April 30, 2016

April Favorites

Colour Pop
Lips lips lips. Everything beauty right now is about lips--and the hype is only increased by the popularity of the scarcely-available lip kits championed by the teenager with the most famous pout in the world. (Good luck getting your hands on her colors, I've tried) Luckily, I've found some more affordable, and definitely more available, alternatives! My three favorite colors at the moment from Colour Pop's collection are: Clueless, Littlestitious, and Solow. They're all only $6 each and each have fantastic reviews!

I've recently become absolutely obsessed with and the service they offer. I love to send snail mail, mostly because I love to receive snail mail. When I moved away from my friend Sarah after Mom and I left the OBX and moved to Williamsburg, the two of us kept in touch through letters! I loved the personal touch and the thrill of getting a letter is unparalleled in today's digital world. Living overseas, I can't exactly snail mail anyone in the States anything so postable does it for me! You select a card from their thousands of choices (or a blank card) type a personal message and click send! It's cheap, quick, and easy. I highly recommend postable for your upcoming snail-mail needs!

F21 Tile Dress
My Forever 21 pick of the month is a dress that oozes lazy summer days...maybe a bike along a beach road and lunch outside with a sea breeze? We can only find the dress here (also available in a blue color) and it retails for $15.90. 

As with the rest of the free world, I am completely obsessed with Beyonce's newest album: Lemonade. Honestly, ignore all the rumors and crap that she's singing about her husband's infidelity and don't bother with the clickbait that promises to reveal who "Becky with the good hair" is--and leave Rachel Roy alone! Focus more on the fantastic lyrics, Bey's voice, and the intended message of the album, very clear in the visual accompaniment: police brutality and terrorization of black people in America. It's not anti-police, it's anti-police brutality. Beyonce features Kendrick Lamar on her track Freedom (one of my faves) and includes images of mothers that lost their sons to police violence in recent history including Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. You can find the album on iTunes--seriously it's incredible.

20 Experiences (my domaine)
I don't know why, but this article really inspired me and I guess gave me hope about getting older. For some reason...18 feels so ancient right now and anything that reminds me that I'm stupidly young is a nice reminder. Somewhat full of cliches, which I love, this article is actually pretty great and I bookmarked it for future use.
April 26, 2016

How To Be An Adult: 5 Minute Meals

I suggested some meal plan ideas in the very first How To Be An Adult post I did....but then realized I never told you how to actual make them! All of the meals I eat during the week are simple and easy enough to make in under 15 minutes (even if I'm not actually the one doing the cooking the majority of the time...) These meals are intended to be mostly healthy, quick, and not expensive. Here are some of the recipes I find myself using almost on a weekly basis: 

These are super super easy to make. Take a can of refried beans (I use the vegetarian kind but you can find ones with beef or pork in them as well I think) and spread it on a whole wheat tortilla. Sprinkle either cheddar or mozzarella shredded cheese on top and place another tortilla on top. Fry in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil and voila! I usually have broccoli or green beans on the side--easy to steam and 1-2-3 you have dinner all ready! Make 2 tortillas for dinner and leave 2 for lunch tomorrow. (I usually use frozen broccoli just because I've bitten into too much fresh broccoli with bugs in it and am thoroughly freaked out)
Tuna Steaks
Get some frozen tuna steaks at the store (fresh spoils too quickly and usually more expensive) and when you're ready, sprinkle black pepper and salt on both sides (you can also use a pre-made marinade or teriyaki sauce--anything really on it) before searing in a pan with some olive oil. Cook it to your preference: rare, medium, medium rare, or well done. Make some green beans and you're done!

Veggie Burgers
This one is a bit of a cheat because you can just buy pre-made veggie burgers (my favorites are Amy's and Boca Burgers), cook them in the microwave usually, stick on some bread and you're done! Put some lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese, all your favorite condiments, and you have your vegetables and dinner all in one! Serve with some pre-made potato salad or coleslaw and you've got an easy peasy dinner for nights when you don't even have 15 minutes to spend cooking. I like to get specialty bread for the buns--like emek, a Turkish bread roll that is the perfect size and consistency for my liking. Makes it a bit more fancy, and has fewer calories than regular hamburger buns.

