Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I need help!

I've found through looking at all my new favorite blogs (which I'm now listing down on the right over there) that I shouldn't use my full name in my URL. Evidently some bloggers have had to deal with some creeps, and I obviously don't want/need that problem.

Here's where I need help: Someone already has the "wearyourpassion" Blogspot URL. Someone who doesn't even use it to blog, I might add. (To the person squatting on my URL — GIVE IT UP! Please!) I can't even contact this person to ask them to give it to me, as they have no contact info listed.

So here's a list of possible URL options that are available. I just don't know which way to go — add numbers, add words, add ... ? I googled what to do when someone has your URL, and most answers said to find a different name for your blog. However, I like this name for my blog and want to keep it.

Here are the options — please help me figure out what to do! Keep in mind that underscores aren't allowed. Also, wear-your-passion.blogspot.com is taken, too.


Is there any easier solution that I'm not thinking of? Help!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Makeup Monday

One of my favorite bloggers, Keiko Lynn, usually does a makeup Monday post, which is my inspiration today. But instead of taking pictures of me, I'll just show you what makeup I use and love.

After years of wearing various brands of drugstore makeup (think CoverGirl foundation, concealer, etc.), I switched to bareMinerals and haven't looked back. If you're not 100 percent happy with your makeup right now, I suggest you make the switch as well. There are so many different options with bareMinerals, and even though these products are a little pricy, I think they are well worth it. I wear the Matte SPF 15 Foundation in Medium Beige, the SPF 20 Concealer in Summer Bisque, Tinted Mineral Veil, and then I finish with Warmth. I admit at first I was a little intimidated by the whole bareMinerals "buffing" technique, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. What I like most about this makeup, though, is its coverage, which you can adjust depending on how much you buff on. Warmth is my favorite product — I don't leave the house without it.

Next, I love my NARS blush in Orgasm. It is literally the most complementary blush I've come across. I wear it in all seasons, and it provides the best natural-looking flush. I love this blush.

Before I do my eyes, I curl my lashes with the Sonia Kashuk Deluxe Travel Eyelash Curler from Target. It's simple and compact, and a lot less scary than traditional eyelash curlers.

Finally, I use Maybelline Line Stiletto liquid liner and Lash Stiletto mascara, both in blackest black. I switched from pencil liners to liquid liner not too long ago, and I think it looks cleaner, but it does take some practice applying. The first time I tried using it, I looked like I put on my eyeliner with a crayon. Needless to say, you need a steady hand and patience to use liquid liner. The Lash Stiletto mascara, however, is easy to use and gives me some serious lashes. I'm lacking in the eyelash department, and this mascara helps me out tremendously.

I love makeup (I could spend hours in Sephora), and sometimes when I go out I'll experiment with different liner or eyeshadow colors, but these are definitely my go-to products.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Life's too short to drink cheap wine

Yesterday I spent the day at Cave Ridge Vineyards in Mount Jackson with my friend Stef. It was my first trip to the vineyard, and it was beautiful, even in January. I can't wait to see what it looks like during the spring and summer. Stef and I helped with wine tastings, and they were having a special where you could get a bowl of delicious turkey chili with a glass of wine and sit by the fire. It was such a great atmosphere and I was able to meet a lot of really nice people. After a full day of wine tastings, I feel like I'm on my way to becoming quite the wine connoisseur.

Leah, Stef and I in the tasting room

The best part of yesterday, however, was the private barrel tasting of all of the 2011 wines that haven't been released yet. It was such a cool experience, and I was able to taste some really delicious wine. We tasted a beautiful cabernet sauvignon, a buttery traminette, and many more. I can't wait to see how these wines taste after they're aged more and bottled, considering how wonderful they were already.

Our private barrel tasting

A taste of Syrah
It was a fun way to spend my Saturday, in addition to getting a nice surprise from Michael. I hope everyone else had a nice, relaxing weekend as well!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Honey Soy Grilled Salmon

So last night I was in charge of making dinner. Usually Chef Michael makes dinner (which believe me, I don't complain about), and it's delicious and we're both happy. But last night was a late night for him, so I offered to start dinner and have it ready when he got home.

