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G. Tolley

How To Get Into The Holiday Spirit — December 13, 2017

How To Get Into The Holiday Spirit

Once I finish up my finals this week, I will officially be in winter break mode. Meaning that I’m going to sleep at least 24 hours straight & finally catch up on TV shows. If you need a little extra push to get into the holiday season, look no further! I’m here to set you up with eight different ideas to put you in the holiday mood this season.

Decorate a Gingerbread House

About a week before Christmas, usually a few friends and I get together and decorate a gingerbread house. They never come out looking or tasting very good. It’s just one of those things you do every year, then throw away a few weeks later after it has collected dust.

 

Built Fire In The Fireplace

Even if you can’t burn the old yule log, you can at least pretend.

 

Watch Festive Holiday Movies

This step especially works well when you binge-watch five holiday movies back to back. I’m not a Hallmark Christmas kind of girl, but a few of my favorites that I watch year after year are Christmas Vacation, The Holiday, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

 

Bake Cookies

Another tradition of mine is to bake way too many cookies to eat, but then eat them anyways. (Just kidding, but not really) Sending treats to your neighbors, friends, and coworkers is one way you can get on the nice list this year! I’ll link all my cookie recipes below!

https://gtolley.com/2016/06/15/butternut-squash-cookies/

https://gtolley.com/2017/03/04/oreo-cream-cheese-cookies/

https://gtolley.com/2016/10/19/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/

https://gtolley.com/2017/10/28/chocolate-chip-oat-cookies/

 

Jam Out To My Holiday Playlist

Maybe this one is just a plug for you to check out my Spotify page, but Christmas music always puts me in a good mood. My family has a rule that we aren’t allowed to listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Thanks to my roommate, I’ve broken that rule when we were jamming out to Last Christmas on Halloween.

 

Go Ice Skating

I might be skipping out on this one because I always fall on my butt.

 

Send Out Holiday Cards

In a digital day and age, it’s always nice to get something in the mail. Skipper & I rocked out my parents’ Christmas card last year.

 

Put On An Ugly Sweater

It doesn’t matter what religion you follow or if you’re super extra like me, but go put on the most hideous sweater you can find. Then go pour yourself a hot beverage, sit your butt down, and enjoy the end of the year with the people you love.

 

Happy Holidays,

G. Tolley

November Favorites — December 12, 2017

November Favorites

Goodbye November! IT’S OFFICIALLY THE HOLIDAY SEASON! Time to put up my tree, take a few finals for class, bake some cookies, and jam out to Last Christmas by Wham. But first, let’s get to my favorite things of this month.

 

Maybelline Master Glow Highlighter

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I can’t believe it took me this long to jump on the highlighter train. I’ll basically try anything Maybelline comes out with, and once again they have come out with a hit. At least on my pale skin, this looks more like an orange-brown rather than gold. I’m not mad at this at all as it’s like a metallic bronzer on me. It especially looks great on the upper cheek up into the forehead.

 

Tattoo

IMG_0298

Anyone who knows me personally or read my Canadian adventure post knows I love Canada. I hope in a few years my education can take me up there to grad school. (Fingers crossed!) As any semi-rebellious college girl does, I got a tattoo. Since I’ve turned 18, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but I wanted to wait to go with my friends. Fast forward to two weeks ago, they still haven’t gotten them. So I took matters into my own hands. That morning I woke up and thought “I think I’ll get a tattoo today”, so I did. I’ve kind of fell in love with the design on Ink Box, but instead of a temporary one from them I got one that isn’t coming off. Thank you so much, Jeremy! I love it!

 

Duck Boots

https://www.target.com/p/women-s-paula-duck-boots-merona-153/-/A-52508286#lnk=sametab

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One thing that nobody tells you about going to college is that you need to wear comfortable shoes all the time. This should be a no-brainer, but I don’t ever listen to people’s advice. Even though all of my classes are fairly close, I do walk at least five miles a day getting around campus. Especially living in Kansas, you never know what the weather is going to be like. One hour it might be raining and the other you might be in 30 mph winds. So I decided it was time to turn in my heeled boots for duck boots. I’ve always like Sperry boots, but not the price tag. These shoes I found at Target are almost identical to the Saltwater style of Sperry, just without the logo on the back. They keep me warm with inner lining and keep my feet dry during wet days.

