Set your DVR

Monday, September 30, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 2 Comments

Monday, September 30, 2013

It’s time to set your DVR, organize your Hulu queue, or for the diligent television fans out there, make a Google calendar dedicated to your favorite shows. That’s right; the fall television season is in full swing. Whether you like the undead, workplace comedies or political dramas, the networks have you covered in primetime.

There are 31 shows debuting this month and even more producers holding their breath, hoping for a second season. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” shows promise to become a regular on the Fox Tuesday lineup. Produced by the same genius minds that gave us “Parks and Recreation” and staring SNL alum Andy Samberg, this cop comedy will make even the most serious viewers chuckle.

In case there aren't enough shows about vampires and the undead, “Sleepy Hollow” and “Dracula” are making an appearance just in time for Halloween. Apparently there is a niche market of 19th-century literature enthusiasts who are also obsessed with “The Walking Dead.” “Sleepy Hollow” follows Ichabod Crane, after he awakes in modern times, on his journey to defeat the Headless Horsemen. While there are a few “Welcome to 2013” moments in the pilot episode, the show will not focus on Crane’s adjustment to technology. Instead he partners with Abby Mills, a detective who has also had a close encounter with death in the flesh, to prevent the apocalypse. 
“Dracula” will air on Oct. 25. The producers of “Downton Abbey” and “The Tudors” revisit Bram Stoker’s famous novel. Dracula returns to Victorian England disguised as an American entrepreneur interested in electricity, but his real goal is to seek revenge against those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier.
Other freshman shows include “The Crazy Ones,” a family/workplace comedy starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Robin Williams. The father-daughter advertising duo tries every crazy idea that comes to mind in order to save their agency. On the other end of the spectrum is the thriller “Hostages.” The family of a doctor, who will be operating on the United States president, is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent. The doctor is ordered by the kidnappers to assassinate the president to save her family. Also, fans of historical dramas will not want to miss “Reign,” which follows the teenage years of Mary, Queen of Scotts. 

Standard favorites that will also make an appearance include: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Parks and Recreation,” “New Girl,” “The Mindy Project,” “Scandal,” “Modern Family,” “The Middle” and “Once Upon a Time.”
Do not be surprised if your grades slip by midterm. All of the hours you previously dedicated to studying for your chemistry exams will now most likely be spent on Hulu.

My view currently

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I have taken to referring to the dining room table as command central or headquarters. 
It's the perfect size to set up shop for a night of homework. I haven't moved from this spot
in five hours. You should congratulate me on my determination and perseverance. Because if you
looked them up in the dictionary, I'm sure this is what they had in mind. It is times like these
that I am excited I only have 82 days left in the land of highlighters and flashcards.

Making rotisserie chicken stretch on a shoestring budget + recipe

Thursday, September 19, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , , | 3 Comments

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I am somewhere in the middle of my culinary journey. Gone are the days of being ok with living off Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, but I lack the funds to cook full meals all week.

Enter the $5, fully cooked whole rotisserie chicken. I don't know why I have been paying the same amount for a few chicken breasts that I would still have to take the time to cook. What was I thinking? I shredded that bad boy up and had two meals of chicken with broccoli and rice, added chipotle mayo and pecans for chicken salad and also made the best pasta salad. Since it is sans mayo, it is perfect for picnics and bbqs.

I found the recipe on Pinterest and you can view the original here.

Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Sherry Vinegar
1 Shallot, chopped
1/ 2 clove Garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Lots of fresh ground black pepper to taste

Puree the ingredients together in a small processor or blender. Set aside.

Tomato Zucchini Pasta1 pound riccioli shaped pasta, or any favorite shape
2 medium sized zucchini, or 1 large thinly sliced into half moons
1 cup chopped scallions
3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 recipe Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the pasta according to the package directions in heavily salted water. Drain and rinse in cold water.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette.

3. Toss the pasta together in a large bowl with the dressing and the rest of the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store covered in the refrigerator until chilled.

I cut the pasta recipe in half, but used the whole dressing recipe. Also, I used red wine vinegar because my grocery store was severely lacking in their vinegar selection and I thought it was the closest thing to sherry vinegar. It still tasted good, and is perfect to make if you have a cold because smelling the vinegar will immediately open your sinuses up. 


