How to Stay Sane During the Hectic Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving!  Besides lots of food and friends, it also means that the start of the hectic holiday season is officially here. While it’s one of my favourite times of the year,  I tend to easily get swept up in all of the excitement. While this might not seem such a bad thing, it often leaves me feeling unbalanced, spread too thin, and unnecessarily stressed. Add a few long-distance flights into the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Between holiday decorating, gift shopping, and festive get-togethers my free time slowly diminishes. Once the holidays arrives I feel extra pressure to make the most of it. Because I don’t get to see family and friends in the US very often, I feel like I have to pack every possible minute into every trip, which only makes me even more stressed. To ease some of the pressure I feel to make the absolute most of every minute, I use the list below to make sure I stay balanced and grounded when things seem like they are getting a bit too hectic.

  1. Schedule Strategically 

I’m always tempted to pack each of my trips home full of back to back activities with friends and family, but over-scheduelign can be just as bad as under-scheduling. I’ve found that planning one main thing with each person I want to spend time with– whether its a coffee date or group dinner– makes me way less stressed. Knowing I have at least one thing planned lets me relax a little more and really enjoy the time since I’m not worrying about what’s next.

2. Stick to You Routine

This one seems like a no-brainer, but at some point during the holidays I inevitably lose track of my regular routine. While it’s totally fine to let my regular a.m. yoga session slide for a day or two, any longer and I start to feel a little on edge.  The same can be said for my sleep schedule– as tempting as it is to spend more nights out with friends (and wine!), keeping my nighttime routine helps me stay well-rested to enjoy my time at home. Making sure to stick to my day to day schedule helps me stay grounded and calm. Which takes me to number three…

3. Sleep

Of course I manage to  squeeze in some sleep, but this one is more about making time for enough sleep. I like to wake up early, but the rest of my family are night owls, and when I’m home the time after dinner and before bed is one of the main times we all relax and catch up together. This means either getting less sleep, shifting my routine a little bit. It’s taken me years to find the balance, but now I try to have a mix of early (regular) bedtimes and later ones, so I get to enjoy time with my family. Prioritising a good 7-8 hours of sleep helps me manage the holiday stress and stay a happier version of myself all year.

4. Take Notes

I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with journaling since I was in high school, when the thought occurred to me that one day I would want to read back through and remember what my life was like. During college I got a lot better at regularly recording my life, but I make an extra effort to put pen to paper around the holidays. Not only is there so much to be thankful for, but holiday memories are some of the most precious. Knowing that I have more than just my mind to keep my holiday memories has the added benefit of keeping me ‘present’ so I can record things later.

5. Breathe

Making time for even one minute of conscious breathing in the morning and before bed is good practice for staying ‘in the moment’ when the list of things to do to prepare for the holidays seems to be exponentially growing. I’ve been loving the Breathe App on my apple watch, but even just a good old fashioned timer is a great way to carve out a few minutes to decompress. A quick meditation is also a great way to combat stress and anxiety when dinner table discussions get tense, or when you’ve answered the same question for the hundredth time.

 

Hopefully at least some of these help you stay balanced during this holiday season. While its easy to get caught up in all the preparation, the best parts of the holidays is everything that happens in the down time. I don’t remember what my holiday meal was last Thanksgiving, but I do remember laughing at the dinner table with friends, and singing along to Adele after several glasses of wine.

This year I’ll be celebrating away from home, but am looking forward to a belated ‘friendsgiving’ at the weekend.  How are you celebrating this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

DIY Cinnamon Sugar Scrub

Every winter I run into the same problem of chapped lips and dry skin that drives me crazy. Preventative measures work up to a point, but eventually I need some light exfoliation to get back to normal. This super-simple, three-ingredient scrub has worked wonders for turning my scales back into smooth skin, plus I know exactly what’s in it (no micro beads for me!).  I also love that it uses three ingredients I always have in my pantry.

The three ingredients are just coconut oil, cinnamon, and sugar. While these might sound like the beginning of a delicious seasonal dessert, they actually make a fantastic scrub that smells amazing, and leaves your skin super smooth. It’s like a little bit of holiday indulgence without the guilt.

Here’s why the three ingredients work so well together:

Coconut Oil:

I know coconut oil is being used for just about everything, and while it may not be the solution to all of your problems, it’s probably a pretty good solution for some of your winter beauty dilemmas. It’s a healthy choice for cooking, both because the medium-chain fatty acids are easier for your body to digest and burn off than long-chain fatty acids, and because the lauric acid that makes up almost 50% of raw coconut oil is converted to monolaurin, an immune-supporting substance that helps your body fight viruses and bacteria. Try adding some to smoothies or oatmeal for some healthy fats in the a.m.

