How To Cook When You're Not Sure How

Monday, June 30, 2014

I am the worst cook in the entire world. This is not something I should be proud of, as I esteem myself on being a pretty decent babysitter, until it comes to the part where the kids and hungry and I'm biting on my nails trying to figure out what I could possibly throw in the microwave that you would consider a sufficient meal. My dad is a chef, so while living at home for almost 18 years, being deprived of decent food wasn't really a problem. We were always on the run as well, whether it was travel soccer, softball, or the never ending slew of family parties, so sometimes food on-the-go was an absolute must. Add in a mother whose only specialties are breakfast food and snacks, and you get the last piece to the puzzle of my inability to properly produce a meal. All of these factors combine to form my biggest weakness: I can't cook.

Now, when I say this, I don't mean that I can't cook pasta or make a slice of toast. I am a master at the toaster oven and have breakfast food down pat. But I can't have a toaster oven at school and I don't know how many eggs I can eat before I turn into a chicken. Because of this, I ate a lot of spaghetti at school. A lot. If it couldn't be heated up in a microwave or boiled, I was pretty much screwed in the cooking department. My suite mate cooked amazing things on our tiny little stovetop. She'd sauté chicken and vegetables, various pastas with delicious smelling sauces. For Valentine's Day, she even cooked herself a steak! I always stared at her creations in awe because I could never in a thousand years produce something so delicious unless I sold my soul to the devil. Even then, it would be sort of up in the air.

My goal for this summer was to learn how to cook without relying on a toaster oven or a regular oven. Just me, a microwave, and a stovetop. Maybe it was wishful thinking, because when do I possibly have time to cook a meal? When I get home from work, I'm either rushing to go somewhere else or starving and unable to wait for myself to attempt to prepare a legitimate meal beyond a damn Hot Pocket. That was my dilemma, until I realized I could combine work and my goal. Thus came the experimental stage of my cooking whilst babysitting. It was a win/win situation. The kids got fed and I got to practice a skill that I desperately need come August unless I want to eat enough pasta to feed the entire country of Italy.

I started off easy. I wasn't going to jump right in and start sautéing the crap out of some vegetables while doing backflips through the kitchen (if a chef can do this, let me be you, please). It started with macaroni and cheese. Simple enough, though I always make it too damn watery for my taste. The kids love it though, so I suppose it doesn't really matter what I think. I can't make mac 'n cheese every day. I'm sure my youngest cousin wouldn't mind, but it's a bit boring, don't you think?

I advanced to cooking rice. I started with plain white rice in a pot on the stove, despite the fancy rice maker that is hidden somewhere within the mysterious confines of the vast cupboard space in the kitchen. Add a little butter and I've got myself a decent little snack for the kids to hold them off until their parents get home and can cook them a proper meal without poisoning them by accident or some other horrible outcome from my cooking.

When white rice got too boring, I put on my big girl pants and grabbed a rice pilaf box from the pantry. How hard could rice pilaf be? Not hard at all, until you realize that you can't just give a child rice for a meal. Scrambling to find a protein to go along with an entire box full of starch, I stuck my head in the fridge, reveling in the beauteous amount of fresh berries. No! Focus Francesca! Lo and behold, I found a baggie of pre-cooked chicken. The angels sang as I took the bag from the shelf and began ripping the strips of chicken into small cubes. I tossed the cubes into the cooking rice to heat them up. Voila! I had myself chicken pilaf. Okay, so I didn't make up the chicken pilaf because it is literally on the back of the box, as I found out after I got the chicken out of the fridge. But still, I made a meal out of a stupid 99 cent box of rice. Suck on that, Gordon Ramsay.

So how do you cook when you're not quite sure how to do so? Fake it until you make it. That's my motto in life for everything. Just wing it. The worst that's going to happen is that you're going to give yourself food poisoning or you're going to forget you're cooking, set your entire kitchen ablaze, and piss off your entire floor when the fire alarm goes off because you were trying to cook your sixth rice pilaf of the week.

Eh, I tried.

Things I Wish I Could Do (And Things I Can)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Everybody has a certain skill set, whether is be academic, creative, athletic, or anything in-between. With that being said, since we are human, there are certain things that we can't do and wish that we could. It's human nature to sometimes be a little jealous of other people's talents. Sometimes that jealousy can lead us to trying new things, but its nothing to beat yourself up over if you can't do it. We're all good at different things and that's what makes us unique and wonderful. Still, there are definitely some things that I definitely wish I could do.

What's one thing that you wish you could do AND one thing that you can do? 

