What I've Done In 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

For the past couple of years, instead of making resolutions that I genuinely forget to keep, I've started making "to do lists" for the the year. I'll create goals, whether minuscule or not, and try my best to accomplish as many as I can throughout the year.

  1. Read 35 books (25/35) (It was a valiant effort, though)
  2. Keep straight A’s
  3. Get 8,000 songs on my iPod
  4. Run more often
  5. Try to be more present in people’s lives
  6. Finish my story
  7. Get a pair of Rayban Clubmasters
  8. Run on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk
  9. Bake at least 10 things that I have pinned
  10. Re-do my bedroom at home
  11. Go to opening day for the Indians
  12. Go to Chicago
  13. Take more photos
  14. Reteach myself basic Photoshop and HTML skills
  15. Write every day --- fill up a notebook
  16. Grow a flower and keep it alive all spring and summer (Everything I touch dies...I blame my horrible roommate for locking my poor tulips in the room for an entire long weekend...)
  17. Go a day without my phone and computer
  18. Stop waiting for people to find me interesting, find other people interesting first
  19. Take better care of my blogs (LOL, boy did I ever...)
  20. Stop being afraid to make that first move
  21. Meet Harry Styles 
  22. Get front row at a concert
  23. Learn a new language, other than Spanish
  24. Do a DIY/craft that I have pinned
  25. Save my money for study abroad in 2015!
  26. Get a job other than working for my uncle
  27. Confidence is key!
  28. Apply for internships or at least make a resume
  29. Put my dusty piano skills to good use
  30. Go to the Albright Knox Art Museum
  31. Finish Devil’s Hole
  32. People watch at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a few hours
  33. Start making yoga part of a weekly routine
  34. Try something new
  35. Drink more tea
  36. Figure out the Cleveland bus system
  37. Cut down on Starbucks and try going to Phoenix and Peet’s more
  38. Make Italy 2015 happen (HAH, WHAT? Was this even an option?)
  39. Visit Uncle Tom in Brooklyn
  40. Fix the CD player in my car (this is seriously happening like...next week though)
As you can see, I didn't do everything, but trying to cross everything off isn't necessarily the point. While it's nice and somewhat fulfilling to cross everything off of my lists, it's nice to look back on some of these things I've accomplished. I can't help but feel proud of myself for getting my first "real" job and for going to Chicago and Brooklyn. I became more confident, learned how to bake from scratch, and even applied for internships that I didn't expect to get, but was still excited to apply for anyways. Oh, and I guess "taking better care of my blogs" paid off a bit, yeah? I'm forever grateful for my decision to start regularly/daily blogging!

Stay tuned for my 2015 To Do List! 

What was your favorite thing you've done for yourself this year?

10 Things I've Learned About Myself In 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Following true to my tenth statement in this post, I'm going to take today to talk all about what I learned about myself in the past year rather than the year itself right now. A proper 2014 reflection will follow when it is officially "over."

2014 consisted of part of my first and second year of college, a few odd jobs, some self discoveries (apparently, I like asparagus now. A lot), stupid boys (and some not so stupid boys, hi Harry), and a hair cut. With all of these things (okay, maybe aside from the asparagus) happening in my life, I was bound to learn some lessons. And with age, I'm starting to learn more and more about myself as I deal with each of these new problems and see what each new endeavor entails. 

In true Francesca fashion, here's a list of 10 things that I have learned about myself over the course of the past year.

1. I'm a lot nicer than I had originally thought.

Maybe it's just something that's ingrained into our brains as humans, but I think that we don't like to admit the good parts about ourselves. Maybe it's out of fear of seeming self-centered or conceited (see #10 to know why it's okay to feel like this), or because we truly don't see the best parts of ourselves out of sheer insecureness. Whatever it may be, I don't think I realized how nice I am to people sometimes, especially strangers.