But there are benefits to topical applications as well– not only does it make a great hair mask, it is also surprisingly effective at removing waterproof makeup and lipstick naturally and gently. It is also a great base or carrier oil for a scrub, both because its relatively gentle, and its unique properties add to the benefits of the scrub.

Cinnamon:

Like coconut oil, cinnamon has a mild anti-bacterial effect, which makes it a great ingredient for acne prone skin. It’s ‘spicy’ quality can also spark an increase in blood flow, which makes it great for skincare because it stimulates nutrient-carrying blood to the surface. Using this as a lip scrub has the added benefit of a subtle enhancing your pout sans injections or scary chemicals.

You may have seen cinnamon and honey masks, but I find them too strong on my relatively sensitive skin. The cinnamon in this scrub is less concentrated, but if you prefer a stronger feeling you can always add more. Be sure to patch test a little bit on your arm before trying it out anywhere on your face though, just in cause you also have a strong reaction.

I also love the warm, spicy scent, which feels especially seasonal. But the benefits go beyond this– the cent of cinnamon can also help to relieve headaches, and increase alertness.

Sugar:

While I try to avoid added sugars in my diet, they are great for scrubs because the particles are less abrasive than salt, but still pack some powerful buffing qualities. This means that this scrub should be safe to use on your face (as long as you use a very light touch) as well as hands or other areas that tend to look a bit dull or feel chapped in the winter.

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Ingredients for Scrub:

3 tsp coconut oil at room temp. (It should be soft, but not melted)

1-1.5 tsp ground cinnamon. (The fresher your cinnamon the more it will warm your skin, or cause any irritation, which is why patch-testing is so important)

2 tsp sugar. A finer grind is generally better here, especially if you are thinking of using it on your face. For body scrubs I like a coarser sugar, or even salt to really slough off any dead skin.

Directions:

  1. Combine in a small bowl or container, mixing thoroughly. The consistency should be like a paste, so you may need to make minor adjustments accordingly.

When I use this as a lip scrub I like to remove any lipstick or balm with a little bit of coconut oil and gently wipe away with a face cloth. Then I follow up  with a small amount of scrub, using my index finger to make small circles before gently removing. Don’t worry if you accidentally ingest some– that’s the benefit of using things from your kitchen!

When using this this on my face I like to first remove any moisturiser or leftover makeup with a mild cleanser (like Lush’s ultrabland), then apply a fine layer of the scrub (avoiding the eye area), massaging my face very gently with my fingertips. To remove I use a face cloth and warm (not hot!) water to gently wipe away the scrub.

The most important step to remember when using this scrub is to follow up with another layer of moisture once its removed, whether on your lips, face, or hands. Also, when removing, be sure you use warm water to remove the coconut oil throughly. It’s important that the water not been too hot though, as this can cause redness and irritation.

This will keep for a few weeks if stored in your fridge (just be sure to thaw it thoroughly before using), but because it’s so simple to make you could also easily mix a small amount as you  need it and use extra-fresh cinnamon each time. Let me know if you give it a try in the comments– I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Winter Wellness Teas to Keep You Healthy

As the temperature begins to dip even more I’m always reminded how much I love that winter is a time for slowing down. Rather than hectic, never-ending days, these early sunsets make get to sleep earlier, and shorter days mean I prioritise, rather than try to do everything. Cold weekend mornings become decidedly more lazy, with slower yoga sessions, and warm, hearty breakfasts that feed my body and soul (baked oatmeal? Yes, please!). Warm drinks are a must– wether my essential cup of coffee in the morning, a few cups of tea through the day to keep me going, or a turmeric latte (or occasional hot chocolate) to wind down in the evening. Not to mention favourites like mulled wine and spiced cider!

A warm drink in the winter is often the perfect opportunity for a bit of a pause, wether in the middle of the day, or as I try to relax in the evening. While a cup of tea is lovely any time of year, there are a few I especially crave as the air gets chillier. Not only are they comforting and warming, but each has a few unique benefits of its own from immunity support, to anti-inflammatory properties, a cup of tea can be a great way to practice self care. One study even found that keeping your neck and throat warm can help you fend off colds!  If that’s not a reason to keep warm with a cup of tea (and a cute scarf!) I don’t know what is.