Two Months To Go

Saturday, June 28, 2014

As of Tuesday the 24th, I have two months of summer left until I start my second year of college. It's both weird and exciting to realize that I've been home for almost 2 months as well. It hasn't felt like I've been home for that long, but lo and behold, I've been living back at home since May 9th. I feel like my summer so far has been going all right. I've been working, making the effort of a lifetime to see my family, and using spare time to split between reading, writing, binge-watching Mad Men and friends (not in any specific order, of course).

When I came home for breaks, it was easy to make plans because everybody else was on break too! Now that I'm home and am working while all of my other friends are working too or taking summer classes, it's hard to find those moments of free time when you can actually hang out and do something. Some days I come home from work and literally want to do nothing but lay in bed and read a book. I'm exhausted, and I feel bad using it as an excuse, but it's totally legitimate! Learning this new balance of work/family/friends/free time is a lot more difficult than school/friends/free time. I feel like I have less hours in the day while I'm home.

There are weird things that I miss about school. I actually miss doing my own laundry. I could very well do it at home, but laundry time doesn't fit into any of my categories. I don't want to clean clothes during my free time. That time is sacred, reserved only for the trashiest of magazines or novels that I randomly select from the library shelves. I also miss the general organization of my clothes at school. I have too many drawers at home and my closet is set up totally different. When you live a certain way for a good portion of the year, you forget how everything was before that. I lived with this organizational set-up for my teenage years and now I'm irritated with it? Totally irrational, but that's how my mind works these days.

I feel like there are a million and one things that I still have to do before moving back at the end of August. I need to get textbooks, supplies, dorm items. I need new bedding and I am struggling to find the perfect set. I need a bedside table and I'm currently waiting out one at Target to go on sale because I'm cheap. I wanted to repaint my bedroom at home so my parents could get more use out of it. As pretty as a turquoise room is, something tells me it's not the most practical. I've got to get my iPhone fixed (again) because it won't connect to wifi, but I don't ever feel like making the 30+ minute drive to the mall with the Apple store. I also have to plan my trip to New York for the Smart Girls Summit, but I'm too shy to try to coordinate plans with my family who lives in the city. So many little things add up into one big tsunami wave that's going to hit me within the next couple of weeks.

On the bright side, I've had so much cuddling time with my puppy that it makes up for any sort of stress that I feel during the day. I've read some great books (see: Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close and I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai) and finally finished my copy of Porter magazine from Christmas time. I've gone hiking with friends and experienced the amazingness that is food trucks. I've seen my younger brother's baseball games and have had dinner with my grandparents every Monday night. While the little things can add up into one tsunami, these other things slowly break down the way and settle it into a gentle tide that swipes across the sand before retreating peacefully. 

I'm going to try my best to let this next two months be as peaceful as possible. If all goes well, I'll have a trip to New York and a summer vacation on the beach with my family (and my brother's entire baseball team AKA my second family) in Delaware. Who knows what will happen, but I'm sure it will be filled with good times with friends and family, and maybe a new Kate Spade purse. But you didn't hear that from me. ;)

Francesca's Focus: I Am Malala

Friday, June 27, 2014

**Trying to keep this post non-political is going to be tough, so please forgive me if I slip up**

As long as you haven't been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you would have heard the story about the girl who was shot in the head at close range, after being targeted by the Taliban for being an advocate for girls' education. After being left in critical condition, Malala Yousafzai was first taken to Peshawar for initial surgery for her swelling brain and then to Birmingham to receive further care. Today she is doing well and continues to speak about the importance of education.

Malala Yousafzai is filed under the category of People I Wish I Could Befriend along with Anne Frank and Mindy Kaling. Before, during, and after reading her book, I am completely blown away by her wit, unwavering intelligence, and incredible drive to speak out about what she believes in.

The Washington Post had a fantastic article about this book back in October of 2013 that I'm going to link in this post because it's beyond interesting and incredibly eye-opening.
Capture them in that fleeting window between the ages of 10 and 14, give them an education, and watch a community change: Per capita income goes up, infant mortality goes down, the rate of economic growth increases, the rate of HIV/AIDS infection falls. Child marriage becomes less common, as does child labor. Educated mothers tend to educate their children. They tend to be more frugal with family money.
Marie Arana then goes on to review the book in an incredible manner. She misses no details and I highly recommend not only reading the book, but this review for it as well.

I could review this book or try to put into words how touching and heartbreaking many of Malala's accounts were, but I fear that it would be too "preachy" and that I have no real authority to do so. I do, however, want to stress the importance of education for all, especially for young girl's. I cannot and will never be able to stress how valuable education. In America, so many people take education for granted. In a conversation with my mom and brother the other day, we were discussing public schools in our area and some have under 20% graduation rate. Yet there are countries where a group of people (see: women) aren't even allowed to be educated despite their yearning for education.

