Sometimes, you’ve just got to make chili, but you don’t have any beans, meat, or meat-adjacent foods in the house. So you improvise! My husband is a garbanzo fiend, so I knew he wouldn’t sweat the substitution.
It’s been bitterly cold in New England for the past few weeks (no lie—we got a storm that was called a “bomb cyclone” in case we weren’t miserable enough), so something hot and spicy was what the doctor ordered.
I whipped this up using ingredients I had on hand, but it turned out so delicious, I wanted to record the recipe for posterity! Enjoy!
P.S. I highly recommend using all organic ingredients, if possible, because of course I do.
Picante Chickpea & Lentil Chili
2 cans garbanzo beans*
1 c. green lentils
6 c. vegetable broth
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotles in Adobo sauce, diced**
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. premade salsa (or diced tomatoes)
1 oz. bourbon (or 2 oz. beer), optional
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. Adobo seasoning***
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
salt to taste
*You’re probably a better person than me and make your own chickpeas from dried. In that case, 2-3 cups should suffice.
**Add as much chipotle as you want—just be warned that going heavy on the peppers will make this very, very spicy.
***If you don’t have Adobo seasoning, get some sub garlic & onion powder, tumeric, paprika, black pepper, and oregano.
Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil in the bottom of a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the red onion and celery, lightly salt. Saute until soft. Add the red pepper, potatoes, and zucchini and saute until soft. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 sec-1 min. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with bourbon, if using. Return to medium heat and add garbanzos, lentils, tomato paste, salsa, chipotles, and spices. Stir until fragrant, 1 min. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 mins. At the 30 min mark, check the lentils and potatoes for doneness (I know this is a meat term, but I’m appropriating it!). If soft, turn off heat and add lime juice. Salt/spice to taste.
Serve with brown rice and top with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, or shredded cheese!
It has been a minute since I’ve done one of these. But one of my major resolutions for 2018 was to get back out there and shamelessly stan my favorite tv shows write! Here are a few of my faves from the past month.
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
So—fun fact—I started tutoring this fall! It’s definitely a challenge for me, since I’m not sure I’m the teacher type, but luckily my “student” is a wonderful human with a ton of integrity and maturity for a teenager. Her final project was a presentation on the book Station Eleven, so obviously I had to read it!
It fits squarely within the genre of dystopian YA, but the author attempts (sometimes, too hard) to elevate it with a ton of Shakespeare references (there are characters named Arthur Leander, Miranda, Olivia, Viola—and those are just the references I get). Without spoiling the ending, the climax is a bit, well, anti-climactic, but I still consider the book a worthwhile read. Plus, it’s pretty short, so it took me all of two days to finish.
I know what you’re thinking—this show ended like 5 years ago. And it did. But I’ll have you know that David Caspe’s Happy Endings is one of the *Kanye voice* best shows of all time. It’s a travesty that it only lasted three seasons. Genius actors comprise the entire cast, but special shout out to Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans, Jr. Brad and Jane are two of my favorite tv characters ever. This show has some of the best writing I’ve ever heard—it’s inspiring and brilliant.
The whole thing’s on Hulu, so you know what to do-lu.
Great, Sara Benincasa
Full disclosure: I only bought this book because I love Sara Benincasa and it was super cheap on Amazon. Greatis a contemporary, YA, gender-flipped retelling of The Great Gatsby, which should be a recipe for disaster, but was actually a joy to read. The names are a bit cringe-worthy (I’ve compiled a list below), but, beyond that, it’s a smart spin on a classic that you could easily read in a day. I’m reading DC Trip now—keeping the Benincasa binge going!
Great – Gatsby
Jay Gatsby – Jacinta Trimalchio (get it?!)
Nick Carraway – Naomi Rye
Delilah Fairweather – Daisy (Fay) Buchanan
Teddy Barrington – Tom Buchanan
Jeff Byron – Jordan Baker
Misti – Myrtle Wilson
Giovanni – George Wilson
Leahlani Bless Balm
I am obsessed with this stuff. Bless Balm by Leahlani came in the December Oui Fresh Beauty Box and I’ve been using it almost daily since it arrived. At first I was a bit skeptical of its texture and scent (it’s a pretty strong jasmine scent and it’s got sort of a Vaseline texture), but after a month of use, I’m in love. It’s so super hydrating and has kept my skin fabulous through the dry winter months. It’s upped my skincare game.
