Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life Lately//

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Lately I've...
been studying my butt off for my French exam tomorrow. Ask me about politics? I've got you covered. Ask me to speak to you in French? I'll muddle through. But ask me all the grammar and conjugation specifics of basic French? I'll cry on the inside like a winner. 
fallen in love with this Hallmark commercial. I wanted to post about it for Valentine's Day but then I spent the entire day doing other things and completely forgot. I love them both and want to be just like that...someday. 
gone all 'stereotypical girl with a crush' and been absolutely the cheesiest with my friends, but I love it. Crushes are always the most fun anyhow. Here's a funny bit of a conversation with names covered up (for obvious reasons), just cause it's a bit cringy but everyone can relate.
become obsessed with Maybelline's Master Conceal because it's amazingly pigmented but not too thick for undereyes and it's just perfect. ( I wear the lightest shade)
had my sister and her friend stay with me at LSU for a couple of days and loved showing them around campus. They felt super cool hanging out in the union and bookstore all day and on Friday we had a movie/shopping date which was really nice!
gone to see The Duff and it was hilarious. Not the most Oscar-worthy, but it does have a really good message and some really great actors and we laughed the whole time! 
 babysat my little cousins loads and laughed constantly at the things they say. Kids really do say (and do) the darnedest things and it's so much fun spending time with them because it doesn't matter how I look or how silly I act, cause they love me all the same! I took them all out to breakfast and then to a place called SkyZone that night and just when I thought I had kids all figured out, I accidentally spilled the 4 year old's red powerade all over my car because I'm so not used to doing everything for closing their cups super tight. There goes that.
become a senator for LSU student government...which I can already tell I'm going to be a total nerd about, in the best possible way. 
run all over creation trying to get ready for Chi O formal Friday. But I finally found the perfect dress and my date's a total cutie so I'm sure a pic from that will end up on my next 'life lately' post. 
added 'Mystic Pizza' to my favorite 5 movies list. It is so 80s, and so Julia Roberts, and just so great. It's on Netflix and the resident 'rich preppy 80s movie boy' is a babe. Watch it. 
And that's all folks! What have y'all been up to?
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Friday, February 13, 2015

My Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey

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Okay, I know this is going to be a controversial topic because people have opinions all over the place for all sorts of different reasons, but I'm not setting out to judge anyone who watches the movie or reads the book because that's their choice to make. I am just voicing my opinion on the whole thing and the way the world is reacting to it. 
Because my faith is very important to me, I made the choice a long time ago not to read the books. Same goes for the movie. Not saying that if you read the books then your faith isn't important to you, just saying that that was my personal choice. I will say, however, that just like everyone else, I was tempted, and curious, about what all the hype was about, and I considered it for a long time before I finally decided against it. I also decided against it because I blush reading Judy Blume books and there aint no way I was gonna make it through a single chapter without turning into a red-faced mess in a giggle fit, but that's neither here nor there. 
Those things aside, I think it's important to talk about why I didn't read it and why I won't be seeing the movie. The first reason being that I strive to be of pure heart and mind, as I believe God would want me to be, and I don't think that reading that and watching it on the big screen would be conducive to that. I've been reading tons of comments on other people's blog posts and Facebook statuses and one of the best was this... 
"I just wonder, with Christ in your heart, are you willing to take him to 50 Shades of Grey and eat popcorn and kick back watching it with him?"
Wow, is what I thought about that. It makes so much sense when you put it in that perspective because almost everyone you ask that question would say no. I think of God as a sort of loving grandfather figure both when I pray and when I talk about him. I see him as the grandfather that's always around when you need to talk or need help getting out of a sticky situation, very understanding and wise, but also holds you to a high standard and even though he still loves you just as much, is disappointed in you when you do what you shouldn't...or in this case what he's asked you not to.
One of my favorite verses, Phillipians 4:8, says, 
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things"...and I can't reconcile that with seeing 50 Shades. I just can't. Because I don't see it being any of those things.
I'm not saying that I'd be condemned if I did. I wholeheartedly believe that God would love me walking out of the theatre just as much as he did walking in, but I still can't be okay with going to see it because I know he wouldn't want me to. Not because he is trying to keep me from fun things or control me, but because he knows what's best for me, just like my grandfather does, and so even though I have free will, he still advises me and hopes I'll follow his lead all the same. And it's really just not worth it. I don't want those images, or feelings, or thoughts in my head ever, but especially not later when I'm actually in a relationship and it really matters. 
I've heard a lot of criticism about it from a marriage stand point, that I absolutely agree with, this one especially, but that obviously doesn't apply to me now, so I can't comment on it. I can however, say that regardless of marital or religious status, I think we can all agree that the relationship that Christian and Ana share is not normal and it's not something that as a Christ follower I want to support, in book form, in movie form, or in real life form. 
I've voiced my opinions on porn to my friends in my "outside the blog" life, but from everything else I've ever said on this thing, I'm sure y'all can already guess what they are. (If you're still wondering I'm totally in the "you shouldn't watch porn because it's harmful to your expectations of guys/girls, sex, etc." camp and also it's a huge money maker for the sex trafficking industry - supply and demand and all that, so it's a no from me). And no, I'm not saying it because I'm a judgmental hypocrite or a prude (cause yeah, I get called both all the time), I'm saying it because I'm really seriously concerned at why this movie that contorts sex and relationships into this freaky, controlling thing instead of a loving, safe, intimate thing is so wildly popular, and I see the roots of that popularity in the way society makes it seem like it's completely normal for guys and girls to watch porn because, hey, it's a normal part of growing up, right? and 'boys will be boys'. No. 100 times no, for all the same reasons I'm not supporting the 50 Shades of Grey franchise. 
And it's hard to swallow, I get it, because people who have read the books/plan on seeing the movie feel personally attacked when someone criticizes it, but that's not what's happening. People are trying to minimize the point of the movie (entertainment from soft core porn if we're going to call a spade a spade) into this irrelevant thing that has nothing to do with God or anything else, but that's done just to not face the bigger picture...That this movie has everything to do with the way sex, and domestic violence, and relationships, and porn are seen in the world today and those are hard issues to face when all you really wanted to do was go see a movie with your friends on Valentine's Day. And I get that it's awkward and embarrassing to be the one who stands up and says no, I'm not going to go see it, but someone's got to. There are more important things.
I think it falls on our shoulders to make a choice. For religious reasons or not, to be better than that. To be better than doing something because Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) is hot, or because everyone else is going, or because it's really tempting and you're an adult who can do as they please. What you do with your body and your time is your choice, and it's not my place to judge or criticize those who choose to go, because I don't believe God would want me to do that either, but I can ask you to think about it. Think about why you want to go see that movie and what sorts of messages in society you might be supporting alongside it. And then decide what you want to do.
As for me, I'll be spending Valentine's Day with my family and spreading as much love and encouragement to them and all my friends as possible!
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5 Easy Meals to Make in Your Apartment #sarahsmilecooks

