Monday, September 1, 2014

September Wish List

It's the first day of September and I can't help but feel a little giddy about the coming season change. I think it's time to share a few things that I've been eyeing lately:

  • Imagining myself in this Tasi Malibu Embroidered Jena Coat from Urban Outfitters gets me so excited for chilly weather! It's definitely not a subtle design, but I still think it would function perfectly as an everyday coat and would compliment just about everything in my closet. 
  • I'm also in love with this Sunflower Motel Smock Dress from ASOS. I know summer is almost over, but this print actually seems to fit better with an autumn theme in my mind. Paired with a comfy scarf, black tights and combat boots, how could you go wrong?!
  • This Brass Sagittarius Necklace from Moorea Seal is just too cute! I've just been loving the combination of black and gold lately (my nails are painted to match right now).
  • Now I know this Jack Wills Beanie from ASOS might not seem extraordinary at first, but I've been looking for a solid The Life Aquatic-inspired hat to subtly display my Wes Anderson love for quite some time now! With this hat, someone might mistake you as a member of Team Zissou...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Music of the Day: La Luz

I cannot get over how much I dig these girls! I may be a little late to the game, but I can't stop listening to La Luz's 2013 album "It's Alive". Choosing a favorite song is next to impossible- they really are all that good. I'm sharing this one because I also love the styles rocked in the low-key video. Something about their sound makes me feel like I'm being filmed film-noir style while surfing just off a Texan coast somewhere. This is certainly going to be one of those albums that keeps me going all year long! Hope you enjoy it, too! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Up North: Bits and Pieces

It's been a busy past couple of weeks! I can't believe summer is already coming to an end and my final semester of classes begins in a few short days. I don't feel ready at all, but I'm glad that I got to go home for a visit while I still have the time. Here are a few of my favorite photos from my trip up north:

I'm so thankful that I got to make it up north for a short camping trip with my sister and my cousin! Few things compare to the satisfaction of a perfectly roasted marshmallow. I ate more than I care to admit! 

This little leopard frog hung out on my hand for a good ten minutes. I love all outdoor critters, but these little guys have always especially thrilled me. I'm now a grown woman, but I still get exciting about catching frogs! 

We had a wonderful dinner and multiple delicious breakfasts of potatoes and herbs from my family's backyard garden. Homegrown veggies complete my summer! Having a garden is the best, and I hope to plant one of my own at my new place next summer. 

Speaking of my new place...boy, moving sure is exhausting! I just spent a week up north, but now I'm currently on a bus back to Grand Rapids. When I get home, I'll return to the seemingly endless journey of unpacking. I did get my bookshelves and a few frames hung up already, so I'll post some photos shortly! I'm already loving having a full size kitchen and I can't wait to share more cooking adventures with you! 

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Music of the Day: Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield's latest album "Make My Head Sing" is quite possibly one of my new favorite albums of all time. Her voice has such a haunting, ephemeral beauty and I just cant get enough it. I've easily listened to the album more than ten times now, but I can't even begin to count how many times I've listened to this song. "Standing in the Sun" is definitely one of my favorite tracks from the album, and although I would encourage you to listen to the studio version, I adore this live version and Jessica's unequalled style.

Check out the full album on Spotify! I love that it fits just about any mood, so you can play it anytime, anywhere. Today, I've been listening to it while I pack all of my stuff into boxes (I still don't know where we're moving to yet). The album is pure perfection!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Exploring Frederick Meijer Gardens

These are just a few of the photos from my trip to Frederick Meijer Gardens here in Grand Rapids. It's such a beautiful place and I wish I could post all of my photos, but I don't want to do a huge photo dump here on the blog. These were some of my favorite photos, either because I loved the nature, the artwork, or both! We arrived at the gardens about an hour before closing time and now I really regret not getting there earlier. We only got to see about 3/4 of all that was offered and had to practically jog through the parks just to get to see that much. I can't wait to go back with enough time to really experience everything this place has to offer! 