It’s pricey as hell, but after a month of use, I’ve barely made a dent in it. I have no doubt that it will last me the rest of the year. Plus, it’s all-natural and almost 100% organic, so I feel great about supporting this beauty brand.
And, last but not least, Dry January! I’m participating in the DJ tradition this month, and I’m feeling great about it! It’s such a nice new year refresh, and a great way to shed some of those holiday lbs! Basically, the rules are: Don’t drink any alcohol for the entire month of January. That’s it! I’m tying in some other wellness practices as well, but no drinking is the main goal. I’ll post a wrap-up in early February all about my experience! Wish me luck!
It’s been 8 months since my long-weekend trip to Atlanta and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! Atlanta is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s a field guide from a total ATL rookie!
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport & MARTA
The Atlanta airport is a Delta hub, so the running joke is that if the devil himself had to fly back to Hell, he’d connect in Atlanta. The airport is massive, so big that it necessitates a “plane train” to take passengers between terminals. H-J also has the lovely tendency of switching arrival gates, often to different terminals, which can be a bit stressful.
I, of course, was actually flying to Atlanta, though, so I had a great experience navigating the airport. It’s best feature is that, when it spits you out at baggage claim, there’s a MARTA station right there that can get you anywhere in the city!
MARTA is Atlanta’s answer to the T or Metro, but possibly way better. The trains run frequently, are super clean (as public transit goes) and the lines are super simplified so it’s easy for a newbie to navigate the system. The only downsides are that the trains pretty much only converge at Five Points, so that station is, I’m sure, a nightmare, and that you have to tap your Breeze Card on exit as well as entry, just like BART. MARTA reminds me a lot of the Montreal Metro, just way less confusing.
The W Atlanta-Midtown
The W Hotel in Midtown is conveniently located between the Midtown and Arts Center stops on MARTA. I hopped off MARTA at Midtown, grabbed a cup from Dancing Goats, and booked it to the hotel to relieve myself of the two stuffed totes I was schlepping. I knew the W was a nice hotel, but holy smokes was it swanky! Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, so big ups to my friend, who treated us!
I know the field of working in a hotel is actually called Hospitality, but the staff at the W went above and beyond to be helpful and kind.
They also had a really nice lobby bar, where I finally got to try a Pisco Sour. So delicious–might be my new go-to.
The High Museum
Going to the High Museum was my #1 Atlanta priority and it did not disappoint! Designed by Richard Meier, the iconic AF architect who designed the Getty Center in LA, the High is a bright beautiful building filled with a stunning array of artworks, American, European, and African. I can’t wait to go back—there was an entire wing we didn’t have time to see!
The Margaret Mitchell House
The Margaret Mitchell House was a must-do on my Atlanta list. My best friend (who accompanied me on the trip) and I had a movie-watching club with her dad when we were kids (because we were super cool), and Gone With the Wind was one of the stand-outs. I read the book in high school (so…eleven or twelve years ago….) and similarly adored it. There’s some controversy about the book glamorizing the antebellum period, but, in my extremely optimistic view, it’s a story of a strong woman doing what it takes to survive. Also, Margaret Mitchell was a badass journalist and proto-feminist who died in a car crash, so who doesn’t want to hear about that drama?
We did brunch at Cafe Intermezzo on our last day in ATL, and I have exactly 2 words: savory. crepes. Intermezzo, as the name suggests, has super Italian vibes—there was an Italian movie playing while we were there (I heard it over the speakers in the bathroom, and the female lead sounded exactly like Isabella Rossellini). The food and cappuccinos were to die for, the staff was super nice, and the atmosphere was very European (or so I imagine, as someone who has never left North America). Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
Dancing Goats was located right across from the Midtown MARTA stop, so I popped in on my way in and out of Atlanta. Since I didn’t spend much time here, I don’t have a ton to say, but the cold brew was good, they had bomb green iced tea, and the décor was sparse and right up my alley. More coffee shops need to adopt the minimalist menu trend! I don’t need the calorie count and every flavor under the sun listed. Just tell me lattes are $4 so I can get on with my life!
Revelator Coffee Company
I’m dreaming….of a Revelator cold brew…
Revelator is so nice, I went there twice! Once on the Georgia Tech campus and once at Ponce. They have a super stripped down menu—no frappuccinos up in here! I also heard a rumor that they bought Wired Puppy in Boston, so I’ll catch y’all soon!