I am a really picky eater. I tend to eat things like lunchables, and frozen macaroni, and pizza, etc, but I just moved into my apartment and realized how much I missed home cooked - not frozen five minutes before I eat it - food. Now, I'm not a terrible cook, I'm actually really good at breakfast foods, I just had no idea what sorts of meals would be easy to make, but also filling. I wanted things that were easily customizable (to fit my no vegetable needs) and that weren't too expensive or time consuming. These are the five that I came up with and cook all the time now. 

1. Baked Potato//
So incredibly easy because it can be cooked in either the oven or the microwave, and you can basically put anything you want on it. Clean the potato, wrap it in foil, and bake it on 400 for an hour (an hour and a half for bigger potatoes) until it is a bit smushy when you press on it. For the microwave, just put it on cook for about 10 minutes and then punch a few holes in it with a fork and pop it on defrost for about 8 more minutes. Then I just add loads of butter and salt and pepper, but you can add bacon bits, veggies, sour cream, etc. 

 2. Alfredo Pasta//
 MY FAV. This is so easy to make but SO good. I cook the noodles according to the instructions on the box (add oil and salt to water and boil it, then add the noodles and let them cook for about 12-14 mins). I then microwave frozen chicken strips that I buy from the store - I like the Tyson ones - and add that to my noodles. I pour a little sauce over the noodles - Prago Original Alfredo is yum - and chicken and heat it for another minute or so and voila! You can also grill up some shrimp and add that as well, but I'm a fan of the chicken. 

 3. Hamburger//
Easy Peasy. Buy some ground meat (nothing less than an 80/20 meat/fat ratio), make it into hamburger patties with your hands, season them if you'd like, and then put them in your pan with a bit of oil. Keep flipping them until they're cooked to your liking and then you're done! Dress your burger however you want - I prefer bacon and swiss - and chow down!  

4. Spaghetti//
 The easiest thing to do is use the same pack of ground meat as above for the burgers, except don't make patties out of all of it. I usually use half the pack for patties and half the pack for spaghetti. While your ground meat is cooking, (the same way as the burgers above except loose ground meat, not patties, obvi), cook your noodles. Once your meat is done, add some sauce - again, Prago gotcha covered with tons of different sauce flavors and options - and let that heat up while you strain your noodles! I'd say eat the sauce until you finish the noodles you cooked (it usually lasts me about 3 dinners) and then freeze the rest of your sauce! That way, when you're in a rush later you'll have the sauce already ready and you'll just have to cook noodles! 

