Pink Paw Print

Monday, June 29, 2015

Worldwind Virtual Book Tours Book Review: "The Dreamer"

A few days ago I finished reading one of those books... you know, the kind you just can't stop reading (aka - the best kind!!!) *happydance* so I wanted to tell you all about it.


"The Dreamer" by E.J. Mellow was captivating - smart, sassy, and emotionally engaging… just how I like my books! ;) ahaha! The characters were well-devloped without seeming forced, and I genuinely wished I could be friends with them - and they were only characters in a book, so that says something!!! Even the ending was well-executed - which is something that is pretty rare to find these days, lemme tell ya! - and I'm legitimately excited for the next book in the trilogy to come out.

Here's the official summary of the book:

"It’s night. Always night. Dreams guard against the evil forged by nightmares. Infinite shooting stars illuminate a moonless sky. A city stands alone, surrounded by a darkened field. On its fringes, a man watches one star separate from the masses and fall. What survives the crash will unveil a secret centuries long hidden.


Molly hasn’t slept well since the night of her twenty-fourth birthday. Being struck by lightning might have something to do with it, but then again, her chicken did look a little undercooked at dinner. Whatever the culprit, her life quickly catapults from mundane to insane as, night after night, Molly is transported through her once dreamless sleep to a mysterious land illuminated by shooting stars.

There she meets the captivating but frustrating Dev, and together they discover Molly possesses a power coveted by his people—the ability to conjure almost anything she desires into existence. Seduced by the possibilities of this gift, Molly shifts her attention from waking life toward the man, the magic, and the world found in her dreams.

But Molly must ask herself—does something truly exist if you only see it when you close your eyes?

Faced with the threat of losing everything—her job, best friend, boyfriend, and most importantly, that little thing called her sanity—Molly will learn just how far she’ll go to uncover what is real and what is merely a figment of her imagination.
The first in a spellbinding contemporary fantasy trilogy, The Dreamer opens doors into the subconscious and follows the journey of a young woman torn between two worlds as she questions the power of the mind and battles between fate and freewill."


…Isn't that intriguing!? Even if you aren't typically into the sci-fi/fantasy genre *arches eyebrow at you knowingly*, I honestly think that wouldn't matter because the plot, itself, is so great. I find psychology so fascinating, so I love how it is a major theme in the text.

Here's some info about the up-and-coming indie author, as well as links to her social media accounts and where you can buy the book so you can read it, too!:


E.J. Mellow is the author behind the NA Contemporary Fantasy trilogy The Dreamland Series. When she's not busy moonlighting in the realm of make-believe, she can be found doodling, buried in a book (usually this one), or playing video games.

Residing in Brooklyn, NY she is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter.

Social Links:
Website: www.ejmellow.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13651527.E_J_Mellow
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ejmellow
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ej_mellow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ejmellow

Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1H6Rba1
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-dreamer/id983083331?mt=11
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1cDwMkR

Want to win this book FOR FREE (!!!!!!!!!!) ? Enter the giveaway below for a free copy of the book!

Disclosure: I have received compensation in the form of a free copy of the text via Worldwind Virtual  Book Tours for this post; however, all opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

Happy reading!
xoxo, Brooke

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gentlemen & Ladies' Style for 4th of July

The 4th of July is coming up pretty quickly, and you know what time it is…. gotta get shopping for some patriotic, red white & blue clothing!!
These are called "Lady Liberty" Shorts!

These are called "Sam's Shorts" !


Krass & Co. makes the cutest shorts for both gentlemen and ladies that are just perfect for the summer months up ahead!! *cue sassy hand flip* Whether you want patriotic shorts specifically for July 4th, or a preppy, fashionable update on your usual athletic shorts, Krass & Co. is definitely your go-to. The types of shorts offered include Printed, Embroidered, Fraternity/Sorority, State, and Limited Edition.