 

Essie Nail Polish- Bikini So Teeny

For the past year or so Essie has been my go-to nail polish brand. It’s on the higher priced side of drugstore brand, but in my opinion it has the longest staying power. I’ve always been terrible at painting my nails, so I still force my mom to do it on the weekends. Though it’s more of a spring color, I’m going to be wearing this all year round.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

thor

Since Thor was introduced in the MCU, he was definitely my least favorite character. I’m not going to lie – he’s nice to look at, but his movies never hit home with me. This all changed at the beginning of the month when I saw Thor: Ragnarok. I’ve never laughed so much in a theatre before. The new direction that Marvel has been taking since Avengers 2 has been a blast! Taika Waititi’s vision for the God of Thunder is fantastic. The other two Thor films tried too hard to be grounded in reality and should have had more fun with it. From the first scene it basically just said we were going to embrace all the weirdness of the comics. By the way, it’s god damn funny. There is one scene particularly where Thor is telling a story about Loki turning into a snake, which I couldn’t stop laughing at. Never in a million years would I ever had thought to say that I liked a Thor movie more than Justice League. #shotsfired

 

November Mix



Pull Apart Bread — December 2, 2017

Pull Apart Bread

If I didn’t put off writing and studying for finals off to last minute, I would have made homemade bread for this. For the sake of my sanity, I just used a store-bought loaf of bread. But if you want to go the extra mile and bake your own bread, go ahead and try this easy french loaf recipe from genius kitchen. (http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/crusty-french-bread-101476) I promise if you take this for a holiday meal, you will be the MVP of that night.

bread big.jpg

Ingredients

  • One loaf of bread, not pre-sliced
  • 8 tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Dry Ranch Seasoning Packet
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Parsley, Chopped
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil for easy cleanup.
  2. Meltdown the butter in the microwave or on the stove top. Stir in the garlic, ranch seasoning, salt, and parsley.
  3. With a sharp knife, cut the bread into 1-inch diagonal strips. Don’t go all the way down as you don’t want to make bread slices. Then turn the loaf 90* and repeat to create a grid into the bread.
  4. Using a rubber cooking brush, brush on half of the seasoned butter into the cuts you have made. Then stuff the loaf with mozzarella cheese.
  5. To finish it off, brush on the remaining of the butter. Place it on the baking sheet, and completely cover the bread with another layer of tin foil.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the top tin foil and continue to bake for 5 minutes.
Cinnamon Peanut Butter Bars — November 25, 2017

Cinnamon Peanut Butter Bars

I didn’t want to call this recipe a rice crispy treat because we are using cinnamon square cereal. I had something similar a few weeks back and wanted to see if I could make it at home. It’s one of those recipes where you don’t have to measure things out for say; you just have to eyeball what you are putting in..

creal bar big.jpg

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups Cinnamon Squares
  • 4 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
  • 5 Cups Mini Marshmallows
  • ½ Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a large pot meltdown the butter on a low heat. With a nonstick spoon or spatula, stir in the marshmallows. Continue to stir this until it’s smooth. Then add the peanut butter and cinnamon.
  2. Now that everything is combined, carefully fold in the cinnamon squares. Don’t be too rough on them so the cereal doesn’t break.
  3. In a 9×13 pan, spray down the edges with nonstick spray. Pour in the gooey mixture, and pat down the cereal to compact it.
  4. Allow them to cool down and sit for at least five hours.
Netflix Pick Winter 2017 — November 22, 2017

Netflix Pick Winter 2017

As many great Starks have said, “Winter is coming.” Now is the perfect time to catch up on some shows and to find a few new favorites. Now sit back, pop some popcorn, pour some hot cocoa, and stream this list of shows that are currently on Netflix.