Event planning is not for the faint of heart

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport|| 2 Comments

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My blog is going to sound like an empty auditorium for the next week and a half. I'm interning this semester with the Main Street program and my main job is helping to organize the annual Get Down Downtown festival, which a two-day outdoor event in downtown Searcy featuring more than 20 performances and 100 vendors. Did I mention that it's the weekend after next? Needless to say, I am up to my eyeballs in rolled up t-shirts, flyers, yard signs and posters to be delivered.

I knew what I was getting myself into. I understood that event planning was more than creating elaborate ideas and letting someone else figure out the logistical aspects to make your dreams a reality. But when you're working on essentially a three-person team, you end up wearing many hats. Now that we are below the two week deadline we are kicking it into high gear. While it's exciting to see all of the aspects coming together, the time pressures are starting to set in and become a reality.

So I'm sorry I'm not sorry for stealing a page out of Erin and Whitney's blogs and participating in their "This or That" link up.

Let's get this party started.

Vacationing in NYC or vacationing in FL: I would love to give NYC a second chance when it's not in the dead of winter. Because searching for free public buildings to stay in to warm up every few hours becomes tiring.
iPhone or Droid: iPhone all the way. Even if it is the brand of choice for everyone over the age of 45. They are just so pretty. PS I have my eye on the champagne 5s if any of you are wanting to shower me with presents.
NSYNC or Backstreet Boys: Backstreet Boys. I Want it That Way was on repeat throughout my childhood.
Being forced to delete FB or Twitter: Facebook because it is on it's way out anyways. Save the political rants and pictures of your baby for someone who cares.
Full House or Family Matters: Full House because we all had a crush on John Stamos (mullet and all) as 13-year-old girls. Don't even lie and say that you were the exception.
Dumbledore or Gandalf: Is this even a debatable issue? Dumbledore will forever and always be my favorite headmaster slash leader of the magical realms. Gandalf can take his 8 hour long movies and hike towards Middle Earth.
Dying easter eggs or carving pumpkins: Tough call because I hate the messiness of carving pumpkins, but I love fall. So I choose decorating the outside of pumpkins.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus: Both  Miley and her alter ego were sad child stars. Where is Billy Rae when you need him?
Shark Week or Fashion Week: I'll take Shark Week because Megaladon probably weighed more than all the models in Fashion Week combined.
Fresh Prince or Saved by the Bell: Tough call but I watched Saved by the Bell every morning before school. Even the strange episodes where they all went to work at the resort for the summer. Could have lived without those. And the college years.
Burrito or Burrito bowl: Thankfully most of you haven't seen me eat. If you have then you know that I'm pretty messy so I always go with the bowl to save myself the embarrassment.
Dough Funny or Rugrats: Fun story, the creator of Doug is a Harding alum and I got to have dinner with him when I was in California.

Little Rock Art After Dark

Monday, September 16, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 2 Comments

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hello! How was your weekend? Since I finished watching all of the episodes of Scandal in preparation for the third season I decided to get off the couch this weekend.

If you're in the Little Rock area I would highly recommend the 2nd Friday Art after Dark event in Downtown and River Market. The local art galleries and museums stay open late for this free event to showcase their exhibits. Did I mention that it's free? I visited the Arkansas Historical Museum, Arkansas Studies Institute and the Old Statehouse. Exhibits included: original patents (think roller skates, washing boards and sewing machines), Razorbacks and Rock Stars and Lights! Camera! Arkansas! There was a little something for everyone. Whether you are into history, abstract, modern, watercolors, or oils, you won't be disappointed. The Marriott was also hosting painting lessons at 6:30, but I arrived too late for those.

There is supposedly a trolley that will take you from event to event. So I got on what I thought was the correct trolley, but turns out the one that I needed was a bus that looks like a trolley? Does that make sense to you? Yeah, me neither. Thankfully the district is small enough to walk around.

While there are several great places to eat downtown, I read great reviews for Layla's Gyro across town. When in doubt, head for the fresh baked pita bread and hummus. It may be a hole in the wall in a strip mall with florescent lighting, but they have the best hummus, pita and lamb that I have ever tasted this side of Greece. And can we talk about the prices for a minute? Baklava for $1? Gyro for 5? It's the reverse of highway robbery.

What did you do this weekend?

Fine dining on a less-than-fine budget

Thursday, September 12, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 3 Comments

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I need you to help me brainstorm. I'm working on a project with a friend for our college newspaper's website. Basically we are going to be the next Julia Child, Ina Garten and Pioneer Woman combined. Just you wait, Food Network.

