Need to impress a dinner party? Recipe: Shortbread Sundae Bites

Friday, November 29, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 1 Comment

Friday, November 29, 2013

Then make them Shortbread Sundae Bites. 
Trust me, they will sing your praises
through the holiday season.

It's all in the presentation. 
Make it look pretty and they'll
never guess you spent less than 
20 minutes fixing it. 

The key is to use Talenti gelato.
Tahitian vanilla bean, butter pecan, & belgian chocolate 
to be exact. 

(No, I did not receive payment from Talenti for this post, 
but I am open for collaboration in the future. Got that, Talenti PR pros?)

What you will need: 
2 in. tart pan (this is important. 4 in. pans are a tad too big for a single serving)
1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
ice cream of your choice (see recommendation above)
cocunut shavings
toffee bits
chocolate and/or caramel sauce
strawberries to make it pretty

To make the shortbread torte: Preheat oven to 300. Gently cream together softened butter and brown sugar. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder together and gently fold into the creamed mixture, handling as little as possible. Dough will be crumbly. Lightly press dough into small torte pans. Bake at 300 for 15-18 minutes. Check often, do not overbake.

Use a small scoop to create vanilla ice cream balls. Roll in shredded coconut and freeze. For chocolate (and butter pecan), use a larger scoop and roll in toffee bits. Freeze. Melt 8 oz. semisweet chocolate chips in microwave for 1-1.5 minutes or until creamy. Do not overheat. When ready to serve, place one vanilla and one chocolate (or butter pecan) ice cream ball on each shortbread torte. Add a strawberry and top with melted chocolate (or caramel sauce.)

*recipe from "A Gathering of Friends Vol. 1" cookbook

Meet Caroline of A Batonnet a Day

Caroline blogs over at A Batonnet a Day when she is not busy at cooking school in Portland or spending time with her cat, Willow. I'm sure if you asked her, she could come up with a dozen more recipes to impress a dinner party. In case, like me, you were wondering what a batonnet is: "A b√Ętonnet is one of the first knife cuts that you learn and one that you use every day, the dimensions are .25"x.25"x2". At school you start by cutting potatoes, lots of potatoes, only potatoes (with the occasional onion). In fact, the entire first week is based on cooking potatoes! (And as you can probably guess, cutting A LOT b√Ętonnets.)"

What are you most thankful for? 
My family and friends. They are always there for me, no matter what, any time - day or night. I know that I can always count on them for anything. 

What you should be reading: Vegan Pumpkin Muffins | Baked Feta | DIY Glitter Leaf Garland

Maximize Your Time: Start with an easy task

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

So, as per last week's instruction of planning your week in advance, you find yourself staring at a daunting list of appointments and tasks. Now what? Any time I sit down to get work done, I always start off with the easiest item on my list. Knowing that I can check off one item and begin to shrink the list gives me the motivation to continue on. For example, if I had a choice between taking notes for a research paper, reading 50 pages or completing a simple 10 question quiz online, I would start with the quiz. BAM. One down, two to go. If I decided to start reading the chapter, I may get halfway through and decide that I deserve a break for almost finishing. And then where does that leave me? Not much better off than when I started.

Perhaps you need to wash the dishes or vacuum the floor. If working in a clean and organized space clears your mind and helps you to focus better, then by all means, clean first.

I wouldn't suggest leaving your hardest or timeliness task until the very end, because you may tire before starting. Try to sandwich the monster of the day somewhere in the middle after you have hit your stride, but before you are winded. (I tried to make a running analogy, but since I run like Phoebe from Friends, I avoid running at all costs.) 

Also, don't always consider checking and answering emails as your easiest task. Unanswered questions can ultimately lead to more work that may not be time sensitive and lead you off track of what you set out to accomplish. Set aside a specific amount of time to clean out your inbox. 

The bottom line is to start with a task that you know can easily be accomplished in order to give yourself the motivational boost to complete the less desirable tasks in your day. Think of the simple task as drinking espresso, a quick burst of energy, as opposed to sipping coffee.