If you like a twisted murder mystery…

Funeral

Twin Peaks

This early 90s murder mystery follows the death of a young woman with an investigation led by an FBI agent. Where this show earns its brownie points at is with the town of Twin Peaks itself. It’s a campy, uncanny, and weird town, and everything is just a little off.

 

If you’re a little monster…

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Gaga: Five Foot Two

Since the release of Lady Gaga’s album Joanne last year, Gaga hasn’t stopped. She headlined the Super Bowl, has been on a world tour, and now has just released a documentary. The movie takes place between the early stages of her developing the new album to this year’s halftime show. Five Foot Two shows the side of Gaga that has never been seen before.

 

If you have been looking for true crime style documentaries and poop humor…

Palm Party copy

American Vandal

As seen in last month’s favorites, American Vandal has been my favorite new show of the year. It’s incredibly smart for a plot so dumb. Though it’s a fictional story, its structure is comparable to true crime shows such as Making a Murderer.

 

If you just need a gut hurting laugh…

homecoming

Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King

Senior correspondent on The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj Netflix’s comedy special, Homecoming King, illustrates Minhaj’s life as an Indian American. It highlights the hardships he faced and how they made him the man he is today.

 

If you’re a fan of Adidas shoes and ocean life…

S Zis

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

A semi-parody of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the Life Aquatic tells the story of an oceanographer out for revenge against a shark who killed his best friend. The titled character, played by Bill Murray, is famous for wearing his red stocking cap and custom Adidas.

 

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey…

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The Crown

As a middle-class American, the British upper class society is always interesting to me. Each season covers roughly about ten years of Queen Elizabeth’s life, and the first season was phenomenal. If you wait until December 8th, the second reason will be streaming.

 

If you hate the cold…

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The Hateful Eight

This one goes out to all the people who hate the cold. Eight strangers exchange stories in a rest stop in a middle of a blizzard. What follows is a compelling film about these people and how they are all connected.

 

If you want to learn more about the past….

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The Seventies

The second installment of the CNN documentary miniseries about the past four decades, the Seventies, focuses on significant events taking place from 1970-1979. Instead of being broken down by years, each of the nine episodes is divided based on topics.

 

If you never watched the Death Note Anime….

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Death Note: The Movie

One common opinion online and from friends is that compared to the anime the movie is garbage. Just for this post, I watched it, and it’s still a fun flick. Death Note is about a boy who is given a book that whoever’s name is written in it dies.

 

If you’re a fan of Robert Rodriguez…

from-dusk-till-dawn-tv-series

Dusk Till Dawn The Series

Robert Rodriguez is known for two things: over the top/ terrible CGI children film & gory action flicks. As the semi-sequel/ retelling of his cult film called Dusk Till Dawn, the supernatural horror film follows a similar premise as the movie. Though it still follows the two brothers who end up in a vampire strip club, it switches back and forth between them, the FBI, and a drug cartel.

Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich — November 18, 2017

Turkey Apple Cheddar Sandwich

One skill that I continually impress myself with is my ability to bake bread. While out at dinner with my roommate, I had this fantastic sandwich that I wanted to recreate. Though the bread takes a day to make, I think it’s worth it over store-bought bread. My bread recipe makes about 5 sandwiches.

Ingredients

Bread

  • 3 cups Self Rising Flour
  • 1 Packet Dry Active Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ cup Dried Cranberries
  • ½ cup Walnuts, Chopped
  • 1 ⅓ cup Water

Slaw

  • 1 Gala Apple, chopped
  • 2 cup Original Cabbage Coleslaw Mix
  • 2 tablespoons Dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup Walnuts, chopped
  • ½  cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2  teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Honey

Sandwich

  • 1 pound Honey Roasted Turkey Deli Meat
  • 5 slices White Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 cups Arugula

