May Favorites

IT’S SUMMERTIME BABY! School is finally out, and I got my high school diploma; the world is mine for the taking! At least until I go to college in the fall.

Prom Dress

Though technically it’s an April favorite of mine, my prom didn’t take place until after my April Favorites were posted. Unlike last year, I didn’t shop around looking for a dress because I bought it from the first store I went in to. Once I saw it, I quickly fell in love with this floral A-Line gown from Rachel Allan.


Roots

While in Canada, my best friend and I were on the hunt for Canadian souvenirs. After going into endless junk shops, a store with the front decorated with a giant Canadian flag and beaver intrigued us. Roots is a Canadian chain store that specializes in leather goods and overpriced Canadian apparel. Everything inside was so Canadian, and I just couldn’t handle it.IMG_4073.JPG

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Big Little Lies

I’ve been watching a lot of HBO this month because we got a subscription, and I don’t really have anything better to do. It’s basically about first graders with rich helicopter moms that stars Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz.

big-little-lies

Fit Me Foundation

Finding the perfect drugstore foundation for your skin isn’t an easy task. I’ve used the same one for two years and it was time to switch it up. After a month of use, I can say this is the most full coverage drugstore liquid foundation I’ve ever used. It’s comparable to Clinique Redness Solution foundation that I used in the past. There is two different formulas of this from the Fit Me line made by Maybelline – the dewier one made for drier skin and matte formulas for oilier skin.

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Dream Big Candle

I don’t burn candles often enough to stock up on them, but I usually buy a new three wick candle each season. Though it’s just a repackaging of Tiki Beach, the Dream Big candle features a fun message that’s perfect for gift giving. The scent of Tiki Beach is more masculine compared to other summer scents, as it is a blend of Vanilla Musk, Orchids, and Toasted Coconut.

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Nanaimo Bars Tarts

If you read my post from Wednesday, you’d know I just returned home after spending a few days in Canada. Today I’m making Nanaimo Bars into small tarts. Traditionally they are made up of three layers and don’t require to be baked.

Ingredients

Crust

  • ½ cup Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 5 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • ½ cup Chopped Walnuts

Filling

  • ⅓ cup Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 box Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • ¼ cup Milk
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar

Topping

  • 12 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

Directions 

  1. In a large nonstick skillet on a medium low heat, beat melt the butter for the base. I did this on a lower heat because in the next step it will burn if it’s too hot. Now add in the sugar and cocoa powder and stir this until it becomes smooth. 
  2. Whisk the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl. Remove the skillet from heat and stir this in. From there add in the graham crackers, coconut, and walnuts. I didn’t want the base to have a lot of big pieces in it, so before I started I added the three ingredients into a food processor for 7 seconds to make them fine.
  3. Grease a mini cupcake or tart baking tray with cooking spray. Then add into about 2 teaspoons of it into each cup. Press down the dough to make the crust of the tarts and put this in the fridge for 15 minutes to set. 
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, milk, and pudding mix together for the custard filling layer. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. 
  5. On top of the crust layer, once again add about 2 teaspoons of this to the pan. Place into the fridge for 15 minutes to set. 
  6. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on a medium low heat. Slowly combine in the chocolate chips by stirring this constantly. Remove from heat and spoon on about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate onto the tarts. Finally, let them rest in the fridge for at least one hour. 

 

48 Hours In Canada

After years obsessing over Canada, I finally got to visit the Great White North. I gotta say it lived up to the hype.


There is nothing like a 5 am flight to start your vacation off right. We had a quick hour flight to Dallas and then a connecting flight to Seattle. We landed just after 10 and checked into Royal Caribbean for our 4 day Cruise of British Columbia. The thing about being 18 on a Canadian cruise is that there isn’t much to do and a majority of the boat’s population is over 65. On my previous cruise almost 7 years ago, most of my time was spent in the middle school aged clubhouse. Being a “legal” adult means we couldn’t go to the teenage club. My best friend who went with me and I spent the first day and a half exploring the boat. Since we were in international waters we did things that we typically wouldn’t be able to do back home, such as gambling and going to bars (no drinking though). On our day at sea, we hung out with some cool senior citizens at the trivia contest and tried to learn how to make sushi.


Our first port was to Nanaimo, BC. We took a 45-minute scenic bus ride to Cathedral Grove.

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The trails we hiked there reminded me of Endor from Star Wars, and we expected Ewoks to jump out of the trees. It was a little muddy that day, but the fresh air and lush green life made up for it.