So our idea is to recreate favorite restaurant dishes at home that are doable for a college student's budget and culinary skill level. The best part is we're also going to film videos tutorials to go along with the recipes, proving that anyone (and I mean anyone) can fix these meals.

I've realized that I spend most of my money going out to eat and at the end of the month I have little to show for it. So why not bring the restaurant to my dining room?

Here's where you come in. What recipes do you have/seen/want to try that are knock-offs or inspired by your favorite dining out establishments? Bonus points if your knock-offs also knock off some cals. See what I did there?

So far I've found: 
Pei Wei/ PF Changs - Lettuce wraps
Olive Garden - Chicken gnocchi soup + salad
Outback - Alice Springs Chicken
Disney - Pineapple whip
Starbucks - Frappucino 

Keep the ideas coming.

Fall doesn't start until the 22, people

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport|| 7 Comments

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yes, Starbucks, I'm talking to you. Stop bombarding me with pumpkin spice this and salted caramel that. I can barely stand to drink hot coffee in the afternoon, let alone indulge in the tastes of fall while still wearing tanks and shorts. I have a rule that it has to be cool enough to at least wear long sleeves of some sort before I rush to the counter for my non-fat PSL. And if we're being honest, that day might not come until well into October in Arkansas. Until the leaves start changing and I unpack my boxes of coats, I will embrace my sandals and passion tea lemonade.
And while I'm on this rant...pinners stop tempting me with photos of oversized sweaters and boots. Yes, I know that these outfits make it easier to abide by Harding's dress code, but they are just not a reality in this 95 degree weather, so cool your jets.

After September 22, the first official day of fall for 2013, we will reevaluate the situation. But until then, it is still summer so enjoy it while it lasts. I know it doesn't sound like it, but I am on your side, fall-lovers. My fair skin doesn't stand out quite so much and I don't look like I'm too lazy to mess with self tanner. My hair decides to lay flat all day. I can make full use of my scarf collection. Oh, and I can drive with the windows down without sweltering. So yes, I do in fact love fall. And the humidity-fro I was rocking yesterday LOVES fall.

Virtual Photo Walks

Monday, September 9, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I briefly mentioned some of the sessions I attended a few weeks ago at the Excellence in Journalism conference. One of the breakout sessions was about effectively using multimedia storytelling. We watched the above video project from 2012 that has gone viral on Google + of virtual photo walks. John Butterill is a photographer who love to go to off the beaten path locations. He decided to hook his iphone up to his camera so he could video his virtual photo walks with those who may not be physically able to go on the same trips. Word got around and now photographers from around the world are inviting others to share in their photo shoots through Google + hangouts.

How wonderful is that? One of the ladies who was watching Butterill had MS and had not been able to leave the four walls of her living room in over a year, but through technology and social media she can be right there canoeing down the river.

Social media is more than just selfies, pictures of food, political rants and play-by-play status updates. With a little ingenuity and heart, it can be used for good.

Life Lesson: The Two-Minute Rule of Productivity

Friday, September 6, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 8 Comments

Friday, September 6, 2013

Let's talk about being productive. Because as I am typing this post there are about five other homework assignments that I could and maybe should be working on, but I'm not because they aren't due within the next 12 hours.

I've noticed that I am most productive when under a time crunch and deadline. My extremely organized side recognizes upcoming projects and assignments weeks in advance and I know that I should start working on them, and many times I do. But it's not until I get down to the wire that I focus and check items off my to-do list faster than New Yorkers lined up for the cronut.

Does this describe you, too?

If there is one thing that school has taught me, it is how to procrastinate. The problem is some of my best work comes when I do it in a hurry. When looking too far in advance on my calendar, I become bogged down with how much needs to get done. Instead of prioritizing, I do nothing at all and scroll through my twitter feed for the twentieth time that hour.

I was reading an article yesterday about the two-minute rule of productivity. If it is a task you can accomplish in under two minutes like emptying the dishwasher or cleaning your email inbox, get it done right away. If the task at hand will take longer than two minutes, then spend at least two minutes getting started. If your goal is to go to the gym more often, then at least put on your tennis shoes and walk out the door. Once you have made that initial action, you are more likely to finish out the task. Want to start reading the book for book club instead of just skimming reviews? Spend two minutes reading the first few pages. Chances are you will get hooked and won't want to put the book down.

