October 24, 2015

A Final Goodbye

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably aware that I recently lost my childhood pet, a dog that my entire family loved so much. You can read my post about her here. This one is for her. For you, Ellie.
October 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Nice Cream

If you follow any vegans on Instagram, you will recognize the name of this dish: Peanut Butter Chocolate Nicecream. A vegan substitute for ice cream, I bookmarked several recipes a few weeks back and today was the first chance I had to try one out!
October 16, 2015

October Zazzle Picks

Since it's October all products are Halloween-themed!

Every Halloween party needs two things: chocolate and more chocolate. These Halloween-themed cake pops are sure to be the hit of your party's food table--especially since you can customize the flavor, icing, and topping!

Even if you aren't hosting a party, this tray is an absolute must! Perfect for this spooky season, you could use it to store silverware or dishes, as part of a centerpiece on your table, or as it was originally intended--to serve spooky drinks that smoke!

These invitations will definitely have your party stand out from all the rest--from the unique shape (I love invites that aren't the standard greeting-card shapes) to the really awesome design, everyone will want to come to this party! (Fully customizable, including the cutout shape and paper choice!)

As someone who has pumpkins littered across her front stoop from September 1 through October, I love cute home holiday decorations like these. The front is this classic Halloween orange while the reverse side is lime green--perfect to show off to all your guests how spooktacular this season really is!

Whether you're looking for a cute shirt to wear all season or just want something to wear when giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, this shirt is too cute! Available in a variety of color and style options, this witch-y owl will keep you company all autumn long.

I am very excited to announce that I recently partnered with Zazzle--a community marketplace where you can collaborate with makers and designers to make almost anything! As an associate I now make a small percentage of the earnings if someone buys one of my featured items. As college is quickly approaching I am gladly taking this opportunity to do what I can money-wise. Of course, all the items I feature are items I genuinely love and wish to share with you. As always, all opinions are my own. 
October 12, 2015

Shanghai 2015

My last school trip to Shanghai! The keyboard was littered with tears as I wrote this. 

If you remember last year's Academic Bowl trip to Shanghai post you'll be glad to see a similar one again. This year instead of being in the middle of the pack, I was the only Senior! No more Katya or Benny to follow, this time I was the most adult-y person (excepting our actual adult chaperone of course).
If you've been keeping up with my Insta posts (which I highly suggest) you'll be familiar with the Citadines Hotel in which we stayed, the same as last time. Managed by the Ascott Limited company, I have absolutely no complaints anytime I stay with Citadines--and love how close they are to my personal destination. While further from the Bund and more popular tourist attractions, this is an affordable apartment-style hotel room complete with a balcony, separate bedrooms, and a kitchen! They offer rooms for long-term stays as well--cannot suggest them enough. They have apart'hotels all over the world, check them out!
Annika having fun with the doggie rhino seat thing in the lobby
The funky decor of the lobby is perfect for selfies!
And my bathroom lighting practically begged for me to take selfies...I had to oblige!

While the actual competition this year was a low point of the entire trip (rude other competitors namely the problem), the team bonding more than made up for it! We played cards everywhere, performed impromptu piano recitals, walked to the convenience store literally every 4 hours, and cuddled with the cutest puppies at a puppy cafĂ©! We even prayed that we would miss our connection in Hong Kong on the way back from the trip so we could bond even more, waiting for a 2 am flight. (Believe me, we picked the longest lines, walked extra slow, fumbled around--anything we could to miss the flight and we still made it! We were all so sad we made it.)
Chinese food level up
Can you guess the particular reason we picked this location for a picture?
Our trip down the Bund was another highlight of our trip. This time we had over an hour to make our way down the waterside walk--allowing opportunities for tons of pictures! I'm still in love with all the art deco architecture on the street and so those photos took up a good chunk of my memory. There was a bit more smog this year, however the tower was gorgeous as ever and we thoroughly enjoyed the significantly cooler weather than Manila.
It was a very emotional trip for me, this being my last trip with Academic Bowl (my 'lasts' continue unfortunately) and I could not have asked for a better one. Honestly I love everyone on this team so much and I'm so grateful they were with me for this last trip to Shanghai. It's not just anyone that is not only willing but excited to spend 8 hours with you in an airport after a missed connection! My roommates were the absolute best and our practice/kwento session with everyone was a total blast. We ate ice cream at 8 am before our flight together, lusted after Popeyes biscuits together, went scarf-hunting together....I'm going to miss them so much and I have so much confidence in them as a team to continue next year. 