I searched for some recipes on the Food Network channel's website, and I came across an entire section of healthy recipes. I knew I wanted to make some type of fish, since it's usually pretty easy to cook. Since my skill level isn't too high yet, I wanted to start out with something easy. The Honey Soy Grilled Salmon recipe was healthy and sounded yummy, so I printed off the recipe and got to planning what else I would make with it. I decided to start with a goat cheese, walnut and apple salad and then pair the salmon with a baked potato for Michael and a sweet potato for me.

The salad was a huge hit. I absolutely love goat cheese, and the apples and walnuts just complement its flavor so nicely. I used a bag of spring mix greens instead of romaine, which is what we normally use for salads.

The salmon was absolutely amazing, if I do say so myself. It was really simple to make, too. I bought two 6 oz. fillets of fresh salmon that were pre-packaged with the skin on. To start, I mixed some chopped cilantro and scallions with a little bit of olive oil and ginger. Then, with the salmon flipped over, I made a 3-inch cut through the skin and stuffed the cilantro/scallion mixture through the fish to infuse it with flavor. I flipped the salmon back over and seasoned it with salt and pepper. 

With this recipe, you could either broil or grill the salmon, so I chose to broil it in the oven. While the oven heated up, I made the glaze for the salmon with low-sodium soy sauce, honey and fresh lime juice. I poured a little over each fillet before popping them in the oven. The salmon cooked so quickly, and after about six minutes, I took them out of the oven and drizzled them with the last little bit of glaze. Needless to say, Michael and I were both happy with the outcome, and I know I will definitely make this recipe again. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"After the sky fell"

A classmate shared this short narrative with Aimee and me yesterday. I fell in love with it and thought I'd share it with all of you. It's part of a series called "300 words," which details "glimpses of everyday lives that go unnoticed." After a weekend of reflective writing, this piece is especially relevant and extremely poignant.

After the sky fell

By Brady Dennis
Published January 28, 2005
Tampa Bay Times

The few drivers on this dark, lonely stretch of the Suncoast Parkway in Pasco County pull up to the toll booth, hand their dollars to Lloyd Blair and then speed away. None of them knows why the old man sits here, night after night, working the graveyard shift.

Well, here's why:

Because years ago, on a freezing winter night at a party in Queens, N.Y., he met a woman named Millie.

Because he fell in love with her brown hair and wide eyes and 100-watt smile.

Because they got married, moved to Staten Island, had a son and worked for decades in Manhattan; she as an accountant, he as a banker.

Because it had been their dream to retire to Florida, and so they saved all their lives to make it possible.

Because, just as they began to talk of leaving New York and heading south, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and they spent their time and money traveling to New Jersey, San Diego and Mexico in search of a cure.

Because, in the end, they came to Florida anyway.

Because they finally bought a house in Spring Hill, although she was too weak that day to get out of the car.

Because she died nine days later on Jan. 5, 2002, a day "the whole sky fell," he says.

Because, after she was gone, he found himself alone and $100,000 in debt.

And so he took a job collecting tolls. The drivers who pass by see a smiling 71-year-old man with blue eyes and a gray mustache who tells each of them, "Have a great night!"

They don't know the rest of Lloyd Blair's story, or that he keeps Millie's picture in his shirt pocket, just under his name tag, just over his heart.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

This not that: sweatpants in public

If there's only one thing that you take away from this blog, please let it be this: Never wear sweatpants in public. Please.

I admit that I have been guilty of this before, but I have since changed my ways for a variety of reasons. Most of all, it just looks sloppy. It is just as easy to pull on a pair of yoga pants or leggings as it is to put on sweatpants. I even promise you will look and feel better wearing anything other than sweatpants when you're in public. I'm a complete advocate for wearing your most comfortable, worn-in pair of sweatpants in the privacy of your own home. Sometimes when I get home from a long day of work and classes, all I want to do is put on my sweats and an oversized T-shirt and crawl into bed. But when I want to leave my house and venture out into public, I make sure to change into something else.