Malala blogged for BBC under a penname about life under the threats of the Taliban to ban her an education. As her public platform grew, she continued to speak out about the right of all women, including herself, to an education. Malala was constantly interviewed and speaking to reporters and in public about her fight for education. She now lives in Birmingham, England after her attack, but is still a strong advocate for the equality of education, despite the Taliban's threats even today.

It is strange and refreshing to see somebody so young fight so hard for something that she whole-heartedly believes in. Malala is a beautiful person, inside and out, and I wish I could tell her personally how truly inspiring she is. I hope that some day every single person has the luxury of an education, no matter their gender.

* If you are interested in supporting Malala's efforts to achieve equal education for girls and boys, you can donate to The Malala Fund here.*

**If you'd like to read more about The Malala Fund and Malala herself, you can do so here**

Things I'm Loving

Thursday, June 26, 2014


1. I Am Malala

Now, it's no surprise that I am a crier. I cry reading books, watching TV, watching the news, when I see videos of soldiers coming home…pretty much anything remotely touching or sad produces tears. This book made me cry at work. Here's this girl, two years my junior, who fought almost to death for girls' right to education in her country. It's a very touching story, dipping into the background of the situation in Pakistan and sparing no details on the various rulings on education and women's rights in Swat. This book was, hands down, one of the most interesting and touching books I've read in a very long time.

2. Suave dry shampoo

Not trying to sound gross, but I've been trying to wash my hair every other day (my body gets washed every day so…not that gross) because it's supposed to be healthier for my hair. In order to keep my roots from looking like the deep-frier at McDonald's, I spritz a little (or a lot…) of dry shampoo in various sections of my roots. The Suave dry shampoo is honestly the only one I trust. It smells amazing and doesn't leave a residue in my hair. I do have blonde hair, so that might be why, but all you have to do it tousle it around your roots and it disappears.

3. Cherries

I'm the happiest during cherry season. I cannot even describe how much I love cherries. They are so delicious and make the perfect breakfast, snack, or dessert.

4. Teen Wolf

That's right! Teen Wolf returned to MTV this past Monday and I am so excited for this season. Plus, I missed seeing Dylan O'Brien on my TV screen every Monday night. Also, is it weird to be excited for what different hairstyles Holland Roden is going to have this season? Yes? Okay.


5. X

No, not the letter, but Ed Sheeran's new album X (or Multiply). I kept trying to send my friend my favorite songs as I listened but by the end of the album, I had just listed it in its entirety. It's impossible to escape "Sing" as it's literally on the radio every few minutes. If you get sad that you caught the tail end of it and want to listen to it again, just change the station and you'll find it eventually. I digress, it's a fantastic album and I recommend you get it or listen to it on Spotify or go see Ed Sheeran in concert. Anything to expose yourself to the brilliance that is X. 
Album standouts: "One", "I'm A Mess", "Bloodstream", and "Take It Back"

What have you been loving lately?

Food Trucks & Marinas

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

These are two things that probably don't sound like they go together at all. In all honesty, they probably don't, but my friends and I wanted something new to do and this unlikely combo turned out to be a fabulous idea. At Larkin Square in Buffalo every Tuesday from the end of May to October is appropriately dubbed Food Truck Tuesday. It is just as heavenly as it sounds. Basically, it is a bunch of food trucks gathered in this square and you can just go nuts. There is food for everyone here.

Overwhelmed by the lines and never-ending options of food, my friends and I opted for chicken finger plates this time around. Next time I go I'll for sure have to try out the other trucks. There was one for strictly macaroni and cheese and a couple of Thai trucks. Also, quite a few gelato stands. If I haven't said this on this blog yet, I love gelato.

I would like to emphasize how packed this square was. People were eating at tables, on the sidewalks, even planting themselves down in the grass to have a makeshift picnic. My friends and I actually ate on a ledge because we couldn't find a spot on the ground or anywhere in the square.

Under this wooden shelter there were gorgeous pots of hanging flowers that reminded me so much of summer and the warm months. I loved the atmosphere under here and there was a band playing that made it even better!

After we finished up at the square, we went down to the water front. After driving around for a while trying to find a spot, we walked along the Naval Base and the marina.

It was the absolute perfect weather on our walk. It got a bit windy toward the end, but it was sunny and beautiful out. It didn't rain once on our walk (though it did end up storming later on in the night).

Last year for a field trip in our Biology class, we took a boat along the Buffalo River and out past that lighthouse! It was easily the most relaxing field trip ever and my friend's and I reminisced about it on our walk.

I'm so glad that we decided to go do something new and exciting yesterday! As much as we all love a good movie marathon, sometimes getting out and doing something new is just what you need. Props to my friend Emma for being the decision maker on this trip. She stepped up and ended up making it a great day.