Want a discount? Here's 15% off! <3 Or click this link: http://fbuy.me/cxmF7 . I'm a Brand Rep for the company, so be sure to check back on my blog periodically for deals so great, they'll feel like steals… lol!!! :)

For gentlemen, I also recommend the "Bowties and Boatshoes - Limited Edition" shorts.
*via Krass & Co.

For ladies, in addition to the patriotic shorts pictured above, I also recommend the "Pina Colada" shorts.
*via Krass & Co.


Happy shopping! (Again, the discount is automatically 15% off using the link http://fbuy.me/cxmF7 )
xoxo, Brooke

Monday, June 22, 2015

Purple Picks: Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories

Although you might think of purple as a color worn primarily during the winter season, it's time to think again, my friends!! :p I've found that purple with "cool" undertones (aka - looks more blue-ish purple than yellowish purple) is indeed saved best for winter; however! purple with "warm" undertones (aka - looks more yellowish purple than blue-ish purple) can look fantastic in the summer months!

Here are some of my favorite purple picks (clothing, accessories, & makeup!):



[Note: Certain elements of this post were made possible by ShopStyle.]

Which is your favorite purple pick!?
xoxo, Brooke

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye

This is a personal post. The most personal I've ever written. And not going to lie,  it's LONG. But I've got something to tell all of you, and there's a lot of substance here. I also want to give a voice to people who sometimes are too afraid to speak up about certain topics because they're considered "taboo" in our society, like you know, PERIODS OMG I SAID PERIODS OMGGGGggGGGgG! Carve ten minutes of your uber-busy day, though, because I'd say it'd be worth the read, honestly! *casually pencils myself into your planner*

If you've read this post, then you know what happened to me and what I'd been struggling with for the past few months. Here's the story of how I cracked the mystery and discovered what actually was the cause of the anxiety that ~legit~ took over my life for the past few months: (Hint - it's probably not what you think.)

Back in October 2014, I was on top of the world. Literally all of my metaphorical ducks were in their metaphorical row. I was getting straight As in all my classes except philosophy (B+, not too shabby!) and my fall wardrobe was on-point. I was really passionate about everything I was studying, and I was involved in extra-circular activities that made me energized and happy. I was even planning on starting my own blog in a few months…. (hayyyy! ~~started from December now we here *casually throws deuces*~~).

So, back to my story, in October, I was in an on-again-off-again relationship where the emotional stress started causing me some serious physical stress… to the point where I needed to see an endocrinologist who told me that I was creating too much stress hormone in my body, which was in effect throwing off the cocktail mix of my other hormones (okay okay fine he didn't say the word "cocktail", he said "combination", lol!!). Unfortunately, when I care about a guy, I will work through every and any problem, even if the healthy choice would be to end a relationship, because I for some reason have wanted to be a devoted, loyal girlfriend and give my whole heart to a guy, even if it means ignoring my own needs… NEWS FLASH TO BROOKE: AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO GIVE YOUR WHOLE HEART TO SOMEONE, YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PERSON YOU ENTER INTO A RELATIONSHIP WITH IS ACTUALLY TREATING YOU WITH MUTUAL RESPECT AND KINDNESS, AND ONLY THEN, SHOULD YOU GIVE HIM YOUR WHOLE HEART. To my lovely gentlemen readers, even though you might want to close your eyes for this, please don't because it's a mere fact of life and without it you wouldn't have been born, k? In a nutshell... I was having lady cramps every. single. day. because of the stress causing my hormones to be like LOLZ, LET'S GET WEIRD. That's when I happily started taking birth control, that would say see ya never! to the lady cramps and keep my hormones balanced - or so we thought.