I know that it's cold outside and some people really don't care how they look as long as they're warm. I can understand that. But when I'm walking to class in the winter and the wind is blowing, jeans actually keep me warmer than sweats would. For those who make the comfort argument, I know not every pair of jeans is as comfortable as sweats are (unless you're wearing PajamaJeans, and if that's the case, we need to have a completely different conversation). Also, I'm pretty sure the average pair of jeans won't land you in the jail with the Fashion Police like wearing sweatpants in public surely will.

If that doesn't convince you, maybe this will.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wear Your Passion's facelift

What do you think of the new design? Like? Don't like it? I wanted something other than the old template and I think I like this one, but the only thing I'm missing is showing off my loyal followers (thanks friends!). Let me know what you think!

It snowed a little bit last night, but that didn't keep us from going out to the Capital Ale House, which I've been really impressed with so far. This photo is of Leah and me before we ventured out in the snow in heels.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Friday

I have some favorite YouTube videos I watch when I need a distraction or a laugh. I love Ellen DeGeneres, and my favorite episodes of her show involve her scaring people. Some other videos I like involve epic fails by contestants on The Price is Right or Jeopardy. And I always enjoy a Jenna Marbles video, as well as a video about the things girls say.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Things I can't stand

My roommate Julia and I play a game where we text each other every time we think of things we can't stand. Some are just funny and some are seriously annoying. Feel free to add to the list.

Things I can't stand:

  • Close talkers
  • Mouth breathers
  • People who shuffle their feet when they walk
  • Cold toilet seats
  • When ketchup is spelled "catsup"
  • Unpainted toenails
  • Guys who wear white sunglasses
  • People who don't know/don't care enough to know the difference between "your" and "you're." Same goes for "there," "their" and "they're" and for "to" and "too." Seriously people, if you passed the fifth grade, you should know the differences by now. 
  • Bad tippers
  • People who interrupt others
  • People who drive under the speed limit
  • Stoplights that take forever to change
  • Social awkwardness 
  • People who capitalize words that shouldn't be capitalized 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some daily inspiration

Sometimes looking at some inspirational sayings helps turn a bad day around. Here are a few of my favorites via Pinterest.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's on your playlist?

I listen to my iPod all the time — during long car rides, while I'm getting ready, and especially at the gym. I love making playlists for different occasions, and I'm always looking for new songs to add. The song currently pumping up my workout playlist is Run The World by Beyonce. Drake, Akon, Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga are also on this playlist. I need new songs to add, though, and I'm looking for some suggestions. I like fast paced, upbeat songs that help keep me going on the treadmill when I feel like quitting. Any ideas?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I want a treehouse

I saw this amazing treehouse on The Nate Berkus Show the other day and I think it might be one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Watch the video to take a tour inside.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cute, cute blogs

After yesterday's post, I remembered Elizabeth showing me this blog post from Atlantic — Pacific where the rain boots/short combination is pulled off quite nicely. Leave it to Elizabeth to find something that cute. This idea is adorable — if you do it correctly, of course. In fact, after looking at this blog again, I love pretty much all of her outfits.

And speaking of awesome blogs, you should also check out cupcakes and cashmere. It's the cutest blog ever. Bet you'll become as obsessed as I am with it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

This not that: rainy day footwear

I'd like to introduce the first of a series of posts I'm going to call "This not that." I think it's pretty self-explanatory.

