First Date Jitters

Is there anything that is so extremely exciting but utterly nerve wracking as a first date?

What do I wear? What do I say? Do I hug him, shake his hand, smile?

Of course, I over analyze everything. But to keep my jitters down I make sure I have a killer outfit! Confidence is key, and I like to keep it simple.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a fancy outfit, and the more accessories, often, the better. However, I think the first date outfit should focus on your personality and not your skill at mixing patterns.

I was lucky enough to go on dates with two amazing gentlemen. Yes, TWO! Let me first say, this never happens, I am often too busy with school and hanging out with my cat to pay attention to men. But, I’ve been trying a dating app, I know CRINGE, and I ended up with two fantastic matches. More on that later.

One of my dates was at a water front restaurant, casual, but nice. I went with this black t-shirt dress I purchased from Nordstrom’s Rack for $18! It’s loose fitting, shows a little cleavage without being too much, and has a trendy high-low hem. The shoes are simple, but feminine. The shoes are from Charlotte Russe and I’ve linked them here!

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Maci likes to help me out with outfit planning!

The second date was at a trendy bar downtown, one that has a cozy hipster vibe. I went with cuffed skinny jeans, a flirty off the shoulder top, and the same simple ballet flats. I love them because they remind me slightly of the shoes you’d see in the little shops in Italy. The jeans and shirt are both from TJ Maxx awhile ago, but I consistently see these Michael Kors Jeans there. I absolutely love their stretchy fit!

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For both outfits I actually wore the same jewelry since the color schemes were similar, and like I said, I wanted to keep it simple! I wanted classy gold hoops and a statement piece. I recently purchased this ring while on a Navajo reservation in Northern Arizona! I wanted to make sure that I was purchasing an item actually made by local Native Americans so I was supporting their local tribe, and I found this ring on my last stop. It was actually mentioned by both guys, so my conversation piece worked!

image3Even though these outfits seemed simple, I felt confident and in control. And both gentlemen asked me out again at the end of the night, so I think it worked!

Language

Have you ever walked away from a conversation asking yourself why the other person makes you feel so inferior?

The sassy first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

And while typically I agree with her wise words, sometimes you can’t help but get beat down when someone repeatedly speaks to you as though you are inferior.

Communication is so important in everyday life because how we speak to others influences our relationships, our results at work, and our overall mood. You can walk away from a conversation uplifted, or torn down.

After experiencing someone who uses negative language and tones with me on a daily basis, it’s hard to want to go back to the situation and continue to try your best. But what we can learn from these experiences is how important it is to treat others the way you’d like to be treated.

I want to make people feel more uplifted after they speak with me, as though the conversation was a refresher. They should leave my presence feeling better than when they entered it.

People forget what we say to them and what we do to them, but they never forget how we make them feel.

That’s all.

Outfit Planning & Closet Organization

Full disclosure: I’m type triple A. If I can organize anything to make my life easier and more efficient, especially with my insane schedule, then I will make it happen.

I’m also a shopping addict! It’s such a bad habit, but to quote Confessions of a Shopaholic:

“You know that thing when you see someone cute and he smiles and your heart kind of goes like warm butter sliding down hot toast? Well that’s what it’s like when I see a store. Only it’s better.”

I love mixing colors, prints, and textures. And I love the confidence that flows through you when you know you look good!

That being said, I’m not made of money and I wanted to organize my closet to make sure I’m incorporating the pieces that I already own into new outfits. This way, I’m capitalizing on what I already own and getting more $$$ per wear.

Enter my saving grace: Stylebook.

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Style book is an app you can purchase for $3.99. It allows you to photograph and upload your entire closet (jewelry and all!), as well as style inspiration, and stats on each item. Using your own clothes, you can put together outfits, and even put those outfits on a calendar to plan out what you’re wearing weeks in advance. These statistics also help you calculate price per wear, and encourage you to incorporate all your items as often as possible.

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Style Inspiration

For me, it’s a lifesaver! I’m required to dress in business casual daily for work, and trying to look nice and stylish everyday is exhausting when you’re trying to juggle normal household duties and homework.

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That may sound overdramatic, but have y’all heard that the most successful people in the world wear a “uniform,” meaning they wear nearly the same thing everyday to cut down on the brain power it requires to put together an outfit. It’s real, I promise. And since I’m not feeling like dressing in the fashion of Steve Jobs everyday, a la t-shirt/jeans/sneakers, this is my alternative.

A Little Taste of Italy

On my grad student budget and schedule, I’m always trying to find cheap and quick food options, that are also tasty and healthy!

Sound difficult? It is.

This recipe I’m using today is from Picky Palate, a blog I absolutely love! Her photos of the Chicken, Arugula, and Hummus Tart were making me drool, and since the ingredients were healthy and affordable, I thought I’d give it a try.

I was not disappointed! The yummy flavors made me reminisce on living in Northern Italy, and it made a lot of servings to last through out the week.

Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 1 package/2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup Sabra Hummus, I used Roasted Garlic
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or a silpat liner.
  2. Unfold puff pastry and slice each sheet into thirds. Place each piece onto baking sheets, spacing about 1 or 2 inches apart.
  3. On each puff pastry piece, spread a thin layer of hummus, top evenly with shredded chicken pieces, arugula leaves, roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until cheese is melted and pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes then serve warm!

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It says it makes six servings! Depending on who you’re feeding, it may give you a little more or less.

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Guys, these were amazing. Full of flavor and it only took me ten minutes to put together. Highly recommend!