When I first started taking the birth control, I always joked that they were my "happy" pills. Read on for the rest of this paragraph if you think neuroscience and chemistry is cool. If not…. read on anyway, lol!! Hey, you never know when you might need to know this stuff for your own life…! *shrugs* There are two main hormones in the pills: estrogen (which affects happiness/depression) and progesterone (which affects calmness/anxiety). About 30min. after taking the pill, I would feel almost giddy with happiness. It could be raining out, I could have a paper due the next day, and I could have eaten one slice too many of Toll House Pie at dinner at my college's dining hall, and I would still be all smiles, all warm and fuzzy inside. What happened was that my body got so used to this extra "happy" from the estrogen in the pill, that it stopped producing as much "happy" on its own. Eventually, my body was like HEY LOL WHERE U AT? to the "happy" that my body used to produce on its own… this caused a major dip in my overall happiness, because now the only "happy" I was getting was from the pill. Nothin' else. I honestly don't know how else to describe it but it felt like there was a wall of numbness preventing me from feeling like my old self. The joy I now felt was never truly deep. It was much more surface-value, oh-that's-a-good-thing-let-me smile-now robotic kind of happy. Not like the joy I used to feel radiating throughout my entire body, like the way I would laugh so hard that actual tears would spring from my eyes. That was all gone. When I thought of the future, I wasn't necessarily excited about it. It seemed burdensome, like oh I'm graduating next year, better make a Plan A, B, and C (and because I'm hella Type-A, as you probably figured out by now, Plan D, as well ahaha!).

Food stopped tasting as good as it used to (but these recipes still did! Here, here, and here) , and I hardly had any appetite whatsoever. I don't have a set friend "group" [even though I do have friends in general, *hugs all around*] because I'm obvii just basically this bad-ass lone wolf she-does-whatever-she-wants-and-she-wins-at-it type (and by this I mean I get uber lonely at school and I really truly wish I did have a stereotypical group of BFFs and we could like do normal girl things like watch movies and OMG GO TO THE MALL PLZZ and do each others' hair except not mine because mine, much like Miley Cyrus's song, can't be tamed), so I would just go to the dining hall at 4:30pm for dinner when practically nobody would be there and force myself to eat at least something like cucumbers and tortilla chips with salsa and the occasional ice cream bar so I wouldn't lose too much weight (jk too late lost 11 pounds) from things just not tasting vibrant and flavorful like they used to before I started the pill. Eventually I became too anxious to be around people, anyway…

So that progesterone part of the pill I told you about a little earlier, it deals with anxious feelings. The same thing happened - my body stopped producing as much "calm" because of the extra "calm" I was getting by taking the pill each day. Eventually my body got all sassy and was like gurl, plz - if you're already getting all this extra "calm" from that pill, then I'm permanently going on break and not making any "calm" of my own! <----sassy snap implied here~~ So then there was definitely a HUGE HUGE HUGE dip in the amount of calm. Meaning that I could not feel calm. Ever. At all. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and this is not an exaggeration.

All of those ducks I had in a row back in October? Well, fast-forward to April: that on-again-off again relationship ended back in December. A relationship began and ended in February and the way in which I got dumped was honestly traumatic. I've had guys say horrible things to me before, but nothing quite like getting literally screamed at over the phone as the guys lists every. single. thing. that he did not like about you. I should have hung up the phone, but as we all know, I like to be some Miss Loyal-As-A-Golden-Retriver so I -yet again- put aside the healthy choice for me and stayed on the line listening to all of that horribleness. That triggered a LOT of anxiety, on it's own, but what prevented me from bouncing back and doing things to empower myself is that I had no "calm" to help me out. Eventually I realized that I would never, ever want to love a person who could basically shove aside any worth that I have. I realized I deserve somebody who can realize my value as a person and not dehumanize me brutally with his words like that. Then a few weeks later, a different ex-boyfriend who was my first love reached out to me, manipulated me and led me on, and then purposefully called things off to make me feel as badly as he did when I ended things because of his violent angry tendencies and the hurtful things he would say to me when he was mad. I was just stackin' up the heartaches here like pancakes, except, ugh no maple syrup! (Side Note: Then this summer I downloaded Tinder to get my ego back in shape, the logical decision. 138 likes-on-a-picture I uploaded as a "Moment" later, and this girl's mojo is back in action! *insert salsa dance emoji here* Even though I'm the biggest hopeless romantic probably, um, ever, I'm planning on taking a break from relationships for a very long time. I've put aside my health for so long that right now that clearly must take first priority!!!)