Life Lately (Goats and Shows)

It's been far too long since I've posted! I just finished exam week in one of my summer classes and have been working during most of my free time. Gotta pay that rent! Being a broke college kid is so exhausting- I truly cannot wait for it to be over. Maybe then I'll have enough energy for more creative endeavors! Money might help...either that or nicer weather. I live about 45 minutes from the beach and can't afford to get there very often, so without a Great Lake to jump into, I'm stuck suffering in this West Michigan humidity! What can I say? I'm a Northern Michigan girl at heart. Anyway, my sister came to stay with me last week and ended up hanging out by herself half of the time because I had to work so much. Even though I was gone a lot, we made the most of our time and had a lot of fun before the week was up!

My sister, Jessie, making friends!

My favorite goat, #8, getting all up in my face.

I call this little sweetheart "baby," even though he could just be a tiny goat.
I took my sister to visit my goats! Well, they aren't my goats, technically, but I've been volunteering as a shepherd of sorts with Ottawa County Parks and I'm getting really attached to them. It was partially for a class project, but I'm going to continue doing it even now that the class is over because I've been having such a great time! It's part of a "prescribed browsing" project, which basically means that the goats are kept in a large enclosure on-site to munch on invasive species like poison ivy and the oriental bittersweet vine all day. These kind of invasive species are causing some serious damage to some of my favorite nearby parks, but already the goat project has been very successful! I'm excited to see the results in a few more months!

A blurry photo of Vampire Weekend.

A blurry photo of CAKE.
We got to go to a couple amazing concerts while my sister was here: Vampire Weekend and CAKE. It was definitely a great way for her to start her summer vacation! Vampire Weekend had been planned for a few months and it did not disappoint. They sounded even better live than in the studio, and singing along with Ezra to all of my favorite songs was one of the best feelings in the world! CAKE, on the other hand, was a surprise show. We were at Fredrick Meijer Gardens (I plan on doing a post about that soon) and they just happened to be in the outdoor amphitheater taping a pre-show before their concert later that evening. We slipped through the fence and got our very own private concert! That is, until I took out my phone camera and the security guys realized that we probably shouldn't be there. Still, it was a wonderful experience! Feel free to check out my article in the Awesome Mitten to read more about the Vampire Weekend show.

Oh lovely Lake Michigan.

We made it to the beach twice, but only went swimming the first time around when it was warm enough. The water is still freezing, but it's actually semi-bearable when the air is so sweltering. It was beautiful nevertheless, and I can't wait to go back for more!
Such deer little strawberries!

I love going to garage sales and I love going with people who get as excited as I do about them. Luckily, mysister is one of those people. I found these adorable little glass deer at a farmer's small sale and he ended up giving them to me for free just because he liked how excited I was about them. We bought these freshly picked strawberries from the same farmer and turned it into shortcake later that night. I wish I had a picture of the shortcake, but it was gone before I had a chance to snap one! 

Anyway, that's all for now! I'll get to that Fredrick Meijer Gardens post soon- I have some really great photos of the beautiful flora and sculptures scattered throughout the gardens. Hope you're able to beat the heat and have a wonderful week!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

(Super Simple) Coffee Swirl Chocolate Cake

It's been so long since I've baked anything. I guess I've been pretty busy lately, but really my lack of kitchen time is mostly due to my impatience with my tiny kitchen. If I'm going to make something, I'd rather it be quick and easy. I absolutely cannot wait to move out of this apartment and finally have a kitchen that will inspire me to cook and bake, but for now, I'll just get by with things like this super simple coffee swirl chocolate cake!

I had a box cake mix and some frosting in my cupboard and I was in the mood to get a little more creative with it. I'm so happy with the results! And so was everyone else- it's only been a day and the cake was devoured. If you're looking to whip up something different and delicious, consider this "recipe"!

