Fashion

Find of the Week!

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve done a fun post and amidst the craziness of my balancing acts that I discussed last week, I did do something fun for myself this week:

I found a store I was actually able to buy something in!

I know, my bar for entertainment is low (case and point: it’s Friday night and I am sitting, watching Netflix and BBC’s Musketeers while writing this post and eating chocolate–it is freezing outside and my pjs are comfortable, however, so I will not apologize for my glamour free life!), but as a valley girl who is use to weekly trips to target and the always affordable trips to the fashion center/mall, finding one store in this town that is simple, cute, easily accessible, and has options in my price range is a major accomplishment–or at least it feels like one!

Living here for four months, this was the second time I’ve been able to go shopping and as a bonus, I was able to check one of my *must buys/wish list* items and just in time for my birthday.

Yes. It’s been a good week.

Birthday options with my  *Oliver Bonas Dress*

Birthday options with my *Oliver Bonas Dress*

The truth is I’ve been walking past Oliver Bonas Sale store for about as long as I’ve lived here (it’s on my way to campus) and Wednesday after a very successful meeting with one of my internship advisors, I just had to go in.

While the fact that the sale was the real reason I could afford (and chose to buy) anything, taking a look in one of these stores if you happen to be strolling by is worth the look.

I’ve found a few fun books I may pick up later for souvenirs, cute things to decorate with if I move here on a more permanent basis and (of course) sale items which aren’t only super cute and easily wearable, but that stick around until they’re in my price range!

The stores are bright and clean and the woman working was extremely personable. Even if I was having a terrible day, this would have been my pick me up and is one place I will be stopping in again and again.

–Taylor Gallagher

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Balancing Acts and Stress: The Art of the Twenty-Something

Walking Bankside, London

Walking Bankside, London

Throughout our lives we are always trying to find a balance, but I think that your twenties are one of those major turning points that make keeping said balance particularly troubling.

This is a point where we are constantly in transition. From professional to social situations, we are in flux and all the while most of us are trying to figure out not only what we are doing now and what comes next, but who we are and who we want that person to be.

And that’s hard!

I’m a Master’s student balancing classwork and dissertation plans, travel wishes since I’m living in a new country, and looking for an internship for now and possible opportunities for the future (including where I want to be living and working next year). My sister who started this blog is balancing her first grown up job and starting a career, married life as a young twenty-something, and figure out the social, financial and time consuming aspects that go along with becoming a functioning part of society.

That’s the thing: we’ve all got different balls in the air, but as a twenty something we’re all just trying to keep them all up while another could be lobbed in to our act or a sudden draft might upset the balance.

Basically, we’ve got some serious stress.

So here are some of my tips for getting through:

1.  On a very basic level, we all need to drink more water—most of your body is water so withholding this vital substance because you are stressed is just going to add a physical level of stress to your equation. And don’t forget that things like caffeine actually dehydrate you—so yes that tea or coffee has H2O but maybe a clear glass between rounds, heh?

2.  Figure out how cook a few quick meals that you can get excited about that don’t break the bank or kill your schedule.—in thirty 50 forty-five minutes, I can make a personal pizza, pasta with cheesy garlic cream sauce or a melted cheese burger with little to no thought (definitely fit a salad in at some point though if these are your go to quick meals!).

I’ll put my recipes up later if anyone wants but it’s great to be able to pull something more than a sandwich or salad after a busy day and it’ll save you the time, hassle and the myriad of issues that go along with going out.

3.  Find a non-job related hobby that get you excited to do something—cooking is great for twenty-somethings and is a life skill that you can empress people with later (I’m seriously shocked at the number of us who can barely make pasta. I mean, come on, guys!). This can be as easy though as a half an hour picture walk around town or learning an instrument or craft.

Just do something that’s just for you and lets you have a few moments (I’m really into the thirty mark!) of Zen. And I know it’s tempting, but don’t let your hobby simply be marathoning Netflix. You should be trying to actively DO something.

4.  Don’t hide your passions— it’s a thing I’ve noticed about most people recently: it’s not cool to be too passionate about anything. Well, I say, that’s ridiculous. Most of the time, you won’t look back at your life and think “I wish I just sat back more and just didn’t care.” Sure we may think this sometimes but how boring would that be all the time—generally, it makes you boring and utterly exhausting to be around.

Paris Geller said it best: I want to read an in-depth biography of my life and puke.

So, there you have it, some of my mental and physical stress relievers that keep me same while juggling my life as a busy and forever moving twenty-something.

The next few weeks are going to be hectic as I start outlining my upcoming travels alongside my class work and beginning my dissertation prep. I’ll probably be posting here and on the other site covering this process and the trip so follow both if you want to hear more about my book neriness and adventuring, and take a look at what’s ahead here.