Even when I began to start to feel the slightest bit better about the heartaches, the social anxiety I had was still triggered, nonetheless. It got to the point where leaving my dorm room to go to class would mean I'd have to run to the bathroom first to throw up. I couldn't deal with the thought of people talking to me, even looking at me. And that's coming from me!!! Someone who's all friendly and open to conversation and loves meeting new people and is bubbly and outgoing! I would force myself to go to the library, thinking it would help desensitize myself to purposefully put me around people, but my stomach would feel so raw and aching that I would have to leave and go back to my room so I could get into bed. I felt like my grades were going to be absolutely horrible compared to last semester (Side Note: I wound up thankfully making the Dean's Honor's list; although it wasn't High Honors like I made in the fall semester, I was still so proud of myself nonetheless). Then, awful migraines started accompanying the vomiting/throw-uppy feeling. I never miss class, even if I'm sick, but literally my vision would get blurry and it honestly felt like I could feel pounding in my head. I would have gone to class except I figured the fact that I couldn't see well and couldn't keep my head up probably wouldn't be conducive to good note-taking… But the real last straw was when I nailed the two interviews for an incredible internship position at a company that you probably own a flannel shirt and/or boots from (and so does your uncle and you mom and also anyone who's a fan of chopping wood) - but I had to resign from the position. Although my parents didn't wind up disowning me (lol!!!)…. explaining my decision wasn't exactly, let's say, a highlight of my life.

I was at one of the absolute lowest points that I have ever been in, in my entire life. I was so anxious I honestly couldn't do much, except just cry and wonder how did I go from feeling the best I've ever felt in my entire college career in the fall to where I am now, crumpled up beneath the covers? I always have taken pride in my strength but all I was feeling was overwhelming weakness. I had three therapy sessions until I was getting more sass than compassion. The other places I called had absurd waiting lists or just didn't accept my type of health insurance. As sad as it sounds, I was very glad because every time I had to leave my house -to go to a session, or at all- I became Puke-asaurus rex/Puke-ahontus/any other puke-name pun that tickles your fancy!!!

The thing was, I didn't actually think any of this was being caused by the pills. I just thought that I was depressed about getting dumped in such a harsh, horrible way and from the pressures of trying to achieve as much as I did the previous semester. But, one day I remembered that I used to get that giddy, happy feeling about 30min after taking the pill… that was when I realized that it hadn't happened in months. I figured something was off so I googled side effects of the particular type of pill I was taking. I literally started crying happy tears because I knew that there would be hope for me: I found a website that ranked the side effects by how common they were. I saw everything there and to what degree people suffer from it: migraines (mild to severe), depression (severe), anxious and nervousness (I think it said moderate, but this was the most severe, debilitating symptom I had), feeling like have to throw up (it said this should be mild, even though I had it very very badly), vomiting. I called the lady doctor the next day, and he (Hayy now, I see that sassy eyebrow raised! Guys can be obgyn's, too, ya know!) thought it was a very good idea to stop taking them immediately. …I am a new woman now.

I haven't taken the pills since Tuesday, and the change in how I feel is so tremendous it's practically palpable. Although (#sorrynotsorry once again to the guys) lady cramps are a very fun and enjoyable withdrawal symptom that I'm currently enjoying right now *kisses bottle of Advil*, they'll be gone soon. My favorite part of being off the pill? is that food tastes amazing again <333 !!!!!! I raided my pantry for chocolate - a tell-tale sign that I've done something right. That invisible wall I mentioned earlier blocking me from feeling happiness deeply is completely gone! When I inhale and exhale, I can actually feel relaxed from it. I can go to the gym without hyperventilating that I have to be around other people. When I think of what's to come, I know that there are, and will be, great things (and one day an amazing, sweetheart, teddy-bear real mush of a guy <333333) out there for me in my future. Although I still get little pangs of anxiousness, with a few deep breaths it goes away tremendously - something that never could happen before. Baby steps!!! But actually these are more like toddler steps - quicker and more competent. Awwww yeahhh. Toddler steps!!!