TAP: A Gastropub
TAP is so, so good. We went for Sunday brunch and it was (fortunately for us) deserted, so we got to enjoy our mimosas and breakfast quesadillas in peace. Also, we got loaded tater tots, because, let’s face it, when in Rome. Can’t wait to go back and sample the rest of the menu!
South City Kitchen (Midtown)
Brunch goals, elevated. South City Kitchen was arguably the *most* Southern thing we did during our stay. I had grits, y’all.
We went to The Nook on our first night in ATL. It was right around the corner from our hotel, across from Piedmont Park, and it was the perfect low-key location to get the vacay started. I tried the “Atalanta” plum beer by Orpheus Brewing Company and it was amazing. Also, buffalo tater tot nachos. TOTCHOS.
After 2 days of eating nothing but tater tots and cheese, my body was screaming for vegetables, so we decided on Thai for dinner. Midtown is (apparently) super quiet on Sunday nights, so we had a very peaceful meal on the patio of Tamarind Seed, which, unfortunately, is closed now. I will say, the food was excellent! I hope their renovations go smoothly and that they’re able to reopen!
This place was the dreamiest. It’s located inside the Four Seasons hotel, and it’s probably the swankiest place we went during our stay.
I don’t know that it’s named after The Royal Tenenbaums, but if it isn’t, what a missed opportunity. The cocktails were inspired, the decor was gorgeous,
This bar was around the corner from The W, and it ended up being one of the best spots we hit during our stay. We went after our dinner at Tamarind Seed for dessert, drinks, and the Celtics game. The Verde cocktail was the dreamiest–it had Hendricks, lime, cilantro, and chili pepper–and the Vanilla Bavarian dessert was like key lime pie on steroids. Not to mention that the decor was stunning and modern, and the service was outstanding (although I am highly biased towards people who compliment my glasses). We just intended to pop in for a few minutes, but ended up staying because the TV was playing basketball (which I have never watched or cared about), but as a Boston native herself, my friend was really invested in the Celtics winning (which they did spectacularly in the last few seconds)!
P.S. 5Church contacted me on Instagram and asked to repost this shot, so hit them up on Insta and you might see a familiar handle!
This bar was located next to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try Saturday night around 11, to prove to ourselves that we weren’t 80-year-old women. (We are.)
This is a very cool spot, admittedly, but that was kind of the problem. It was packed, loud, and super dark. I think there was actually a wedding after-party happening while we were there. We were fighting to stay awake after our long day, but we gave our version of “going out to da club” a try, and I have to say the drinks were fab. I got a Negroni, because they were referenced on Master of None, and I actually love the borderline gross bitterness of Campari.
The decor at The Establishment was Old West-inspired–lots of burlap, rope, and barrels. Even the glassware was heavy and ornate, a very nice vintage nod. If I ever make it back to ATL, I’ll stop into this bar during the early evening so that I can actually hear my companion’s conversation.
Luckily, as we were finishing our drinks, the bar TVs started playing SNL, so after the cold open, we rushed back to the hotel to bid farewell to Bobby, Vanessa, and Sasheer.
On our first night in Atlanta, at The Nook, we discovered local brewer, Orpheus Brewing, and their incomparable Atalanta Tart Plum Saison. It was so amazing that even I, who never drinks beer, couldn’t help but order one. A quick Google search let us know that the brewery itself was just across the park from where we were staying, so we set out on Sunday to take one of their tours and enjoy samples of all their varietals. (Can you say varietals about beer, or is that just a wine term?)
Unfortunately, after walking all the way across Piedmont Park to get to the brewery, they were closed for a private event, so we didn’t get to do the brewery tour. Super bummed! This is a must-do activity on my next trip down South!
Ponce City Market
I’d venture to call this the Faneuil Hall of Atlanta. It’s an outdoor mall (think lululemon and Madewell) and an indoor food hall with every type of cuisine imaginable. If I were a local, I anticipate that I’d find myself here a lot. I grabbed a Lyft down to Ponce on my last day to kill some time before my flight, and I’m really glad I checked it out. I ended up having a burrito and a margarita (because I’m predictable) while listening to Throwing Shade, a recent podcast obsession. Unfortunately, it was raining and generally crappy out all Monday, so apart from the umbrella I bought, I wasn’t able to do much shopping.
All in all, Atlanta was a total blast! It’s definitely true that we only saw a teeny tiny slice of what the city has to offer, but that’s just a reason to go back!
