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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Parmesan orzo with bay scallops and asparagus

I have a somewhat funny story about the first time I ever tried scallops.

I was out to dinner with a friend at a tapas restaurant, and one of the menu items was some form of bacon-wrapped scallops. We had previously discussed which small plates to get and were in the middle of ordering when my friend just tossed our server a request for the scallops — half without the bacon for me.

It wasn’t until maybe 20 minutes after ordering that the friend said “Oh, wait. You eat/like scallops, right?”

Well, now that you’re asking.

I had actually never had scallops before, but I didn’t want to be rude since this friend had made a pretty big effort to get together with me. So, I just nodded and figured that, hey. Worst case scenario? I’d choke them down and smile about it.

But, I actually ended up really liking the scallops! Since then, I’ve started experimenting with these little bivalves on my own. I put together this 30-minute dinner recipe a short while ago (modified a bit from this recipe), and it was actually pretty successful!

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The search for the best daily planner 2016-2017

I’m an incredibly Type A person.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

I thrive on structure, and the word “spontaneity” is not in my vocabulary. If you pull me away from my routine, I will likely die.

OK, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But, I’m a very organized person and I cannot function without some kind of list, somewhere, detailing my appointments and tasks.

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Sweet potato breakfast bowl

Happy Sunday! Even though I work a Sunday shift as part of my job, I still love this day. I’m lucky enough that I get to work from home on weekends, so it’s actually pretty relaxing. I don’t have to worry about doing my hair and commuting, and instead of stressing out about packing a lunch, I can actually make myself something fresh and healthy to eat mid-shift.

Yesterday, I threw together this quick and easy sweet potato breakfast bowl. I was actually surprised at how good it was! It’s a pretty simple three-ish ingredient creation, so it’s great if you’re trying to eat clean. And the best part? It only takes about 30 minutes with prep and cooking time included! Plus, it’s made for one and there’s minimal clean-up required. It’s actually the perfect breakfast to make prior to my work-from-home Sunday shift!

I always feel my best when I’m living on a healthy diet, and I’m pretty sure this easy-to-make dish definitely qualifies as healthy. The creamy avocado works wonderfully with the crispy roasted sweet potatoes. And — everything covered in dripping egg yolk? Fantastic.

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