What I've taken away from all of this is that I think back to my old self, and I realize I need to say goodbye. After all that I've experienced this year, I will never again take the little lovely things in life for granted, such as having the ability to go to Starbucks<3 without throwing up or feeling like you can't breathe. Life is so incredibly beautiful and amazing and honestly just being able to inhale and exhale itself is a daily miracle. I am so thankful that in a month I should start to feel almost back to normal, and then in three months, everything will (in theory!) be 100% better. I am so thankful that I've gotten my life back. I am so thankful for saying goodbye.
PCE OUT, ANXIETY!!!1!!!! LAWLZZzZ!

If you've gotten this far, thank you so much for reading my personal story!! It means the world to me<3
xoxo, Brooke

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cruisin' in the Car Playlist

Sometimes in the summer months, you need to just roll the windows down and blast some cruisin' tunes, am I right!? ;) Here are the songs I've been playing non-stop, whether driving to the local beach or to get my Starbucks fix!

1 // "If I Ever Feel Better" by Phoenix

2 // "Sun Daze" - Florida Georgia Line

3 // "The Walker" - Fitz and The Tantrums
(^^this was the song that inspired me to write this post, actually!!)

4 // "I Won't Let You Walk Away" - Mako, Madison Beer

5 // "Wagon Wheel" - Darius Rucker

6 // "King" by Years & Years

7 // "Fancy" - Iggy Azalea, Charli XCX (I see that super-sassy eye-roll over on your end!! *arches eyebrow knowingly* But this song's my jammm ...even if it is a year old!)

8 // "Geronimo" - Sheppard

9 // "Want to Want Me" - Jason Derulo

10 // "Worth It" - Fifth Harmony

What songs have you been cruisin' to!?
xoxo, Brooke

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beauty Product Review: Adovia Mineral Skin Care's Dead Sea Salt Scrub

Ohhhhh my gosh, do I have news!!!!! I recently received an incredible exfoliating/moisturizing wash, courtesy of Adovia Mineral Skin Care by goPURE Naturals, which is their Dead Sea Salt Scrub (which has, you guess it, actual salt from the Dead Sea!). Lalalala~~now I'm going to brag to you about how great it is~~~ *insert squeals of delight here* !! Also, shout out & major props to the fact that the company was founded on the principal of using only natural and pure ingredients, unlike so many other companies that make beauty products containing harmful and toxic chemicals.

So, sometimes a lady just needs to completely take over your parents' luxury-spa-like bathroom  arrange a spa day at home... and having the scrub to use was much appreciated. When I first opened the container (which is uber classy, might I add! *wiggles eyebrows*), the oils were mainly concentrated on top, whereas the salt seemed to make up the vast majority of the contents. After stirring the oil together with the salt using my fingers, I hopped into the shower and proceeded to massage the product onto my legs, just using my hands - no fancy loofahs or anything like that. Then, because my "prime-shaving-conditions" senses were tingling, I thought it would be the perfect time to shave, right after that exfoliation. (As a side-note, it even moisturized my hands!! #fourforyouglenncocoyougoglenncoco)

Not only were my legs incredibly smooth afterwards, but the amount of moisture my legs retained from the scrub (the razor, itself, was just your regular, trusty ol' Venus; there was no Olay bar attached so I know that all the moisturizing was from the scrub) was pretty remarkable!





I would definitely buy this as a gift for friends & family, as it's well worth the money and actually isn't as big of a splurge compared to many other body scrubs out there on the market. Want to try it for yourself!? Here are the links to either Amazon or Cleopatra's Choice to purchase.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Sea-Salt-Body-Scrub/dp/B00KQWBJ5W/ref=sr_1_25?s=beauty&ie=UTF8&qid=1431200726&sr=1-25&keywords=body+scrub

Cleopatra's Choice: http://www.cleopatraschoice.com/adovia-salt-scrub-ocean.html
[NOTE: This post has been sponsored via BrandBacker; however, all opinions are 100% my own.]