I used to be the butt of my favorite joke, calling myself a misanthrope and saying that I hated all people. I feel like I go out of my way to be polite to people, especially strangers, because I know how excited I get when strangers and other people are nice to me. I'm trying this new thing where I stop trying to remember the people who were rude or mean and remember the people who were nice instead! Those are the kind of people you want to remember and keep around in your life

2. I have a constant need to please people, even when they don't have unreasonably high expectations of me. 

This is most relevant when it comes to grades. Nobody is pressuring me into getting straight A's and besides needing to keep a 3.2 for my scholarship, I have no other pressures. Yet, here I am, stressing about getting two Bs. It's silly and definitely something I'm going to have to get over myself. I am very grateful that I have nobody else in my life trying to pressure me to become these cookie cutter images they have for me and will forever be grateful for it. 

3. I cannot save money for the life of me.

I've known this one for a while, but I've fully accepted it this year. Sorry, bank account. You will forever be depleting.

4. I love my family too much to leave them permanently. 

I have to be living somewhere and have a job where I can at least (AT LEAST) come home once a season, if possible. I could never go any longer than a few months without seeing my family, it's just not possible.

5. I don't think I want kids as much as I used to (or at least I have a lot to accomplish before I have any).

I keep adding things to my Life's To-Do-List that would require no offspring. Sorry, Harry. 

6. Being single is a blessing

I barely have time or the emotional capacity for myself. There's no way in HELL that I have time to be responsible for another's feelings. 

7. Strains on friendships are normal and some are more mendable than others.

Even Rory and Lane fought sometimes. Disagreements and rifts in relationships are normal. It's all about which can withstand the wear and tear and which can't.

8. Sometimes I need to take mental breaks from things. 

It's okay to not do something with somebody if I'm exhausted. It's a completely legitimate excuse that I was always too afraid to use before this year. I'm not invincible and I get stressed out incredibly easily. If I can't check out for a few hours, or even a day, I'm going to keep spreading myself too thin and end up worse off.

9. It's okay to be a little "selfish" and self-centered sometimes.

I use the word selfish loosely. There is nothing wrong with wanting a little time or something-something for yourself. You need to love yourself before you love anybody else. It's okay to look at yourself in the mirror and say "damn, I look great" or treat yourself just because. There's nothing wrong with being proud of what you do and accomplish or for putting yourself first. 

10. I wish complimenting people was a job.

2014 was the year of excessive compliments. I learned that when people compliment me, I shine. So, I decided to start complimenting everybody else. Maybe a little excessively, but it's honestly my favorite thing to do now. If complimented people was a job, I'd do it in a heartbeat. There's no greater sight than somebody's face after you pay them a genuine compliment. 

What have you learned about yourself in the past year?

NYE Outfit Ideas

Monday, December 29, 2014

If you're the celebrating type for New Year's Eve and aren't quite sure what to wear, I've made a few outfit ideas that can be taken with a grain of salt, of course. It's very important to wear what you are comfortable in, which could easily be jeans and a tee or a bandage dress and heels. Here are some fun pieces that you could incorporate into outfits, or even just use as a style guide.

Top: H&M
Shorts: Zara
Tights: Target
Shoes: Topshop

Romper: Topshop
Shoes: J. Crew
Earrings: Baublebar
Eyeliner: NYX
Lipstick: MAC

Top: H&M
Bottoms: J. Crew
Shoes: Topshop
Lipstick: NARS

And what I'm going to be wearing on New Year's Eve, as I rarely leave the house to celebrate...

Shirt: Old Jonas Brothers Tour Shirt
Socks: Target
Face Mask: Sephora
Snacks: Diet Coke & Twizzlers

What are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Good Reads

Sunday, December 28, 2014

1. Blank Space // Style (Taylor Swift Mash-Up) I kid you not, I listened to this mash-up 50 times yesterday. FIFTY. It's crazy good and addicting.

2. At Home Spa Night: NYE Manicures Essie nail polishes are my absolute favorite. That winter white shade is very, very tempting...I'm all about those home manicures as well!