5. Fried Rice// 
Requires the most ingredients, but so incredibly easy, and most of it's stuff you've got around the house already! Put your chicken/shrimp in a pan with some oil and get to cooking that. Once you're happy with it, crack a few eggs in the same pan and scramble them around a bit, exactly like scrambled eggs. Once that's done, throw in your rice and some soy sauce - and also your vegetables if you're into that. (; Let that get all warmed up and then you're done! It's a nice change from the pasta dishes but just as easy! 
Just in case you're like me and are a bit afraid of cooking rice without a rice cooker, it's incredibly easy. Just keep an eye on it and add a bit of water if it needs it so that it doesn't burn. Other than that, follow the directions on the tin! 
Hope these gave you a few ideas if you're new to living on your own and are completely stuck! I tend to make everything in bulk and freeze the left overs so that I have tons in my freezer for weeks when I've not got time to cook 3-4 times a week, and it's helped so much! I feel like I've been eating so much better, aka no hot pockets and pizza rolls at every meal, but it also saves me so much money to plan out my meals for the week and re-use the same ingredients. I used to be so nervous cooking but I'm starting to love coming up with all sorts of ideas and experimenting and I realize now that it's really not as hard/scary as it looks! 
Have a great week! 
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Monday, February 9, 2015

brits do it better

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I have been listening to the same playlist for weeks now...and I thought it was about time I shared it with you guys. It's no surprise that I'm a huge fan of British music, especially from the 80s (Love you forever, Morrissey). No, not just because I'm practically begging the Queen and Dave Cam to grant me dual citizenship, I just love the sound. I love the guitar riffs and the accents paired with the (sometimes) downright cheesy lyrics and the way it all feels so effortlessly cool. It makes me want to learn guitar and sit in my garage all day writing lyrics in ripped jeans and Doc Martens. It's just brilliant.  
I've compiled a few of my favorites from some pretty killer British bands (as well as a few Americans that I've snuck in because A. they go so well, and B. they're technically 'british inspired', so please don't kill me when you see The Strokes, The White Stripes, and The Ramones). 
There are some seriously wicked tunes on here, but my current favorites are = 
The Pigeon Detectives - Take Her Back, The Fratelli's - A Whistle for the Choir, Bastille - Flaws, The Kooks - She Moves in Her Own Way and Do You Wanna, and The Strokes - 12:51. OBSESSED. 
Give it a listen and tell me what you think. If you want some old school American tracks as well, look no further than my Vintage Playlist.
 You're welcome.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How to: Pack for Study Abroad