Good Reads

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1. Scarf Pairing I love scarves. I think this is, approximately, my 15th "good read" involving scarves and styling them. No shame, though, since they're a great accessory that can completely transform outfits. Take my word for that.

2. Fashion's Identity Crisis Over a Season in Flux A very interesting read AND it has some stunning pictures of new collections. Win/win? I think so.

3. Watercolor Wednesday: Roald Dahl Quote The Twits In L-O-V-E with this watercolor and the quote.

4. Brooklyn Dodgers I need to get one of this freaking skirts already! Krista styles them perfectly.

5. Pockets! They Make The World Go Round I'm a sucker for any women's clothes with functioning pockets that don't make my iPhone fall out without two seconds of moving.

6. Golden Arches: 10 Iconic Celebrity Eyebrows As an eyebrow fanatic, this article excited me.

7. New push to get girls into computer sciences Filed under Things That Are Very Important.

8. Nantucket Day Trip That dress is killer and now I really wish that hats like that would fit my abnormally large head.

9. How a 640-Pound Stash of Nail Polish Turned Essie Into a Household Name Super inspiring article about my favorite nail polish brand.

10. 8 Decorating Ideas To Steal From Instagram I'm allll about this article. Aesthetically super pleasing. I'm far too lazy to try these, but maybe some of you will!

11. Ansel Elgort Opens Up To Teen Vogue Be still my beating heart, for Ansel Elgort is almost (if not completely) perfect.

12. Summer Obsessions: Our Seasonal Favorites It's summer now! Time to enjoy the changing of the seasons!

What have you been reading lately?

Dorm Essentials - Furniture

Monday, June 23, 2014

My room on move-in day, 2013!

A key to making a dorm feel more homey and less like a cell block is furniture! All of this will depend on the style of your dorm. Traditional dorms might be more difficult to fit various furniture items into, but suite-styles (like mine) might make it easier. These are some of the "furniture" items that I found that were very necessary throughout my year based on the style of dorm I had. Results may vary, of course.

1. Lamp

This is very, very necessary. I had a desk lamp, but you could easily have a standing lamp if you so desired. There are some times when you're going to need to do work while your roommate is sleeping. You can't keep the overhead light on, so what are you going to do? That's where the desk lamp comes in. I also use it when it's bright in the room from the windows being open, but too dark in my corner where my desk is. 

2. Desk organizers

Unless you have drawers in your desk at school (I don't), desk organizers are a life saver. I used a metal bin, an organizing rack, as well as two separate mugs (that's right, two) to hold my pens/pencils/highlighters. It really is a life saver to have everything out in front of you. I keep my moleskins, post it notes, and miscellaneous items on my desk to keep me from having to dig in the storage bins underneath it.

3. Magazine rack

Perhaps less necessary for some, but having a rack to organize my magazines was a life saver. Instead of having them strewn about through my room, they were all in one place and it really doesn't take up much room at all. I stored mine in the small space between my bed and desk and it worked perfectly. Plus, I kept my purse there as well to keep it from taking up room on my desk or dresser. 

4. Shoe organizer

I have one at home and one at school. At home, mine was one that required no tools for assembly and it sits on the floor next to my bed. At school, I used a hanging shoe organizer in my closet. Both are viable options, depending on where you have more room. At home, my shoe organizer shares its use with a book holder as well and a besides table. At school, I stored my flat shoes, hats, and belts. Definitely a lifesaver if you have a lot of flat shoes that you don't want roaming around your room or on the bottom of your closet.

5. Drying rack

If your school has laundry facilities, a drying rack should be a must. I don't put my jeans or underwear in the dryer mostly because I'm afraid of shrinking and stiffness (for jeans) and the dryer putting holes in my underwear. Drying racks become extremely necessary when that's the case. Also, sometimes one spin in the dryer just isn't enough, but you don't have enough time to put it through again.

6. Laundry basket and carrier

I suppose this goes along with the drying rack, but if your dorm has laundry facilities, you're going to need both of these. A laundry basket so your dirty clothes don't end up all over your floor and a laundry carrier so you can transport it to and from the laundry facilities with ease.

7. Nightstand

I didn't have a nightstand my first year because I couldn't find one that I liked enough. And boy do I regret it. Again, this depends on how much space you have in your dorm, but I definitely had more than enough room for it. It's just nice to have to keep your phone on, whatever book you're reading, your iPad, whatever it may be. 

8. Shower organizer

Depending on the style of dorm you're living in, you may or may not need this. I had my own bathroom at school and I also have a lot of hair/body products. To keep my things separate from my roommate (who really only used shampoo and a bar of soap so that wasn't really an issue) I stored all of mine on a metal shower organizer that hung over the shower head.