Happy shopping... and then, happy scrubbing! <3
xoxo, Brooke

Friday, June 12, 2015

From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!: Nutella & Peanut Butter OREO Bars with Chocolate Frosting

Welcome back for the last post of the week in my "From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!" series!! Today's post is featuring the Nutella & Peanut Butter OREO Bars with Chocolate Frosting <33333 that I made last night!

adapted it from this recipe which originally called for graham cracker crumbs instead of Triple Double Oreo crumbs (aka the kind of Oreo that has both chocolate & white creme filling)… but I love me some Oreos, so the graham crackers stayed put in my pantry for this one! ;) The original recipe also called for additional sugar in the frosting, but if you are already using milk chocolate chips, which are sweeter than say, semisweet or bittersweet chips, I definitely recommend skipping the extra sugar because the bars are already very sweet. I also used a 9x7 pan, instead of the original's 9x9.

The best part about these bars? No actual baking required! So easy.














INGREDIENTS:
Bars:
2/3 package of "Triple Double" Oreo cookies, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Frosting (I'd say it's more of a ganache, personally!)  :
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS:
1. To make the bars, put butter into a microwavable bowl with powdered sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Then put bowl into microwave to melt, and then stir the mixture to combine. (It will look lumpy!)
2. Put Oreo crumbs into mixture and stir to combine. Then add in the Nutella and the peanut butter, stir again to combine.
3. Press the mixture into 9x7 pan and put into the freezer. Leave it in the freezer until you finish making the frosting.
4. To make the frosting, put chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl and melt the chips in the microwave (check every 15 seconds to make sure the chocolate isn't burning!).
5. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla extract to combine.
6. Remove bars from the freezer and pour the frosting over the bars, spreading the frosting over them evenly. Place back into the freezer for 30 minutes.
7. After 30 minutes is up, remove bars from the freezer once again and slice them.
8. Enjoy!! <3

What did you have for dessert last night?
xoxo, Brooke

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!: Baked Salmon w/ Honey Dijon and Garlic

Today is the second post of my "From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!" series for this week! For today's recipe, I'm featuring my own adaptation of the Baked Salmon w/ Honey Dijon and Garlic that I found via Pinterest! (You can find the link for that original recipe below... but let's be real here, mine's pretty tasty *wiggles eyebrows with delight* lol!! <3 )

Unlike the original recipe which required a higher heat and shorter cooking time, my recipe uses a lower heat but five minutes longer of cooking time... I love the way glass baking dishes always seem to cook food to perfection, so I was miss ol' faithful to what I love! Also, the original recipe only called for parsley, but I decided to spice things up a bit (LOLZ OMG GET IT, I said spice things up because I'm telling you about the spices I used in the recipe!?!? Like, omg, sooooo pun-ny!!!! Okay okay I'll stop now... ~~~~ *runs & hides*) by using a combination of different spices: parsley (in honor of the original recipe), basil, and dill <--my personal fave!

You guys... it came out so delicious. This is definitely going to be my go-to for when I find my true love who is a real sweetheart gentleman guy who likes cooking things as much as I do and we live happily ever after and we make romantic meals together by candlelight as smooth jazz croons through the all-white kitchen via built-in speakers in the vaulted ceilings ....ermm, I mean when I host dinner parties when I'm older!! Yes yes, of course... :p










INGREDIENTS:
3 5-ounce skinless salmon fillet portions
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. honey dijon mustard
1/8 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp. basil, chopped
1 tbsp. dill, chopped
1 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place salmon portions onto a glass baking dish. (NOTE: It's important to use a glass baking dish, or else you will need to change the amount of heat and cooking time from what I have used ;) !)
2. Combine garlic, mustard, oil, lemon juice, herbs, and salt together by stirring in small bowl.
3. When fully-mixed, spoon mixture evenly onto salmon portions.
4. Bake salmon portions for 25 minutes.
5. Enjoy!! <3 #itwokeuplikethis. Perhaps pair it with this pasta that I made back on Monday!?

