Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Don't Know How To Be An Adult

There's this cultural phenomena going on that states that when a person reaches the age of 18, they're legally an adult. That means taxes, bills, and real life are basically inevitable. It's kind of the end of the world.

I passed the ripe old age of 18 quite a few years ago, but I still haven't figured all this "adulting" stuff out. It's suddenly unacceptable to sleep past 10am, wear sweatpants all day, or eat lunchables in public. I'm supposed to own a variety of button-up shirts, have an established social calendar, and know how to coordinate wines with cheeses.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that you can't get away with only doing laundry once a month, and that your internet will get shut off if you forget to pay the bill. Of course I actually knew all this stuff, but knowing it is way different than practicing it, ya feel?

Here are some "adult" things that I still haven't figured out how to do:

Form political opinions based on cold hard facts and not things I saw on Twitter - I already have my opinions, but it's seldom that I watch the news, pick up a paper, or listen to CSpan while I do my homework. I need to spend more time researching the causes I care about, and even learning about what the other side thinks. It's hard to find reliable sources, so most times I just stay out of it.

Keep any kind of savings - See, I love the idea of putting away a bunch of money each month, but it just doesn't happen. I catch myself stalking Sephora's website more often than I stalk my online banking account. I get by okay, but I wish I had more of a plan to stick to when it comes to money.

Fall into a routine - My school and work schedules can change at a moment's notice, and that's not always ideal. Sometimes I find myself sitting around just because I haven't planned anything to do, and then I end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off when I actually have tasks I need to take care of. I think if I woke up at the same time every day, developed a routine and stuck to it, my life would run a lot more smoothly. I just haven't figured any of that out yet, and I kinda don't want to. It sounds too much like work.

Take care of myself and my belongings - I love healthy foods and all that jazz, but at the same time I find it hard to shake off that pizza craving. I can waste my life away on Netflix and forget the gym even exists. My clothes end up strewn all over the floor or thrown in a corner instead of being folded or hung up in the closet. I'm a lazy mess, I know.

Obligations - I recently got a notice calling me to Jury Duty, and I don't know the first thing about what to do. I had no idea it could happen to me. I also have... $80 in Library fees. Yeah, I forgot to return my books for 3 months. Oops. I'm young and dumb. It happens.

Dealing... and caring - I think part of being an adult is learning to tolerate things that scare or annoy you. At work, at home, and in social life. When things annoy me now, I usually find a way to escape. If I don't want to do something, a lot of the times I just don't do it. I ditch parties and social gatherings when they get the slightest bit lame, and flake on things I'm nervous about doing. Sometimes I just "forget," and to actually be an adult, I need to learn how to stop "forgetting" certain things.

In my defense, I'm still in college and I have plenty of time to "figure it all out." Is there a certain age when you suddenly become a real established adult? Maybe I'll have it all figured out by then. Or maybe I'll just stay a kid forever.

Are you a grown-up yet?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grilled Cheese Bars + other DC happenings

Today my roommate and I headed into the city to spend our day off galavanting like metropolitan folk. We'd made plans to visit Grilled Cheese DC, a grilled cheese bar that opened up earlier this year. We'd heard tons of rave reviews and couldn't wait to check it out.

Sabrina got the "Kim-Cheese-Steak," a cheese steak with a Korean twist, including kimchi and bulgolgi beef. She said she was really impressed. That was no surprise. If there's one thing we love, it's Korean food.

I got the "Buffalo Blue" a classic grilled cheese with spicy chicken and a bit of blue cheese thrown in. It definitely had a kick, living up to both the buffalo and bleu cheese flavors. I wasn't exactly blown away, but I would probably go back to try the other things on the menu. 

A close up of my Buffalo Blue. Definitely some cheesy action going on there.

After lunch, we hopped on the metro and headed to the National Zoo. Sabrina had never been, and since she moves back to Germany in a few months (crying emoji), we knew we had to get there ASAP!

Even though there was a slight chill in the air, most of the animals were still out to play. There was tons to see (other than me totally slipping and busting my knee open, ouch!) I'm not usually one for Zoos, but talking to some of the zoo keepers there, you can see how much they love the animals and how much of their time and energy they invest in keeping the animals happy and healthy.

One of our favorite animals was Maharani, an Asian elephant who seemed so playful and excited for attention. She played with some of the toys available and scooped hay out of the bucket outside the fence for a snack.

