Good lord what do I even call this other than a weird rant

Before turning 21, drinking was this weird thing I considered very grown up, but also youthful. Alcohol was surrounded by a gauze of mysticism. How would it make me feel? Do I want to risk getting into trouble? How much is too much? How does one make a mixed drink? Honestly, before college, I thought a mixed drink was 50% vodka and 50% juice. Thankfully I have learned my lesson, and that lesson only took one “mixed drink” to figure out.

Now, almost all the social situations I find myself in outside of school and work have alcohol involved. Coming to talk at a law school reception? Grab a glass of wine. Going to a birthday dinner? Have a beer. Want to watch a movie with friends at home? Someone bring on the White Claws!

Having a drink in my hand when I’m standing around chatting has become the norm. I spent January making a more conscious choice of when I drank, what I was drinking, and with whom I was sharing a drink. Why was I reaching for a drink in a particular moment? Was it just to feel like a normal person and fit in, or was it because I really wanted a glass of wine? I found that most of the time I drank, I drank because I wanted people to think I was “normal.” Having a drink with friends while chatting about life made me less of a prude, or so I thought think.

While going through the notes on my phone, I stumbled upon a piece from Medium called The Unifying Theory of Alcohol. I remembered reading it about a year ago, and only clicked on the link to read it again because I’d just been to a Super Bowl party where a handful of people peppered me with questions about why I wasn’t drinking, if I wanted a drink, if I was the designated driver, etc. The truth was, I didn’t want to get drunk with them, but I didn’t want to say that because I didn’t want to sound lame. I also didn’t want people to continue to try and get me to drink. So I told them I was driving.

I ended up getting a drink an hour later, after relocating to another party with close friends. But I wasn’t drinking to get drunk or because I felt I had to. I wanted something sweet, so I made myself half a drink and nursed it all night long. The weird thing was that as soon as my group migrated back to the old party, no one there asked me about drinking. As soon as I showed up with a cup in my hand, the questions stopped. It was an eerie moment because it seemed like I had to drink, or get pestered all night.

Reading the article from Medium over again, I wished there was an easier way to say “I’m not drinking” that would get it through other people’s heads. “I’m not drinking” doesn’t mean “ask me again to make sure I’m sure” or “check again in a few minutes.” Alcohol is no longer mystical or weird. Sometimes it’s a burden. No one wants to explain their reasoning for not drinking a thousand times in one night (and by a thousand, I mean more than maybe once).

I guess what I really want is for society to normalize not consuming alcohol as much as it showcases drinking in any and all social situations.

I don’t care if you drink. I don’t care if you want to get drunk every night of the week. But I do care if I get asked about alcohol so many times that I eventually feel pressured to lie about being the designated driver or fill a Solo cup with water so people stop asking.

Perhaps I need more of a backbone. Perhaps I should just drink water and pretend to be doing what everyone else is doing. Perhaps I should just get over myself and have that glass of wine. Who knows. But I do know that The Unifying Theory of Alcohol really hit the nail on the head for me after that party, and it’s definitely something to think about.

What I Did in NYC

New York is one of my favorite places on earth. It also helps that one of my favorite people is now living there. That’s sort of what happens when everyone graduates college and figures out adulthood. Friends move, things change, and I plan weekend road trips to visit. My ideal adulthood would consist of me earning a living by visiting friends, but I guess law school will have to do for now.

Anyways! I was in NYC! And boy did I do a lot. Especially considering that I went during the heat wave. It was in the 90’s for most of my trip, which for me living in Georgia I found quite normal, but I think New Yorkers felt like they were living in the Devil’s armpit…the subways were a sweaty b.o. disaster most days.

As I usually do, I visited an art museum. This time it wasn’t just any art museum, it was the art museum. My friend Mira, her girlfriend C, and I wound up at the Met my first day in town. Thankfully they let me do my nerd girl thing and listened as I chatterboxed my way through a bajillion exhibits on Greek, Roman, and Egyptian art. It also helped that C fenced growing up so she knew everything about the swords and armor!

The Camp exhibit was ah-mazing, too. And the Apollo 11 inspired art was my favorite but I was so enamored that I forgot to take pictures! Lol!

I spent around four hours in the Met, wandered around Central Park in search of Halal food (my favorite NYC eat is a food truck falafel wrap with hot sauce and white sauce), and then headed back into Manhattan to meet up with the girls. The cherry on top? We spent the rest of the day at The Strand and eating good food.