Weekly Wishes No. 8

Monday, November 25, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 2 Comments

Monday, November 25, 2013

Welcome back to another installment of Weekly Wishes, a place to share your goals for the week and to encourage others along the way too. Last week my goal was to organize my gift list for friends and family, and while I didn't quite get everything figured out, I am prepared for all of the online sales so I will not have to get out in the mass chaos and mayhem that is the day after Thanksgiving. It's like, for one day we are all thankful for our families and all the blessings in our lives, and the next day it's all about consumerism. We can't get away from our families fast enough. But that is another rant for another day. 

This week is all about rest and enjoying time with my family. Going to school so far from home seemed like a brilliant idea senior year of high school when I couldn't pack my bag fast enough to move, but it's always nice coming home. It almost feels like I've never even left and I get settled back in to my same routine effortlessly. There are only two more weeks of school left before graduation, and while the worst is behind be, it is nice to have a break to rest up and finish strong.

I arrived back home late Friday night in time to celebrate my mom's birthday dinner on Saturday at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. And don't get me started on the food. Salad with candied pears, strawberries, gorgonzola cheese and balsamic vinaigrette; followed by halibut with a veggie medley and mashed potatoes; and the meal ended with my grandmother's Italian cream cake.

Friday Favorites: Home Office

Friday, November 22, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 4 Comments

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo credit (clockwise): 

Over the past several weeks, I've been toying with the idea of pursuing freelance work until I find something more permanent and then also to help fund the trips I know I will be taking. If I want to seriously work on my own, I need an office space that reflects that. A laptop and time spent laying in bed or on the couch does not a home office make. Mine will have fresh flowers, natural light, an inspiration/gallery wall and open shelving above. 

For those of you who are self-employed or who work from home, what are your must haves to keep you focused, inspired and creative in your space? Does the dining room table transform to a conference table from 9-5?

Creative Initiative: Fall at Harding

Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 4 Comments

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The theme for the Creative Initiative this week was to get outdoors. And well, I didn't have to walk farther than the parking lot behind the student center to find my inspiration (I don't really do nature.) Since I took this photo the leaves have been fading and falling fast. Which is fine, since that means giant piles of crunchy leaves just begging to be jumped in all over campus. 

Fall at Harding is perfect. It is the saving grace of the state of Arkansas, if we're being honest. Those three or four weeks when the temperature is perfect and the leaves look like they are on fire make up for the countless potholes in the roads and the questionable-looking locals in the frozen food section of Walmart.

In Georgia, everything is green until about February and then all at once, the leaves fall and the landscape looks barren. Speaking of Georgia, as you're reading this I'm packing my bags to go home for Thanksgiving. And then two weeks later I will be home indefinitely until I find permanent employment. I will miss everyone at school terribly and the changing of the seasons. 

If you are new to the Creative Initiative, here are the rules: 
1. Create something in your sketchbook based on this weeks prompt.

2. Post about your artistic endeavor on your blog and link-it-up to this post (every Thursday.)

3. Comment on other bloggers posts! The prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other and we explore.

Next week's theme is: "Gratitude."

Time Management Series: Plan Out the Week Ahead

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

At one point this semester, I worked three jobs on top of classes and still managing to go to bed before midnight. Only once did I ever think I was in over my head and that was the days leading up to the two-day Main Street festival I was helping organize. So I think it's safe to say that I know a thing or two about how to maximize every minute of the day. 

For the next few weeks I will be sharing some of the practices that work best for me. They are not revolutionary or out of the box, but sometimes you just need a reminder. Also, changing your habits and routine is easier said than done. 

Plan Out Your Week (or Day) Ahead

If you want to begin using your time more effectively, start at the beginning. On Sunday afternoons, I sit down and look over all of the assignments, meetings and due dates that are coming up in the week ahead. Before Monday I have already prioritized assignments and carved out time in the afternoons and evenings to work on them. 

Know about how much time each task will take, and then add in some wiggle room. This is especially important if others are contributing portions of the project, but you are the one who ultimately has to turn it in. Plan for the worst so you are not stressed when tasks take longer than you would like them too. Also, budget time for interruptions.   