3. Bohemian Fringe Waiting for the day that I can pull off a hat like that.

4. Black & Gold High school friends, please have a laugh with me. But, for real, this color combination is so great, especially around this time of year. And the bows, oh my goodness, they're adorable!

5. Winter in Cape Please add this cape to the list of things I need in order to truly feel fabulous.

6. NY Closets: Rebecca Ramsey I adore this closet series. It's a fun little peek into the weekly wardrobe of some funky fashionistas.

7. Best Of: Contour & Highlight Kits Highlighting and contouring my face are two of my favorite parts of my makeup routine, so products that combine my favorite two steps are fantastic in my book.

8. Gingerbread Hot Chocolate *salivates at the mouth* *ravenously searches the kitchen for ingredients* *realizes that it is far too late for hot chocolate*

9. Blogging > Jogging Sweatshirt THIS SWEATSHIRT IS CALLING MY NAME.

10. How To Get A Boy To Like You This is probably not what you think it is. Katy is so wise beyond her years, so unfair.

What have you been reading lately?

Hair Care For Bleached Hair

Saturday, December 27, 2014

As you might know by now, I recently got my hair cut and colored. In order to lighten my hair, my hairdresser uses bleach (the price you pay to try to look like Taylor Swift, eh?). Unfortunately, bleach doesn't do kind things to my hair, especially the week following my hair job. It still doesn't smell nice and it definitely feels drier than it normally would during the winter. Again, I know this is normal and I normally embrace it until it eventually rehydrates. However, since my hair is so much shorter now and I need to looking healthy, I knew I was going to have to expedite this hydrating process!

In almost perfect timing, I received my Argan Oil Hair Mask from InstaNatural in the mail this week. I have never tried a hair mask before, only deep conditioners, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this product besides something that smelled nice. I've only heard good things about the smell and effects of argan oil, but after some bad experiences with coconut oil, I was pretty weary about trying out a hair treatment that even mentioned the word oil.

I've used the mask twice since receiving it, both after particularly rough days when it came to styling with heat and a generous amount of hairspray to keep it all in place. The first night I used it, I put it on for about 10 minutes, as the directions recommend putting on a generous amount from roots to tips and leave it in towel dried hair from anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes. I figured since this was my first time using it, 10 minutes would be a safe time where it might not over hydrate or make my hair greasy. I also didn't put it in my roots, but I did put it higher than I would with normal conditioner.

10 minutes later, I rinsed out the product and combed through my hair after towel drying it. The first thing I noticed was how fantastic my hair smelled. They're not lying when they say that argan oil smells heavenly. Then, about fifteen minutes when I was lying down and watching Youtube videos, I was playing with my hair and noticed that not even 30 minute after the treatment did my hair feel softer to the touch. I thought maybe I was just going crazy. There was no way that after just a single use my dull hair already felt that much smoother. But, lo and behold, I babysat the next morning and my cousin was playing with my hair and commented on how much softer it had gotten between the two days. I can't make this up, I swear to you this happened!

Every product works differently for everybody, I know that. I have thick, bleached hair and I think that this hair mask worked wonders and immediately had an effect on my hair. The second time I used it yielded the same results, nice smelling and incredibly soft hair rather than gritty dyed hair. I think that if I continue to use this in combination with my normal hair routine, it'll speed up the process of getting my hair back to its normal texture!

If you're looking for a new hair mask, or even your first hair mask like I was, I'd check out InstaNatural's Argan Oil Hair Mask, available through Amazon. I like that it comes in a tub as well so you can easily see how much product is left! It's the little things, guys.

What's your all time favorite hair care product?

This post has been powered by BrandBacker. All opinions, however, are my own. Thanks!