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While I was  traveling I kept a million and one little tips about traveling, packing, places to stay and eat, and the best way to travel on my phone, and now that I'm settling back into school I thought I'd turn some of those into blog posts. Here are a few of the tips I wish I'd learned before I left, but hindsight is always 20/20, and I hope these help some of you out!
1. Plan Ahead//
Before I left I kept everything I wore in one pile, seperate from my other clothes. I did that for about a month and then knew that's what I'd need to pack first, as those things were my "clothing necessities." I would've been fine just sticking to those things, but I continued to add more things as I went through my closet and packed things I never really wore at home because I thought that I 'might' wear it in England. Don't do that. If you don't really wear it at home, you won't wear it there, I promise. 
2. Research//
Seriously. I know it sounds weird to do packing research, but it helps so much. Luckily I had someone where I was going who could tell me about the weather, what to pack for class and nights out, and on and on, but not everyone has an Amy, so use Pinterest for all it's worth. There are TONS of itemized packing lists and if you're a list lover like me it'll be everything you ever wanted.
3. Make a Packing List//
Y'all, this is probably the most important. Not only will you over pack if you don't have list to check off, but you also might forget some pretty vital stuff. Coming from the person who almost always forgets underwear and a toothbrush, save yourself the trip to Victoria's Secret/CVS (and the money to replace them), and just make a list. It's cuts down on the stress in an already stressful situation.  
4. Layer, Layer, Layer//
I cannot stress this one enough. I brought tons of thick sweaters and multiple coats and wore maybe about a third of what I brought. It's so much better to bring t-shirts, cardigans, light sweaters, and flannels, because you won't want to wear thick sweaters all the time. First off, if you're going somewhere cold, it won't always be cold, so you'll want a few lighter options, but also, you can mix and match layered things much easier than big sweaters, so you';; get more outfits out of them. 9 times out of ten I wore a t-shirt, hoodie, and a coat, and left my wool sweaters in my closet, so in hindsight, I should've left them at home. Also, when going to class or just hanging out in my dorm, I stuck to t-shirts and casual things...which I should've brought more of, being that they're lighter and easier to layer, instead of chunky sweaters. 
If you're going somewhere warm, this may not be as big of an issue, but I'd still say pack mix and match pieces, not shirts that only go with one pair of shorts and vice versa. 
 5. Pack it, Weigh it, Pack Again//
The struggle to get my suitcase under 50 pounds was so real. With my necessities, my suitcase easily closed and I didn't have to worry about the weight. But once I added half of my closet? Not even space bags could help me. Finally, I unpacked enough to zip it shut, weighed it, took out enough to get it under the weight limit, weighed it again, and then finally organized the stuff that made it onto the final packing list. If I had waited to weigh it until I got to the airport I would've been in deep shiitake mushrooms. 
6. Pack Lighter than the Limit//
This one's the hardest for me. I want to pack everything right up until the 50 pound mark because you just never know what you might need and if at all possible I want to prepare for everything, but you just can't. You have to take in to account that you're going to want to shop while you're away, but not only that, you'll have keepsakes that you'll want to bring home too, and if your suitcase is already maxed out, you're going to run into tons of fees trying to get it home. I know this because I had to pay for two overweight bags on my flight home from Heathrow and it just about killed me...although my Wills and Kate mug did make it home safe and sound.(;
7. Bring a backpack//
Not only is a backpack easier in the airport - less to hold in your arms and much more manageable than a heavy shoulder bag - but it's also seriously a life saver on weekend trips. Not all budget airlines allow a carry on, much less a checked bag, so packing in a backpack as both a suitcase and a purse cuts down on cost and makes things much easier. It's got pockets for everything too, and just feels so much more "backpacking around Europe" than a rolling suitcase. Trust me, when you're running for a train, trying to navigate a foreign airport, or trekking through town to find your hostel, you'll want your hands free. 
Misc. Tips: 
Try to get suitcases that are expandable. You may not need it now, but three months from now, you're going to need it. 
Space Bags are great, but they don't help with weight, so don't go overboard. This isn't the post office...just because it fits, doesn't mean it ships. (and airport security are really mean) 
Make sure you know the liquid limits before you fly. I had so many things thrown away and had to repurchase them because the rules are different for different countries. 
Hope these tips helped if you're packing to go abroad soon! I'm slowly trying to compile everything I learned into blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled and have a great rest of the week!
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Life Lately//

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Happy Monday! I thought today I'd do a bit of a combination between a general life lately post as well as a January favorites post. Lately I've...
been loving Flaws by Bastille. I fell in love with the sound, but then listened to the lyrics and loved it even more. It's been on constant repeat. 
spent tons of time outside enjoying our beautiful weather. Louisiana has been having unseasonably warm, sunny weather and I just can't get enough. I love walking the lakes on LSU's campus and swinging on the porch of my sorority house and just enjoying being outside in the middle of January!
started cooking actual meals in my apartment. For the first few weeks I ate packaged things like frozen macaroni and hotpockets and pizza rolls, but now I've started getting 'fridge' groceries instead of 'freezer' ones and I've been coming up with so many ideas for meals to cook. It's healthier, but it also saves me money and time to plan out my meals and groceries. 
fallen back in love with my Bourgeois Healthy Mix foundation. I originally bought it when I first got to England in September, but then got convinced that it was too yellow for my very pink skin tone, but now that I've tried it again, I actually really like it. It evens out the redness that I sometimes get when my skin is very dry and it's nice and dewey. 
started a Project Life scrapbook. It will come as no surprise that I love doing anything with crafts. Group project poster? Sign me up. Handmade cards for my friends' birthdays? Yes please. So when I found Becky Higgins' Project Life, I immediately got on board. It makes scrapbooking so easy, and even though it's a bit more on the expensive side, I think scrapbooks are worth it because you want them to last forever...and also, they're adorable, so. 
become even more obsessed with Vivianna Does Makeup on Youtube. I just think she is the cutest thing, and anything she wears/uses is something I want to buy. We have the same haircut, which only makes me want boho textured waves even more, and her eyebrows are a dream. Love, love, love.  
gotten to Skype my British pals twice in the past week-ish. I miss them loads, as is evident by my constant #tbt overload and I'm so glad that I can still keep up with them via Skype. It's obviously not exactly the same, but I feel a bit more like I'm there, more than fb chat anyway, and it makes me so much more motivated to save up so I can fly back in June. 
overdosed on Valentine's Day candy and cheer. Give me all the pink and red stuff please. I've bought Reese's hearts (my absolute fav), Cherry tootsie roll suckers, cheesy Valentine's cards, and even pink marshmallow love hearts for my hot chocolate. Oh yeah, I'm a cheesy white girl who loves V surprise there. Also, just saw a recipe for red velvet heart pancakes...that is 100% happening.

Have a great week!
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