Of course, you will not know of all tasks and meetings a week in advance. As new assignments arise, adjust accordingly. You can't expect to always follow your schedule with military precision, so be flexible and adjust as needed.

Take the time beforehand to make a game plan so you aren't caught off guard in the middle of the week and have to burn the midnight oil working to finish a project. The importance of looking to the week ahead is to make sure you don't let anything slip through the cracks.

  • Look over all assignments, meetings, due dates coming up 
  • Prioritize deadlines and pencil in specific time in your day to work on each one
  • Budget extra time for delays and interruptions
  • Each day quickly look over your schedule and to-do list and adjust it for any last-minute tasks that arise

Weekly Wishes No. 7

Monday, November 18, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Monday! Have you stopped to think how fast time flies? I live for the weekend, and then all of a sudden it's Monday...again. I only have one more week of classes before Thanksgiving break and then when I come back I only have one week of class, finals and then graduation. Crazy, right? 

My goals last week were to: 
1. Blog every day. CHECK.Want to know my favorite places to eat in NYC? Or maybe what winter fashion I'm most excited for. And what are your thoughts on booking a ticket on the next flight out of town

2. The Creative Initiative. Check.Week two was great. Lena and I even drew the exact same thing. Although, sometimes I feel like I don't need to be included in this group because my artistic skills are severely lacking. Perhaps my contribution could be a witty pun or haiku to go along with each week's prompt? 

3. Go on a 24-hour social media fast. And check. No Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram for this girl last Wednesday. Instead I studied for a test days away and read an entire book...for fun. If you missed my tips yesterday for how to better manage your screen time, you can read them here.

This week's goal: 
Solidify my holiday gift list. Like I said earlier, time flies. And Christmas music is already on the radio, which means the holiday shopping season is about to kick into high gear (Don't get me started on the number of stores that are actually going to be open on Thanksgiving day.) I'm not expecting to have purchased all of the gifts this week, but I would love to have a clear idea. Any suggestions for those "hard to shop for people?"

The Nectar Collective

Step away from the phone

Sunday, November 17, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport|| 4 Comments

Sunday, November 17, 2013

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to unplug for 24 hours, which may not seem like a long time, but for someone who is never more than a foot from her phone and checks Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest hourly, it's kind of a big deal. And guess what? Goal completed. And the world didn't end around me. I didn't realize just how much time I invested in mindlessly scrolling. I was able to complete all my work PLUS read a book...for fun. That is unheard of when I'm at school. 

As a communications major and someone who will most likely work in social media on a daily basis, I understand the power that it has and the good it can do. Twitter is my main news outlet; I do not have time to watch the news on television or read through online editions of newspapers, however I can catch up on the headlines and read the stories I am interested in. Pinterest is my go-to recipe book and I always check it before going to the grocery store to figure out what I want to cook that week. Instagram inspires me to find the beauty in the simple, everyday moments around me.

But when you can't even make it through a 30 minute TV show without checking your phone 5 times, you know you have a problem. I was also beginning to turn into a lurker, someone who reads everything, but rarely comments or engages with others. So I decided to do a detox and reevaluate my relationship with my favorite apps. I will never be able to give it up for good, but designating time in the morning and at night to catch up frees up my day to actually accomplish something.

Here are a few tips to be able to manage your online time more efficiently:

1. Find a time that works best for you.
First thing in the morning, at lunch and before bed works for me. Knowing that I have specific time set aside to catch up makes me less likely to check it every hour. I also have push notifications set up, so I don't have to constantly look to see if people have responded.

2. Pick a hobby to fill your free time. 
Do you have a dozen books sitting idle on your shelf or Kindle? Pick one up and start reading. Or maybe you have always wanted to learn pottery or caligraphy. Take a class or watch some Youtube videos and start creating something. Has the idea of starting your own business been floating in the back of your mind for years? Take the first steps to make that dream a reality.

3. Call a friend, and go to lunch. 
Nothing beats catching up with friends face to face. No screen time can replace it. And while you're at lunch, leave your phones in your bags. The notifications, texts and emails can wait an hour or two.

