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one of my favorite new blogs (if not the favorite) of this past year is one launched by danielle moss and alaina kaczmarskithe everygirl is a site dedicated to just that: regular, every day girls. the site isn’t about perfectly posed street style photos, or the kind of girls who appear to have a surplus of designer clothing and spend their days drinking iced lattes on the streets of los angeles, their impossibly long legs dangling over the benches of joan’s on third. no – this site is about real girls. those creative, intelligent, eloquent, driven girls who have created incredible careers for themselves and deserve to be featured for that: their drive, their power, their creativity – not their looks. 

the site curates multiple features on inspiring, motivational women each week, and also features amazing recipe and interior design features on the regular. many of my favorite bloggers have been featured, including elements of style’s erin gates, cupcakes and cashmere’s emily schuman and more. you can spend hours on this site, i promise you. go ahead and set the time aside now.

today is the site’s one year anniversary (you go, girls!), and as a celebration, this morning’s feature spotlights none other than its amazing creators, danielle and alaina. in every everygirl feature, the last question is, “what would you tell your 23 year old self?” this is my favorite interview question that the girls ask, and their answers (as predicted), seen below, are inspiring, to say the least. bravo, danielle and alaina.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR 23-YEAR-OLD SELF?
Alaina: 1. Never compromise your integrity. You do not have to be cutthroat to be successful. If you find yourself in a position that breeds unhealthy competition or dishonesty, or you are not being valued, then that is not the job for you. Remove yourself from the situation and figure out a way to do what you love with honesty and grace. 2. Don’t burn bridges. 3. Disregard any plans you have for a life timeline. After all, things might happen a lot sooner than you could have imagined. 4. New York City is lovely. Undeniably a place for creatives and dreamers. But you don’t have to be in New York City to make your dreams to come true. If you want them badly enough, you’ll figure out a way to bring your dreams to you.”

Danielle: Try not to be so hard on yourself and know that you don’t need to have all the answers right now. You aren’t where you thought you’d be, but that’s ok. In spite of what you may think, you will be ok if you aren’t married at twenty-eight and a mom by thirty. These things will happen when they should, and in a few years, you’ll be happy they worked out the way they did.

Never let anyone tell you that you are not good enough, beautiful enough, or smart enough to do anything you set your mind to. Never ever stay in a relationship because you’re afraid of being alone. Do not base your happiness on anyone other than yourself. Find someone who looks at you in a way you never thought possible and never settle for anything less.

Surround yourself with friends who will love and support you unconditionally. Always follow your heart. Work hard, don’t forget to smile, and give yourself a break when you need one. Stop second guessing yourself. You will make mistakes, and you will also make some pretty great decisions, too. Life is going to keep getting better for you. Just stay true to yourself and you will find your way.

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Imagei don’t think i’ve been in love many times – maybe a handful, if that. and perhaps the romance i remember most fondly is one that occurred when i hadn’t yet hit puberty. it’s valentine’s day, and while there’s little i like about this day besides the fact that it means that hoards of candy will go on 75% off sale first thing tomorrow morning, the 14th of february always brings to mind the best love note i’ve ever received.

when i was five, i was madly, obsessively in love with the son of one of my mother’s friends. we happened to go to preschool together, which meant that even though he was a year younger than me, we attended the same school. a few years later, when i was in second grade at the local elementary school and he was in first, he came in one day toting a handmade love note. i have the crispest, clearest memory of the card itself, which is a small miracle considering how much weed i smoked in college. it was made from two pieces on construction paper glued together; the front was orange, the inside, pink. on the outside, scrawled in crayon, were the words, “i love you.” inside, there were poorly-rendered hearts, and my name, and his.

i have never in my life been more proud of a piece of paper than i was of this love note, so it’s not surprising that i showed it to anyone who would listen, including the recess lady, a 60-something woman in a hairnet. much to my horror (and surprise), she snatched it out of my hands, tore it up, and threw it down the drain, proclaiming loudly, “you are too young for love notes!”

but i wasn’t. i wasn’t too young at all. in fact, i’d been in love with the boy in question ever since i’d seen him at preschool, and i continued to have a thing for him up through middle and early high school, when i’d purposefully lay out on the rock wall in front of my home, “sunbathing” during warm summer days, because i knew he and his friends would be riding their bikes around the neighborhood. then, of course, as it happens, we grew up and went away. 

