making this mantra
Wow, I’m terrible at keeping up with this blog. When I first started this blog I thought I would be posting once or twice a week but I underestimated how much time I would be spending at work. Working 2 jobs isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’m spending about 30-35 hours/week at the pharmacy and about 10 hours/week at Madewell. The hardest part is just making sure that my two schedules don’t overlap which hasn’t caused any problems so far but it’s bound to happen sometime in the future. The aspect that I like the most about having a second job is that it’s made it easier for me to budget my money. Since I earn majority of my money from working at the pharmacy, my paychecks earned there are deposited straight into my savings account and there that money will stay unless needed for an emergency. My paychecks from Madewell are deposited into my checking account and that available balance is what I use for spending.
The downside of working a second job is that the increase of incoming money also makes shopping very intoxicating. Things that used to be expensive don’t seem so expensive anymore. Everything I couldn’t afford before suddenly becomes affordable and I start to impulsively purchase things simply because I now have the money to do so. It’s a slipperly slope that I’m trying to overcome. It seems like such a trivial problem to have but it’s an important reminder that I need to constantly remind myself of my priorities.
What are the good spending habits that you practice?
My full time job is working in the pharmacy but since I only work Monday through Thursday I decided to pick up a second job in retail where I could exercise my small fashion hobby. In college I spent most of my money at Forever 21 because it was the most affordable while still giving me a wide selection of trends and styles. My paychecks were just a little over $200 which only allowed for me to buy a little something here and there. After having to constantly go through my closet and recycling pieces that have either ripped or have gone out of style I decided that I wanted to try and keep my wardrobe simple and invest in good quality staple pieces. Sadly, that also means spending more money. That is why employee discounts are the bomb diggity (couldn’t find a better word to describe how awesome it is).
I decided to apply to Madewell because I constantly find myself wandering through their store lusting for practically everything I see but my wallet cries every time I reach for the price tag. It’s only been about a week since I’ve started and I have probably already spent my entire first paycheck there. What’s even more dangerous is that our discount also applies to J.Crew. I’ve added more clothes to my closet this past week than I usually do in 3-4 months. My position is a stylist (just another fancy way of saying we’re a sales associate); I try to help customers be creative with the pieces they’re interested in. If they reach for a blouse I’ll add a cardigan or scarf to their dressing room that I think would compliment the outfit to show them the versatility of the items we carry. If they try on a pair of jeans I’ll add in a cute top or belt, etc. It’s enjoyable because I get to visually see the outfit ideas I’ve conjured up in my head but at the same time when I see how good everything looks I want to have it! Thus, while I work I keep adding pieces to my mental shopping cart. Since it is my first week, I will excuse my shopping spree but I must be more mindful of my spending in the future. Perhaps I will start leaving my credit card at home. Sadly, there is always the option of online shopping once I come home.
I also realize that most of my posts lately have been about fashion. My PCATs will be over on Wednesday and I can resume spending more time in the kitchen so stay tuned for some good macaron recipes!
I always gravitate towards neutral polishes because it eliminates having to worry about my nails clashing with my clothes. I was browsing the aisle after work today and found this really nice milky pink color from Wet n’ Wild called ’2% Milk’. It’s my first time trying Wet n’ Wild and I’m impressed by how smooth the formula is. The brush applicator is extremely huge and I thought the large width was going to be difficult to use but it actually helped give a very even application. The polish is pretty sheer; it took me 4 coats to get it to look opaque (it might just be this specific color) but at $1.99 a pop I’m not complaining.
Since moving from Texas to Washington D.C one of the things I’m most excited about is finally getting to experience all the seasons, especially Fall. In Texas the seasons basically jump from Summer straight to Winter but here I’m starting to notice that the temperature is getting a little cooler and the leaves are gradually changing into those vibrant fall colors. With the changing seasons also comes an exciting change in my apparel; I get to tuck away those denim short shorts and tank tops and pull out my scarves and boots. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to my clothes and frankly, I probably don’t have the best sense in style. My closet consists mainly of solid neutral colors and simple silhouettes. Solid neutral colors because it’s the easiest to wear and simple silhouettes because it’s the most comfortable. In the summertime this comes off as a bit boring but fortunately Fall is the season for layering so I get to play up my apparel and actually look somewhat cute.
These J.Crew Pixie Pants are my holy grail when it comes to bottoms. They resemble any other ordinary pair of leggings but the material is thick enough so that you could pull them off as pants. I essentially live in these once Summer is over. They’re incredibly comfortable, great quality, and very flattering. They also look great with heels, boots, and flats!