4. Only follow those whose information you care to read. 
Cut down on the amount of time it takes by unfollowing all of the accounts whose posts you consistently glaze over.

5. Don't forget that social media is designed for two-way communication. 
Don't be a lurker. Be engaged and active on social media. Start conversations and jump into other conversations your favorite bloggers and friends are having. It's a great way to meet new people/get your name and blog on the radar. 

Spur of the moment trips

Saturday, November 16, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 5 Comments

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Have you ever thrown a dart at a map to pick your next travel destination? Or decided to get on the next plane out of town, even if it is going to middle-of-nowhere Idaho? In theory, I have always wanted to do this, to live in the moment and go with the flow. How I would love to pack a bag in a hurry for an unplanned weekend getaway.

But part of the fun of travel for me is the planning. It extends the trip by months. I love researching restaurants, places to see, things to do, and did I mention restaurants? I love making itineraries to make the most of my time. I fear I will miss out on a place slightly off the beaten path if I don't at least do some planning before the trip. 

But then, what adventures am I missing out on by picking a destination and roaming around, following the locals to the truly best hangouts? (you know, the ones not listed anywhere online. The ones you have to know someone who knows someone to find.)

So what about you? Are you a planner or a goer? Any tips on making the most of a spur of the moment vacation?

New Sponsorship Options

Friday, November 15, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport|| 1 Comment

Friday, November 15, 2013

I have gone back and forth for the past month on whether or not to get into the sidebar ad and (possible) product review business. My first concern was "what if no one wants to fork over their hard-earned money for a spot on my sidebar?" And, well, that is still a concern of mine. Fingers crossed. But that is a risk I'm willing to take. While I have no plans to turn this into a full-time (or even part-time) career, I wouldn't hate getting paid for something I absolutely love to do.

Here's the deal: One hundred percent of money from ads will go directly into supporting Stamp in my Passport on other blogs. And according to the trickle down effect, it will bring new viewers to both of our  blogs. So it's a win win situation. 

There are three options for blogs of every size and budget. All will receive my love and attention, but if you purchase the jetsetter option, we will basically become best friends for the month. 

I have big plans for my corner of the Internet and I would be over the moon excited if you joined me on this adventure. For the next week, all ad spots are 50% off with the code OPENING. 

For more information, visit my sponsor page.

The Creative Initiative No. 2: What did you do today?

Thursday, November 14, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 7 Comments

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The theme this week is "What did you do today?" And if you are new around here, you know that I am in love with coffee and lattes (read more here.) This week I branched away from my americano or nonfat cafe au lait, and splurged on a gingerbread latte. If you haven't tried it yet, you must. And I can never get over how much I love the red cups. They are the true signal that it's acceptable to being playing Christmas music and getting in the holiday spirit (Thanksgiving included.)

And instead of photographing my red cup in my hand, I decided to illustrate it for this week's Creative Initiative. Besides drinking coffee en mass, I haven't done much other than going to class and working.

So what is The Creative Initiative, you may ask? 

This series is a sketchbook challenge (obviously I am terrible with pen & paper, so I am doing my drawings on Illustrator.) Every week we will introduce a new prompt and you will have until the following Tuesday to post whatever it is you made. You will have a week of knowing and thinking about the prompt (and brainstorming and sketching and practicing etc.) before you post your artwork on the following Thursday! You can view my first post here

Here are the rules: 

1. Create something in your sketchbook based on this weeks prompt.

2. Post about your artistic endeavor on your blog and link-it-up to this post.

3. Comment on other bloggers posts! The prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other and we explore!

So there you have it! Week 2 in underway! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Next week's prompt is: Get outdoors.

Layer Up

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Looking to diversify your winter wardrobe? Tired of wearing long sleeved function T-shirts and jeans every day? Investing in a few key items will carry your wardrobe through the first thaw. The overarching trend for both him and her is layers, layers, layers.