So the next time, your to-do list is a mile long, just take two minutes to start tackling those items because don't we all know that crossing several items off quickly makes us feel more productive? Just two minutes. What could you have accomplished in the time it took you to read this post? (Although I am glad you read to the end.)

How to pack a carry on bag like Mary Poppins or Hermione Granger

Wednesday, September 4, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 2 Comments

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Let's face it, TSA is ruled by a man because they do not understand all of the luggage women want to take on vacations. Sometimes it is almost seems worth driving a long distance just so you don't have to comply with their long list of rules and try and pack your life into two bags, one of which is most likely going to cost you an extra $25. And don't get me started on the liquids rule. It takes more than a quart-sized bag of liquids, gels and aerosols to keep me looking presentable in public.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of flying Southwest and now I know why everyone raves about America's budget airline. I was sold at "two free checked bags." Which allowed me the luxury of only traveling with my purse, which easily fits under the seat in front of me and does not have to be manhandled into the overhead bin.

So what did I bring to make the four hour flight + layover enjoyable?
+EOS lip balm
+two lip sticks
+contact case
+Melvita floral spritz to wake your face up
+Folder for boarding passes and reservation confirmations
+not pictured: sweater and water bottle 

All of that in one purse with room to spare. My number one rule is to always have an empty water bottle with me to refill after going through airport security because I think it is ridiculous to pay $5 for a bottle of water. It's highway robbery. Snacks are also a must-carry item for me. There have been too many occasions when my layover is .2 seconds long and I don't have time to buy an overpriced sandwich. (Note: Las Vegas has a Pei Wei in concourse C and is always worth the splurge.)

I also brought some of my Birchbox samples. The Fresh Feet wipes make your feet feel perfect after wearing sandals on the plane and the Coola sunscreen was just enough for my impromptu day at the pool.

California Weekend

Monday, September 2, 2013 | Stamp in My Passport| | 4 Comments

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hope that everyone has had a wonderful long weekend! I, however, have class. Harding thinks that Labor Day is meant for you to continue laboring, not have a rest for it. No matter.

In case you don't follow me on Instagram, I wanted to catch you up on my weekend in Anaheim for the Excellence in Journalism conference and Disneyland.

Saturday morning was spent laying by the hotel pool and enjoying the lack of humidity and mosquitoes. (I was in for a rude awakening when I returned to Arkansas.) Followed by a conference session and dinner at the Cheesecake factory. Fun fact, the first time (I was 13) I was told that I would be eating at Cheesecake Factory I thought that we were touring an actual factory that made cheesecake. Let's just say that I was even more excited when I arrived at the restaurant and didn't have to wear a hair net.

Speaking of food, I also had my fist In N' Out burger experience and let me tell you it was pretty life changing. I was told to order a double-double with grilled onions and animal style fries and a strawberry lemonade. It didn't disappoint. 

Sunday was spent attending breakout sessions.Because swanky conference hotels do not believe in continental breakfasts, I was making a beeline for Starbucks every morning. Journalists and media LOVE Starbucks. I would sidestep the line 20 people deep and mosey over to the other restaurant, which also brewed regular Starbucks coffee. Jess for the caffeine addicts win.

I attended a lot of sessions on social media and how to best use your smartphone to report from "the field." I will share some of the highlights in another post, but I can't not tell you about the kid who said in a digital media session that he "hates the media." To which the speaker replied, "Well why don't you live in the forest and eat boiled rabbit?" Uhhh...what are you 1) doing at this conference and 2) majoring in journalism or communications??  Obviously twenty people immediately tweeted about the conversation.Turns out that he was with a school group that we had dinner with that night. Fun times. Then there was the session on Instagram with one of their developers and coincidentally, an hour after the session, Instagram crashes for a while. Hmm...were we to blame?

So on to Disney. It was my first time in Disneyland and because it was slightly complicated/time consuming to drive to the beach or Hollywood and our hotel was within eyesight of the Disney parking lot, I spent two nights and most of Monday at the happiest place on earth. So what if I may have ridden Space Mountain three times?  And maybe enjoyed "It's a Small World" just as much as the 4-year-old behind me who kept singing the song?

Needless to say, I was sad to fly back over the desert to Arkansas. While I was away, campus was experiencing a two day internet outage and the whole campus was at a standstill. The biggest concern was that payroll is done online and was due a few days later. Thankfully AT&T decided to get their act together and fixed the "dead optical card in the fiber hut." If I was going to open my own nightclub, it would be called the fiber hut. But thankfully all is well now on the technology front.