On a rainy day like today, I see a variety of rain boots all over campus. I'll admit when I was a freshman, I was a guilty of wearing hideous polka dot rain boots. In my defense, I didn't know any better. When I came to JMU, I didn't plan for the days when it was pouring down rain and I had to walk across campus to get to class. One day I wore flip flops in the rain and I almost broke my nose after tripping and falling up a staircase in my dorm. Lesson learned — I needed appropriate footwear for when it rained. What did I do? Ordered generic rain boots from Target, of course. Now, they did suit their purpose for a little while and did keep me from falling on my face, but I eventually grew to hate them.

Here's why: First, they were uncomfortable and awkward to walk in, not mention they were hot and made my feet sweat. My socks get mashed down to my toes, and readjusting them was nearly impossible unless I wanted to stop and take my boots off in the middle of the sidewalk. Second, I never knew what to do if it was supposed to rain that day, but it hadn't started yet as I was leaving for class. If I wore my boots to be safe, I looked like an idiot later in the day when the weather changed its mind and didn't rain after all. And of course, if I took a chance that it wasn't going to rain and wore a cute pair of flats, it would be a monsoon out by the time I left class and I would be left with ruined shoes and soggy feet.

Also, rain boots just don't match any outfit. At least the ones I owned didn't. They looked stupid with jeans and only a little better with leggings. During my freshman year while I was checking my mail in Warren Hall, I was scolded by an older man (a fashion forward professor perhaps?) for my rain boots and umbrella not matching. I also recently witnessed a girl (for her sake, I assumed she was a freshman going through the same confusion I once experienced) wearing rain boots and Nike athletic shorts. There. Is. No. Excuse. For. That.

Needless to say, I knew I had to find an alternative to my rain boots. Lucky for me, I found out there are much better footwear options for when it rains. So instead of these Target rain boots, I would encourage you to wear either of the following options instead.

 I bought a pair of Sperry Cormorant Rubber Slip On shoes last spring, and I have been very pleased with them. They keep my feet dry, only go up to my ankle and can be worn with a variety of outfits. I wear them with jeans when I'm out running errands, and I can wear them to work with khakis. The only downside of this shoe is its weight. They are a little on the heavy side, which is a little annoying after trekking around campus all day. 
Cormorant Rubber Slip On

The next option I would suggest is the L.L. Bean Rubber Moc. It's the lighter version of the Sperry shoe. My roommate Marilyn owns a pair and loves them, which has rubbed off on me because I just ordered a pair. They're durable, comfortable and much lighter than the Sperry version. The only downside to this shoe may be the sizing. I'm usually a size 7.5, but the website said I should order a size 6. Here's to hoping they fit. 
Women's Bean Boots by L.L.Bean, Rubber Moc

See? Rainy day footwear problem solved. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

For my nana

This post is for my nana, who we lost on November 28. She always told me I was her favorite granddaughter, which was completely acceptable for her to say considering I was her only one. It's a rare and special privilege to be that loved by someone, and I miss her dearly.

The following is attributed to Henry Scott Holland, a professor of divinity at Oxford University.

“Death is nothing at all – I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way you always used. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without the ghost of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant …  There is absolutely unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am waiting for you – for an interval – somewhere near just around the corner. All is well.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

Guilty pleasures

We all have guilty pleasures — some we freely admit to and others, maybe not so much. Here are two of mine that aren't too embarrassing to admit.

US Weekly is, in my opinion, the Rolls-Royce of tabloid magazines. My mom gets them in the mail every week (perhaps this is where this guilty pleasure stems from) and she keeps them for me to read when I come home to visit. It's not the kind of magazine I would buy on my own; I love the celebrity gossip but I can access it much easier from Perez Hilton or even on Twitter. I'm more likely to flip through the mag while I stand in line in the grocery store and hate on whichever Kardashian "graces" its cover that week. Despite its overexposure of that annoying, media-hungry family (#sorrynotsorry), I still love reading this magazine. I also think US Weekly runs more credible articles than the other trashy tabloids like Star or OK! Let's face it, they broke the Aston/Demi divorce drama before anyone else. Plus, I like to keep tabs on my girl Sandra and her cute baby Louis. And poor Katy Perry being dumped by Russell Brand (even though I think we all saw that one coming). Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds — what a power couple. They would have beautiful babies. But then again, Blake and Leo would have, too. Seriously though, who doesn't have a crush on Blake?