Fish Tacos
A bit more work, but worth it! Get a white fish at the store (frozen, again) like cream dory or tilapia is my favorite. Marinate the fish in a bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you want to add like cayenne pepper....I usually squeeze some lime over my fish. After this, cook your fish in a pan on the stovetop until it's done to your liking. Cooking a white, flaky fish there isn't much variation in terms of rare/well-done but cook however long you're comfortable. Shred the fish after it's cooked into small pieces and sprinkle in a whole wheat tortilla. Add some shredded lettuce, diced tomato, onion, peppers, salsa, cheese and enjoy!

Shrimp Scampi
Sear some frozen shrimp in a pan with olive oil, some lime, salt + pepper, toss in some lightly-buttered spaghetti pasta and you've got yourself a protein & carb yum fest! Serve with a salad (if you use pre-made salads, make sure to wash everything even if the package promises "washed four times") or some green beans. 
All photos courtesy of my Instagram

Treat Night!
Usually on a Wednesday night, in the middle of the work/school week, I have a little pick-me-up dinner. 99% of the time it's mac n cheese, either homemade or the boxed version, but it can also be a pierogi lasagna (try it, it's really really yummy), regular lasagna, a frozen food item from Amy's (their bean and cheese bites or even one of their pizzas). Anything that makes you smile when you bite into it (which usually includes starch + cheese). Even when trying to stay healthy, one night of eating something you don't eat all the time won't hurt you. Don't forget your vegetables!

These are my favorite recipes that I use the most during the week....what are some of your favorite healthy, quick, and cheap meals?

April 20, 2016

How To Be An Adult: Safety

Even if you never live alone in your entire life--always have a roommate, move in with a significant other, live with your family or anything, you should still know how to keep yourself safe because there are some nights you will be alone in the house/apartment/bed and you need to know how to protect yourself. (By the way: a lot of people seem to think that never living alone is some sort of test that everyone must undergo to "fully become an adult". Not true. If you're living the life that's comfortable for you and those around you and you're doing what makes you happy without hurting anyone else, that's the life you should be living. Don't listen to anyone else. And this applies to every aspect of life, not just living alone.)

When moving into a new house/apartment, change the locks -- Who knows who had keys before you? You really don't want strangers to have access to your house. Also: I read something where a woman put six deadbolt locks on her door and only locks a random three at night so no matter what, a potential burglar will always be locking three of the locks when unlocking the other three. It seems like a lot of work to me, but definitely make sure you have more than one lock on your door!

Keep a phone in your room -- Yes, I know it's bad to have the screen glow of your iPhone in your bedroom when you're trying to sleep so if you like to leave your phone outside your room, have a landline placed in your bedroom. This way, if you wake up at night hearing strange noises and feel like there's someone in your house, you don't have to leave your room to phone for help. Also a reason to have a lock on your bedroom door. And a baseball bat within grabbing distance of your bed. (Also I recommend a flashlight in your nightstand drawer in case the power goes out)
Learn the self-Heimlich -- A very important one, the self-Heimlich can save your life if you're ever choking on something and there's nobody around to help you. Here's a video demonstrating how to perform it, and a wikihow explaining exactly how to perform it and how it works.

Bring a phone to the bathroom when you shower -- In case you fall or have some other emergency and you don't happen to have a MedicAlert bracelet you don't have to struggle to get to your phone. Bonus: bring a bluetooth speaker and blast some tunes while you shower to get yourself in a happy morning mood (I adore my iHome portable speaker)

Befriend your neighbors -- Make nice with your neighbors, note the ones that make you uneasy, and always watch out for those that have kids. You helping them out and being friendly with them will in turn help them to help you if you ever have an emergency. A good reason to befriend your mail person or newspaper delivery person, if you usually come to the door and one day don't they'll be more aware of it and may just come to your aid if you're having an emergency.