What I Got For Christmas

Friday, December 26, 2014

I sort of failed at Christmas this year. I'm late on gift giving, I had very little Christmas spirit, and I sort of failed at making a Christmas list. In my defense, I didn't need anything besides my new coat, which you might have seen in yesterday's post about the holiday. It's the City Coat from the Factory J. Crew store in the shade Dublin Green. I've had actual dreams about wearing this coat, so needless to say I've been head over heels in love with it since receiving it on Christmas Eve. Many many many many thanks to my Fairy Godmother for the best and most gracious gift.

My mom and dad cannot let my brother or I go without gifts on Christmas morning, even when we tell her that we literally do not need nor want anything. Kathy and Tommy G surprised us both once again because that's just who they are, I guess.

I was kind enough to receive two boxes of my favorite K-Cups from my parents (life without a Keurig at home is killer, guys. I must go back to school). My mom and I picked up a Philosophy set at Sephora because I really wanted the Purity cleanser and she wanted to try out the face mask. Plus, we had one of those $15 off of a purchase of $50 or more and this was the only thing in the Sephora that interested me. Funny how things like that work out!

This was the Christmas of gift cards and cash for me, which I do not mind one bit. I got quite a bit of Target gift cards (SEE, people know me so well), Starbucks, Panera, and Barnes and Noble (magazines, here I come). Most importantly, I got 1989 on vinyl, which I legitimately hugged when I took it out of its bag.

The best part about Christmas day? Receiving my $90 for winning my Fantasy Football league. Remember that time I joined the league as a joke and only picked attractive players? Proof that taking nothing seriously ends with success. Major props to my younger brother who is most certainly not reading this for helping me out. I gave him a cut because I'm a good older sister and because he threatened to sabotage my team if I didn't. That was a chance I was not willing to take.

Hope everybody had a great time with family and friends over these past couple of days. I wish everybody the happiest and healthiest new year. xx

What was your moment during this Christmas season?

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A very Christmas to everybody. I hope Santa treated you well and you're enjoying time with family and friends! Back to regular scheduled programming tomorrow ;-). 

Merry Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Just want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas Eve! Hope you have a lovely time with friends and family!

All I Want For Christmas Is...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The answer would be "you" if "you" was referring to Harry Styles.

Christmas is along the same line as my birthday at this point in my life. There's nothing that I really need at all, but I feel like it's almost necessary to make a list. Unfortunately, this year was very difficult to even attempt to make one. Even the little things, like jewelry or mugs, weren't interesting to me at all.

The only gift I really needed to get this Christmas was a new winter coat...which I already know I got because I had to tell my Fairy Godmother when the good sale at J. Crew was. So yeah, that surprise was a bit spoiled by myself. But I had to make sure that she got the best price! I really don't like receiving gifts, so if somebody is going to be kind enough to gift me a coat, I'm going to try my hardest to make sure that it's as cheap as it can possibly be.

1. Taylor Swift's 1989 on vinyl
2. Antropologie monogram mug
3. Harry Styles
4. J. Crew City Coat in Dublin Green
5. K-Cups
6. Philosophy face products
7. Nars Dragon Girl lip crayon

And that's honestly it. Even that list is full of things I don't necessarily need, but wouldn't mind having. It's so weird growing up and getting more excited to give gifts rather than receive them. Such a strange thing indeed...

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Holiday Party Outfits

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tis the season of seemingly endless parties. Whether you're party hopping on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or even New Year's Eve, there are plenty of places to go and plenty of outfits needed. Here are two options for a holiday party! One is a bit more dressy and the other is more casual, but guaranteed to keep you comfortable all night long. To transition to a more New Year's Eve friendly look, swap out the red pieces for more neutral colors and add a berry lip for a little added fun!

Dress: H&M
Shoes: J. Crew
Clutch: Forever21
Tights: Target
Lipstick: Covergirl

Sweater: J. Crew
Shoes: H&M
Bracelet: Kate Spade

What's your go to outfit for a holiday party?