Another guilty pleasure I will admit to is Pinterest. Maybe some of you wouldn't consider the site a guilty pleasure, but I do because it's such a glorious waste of time. Whenever I have free time and I'm on the computer (like when Facebook is being particularly boring or no one has tweeted me recently) I head on over to Pinterest. I look for cute outfit ideas, recipes for appetizers or drinks, decorating tips, or anything else interesting that will waste a few minutes hours. I've recently put together outfits from ideas I've seen on Pinterest and have been very happy with the results. I admit some things on the site can be silly (and some are definitely Photoshopped) but in all, I find it fun and useful. And the iPhone app makes it easy to kill some time during — I mean before — class.It's also how I came up with a name for my blog.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

And a few more things I love

I had such a wonderful Christmas, and I am still so excited about all of my awesome gifts.

My friends and I exchanged presents earlier in December, and I was thrilled to get a Pandora bracelet from Leah and Julia and waffle weave pink monogrammed bathrobe from Marilyn. I wear my Pandora bracelet every day. Michael bought me my first charm, and I had three more in my stocking from my brother and my parents. I'm going for a pink theme — shocking, right? The charms make for such a meaningful gift and are perfect for any occasion. The bathrobe is so lightweight and I don't get hot wearing it while I get ready in the mornings.

I also got my first Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors gifts! Elizabeth gave me Daisy by Marc Jacobs, and it's a fantastic smelling perfume. I was happy for a change from my usual Burberry, and the best part about this gift is its size. When I put it on in the morning, I tuck it into my purse in case I need it for a touch up later in the day. It's a sweet and subtle smelling perfume, and I've already received so many compliments on it.

I had been salivating over a particular Michael Kors watch for months. I had hinted to Michael about which one I wanted, and I was so surprised when I opened my last Christmas present from him and saw it. I haven't been able to stop wearing it, which I'm happy about since I think it complements both silver and gold jewelry. 

I have been searching for a laptop sleeve or cover for my MacBook Pro since I got it in May. I've scoured Amazon for different covers, but I wasn't impressed with anything I found. I came across a cute Kate Spade sleeve on Apple.com, and I went to the Kate Spade website to see if they had any different colors. Not only were there different color options, but they also offered free shipping. I'm a sucker for free shipping. This laptop cover is durable and adorable, and I love it. 

Overall, I had a wonderful Christmas with my family and friends. I feel blessed in every way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My current obsession

If you haven't heard of The Hunger Games, don't worry. I hadn't either until just recently, even though the first book in the series was published in 2008. If you enjoy reading and have some spare time on your hands, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy. Actually, who am I kidding? Even if you don't currently have any free time, find time to read it anyway. I promise you'll like it. After a little encouragement from a friend (thanks Aim!), I decided to read the series during my Thanksgiving break.

For Christmas, Michael gave me an Amazon gift card, which I used to purchase the Kindle edition of the book. It was super cheap at only $4.69. I figured that even if I didn't like it, I was only out five bucks anyway. Needless to say, I read it in only a day and then couldn't wait to start the second one.

A quick overview: Written by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games takes place in a place called Panem, which is where North America once existed. The book never says exactly how many years in the future it's set, but I'm guessing hundreds to thousands of years from our current time. In this post-apocalyptic world, a central city named the Capitol is the ruling entity of all of Panem's citizens. The book is narrated by Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl who lives in District 12. Panem is divided into different districts, which are sort of like states. Every year, as a form of punishment for previous rebellions, the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each district to fight to the death in a televised battle. Only one person can survive the games.