Make a password -- When I was younger, my Mom and I had a secret password that only the two of us knew so if someone ever told me "your Mom sent me to pick you up" they'd have to know the password before I would go with them. Great if you have kids, and also applicable in a different way to help keep you safe. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation and don't want to broadcast that you're phoning for help, create a safe word or phrase with your emergency contact that sounds normal to most people but indicates to your specific contact that something is wrong. It could be something as simple as: "I'd like to order a pizza with extra mushrooms on it please" if you hate mushrooms. Calling your best friend and saying this phrase can alert her to call the police and get help to you without ever tipping off the person you feel is threatening your safety.

Have a pet that makes noise -- If for some reason you have a medical emergency and cannot get up to take your dog or cat out or feed it, it will begin to whine and make noise and hopefully attract the attention of neighbors and passersby. A fish really wouldn't be able to help you in this situation. Also, having a dog that has a frightening bark is good to initially spook would-be intruders. 

Download safety apps -- Helpful for walking home at night, the two apps I like the most are Kitestring and bSafe. Kitestring is a service that will check up on you at a certain time and if you don't respond the service immediately alerts your emergency contacts. Kitestring is free and is a mobile SMS service, not an app. Check it out here. bSafe is an actual app that is absolutely free with no "premium" features that cost extra money. You set up your emergency contacts (the app calls them "guardians") and they can follow your trip home via GPS mapping. If you press the alarm button in an emergency, they'll get a text with your exact location and the app will record video and audio through your phone in case you want to present it to the police later. Check it out in iTunes
Prepare for natural disasters -- Download a weather app and set it up to get alerts for any dangerous weather predicted in your area. Make sure you have an emergency kit ready at all times if your power goes out for a few days--fill it with water, canned and boxed food that doesn't have to be cooked (make sure you remember the can opener), batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, and some people suggest a radio to listen for updates if your phone is unable to. The kit should have enough supplies for at least 3 days. After using it, make sure you replace the items with fresh ones. 

Car safety -- Beyond checking your car before you get in it at night, make sure you always have an extra tire, a tire patching kit, extra gas, a flashlight, flares, and a first aid kit in your trunk. When preparing for a road trip, pack water and food as you would in a regular emergency kit. This will help you if you get stranded on the side of some road somewhere. Also--my grandmother gave every driving member of our family a Life Hammer a few Christmases ago and I do think everyone should have one at hand. In case you ever find yourself in the need of one, the life hammer can break your window and cut through your seatbelt. If you have a bad car accident or your car submerges in water, you have a way to get out.

These are my safety tips! What are your best tips on keeping yourself safe, living alone or with others? Stay safe butterflies!

April 18, 2016

How To Choose A College

High school seniors around the world are dealing with at least one common problem this month: which college?! Some of us ED'd (aka 'early decision') to a school, meaning we applied to a school expressing a special interest and committed ourselves to attending if admitted. Some of us got into our first choice schools, and were given enough financial aid to make the package work, and so the decision was easy! Still others got into several of their choices, and have a big decision to make. A, for example, is still in the process of choosing her college. Of course, she has some time as you have to commit to a college by May 1. It's a really difficult decision and so I've narrowed down some of my tried-and-true tricks to picking your college.

Sometimes size matters....the size of your financial aid package, that is. My parents and I have committed to a loan-free undergraduate college experience so whatever school I decided on, I would have to make sure we could afford with the non-loan part of the financial aid package they offered. This, unfortunately, discounted me immediately from attending one of my top schools: NYU. (I was so excited when I got in! Then I checked the financial aid award....)