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there anything more relaxing than tea? I love coffee, but when I need to relax, my go to is tea.

And there is nothing more perfect than Earl Grey.

And second only to Earl Grey in terms of comfort: the chocolate chip cookie.

I was giddy when I found this recipe on Pinterest. I love baking, especially as a form of stress relief from graduate studies. (And as I’m writing this I’m thinking perhaps I should find a healthier form of stress relief….does blogging count?)

Anyways, I tried out this recipe this past weekend, and I fell in love.

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Between books and papers, I cuddled up with Maci to enjoy my hard work and a cup of tea. There is rarely anything more heartwarming than your cat and some cookies. Yes, I’m a cat lady.

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Here it is:

Ingredients
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon loose leaf earl grey tea
• 2 tablespoons milk, hot
• 2 ¼ cups flour
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• pinch of cardamom
• pinch of nutmeg
• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ⅔ cup bittersweet chocolate chips

• Using a tea strainer, steep 1 teaspoon of the earl grey in a small mug of the hot milk for 15 minutes. While the milk is steeping, grind the remaining tablespoon of tea in a clean coffee grinder or blender until powdered. Set aside.

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, ground tea, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg until combined. Set aside.

• In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and the milk and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the flour, mixing until a smooth dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.

• Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the dough and place it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of space around each ball of dough, until the baking sheet is full. Place the sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before placing cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Credit goes to the lovely blogger at Design Love Fest.

Bryce Canyon & Zion

Fun fact: I’ve driven across the United States, from coast to coast, twice. The most recent adventure occurred this last August when I helped my best friend since high school move to Atlanta, Georgia.

I now have a deep appreciation for truck drivers. How do they manage to stay focused for so long??

Anyways..

Being the adventurers we are, we decided along the way to stop in Utah at both Bryce Canyon and Zion. Its been several weeks since I’ve returned to Charleston, but I’d like to share a little recap of my adventure!

Kelsey and I drove into Bryce on our way from Idaho, and arrived in the early afternoon. We had planned a hike at Navajo Trail, and to then drive through the rest of the park, as we were short on time.

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon

Stopping at the visitor’s center first, we armed ourselves with water, maps, and adorable vintage postcards of the park (for home decor, of course!). We were a little tired at this point, and played around in the gift shop.

(Junior) Ranger Kelsey
(Junior) Ranger Kelsey

The Navajo Trail was incredible. Of all the places we went on this trip, this would have to be my favorite. There is something about the bright orange, contrasting with the rich blue of the sky, that makes everything more beautiful. Trust me, I’m not usually a rock fan.

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I also didn’t realize how many tourists from other countries come to visit our National Parks. Kelsey and I met so many wonderful people hiking the trail, most of which were from Europe or Asia! It put it in perspective how lucky we are in America to have such beautiful natural scenery, especially since, we as Americans, don’t always think of our own country as a destination.

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Zion was just as beautiful as Bryce, although I think I preferred the scenery at Bryce more. It felt like I could see more from the viewpoints.

During our time in Utah we stayed at this cute cottage we found on AirBnB, run by  Cathy. I’ve linked it in the post. Cathy’s cottage was located in Kanab, directly in between Bryce and Zion, plus close to the Arizona border. It was the perfect location for exploring the parks, and traveling to the Grand Canyon the next day.

We stayed two nights in the spacious cottage, and loved having coffee on our patio in the mornings. Cathy has built her own garden and peaceful pond area, and it made a lovely start to our Utah mornings.

Here’s hoping I can make it back soon!

Visiting a Plantation: Middleton Place

I think it’s fitting that since I love to travel so much, my first post is on one of my favorite destinations in the Charleston area: Middleton Place. I’m writing this today as an act of procrastination from writing a book review (of a horrible book, might I add), so what is more fun than reminiscing?

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Middleton is about ten minutes from my home in West Ashley, and is located on the Ashley River. This is how plantation owners made it to the city! It makes me appreciate the bridges now in place, even with Charleston’s crappy traffic.

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Middleton is home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens, a museum, and an interactive display on life on a plantation. In my opinion, Middleton does the best job of any low country plantation of showcasing the living conditions of slaves on a plantation, which is often ignored by tourist destinations, despite the fact that these places revolved around the exploitation of slaves.

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It is a beautiful place to take in the landscape of the low country, see some wildlife (Gators, anyone?), and learn about the economics that were important to 19th Century Charleston.

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Of all the plantations to visit in Charleston, Middleton is the best! Bring your own coffee, and walk around the gardens, taking a seat by the river. You won’t be disappointed!

Find information on visiting here.

Welcome to my life…

Hey y’all,

Welcome to my very new, very personal, little blog. My name is Morgan, formerly of Oregon (yes, it rhymes). I’m currently a graduate student studying history in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve decided to start a blog for so many reasons, the first of which is I need an outlet to be creative, especially since I’m drowning in books to read, papers to write, and sometimes, too much academia.

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If you decide to follow me you’ll probably find an assortment of lifestyle posts, book reviews, travel pieces, and anything else that may pop into my head. I love fashion and beauty, travel, and anything that happens in the kitchen! I want to demonstrate that you can be a feminine woman who loves fancy dresses and baking, and still be intelligent and interested in current events. These things are not mutually exclusive!

My blog posts will be written from my oversized reading chair, with the help of my cat (who acts more like a rambunctious kitten), Maci. I hope to deliver great posts, with actual content that makes my readers think. Glad to have you here.

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