and then, he moved to new york. and we started spending a lot of time together, and one drunken night, he ended up in my bed, and i spent the late night hours staring at the ripples in his back, wondering how i’d ended up spending the night with the boy who’d written me a love note at the age of 6. because i’m a hopeless romantic, i fell asleep dreaming of what would happen if we ended up together, the stories we’d tell our children about first grade love notes on the playground.

of course, the night didn’t last, because as always, the sun rose, and things looked different in the morning. and then he moved to california, and that was the end of that. 

but even so, it’s nice to know that once, a long time ago, someone wrote me a love note. it’s a memory i keep tucked away, one that i pull out when i’m feeling slightly sorry for myself, like i generally do on valentine’s day. so here, self – have this memory. don’t lose it, or let it get dusty. keep it in a safe place, will you? 

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

In process

a few sundays ago, i had a really big day with a can of pureed pumpkin. i know, makin’ moves, makin’ moves. my life is so exciting, you can’t even handle it. you see, on saturday, i popped into ground support before bar method and grabbed one of their muffins – an experimental flavor: pumpkin apple walnut. i should tell you, i really don’t like nuts – unless they’re chopped up and i can’t taste them and therefore, can’t tell they’re there. but anyway, i went for the muffin, and DAYUM SON, it was delicious. so the next morning, when i woke up bright and early with the sun shining and the total absence of a hangover, i went straight for the muffin making. i didn’t have any walnuts, but i did have an enormous can of pumpkin puree, leftover from those first days of fall when i was convinced i’d be making a weekly batch of pumpkin snicker doodles (more on those later). as it turns out, a large can of pumpkin puree means, well, a shitload of pumpkin. and once i’d opened it and used a cup of it for these muffins, i figured i’d better use the rest of it that day, otherwise it would sit in my fridge and get moldy, and then go to waste. so i also made the aforementioned pumpkin snicker doodles and a delicious pumpkin sage spaghetti cream sauce (which will make an appearance on this blog soon, i promise). 

any who, these muffins aren’t as good as ground supports – but they’re deliciously spiced, pretty damn healthy (thanks to the whole wheat flour and a heck of a lot of fruit), and the perfect breakfast treat for a sunday morning spent catching up on scandal (if you’re not watching, you should be. kerry washington KILLS it as DC fixer olivia pope).

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

Ready to bake

let’s do this thing, shall we?

The Recipe (adapted from this one)

2 1/2 cups whole wheat all purpose flour (i get mine at trader joe’s)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice 

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup canned pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups peeled, finely chopped apples

Streusel topping

this one’s a cinch. in a small bowl, simply combine 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour (i used whole wheat again) with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. mix, then cut in 4 teaspoons of butter until the mixture is crumbly and looks, well, like streusel should.

to make:

preheat oven to 350 and grease 18-20 muffin cups (mine made 18 exactly).

in a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. set aside.

in a stand mixer (or medium bowl with a hand mixer), beat together eggs, pumpkin puree and oil until thoroughly combined. now, add your flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and stir until just mixed. stir in the apples, and spoon batter into your greased muffin cups. make sure they’re no more than 3/4 full or you’ll have overflowing muffin tops (ain’t nobody got time for that!). now, sprinkle your streusel topping over the batter.

bake for about 35-40 minutes (time varies based on your oven; check ‘em early just in case!). when a toothpick comes out clean, they’re done. note: your home will smell apple-y and amazing. these are a good recipe to bake when you’ve got company headed over, so you can be all, ‘yeah, i’m a modern day martha, it’s no big deal.’ you could also make mini muffins; if you go that route, bake 15-20 minutes instead.

now, eat and enjoy. they’re great warm and slathered with butter. MMM, pumpkin!