We also spent some time with Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and Bao Bao, the giant pandas. It was dinner time for them, and they were steadily munching on a ton of bamboo, while baby Bao Bao was curled up and sleeping in the corner.

After we got back home, we stopped by Merrifield Garden Center to check out their Christmas decor and stumbled into their "Ladies Night." Basically, tons of women grabbing up xmas stuff like it was going out of style. It was actually pretty hilarious.

If you're in the DC Metro area this holiday season, you might be interested in some of the stuff going on around town:

Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe - on-stage adaptation of Poe's life and stories. Showing through Dec. 7th. I'll be going to this and I'm super excited!
ICE! at National Harbor - a wonderland of ice scupltures and holiday lights.
National Christmas Tree and Pageant for Peace - at the white house, until December is over.
ZooLights at the National Zoo - light up with your favorite animal friends.
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights - a walk in the park, surrounded by holiday lights.

Have you ever had "gourmet" grilled cheese?
What are your holiday plans?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Carry A Country with Taaluma Totes

Every once in a while, I come across a company I really believe in. A company that's reaching out and doing something good for mankind and inspiring others along the way. Taaluma Totes is one of those companies. The founders travel the world in search of fabrics and sustainable materials to create these one-of-a-kind backpacks that represent a country, oneness among people, and a giving spirit.

Each bag sold acts as a micro-loan to a particular group or person in need, and in turn, giving them the resources to flourish in their environment and thrive. They also serve as beautiful representations of the art and culture of far away places, and are just as eco-friendly as they are eye-catching. (The inside of the backpacks are made out of recycled coffee bags!)

Watch this video to learn a little more about Taaluma and their origins and beliefs as a company.

There are tons of countries to choose from, and new fabrics are added all the time. Pick one that holds a special place in your heart, or simply catches your fancy, they all give back to the community just the same.

I've teamed up with Taaluma to offer you $5 off a tote. Just enter "totewithjess" in the gift card option at checkout!

You can also catch up with Taaluma on Instagram or Facebook, they post totally daydream inducing travel photos, updates from their outreach efforts, and even photos from those who choose to #carryacountry with them!

What do you think of Taaluma Totes?
Which country would you carry?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It Has Begun...

Today I started my Holiday present shopping. I picked out a few things to stuff my roommates' stockings, grabbed a few spur of the moment gifts for friends I'd been planning to shop for, and hit up the craft store to find supplies for some DIY decorations. I think once November hits, something inside me goes into full holiday mode, and I basically turn into a gingerbread girl with gumdrop buttons. Seriously, my roommates have had to physically restrain me from setting up the tree so early.

I am trying to save a little bit of cheer for Thanksgiving, as dreams of turkey and stuffing and yams have been in my head for the past few months! And the leftover turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches that we all have to eat for a week or so after the big feast? I'm all about that life.

I've been thinking about the things I want to do this winter, and those things are:
  • Pick out more ornaments and decorate the tree with my roomies
  • Go to the Holiday light show in the park
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Go ice skating
  • Visit my lovely pal Caelan in New York
  • Watch all the classic Christmas movies on Netflix (suggestions please!)
  • Go to see the National Christmas Trees in DC
  • Go sledding
  • See a play
  • Snuggle up with my cat (or boyfriend)
  • Send out some Christmas cards
  • Have a little roommate Christmas before we all go home to our families
  • Eat anything and everything I can find that comes in peppermint flavor
  • Make some holiday cocktails
  • Build a snowman
  • Make or buy an advent calendar
  • Spend tons of time with my friends and family
  • Spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear

What's on your holiday bucket list?

Monday, November 17, 2014

That Time I Bought Lululemon Yoga Pants

The other day I bought a pair of Lululemon yoga pants. I know what you're thinking, Jess, you're a college student. You live on way less than $800 a month, you're basically struggling to stay alive every single day, how could you possibly afford $98 yoga pants?

The answer is, I can't. I really, super can't afford Lululemon yoga pants. I don't really know many people that can justify spending that much on yoga pants either. Thats why I was beyond surprised to find them, brand new, tags still on them, at a secondhand shop. They also happen to be neon yellow, but that's beside the point. They're Lululemon.

If you've got no idea what I'm talking about, Lululemon is a high-end athletic wear brand. Their basic clothing items usually sell from anywhere between $75 and $250, and they boast about having their own special patented supersecret fabric or something.