Chamomile

This is by far one of my favourites, especially for colder months. I like to steep longer than recommended to get a stronger flavour, and then add a tiny bit of agave or raw local honey. It’s wonderfully calming, and is my go-to for when I’m feeling stressed, wanting to wind down in the evening, or if I have an upset stomach. I’ve also used it to make a really lovely hair rinse to bring out natural highlights– but that a topic for another post.

Echinacea 

A classic immune-supporting tea,  Echinacea is great for both fending off, and reducing the symptoms of a cold, so I like to brew a cup at least a few times a week in the winter. If you’re curious to know more about echinacea’s many benefits, this article is a great resource, and also has some brewing tips to get your best cup. Sometimes I like to brew a blend of echinacea and chamomile for an extra herbal blend that balances some of the astringency echinacea can sometimes have. Echinacea also makes a really delicious hot toddy (just brew as normal, then add a bit of lemon, raw local honey, and a shot of whiskey).

Chai

The blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and other spices is perfect for winter! It’s delicious on its own, but is also great with a bit of warmed coconut milk for something a bit more indulgent. Black tea is a great source  antioxidants, and the added spices are a great way to support your immune system, especially if you steep them at home.

Turmeric 

While this one isn’t technically a tea, it’s just as lovely and warming. It’s recently seen a boom in popularity, but has been around in South Asian cultures for centuries as a health drink. Turmeric not only tastes delicious, but also has some pretty potent anti-inflammatory properties, and may reduce the severity of viral infections (aka the common cold). There are tons of recipes for turmeric tea/ turmeric lattes, but this one is a great place to start.

 

While these four are my favourites this time of year for their amazing taste and wellness-boosting properties, there are plenty of others that are just as delicious and good for you. Really, any way you manage to add a little bit of self care to your routine, either for a five-minute tea break midday, or by incorporating a lovely turmeric latte into your evening routine you can make the most out of this slower time of year, and recharge your batteries a bit before the busy time around the holidays.

Happy sipping!

 

What is your favourite warm drink in the winter? Do you have a favourite recipe for a hot toddy or chai tea latte? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! 

 

Super-Simple Black Bean Salsa

Cameron and I have lived here in London for nearly a year now, and as much as I love it, I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few things I miss about living in the US. Luckily, the topic of this week’s post is something  I can actually fix, unlike the large distance between friends and family.

The heat waves we’ve had the past few weeks had me craving Mexican food– tacos, salsa, guac, you name it. The problem? I’ve been pretty disappointed with the salsas, guacamoles, and flour tortillas I’ve been able to find. Luckily I came across a spice shop near our flat that sells corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Co, which was started by the owner of one of my favourite restaurants in the area, Taqueria. With tortillas in hand I got to thinking about salsa.

I hadn’t made salsa in ages, but remember the principle being pretty straightforward (tomatoes, onion, cilantro, etc.), so after a quick google search for inspiration, got to chopping. I grabbed the best vine tomatoes I could find at the farmers’ market, some red onion, cilantro (coriander), and lime. Once I was home with my produce I remembered some frozen corn in the freezer, and black beans I’d made the day before, and decided to add those as well. I spread the corn out on a baking sheet and tossed it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown.

The result was even better than I’d hoped. Not to toot my own horn, but this might be the best thing I’ve ever made. No joke. We had friends over last weekend and I decided to whip up another  big batch assuming we would have leftovers. No such luck– it was a hit!

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The recipe below will make enough for 4-5 cups, but is easy to scale as needed.

Ingredients:

• 4-5 vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped

• 1- 1 1/2 small red onion, chopped finely

• one bunch cilantro/coriander washed and chopped

• 2c corn (fresh or frozen), roasted and cooled

• 2c black beans, drained (you could use canned to make this even quicker)

• optional, but delicious: 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced

• salt and lime juice to taste

Directions:

  1. toss everything together (except salt and lime juice) in a large bowl.
  2. add salt and lime to taste
  3. let sit for at least an hour to let the flavours come together
  4. Serve with your favourite tortilla chips or use to top tacos/any other food

This should keep for two -three days in the fridge, but I can’t verify this as it hasn’t made it that far in our house.

Happy snacking!

 

A perfect Sunday

Things around here have been pretty busy– with just two weeks until my dissertation is due I’ve been frantically typing away just about any chance I get, which is why there has been such a lull on the blog. I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m not quite as worried though, which arrived just in time for yesterday when Cameron and I celebrated out six-year anniversary.