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how many times have you wished your sober self could tell your drunk self to behave? that you’ll regret this tomorrow? that maybe you should quit while you’re ahead, that you don’t need that last drink, nor do you need to take the random guy you just met at the bar home with you.

i swear to god, sometimes i need sober glasses to put over my drunk eyes. because here’s the thing about one night stands. in the moment, they seem great. the alcohol hits your bloodstream, and there’s a moment where everything starts to sparkle. you feel more hopeful, like life might just break you off a piece of good luck and serve it to you on a silver platter. so you do things you normally wouldn’t do sober. you strike up a conversation with a guy at a bar and you speak of nonsensical things and sensical things, like where you went to college and what you’re doing with perfectly blown-out hair and glitter caked into the corner of your eyes.

and everything seems rosy, tinted with sunshine even though it’s past midnight, and you decide that you don’t want to be alone in your bed, and you don’t much care who shares it with you. so you grab the one you’ve been talking to and words are exchanged, but it’s not so much the words that matter as the looks, and it’s decided: he’ll come with you. and for a moment, you feel lighter than air, like you’ve been chosen, like maybe your drunken one night stand will result in a lifetime of happiness, in a man who puts a ring on your finger and makes you chocolate chip pancakes on sunday mornings while you curl your fingers around a steaming mug of coffee and take it all in.

because that’s the thing about bringing a guy home: in the moment, it feels wonderful. you feel pretty. you thank yourself for choosing to wear heels, for applying extra eyeliner, for smiling and laughing and talking and remembering to suck in your stomach. and you kiss in the cab and you watch the cabbie watching you and you think to yourself, ‘this is what it means to be young’ and you praise yourself for your recklessness, because you’re not a reckless person. you tell yourself you’re just having fun, just like everyone else, and everyone’s always telling you that you could stand to have a bit more fun.

and then you’re putting your key in the lock and you’re in bed and you’ve stripped off your clothes and it’s dark and you’re glad for the lack of light because you hate this part –  the part where it gets personal and you can’t hide behind anything. and you curse him for throwing off the covers and really looking at you, because you’re not sure you’re ready for that. and so you get it done and you offer him a glass of water and you fall into a dreamless sleep, and in the morning, things are the same, but different.

your hair no longer looks pretty, but messy, knotted and twisted and uneven, all smushed on one side. your eye makeup is smudged and you realize you forgot to brush your teeth, and it’s too hot under the covers but too cold in your room and how did you get here? and your head pounds and you look at the one sleeping next to you and you realize he’s not going to be your anything. he doesn’t care about you, doesn’t want to know about what you want out of life or how you take your coffee or the fact that you hate the feel of itchy wool sweaters and despise big slobbery dogs that smell like wet garbage. and you curse yourself for doing this yet again, because even if it’s only been a handful of times in your life, you’ve done it enough to know you never enjoy it the next morning. and you try and counsel yourself: this was fun, you were fun, it’s good to be fun. but in the harsh clouds of early morning, it’s no longer fun.

it’s funny, yes, when he rolls over and opts for, “want to have sex again before i leave?” instead of good morning. but it’s not fun. and suddenly all you want is to be old and wrinkled and sitting in a rocking adirondack chair on an oversized porch alongside someone who’s been at your side for years. and you’re seized by the terrible fear that the life you dream of for yourself, the one with which you sing yourself to sleep, might never be yours. and then, you can’t be alone fast enough. so you go through the motions and you nod as he says he has to get home, he’s having furniture delivered, and you smile and giggle at all the right moments as he tells you his hurricane sandy horror story, and how he’s finally found a new apartment, and you realize he’s balding slightly and he’s not the one who wants to make pancakes with you on a sunday morning, and all you want is for him to leave.

and after all that, the next day? the next day you go back to life. you fall in love with strangers on the subway, and you stand in line at starbucks and you fight to cut a swath down the busy city streets, and you think to yourself, is this it? is this what it’s going to be? and the thought of that horrifies you, that this could be it. and so you find yourself on a crowded street in one of the most populous cities in the world feeling utterly alone, and you tell yourself, never again.

that is, until next time.