When you walk into Lululemon, you are greeted by endlessly peppy, fit, and impeccably dressed employees. They'll probably ask you if you're a runner or a yogi, but they can usually tell their kind from the rest. Their kind, of course, are the people that are already wearing Lululemon, and don't try to dart inconspicuously to the back of the store to find the seemingly nonexistant sale section.

If you couldn't tell already, Lululemon is an "aspirational" company. As you can imagine, that can be pretty problematic when it comes to the real world and the people that live in it. Sadly, Lulu has become popular for their discriminatory sizing practices, and basically hiding the "larger" sizes in the back stock, far away from the "aspirational" ones. When looking at the display racks, the largest size you're likely to find is an 8, or a "Medium." That means that I, usually a size 10, would have to ask an employee for my size specifically. If you're anything like me, having to ask someone for something I should be able to find myself is pretty frustrating. Some people would be too shy or wouldn't even bother, which would keep those "larger" people (like me) out of Lululemon clothes. Sad, right?

Back to the secondhand shop where I bought the pants. They were on the rack, listed under my size, ready for me to find them. I picked them up and giggled to myself, shocked at the color, and ran to show my roommate. She promptly told me I had to get them. They were Lululemon for Pete's sake!

I decided to get them as an experiment.

When I got home, I tried them on. They shone in their neon yellow glory.
I waited for the magic to happen. I expected to suddenly have that ripe, sculpted ass that the Lululemon cult fans supposedly inherit from the pants. I expected to suddenly have an influx of money and superfit friends that I could go on juice cleanses with. I expected to suddenly be amazing at yoga, and be able to launch into scorpion pose straightaway. I expected to have that Lululemon glow.

But like I suspected back in the store, all I had were pants.

Wearing a certain brand will not make you a certain kind of person, just like wearing a layer of cheese will not make you a pizza. Yoga pants are yoga pants, and nothing else. They're not a status symbol, not booty shapeshifters, and certainly not a tool to measure one's self-worth.

They were see-through, however, so that might just make my weekly yoga class a tiny bit sexier.

In the long run, I don't think I'll be purchasing many other products from Lululemon, especially not neon yellow ones. Maybe I just don't "get" it. Maybe they curse all their merchandise once it sells for less than full price. Either way, I can't afford to find out.

Anybody want to buy some yoga pants? I've only worn them once.

What do you think of the Lulu craze?
Do you own anything Lululemon? Did it change your life?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

With the holiday season coming around, and like always, I'm going crazy over peppermint. If it exists, I'll add peppermint to it. That's why I cooked up this little peppermint bark pretzel idea. They're the perfect blend of sweet, salty, and festive.

To make these, all you need are thick pretzels, semi-sweet chocolate, and peppermint candy canes. First crush the candy canes, then melt the chocolate.

Next, coat your pretzels in chocolate. I just dipped half the pretzel, but if you're an overachiever, you can cover the entire surface. Place the pretzel on aluminum foil or wax paper, where it will dry after you sprinkle your peppermint bits.

Then of course, you sprinkle your peppermint bits and allow your chocolate to harden. Easy as pie, or should I say... pretzels!

What is your favorite peppermint treat?
What should I peppermint next?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

my day off, a photo-an-hour-post.

9 AM - took some time to fully wake up and answer some emails. It's been so cold here lately that I've had to double up on blankets. There's a definite chill in the air! Sabrina and I decided to use our day off to do some shopping, especially to visit Ikea!

10 AM - getting ready for the day, with some of my favorite products. Tarte is the best stuff ever!

11 AM - after a 30 minute drive, we arrived at Ikea!

12 PM - Ikea is so awesome, how can you not want to buy absolutely everything?

1 PM - lunch at Panda Express! I had the honey sesame chicken, and it was awesome.

2 PM - a little shopping... a little too much shopping! I took Loft by storm, the sale section was on fire! If only my bank account would've allowed for a spree at JCrew and Lucky Brand.

3 PM - a stroll around Occoquan, a little town on the Potomac river.

4 PM - a little Christmas shopping at the Golden Goose. Their ornaments were awesome, I particularly loved the food themed ones. How can you not want a sushi ornament?!

5 PM - on the way home

6 PM - a little wine with dinner. I've been making this killer salad lately, full of cranberries and grapes. It sounds kind of weird, but it's the bomb!

7 PM - baking my favorite brownies while watching one of my favorite movies. The perfect way to wind down after a long and treacherous day of shopping and eating!

8 PM - getting the Christmas stuff ready, I'm chomping at the bit to decorate!

9 PM - getting a little blogging done :)

What did you do today?