It’s crazy to think about how quickly the last six years have flown by. Is it just me, or does each year seem to go faster and faster? I think I listed to a podcast about this exact feeling once, which said it had something to do with the fact that as you get older there are more years, and so in comparison you have more to compare them with. Or something like that.

Anyway, after a regular morning, we spent the afternoon wandering around London. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. I hadn’t been yet, even though we’ve lived here almost a year, and Cameron thought it would be fun to see the changing of the guards. As its summer, so did everyone else. With a little patience, and some strategic shuffling, we made it close enough to see a few minutes of what was happening. Seeing over people’s heads was the easy part, but the wall of iPhones, iPads,cameras, and kids on shoulders was another matter (does this bother anyone else?). It was still really fun, and I was glad was finally made it. If you’re in London and are hoping to see the whole thing I would aim to arrive at least an hour early to get a good spot.

After that we had a lovely walk through St. James’s park and then crossed the river to go to Southbank centre for lunch and to wander around their festival of Love. We decided to stop at the Bleeker St. pop-up which had a really delicious tofu burger. After lunch we browsed the book market, and wandered over to the Tate Modern’s Switch House to explore before our next activity. When it was time to head out I finally got to hear where we were going– the Eye!

I was especially excited about going on the eye because we’d booked a spot when we first moved, but missed out spot because of various admin things we had to get done/navigating the tube for one of the first times. The wait was definitely worth it– there view was amazing because it was such a sunny/clear day, and it was surprising fun to point out all of the buildings we knew from above. It was an even better surprise as Cameron got us tickets for the option with a glass of champagne, which made the whole thing even more festive.

After the eye we stopped at home to change before going to dinner at Uni, a super cosy sushi place with a Peruvian influence. After a celebratory cocktail (or two) and some super-yummy sushi we called it a night.

Monday Motivation

Last week was a busy week for me. I started a new internship, said goodbye to a friend of mine who moved back to the states, and had a mini-breakdown that it’s August and my dissertation is due in less than a month. I thought I would put together a few things that helped me through the week, and hopefully help you, too!

This TED talk titled “How To Make Stress Your Friend” by Kelly McGonigal will change your life. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever described something on the blog that way. We all know that stress is super bad for our our health…or is it? Kelly’s talk made me completely rethink the way I handle stress and conceptualise stressful situations.

I love listening to podcasts when I’m commuting, running, or getting ready in the morning. They are a great way to keep updated with the news, learn something new, or are  distracting enough to keep me from panicking when the tube is packed at rush hour. I’ve been listening to a new Ukrainian language podcast, as the class I’m taking is on summer holiday. At about fifteen minutes it’s just enough to keep me practicing daily. The NPR Politics podcast has also been a great way for me to keep up with the US election while living in London.

Since I’ve been on the go a lot recently (and occasionally playing Pokemon Go), this EasyAcc power bank I got during Prime Day has been my new best friend. It carries enough of a charge to power my phone four times, which means it can live in my purse during the week always at the ready when my phone is about to die, and has a flashlight!  It’s great, and if you don’t have a backup power pack already, I definitely recommend this one.

Happy Monday!

Friday Cocktail: Summer Shrub

A shrub? Yes. Well, no, not if you’re thinking about the garden variety, but definitely yes if you are thinking about a delicious, summery syrup that will keep in your fridge well into the fall, then the answer is definitely yes.

What is a shrub exactly? Well at it’s most simple it’s a sort of drinking vinegar. While that doesn’t sound terribly appetising, bear with me because it’s actually delicious. Using vinegar to preserve fruit has a long history, but it became especially popular in colonial America, making drinks with or without alcohol. And it’s exactly this ability to enjoy with or without alcohol that makes them so nice in the summer– they are super refreshing and full of flavour!

The prep work is wonderfully simple, but there is some waiting involved. Patience is definitely not a virtue that I have been particularly blessed with, but if I can wait two days for this, you can too. If you were to google ‘shrub’ lots of different recipes and combinations will come up, ranging from one with a single fruit, or multiple. The idea for this recipe comes from Renegade Kitchen and uses plums (one of my favourite summer fruits) and basil (one of my favourite herbs). Besides these two things you’ll also need some sugar, plain granulated works great, and apple cider vinegar (yay probiotics!).