For her, think ankle boots, structured coats, stripes, utility jackets and leather skinny pants.
Riding boots may not put anyone on the worst-dressed list, but 2014 will be year of the ankle boot. Worn with a dress and tights or skinny jeans and an oversized sweater, ankle boots can be dressed up or dressed down and transition seamlessly from day to night. Do heels intimidate you? Don’t worry, this trend also comes in flat and wedge options. 
The one item that should be in every closet is a structured wool coat. First impressions are important, and in the winter, your coat is the first thing everyone sees. If your style is classic and timeless, look for a traditional pea coat in navy or charcoal. However, if you want to make a statement, go for winter white, powder blue or orange with faux fur trim. Mid-length coats pair perfectly with both pants and dresses and are the most versatile. 
The striped sweaters and long-sleeved T-shirts can be spared the trip to Goodwill another season. Pair them with an olive green utility jacket and dark skinny jeans or dress them up with a tulle ballerina-style skirt for a night out.

Don’t be afraid of monochromatic black ensembles. They are no longer reserved for angsty teenagers looking to rebel against their parents. Make sure to vary the textures; dress up black leather leggings with a silk black top and fitted black blazer. 

When in doubt, layer up. Sweaters look great over plaid button downs paired with this summer’s maxi skirt. And for those unseasonably warm days, opt for a quilted puffy vest over a thermal shirt.
The only must-follow rule is to purge all of the chevron print from your closet. That ship has sailed and won’t make an appearance until the next fashion cycle in 15-20 years.
Some of the same winter trends also apply to men’s fashion. Structured pea coats and crew neck sweaters worn over button downs are classic and a step up from jeans and T-shirts. Also, do not be afraid to embrace scarves on the coldest days and invest in quality socks. Whatever you do, do not wear socks with Chacos. 

A (primarily French) Foodcation Guide to NYC

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 5 Comments

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

So maybe when I planned my spring break trip to New York last year, I built my itinerary around all of the places I wanted to eat. New York is one of those cities that is a melting pot of cuisine and you can tour the world without ever leaving the island. I was craving classic French dishes, so most of the places I ate at were reminiscent of the French cafes I dined at every afternoon living in Paris. 

1. LT Burger | Bryant Park ($15-25)

If you eat no where else while in the city, which is highly doubtful, you must make a beeline for LT Burger. And when you do, order the smoked gouda cheese fries (best split between 2-3 people.) They will change your life. LT Burger does upscale burgers right in a modern, casual atmosphere. Finish off your Americana meal with a tall milkshake. Afterwards take a few laps around the block to walk off your dinner. 

2. Tartine | West Village ($15)

It is no secret that brunch is my favorite meal, especially a French brunch. And since NYC is the epicenter of casual (and not-so-casual) brunch cafes, you must take part in this tradition at least once. If you find yourself needing to get away from the crowds of tour buses, you can find a moment of calm in the West Village. And while you are there, you must eat at Tartine. I recommend the brioche French toast, croque madame or omelette. Brunch is served with orange juice and coffee all for $15. 

3. L'entrecote | Midtown East ($27)

Another one of my French favorites, but trust me on this pick, this ain't your mother's steak frites. After eating at the restaurant in Paris more times than I care to admit, eating at L'entrecote was a wonderful nostalgic moment for me, but everyone will enjoy this French steakhouse. There is no menu. Everyone receives salad and steak frites with their famous sauce. And then when you think the meal is finished, they bring you a second helping of steak frites. If that doesn't brighten your day, I don't know what will. Follow it up with profiteroles and espresso for dessert.

4. Donut Plant | Lower East Side (multiple locations)

A day of sightseeing will make even the most seasoned traveler hungry for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Donut Plant's wide variety of donuts will give you the perfect pick-me-up to continue on to your next destination. With all natural ingredients in a selection of yeast, cake and filled donuts, your sweet tooth will be satisfied. And dozens of locations all over Manhattan, you are never far away from one.

5. Chelsea Market | Meatpacking District

The food concourse has a little bit of everything from crepes to thai, and artisanal cheese to tacos with every other speciality item you can imagine. The foodie in your group will thank you for making a pit stop.

