Europe 2016: Winning London

Hello! I’m back to speaking (and understanding) the native language of a country and ready to recap the London portion of my whirlwind trip to Europe!

I recapped my trip to Paris a few days ago. It was so hard to leave the beautiful French city, but I’m so glad I did, because as much as I loved Paris… I loved London even more!

It’s kind of crazy how that works, isn’t it? I was looking forward to the Paris portion of our trip more than anything. I’d wanted to visit ever since I was a kid and absolutely could not wait to finally catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. I was really surprised when I realized that I actually preferred London to Paris. There wasn’t anything wrong with Paris. And I really did love it. I just felt a little more at home in London.

Of course, it’s really hard to come to that conclusion based on just a few short days in both countries… so all the more reason to go back, I suppose!


Hello London!

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Europe 2016: Un jour à Paris

Bonjour et au revoir Paris!

The last few days have been an absolute whirlwind. Remember how I mentioned offhandedly once a few months ago that my coworker Kasondra and I had spontaneously bought (fairly cheap) flights to London following the Brexit fall-out?

I can’t believe that trip already came and went!

When we booked tickets, we picked a five-day itinerary, knowing that it would be easiest for both of our work schedules. We started planning our trip to the United Kingdom and knew we wanted to take a day trip to Paris.

I have wanted to go to Paris for my entire life, and — since our trip happened to coincide with my birthday — turning 27 could not have been any better! I actually lost six hours of my birthday due to the time change, but I woke up on a plane in London and went to sleep in a hostel in Paris, so the day could not have been better spent.


I had to fend off like, seven selfie stick vendors while I took this.

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Vegetarian Crock Pot recipes for fall

One of my favorite things about chilly weather is… well, chili weather!

I absolutely love my slow cooker. And while I might break it out in the summer to whip up a batch of queso or a molten chocolate lava cake, it isn’t really too uncommon to find myself wiping a layer of dust off of it come October. Fall really and truly is the season for Crock Pot recipes, and I take full advantage every year.

I don’t eat meat, and sometimes it can be hard to find a good variety of one-step vegetarian dinner recipes prepared in the slow cooker. I mean, there are only so many versions of chili one girl can eat!

But, after a few years of heavy slow cooker usage, I’ve managed to find a small diverse handful of reliable, easy and delicious vegetarian Crock Pot recipes. And the best part? Most of them are easy to portion out and freeze in advance, so you can grab-and-go for healthy and cost-efficient office lunches.

Sweet potato chickpea chili. OK, so I know this recipe from Sweet Peas and Saffron has the word “chili” in the title, but it’s far enough removed from the traditional chili that I don’t think it really counts as chili. When I make this, I use one onion instead of two and two sweet potatoes instead of one. Continue Reading

PopSugar Must Have Box review: September 2016

I absolutely love getting mail, which might be why I online shop so much. I love coming home from work to see a small pile of packages sitting outside my door.

And in addition to mail, I also love surprises! Of course, while it’s easy to send yourself mail, it isn’t quite so easy to surprise yourself. So, that’s where cute monthly subscription boxes come in handy.

One of my friends posted an Instagram photo of a Valentine’s Day themed monthly subscription box from PopSugar about a year and a half ago. It was overflowing with goodies from Essie, Tarte and Baublebar, among others. I made a mental note to sign up for a short-term subscription, but ended up completely forgetting.

So, when PopSugar reached out and asked if I’d like to try the September 2015 Must Have Box, the answer was definitely a “yes!”

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Fall decorations

Happy Saturday! I left my window open last night, so I woke up to a cool breeze making its way through my kitchen this morning. Autumn is finally here! The fall equinox hit last week, and slowly but surely, temperatures are starting to drop and the days are getting shorter.

I’m still wearing skirts and short sleeves since the temperature hasn’t dropped to flannel-and-boot weather just yet, but I’ve definitely started celebrating the season in other ways. I made my first batch of slow cooker vegetarian chili this past week, and I dedicated a portion of time this weekend to putting up my fall decorations and getting my little city apartment in shape for the season!

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Life lately

Happy Tuesday!

I cannot believe summer is almost over, and we’re already heading into fall! Here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on in non-blog Randiland over the past two months.


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Lemon and rosemary salmon with avocado puree

Salmon is one of my favorite easy dinners to cook up. It’s healthy, it’s quick to make and it stores easily in the freezer — three of my favorite qualities in any food item.

One of my go-to dinners for any week night is the simple combo of baked salmon, half an avocado and a scoop of brown rice — all simply served with salt and pepper. All the flavors work really well together, it’s ready in about 20 minutes and it’s really healthy.

I recently decided to get a little more innovative with my usual by adding some new flavors to the mix.

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Saying ‘goodbye’ to summer at Hampton Social

Happy Labor Day! The sun sets tonight on the last “unofficial official” day of summer here in Chicago.

It went by way, way too fast.

I spent pretty much all of May waiting for summer to get here. It was a lot of waiting. This season started off pretty cold and rainy, and seemingly took forever to get here. And then once it got here, it was just kind of… over?

Summers always seem to go by too quickly, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love fall. But once fall starts, it means the biting cold and seemingly never-ending darkness of winter is so close! However, the good thing about living in such a big city is that once it gets cold and dreary, it isn’t too hard to pick a themed restaurant/ bar and pretend it’s summer. Some local favorites are Three Dots and a Dash, Lost Lake, Mahalo and — of course — Hampton Social.

(Pst, affiliate links below.)


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Shrimp and asparagus linguine

Shrimp is definitely one of my favorite seafoods. When I was little, cold shrimp paired with cocktail sauce was one of my favorite things to eat. I remember my mom teaching me how to correctly bite the little crustaceans, holding the tails just-so in order to make sure none of the meat went to waste.

And — while I do still love the shrimp-and-cocktail-sauce finger food pairing, I’ve taken to experimenting a bit more with shrimp recipes as an adult, like this shrimp and asparagus linguine dinner dish.

I found this recipe for a shrimp and asparagus stir fry the other day, and decided to give it a try as a pasta dish.shrimp_asparagus_linguine Continue Reading

Define and grow your Instagram brand

My friends and coworkers kind of know me as the Instagram queen.

My boss jokingly refers to me as “white background” because of my white-washed aesthetic and I’m part of an Instagram-focused chat on Facebook.

And, of course, I’m routinely complimented on my content and approached for tips when it comes to one of my favorite social networking sites. So, I figured I would take some time to jot down some of the things I’ve learned about building and growing your personal brand on Instagram.

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