It was my first time eating pirogies! And of course I forgot to snap a pic 😦 But here’s a cute set of me eating Big Gay Ice Cream!

Mira and I went out to Stonewall and a few other places before getting 99 cent pizza and wandering through Time’s Square, because no trip to NYC is complete without one dazzling moment under all those lights!

Portland, Maine

I visited Portland, Maine over spring break this year. Will came with me and we had a fabulous time!

Originally, this trip was meant to be for me to tour Maine Law and go apartment hunting. Will and I turned it into a foodie tour (as well as a shopping spree for me haha). We visited so many amazing places!

First up: Rising Tide Brewing

Duck Fat

Holy Donuts

Becky’s Diner

My favorite meal? The lobster club at Becky’s! The prices were very fair (although I was the one willing to pay $20 for lobster…) and they have some amazing desserts! Will got a whoopie pie, which is something you’ll see a lot of in Portland.

Will’s favorite meal was the poutine from Duck Fat. Their fries are all house made and fried in duck fat (hence the name). I got the brussels sprouts and they were the most delicious vegetables I’d ever eaten, which is saying something because in 2018 I put up a recipe post on the blog claiming that those brussels were my favorites!

Portland reminded me of Asheville, my home town. If you want to read about my Asheville adventures you can check out this post, this post, and this post!

A Sweet Valentine’s Day

Will and I love cooking and baking together. This Valentine’s Day, our plans are to eat lots of pasta, go ice skating, watch a movie, and then make a bunch of pink cookies! With icing and sprinkles of course 😉

Here are some recipes you all can try out:

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites from Tip Buzz

Frozen smoothie bars from Bakers Royale

Rose Madeleines from Lauren Conrad

Valentine Sugar Cookies from Alice and Lois (these are the one’s Will and I will be making!)

Chocolate Lollipops from Shutterbean

If you’re looking for even more Valentine’s Day inspiration follow my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board (or check back next week for another ~*pink*~ themed post)!

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Side Dish

Thanksgiving is always complicated when there’s one vegetarian in the mix. Questions like “does chicken broth count as vegetarian?” and “wait…do they eat eggs?” get throw around so often that it seems that more people have spinning heads than side dishes. Have no fear! Thanksgiving side dishes are easier than you think. 

A few notes before we get started:

  • vegetarians eat eggs – vegans do not
  • this dish contains eggs, so it is not vegan
  • chicken broth (not that we’re using it here) is not vegetarian
  • yes, we do eat animal crackers 😉

Brussels sprouts are a great winter staple. They’re easy to cook and can be pared with most meats, like turkey and ham. Not only that, they’re versatile for different types of recipes too. You can pulse them in a food processor to add to a salad. You can toss them into a stew. Add them to a roast. Roast them in the oven with chicken for an easy dinner. So many options, so few days until the day of American feasting!

This recipe uses brussels sprouts, chopped nuts, olive oil, eggs, garlic, and spring onions. You can get fancy and add in some spices if you want, but I tend to keep things simple and sauté my aromatics before roasting them with the sprouts to get the most flavor out of my produce before adding anything else into the mix.  

Garlicky Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Nuts

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or two table spoons pre-minced garlic)
  • lemon zest (I used about half a lemon’s worth but feel free to add more or less)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1/8 cup spring onions (optional)

First, put half of your oil in a saucepan and set the pan on medium heat. Once hot, add half of your minced garlic. Saute it for a minute or two before adding in the chopped nuts. Stir occasionally, making sure the nuts are toasted but not burned. 

While the nuts toast (which should take less than five minutes) prep your brussels. Preheat the oven to 400 F. The woody stem should be cut away and the brussels sprouts should be laid out evenly on a well oiled baking sheet. Drizzle the rest of your olive oil over the sprouts, sprinkle the remaining garlic on there, and pop them into the oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes. 

Once the nuts are toasted, set aside. Toss the spring onion, salt, and pepper with the nuts. Once the timer on the oven has reached fifteen minutes, take out the brussels sprouts. Toss them with the toasted nuts, spread them out evenly on the baking sheet again, and pop them back into the oven to finish baking. 

