Find a Silver Lining

I love many, many things in this world.  I love ice cream, I love romcoms, I love Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (I mean, who doesn’t?), and I love Ernest Hemingway.  That last one may not seem to fit with the rest, but I came across this hilarious scene in the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” with Bradley Cooper that had me laughing out loud the other day.  So I want to share it.  If you have two minutes free and want a good laugh at the expense of Ernest Hemingway, enjoy.

He gives a great little synopsis of A Farewell to Arms, but he’s obviously very upset about the tragic ending.

“I will apologize on behalf of Ernest Hemingway because that’s who’s to blame here.”  He’s angry it doesn’t have a happy ending because he says it’s hard enough in the world.  How cute is his mom’s reaction?  And to top off the scene, his father is Robert De Niro.  What’s not to love here?

Real talk:  He’s mad at the book because he’s trying so hard to find a silver lining in everything.  I love the positive mindset he’s working towards with his “excelsior” mantra that he mentions in the beginning of the clip.  I completely agree and I find it so peaceful and useful to be able to take anything negative and turn it into a positive.  Optimism is a lens you can choose to view things through…or you can complain and bitch and feel unhappy.  But your attitude and your experience is what you make it.  I think when I figured this out it became a fun game for me to try to make my own fun out of any little negative daily annoyance.  Try it out sometime when you’re stuck in a long line, or when a coworker’s bugging you, or you get caught walking in the rain.  Choose to be happy and spread it!

“You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna take all this negativity and I’m gonna use it as fuel and I’m gonna find a silver lining, that’s what I’m gonna do.  And that’s no bullshit, that’s no bullshit.  That takes work, and that’s the truth.”

Choosing to be happy in any situation is hard work and it takes a lot of practice.  A nice reminder for me are these emails I get once a day called The Daily Motivator.  My uncle subscribed me to this awesome motivational service that sends encouraging emails out every day.  Gotta love a little positive reinforcement!  It was created by Ralph Marston in 1995 and “the site has become one of the most popular and enduring destinations for daily positivity.”  Check it out, and if you’ve never seen the movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” I highly recommend you pull it up on Netflix. Fun fact: the word “excelsior,” as J Law points out in the movie, is the motto of New York and it means “ever upward.”

“Whatever happens, decide that good will come of it. Decide that good will come of it, and you’re well on your way to making that goodness a reality.” — Ralph Marston

It’s OK to Be a Cookie Monster

It’s OK to be a Cookie Monster

Trust me, we all deserve it from time to time.  But it’s especially OK with these Chocolate Chip Cookie Chips because they’re not all that bad for you.  They are perfectly sweet and a mix between crunchy and chewy.  You’ll be happy to know that they are also made with no trans fats, no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, and no GMOs.  Wasn’t that a great idea – making a hybrid of a cookie and a chip?  That’s some delicious culinary science right there.  I can’t way to try the other cookie variations…Sea Salted Peanut Butter is at the top of my list followed by Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip.  They also carry Cinnamon Sugar, Original Flavor, and right now a “flavor of the month” which is Oatmeal Rasin.

The cookie chips are made by HaanahMax Baking which is located in Gardena, California, but I highly recommend searching grocery stores near you for the sweets before ordering them online.  I bought one 6 ounce bag for $4.99 plus tax, compared to ordering a pack of four 6 ounce bags for $23.96.  Ordering makes each bag a little more expensive and you have to wait for them to be shipped.


“HannahMax Baking Cookie Chips are the original all natural, super crunchy, absolutely delicious snack cookie.  Made from only the highest quality ingredients, Cookie Chips are a daily indulgent treat you won’t feel guilty about. “

I won’t feel guilty about it, unless I eat the whole bag in one sitting.  I started to do the math…each bag has 6 servings, and a serving size is 5 cookies which is 120 calories, so if there are 30 cookies in a bag, then I could feel OK with eating half the bag for 360 calories of all natural goodness.  To put in in perspective (for myself) it’s about the equivalent caloric intake of eating 3 and 1/2 Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, my favorite.  Would I rather eat 3 and a 1/2 Reese’s or 15 Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups?  I might need to conduct an experiment to decide which is more worth it.