Until next time, check it out and let me know what you’re balancing and what you do to relieve your stress!

-Taylor Gallagher

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Fashion

My Style Inspiartion Wish List

This week I’ve been in a lull… My grad school final papers are in and the new semester has started up again as my body tries to recover from being overworked (both physically with lack of sleep and mentally writing large scale papers which meant reading a lot more much longer winded papers to inform my writing).

Basically, I am bone tired and trying to build myself up to do much more work…. that’s what this weekend will be for–gaining strength.

Bring on the easy to make soup (if you’ve been following me, you know this is made in advanced by scratch–recipe to follow, maybe!), my neglected Netflix queue and some good old-fashioned me time with my down comforter (or in my case, both of them… So, sue me, it’s really cold here!).

But being a student, I am not only feeling the after effects of finals, but I am broke and severely missing the affordable shops of SoCal (Target withdrawl is a real thing, People!). With that in mind, I say Thank God for Pintrest, the most guilt free shopping I’ve ever had–cause I’m not buying anything, but mentally improving my style one pin at a time!

Here’s what I’m craving right now (and I can definitely tell, the UK is having an effect):

(click the Picture to link to the pin and place where I found these examples!)

The Cape Look:

Fall Fashion 2014. I'm so obsessed with this cape! Love the mix of stripes and nude color. ::M::

   I have fallen in Love with this style of coat. While I’m more than happy with my peacoat and the new supper warm and fluffy down coat (It’s really cold, as I’ve mentioned!), having something in a new silhouette is a great way to mix things up. Just be aware of the measurements if you do get one, especially if you are petite. You want to be warm and look good so don’t drown yourself in hug bulk– for your size (and not just the one on the tag!) to the style you select.

   I think I have a renewed love for this since I’ve picked up the BBC series “The Musketeers” (airing on Fridays at 9pm). While the uniform tends to be a leather shoulder guard, the blue capes worn by the musketeers on official business are simply versatile cape jackets! And they are sooo cute!

 

 

The (Peter Pan) Collar (Shift) Dress:

Dress.

To tell the truth, I’ve been obsessed with this look for years and my love for Clara Oswald (BBC’s current companion in Doctor Who) as a character and as one of my main fashion icons has definitely fueled this obsession.

Whether it’s this A-line body and elongated collar or a closer cut, fit and flare body with your basic round collar, there’s just something so darling about this look. It’s simple and yet versatile–dressed up as shown here or paired with tights, chucks or booties and a sweater or hoodie for day to day wear, you are bound to make a statement.

A dress like this is on my must buy list for before I leave London.

And Everything Plaid/Tartan:

Plaid Pants in green and blue. #tartanOMG so cute! <3 need this as soon as possible.jacketThi looks perfect in our Coincidence & Chance Collared Babydoll Dress with a pair of black ankle boots. #UOonYou

Yes, absolutely everything plaid (well, tartan really). It’s just such a great print (and yes, I’m right near those areas where this print has a lot of cultural significance). Here are only a few exaples. Thrown in a few long coast, sweaters, shirts, and scarves and I think we will have covered most of my needs. my favorits are probably the pencil skirt and the dress but, to be honest, I’d take any and all!

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Well, there you have it, my top three style must haves. So if you’re a bit broke like me: Happy pinning and let me know what things you are currently keep your eye on!

–Taylor Gallagher

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Easy Change: Food Challenges.

In this second week of 2015, people are generally still pretty on top of the changes (ie habit and lifestyle) they wanted to make in their lives, but these changes don’t usually last very long. And, while I talked about my new year’s resolution a few weeks back, there is another kind of change I like to try throughout the year: Food Challenges.

Last year (up until I move out here) was “The Year Without” which is catchy but a little misleading. Basically, I chose one type of food or food group (including drinks; and ones that are problematic, not the stuff that is good for you!) that I was giving up that month. While it was hard, I learned a lot. Between the two months I gave up meat and bread, the amount of veggies I ate went up exponentially (I swear by mixing fresh squash and zucchini noodles into my pasta now). In those two months, people started asking me what I was doing for my skin because I was glowing and, even though my exercise routine didn’t change, I was feeling better and losing more weight than I had been. This is also due to the fact that with a restricted diet, you usually cook more just to be safe (at least if you are me!) Also, the moth I gave up fried food (I thought it was going to be easy!), I learned about how much food is actually fried and learned how to make my favorites but with less of the bad stuff in it. And that’s only a few of those lessons.

Like I said, I learned a LOT!