The first time I ever used an essential oil, I was around 19 and had recently gotten my nose pierced with a friend. Mine (on the right side) never really healed right, so a cursory Google search alerted me to the fact that tea tree oil was anti-bacterial, natural, and promoted healing. I bought a bottle (my broke college butt was mildly appalled by the price tag), and applied it directly to my nose with a Q-Tip (not the smartest move when dealing with harsher oils). But I loved the clean, pungent smell of tea tree, so as the years went by, I sought it out in my products (to this day, I use Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree shampoo on those rare occasions when I actually wash my hair…)
Beyond my tea tree adventures, I didn’t give much thought to essential oils until a few years ago, when I first heard of oil-pulling. If you’ve been on the internet this decade, you’ve heard of it—swish a tablespoon of coconut oil around in your mouth for twenty minutes, pull out all the gross impurities in your mouth. A blogger I follow posted a recipe for oil-pulling chews, made from coconut oil and peppermint essential oil. I marched to the store, grabbed the peppermint oil and flower-shaped silicone ice molds, and got to work. I keep a jar of them in my fridge at all times!
When I got engaged, I decided (for some incomprehensible reason) that DIY-ing soy wax/essential oil candles would be a great idea for wedding favors. Only problem? I had to make at least 50. I diligently hit the craft store, bought all 50 tiny jars, and chose my scents. Suddenly, I had five or so new essential oils! The candle-making was ill-fated (I think I made all of 6—we repurposed the jars), but the EOs ended up being a good investment. Suddenly, I was DIY-ing counter sprays and reed diffusers. I fell in love, in particular, with Eucalyptus. It’s my spirit scent.
And then there was Monq. I’ve written about them before, but Monq makes portable, personal aromatherapy diffusers—mini vapes full of essential oil goodness! My personal fave blend is Active—I always have one on me! I discovered the brand on Instagram years ago, and bought my first set with a sweet promo code. These are great for us non-smokers, but I imagine that they’re a wonderful and inexpensive way for smokers to quit, since it replaces the routine. I can’t wait to try their newer blends, especially Ocean!
It was like the entire earth was conspiring to get me to make essential oils a part of my daily routine. Now I’m something of a devotee, though I’d never use them in place of actual medicine…that’s just cray. They’ve help me clean up my act—and by that I mean kick toxic chemicals out of my home one by one.
Here are some of the products that helped me get started:
DoTerra is, at least in my circles, the most popular brand of EOs. Their product is great, but it’s hard to get (you have to buy through a wholesaler unless you want to pay crazy retail markups. Their branding is on point, and they have a ton of diffusers, accessories, spa products, and supplements. My mother gifted me the lovely petal diffuser for Christmas!
You didn’t think I’d miss a chance to shout-out my ABM girls, right? What I love best about Oui Fresh oils is that they’re available at a reasonable retail price and you can buy them no-strings. My personal fave is Rose Geranium!
S.W. Basics is the Brooklyn-based brand of Adina Grigore, who wrote the book Just The Essentials, and inspired me to actually start workin’ on my oil game. No lie, the day after I finished the book, I was browsing the beauty aisle at Target and spotted a gift set of S.W. Basics on sale, so it felt like a sign that I had to give it a try. My set came with the Cleanser, the Toner, and the Cream. I SWEAR the Toner changed my skin overnight. It’s incredible. Now, if I only I could remember to wash my makeup off and use it nightly…
I read a borderline horrifying article recently re: MLMs and essential oils, but, I will say that the few Young Living oils I have are very pure and smell incredible. They, like doTerra, are usually purchased through a distributer, who becomes a member to get them at wholesale price.
I haven’t tried their new clean makeup line, but as I start running out of products, I’ll definitely check it out!
I started off with Aura Cacia. They’re a fantastic brand with a consistently great product. My local Wegman’s (shout out to Wegman’s, the best chain grocer), has a pretty impressive natural skincare selection, and AC is the main brand they carry. They have EOs, carrier oils, epsom salts, roller balls, spritz bottles—you name it!
EO Products was a total fluke find! I had seen Everyone essential oils at Target, but the packaging was so mod and cute that I actually doubted the quality of the product (don’t judge wine or EOs by their cover, y’all). After I read Just the Essentials, I checked out Adina’s list of recommended brands in the FAQ section, and lo-and-behold: the spray hand sanitizer that I had been using for months was, in fact, EO Products Everyone label! It’s peppermint & citrus, cruelty-free, and non-GMO. I had picked it up, again, at my local Wegs, because it smelled like a mojito fever dream, and didn’t leave me feeling dried out by chemicals (à la Purell). So far, my hand sani is the only thing I’ve tried from EO, but I have total confidence in their brand’s quality (and its cute design).