Happy munching,


Source: Crunchy Cookie Chips

Raising the Bar

A Review of Protein Bar

     I recently stumbled across a place called Protein Bar and it caught my eye, thanks to the bright, orange color scheme.  The windows advertised shakes, bowls, and burritos, oops I mean BAR-ritos.  I love all three of those things, so I had to check it out.  I read about it online and discovered that they make all of their menu items super healthy.  The bowls and bar-ritos are made with quinoa instead of rice, all natural and organic proteins, whole wheat wraps instead of flour tortillas, and home made sauces with all organic ingredients.

“Our mission is to change the way people eat on the go. This means our menu, service, stores, and work are all focused on healthy food that can be served in a quick, engaging way for active, on-the-go customers.” From The Protein Bar


I tried a protein shake my first time at the Protein Bar, and it was named Wrigley Peeled – how cute is that?  And since I just moved to Chicago I think I found particular joy in it, but the shake was delicious in itself.  I had to choose a protein – whey, soy,  egg, or vegan – and then choose a milk – 2%, skim, almond, or coconut – and you can add optional boosts.  Boosts include Aloe, Energy Blend, Fat Burner Blend, Fiber Blend, Flax Oil, Flu Fighter Blend, Hangover Blend, and Multi-Vitamin Blend.  Some are self explanatory, like Energy and Far Burner, others I really don’t know the benefits of, like Aloe or Flax Oil.  I don’t know what good they would do for my body or when might be the right time to add them in my shakes, so I have a little research project on my hands.

The Wrigley Peeled shake was amazing – it was made with my choice of whey protein, almond milk, organic peanut butter, banana, and organic agave nectar at about 290 calories (530 for the larger size) for $4.39 plus tax.  Gotta love the chocolate, peanut butter, and banana combo.

Today, my order was the Millennium Perk milkshake with the BBQ chicken Bar-rito – the sticker on my bar-rito says “We do healthy…healthier.”  Both were seriously scrumptious, so I am yet to be disappointed by this place.

photo 2

The Millennium Perk shake which was made with chocolate protein, espresso protein, my choice of almond milk, and house-made cocoa malt at about 150 calories (again for the small size/ the large is 250).

photo 3

Here was my BBQ Bar-rito, made with all-natural chicken, organic quinoa blend, cheddar, house-made agave BBQ sauce, and Protein Bar’s “Super 6 Salad Mix” wrapped in a whole-wheat flax tortilla and then grilled, at about 570 calories and cost $7.29 plus tax.  The organic quinoa blend consists of red quinoa, golden quinoa, white millet, amaranth, and flax seeds.

Both the shake and the wrap are recipes I want to try to duplicate in my own kitchen very soon, so check back with me!  Some other things on the Protein Bar’s menu include breakfast items like Greek Yogurt bowls, scrambled egg bowls, and Breakfast Bar-ritos; they also have chicken chili and vegetarian chili, Signature Salads, some high protein snacks and sides, and a kids menu.  They have a Protein Bar app that you can record your credit or debit card number onto and scan your payment using your phone if you are a regular customer as a rewards program…when you sign up you get $2 off and for every $88 you spend you get an $8 credit.  I signed up right away.  There are thirteen locations in Chicago and other Protein Bars in Colorado and Washington, DC.  If you live near one, I suggest you give it a try!

My rating for the Protein Bar is 4.2 stars.  My only criticisms are that price is a little high for food on the go, and that although the wrap was delicious, it wasn’t extremely flavorful.  Also, I ordered the 12 oz shakes and they seemed to disappear way too quickly.  But at almost $5 for a small shake, I’m not willing to spring for the larger portion.  Altogether, the quality of the food trumps the little extra spent on it.  I love Protein Bar!

Happy eating,



One Fair Saturday

Kane County Fairgrounds

On a free Saturday, my boyfriend and I wanted to do something really fun.  My idea was a day at the beach with food, drinks, and kayaks, but after some internet searching, we found that the beach I wanted to go to, Montrose Beach, was one of the “most frequently fouled by contaminated water” beaches in the Chicago area, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Who knew?  We googled “activities to do in Chicago” and “best places in Chicago” to find something else, and my boyfriend came up with the Kane County Fairgrounds.  It was about an hour away, but well worth the drive.  The food was awesome, we both had delicious sandwiches and shared a pile of homemade chips covered in cheese and bacon called “The Heart Attack.”  We stuffed our faces and suffered no health issues, but again, it would have been worth it.