9. Twin XL sheets and duvet (throw pillows optional)

I don't know why I didn't make this number one, but you need to have twin XL sheets at school, as well as a comforter, an extra blanket or two, and throw pillows are optional of course. 

10. Bins/totes

These are literal lifesavers. They're great for moving in, for storing miscellaneous items, for acting as makeshift bedsides tables/record holders. If you don't have at least one plastic bin under your bed at school…how do you survive? Teach me your ways.

What furniture item did you absolutely have to have in your dorm? 

Summer Reads

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summers are my time to really read thoroughly and in mass amounts. I read during the school year, but not as much as I would like to. With the increased amount of free time available during the summer months, I like to pick out books that I've been itching to read all year but couldn't commit the appropriate amount of time to. My books for summer aren't a particular type, some are "lighter" than others, while some are long, "heavy" books that require more thought and time. In honor of the second day of summer, these are some of the books that I've found are great for summertime reading.


1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

How many times can I talk about Mindy Kaling in my blog posts before it gets old? The answer is not enough, because Mindy Kaling is impossible to get sick of. She's so inspiring and all around hilarious. This book, even though I've read it already, will be coming to the beach with me this summer so I can give it another go. So brilliant and entertaining. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. When It Happens by Susanne Colasanti

You can't go wrong with a good YA book. It's a cute book with alternating POVs that gives you insight on both the leading male and female of the book. The story is a light read, but was one of the better YA books I've read in the past couple of years. Definitely something I would bring poolside for a relaxing read.

3. Seriously…I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Name one person sweeter and more hilarious than Ellen DeGeneres who keeps their comedy clean and kind. I dare you. This book made me LOL. I read it on the beach last summer while I was on vacation and couldn't help but giggle the entire time. Ellen is genuinely sweet and funny and this book was a great summer read. Bonus: I heard that she reads the audiobook version herself. How great would it be to hear somebody read their own book?! Especially if that somebody is Ellen.

4. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I had never seen Peter Pan until a few months ago and I've never read the book, either. For some reason, I decided to pick up this book and give it a read despite not knowing much about the tale of Peter Pan. I read this book on a long car ride to NYC and was in awe at how much I got sucked into it. This book, though a quick read, made my heart sink at times and I really felt for Tiger Lily (the main character). The story is basically about the girl Peter Pan met before Wendy. It honestly made me ache a little, so read with discretion if you don't want to have an emotional few days.

5. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This one falls under the "heavier" category. I will admit, it took me a very long time to read this book, but I finished it during the summer and was extremely happy that I took my time with the story. Francie Nolan was an endearing little character that reminded me a lot of myself in some senses. The story is a bit sad and a downer at times, but it honestly is a great read worthy of however long it takes to complete. It's a story about an impoverished family in the early 1920's living in Williamsburg. Through all of the struggling, they are able to remain aspirational. If you want to read a classic book, I highly recommend this.

6. Into the Wild by Jon Krauker

I can't deny that this book does have a sad ending, but the story of Chris McCandless is inspiring. The way he lived his life and sacrificed almost everything to live that way may seem silly to some, but I found him incredibly wise and inspirational. He was a smart man who knew what he wanted. I feel very sorry that he wasn't able to continue on living his life in pursuit of adventure.
“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” 
- Christopher McCandless 

What are some of your summer reads?

You're So Dark #OOTD

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I tried to follow an all black theme for the Arctic Monkeys concert. I opted for no bright lipstick and tried to keep the outfit simple as I wanted to be as comfortable as possible. I scored this dress on super clearance the same day I got a great deal on my favorite skirt ever from Old Navy. I cannot stress how breathable and flattering it is. It doesn't hug you in the wrong places, and it has an elastic waist that can be accentuated even more with a belt, like I did below. I could style this dress so many different ways. Who knew something that was less than $9 could be so versatile? Cannot wait to wear this all summer and for classes next semester!   

Aaaaaaand a funny face for good measure...

Dress: Old Navy
Belt: Calvin Klein
Shoes: Target
Glasses: Ray Ban
Nail polish: Ballet Slippers by Essie // You're Such A Budapest by OPI

Francesca's Focus: Arctic Monkeys Concert

Friday, June 20, 2014

On Wednesday (the 18th), I had the pleasure of seeing the Arctic Monkeys in concert at Art Park! I've been awaiting this concert since my dad surprised me with tickets back in February. He sent me a picture of the tickets during my Communications class and I legitimately squealed and didn't care at all. I was just so stoked to see the Arctic Monkeys! I have AM on vinyl and I've played it so much that the first track ("Do I Wanna Know?") skips, which sucks but it's whatever at this point. And it's only the intro.