I’ve previously blogged about EOs once or twice…check out my cocktail-inspired room spray here!
Also, here’s an original rollerball recipe that will put some pep in your step!
Bright Sunshiny Day Blend
30 drops bergamot essential oil
8 drops spearmint essential oil
5 drops wild orange essential oil
carrier oil (I used sweet almond)
This smells like spearmint gum in the best possible way. It’s refreshing and invigorating when the spearmint top notes hit you, but the subtle, sultry bergamot lingers longer. Great to give you a (caffeine-free!) jolt.
And my all-time favorite EO recipe of all is ABM’s face oil, which I use every day after my shower!
I’ve definitely made some missteps in the EO game. For some reason, I thought it would be smart to diffuse Texas Cedarwood and Lemongrass together (I’m still haunted by the overpowering smell), and I definitely accidentally poured half a bottle of Peppermint into my diffuser one night…
Nevertheless, this experiment into EO land has been fun. Now that I’m building up supplies, I can DIY my heart out and never have to buy chemical-laden perfumes, cleaning products, or skincare products ever again!
2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.
But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.
Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:
Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.
I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)
Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.
So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.
Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!
This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.
Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!
The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.
In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10
Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!
I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.
Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.
P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.
I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!
*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.
**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!
I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!
As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.
I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.
Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.
Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.
Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.
My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!
Friends, countrymen: As I mentioned in a post this summer, I have an office job! We’re all student employees, so, baby steps, but the department is cracking down on professional, “business casual” dress. It’s been a while since I’ve done a style post (and it’ll be a while before I do another (mama put on that post-wedding weight), but faithful followers know how I dress. I’m basically a spokeswoman for Madewell. Ripped jeans are my life. I own one blazer.
Luckily, my mom was game to take me shopping for a few office-appropriate dresses to tide me over. But I’m viewing this new dress code as an opportunity to overhaul my entire wardrobe. Since I’m officially going gray (more on that later), I should probably own more than slogan tees. Unfortunately, guidelines about women’s business casual are pretty vague, and range anywhere from “don’t be a slob” to “buy a bunch of skirt suits”. The only resource I’ve found so far that’s been remotely helpful is this list. Refinery 29 also put out a list, but it’s a bit high fashion for working in public schools. Like, I’m not getting away with a silk jumpsuit.
Here’s the thing: there is no such thing as a set business casual dress code for women. For men, it’s shockingly simple—a polo or button-down over khakis. Done. It’s industry standard. But women*, whose wardrobes tend to be more diverse (let’s change that, though #teamromphim), have a lot more at stake, both because of the uncertainty of what’s appropriate and because of the general lack of understanding of men*, colleagues and bosses. Additionally, every workplace is completely different, and some are far more conservative than others. Suddenly, skirt length and neckline depth come into play.
So, here are a few of my tried-and-true favorite pieces and combinations to help ease you into adulting!
The high-necked dress can’t fail. Conservative, stylish, and diverse, this is the #1 best option for women in the workplace, imo.
Tips: avoid strapless or spaghetti-strap looks, keep the hemline close to the knee
To tuck or not to tuck—that is the question. Tucking in shirts is a terrible curse. I honestly don’t know how guys do it every day. Inevitably, you get fabric-bunch and spend the entire day stealthily readjusting to avoid lumps and bumps. Plus, if your top’s not long enough, it falls out constantly. Enter, my great love, the bodysuit. Goodbye, lumps! The bodysuit’s design keeps your top looking sleek and in place all day. Pair it with a midi-skirt for maximum cuteness.
Tip: Tall girls—size up! Bodysuit proportions are definitely made for the vertically-challenged. I’m a size S/M and I always order a large for a flawless fit. #longtorsoproblems
This is still an area I struggle with. I’ve spent years putting together a dope sneaker collection, and now all my sweet kicks are collecting dust. I tend to fall back on the same few pairs over and over again, but I’m trying to vary my shoe game.
These are perfect for summer! Avoid super-high heels, since comfort is the main objective. My tip is to invest in one super nice pair that you can wear to events and one everyday pair that looks nice but is secretly cheap enough to replace after a long summer. Get one black pair and one saddle—you’ll thank me.
These are the actual cutest (and they come in pink!)
I’m in Massachusetts where the weather has the potential to be terrible during any season, so boots are a wardrobe must. Make sure you have at least one black and one brown pair. Also, peep toes are awesome for the early fall!