Good Reads

Sunday, December 21, 2014

1. Santa Baby How cute that Jess and Carly accidentally coordinated! Also, those bauble hats are absolutely adorable.

2. Holiday Playlist Some last minute tunes for the few days before Christmas.

3. Neutral Layers For Winter That coat is to die for. 

4. We Tried The J. Crew Model Diet 'Cause you know it's all about those layers, those layers, no tank tops.

5. Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies My mouth was watering looking at pictures of these.

6. 3 Cuties In Coats Fun fact: that green coat is my Christmas present!

7. Kate Spade Gallery Wall These Kate Spade prints get cuter every time I look at them. 

8. Fair Isle Sweater I can't believe Old Navy has a Fair Isle sweater!! I need to swing by and get one of my own. 

9. Wild Child This makes me regret not getting that leopard coat the other...

10. Turtleneck Hair Now I can no longer do this with my new haircut...but I cannot deny that I tried this out before I got it snipped off.

11. Holiday Hair Inspiration: Put A Bow On It I agree whole-heartedly.

12. Sequins + Plaid I love dark green tartan! 

What have you been reading lately?

Don't Be Such A Tulle

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Once upon a time, there was a college freshman who so deeply desired a tulle skirt that she tweeted about it two times more than she probably should have.

Four score and seven years ago (okay, so a couple of weeks ago), the online clothing company eShakti asked if I wanted to pick a clothing item and review it. The kicker about this site? It's a custom clothing site. I don't know about you, but something is always off about clothes that I purchase in stores. For pants, either they're too long or too loose in the waist. Skirts always pinch me in the wrong spots or end up being too long because of the size. And do not even get my started with shirts...Enter eShakti, the website where you can either order true to size (0, 2, 4, 6,  all the way to 36) or enter in your own measurements for your own custom sized garment. I dare you to tell me that this isn't the coolest feature you've ever heard of.

I picked out the Tulle Crinoline Skirt in the color white because, as I said, I've been pining after a tulle skirt for a while now. This was a perfect find for me! I ordered mine in a standard size because I didn't have any sort of measuring tape at school and didn't want to guess based off of past sizing. However, I did customize my skirt in the length. I tried out midi-skirts for the first time this summer and fell in love, but didn't want my first tulle skirt to be that bold (for my next one, for sure!). Of course, they had the option to customize the length, so I asked for mine to be above the knees.

A legitimate squeal left my mouth when I saw the package on my doorstep this week. It was slightly embarrassing, but then again, that is the only appropriate reaction when you realize that your dream tulle skirt has arrived and you can finally wear it instead of daydream about how you're going to style it (this really happened, I can't make this up).

To prove how excited I was about receiving this skirt, I'm going to extract a quote directly from my texts to my best friend.


Embarrassing text messages aside, this skirt fits like an absolute dream. It has a small elastic band in the back (which can easily be covered by the sash provided if you feel weird about that kind of stuff) (I don't) that makes it extremely easy to put on and adjust once it is on. The side zipper is easy to maneuver and I like that it has the top hook for extra assurance that nothing is going to come undone. It has a plain white skirt underneath the layers of tulle, but everything is thick enough to camouflage anything you've got going on under the skirt (i.e., my black tights). To say I'm pleased with my choice and what I received would be a massive understatement. This is the Harry Styles of skirts. That's the best way I can describe this delight of a skirt.

I knew how I was going to style this skirt for winter from the second that I set my eyes on it. It was always going to be black and white with a little pop of color in the lips and nails. Here's my interpretation of my vision.

Sweater: Urban Outfitters
Skirt: eShakti (c/o)
Shoes: Kohl's
Earrings: Gift from my mother
Necklace: H&M
Bracelet and ring: Kate Spade
Lipstick: Covergirl

Since you're all fabulous readers and deserve the opportunity to have clothes customized to your unique and beautiful size, eShakti has given me a cheeky little coupon code to use on your purchases! Enter "lifeaccordingtofrancesca" in the promotional code box at checkout to receive 10% off of your order until 1/17/2015. 