6. Pret a Manger | Midtown ($4-15)

If you need a sandwich and coffee on the go, stop by one of the many Pret a Manger stores, located primarily in Midtown. Their prepackaged handmade sandwiches with all natural ingredients make a perfect lunch, especially if the weather is nice and you wish to eat in a park. They have minimal indoor seating and are not the best option if you are seeking shelter from rain or cold. 

7. Le Grainne Cafe | Chelsea ($5-15)

You didn't think that my dining guide would only include ONE French bakery/cafe? Of course not. Le Grainne Cafe is located in Chelsea only two blocks away from the Highline and is the perfect place to start your morning off right. Aside from their menu, they have a wide variety of a la carte items to help you build your perfect breakfast. My suggestions always include a cafe au lait and almond croissant. All other selections are up to you. If you are in the mood for something more savory, try the french onion soup or one of their many savory crepes. 

Weekly Wishes No. 6

Monday, November 11, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 5 Comments

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last week, my sole goal was to be content with the fact that my best is the best I can give in any situation. And if that is still not enough, well there is nothing I can do about it. Worrying does no good...for anyone. I felt more at peace and put the extra energy I spent worrying into putting the finishing touches on projects and assignments. Working harder gives a sense of accomplishment worrying never can give you. 

My goals for this week: 
1. Blog 7 days this week. Even when Samantha and Emily were contributing to Stamp in my Passport, we never blogged 7 days a week. I was on a writing roll yesterday and I almost have all of this week's posts completed. Isn't it amazing that the more you write, the more ideas that come to you? It's those first few words that will make or break your inspiration and creativity. 

Speaking of creativity...

2. The Creative Initiative. Lena of This Lovely Little Day, myself, and about 5 other bloggers have organized "The Creative Initiative" link-up that went live last week. You can view my first post here. There will be a different prompt each week, and you are encouraged to sketch or create something that goes along with the prompt. If you feel like you are lacking spark, this is the perfect exercise to force you to put pen (or charcoal, paint, etc.) to paper. Also, there are some truly talented ladies participating and their talent inspires me. We would love to have you join us again on Thursday.

3. Go on a 24 hour social media fast. No, you read that correctly. After reading this infographic about how social media affects your brain, I've decided to go at least one day without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, the whole shabang. After the one day fast, my goal is to designate a brief time in the morning and at night to check it. It has gotten to the point where I can't go to sleep until  I have caught up on Instagram and Pinterest, which is a problem.

What are your goals for this week? 
The Nectar Collective

Friday Favorites: Holiday Travel

Friday, November 8, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Friday, November 8, 2013

My email inbox is flooded with amazing travel deals this holiday season. They beg me to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years on a warm beach or nestled in a cabin in the mountains removed from the world. And when they aren't selling me on the weekend getaways, it is the ever affordable "all inclusive + airfare" week long European vacations that are calling my name. Maybe one day I will take them up on the offer and convince my family to ditch the holidays entirely and spend it somewhere else away from the consumerism that has taken over. (Skipping Christmas, anyone? The book, not the movie.)

But that time is not this year. However, if you have an inkling to pack your bags and hop on the next flight out of town, perhaps you can put some of these deals to good use. 

Want to be a snowbird in Hawaii this winter? 

Or maybe a week-long gelato tour in Italy is what you had in mind. 

And finally, if you need an escape from the city, this inn tucked in the Berkshires is the perfect place to rejuvenate in time for the new year. 

What are you holiday travel plans?

The Creative Initiative

Thursday, November 7, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 4 Comments

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lena from This Lovely Little Day reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would like to help put  together a link-up focused on creativity. And of course I said yes. Because we all get into a rut when we feel like the log floating down the river has more creative energy than we do.

And while I am by no means an artist of any form besides witty remarks, I love the idea of getting out of my comfort zone and into the habit of thinking creatively. Lena is a wonderful drawer/sketcher/artist and I envy her ability to use a Moleskine notebook for its intended purpose. But have no fear because if you, like me, would rather not take pencil to paper, that is ok too. The whole point of being creative is working in a medium that you enjoy, or trying a new one if that is your cup of tea. Charcoal, watercolor, photography, decoupage, graphics, you name it, it will be welcomed into the creative initiative.