Office environments vary, but I guarantee if you’re in a relatively chill field like higher ed, this will help you conquer the first-job what-the-hell-do-I-wear?! blues. Just don’t forget your BOSS necklace!
*It should be noted that when I write “men” or “women” I refer to all those who identify as such and am not trying to enforce an outdated gender-binary system. Biology ≠ gender.
I have a confession to make: I really like pop music and I always have.
I’m not ashamed of this, per se—I have just seen a decline in quality in recent years, so my fandom has felt bittersweet. For me, saying that I like pop feels like saying that I like country music—I love Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Jason Isbell, Lillie Mae, Amanda Shires, Neko Case’s early records, etc, but the term “country” connotes the utter trash of Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, and the like. And heaven forbid anyone think I like that! I feel like listening to that music is like advertising that you voted for Trump. Maybe I’m being too harsh. Or…whatever. I’m a judgmental bitch.
Anyway, digression aside, there have been a few recent standouts in pop (other than everything Beyoncé and Rihanna do) that have (belatedly) caught my attention. While everyone is freaking out about Taylor Swift’s new (hilarious, awful) song, y’all are sleeping on these two (incredibly popular, shut up, Chelsea) albums! That’s right—I said albums. As in, complete, cohesive artworks, not a collection of singles with some filler thrown in (à la every pop album from the ’90s). Coincidentally, both of these albums came out on the same day! What?! May 12th was lit this year.
Let’s check ’em out!
Paramore, After Laughter
Hayley Williams is finally free, you guys! I always got a vibe that she was really cool and talented, but shackled to the “scene”. In the past few years, Paramore has been in transition from my guilty pleasure to a band that I have no qualms about supporting. I thought the self-titled album from 2013 was good, but it still had too many connecting threads to the pop-punk/whatever-it-is genre that Paramore came up out of. After Laughter is different. It’s catchy, fun, and bright, and owes little debt to the band’s “roots”. Quickly peruse Hayley Williams’ Instagram page and you’ll see Paramore assertively described as an “American genre-neutral band”. For a band aligned with a very specific genre, this is a bold-ass statement and I am here for it.
This is, imho, the only Paramore album that is listenable from start to finish with no eye-roll moments. These songs would make no sense at Warped Tour, for instance. Hayley’s even sporting a new lewk, with platinum blonde hair and her best fashion sense to date. And Hayley’s style isn’t the only noticeable aesthetic departure. Even the cover art and the press photos for After Laugher are elevated far beyond years past. Looks like Paramore is one of those extremely rare bands that has gotten better with each album.
This album is a joy to listen to. Put it on next time you’re in a bad mood, it’ll kick your doom-and-gloom’s ass.
Standout After Laughter moments: “No Friend” (feat. Aaron Weiss from mewithoutYou), “Tell Me How”, and the infectious lead single “Hard Times”
Harry Styles, Harry Styles
Disclaimer: I am 100 years old and therefore way too old to know anything about One Direction. I’m to old to know anything about the Jonas Brothers. I saw DNCE on the VMAs and I was like, “Oh, that kid looks familiar.” My boy-band obsessed days were 20 years ago and centered around *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys.
That being said, I don’t live under a rock, and I’ve heard a handful of 1D songs. They didn’t do a ton for me, which is why I didn’t have high hopes for Harry Styles’ solo album. That’s why his SNL performance blew me away. I’m not going to pretend that his album is changing the landscape of music or anything, but I have a ton of sudden respect for Styles. It seems like he wants to set himself apart as an artist, not just a cog in a manufactured boy band. (No shade, all of those groups are manufactured by producers or labels, it’s not an indictment).
“Sign of the Times”, the lead single, is downright soulful! I’m going to put my rose-colored glasses on and assume the title is a nod to Prince, of course. The album is tight from start to finish, and it has fun little moments sprinkled throughout (my personal fave is the intro to “Woman”: “Should we just search for romantic comedies on Netflix and see what we find?”). If this album had come out when I was a teenager, it would have totally been boning music. The kid’s got pipes. He’s also pretty easy on the eyes, but as he is younger than my little brother, I must abstain from attraction.
Standout Harry Styles moments: “Meet Me in the Hallway”, the rambunctious “Kiwi”, and “From the Dining Table”
I’m 100% buying both of these albums with real U.S. currency and you should too! What are you into these days?
P.S. I hate Lorde and you will never see her on my “Best Of” lists.