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I definitely recommend using a granulated sugar rather than something liquid like agave or maple syrup since the friction will be your friend here. A lot of recipes call for white wine or golden balsamic vinegar, but I like apple cider here because it adds some good-for-you fermentation and hints at the flavour of kombucha.

Ingredients:

• 4-6 plums (your favourite kind), pitted and quartered

• large bunch basil, roughly chopped or torn

• 1c sugar

• 2c apple cider vinegar

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl combine the plums, basil, and sugar. Use your hands (or a wooden spoon) to really coat the fruit with the sugar. Set this in the fridge at least overnight, stirring once or twice in between.
  2. The next day, strain this mixture through a fine mesh strainer (or a clean pair of stockings). There should be a lot of liquid around the fruit, but be sure to press/squeeze any excess out of the plums. Discard any solids
  3. Combine the strained juice with the vinegar and stir gently to combine. Decant into a glass container of your choice and leave in a cool place on your counter overnight.
  4. It will be ready to try the next day, but the longer it sits the more the flavours develop, and the more the vinegar mellows.

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A really lovely and refreshing way to enjoy this is to add a bit to the bottom of a collins glass, add some ice, and top with sparkling water or club soda. It’s a lot more interesting than soft drinks, and is a great way to enjoy a cocktail without any alcohol. An added bonus is the gorgeous pink colour from the skins of the plums.

For an more ‘adult’ version of the above, add a shot of your favourite gin, and a lemon twist for garnish.

I’m definitely excited to use this once the temperature begins to dip again as well– I think something like whiskey or bourbon combined with the summery plum and basil could be really interesting, so check back in a few months to find out.

If you liked this recipe and want some more inspiration, the New York Times has a great article on shrubs here.

Cheers!

 

Finding Balance

Almost all of my time of late has been taken up by dissertation writing, which is definitely productive, but can start to be a bit psychologically an emotionally draining. Spending hours in front of my computer without talking to people tends to start getting a little weird. Luckily I only have about two weeks until I start an internship (yay!) which will force me to take two days a week as a break and get out of my head a bit.

Since I decided to take June and July and really focus on dissertation work, finding a balance has been the key to retaining my sanity. Growing up as an only child has made me super comfortable spending time alone, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally get a bit stir crazy.

This list are all things I’ve found to be really helpful in finding balance, and are simple enough you can incorporate any number of them relatively easily, whether you’re writing  dissertation or working full time.

• Find a Routine (and stick to it!) 

This is probably the most important thing for me in terms of personal happiness and productivity. Having a schedule takes a lot of the thinking/planning out of the way so I can focus on other things. It also makes things like workout a bit easier to fit in– if you get used to doing something every day momentum starts to build making it easier to stick with it. Beyond this, having daily or weekly ritual, like dinner sans-phones can be a great way to recharge.

• Schedule Some Personal Time

Whether this means an a.m yoga practice, a few minutes of reading a book for fun, or even watching an episode of your favourite show, this time is super beneficial. I’ve recently started taking some yoga classes at a studio near me, and found that having that to look forward to makes the writing go by that much more quickly, but the key here is to find whatever helps you relax.

• See Other People

Even besides having some personal time, I’ve found that planning one ore two activities with friends per week does wonders for my happiness levels. Even if it’s a FaceTime call with a friend, it helps me to feel like myself again. It’s so easy to lose track of time and push things to the next week, but strong friendships are key for both mental and physical health.

• Make a List 

One of the things I do each night as part of my evening routine is to make a list for the next day of all of the things I need to do and would like to accomplish. I generally include a few shorter, fun items like yoga, or a coffee date to boost my morale. Seeing a visual representation of everything I’ve done makes me feel even more productive. If lists aren’t your thing, try writing down all of the tasks you accomplish after the fact– it will still be a nice visual, but will likely make you feel less anxious about crossing things off.

 

Finding balance for me means finding ways to acknowledge something positive, or find some happiness in every day. All of these are just different ways I do this. Whether it’s making a list that lets me prioritise the important things so I don’t sweat the small stuff, catching up with a friend over coffee, or exploring my yoga practice, they all help me life a fuller, more present life.

Do you use any of these to find balance? Feel like I’ve forgotten something? Let me know in the comments!

Blueberry Pie & the Fourth of July

I couldn’t help myself with the rhyme in the title, so please forgive me if you’re cringing.