Compare programs....after narrowing down schools based on price, analyze which programs you're interested in at each school and compare your interest level + what you think you can get out of those courses/degrees against each other. Personally, I've always been interested in writing, directing, screenwriting etc. however choosing a school that could really only offer me this path in life really scared me. Keeping my doors open to other programs (and later career options) that I also have an interest in, and are somewhat more stable than the career of a writer, was just more comfortable of a choice to me. This is the main debate I had with myself after my admission to Sarah Lawrence--one of my top 2 choices! Of course, if you 100% know that a certain program or path is for you--don't second guess that feeling! Above all, do what feels right for you, not for your parents or your friends or your counselor--this is your education and it's your future.
Connect....every school has a Facebook page now, try searching "Insert College Name Here Class of Graduation Date Year Here". For example: NYU Class of 2020. Join the group and start chatting with potential future classmates! You can find a roommate this way, get your questions answered, and start to make friends at the school should you choose to go there.

Vital Stats....of all your remaining choices, take a deeper look at their housing plans, meal plans, location, facilities, faculty, clubs etc. Everything that you'll be doing to fill your days outside of class. Look at how many your class is expected to be in total, how many of each major, how the college is ranked for your particular major etc.

Visit! If you haven't previously visited the school (and even if you have) attending their Admitted Students' Day (usually a Saturday in April) is a good indicator of how you'll get along at the school. Unfortunately, I could not go to any of mine because I live here in Manila but I felt almost like I was there from the Facebook page posts!

Finally...make a decision! Talking to a parent, friend, guidance counselor etc. can all be very helpful in the process. It's okay to feel lost and torn and confused during this time. It's okay to overthink and second-guess yourself right now. At the end of this month, you have to commit to a college. Pick one and go with it. You may feel a little trepidatious, but you should also feel pretty excited! Also: never fear! If you attend the school and find it's not for you, you can always transfer!
Also...I am excited and proud to announce for the first time on the blog, which university I have decided to attend. After being admitted to several of my choices (the most stressful 2 weeks of my life were waiting for those emails) I have decided upon....The College of William and Mary!!! I'm so excited to become a part of the #tribe2020. 

Have you picked a college yet? What are your best tips? If you haven't, which school are you leaning towards?

April 15, 2016

Thailand 2016

For our final trip in Asia before our move back to the States this summer Mom and I decided to head back to our favorite place--Thailand! Specifically....Nakamanda Resort in Krabi, Thailand. Thailand was a gorgeous experience last year (posts here, here, and here) and we debated traveling somewhere new or someplace we know we love for our last trip before moving back. We clearly chose the latter.
We spent our first day wandering around a Bangkok park by day and searching for our favorite street food market that we enjoyed last year. I can still taste the delicious seafood curry! Unfortunately, the whole street has been demolished and our curry joint was no more :( We found a lovely substitute, after stopping for a colorful drink at Quince--definitely a hipster hangout copy + pasted out of Soho but with definite local props. 
The next day we were off to Krabi and, specifically, Nakamanda. The staff are the loveliest, the rooms are gorgeously designed, spacious, and roomy, the pool is gorgeous, and the spa is divine. Basically anything you could look for in a resort they have at Nakamanda--plus the best local food within walking distance that you can't help but go to the same places every day!
One of our favorite restaurants in Krabi is Bai Tong, a family owned restaurant that serves, I'm not kidding you, the absolute best fried rice in the entire world. Honestly I've been dreaming about it since our last trip to Thailand--a year ago. Mom and I dropped our bags in our room and rushed immediately over for a serving of the fried rice (for me) and the papaya salad + seafood curry for Mom. That night we dined on our other favorite in Krabi: Sandwich Me. Olly still cooks all the food himself on the porch and there are only five tables served at a time. If you get there on a busy night, prepare to wait for a bit. I promise: it's worth it.
All of Olly's dishes are delicious and you can't go wrong with ordering any of them! Just beware: some are very very spicy, even for those of us who love spice! Eat around the little red peppers if you treasure having your throat intact. 