Directions

  1. In a standing mixer, mix together the flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, walnuts, and water. Using a paddle attachment or bread hoke, mix this together on a medium setting for two minutes.
  2. While still in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap. Let this sit at room temperature for 12 hours. Since there are no dairy products in this, it is fine sitting out.
  3. Later, preheat the oven to 450*F . Line either a dutch oven, circle dish with a line, or an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl, and shape the dough into a ball. Place it into the pan and cover it. If you are using a cake pan, cover it with tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid. Continue to bake it after that for an additional 15 minutes. Before making sandwiches with this, let it cool outside of the pan for an hour.
  5. In a medium-size bowl, mix with a spoon the chopped apple, cabbage slaw mix, cranberries, walnuts, greek yogurt, lemon juice, and honey.
  6. Slice the bread into roughly 1-inch slices. Lay on the turkey, cheddar cheese, the slaw, and arugula.
October Monthly Favorites — November 15, 2017

October Monthly Favorites

As we shift into the Holiday Season, I find myself asking where did the year go. Last month was crazy busy with school, which kind of explains why I’m uploading this halfway into November already. But as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

 

EyeStudio Brow Precise Micro Pencil

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http://www.ulta.com/eyestudio-brow-precise-micro-pencil?productId=xlsImpprod14371029

For the past year, I’ve been filling in my eyebrows using Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Define and Fill Duo in Deep Brown, but I finally finished using the whole pencil. Instead of repurchasing it, I wanted to try something new. If you read my makeup routine post from last month, you would know the Brow Duo was a direct color match for me. For about three weeks now I’ve been using the Brow Precise Micro Pencil. It’s the same great color and formula of the Brown Duo but in a thinner tip. This helps you control the product more, and the spoolie end helps shape the hairs.

 

Hoola Bronzer

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http://www.ulta.com/hoola-matte-bronzer?productId=xlsImpprod820346

The cult classic Hoola bronzer has always been on my wishlist. What kept me away was the thought of spending $30 on a single makeup product. I usually stick to drugstore brands because I like to try new products. While at Ulta I found that Benefit makes a mini version now. Even for a pale girl like me, this will give you a sunkissed glow (as long as you blend it out well).

 

Love Sweater

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http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=1018146&pcid=72808&vid=1&pid=819483022

Actually, I bought this sweater a few months ago and saved it until the cold weather. If the past couple weeks are any indication, winter is coming. Right now it’s the right time to break out my sweaters for the year. The shirt itself is standard for Old Navy, but what makes it stand apart is the detailing on the wording. The inside of LOVE is made of red velvet. It’s just a cozy sweatshirt that’s going to keep me warm until spring rolls around.
American Vandal

Palm Party copy
If you caught my post from two weeks ago before it was taken down, or if you’ve seen the show, American Vandal might be the best TV series of 2017. It’s the true crime style of drama and turns it into a comedy mockumentary. American Vandal is about a high school senior who is accused of vandalizing his teachers’ cars. The eight episodes takes about four hours to finish. Personally, I think it’s best if you binge-watch them back to back which isn’t hard because it’s addictive. Once the mystery starts, you aren’t going to stop until you find out who sprayed the graffiti. The ending is fairly open-ended, leaving it up to the viewers to make their own decisions. However, they are making a second season.

Pecan Pumpkin Cake — November 11, 2017

Pecan Pumpkin Cake

I might have gone too far on this recipe. Pumpkin is a staple in the majority of my desserts in the fall. Instead of going the easy route for this, I decided to make my own pumpkin purée. As long as it takes to make it, it’s probably not worth it for the time you put in. But hey, you’ve got to try everything at least once! Plus, I guess now I have enough pumpkin to last me for two years. Anyways, this cake is rich and moist and doesn’t take too long to make (unless you make your own pumpkin purée like me).

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 Can Pumpkin purée (about a five-pound pumpkin)
  • 1 Can Evaporated Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 Yellow Cake mix
  • 1/2 Pecans

Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted

 

Directions

1.) To make the pumpkin purée from scratch, first preheat the oven to 450* F.

2.) Cut the pumpkin into four equal pieces and scrape out the guts. Then remove the stem. From there, cut the four large slices into smaller pieces. Doing this will make sure they cook faster.

