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BBC: ‘Ghosted’.

It’s officially FALL, Y’ALL!

Cue the pumpkin patch pictures (say that 5 times fast), pumpkin spice lattes, flannel and plaid everything… I’ll admit I have always loved fall, but mostly because of the crisp air and, in a way, it’s the start of the holiday season.

Speaking of holidays, today I’m spending the day working on Halloween masks to stock in my Etsy store. I made these masks last year and sold almost 20 of them! I made the mistake of making them to order, which meant I was up until 4 am one Monday morning sewing, gluing, and packing handmade masks to ship.

It was stressful (although lucrative), so this year I’ve decided to make all of the masks at once and once they’re sold out, they’re sold out! I have enough supplies to make about 15 masks, so I’ve got a busy day ahead!

Anyway, Blanche’s Book Club breezed right through another book this week: “Ghosted” by Rosie Walsh – a title from our Summer Reading Guide. Here is the official description from Amazon.com:

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

I was really excited to read this book because… let’s face facts: I’ve been “Ghosted” in the dating world many, many times. If you’re not familiar (then, lucky you), being ghosted is when the person you’re talking to just completely falls off the face off the earth. They ignore your attempts to connect, and it’s absolutely maddening!

This book talks about exactly that, but it’s much more, and loads more creepy. I read this book in a single sitting – I just had to know how the mystery would end! I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves a romance-mystery combo.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Blood, Bones, and Butter” by Gabrielle Hamilton. If you follow me on Instagram @OrangeJulius7 – you can see real-time updates on the books I’m reading, and today, updates on my Etsy Halloween masks!

Have a great Sunday!

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Two more sleeps ’till fall, y’all.

Fall is nearly here!

Fall officially starts FRIDAY. Let’s be real – it won’t be the least bit chilly in Austin until November 30th if we’re lucky. Instead, we’ll just crank the AC and walk around inside wearing all our fall clothes while burning fall candles, right?

Loving fall is so basic, but you can’t help what you like! It’s sort of funny that liking a season has become so much of a thing, so commercialized, and so… pumpkin-spicey. It’s all become a guilty pleasure that none of us should really feel guilty about!

But, I can’t just let the season pass – I, too, love it and there’s no shame here! I wanted to share some of my favorite fall things, and I’d love to hear some of yours, too.

The calendar

After the lazy days of summer (I mean not really, but for the sake of dramatics), everything seems to pick back up in the fall. My blog class at UT starts a new semester TODAY, dance rehearsals for our next showcase start this week, and I’m heading to Word Camp (more on this later) next weekend. The fall is just bustling, and it gives me LIFE.

The fashion

No, I didn’t go to NYFW, but fall clothes are just the best. The colors, the cuts – it’s cozy and flattering, and frankly, that’s basically all that’s in my closet. As you may know, I’ve been cleaning out my closet and this means I’m cherishing my favorite items more than ever. This season, that means I’m living in plaids, huge cardigans, booties, and I’m even embracing athleisure like never before.

The food

I’m vegan (or plant-based) for the first time in fall, but I’m taking my favorite dishes and… veganizing them! I’ve already made vegan chili and enchiladas – both delish. On my list to make: pumpkin pie pudding, s’mores granola bars, pumpkin pancakes, and butternut squash salad (all vegan). If you need ideas, follow me on Pinterest.

The scents

I’m not obsessed with pumpkin or apple scents; instead, I love woody scents, anything that smells like a log cabin or strong cologne. It was my love for these things that drove me into the Bath & Body Works outlet a few weeks ago, and I was BOMBARDED, nearly attacked by employees shoving scented three-wicks into my face and offering up sherpa blankets for just $20. I nearly had an anxiety attack, but left with a “Flannel” scented candle that is a piece of heaven. I also got some of the aromatherapy body wash and bubble bath and am so looking forward to cracking them open.

The TV

I mean we ALL know fall TV is where it’s at. The crisp air means it’s totally okay to spend more time inside, and I took it upon myself to wash all of my fabrics – my curtains, comforters, blankets, because I know I’ll be rolled up in all of them come November while I’m binging on season two of “Vice Principals”…I know.

The return of “Will & Grace” is upon us (starting a week from tomorrow), and for Housewives fans, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” returns in October, with Danielle Staub making her firey comeback after several seasons away. I just cannot contain my excitement!

I’d love to know what you’re looking forward to this season; or perhaps the goals you’re setting for yourself. We’re nearly three months out from 2018 – how will you finish 2017?

Fall is official: Day 1!

Walk in the Park.

Walk in the Park.