Mom and I spent a blissful few days lounging by the pool, punctuated by trips to Bai Tong for more fried rice and hours spent lying in the spa. During our time at the resort, I was also getting all of my college acceptances so every night turned into a celebration by Haagen Dazs and coconut crème brûlée. In the middle of our visit, in attempts to give you guys something new to read about Krabi as well as bond even further with my favorite animals, we decided to go on an elephant adventure!
Mom and I took a gorgeous ride on top the elephant Lady Gaga, wherein our guide didn't abuse the elephant and let her graze where she wanted and wander wherever she wanted to--very important to Mom and I that the elephants are treated well. After that I got to feed the gorgeous elephant, and boy did she enjoy the cucumbers!
One of my favorite photos ever
If you ever have the chance to do anything with elephants, first make sure the elephants are treated well and then enjoy the animals!! I love elephants and I'm so grateful to have this experience. Thailand is one of my favorite places on earth and I know I'll be counting the days until I get to go back!

April 12, 2016

How To Be An Adult: Making A Budget

Adult and Adult-in-Training

Being an "adult" means having to do a lot of things that aren't so fun like paying taxes, managing household finances, and sometimes not being able to do the things you want to do because you have previous commitments and responsibilities.

A great skill to have as you move into adulthood is the ability to budget. Mom is great at this skill when she leaves and I'm the one handling the household finances for a while. Here are my tips on how to make a kick-ass budget for a month and know exactly how much you have to spend on your next clothes/makeup/food/concert ticket haul.

  • Start with how much money you have overall aka how much money is in your bank account, ready to be spent on bills and expenses. I suggest you create a spreadsheet or a table for the month's budget and go week-by-week. Include boxes for all the expenses you'll have (and don't forget emergency funds!)
  • Next, calculate how much of that money needs to be allocated to bills. Make sure you think of everything: rent/mortgage, electricity & water, cable, phone service, internet (all the utilities) and any subscription services and credit cards that need to be paid off before the end of the month. These bills could be once-a-monthers, biweekly, or even weekly bills so make sure you add the payments needed every time they're needed in a month
  • After the bills, estimate how much you'll need to pay for your grocery trip, gas, bus fare etc. per week -- this is where meal planning comes in handy (you can also use a handy dandy grocery list form to remind you of things you can eat in a week)
  • Make sure you create a column for miscellaneous spending (this should be separate from your emergency fund which shouldn't be touched unless it's an actual emergency). The misc. column covers things like trips to the flower market or eating out, going to the movies etc. 
  • Finally, take a look at your calendar and note any special dates (like a friends' birthday that you have to buy a gift for)--this could mean taking some of the miscellaneous money from one week and saving it for the next
It's really not hard to make and maintain a budget and it's the easiest way to make sure you're on track with all your payments etc. Also, setting up online bill payment is an easy way to not have to remember to do it--you should still note it in the budget though so when money is gone from your account you'll know where it went.

This was the second installment of my How To Be An Adult series--posted every Wednesday. Stay tuned next week for safety tips!

April 9, 2016

Buckeye Fudge

Picture courtesy of Barefeet In The Kitchen

As I prepare to make the end-of-year treats I'm baking for my teachers (sort of a thanks for putting up with me for 2+ years) I am going to try two new recipes including this yummy peanut butter and chocolate fudge. Original recipe here.

For the peanut butter layer:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter (unsalted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For the chocolate layer:
2 tablespoons butter
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (dark, semi-sweet, or milk)

This fudge is so simple and easy to make--and it makes a lot of it!
Combine the peanut butter, butter, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir together until it looks like a peanut butter soup. Wait for all the butter to actually melt and mix in--you don't want lumps.

Take the saucepan off the heat and add the powdered sugar--about 1 cup or less at at time. Stir until completely combined. You'll want powdered sugar that isn't crystallized or hard--that'll make unsightly lumps in your finished fudge.

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the bottom of an 8x8" or 9x9" pan and spread evenly. Then I simply washed the pot out and used it for the bottom of my double-boiler for the chocolate layer.
In a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butter. This will all come together nicely--again wait for the lumps of butter to dissipate.

Pour the chocolate layer over the peanut butter and smooth out evenly. Put in the fridge to cool. 
Photo courtesy of Barefeet In The Kitchen

And voila! You have fudge! Let the fudge cool in the fridge for a few hours before cutting into it--and I recommend overnight for the perfect set. When you go to cut the fudge, take it out of the fridge and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to get it to the perfect temperature. It will hold in an airtight tupperware container for about a week (if it lasts that long it'll be a miracle!)