The plot may not seem interesting to some of you, but there's something about the way Collins wrote this series that came across as poignant and refreshing. I'll admit I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but the narrative style of the book (combined with the fact that a woman wrote it) became extremely appealing to me. Every part of the book seemed like it could be real. Collins should be applauded for her vivid, catchy writing style. The second book, Catching Fire, was just as good as the first. As soon as I finished it, I had to buy the next one. The last book, Mockingjay, was incredible as well. I read all three books in four days, and I'm thinking about re-reading them again before the movie comes out. The best part, I bought all three books on my Kindle for less than $20. If you don't already have a tablet reader, I suggest you get one of those as well.

Here's the trailer for the movie, which is due to come out on March 23.

Doesn't it look so good? I can't wait to see it, although I just hope that the movie does the trilogy justice. There's nothing worse than a movie that massacres the book. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss, and from the trailer, it looks like she's a pretty good fit. Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale (Katniss' best friend), doesn't seem too bad himself (if you know what I mean).

Something else to note: While I'm not a huge fan of Taylor Swift's music lately (all of her songs just sound the same), she released a new track for the movie called "Safe & Sound." I like this song, though I can't tell if it's because I know it's for the movie or just because it sounds different than Swift's other music. Take a listen and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Speaking of resolutions...

In order to make New Year's resolutions seem real and reachable, I think it helps to write them down. That way, you can hold yourself accountable and remain committed to your goals. So although this blog is the resolution that I really want to keep, there are a few more that I'd like to stick with as well. Like I said in the last post, I would like to put my gym membership to good use. I'm awful at keeping a consistent workout pattern, and I often find myself making excuses for why I can't make it to the gym — It's too cold, I'm too tired, I'll go tomorrow, etc. Instead of focusing on the excuses, I'm trying my best to focus on how I feel after I've finished a workout. It improves my mood considerably, I have more energy, and I can feel my attitude about everything else improve. If exercising more is also on your list of New Year's resolutions, here are a few tips that I find helpful for reaching my goals.

I like to wear comfortable, fitted workout clothes. Buying new workout clothes gives me an extra incentive to get to the gym. Target sells Champion brand exercise gear, and the pieces are both inexpensive and cute. I just bought a pair of Champion stretchy, full-length black pants for $28 and a bright blue T-shirt for only $9. I also bought several neon-colored pairs of socks from Target, which I wear to work out in as well. Bright-colored sports bras also do the trick for me. All of these bright colors make me feel good, and you know what they say — if you feel good, you look good (or something like that). Whatever your motivation is — working out with a friend, rewarding yourself after a particularly hard workout, or planning ahead for setbacks — find it, and stick with it.

C9 by Champion Women's Short-Sleeve Power Workout Tee 

C9 by Champion Women's Seamless Racerback Bra

I just read in the January 2012 issue of Shape magazine that a Duke University study found that 45 minutes of cardio only three days a week may be as effective as prescription drugs for treating depression. During these cold winter months, you can help beat seasonal depression by fitting in some exercise. Forty-five minutes of cardio three times a week is completely doable, even for someone like me who doesn't have a high endurance. Shape also said of the 40 percent of Americans who make resolutions at the beginning of the year, half relapse within the first three weeks. By keeping myself accountable, it's my goal to not let that happen to me.

We're only given one body to live in — we better not waste it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Here goes nothing

I've wanted to start a blog for a while, and I've decided there's no better time than now. I know it sounds cliche, but to me, there's something so promising about the fresh start of a new year. I like to take this time to reflect on the past year, cherish the memories I've made, learn from my mistakes, and then vow to do my best to make the coming year the best it can be. I'm looking forward to 2012 and everything it has to offer.

It's my goal that this blog becomes the first New Year's resolution that I actually stick with (unlike the ones I make every year, which never seem to last longer than a week or two, i.e. drink more water, put my gym membership to good use, be on time).

I'll be blogging about my life and things I like — books, movies, clothes, other blogs, the highs and lows of being a grad student, my plans to travel more this year, and more — in hopes that you will find them interesting, too. And if you don't, #sorrynotsorry. 

Here goes nothing...