Once out of the oven, let cool before adding the lemon zest. Add jammy eggs to the top. I would recommend cutting the eggs after placing them with the brussels because the yolks can get messy fast. 

This recipe would make a perfect side dish for all of the vegetarians in your life. If you need a vegan side, just take out the eggs and add more nuts. Allergic to nuts? Use toasted sesame seeds. This dish is full of protein and (almost) as savory as the turkey.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving sides?

Recipe adapted from Naturally Ella’s Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Jammy Eggs

Coffee in Italy

If you haven’t guessed, I love coffee! As something I drink every day, I would say I know what I like and how I like it done. Transitioning from American coffee to Italian coffee was a little weird because I’m so used to a big mug of black coffee in the mornings and in Italy most people drink a shot of espresso instead.

Starting on hour one in the airport, I decided to drink as an Italian would drink – I ordered a cappuccino. Turns out, I actually like them here! In the States I find them too sweet, but here the foam and bitter coffee make the perfect harmonious marriage of flavors.

Truth be told it wasn’t the prettiest coffee I’ve ever had, but it was from an airport so I didn’t have the bar set too high.

Bar Signorelli in Cortona is the UGA kids’ usual haunt. Go there for their cafe lattes, cappuccinos, or iced coffee. Honestly, we all went there for their wifi haha

Gilli’s in Florence is my friend Sherry’s favorite coffee place. While I don’t think it’s the best there is, the coffee was definitely the prettiest I’ve ever had!

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The bar there was also super cute! The whole place had a very British vibe.

I loved the mirror in the background (as you can probably tell by the awkward mirror selfies).

I’m honestly not even sure where I bought this coffee…

Or this one…whoops!

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My favorite coffee shop in Italy has to be Arnold’s. It’s essentially a knock off Starbucks, but with better coffee. Get the American coffee with vanilla! That’s what saved me during my sleep deprived day long tour in Florence, and then again when in Rome. Their cookies are also a hit!

When in Rome…

Hello from Italy! I’m studying biochemistry and Italian art abroad in Cortona, Florence, Siena, and Rome this May. So far so good – but I think I’ve managed to become pasta-ed out. If you know me, you’ll know I’m usually up for eating pasta for every meal so you can only imagine just how much delicious carbs I’ve been enjoying on my travels!

Here are a few sneak peaks of my time so far:

Coffee Date at 1000 Faces

Rachel and I went out for coffee during finals. 1000 Faces had opened up Downtown and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

I got my usual dark roast coffee with cream and Rachel got a Christmas latte. I’m going to be honest here – I have never been more jealous of a coffee order! Their Christmas latte tastes like hot chocolate with orange. Needless to say I was very impressed.

1000 Faces Coffee

How picturesque is that!?

The little coffee shop has a wall of windows that face out into Downtown. I imagine that if I were a cat, I would want to live in the sun rays that pour through those windows. It felt perfect that chilly morning!

1000 Faces Coffee

There’s also a little food truck that parks outside on certain Sundays of every month that cooks made to order biscuits with eggs, cheese, and meats. A percentage of the proceeds from each breakfast sandwich goes to a non-profit in Athens (the non-profit changes each week, too).

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Now that I understand the hype, I’m looking forward to all sorts of coffee dates and study breaks here in the coming semester!

Re-Think Your Pumpkin Carving Scraps

I love a good pumpkin patch! And luckily my housemates do too!

Milledge Baptist Church Pumpkin Patch

We all went to the Milledge Avenue Baptist Church Saturday and found gourds galore. I found the perfect, small one right off the bat.

Pumpkin Patch in Athens GA

Burgundy Mock Turtleneck Dress

While I love carving pumpkins, I always feel bad that the insides go to waste. I also hate that the smaller pumpkins I put up as decoration simply get thrown out. So I did a little brainstorming and like magic came up with a few simple solutions:

Happy haunting!

Mama’s Boy

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Mama’s Boy: the staple for Athens weekends. The wait is always out the door and sometimes wrapped around the block, but going in the early morning or an hour before they close is your best bet for less than a half hour of wait time. If you go during peak brunch hours just stick it out – Mama’s Boy biscuits are definitely worth the wait!

I went recently with friends. Almost all of us got biscuit sandwiches. I’ve had the fried green tomatoes before and they were great, but nothing compares to my beloved egg and cheese biscuit.

If you’re ever in Athens, Mama’s Boy is a must!

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