Being out of the USA on Independence Day is always a bit strange (at least I think it is). Seeing all of my friending posting photos on Instagram and Snapchat of fun parties, boat trips, and fireworks, especially fireworks, definitely made me a little jealous. Since we knew there would be no fireworks in London, and as we were pretty tired from spending most of the weekend at Henley, Cameron and I opted for a lower-key celebration. We had dinner at home and then headed to the American Bar at the Savoy for a celebratory cocktail.

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Cocktail from the American Bar at the Savoy

Rather than hamburgers on the grill we made black bean burgers, and found some gorgeous purple sweet potatoes that made some very blue sweet potato fries. I knew I wanted to make a fun, super american dessert, and pie was an obvious option. You may be thinking that apple would’ve been the more classic choice here, but I think blueberry is equally American (it’s the state dessert of Maine), is wonderful in the summertime, and also happens to be my favourite. Another added bonus? It’s so much simpler to make!

For the pie crust I used my favourite recipe, this coconut oil pie crust from the Minimalist baker, and used 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour. I love the whole wheat crust here because it adds a bit of nuttiness that I think works really nicely with the filling. I also love that this crust doesn’t use any vegan butter substitute, as I think it can leave an odd aftertaste in baked goods.

Ingredients: 

• Enough pie dough for 1 double crust pie. The link above makes enough for this, but of course you could sub your favourite.

• Blueberry filling

Blueberry Pie Filling:

• 4c blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used a mix of the two)

• 3 tbs cornstarch

• 3/4c sugar

• 1/2 tsp cinnamon

• 1-2 tbs cointreau (optional)

Directions:

  1. Split your dough and roll 1/2 of it on a well-floured surface into a large disk about 1/8 thick. Use your rolling pin to move the dough into your pie plate, and gently press it in. Set in the fridge while you prepare the blueberries.
  2. Add blueberries, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, and cointreau into a large bowl and mix gently until the blueberries are coated with the dry ingredients.
  3. Carefully add the blueberries to the pie shell, and set in the fridge.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F  (220°C)
  5. Roll the other half of your pie dough to the same dimensions as the first crust. Then use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make long strips about the width of your thumb.
  6. Use these to make a lattice on top of the blueberries. This video is super helpful and far clearer than me explaining it. Instead of using an egg wash, I like to brush the top with coconut milk.
  7. Bake the pie at 425°F for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350°F (176°C) for 35-40 minutes. The top should be golden, and the filling should be bubbling lightly.
  8. Once finished, let cool for 2-3 hours before slicing. I know it’s a long time, but it will keep your filling from becoming a runny mess when you cut into it.
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The cornstarch will help the filling set so it doesn’t run when you slice it

Honestly the mist finicky part of this pie is the crust. If you’re nervous about rolling it out or making the lattice top there are tons of super-helpful youtube clips. I promise the lattice isn’t really that hard, but looks lovely and impressive anyway.

I hope those of you who celebrated had a very happy Fourth of July!

 

 

The Pause That Became a Long Break

Those of you who check this site regularly may have noticed a lull during the past few weeks, which I am happy to report is coming to an end. I’ve been back in the states visiting my family and doing research for my dissertation, which has left me with little time for creating and positing new content. I’d initially planned this to be just a few days of a pause in new content, but it snowballed into something much longer. But I’m back and ready to get back to work, so get excited for some fun new reads and of course some new Friday Cocktails! I may need a bit of readjusting– so please bear with me as my brain gets back into blog-mode!

I’m researching methods of display and was lucky enough to spend the better part of the past two weeks at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. It’s a huge collection, and by the end of it I was definitely experiencing a bit of museum fatigue. Not familiar with this? It when you’ve spent several hours in an museum and your legs are tired, your feet and lower back are a bit sore, and you desperately need some water (and maybe a glass of wine) and a full meal. Six days in a row and I was beginning to lose my ability to talk to people normally. Although now that I’m a bit removed, the whole thing seems much easier and I’d be up for round two!

I was able to find some time to spend with friends and family while home, including a short trip to Nashville for a good friend’s bachelorette party. It was definitely a bit strange to be back in the city for the first time since moving away last year, but I had such a blast celebrating with her and seeing so many friends. I’m super excited to head back in early September for her wedding.

 

If all of this hadn’t kept me busy enough my first week back in London featured a interview for an internship (which I got!), and a few days at the Henley Royal Regatta, one of which included a very early morning to watch by boyfriend row. It was definitely a very fun week, but I am extremely happy to have a bit of a lull and a good excuse to spend some quiet time in the library.