If you want to see even more chronicles of my life, including my experiences with street food in Shanghai, friend me on snapchat! Username: madlock445 I can't recommend Shanghai enough, if you're ever in Asia stop by! I promise you'll love it.

Here's to next time Shanghai, I promise I'll be back. 

October 8, 2015

The Songs Every Autumn-Lover Needs To Have On Their Playlist

Autumn Leaves by Ed Sheeran 
Of course, this is basically the quintessential fall song. As the weather changes so are we prone to change and Ed's soulful vocals really lull this melody into your mind, helping to ease the transition--the perfect 'walk through an autumn scene' song.

Feeling Good by Nina Simone
This song has undergone a re-surge of popularity lately (originally released on her album in 1965) and I am all for it! Completely different from Ed's song above, this record screams of swagger and owning every moment, perfect for chilly early mornings and first struts out in your favorite autumn outfits.

Colors by Halsey
And my love of everything Halsey continues with this song. The perfect song for the most colorful season, Colors really capture the feeling of renewal for me. Halsey's passionate singing, like she's biting into each of her lyrics, really conveys the sense of loss and how loss is sometimes necessary and is okay. We will be okay. Perfect for bike rides under colorful trees.

Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift
I'll go ahead and jump on T-Swizzle's bandwagon for a minute. This half-rock, half-ballad about confusing love seems perfect for the season that sees people voluntarily riding into the woods on hayrides--also for people struggling with the heavier emotions that can come up during this season. The perfect 'enjoy the moment' song.

Half of my Heart by John Mayer
An oldie, released in 2009, but this song has always captured the almost melancholy way fall can have us feeling--yet we love it. I do, I adore this season and I still admit there's a raw, open quality that comes with the return to the cold. Painful? Sometimes. Lovely? Always. Listen to this one on a bus--window seat required.

The Backpack Song by Bear Attack
Another non-recent favorite, this song is a melancholy-but-hopeful tune....something you could imagine being on a John Green movie soundtrack. Still perfect for a long bus ride, also suitable background music for quiet contemplation, work, or reading.

Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men
This song is, at first anyway, very New Orleans swing-band-y (the tune never fails to make me start dancing) however the lyrics and conversational style of the duet sobers it a bit (only a bit). You can dance and cry to this song, something that makes it very unique. For those days you explore old houses in the middle of nowhere (as we all do in October yes?). Alternatively when you're cooking dinner and want to dance around.

(You'll notice most of my music is not recent--it takes time for me to develop a true love for the songs I put in these playlists so recent songs you won't really find here but you will find songs I really love and hope you will too!)

What are your favorite fall songs?
October 5, 2015

Super Simple Pumpkin Muffins

In my valiant attempts to capture any and all fall feelings while still here in Manila, where there is no autumn, I have a new recipe for you! Anything pumpkin is quickly devoured in my household so here's hoping these muffins don't last long in your kitchen either!
Ingredients (makes 24 mini, 12 regular muffins)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 cup milk
For the topping
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit (around 176 Celsius) and spray your muffin tin with non-stick spray. I unfortunately don't have a mini-muffin tray, so this recipe gave me 12 giant muffins as opposed to 24 bite-sized ones.

Combine all your dry ingredients in one medium bowl and whisk together until combined. This means your flower, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ground cloves.
Next mix all your liquid ingredients in a large bowl. This means your oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk. Whisk these things together.
Next (can you guess?) you're going to add your dry ingredients to your liquid ones and whisk together until just combined. I added the dry flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in two steps however you can dump it all in if you want.
Take a spoon and dollop equal amounts of the batter into your muffin tins.
Place your tray in the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, enough time for the muffins to become hard on the outside. If you stick a toothpick in the center of the muffins it should come out clean.

While those are baking away, you should make the topping you'll roll the finished muffins in. Melt your butter in one bowl (I used a good-sized colander, big enough to fit the muffins in) and combine your cinnamon and sugar in another.
After your muffins finish baking, leave them to cool for 2-3 minutes before you take them out, they should pop right out of the tin, and dip them in the butter. Make sure to coat all sides! Then roll the buttery muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place the finished treat on a plate.
It's a simple recipe, albeit with a good number of ingredients, and I'm confident even the most inexperienced of bakers can handle it! The end product is moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and very very messy to handle--make sure you eat these over a plate or napkin or the dog bowl as the cinnamon sugar is sure to coat your fingers, mouth, and lap!

Give this recipe a try and let me know how it goes for you! 

(Original recipe found here: xx)