I was legitimately terrified for this concert for two reasons:

  1. The weather forecast
  2. Dressing like an ass
The weather for Wednesday changed about what seemed like fifty million times. First it was supposed to be sunny, then cloudy, then rainy with thunderstorms, then back to overcast. This made picking out an outfit the absolute worst. Naturally, I scrambled around five hours before the show trying to find something acceptable to wear that was both weather appropriate and Arctic Monkeys appropriate. I had this weird fear of not fitting in. Which was really stupid because in the end, who cares what I wear to a concert? I'm there to enjoy the band not worry about what people think about me if I'm wearing J. Crew chinos to a rock show (I didn't, but that's beside the point). I had originally intended on wearing this super simple black dress that I scored on super clearance at Old Navy a few weeks back, but when I saw that it was going to rain, I didn't want to have it sticking to me in unflattering places, you know? After a stressful shopping trip and a million visits to, I ended up wearing that damn dress and it was the best decision I've made in my entire life. 

The opening band was White Denim and they sounded fantastic. If the band doesn't work out, the lead singer could definitely join a Black Keys cover band. No joke, homeboy sounded just like Dan Auerbach. 

My heart started racing when the Arctic Monkeys took the stage. There was fog and everybody around me got hyped. It's almost impossible not to get giddy when one of your favorite bands come on stage and you hear the opening chords to a song you were just jamming out to hours before as you were getting ready. They opened with "Do I Wanna Know?", which was such a good choice. It's a song that everybody knows and set a great tone for the concert. Right away, people were into it and it continued into the next couple of songs that were from the same album (AM). The setlist was a perfect blend of new music and older tunes, fan favorites and the popular songs that are played on the radio.

Alex Turner has an interesting stage presence. It's very cool and suave. He's clearly super handsome and he plays it off like he knows it. Every movement on stage was subtle yet masterly planned, like every movement had a purpose. The vibe was uber chill for most of the show, even during the faster paced songs. It was a refreshing concert in which I could rely on the music to entertain me rather than me having to dance around crazily. Sometimes it's nice to just be able to relax at a show, sway a little, and throw your hands up in the air when necessary.

The show ended with "R U Mine?" and that's just when everybody went nuts. But throughout the entire show, nobody was ever rude. I've been to plenty of shows where there's pushing and shoving, people are trying ceaselessly to get the front, and beer is almost always spilled. Despite a decent amount of people being in the pit around me, nobody once pushed me (though I accidentally stepped on this guy three times within one song, sorry!) or was inconsiderate. Serious props to Arctic Monkeys concert-goers for being decent human beings who can have a great time without having to make it miserable for others.

My personal favorite songs from the setlist were "Arabella", "Dancing Shoes", "Crying Lightning", "No. 1 Party Anthem", "Knee Socks" and "505" (my room number for next year!!!). Here's the full set list from that night.
If you ever get the chance to see this band live, do it. They sound raw and real and just like they do on the records, but not suspiciously so. The live performances have an extra edge that just gets your blood pumping and makes you want to get lost in it. A+ to the Arctic Monkeys for an incredible show.

What concerts are you looking forward to going to? 

Things I'm Loving

Thursday, June 19, 2014

1. Porter magazine

I am admitting to the fact that I unconditionally love magazines. I have never thrown a magazine out, besides that one time I had a few magazines that I had already read whilst in Spain so I tossed those to make room for my souvenirs AKA lots of Zara clothes for myself. While I love magazines for the impeccably photographed models in the gorgeous designer clothes, I really get them for the articles. Call me crazy, but isn't that what magazines are for? The reading material? Porter magazine has some of the most thoughtful articles I've read in a while that don't revolve around sex tips, weird diets, or SoulCycle. Okay, and the pictures are impeccable.

2. "Chandelier" by Sia

Ooooooooooooh my God. This song is my everything. I am not ashamed to admit that when I'm home alone, I totally try to recreate the video except I'm really horrible. Regardless of my dance skills, this song is amazing to aggressively dance to and to scream in your car. In fact, it's on my "songs to scream at the top of your lungs" playlist. Sia kills it once again. No surprise there.

3. Lorac liquid eyeliner

I owe a thousand thank you's to my friend Aly for getting me this eyeliner in a set for a gift. I never was a fan of liquid eyeliner before, mostly because I had no idea how to use it. Of course, getting the hang of this eyeliner pen was tricky, but not it takes me a few quick swipes and I'm ready to go all day. 

4. Panera macaroni and cheese

There is not much more I can say about this besides GET IN MY BELLY. This stuff is good fresh, heated up the next day, when purchased from Target, at 10 o'clock at night or at noon for lunch. All hail Panera mac and cheese.