Check out eShakti on their social media, like FacebookPinterest, and Instagram!

Shop eShakti here!
Quick blooper reel because I am indeed obnoxious and find these necessary.

Worst. Ballerina. Ever.

It was below freezing outside, but I was far too proud for a jacket.

This lipstick wouldn't come off, no joke. Even after a shower this sucker was on.

What piece of clothing have you been pining after?

Skirt was provided by eShakti, but all opinions are my own! Thanks!

Grades, Jobs, and Angel Tree Toppers

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hi guys! Long time no chat! Okay, that's sort of a massive lie, we had a chat about a week ago, but I'm feeling in a chatty mood right now! I've been home for a little over a week now, trying to enjoy my winter break and time off from school.

I got my fall semester grades on Wednesday and I'm trying to get excited about them but it's hard. One of the really irritating things about myself, aside from the perpetual off-key singing to everything, is that I'm very hard on myself, especially when it comes to academics. So of course I was absolutely delighted by my two A's, especially the one in a course where I was convinced my professor absolutely despised me. Then I got upset about an A- in my online class, which was weird because I've gotten A minuses before. Then the B+ and B came and I just got a weird sinking in my stomach. I am completely aware that these are in no way bad grades, that I should be very happy and proud of myself. But I can't. It's not my family or friends or strangers making me feel bad about my 3.56, it's myself and it is very, very frustrating. However, I'm working on it, so that's always good!

This month I also started working at my first big girl retail job. I work in a luggage store and it's going okay so far. I've only had two days there so I can't really complain yet (nor would I on the internet, of course). The rest of my break will be split between working a few hours a week there and (hopefully) some babysitting/hanging out with my favorite little nuggets!

And today..well, probably as you're reading this post...I'm getting my haircut! Like, a real hair cut, not just me telling my hair dresser, and I quote, "Just cut off the least amount that you need to cut off to make it look healthy." I plan on going in and telling her to just have fun with it. Kidding, I might just go into shock and that would be horrible. But, I do have plans for a real haircut and dye. You'll either have to check my Instagram for pictures or just wait for tomorrow ;-).

It's the week before Christmas and I only have presents for my goddaughter because homegirl is B-R-O-K-E and has to wait until the beginning of January when she gets her paychecks. Sorry friends! You will be getting something! I'm always a fan of late Christmases anyways. I did this last year with my roommates and it was the best decision ever. It's a continuation of Christmas spirit that just makes January all nice and jolly too!

P.S. How cute is the angel on top of our tree? I wonder who was put in charge of decorating the tree this year...

Things I'm Loving

Thursday, December 18, 2014

1. Hozier

You've heard of this Irish folk-rocker if you've seen the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, Lebron James's Beats commercial, or just don't live under a rock. He's been around for a short year and has already killed live performances on Saturday Night Live and the beloved VS Fashion Show. His song "Take Me To Church" can gut you in all of its 4 minute glory. At least, I think the 96 million plays on Spotify say much more than I could ever.

His first full length album came out in October, and just like Bleachers, it has taken me far too long to listen to it in its entirety. However, I have basically only listened to this album combined with a few other songs for the past week. HE. IS. SO. TALENTED. This is exactly the kind of genre of music that I love and adore and want to complete immerse myself in (until I need a song to dance to, then I resort to my beloved pop).

Songs to check out: "Like Real People Do," "Someone New," "In A Week," and "Cherry Wine."

2. Makeup Forever Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in the shade N9

I got this sample sized lipstick in a birthday gift set from Sephora (along with a sample sized mascara). It's sort of a "my lips but better color", but more neutral toned rather than pink. It reminds me a lot of MAC's Syrup, but this is a little more matte looking and more brown. If I'm not wearing berries or reds, I'm wearing a plummy neutral, and this is definitely a color I'll be reaching for until I run out of my sample! The wear isn't fantastic on this, but since it is such a neutral color on me, I can go a while without reapplication and you probably wouldn't notice.