3.) Bake for an hour on a foil-lined baking sheet.

4.) Let the pumpkin cool for ten minutes before handling. Reduce the oven to 350*. Using a large spoon, scoop out the meat of the pumpkin. Leave the outside skin.

5.) In a food processor, purée the pumpkin until there are no more chucks. Allow this to cool for at least 30 minutes before cooking with it.

6.) In a large bowl combine 2 cups of the pumpkin purée or one 16 oz can. Combine it with the remaining cake ingredients of the evaporated milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, cake mix, and pecans. Pour this into a greased 9×13 pan.

7.) In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and butter to make a crumb topping.

8.) Evenly lay the crumbs on top of the cake, and bake for 35 minutes.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide — November 8, 2017

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Once again the holiday season is starting to roll in. If you are anything like me, you have your work cut out for you. Though it’s before Thanksgiving, getting a head start on holiday shopping is always a good idea. I came up with a list for everyone on your list this year.

 

Advent Calendars

Who doesn’t like getting something every day? In the past few years, I’ve seen these kinds of calendars come in a million different things. I just picked out a few that I thought that could work for anyone.

Phone Cord

It doesn’t matter who you are; everyone always needs an extra phone cord. Below I listed options for both Apple and Android.

 

Portable Charger

Again, everyone needs a portable charger. Some days I blow through my battery in a couple of hours so it’s nice having one on hand.  Plus, you can use it to charge your tablet or headphones also.

 

Mugs

Now that cooler weather is upon us it’s a perfect time again to bust out your favorite hot beverage. Add a seasonal flavored coffee, tea, or hot cocoa to make a complete gift.

 

Wallet Wristlet

Since I’ve gone off to college, I realized the importance of having your debit card and ID with you at all times. When out and about, not everyone wants to carry around a full wallet or purse with them. These small wristlets make your life just a little easier.

 

Lounge Pants

One tradition of my family is that everybody gets PJs as a gift. I’m a little biased towards Old Navy PJs, as almost everything I own is from there. Still, I think they have a wide range of styles, sizes, and colors.

 

Calendar/ Planner

Start off the new year right with a new planner. It’s a gift that keeps on giving all year long. Though personally I organize everything using my phone calendar, I think physical calendars are a great gift.

Planners

Calendars

 

Phone Cases

My final tech gift are phone cases. There’s one out there for every phone model and personality. I think I found a few that provide protection as well as style.

 

Blanket

I don’t care who you are buying for, but everyone likes blankets.

 

Chicken Cutlet Pasta — November 4, 2017

Chicken Cutlet Pasta

There are three things that I’ve never messed up while cooking: burgers, bread, and pasta. This week I wanted to test out a base tomato sauce that I found on Sorted Food’s YouTube channel. It was easy enough and made my kitchen smell like Italian food heaven.

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Basil
  • ¼ Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Rosemary
  • 2/3 Cup Mozzarella, shredded

Pasta

  • 2 Cups Dry Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 Lbs Tomatoes
  • ½ Bulb Garlic
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • ⅔ White Wine
  • 2 Teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Basil
  • ½ Tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven for 400* F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and evenly place them skin side up on the tray. Drizzle some olive oil on top. Place the garlic on the sheet, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Before putting in the oven, pour the white wine on top of the tomatoes. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil. Then dump in the noodles and prepare them according to the package. Once they are cooked, drain the water and set on the side.
  4. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper, basil, paprika, and rosemary. In a skillet, cook the chicken until they are cooked through. Then sprinkle on shredded mozzarella on top and let that melt.
  5. By the time this is done, the tomatoes should be roasted. Allow them to cool for five minutes outside of the oven. In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes until it’s a thin sauce. Pour this onto the noodles, and add the sugar, basil, and red pepper flakes to season. Stir and allow it to sit for 5 minutes on a low heat to combine all the flavors.
  6. Serve a serving of pasta with a seasoned chicken thigh on top.