5. The World Cup

I've played soccer for as long as I can remember, so needless to say I've been spending a lot of my free time watching as many and as much as the World Cup games as I possibly can. I'm not rooting for a particular team, though I suppose I should say that I'm rooting for the US, huh? Are you rooting for anyone?

6. The Origin of Love by Mika

All props go to my cousin (and her roommate) for introducing me to this album. I listened to Mika a long time ago. A few of his songs show up on my running playlist from time to time, but I have never heard the genius that is this album. Songs you should listen to: "Lola" and "Love You When I'm Drunk".

What have you been loving lately?

Are You Going Yachting? #OOTD

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The answer is no, but I felt like I needed to be on a boat on Sunday despite me being deathly terrified of drowning and seasickness. Props to my very lovely aunt for taking this photos for me. God bless her steady hands and ability to focus a camera, unlike my mother (sorry mom). This is what I wore on father's day 

Quote of the day from my uncle who was observing this photos being taken: "Fran, are you blogging?" 

Top: Tommy Hilfiger
Bottoms: J. Crew 3" Chino Shorts
Shoes: Sperry Topsiders (Angelfish)
Sunglasses: Target (stolen/borrowed from brother)
Belt: Target

Good Reads

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

1. Tassels & Tastemakers Now that's what I call a party I'd like to be invited to.

2. Embellished Black Dress I need that dress in my closet…ASAP.

3. To Tommy From Zooey Zooey Deschanel is absolutely perfect and this dress is beyond gorgeous. I've always wanted to try a dress in this style!

4. Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup This recipe got a big thumbs up from my younger brother (who is not so young anymore….wild!), so I'm going to go on a hunch to say that it's very good. And I can attest to the fact that it's very simple to make.

5. The Easiest Donut Cake  They're really not kidding…

6. Flowers and Fedoras  Kathleen Deleasa (yes, Kevin Jonas' sister-in law) has amazing style and this time is no different. Am I wrong for thinking that she completely rocks that fedora?

7. My Style Diary: Once Upon A Dream #1: Sleeping Beauty is my favorite and has been for a very, very long time. #2 I NEED THOSE SANDALS.

8. Taking Back The Morning I try really hard to be a morning person. Sometimes it works, sometimes I'm completely lethargic. Regardless, this post makes me motivated to have a regimented morning that I can feel proud about…not one where I hit snooze and have to sacrifice whatever routine I have.

9. Dreamy Joe Jonas Reveals What It's Like To Date Him Once upon a time, I was really obsessed with the Jonas Brothers. Honestly, I still am. Their breakup hasn't really affected my love for them, which seems shocking considering I am nonstop Harry Styles 24/7. But before Harry, there was Joe Jonas. There still is Joe Jonas, but I've decided to respect his relationship with Blanda because 1. she's cool as f*ck and 2. I obviously will never date Joe Jonas so…I digress, this interview was cute and amazing. More importantly, the pictures are worthy of legitimate drooling.

10. Tavi Forever Tavi Gevinson makes me angry, only because she is younger than me (only by 5 months…but still) and is ridiculously talented, cool, and successful. Okay, so maybe that's jealousy, not anger, but I still look up to her regardless.

11. How To: Stay Organized I need to write everything down too! If I don't have it in my agenda or on a post it note in front of my desk, I won't remember to do it. I tried using the reminder app on my phone and I kept forgetting to check it. Needless to say, all of that work didn't get done…

12. Weekend Style That scalloped bikini needs to be mine.

13. 3 Tips To Tease Like A Boss My hair never has volume. I literally have to shake my roots out every couple of minutes and I swear everyone probably thinks I have a never ending case of lice. That's not true, I just can't get my hair to retain volume. I'm definitely going to try these tips!

14. World Cup 101 Leave it to Kate Spade to create a stylish breakdown to the World Cup.

Songs To Scream At The Top Of Your Lungs

Monday, June 16, 2014

For me, there are so many different variations of driving playlists. I have ones for just driving in general, ones for relaxing drives on warm days, ones for late night driving, ones for morning driving, and ones for those days where I just don't give a damn. This is the playlist for those days. All of these songs have parts where you just have to scream the lyrics, no matter who is with you or around you.

Said Her Name Was Georgia Rose #OOTD

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The flowers on my skirt aren't roses, I'm well aware, but dammit I wanted to use this lyric as an outfit of the day title for too long! So I'm just going with it and I hope you do as well.