You will need:

  • box of chocolate cake mix (preferably one that calls for at least a cup of water)
  • ingredients for the cake mix (eggs, vegetable oil)
  • container of white/vanilla frosting
  • freshly brewed coffee
  • instant coffee grounds

  1. Read the ingredients list for your cake mix and replace the water with freshly brewed coffee, then add whatever else it calls for.
  2. Bake the cake!
  3. Add a few drops of warm water to about a teaspoon of instant coffee to dissolve the grounds. Pour into the frosting and mix well. Add more to taste.
  4. Set about a tablespoon of the coffee frosting aside and add more instant coffee to it for an even stronger flavor. 
  5. Frost the cake with the majority of your frosting, then use a butter knife to swirl in the stronger flavored bit and create a marbled design. 
  6. Garnish with loose instant coffee grounds on the top of the cake if you're a coffee lover. (I added extra to my slice!) 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Buzzing and Blooming

These photos are from a recent walk in the arboretum and ravines near my apartment. Summer is really here and it just makes me so happy. Everything outdoors seems to be either buzzing, singing, or blossoming! Does it get any better than this? I don't think so.

I'm getting ready to go out for another round of pub trivia. Hmmmm...what to wear?! I really need to go thrifting for some summer clothes soon. I have no shortage of oversized sweaters, but that just won't do in this daily 80 degree humidity. I struggle with putting together good outfits in the heat!

Anyway, off I go. It's almost the weekend, and I hope your week is going swimmingly!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Say No To Cabin Fever

I love comfy couches and Netflix as much as the next person, but I can only handle sitting still like that for short lengths of time. I get cabin fever if I'm cooped up for longer than a day. (More like apartment fever, I suppose- I wish I lived in a cabin!)

There are so many ways to get out and about, and I truly never tire of discovering new ones. It seems like most people have their own unique "go-to" ideas that are made possible by warm weather and the summer's sunshine. What are your favorite things to do to get out of the house?

Here are just a few things I've done to cure my restless soul syndrome these past few days:   

Holland State Park is one of my favorite places in West Michigan. Although this park is just a simple Lake Michigan beach (I usually prefer my beaches to be accompanied by trails), I love the river that runs alongside it and watching sailboats drift in and out of the marina. Plus there are tons of options for ice cream on the drive in- an absolute necessity for any beach day!

The lilacs are blooming behind our apartment! I was so excited when I noticed them that I grabbed a pair of scissors and ran outside to go on a wildflower hunt. Even just a small walk during the day can really brighten my mood and make me feel more connected to the world around me.

My favorite apartment fever cure is simple: look up events happening nearby, fill up the gas tank, and go! That's what got us to the Fruitport "Old Fashioned Days" celebration last night. There was a small zoo, a carnival, live music, and fireworks show at dusk! We had so much fun eating corn dogs, petting exotic animals, and sitting by the lake watching the fireworks (which are possibly my favorite thing in the world). 

You've probably noticed by now, but I really love beaches. I never feel more complete than I do when I'm by the water, specifically near the truly Great Lakes. This photo was taken on Friday at the Grand Haven State Park, another one of my favorite places in West Michigan. Sadly, the water was too cold for swimming just yet, but summer is finally here and I'm sure it will warm up soon!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Illustrations That Tickled My Fancy This Week

My parents are both artists and thanks to them I've grown up with an intense appreciation for all art forms. Over the years, I've developed a love for illustration. I like to play around with it myself sometimes (I'm sure I'll post something of mine at some point), but I am constantly baffled by the amazing talents of others. Here are just a few illustrations that I've stumbled across and fell in love with this week:

This collection by Rebecca Mock has been floating around the web as of late, and if you haven't seen it yet, you should definitely check it out. It's so clever and beautifully done! Each piece is equally mesmerizing and serene- I just think it's such a wonderful concept!

I found this illustration on Pinterest and it took me awhile to track down it's origin. It's by the artist Adrian Tomine, who you may recognize from familiar New Yorker covers (click the link for examples). Something about his style just makes me want to stare for awhile- it's as vivid as actually going people-watching.

