace: Loft (gift card)



This skirt might also be a season favorite...I found it in the spring at Goodwill, and I'm always a fan of skirts that are modest AND can be pulled off. Not to mention that it has pockets and is super comfortable...

Back to Business

It's been a long time since my last post, and not a week has gone by when I have not thought about what I'd like to do with this blog going forward. I have a lot of exciting ideas in my head, and I think for a long time they overwhelmed me to the point where I couldn't execute any of them. This past year has taught me a lot about myself, about life, about the world around me, and about God. So I'm back, and my hope is to slowly share some of the wonderful life lessons and revelations I've come across with you all.

But for now, let's ease back into things with an outfit post. :)

I'm currently in the middle of a summer internship, and an arts oriented one at that, which conveniently means that I have to look professionally presentable on a daily basis. Being a huge supporter of thrifting and low-cost style, I see this as an opportunity to stand as a testament to the fact that looking nice in "business casual" does not require breaking the bank.

So today's outfit serves as exhibit one of said claim. 


Top: thrifted ($3.50)  ::  Skirt: thrifted, J. Crew ($3.50) ::  Shoes: Target ($8)  ::  Necklace: Charlotte Russe (old)

I got the flats from Target last week along with three other pairs of neutral dress shoes, with a buy one get one half off promotion. Which, incidentally, they have going on right now. Everything else in this outfit is from Goodwill or from years ago.