3. The Little Prince

I've read this book more than a few times. It's short, about 80-something pages, and it can pass as a children's book...but The Little Prince is so much more than that. My aunt and I were talking about this book the other day, as I saw the international trailer for the movie and told her about it. Then, I got inspired to reread it and did so in about 24 hours...If you haven't read about the little prince's travels through the universe yet, I highly recommend you do so.

Dior, via Man Repeller

4. Pre-Fall 2015 Collections

I am never, ever going to get over fall fashion. It's my favorite time of the year and getting to look at fall fashion for next year is already making me way too excited.

My favorites so far have been: ChloƩ, Naeem Khan, Elizabeth and James, Band of Outsiders, Christian Siriano (I LOVED him on Project Runway), Erdem, Prabal Gurung, Lela Rose, and Veronica Beard.

5. Having my old car back

I've been driving my mom's Jeep since August because my poor little Malibu has some recalls on it that have still yet to be fixed. However, I've stopped caring about that because I forgot how much I loved my car. It's so small and doesn't have blind spots and it's mine. Esteban will surely be coming back to Cleveland with me in January, mark my words. All he needs is a new stereo (he's older so he doesn't have an auxiliary outlet and funny story about the CD player...)

Okay, so the CD player in my car doesn't work. Or, I should say, it very selectively works. If I want to listen to a CD, I need to commit to a CD because I will be listening to it for months on end. Basically, the only time I can get a CD to work in my car is when it's the winter time. I choose my CD wisely, so either a mixed CD with some killer songs on it or something like Taylor Swift's Red or 1989 that I literally do not get sick of. It has to be below freezing overnight or else it won't work.

So, I pick my CD and go out at night. I put the CD in and wait for it to eject and for my car to tell me that there was something wrong with the disk. I don't take the CD out, I leave it halfway into the disk drive. Then I go back inside and let it sit like that overnight when the temperature is below freezing (anything above and it doesn't work, I couldn't make this up even if I wanted to). In the morning, before anybody warms up the car, you have to sit in it, start it, and immediately push the CD in. It should work and if it doesn't, then you have to wait until the next night and deal with the radio. If it does, then you're stuck listening to a mixed CD with the song "Beauty and the Beat" and "Thrift Shop" on it for a solid 4 months, irritating everybody you drive around.

Needless to say, Esteban might need to be fixed on the stereo front.

6. Mree

I found Mree (mreebee3 on Youtube) through either her Ingrid Michaelson cover or through her cover of "Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap. Regardless of what video got me hooked, it was a few years ago and I haven't stopped being mesmerized by her music since. She is the female Bon Iver, yet—dare I stay it—more whimsical and ethereal. She is the physical and musical embodiment of Anthropologie. Her voice is heavenly, her lyrics are beautiful, and I am constantly blown away by her incredible usage of the loop pedal and instruments. I don't know how she creates her albums, each song more layered than the next. Every one is perfect in their own ways and she has an entire Youtube channel as well as two complete albums to keep you occupied for quite some time.

Songs to check out: "Into The Well," "Monsters," her cover of "Blood" by The Middle East, and her cover of "Michicant" by Bon Iver.

What have you been loving lately?

Stocking Stuffers

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

When I was younger, I used to be equally as excited to see what was going to be in my stocking on Christmas morning. We don't have a fireplace in our house, nor any sort of mantel, so our stockings were laid upright on the couch...but it still worked. Honestly, it wouldn't have been a Gariano Christmas if something wasn't a bit off about it.

I remember my stocking being filled with different sorts of candies, maybe some sort of toys or playing cards that I was interested in at the time. My brother and I haven't had stockings for years, but my family still believes in the small gifts, mostly because my brother and I normally don't ask for any big gifts and haven't since I got my guitar and he got some sneakers that he's probably since sold.