This year, I’m doing a longer term challenge (if I can keep it up), but it’s only three days a week (sorry no fun name yet). Basically I’m restricting what food I can or can’t have three times a week, using alliteration to make the days at least sound more festive: Meatless Monday (not even fish this time!), Wheatless Wednesday, and Fish Friday (leaner protein with a lot of vitamins! But only one meal has to include this). I’m going to be doing this for as long as I can keep it up for because this is a challenge, a kind of game for myself. It’s a way of changing some habits without a lot of the pressure of turning your life upside down.

For me there are two great benefits of doing this. First, it’ll get my veggie quota back up with all the benefits that entails. Since moving to London, even though I cook for myself for most meals, I am consuming a lot more meat as it’s easier to manage and stays good longer (because I can freeze it) than veg. This will force me to get back to those good habits! The second reason this is great is that it can snap up out of your food rut. By limiting choices about what you can or can’t eat that day, you have to get creative with what you can have that sounds just as good as any of the standbys you have to skip (Pintrest, anyone?).

I am doing these day for the whole day, but if someone didn’t want to add quiet the same amount of thought or effort, they could easily have this be Dinner Rules and still get some positive benefits from the experience.

But remember, this is a challenge which is supposed to be fun! If you end up getting too stressed out, take the day off because, with everything people have in their lives, a challenge like this shouldn’t mess up your whole day!

–Taylor Gallagher

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Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies!

Well, here it is: the first post of 2015… and just in case you haven’t sworn off sweets (or even if you have) give this a look.

So while most people are promising themselves to stop eating junk and sweats, get in shape, and generally turn their lives around, I’m going to bake and eat too many cookies.

The thing about me and cooking is that I have a few quirks, beginning with my hatred of eating eggs–not eggs baked or cooked into things but eggs by themselves cooked anyway you can. This means, of course, that whenever I get the urge to bake (always late at night when the shops are closed), I never have any eggs so eggless cookies are a must. Which is why I love this Shortbread Cookie recipe that I stumbled on.

All you need is Flour, Baking Soda, Brown Sugar, Butter and Peanut Butter and then anything else from walnuts to chocolate if they are on hand.

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Peanut butter shortbread cookies with tea!

I have seriously grown to love shortbread cookies in the four months I’ve lived here. They are crumbly, melt in your mouth, never get hard and quick to prepare.

The other thing about me and baking and cooking is that (especially here) I don’t use measurements but go by feel. The basic set up for these cookies are simple:

  1. Set your oven to 325 Fahrenheit or 162 Celsius to heat.
  2. Mix BUTTER and PEANUT BUTTER in a bowl. This is all the wet ingredients in the whole mixture so you’ll need enough for making the amount of cookies you want. The thing to remember is that this butter mixture can go pretty far too don’t make too much unless you feel like baking for a large group.

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    Butter peanut butter mix.

*** for a moderately “healthier” cookie, you can decrease butter, increase Peanut butter and (depending on taste) skip the sugar. The cookies aren’t as sweet but taste great with more protein and less sugar! Swap out most if not all the flour for oatmeal for an extra health kick of you have any on hand (while this no longer works as a shortbread cookie, I have a feeling it will be delicious and a follow up post may occur at a later date)!

  1. I then throw a little BAKING SODA into the mix followed by the FLOUR and BROWN SUGAR into the mix. As you mix, the consistency should stop being sticky enough to grab onto your fingers, but wet enough that you can make balls of cookies or a bar of cookie dough. If it’s too sticky you should add more FLOUR and if the mix isn’t coming together adding moisture (this can be as simple as getting your hands a little wet if you don’t need much or adding a bit of water) in.

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    Proper texture

  2. Add mix-ins—these are peanut butter shortbread cookies so think about what mixes well! Because there are no eggs or ingredients you can’t eat as they are,
  3. Break the dough into the size you want your cookies (mine have never grown while baking so don’t worry about that in placement or sizing) and place them on a cookie sheet. I slightly flatten my cookies for that reason as well.

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    Before cooking

  4. Put the cookies in the oven and cook for 12-14 minutes (depending on size). They should not brown (this definitely means over cooked), but should be firm enough that they hold when you lift them off the baking sheet.

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    Cooking!

  5. All cookie recipes tell you to let the cookies set and cook for five minutes before you eat them, but I’ve never made a batch where the first two have ever lasted that long—so good luck with the cool down and careful with your fingers!

My total time making this batch was 40 minutes.

Anyway, these are seriously the easiest cookies I’ve ever made (a pro and a con all mixed into one) and you can add to them after they are baked as well. If you go the no sugar cook option and end up with a sugar craving, try spreading on some caramel or Nutella or both and you’ve got yourself quite the treat! I also like this less sweet option as an easy biscuit with my tea… great for a quick grab no matter the time of day.

So hope that made sense and enjoy your cookies (in any variety of cookie you make)!

–Taylor Gallagher

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