[This Baked Salmon w/ Honey Dijon and Garlic has been adapted from this recipe.]

NOTE: Be sure to check back on Friday for the last recipe of this week's "From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!" series!! <3

What did you have for dinner tonight?
xoxo, Brooke

Monday, June 8, 2015

From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!: Creamy Avocado Pasta

Today is the first post of my "From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!" series for this week! *happydance* For today's recipe, I'm featuring my own adaptation of the Creamy Avocado Pasta that I found via Pinterest! (That link can be found a little bit further below if you keep on reading, but naturally, you're only going to want to try my version… right!? Ahaha!<3 ) I got pretty creative when it came to adapting the recipe… [ PS - Props to my mom who helped me determine the precise amounts of each of the ingredients I wanted to use!! You da real MVP, mama bear. ]

This is the original website that inspired me, but I definitely did not follow that given recipe by any means; instead, I made the dish entirely with my own by adding a bit of "Brooke" flair! I wanted to include both a dose of sweetness and spiciness to serve as a metaphorical representation of my personality!! *insert salsa dancing emoji here* I also wanted to keep it healthy, as I've been trying to eat more than just cucumbers with creamy italian dressing & ice cream bars & potato chips more balanced than I do during the regular academic year, so I chose to use greek yogurt instead of olive oil.











INGREDIENTS: 
12 oz. penne pasta (it's affordable and tastes great!? Count me in! ;) ahaha!!)
2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon natural honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh dill, large stems removed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heirloom tomato (diced), sprinkled on top
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top
1/4 cup shelled walnuts (chopped), sprinkled on top

DIRECTIONS:
1. Make pasta according to directions on box.
2. In a food processor, put in the avocados, yogurt, honey, garlic, dill, and salt. Blend until smooth.
3. Place mixture on top of pasta. Then garnish with the tomato, cheese, and walnuts
4. Bon appétit! Go ahead and eat, ya little chef, you!!! Lol!! <3

Note: If you aren't planning on sprinkling the parmesan cheese on top of the dish, use either a little bit less honey or a little bit more kosher salt to taste! ;)

What did you eat for dinner tonight?
xoxo, Brooke

Friday, June 5, 2015

On The Menu

Let's be honest, here… it's so incredibly easy to "pin" things without actually ever creating that craft, baking that brownie, or engaging in that exercise regimen that will transform you from ultimate potato to ultimate-beach-babe status. In honor of this fact, next week, I will be featuring a "From Pinterest to Kitchen Table!" post series where I will actually be making three recipes that I've selected from Pinterest!! *cue the applause & whistles of encouragement*

Something you should know about me (pssst...I'm planning on doing a "Fun Facts About The Blogger" post soon - keep your eyes open for it!) is that I am a self-proclaimed "pescatarian", which means that the only "meats" I eat are fish and eggs; other than that, I'm a vegetarian! So, naturally, any recipes that I make will be meatless. <3

Here's what's on the menu for my From Pinterest to Kitchen Table! series for the week ahead:

Monday - Creamy Avocado Pasta 
*via

Wednesday - Baked Salmon with Honey Dijon and Garlic
*via


Friday - Nutella & Peanut Butter Graham Bars w/ Chocolate Frosting
*via

What's on your menu for next week?
xoxo, Brooke

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

(Video) Why I Started Blogging

YOU GUYSSSSSS! <3 <---can you sense my excitement!?!


So despite not having a great camera (and saying the word "Um" approximately 192038 million times, lol! Sooo sorry about that, I was all nervous... Please don't hate me for it!!!), I decided to make a video explaining why I started blogging. (Note: The lighting in the video gets better as time goes on, I'd say!)

Guest appearances include: a flying bug (eek!) and my brand-new monogrammed clipboard.