From there we drove to the Coombs Village. The shopping was subpar; it was comparable to gift shops located in the middle of Arkansas. Back in town, I indulged in the Canadian delicacy of Tim Hortons and also tried my first true Poutine and Nanaimo Bar.

The next day we stopped in Victoria, BC, and I instantly fell in love with the city.

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Though it’s a few years away, I’ve already started searching around for grad school where I can get my doctorate degree. Victoria offers my program and is actually cheaper than colleges in my own state that offer the program. I’m not a fan of the summer weather we have in the Midwest, and Pacific Northwest would offer me cool weather year round. During the time we were there it was in the 60s, while at home it was in the high 80s.

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Our tour from the day started at the Fisherman’s Wharf. Us and 50 other people crowded onto a boat looking for whales. If I’m remembering right, the ones in the photos below were humpback whales on their way up to Alaska. Also, we saw sea lions, seals, a few eagles, and a sea otter.

Afterwards, we took a river taxi to Government Street. We hit up Roots and got some fun Canadian merch.


Canada was all I hoped it to be and more. I’m already planning my next trip! It wasn’t a high energy trip like years before, and I liked it that way. The past few weeks leading up to the trip were crazy because I was preparing for finals and graduation. Now I have a few weeks off before I start summer classes. In the following couple weeks, keep an eye out my recipes I’ll be posting. I’ll be recreating dishes I had while on my trip.


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Pesto Italian Chicken Sandwich

This might be the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I’m not even joking. While coming up with recipes for this month, I thought to myself what would be my ultimate sandwich. Of course, it had to have bacon on it, and from there I thought chicken would complement the pork the best.  Everything else just fell into place.

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (About 4 breasts)  Chicken Breast
  • 1 16 oz bottle Italian Dressing
  • 12 strips Bacon
  • 2 large ripe Tomatoes
  • 12 slices Sourdough
  • 12 slices Mozzarella Cheese
  • ⅓ cup Pesto
  • ½ cup Olive Oil

Directions

  1. In a ziplock bag, allow the chicken to marinate overnight in the whole bottle of Italian dressing.
  2. After at least 8 hours of marinating, take out the chicken and cook it on the grill  or in the oven. Once it’s cooked through, cut it into small pieces. At the same time cook the bacon until it’s crisp.
  3. If you have a panini maker, plug it in at this time so it can preheat, or bring a frying pan to a medium heat.
  4. Slice the tomatoes into the desired thickness.  Personally, I like to slice my tomatoes very thin.
  5. You can assemble this however you want, but this worked best for me. I used a cooking brush to coat one side of the slices of sourdough bread with olive oil. Then I flipped one slice over and spread on some pesto. On top of that, I put a layer of chicken and the first slice of mozzarella. Next, I put two pieces of bacon on each sandwich and the second slice of cheese. Finally, I added some tomatoes and put on another slice of bread that was oil side up.
  6. Transport the sandwich into either the pan or panini maker, and cook it until golden brown.

 

Coming of Age

Another chapter of my life has ended because I’m graduated from high school! Just like how graduation commencement is a rite of passage into adulthood, coming of age films look at the transition from youth to adulthood. I thought I’d share with you a list of my favorite coming of age films of all time.

The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now

Superbad

Superbad

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Clueless

Clueless

Moonrise Kingdom

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Almost Famous

Almost Famous

Sing Street

Sing Street

The Edge of Seventeen

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Easy A

Easy A

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Mean Girls

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Rushmore

Rushmore

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

The Goonies

The Goonies

The Graduate

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She’s All That

She_s All That

Stand By Me

Stand By Me

Heathers

Heathers

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite

October Sky

October Sky.jpg

 

Queso Blanco Mac & Cheese

For every food day, potluck, and holiday, you need to have a signature dish to bring. This might be more of a cold weather meal, but you can’t go wrong with mac and cheese (unless you’re lactose intolerant). I came up with this recipe late one night when I had to bring lunch for my whole class and ended up just combining a few things I had in my pantry. I like to think this is just a basic mac & cheese recipe because you can build off of it. You can switch up the cheeses or maybe try adding in other seasonings.