I typically won’t reach for a red blouse or red jeans but I will reach for a red scarf or shoes. It’s a subtle touch of color that gives my wardrobe some liveliness while still allowing me to stay in my comfort zone. These AE colorblock flats are perfect for a pop of color. Colorblocking in general is a great way to incorporate small bits of color into your wardrobe and the brown cap toe on these flats allow you to easily tie them into a simple neutral outfit. I think these were in the Spring ’12 collection so I’m not sure if you could find them now but J.Crew has a great alternative.
I particularly like this Madewell denim shirt because it has a casual tomboy kind of look while still keeping a feminine silhouette. Beautiful as is or dress it up with a small statement necklace or scarf.
Accessorizing is always a great way to play with fun prints without the prints themselves being too distracting from the overall look. This J.Crew scarf is probably one of my favorites because it surprisingly pairs well with anything. I’ve worn it with a casual denim shirt like above and I’ve also paired it with a nice blouse and cardigan for a more sophisticated look.
What’s your fall style like?
It’s been a pretty gloomy day so far and when a severe tornado warning was announced for my area this afternoon I decided that I would probably be spending the rest of the day in the apartment. With nothing to do what better way to pass time than to bake? And what better to bake than macarons? With the ingredients I had on hand I couldn’t do anything fancy so I decided on a dark chocolate espresso ganache. I decided to double the recipe so that I could experiment with baking in large quantities but 3/4 of my second batch came out cracked and hallow. I’m not an expert on macarons and I’m not sure what to look at when trying to troubleshoot what went wrong but I have a hunch the batter was the problem. When I had stopped folding, the batter was the expected lava-like texture and the first baking sheet that I piped was beautifully consistent in size and didn’t spread. The second baking sheet that I piped had some batter that had spread out a lot even though I used a template. Is it because as I pipe the bottom of the batter continues to deflate? I will try to divide my batter into two piping sessions next time to see if it makes a difference. On the bright side, the macarons that were successful came out perfect! Beautiful little feet, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside.
Here’s the recipe (makes about 50-60 macaron shells 1 1/4 inches in diameter):
2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites (aged)
a pinch of cream of tartar
1. Separate the egg whites and leave them covered until room temperature
2. Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar and use a flour sifter or sieve to remove any large clumps
3. Whisk the egg whites on medium speed until it becomes a little foamy. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and add the granulated sugar and whisk again until stiff peaks form (this usually takes about 5-6 minutes. You can tell the peaks are stiff enough when you hold your whisk upside down and the “peaks” remain upright). If you are going to add food coloring add it when you’re just about done whisking
4. Add the almond flour/confectioners sugar mixture to the meringue. Start to fold the flour mixture. I’ve read that you’re suppose to fold around 50 times or something but I usually just fold until I can drop a little on a plate and it keeps its shape without spreading. This part is pretty delicate so make sure you obtain the right consistency. It’s probably to have your batter undermixed a little than overmixed.
5. Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe the mixture into about 1 1/4 inch circles
6. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes until they are tacky to the touch. A shell will form around the batter and when you gently touch the shells the batter will not stick to your fingers. This allows for good feet to form!
7. Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake for 13-14 minutes rotating the sheets halfway through
Dark Chocolate Espresso Ganache:
50g of dark chocolate (chopped)
1 teaspoon of Espresso powder
6 tablespoons of cream
1. Heat the heavy cream on low-medium heat until it starts to gently simmer
2. Remove from heat and pour into the dark chocolate
3. Add espresso powder and stir the ganache until you obtain a smooth texture
Not too long ago I discovered these tiny, delicious French pillows and not only are they fun to eat, they’re also really fun to make–I get a strange sense of satisfaction when my macarons develop perfect feet. They’ve become my most recent hobby and with my baking frenzy comes a lot of macarons to share. My sister and I are working on small baking project that we have given the name “Give & Bake”–a play on the popular phrase “give and take”. We’re still working out the details but we’re hoping to turn it into a small local business in which we will give a portion of our profits to charity. We still have yet to pick a charity but I will update as this exciting project develops! I bought a trial size of 100 plain brown macaron boxes from brpboxshop and they look like they’ll fit about 5-6 macarons each. My new baking mat is from Williams-Sonoma as well as the espresso powder and rose water essence. I have a ton of recipe ideas brewing through my head and I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!