Throughout the day we played games, walked around looking at all of the horses, bunnies, and pigs that were competing for ribbons by their owners, and we had a caricature drawn of us.  I think it bears some resemblance.  A nice, talented man named Richard Sherman drew the picture, and we love it – I can’t wait to frame it.  We shot 25 ping pong balls at fishbowls to win a prize, and on the very last ball my boyfriend made it in, scoring us an energetic little goldfish.  We named him Chance, because on the very last chance he became our new pet.  The fair was such a fun experience and a great way to spend a day.  If you find yourself in a predicament like ours, searching for something active to do, try looking up county fairs in your area.  You might walk away with a full stomach, a new pet, and a story to tell.

photo 3


Song Love

The first track of Guster’s new upcoming album is called “Long Night” and I love it!! I can’t wait for the release of the album in early 2015.  Here’s the Guster website in case you want to know more about one of my favorite bands or purchase some awesome Guster bobbleheads/coffee mugs/other paraphernalia.  If you like what you hear, preorder the album here, and watch a quirky video of Guster announcing it with farm animals.


Book Review: Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules


Book Review of David Sedaris’ Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules

The first time I read David Sedaris I instantly fell in love with his writing.  I was reading Me Talk Pretty One Day, and when I finished, I could not wait to get my hands on another one of his books.  Next was Naked, and then When Engulfed in Flames, and I didn’t stop until I read everything he’s written.  Those three collections of his short stories are my favorites, and they make me laugh out loud imagining his life experiences.  I love his wit and humor, and his ability to tell stories so incredibly well.  This book, Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules, isn’t written by David Sedaris; instead, it is a collection of his favorite short stories by his favorite writers (authors who influenced him to become a short story writer himself).  Since I love his style, I knew I would love his taste.  This collection is so rich and wonderful, and I felt like every story was a treat.  It ranges in emotional appeal from humorous to morbid, and a story or two definitely brought me to tears.  It is a wonderful variety of excellent writing – and the great thing about short stories is that they are easy to read in a sitting, and if you don’t like one, you can skip it and move on to the next.  However, I felt that all of David’s picks were thoroughly entertaining, if only because of how well written they are.  I strongly suggest reading it if you’re looking for something really interesting and diverse.

A special note about purchasing this collection is that the proceeds go to a nonprofit organization called 826NYC, which is dedicated to helping young students ages 6 to 18 develop writing skills.  The book’s epilogue, written by Sarah Vowell, discusses 826NYC’s efforts including tutoring, writing workshops, assistance with school publications and with homework, and other free, educational events.  The organization is hidden behind the storefront of Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co., which draws in many of the students that end up seeking help from 826.  In addition, every cape and utility belt bought at the Superhero Supply Co. directly supports 826NYC, and the coolest part about it is that a secret door separates the store from the writing lab (very Scooby Doo bookshelf trap door if you ask me).  How much better does it get when you buy a book?  Amazing stories AND the benefit of helping kids.  Buy this book.  Have I convinced you?

Stories included in Children Playing:

  • Introduction by David Sedaris
  • “Oh, Joseph, I’m So Tired” by Richard Yates
  • “Gryphon” by Charles Baxter
  • “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “Half A Grapefruit” by Alice Munro
  • “Applause, Applause” by Jean Thompson
  • “I Know What I’m Doing About All the Attention I’ve Been Getting” by Frank Gannon
  • “Where the Door Is Always Open and the Welcome Mat Is Out” by Patricia Highsmith
  • “The Best of Betty” by Jincy Willett
  • “Song of the Shirt, 1941” by Dorothy Parker
  • “The Girl with the Blackened Eye” by Joyce Carol Oates
  • “People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk” by Lorrie Moore
  • “Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor
  • “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” by Amy Hempel
  • “Cosmopolitan” by Akhil Sharma
  • “Irish Girl” by Tim Johnston
  • “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff
  • Epilogue by Sarah Vowell

If you’re wondering about the name of this collection, David was inspired by a painting of the same name by Adriaen van der Werff in 1687.  He said he felt like a small speck at the foot of his awesome writing heroes, trying to accomplish a fraction of what they have done.  Here’s what the painting looks like, and you can see the same statue on the cover of the book:


Excerpt from David Sedaris’ Introduction: “When apple-picking season ended, I got a job in a packing plant and gravitated toward short stories, which I could read during my break and reflect upon for the remainder of my shift.  A good one would take me out of myself and then stuff me back in, outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit.  This led to a kind of trance that made the dullest work, the dullest life, bearable.”  He also states his belief that “stories can save you.”  I think David Sedaris is one of the best modern writers of the most up-and-coming genre of literature, the short story cycle.  I hope to meet him some day; I like to imagine that we could be great friends, talking over coffee and laughing at each other’s anecdotes.  For now, I am the child bowing at his feet and raving about his work, spreading the love of one my favorite authors.