Yesterday was a day full of parties, starting with my a first birthday party for my two niece's (twins). It wasn't as nice as it was supposed to be, putting a damper on my tank top combination with this bomb skirt. BACK STORY TIME. I went into the real J. Crew (I always just go to the outlets) on a mission to find this skirt and merely try it on to see if knee length-ish worked for me. I get there, asked the sales associate if they had this specific skirt and lo and behold, they had five left on the sale rack. The biggest size was a four and I was determined to squeeze (because I am not a four). I went to the dressing room, tried it on, and IT FIT PERFECTLY. And it looked good. AND IT HAS POCKETS. The skirt ended up being 40% off of the sale price and I got an extra 15% off with my college discount. In short, I scored this skirt for $37 dollars. BOOM.

In a non-Francesca like fashion, I made no outfit changes before my best friend's graduation party. I seriously love the skirt that much. I tried to change into pants, but you know that feeling when you wear a skirt all day and then put pants on and you feel beyond constricted? That's what it felt like, so I stuck with the skirt.

Top: Gap
Skirt: J. Crew (on sale still!)
Sandals: Old Navy
Necklace: Kate Spade
Toe polish: You're Such a Budapest (and yes, I got a pedicure with this color just to match my skirt)

Graduation Party Ideas

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The season of graduation parties is upon us. Party stores will be packed with stressed out parents trying to plan a party for family and friends, one big enough to celebrate the success of their child's graduation from high school or even college. I had my own graduation party almost exactly a year ago and I remember running around like crazy trying to figure out what needed to be done still. I spent hours on Pinterest trying to find cute ideas for my party (most of which I didn't use, but hey) because I had a lot of free time after graduating, honestly. I found plenty of ideas to be used for outdoor parties (maybe I'll throw one someday…#LOL), but these were my favorite graduation themed ideas. They're all very simple, which is the best way to go when you have to plan a big party in what seems like little time.

1. Advice/Memory Jar

What you need: 
- Small pieces of paper
- Various pens or pencils
- A mason jar

I had an advice jar on my "photo table" at my graduation party. Really, all my mom did was cover a folding table with white table cloth. Then she displayed my kindergarten graduation picture alongside my senior picture. She sprinkled the table with graduation confetti and had my card box, the Smarties jar (see #5), and my card box (see #6). Most of the advice that was left was nonsensical, but I find myself reading them from time to time for a good laugh.

2. Edible "diplomas"

What you need: 

- Pull 'n Peel Twizzlers or stringy gummies
- Pirouette cookies
- A serving plate

Arrange the pirouette cookies on a plate and stack them until your desired height. On a few of the top cookies, tie the Twizzler bit into a bow to resemble a diploma. You can use ribbon if you want, but these are a cute (and delicious!) decoration to put out with desserts.

3. School Spirit

What you need: 

- Clear serving bowls
- M & Ms in your high school or college school colors
- Balloons, again, either in your high school colors or college colors
- Streamers (you know the drill with the color scheme)

This is a more general theme than it is anything else. I didn't want to use my high school colors for my graduation party (black and gold, gross). My mom had the great idea to use my college colors (green and white) instead. So to show school spirit for CSU, I used green and white serving plates, plastic silverware, cups, napkins, and the confetti. Customizable M&Ms can get expensive, but they do have a lot of colors available at places like Party City. I happened to luck out because they were selling big bags of mint M&Ms when I went to pick out the rest of the decorations. The mint M&Ms were various shades of green, which was fine with me. We put them on the patio for guests to snack on, though they were really just there for decoration.

4. Picture boards

What you need: 

- Some sort of board, i.e. a cork board, fabric message board, upholstered cardboard, etc.
- Photos from high school, or even from when you were younger
- Tape or thumbs tacks

Picture boards are great way to include your best childhood pictures as well as some of the fun times that you had while in high school or college. I swear, people love pictures of you as a little tot, so suck it up and say thank you to their "aw, you were so cute!" because you probably just got a pretty nice check from them.

5. Smarties

What you need: 

- Clear serving jar
-(American) Smarties

Smarties are easily one of the worst candies ever, but they are a cute touch to a graduation party. The play on words are amusing enough to suck it up enough to eat a couple of those chalky disks.


6. Decorative card boxes

What you need: 

- Cardboard box with lid
- Box cutter or X-acto knife
- Fabric of your choice
- Fabric glue/tacky glue
- Hot glue gun
- A square of felt

My aunt made a card box for me and my two cousins, as well as my best friend for his party this year. I found having a card box made everything ten times easier. I didn't have to worry about the wind blowing away cards if they weren't enclosed and it was just a convenient way to store them. My card box was black and gold because I had to show some hawk pride. And since my aunt is the sweetest human being in the world, she sent me step by step instructions on how to make one of these beauties.

© life according to francesca. Design by FCD.