Stocking stuffers also make great gifts for roommates, co-workers, or friends of friends who might not be the closest to you, but you still feel obligated to exchange gifts with them. If I had a stocking this year, these are definitely some of the things I wouldn't mind seeing peeking out on Christmas morning.

1. Chocolate
2. Nail polish
3. Coffee or tea
4. Picture frames
5. Lotion
6. Bath Bombs
7. Rollerballs
8. Giftcards (Yep, I went the cop-out route. I LOVE gift cards to Target and Starbucks).
9. Tech Gloves
10. Scarves

What's your go-to stocking stuffer?

Holiday Recipes

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I bake all year round because I find the act really entertaining (and delicious). However, I tend to go a bit overboard during the holiday seasons when it comes to baking. Actually, once October hits, I'm constantly baking (or constantly have the urge to bake if I'm at school oven-less). The Christmas season is always a fun one to bake during, especially with all of the peppermint goodies! I've compiled a list of some recipes that I'd really like to test out this winter!

1. Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake
2. Funfetti Cake Batter Truffles
3. Christmas Crunch
4. Peppermint Bark Puppy Chow
5. Peppermint Crunch Sugar Cookie Bars
6. Pretzel M&M Hugs
7. Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
8. White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies
9. Candy Cane Oreo Cookies Bars
10. Peppermint Mocha Frozen Hot Chocolate

And as an added bonus, here's a hot chocolate recipe I tried out and tweaked this past weekend if you aren't feeling using some Swiss Miss packages. This is a very sweet and chocolatey recipe, by the way. Feel free to add or subtract the sugar or cocoa powder to your liking!

Hot Chocolate Recipe:


+ 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
+ 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
+ 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon (optional)
+ 1/4 tsp. of salt
+ 4 cups of milk
+ 1/4 cup of half and half
+ 3/4 tsp. of vanilla extract

1. In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

2. Put 1 cup of milk into a saucepan and heat until it boils.

3. Stir in the cocoa mixture and stir it until it all dissolves. Bring this mixture to a boil, then turn it onto low heat.

4. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of milk. Bring it to a boil.

5. Add in the cream and vanilla and continue to heat the milk.

6. BONUS: If you want peppermint hot chocolate, add in some Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer or use a candy cane as your stirrer!

*This recipe is very sweet*

What's your favorite Christmas treat? 

Senior Quotes

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not only is it the holiday season, but it's also getting closer to senior quote deadlines! Maybe it's because I love quotes, but picking out my senior quote was one of the most stressful and fun parts of my senior year. To some, it might just be a dumb quote that goes under or next to your picture in an overpriced yearbook that you may or may not even purchase. I don't know why it was such a big deal to me, but I thought of it as one final thing for people to remember me by. I probably put too much thought into the idea of a senior quote, but the process was fun regardless!

I started with a really big word document full of my favorite quotes, some from books, some from random inspirational graphics, and others from various musicians. Then I kept narrowing it down until I got to a small list of six.

The choices I gave myself senior year were:

"Paris is always a good idea." - Audrey Hepburn

"Things are fragile, but we're all being carried and I think we're all on our path in that sense. As fragile as things are, we're still getting there." - Andrew McMahon

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Sometimes your circumstances suck, but life doesn't." - Andrew McMahon

"In order to lead a fascinating life—one brimming with art, music, intrigue, and romance you must surround yourself with precisely those things." - Kate Spade

"Playing dress up starts at age five and never truly ends." - Kate Spade

Guess which one I chose...that's right, the first Kate Spade quote. However, I originally chose the Audrey Hepburn quote but changed it last minute. I don't know what my thought process was in choosing my quote, as it was nearly two years ago on the dot. But your senior quote could be anything you want it to be. You can quote the Bible, a disney movie, Tupac if you really want to (people did). You don't have to take it seriously if you don't want to.

If you're stumped for senior quotes, I've gathered up some of my favorites that I might have added to the list had I known about them.

What was your senior quote?
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