Picture of Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules

An Ode to Kate and a Thanks to Lucy


A friend gave me these gorgeous, gold polka-dotted Kate Spade notebooks and the adorable pencil bag which had a ruler, two golden pencil sharpeners, two pencils that say “to whom it may concern,” and an eraser inside.  She also gave me these awesome Kate Spade paperclips which are shaped like bows.  Paperclips that look like bows!!

kate spade

more kate

I’m fairly confident that a more beautiful writing set has never been created.  I love the eraser.  It’s so cute and encouraging with the words, “to err is human” printed on it.   The gold, pink, black, and white combine in a sophisticated, but fun look.  I have been using the big notebook nonstop, making grocery lists, to-do lists, and jotting down directions.  Lucy gave me the perfect gift and I LOVE IT!

Cheers to being Kate Spade girls.



One Person’s Garage Sale is My Treasure Trove

table find


I bought this table and four chairs for 45  bucks at a garage sale!! Driving past a sign, I felt compelled to turn and check out the sale, just to see, and I found this gem.  It was priced at $50 and I wanted the table enough for my negotiating skills to go slack, but still, I think it was an incredible steal.  I had to borrow a suburban to fit the kitchen set, but I realized when I was returning to pick it up, I forgot the exact address.  I drove around for about half an hour before I found the sale again to take home my prize.  It was well worth it.  Here is how much the set costs at retail, compare and contrast:


Table found at houzz

Chairs found at IKEA


Let’s do the math: $347 + (4 x $79) = $663.00

I saved 618 dollars.

Now, I want to share a treasure from another type of sale.  The wonderful things that can be found at an estate sale are surprisingly abounding, and it’s so rewarding to recognize something valuable among heaping piles of junk.  If you haven’t tried stopping in estate sales, I seriously recommend trying it, if not for one day of entertainment.  At a “5 dollar bag sale” (where you fill plastic bags with anything and everything being sold, and the whole bag costs $5) my mom and I posed in multiple fur coats and ended up buying a bunch of them.  I’ve bought an elf costume to dress like “elf on the shelf” around Christmas, I’ve bought CocaCola glassware, a Kitchen Aid mixer, a tiny portable grill that looks like a magic 8-ball, a putting green with putter, a sofa table/wine rack, and so much more.

This table was found recently at an estate sale on half-price day, and it cost me $5.  I wish I had a ‘before’ picture because the table top was white and the wine rack was neon, bright pink, and the whole thing had a dust-covered fake vine of plastic flowers woven all over it.  After depleting a can of chalk spray paint and about four other black spray paint cans that were already low, I came out with this beautiful sofa table.  It’s awesome to store wine and wine glasses, plus it’s so fun to show guests and watch them get creative with chalk.  It’s also great for leaving messages for someone.  Can you tell I love this table?

wine table

The gorgeous catch-all tray and picture frame were grad gifts from family friends, so special thanks.  Here is what some creative friends did with the top:

wine table art

Love it.


My Personal Frida

                                                       Seth Rogen or Frida Kahlo?

seth frida

Both.  I laughed so hard when my mom shared this on my Facebook saying, “Even Seth loves Frida!” so much so that he made it his profile picture.  The Frida Kahlo craze is constantly relevant, and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I posted about Frida Kahlo in the past, but it was more informational about her life than really about my love for her.  Remember this painting?

photo 6

I loved the colorful painting I found while researching Frida for my article, so my mom bought a small canvas of the painting as a graduation gift for me (it’s called “Frida Kahlo – Seeing Color” by artist Sharon Cummings, and I love it!).  She also bought me Frida Kahlo playing cards.  And she also worked her artistic magic and made me a Frida canvas of her own.  She’s amazing, isn’t she? (Both my mom and Frida.)