Happy Wednesday!
xoxo, Brooke

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book Delight Book Tour: "Home is Where Your Boots Are"

As an English major, I'm used to reading hardcore literature, all of the time. However!…


Home is Where Your Boots Are by Kalan Chapman Lloyd was a great respite from all of the labor of analysis and the hidden deeper meanings to be unearthed that I conquered this previous school year. Reading this book is the equivalent of a party for your eyeballs! <---Ugh, fiiiine, I'll let you quote me on that…. *gives you my classic Almighty Sass Hand*. Let me just say that this book was right up my alley, considering I have a Pinterest board called "One Day I'll Live in the South"!  I believe in many things in life, friends, and wearing cowboy boots is one of them.

The story, which at first seems like your normal chick-lit novel…only to later develop into a morbid legal thriller (I don't want to give away too much, but just trust me on this one - the "creepiness" factor is definitely present!), is about a sassy southern lawyer who gives up her ritzy, successful life in Texas and returns to her native Oklahoma after she witnesses her fiancé cheating on her with his secretary. He was clearly a real winner! She isn't actually too broken up about their relationship ending (is it too harsh to say her fiancé was the King Prick of All Pricks orrrrrr!?); rather, she is in mourning for the loss of her old Type-A, all-her-ducks-in-a-row lifestyle, in general. I mean…aren't we all, sistah, aren't we all… The vast majority of the story is then about her attempting to rebuild her life when old romances (and new!) are rekindled, murder strikes the town, and #girlpower takes on a whole new meaning.


On that note, the narrative voice of the book makes you feel as if an old friend is telling you this story; I felt entirely at ease with Lloyd's words, as reading her work makes you feel like you're at Girl's Night! I absolutely loved the strength of sisterhood that this book promotes, and how women can achieve great things when they help one another out. It really made me smile to see this as a major theme in the text!

Everything I've mentioned thus far has been really positive, but for a well-rounded review I suppose it's important to ask: were there any negatives? Well, there was one... I found some remarks in the book to be rather insensitive about mental illness: characters calling each other "anorexic", poking fun at the idea of going to therapy (including a line encouraging "getting even" by writing "Die Bitch" on somebody's car as a better method of healing than therapy), and mocking depression - "Crazy ass Lyle Stephens. Threatens to kill himself about every other month. I almost just told him to jump this morning" (p. 41). Personally, I am someone who advocates for mental health awareness and to end the stigma against mental illness, so it was a little alarming to read those parts of the novel, but the average reader would most likely just laugh those parts off and move on. 

Also, heading back to the positives here - something I loved is that the way in which the characters are introduced is the same style that can be found in Dante's The Divine Comedy. Similarly to how Dante introduces a character into the scene by having them speak or complete an action before actually explaining who the person is and what his or her importance is, Lloyd tends to humorously bring a character into the story, and then follows up with a paragraph explaining more about him or her. In general, the character development in this book is chock-full of vivid physical descriptions. You can completely picture each character in your mind, without a doubt. [Casual Field Note: The father of the protagonist sounds like my soulmate, I mean… you had me at "'hot nerd' look" ...no shame…: "He was tall and muscled even at fifty, with dark eyes and hair; his wire-framed glasses gave him that “hot nerd” look, according to Mama" (Lloyd, 11).] #marrymeplz #now.


Bottom line, though: if you're are looking for a way to spend a beach trip or a lazy afternoon cuddled up with a lightweight blanket on the hammock in your backyard, try taking this book with you for a little dose of Southwestern charm!


Home is Where Your Boots Are is the first book in a series. The second book is titled: These Boots Are Made For Butt-Kickin' and is due out June 2015! Check out the author's website: http://www.kalanchapmanlloyd.com and feel free to tweet at her: @KalanCLloyd ! You can purchase the book on Amazon at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Home-Where-Your-Boots-Are/dp/0557731429 .

Disclosure: I have received compensation for this post via Book Delight Book Tours; however, all opinions stated are my own.

How excited are you to read this book!?
xoxo, Brooke