Ingredients

  • 32 oz block Queso Blanco Cheese (Velveeta)
  • 2 lbs Macaroni Noodles (two boxes)
  • 1 cup Colby-Jack Cheese, Shredded
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Salt

Directions

  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the package. Drain the water and set to the side.
  2. In a crockpot, add in the queso blanco, colby-jack, milk, pepper, and salt. Allow this to cook on a low heat for two hours.
  3. After two hours, stir in the noodles and let this cook for two more hours.
  4. If it’s too thick, add in an extra ¼ cup of milk. If it’s too thin, add in ¼ cup of colby-jack cheese.

Is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 better than the original?

Looking at Marvel’s previous track record of their sequels have either been vast improvements from the first one or absolute garbage. Like most of the world, I was a huge fan of the first Guardians of the Galaxy and was stoked for the sequel that came out last weekend. The problem I had going into it was that I had no clue what it even was about. From the marketing, all I knew was that Peter/Star Lord’s father was going to be introduced. I had a fun time with Vol. 2 and was excited to see the team again; but was it better than the first one?

 

The main improvement from the first one is the story. Vol. 2 is heavily a character driven film, and the cast has real chemistry. The core theme is family and what family is to each of us. It takes place a few months after the first film, and the team has formed their own little family. Front and center we see the relationship between Peter, his father Ego, and Peter’s adopted father Yondu. After Ego finds Peter, he promises him answers, such as why he was able to survive holding an infinity stone and why he didn’t die when he was in space. The team gets separated, and we discover that Ego is a Celestial, a god-like entity. Ego tells Peter if he stays with him he will teach him to control the universe. As expected, it’s a trap, and Peter’s father turns on him. In the first film we saw Ego had a deal with Yondu to deliver Peter to him once his mother died. This time we learn Yondu knew what he would do with him, so he kidnapped Peter and raised himself with the Ravagers. In the final battle, Peter learns all of this and the team kills Ego. In the process, Yondu dies in order to save Peter. At his funeral, Peter admits that while growing up, he created in his mind what he wanted his father to be like. Though that was directly based on his childhood hero, David Hasselhoff, it also describes his true father Yondu.

 

In the opening scene, the Guardians protect batteries from an interdimensional monster in exchange for Gamora’s sister, Nebula. After the events of the first film, Nebula is dead set on going after everyone who has ever hurt her. This includes Gamora, who their adopted father, Thanos, forced to fight every day. Whenever Gamora won, Thanos would remove part of Nebula’s body and replace it with cybernetics. Multiple times in the film, Nebula tries to kill her sister, but by the end, Nebula comes to terms with everything that had happened because Thanos made her do it. Nebula makes up with her sister and leaves her, while the Guardians head out to find and kill Thanos.

 

The first film introduced us to the group of misfits and established the intergalactic realm in the cinematic universe. From a storytelling point of view, Vol. 2 is a better narrative. The plot isn’t trying to set up the Infinity War films either. Personally, I feel like these franchises are trying to shoehorn the next film into these kind of movies so they can set up the next one. If done properly, it can be an Easter egg to the fans, but most of the time it can takeover the film.

 

This time around it has a far superior and complex villain that has a clear motive. This has been an issue that has been showing up in a lot of Marvel films. As the Marvel universe roster continues to expand, it has become important to balance the characters. What I mean by this is that in team films such as the X-Men and Avengers films you sometimes don’t get balanced screen time between the characters. Vol. 2 does this perfectly, like when the team is split up, and their subplots all come together in the end. One of my favorite characters in the first film was Drax. Actor Dave Bautista gives the best comedic performances out of the team this time and gets a lot more screen time. I really fear with the 20+ heroes that are going to be in Infinity War that it’s going to feel crowded.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s style is different too. Though the first film was colorful, this film sticks to a neon-based palette for the majority of the time. When they travel to different planets, it changes too. Once again director James Gunn kills it with the soundtrack. The first movie’s songs are more mainstream 70s and 80s classics, but I think I prefer the new soundtrack more. Vol. 2 also has Fleetwood Mac, and you can’t go wrong with Fleetwood Mac.  

 

The only reason why I wouldn’t rank Vol. 2 higher than the first one is that it can’t be a standalone movie. You need to watch the first one before you watch this one. Below, I’ll put my current rankings for all the MCU films just to show you where it stands compared to the rest.

 

  1. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
  2. Captain America 3: Civil War
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
  5. Iron Man
  6. The Avengers
  7. Ant Man
  8. Captain America: The First Avenger
  9. Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
  10. Doctor Strange
  11. Iron Man 3
  12. Thor
  13. The Incredible Hulk
  14. Iron Man 2
  15. Thor 2: The Dark World