If you try this recipe let me know how it goes for you! Also if you have any recommendations for recipes to try, let me know!

April 5, 2016

How to Be an Adult

The time has come (the walrus said, to talk of other things...of shoes and ships and ceiling wax, of cabbages and kings!) to announce a pretty bittersweet fact. Mom and I will be leaving the Philippines this June and moving back to the States. Of course, this was obviously coming what with my beginning college in the fall. Before we move I have lots of stuff planned for our final few months here in Manila! I have exams to get through, prom, graduation, a family vacation, recipes, advice etc. all to share with you!

Now, this post is the start of something new here on HSM Social Butterfly--I've decided that every Wednesday throughout April I'll post an update to this series: How To Be An Adult. Mom is gone for a few weeks in the States to get things prepared for the move back, so I'm on my own here (with significant help from R and BB) and I decided I'll figure out how to be an adult with you guys! This post is really to kick off the series, as well as share some adult-y information with you. So, without ado...
Meal planning is a big part of my life--Mom sits down every Sunday or Saturday or whatever day she's going shopping and plans the meals for the rest of the week so she knows how to make the grocery list from that plan. For example, here are my actual meals for this week:

Monday: tuna sandwich with potato salad
Tuesday: fish tacos
Wednesday: homemade mac n cheese
Thursday: veggie burgers
Friday: omelets

I like to keep it pretty healthy throughout the week, but I get craving the cheese and pasta pretty hard so we've designated Wednesday to be our "indulge" night where we have mac n cheese or maybe a veggie pizza from Amy's--something we wouldn't really eat throughout the rest of the week. It's a little pick-me-up in the middle of a school or work week!
Other meal ideas are:
Quesadillas with vegetarian refried beans, cheese, and lightly-toasted tortillas
Salmon or tuna steak with green beans
Baked potato and salad
Cold salads like chickpeas, quinoa, and canned salmon with a little bit of rosemary and oil 
Spaghetti and sauce with a caesar salad

These are all quick, easy meals that you can probably find recipes for online or you can wing it and try them yourselves. Let me know how they go! 

April 3, 2016

March Favorites

I am rather late to the podcast scene, however this lovely post from The Chriselle Factor blog helped me figure out some great ones to start with. Sophia Amoruso is the powerhouse behind the Nasty Gal empire fashion line and in her podcast she talks with people making waves in their respective fields--everyone from Courtney Love to Grace Helbig. Right now I'm listening to her conversation with Julia Landaeur, a female race car driver and Stanford graduate.

Buzzfeed is actually a mini treasure trove of recipes I want to try--including these absolutely yummy-looking little bites of dessert. With only a few ingredients, these little bites are simple enough for even the most inexperienced baker to make (good for me) and are so cute your friends will be dying to know your source while they pop the bite-sized treats into their mouths!

It surprised me recently to learn that tampon manufacturers are not required to list all of their 'ingredients'! Many manufacturers have been found to use materials like rayon and polyester. Tampons being absorbent materials by nature, your body will actually absorb the materials of your tampons themselves so LOLA tampons aren't just 100% cotton and have non-BPA plastic applicators they are sent to your door every month or every other month for a minimal fee ($18 for 2 boxes of 18 tampons each!!) You can skip a month or cancel at any time for no cost. I look forward to trying these all-natural tampons out! (Oh, and they're biodegradable too!)

Troye is really taking the world of pop music by storm--and it's been really exciting for fans like me watching him go from Youtube sensation to guesting on the Late Late show and releasing these incredible songs! Troye's unique style and vibe make his songs great for pretty much any occasion. 

Giving major summer-ready vibes, this adorable one piece proves that bikinis aren't the only way to sizzle on the beach or the pool deck. Show the girls off a little without having to bare your belly--or better yet having to worry about your suit coming completely off when you go down a slide! A wedige? Maybe--but nothing will come off!