photo 5  photo 1

photo 2

I bought this blank Frida Khalo card at an art fair and plan to leave it in the plastic forever for display…unless I meet someone who matches my love for Frida and feel compelled to write them a beautiful card.

photo 4

My all time favorite Frida piece is a fabric Frida flag I hung in my house junior year of college.  Anyone who entered our house would end up drawing their best rendition of Frida, to be hung alongside her on our closet.  We became the Frida house.  Anyone who asked, “Who’s that man-looking lady with a unibrow and a monkey?” received my shocked facial expression and the response, “You don’t know who Frida Kahlo is?? Only one of my favorite artists.  Let me tell you all about her.  Try to draw her if you want.”  At the end of our senior year, with the Frida flag hanging  above our couch, we played a game where rules were made up to substitute numbers, and one of my roommates made the rule for number 1 that you have to bow to the flag and say, “Forever Frida,” as a tribute.  It was hilarious with all of us bowing to her, and the acquaintances who didn’t quite understand the joking love of Frida awkwardly and cultishly following along.  I hope I spread the love of Frida far and wide, and for the people I share her with to share her with others.


Forever Frida,


Eat Cake For Breakfast

A Peek Into the Beauty of Kate Spade

phone case

I walked into a Kate Spade store today and it felt like a huge mistake – I was instantly in love with all of the colors, the purses, Kate Spade everything.  It was like walking into a magical, fashionable dream – like Alice, in wonderland, became a chic, upscale designer.  I’ve been there before and I forced myself out without really taking in all the beauty because the price range scares me and I can’t afford a keychain.  As my mom and I ooed and aahed from purse to purse, I said, “Oh, you have got to see this one! Look at the scallop edging and the pretty blush pink color, it’s gorgeous!” and “Oh wow, this car purse is amazing, I have to have it, I have to.  Isn’t it fun?”  I picked the purses up, touching the colorful leather and the metal spade-shaped keychains on each one.  The salesperson at the store told us this was her “fun job” where she could spoil herself every now and then from the gains of her “real job.”  My mom picked up what looked like a fashion magazine folded, as if it were being gripped, and it was a clutch.  The saleswoman said, “Kate Spade loves making things whimsical.”  With bright colors, feminine details, and catchy sayings on purses, the Kate Spade brand defines whimsical beauty.  From the car purse, to the purse shaped like a lemon, to a pink, quilted over the shoulder bag I think I have to buy…I’m in love with Kate Spade.

Some of my favorites:

i kissed a frog mulit clutch $328, how cute with the little frog prince clasp?

lemon 148

vita riva wicker lemon $248 marked down to $148

vita riva wicker car 238

vita riva wicker car $328

picnic locket 39

picnic locket $39

scented candle 40

scented candle “light up the room” $40, other candles said, “escape the ordinary” “leave something to the imagination” “be dazzling” “start something new” and “pretty and witty make the perfect pair” (LOVE IT)

book clutch

all roads lead to rio book clutch $328, I think this is so imaginative, a cute, and functional – I love to read and I love Kate Spade purses, so why not make a pretty clutch that looks like a book?  The design is brilliant.

via limoni vivi 148

via limoni vivi $248 marked down to $148, it’s hard to believe it’s a purse, isn’t it?

pink pelican

fine feather roux $498, how gorgeous is this? The pink gems, the pelican, AND it has a silver chain over the shoulder strap…simply perfect.


gramercy mini $250, I set my heart on this watch when I saw a girlfriend wearing the original gramercy (which is larger) and I’m hoping to get it soon.  I love the crystals instead of numbers, I’m smitten with it.

gold coast ginnie

gold coast ginnie marked down from $248 to $99, this is the gorgeous, pink, quilted purse I love.

There are just a limited selection of my absolute favorites, as you can tell, it was difficult for me to even pare down to this.  There are little, jeweled camel earring studs, or turtles if you prefer those instead, there are gorgeous pumps and sandals, beautiful home accessories, stationary, dresses, sunglasses, silverware sets, and so much more.  So many colors, bows, and details – a whole collection of wonderful, whimsical things made the Kate Spade way.  Kate Spade’s style is unique, inspirational, and feminine, and it motivates us to…


All pictures from Kate Spade