I cannot get over Emma Dibben's delicate style. It was hard to choose just one piece to show you, but as a fan of baking and desserts, I think I can safely say that this is my favorite. I wish all of my kitchen ingredients could look like something from her illustrations!

I love this illustration so much, but I'm still struggling to track down it's origins. I believe it's from a book called Chii Sakobee, but I can't find much information on it through the American web, aside from the foreign site I linked to. I'll put a reward on it- all my love and something special (to be determined) if you can tell me more about this book!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Blogger's Dozen on Hello, Scarlett

I'm so excited to announce that my recipe for strawberry tarts has been featured over on Hello, Scarlett! I'm a huge fan of Emory's lovely blog and I was so happy when she asked me to participate in her A Blogger's Dozen series. Head on over to Hello, Scarlett to read more, then stick around awhile and take a look at Emory's inspiring lifestyle-
I just know you'll love it!

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Freshwater and Forests

I hadn't originally planned on posting so many nature photos here in my little corner of the web, but it's become clear to me that there is really no other way to have this blog reflect my true self. Nature is such an important part of my life and is probably involved in over half of what I'd consider to be my happy murmurs. I know that living in Michigan has played an incredible role in my development as a person, and I couldn't have asked for a better playground growing up. Sand, rock, freshwater, and forests- these are the things that make me feel like a carefree child again. I continue to connect with the philosophies of naturalists like John Muir and Henry David Thoreau, and knowing that I've yet to the mountains and forests they loved so dearly gives me a deep fervor for my future. 

The simple adventures that can be had in nature are infinite, whether it be spotting a rare bird, uncovering a hidden trail, or finding a fossil along the beach, and each brings me the purest kind of happiness. Although I will eventually get around to crafting more exciting posts for the blog (I plan to have a DIY section in the near future!), I'm loving having a place to share my daily adventures and reflect on the beautiful places that I'm so lucky to have encountered. If even just one other person stops to admire the natural beauty that I've struggled (and probably failed) to capture in a photo, I feel like I've done something important. I'm going to save up for a real camera and hopefully that will increase the quality of my photos and make them easier to style and take, so that's something to look forward to! Here are a few pictures I've snapped haphazardly in the last couple days:

I went home for a few days to spend time with my family for Mother's Day (I'm heading back downstate tomorrow morning). We spent most of Sunday by Lake Huron with a lovely picnic at Cheboygan State Park and saw this ghostly ship in the distance.

I love foraging for wild edibles, so I was delighted to see these fresh wintergreen berries peeking out of the dried leaves that covered the forest floor! Now, if only I could find some morel mushrooms...

Sophie loves playing in the water and fetching sticks. She's great at fetching but not so great at bringing anything back- she loves to make you chase her while awkwardly carrying a giant stick in her mouth.

I get so excited whenever I encounter any form of wildlife. Words cannot express how much I love animals, and I do mean all animals- even snakes! Spiders give me the willies sometimes, but that's about it.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now- I hope you're having a wonderful week!


Friday, May 9, 2014

Life Lately

This is one of my absolute favorite tops- I love the pattern and the silky material. It's usually my "business professional" shirt, so I wore it to my job interview earlier this morning. (Younkers)

I've been trying to get outside to enjoy this nice weather as much as possible. It's beginning to turn green down the Eastmanville Bayou trails- perhaps summer is on its way?

I love sitting in the grass by the pond outside of our apartment building. It's the perfect spot for painting and reading  The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno, a deeply tragic, beautiful, and witty tale of a grown man's memories. 
This beautiful tree near our building is finally in bloom. I'm not sure what kind of tree it is, but I love it. 

Summer is off to a slow start here, but I'm enjoying the relaxation time before classes pick up and I begin to tackle all of my summer goals (including creating posts that are much more exciting, I promise). For now, I just want to sit around and read, sleep, and eat. So I think I will.

Happy Friday! Does anyone have any fun weekend plans?