So here's how it will work:

1. Create something in your sketchbook based on this weeks prompt.

2. Post about your artistic endeavor on your blog and link-it-up to this post (every Thursday.)

3. Comment on other bloggers posts! The prompts leave a lot of room to use your imagination and we should all support and encourage each other and we explore!

Each week there will be a different theme. This week, as the introduction to the project, the theme was simply: The creative initiative. I love typographical quotes and am still learning my way around Illustrator, so I thought it would be perfect practice to create a type poster for this week.

Next week's theme is: What did you do today? 

We would love to have you become a regular contributor to The Creative Initiative. It's a wonderful way to encourage others and to become inspired. If you feel like you have been in a creative rut of sorts, this is the perfect exercise to work your way out of it.

Food Photography: Yea or Nea?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, my name is Jess and I take pictures of food. You have probably seen the stereotypical photos of a group out to eat and they are all snapping pictures of their meal and trying to get the best angle. Well, that is me. And I know it probably annoys friends and family to no end, but all I have to say to them (in the words of Miley): can't stop, won't stop. 

I wish I could say that I am trying to remember the dish so I can recreate it at home. Or that the plating was artistic and spoke to me in a creative way and it would be inspiration for a project later on. But that's not the case. 

What can I say, there is something about a pastry, coffee cup or homestyle meal that screams "photograph me!" 

In all seriousness, nine time out of ten there is a story behind each meal. A friend who haven't seen in a long time, great conversation, or a moment you don't want to forget. As someone who frequently hashtags "foodcation" I know that if the food (and weather) on a trip were good, then you are going to have fond memories of it. So yes, there may be a method to the madness after all. 

Which brings me to my question: For those of you who aren't avid food photographers, are you annoyed when those around you make you wait to eat your meal so they can take a photo of it first?  

This was thrown in to the mix 1) to show my excitement for the early release of the red cups and 2) to let baristas everywhere know that my name is NOT Jen. It's happened at least three times at the one on campus and other random ones I've gone to when traveling. 

Weekly Wishes No. 5

Monday, November 4, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 6 Comments

Monday, November 4, 2013

I thought I would share with you a quote from Walt Disney: "Why worry? If you've done the very best you can, worrying won't make it any better." 

This resonates two fold. One, you should always strive to put your best work out there and to not slack on projects. You never know who is watching or where it might lead you. The second reminder is about not worrying, which is so much easier said than done. And while I am not trying to quit worrying altogether and float through life on a cloud of unicorns and fairy dust, I am trying to be content in the knowledge that I have done my best and that is all I can do. 

Worrying will only add premature wrinkles and frown lines. And while I would love nothing more to actually look my age, I certainly do not want to look older than my 21 years.

Another way to easy the worry and anxiety that flares up all too often, is to focus that negative energy onto something positive. November is here and with that comes a season of thankfulness and generosity. Instead of stressing yourself out with worry, focus on all that you have to be thankful for and show appreciation for those special people in your life. Do a random act of kindness. Treat a friend to lunch or write them a note of encouragement. Not only will it will help refocus your energy and take your mind off of the things you cannot change, but it will also brighten someone else's day. 
The Nectar Collective

Weekend attire

Friday, November 1, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nothing says "It's the weekend" like a sweater that says "Cheers" in four languages. Whether you are picking up coffee and pastries, enjoying the final weeks of the farmer's market, or running Saturday errands and being adult-like, this outfit can carry you through all weekend activities before the temperature take a sharp nosedive into winter. I love the mix of neutrals and patterns. It has a "You'll never know if I put this outfit together because I haven't had a chance to do laundry or if I made a conscious fashion decision" look about it.

Do you have any exciting plans? Most of my time will be consumed with preparing my senior seminar speech for Tuesday. It's hard to think that in six weeks I'll be a college graduate. Anyways, I hope that your free time will be more exciting than mine because I hope to live vicariously through your shenanigans. Keep me posted.