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as a bonafide hgtv addict, i’m constantly rearranging my apartment, subtracting items and buying new ones, scouring craigslist for vintage finds, and perusing flea markets for perfect tchotchkes. my latest obsession is removing a wall decal i stuck up above my eating area four years ago and replacing it with a perfectly curated gallery wall, complete with a mirror in the middle. my living room is a bit dark because (god bless new york real estate) it’s technically a converted room (one giant room split into both bedroom and living room) and there are no real windows. mirrors, as everyone knows, add light – so i’m thinking my gallery wall will be best served with a mirror in the middle. preferably, a venetian or antique gilded one, though i’d settle for the simplicity of the round one in the photo below. i’ve been curating a pinterest board of prints i intend to order to create my gallery wall – with the addition of some ikea frames and some flea market finds, plus a slew of gold gilded frames i’ve been hoarding in my closet for years, i’ll have the gallery wall interior design dreams are made of. now, if only i could save up enough for the lucite chiavari chairs i so covet. Image

i am by no means a music snob, nor one of those cool kids who’s got her finger on the pulse of brand new sounds. but i do love music, because i grew up playing piano and singing, and i harbor secret dreams of being a combination of sara bareilles and fiona apple. 

i’m partial to folk music, guy with a guitar acoustic tracks, and pure, unadulterated pop. here’s what i’m listening to this month.

classy girls – the lumineers

burning bridges – ben taylor

some nights – fun.

queen of the city – joshua james

when the right one comes along – nashville cast

hiroshima – ben folds

all too well – taylor swift

locked out of heaven – bruno mars

dirty paws – of monsters and men

you don’t know me – ben folds and regina spektor

if i didn’t know better – claire bowen and sam palladino

ho hey – the lumineers

you and i – ingrid michaelson

gorilla – bruno mars

a face to call home – john mayer

heart of gold – neil young

anything could happen – ellie goulding

no way down – the shins

cups – anna kendrick

give me love – ed sheeran

holy ground – taylor swift

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in true emo fashion, i am starting the new year off with a death cab for cutie quote. cue the violins. i’ve always been kind of wary of resolutions, mostly because i’d make them but never keep them. for instance, every new year, i tell myself that this will be the year i floss regularly. it seems like a small, achievable goal, right? except i’ve never been able to stick to it. and my dentist hates me for it. 

two years ago (i can’t believe it’s been that long), my resolution was to attempt to get in shape – to find a workout routine that i actually enjoyed and therefore, could stick to. as someone who’s the exact opposite of athletic, this seemed an insurmountable obstacle. i hate the gym. the elliptical is boring, but doable; i hate to run (thanks, mom, for the chest). i’m not really one for team sports, mostly because i fear i won’t be able to do them and i’ll bring the team down. but one dreary, cold january day two years ago, i stumbled on a gilt city deal for a ballet bar fitness class just three blocks from my office. and on a whim, i bought it.

cut to me nearly passing out at my first bar method class. see the vision of me sitting outside the studio in a well-lit and nicely padded hallway, with my head between my knees? a tall, lithe, and perfectly built teacher (who i’d later learn was one of the owners), kindly stopped in the hallway and patted me on the shoulder. “first class?” i nodded. in my head, i was back in my childhood ballet class, watching my impossibly graceful best friend do a perfect plie while i struggled to hold my head high enough to twirl on my tiptoes. “the first class is the worst. keep your head between your knees and take some deep breaths. it’ll get easier. you can do it.

and you know what? i could. two years later, i take 5 bar method classes a week, sometimes more. i regularly take level II classes, and i don’t die. i don’t pass out. i sweat, and my muscles shake, and sometimes, i think i might die after all. but i never do. and in those two years, i’ve not only kept a new year’s resolution ( a first! ) but also found one of my favorite group of people in new york. i’ve found a place where i feel at home, where i can come burn off my stress and channel all my negative energy into something positive. i’ve found a place where i feel strong, even when i’m feeling weak in every other part of my life. 

the moral of the story? new year’s resolutions aren’t just a silly tradition – they hold more gravitas than we think. the new year is a time to put what’s come before behind you. to forgive others who have wronged you, to forgive yourself for those you’ve wronged. to give yourself a fresh start, a blank slate. to try something new, even something scary. it’s worth it, i promise.

my resolution this year is twofold: 

1) to write more. since i write for a living (advertising), i rarely have the energy to write creatively. but it’s something i miss. so i bought myself a writer’s workbook, with 532 writing prompts. and i want to complete at least one a week, if not more. 

2) i’m also resolved to update this here blog once a week. and not just with recipes, but with writing (which should help with resolution number 1), and maybe some pretty pictures, as well as some music recommendations. 

in short? if you are reading (and thank you if you are!), thanks for sticking with me, and i promise there will be more to come.