At approximately 10:21 am today, the fall season will officially be upon us. So, you can all stop saying it’s too early for pumpkin-spice everything, and Halloween decor. Because it’s not, fall is HERE! In my house, the arrival of fall signifies a fresh start, and it also means turning off the AC and dragging out the crockpot. Who doesn’t love that? Here’s a few more things I’m looking forward to this season:

The food. As much as I love the light and fresh flavors of summer, there’s something to be said about the savory flavors of fall – just think about all of the colors that will be at the farmer’s market! There are certain recipes I cook up each fall, including turkey and bean chili, pumpkin mac n’ cheese, sweet potato soup, and hearty Mexican dishes fit for a football game (last year, I made enchiladas for the first time and fell in love). I also love making apple cider – right in the crockpot – as it smells delicious and tastes amazing.

The entertainment. Of course, I love fall television, and fall reading. But there’s also fall sports – football is back, and hockey season is upon us! Yes! There’s also some fantastic movies coming our way. Me, personally? I’m looking forward to the film adaptation of “The Girl on the Train”, along with four Hallmark Movies to be released during the month of October. And who doesn’t get a little excited for the Macy’s Day Parade come Thanksgiving??

The fashion. Even though it’s been a whopping 112 degrees in Austin this summer, my office has been around 60, so I’m well-past the stage of wearing scarves and flannel. But now I can do it without looking like an asshole. Flannel, boots and booties, scarves, jackets, faux fur, vests, and beanies, I’m on it.

The indoors. Okay, so maybe a little bit of outdoors, too. Afterall, now that it’s finally not hot as hell outside, a good hike would be nice, and I have yet to see the bats in Austin this year before it’s too late. But I also don’t mind the thought of closing the sliding glass door, lighting a few pumpkin candles, and cozying up on the couch and getting in some much-needed relaxing, while wearing my favorite slippers.

The holidays. Yes, I know the fall season is not officially the holiday season, but there’s Halloween (which I basically hate), and then we’re rolling right into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and so forth. This means time off from work, a reason to host parties and decorate the house, and you know, all the yummy food and drinks. Cheers!

What are you looking forward to this fall?

See ya, summer!

Love that sky.

Love that sky.

They say that summer is a state of mind, and if you want to, it can be summer all year long. I suppose that’s why beach towns and tropical islands seem to have a different way of life – things seem a little more laid back.

I certainly loved summer as a kid; and through my teens – summer meant freedom and fun. Early mornings were for fishing or making it to the lake for a good spot to layout. Nights were for country drives and cool swims.

This was my first summer in Texas, and I can say with experience, that it was mighty hot. My fantasy of laying out at the pool each weekend quickly melted when the temperature was an easy 106, with a heat index of 112. No, thanks.

And truthfully, it was anything but easy. Work was busier than ever – here I thought these were going to be the lazy days, and it was more work than I’ve ever experienced. I also worked a lot on the weekends, paying literally thousands of dollars to the government, in the form of tax money and money for registration and all my Texas paperwork.

It’s all nearing an end, very soon, and I’m not sad about it. I can easily say I’m ready for a cool breeze; ready to shut off my AC.

Sure, summer is fun, but I easily love fall. I know many of us will be spending this weekend saying goodbye to summer, and I’ve got a few thoughts in mind over it.

I can say I unfortunately spent a majority of these warmer months upset over a guy, and working on my self-confidence. But I had a few things happen over the last few weeks that are moving things along quite a big faster.

It started with a dream I had about the guy in question. We were together in person, just talking. I asked him why he never responded to the message I sent him, and he told me that at first, he wanted to write me back. But, then he just realized that he hated me.

And while no one wants to be hated, and I have no basis of this being true, I know he won’t talk to me again, and the dream gave me this great sense of closure. There is nothing left for us.

So, last Friday night I was watching “Million Dollar Matchmaker” and Patti’s guest was Ashley (known for her endless tears on “Bachelor in Paradise). Ashley was still hung up on a guy from the show; a guy who put her in the friend zone and barely talked to her.

Patti explained to her that the worry over this friend zone guy was taking up room for the real Mr. Right. “You’re crying over some guy that won’t even talk to you!” Patti said to her, and I felt like she was talking to me. It is so true, and all I needed to hear – weird, I know. But, we can’t worry about those that don’t like us; only the ones that do.

So for me, saying farewell to summer is also about letting go of that guy, and all the guilt and frustration that came with him. Fall is coming; I’m going to enjoy this last official weekend of summer – even though it will no doubt be hot in Austin for at least another month or so.

Watermelon mojito popsicles!

Watermelon mojito popsicles!

How will I celebrate? For starters, I’m whipping up some “Adult Popsicles” – technically, I’m making them for a beach trip next weekend, but I’ll have to at least taste them, right? In one of my email newsletters, Fresche Squeezed, I talked about making upscale jello shots, but I keep seeing frozen cocktails turned into popsicles, so why not? I found this article from Huffington Post that links to 20 boozy popsicle recipes, including peach sangria and a dark and stormy! Yum!

I’m going to make the Costa Rican Watermelon Mojito popsicles – which seem so easy; a simple blend of fresh watermelon, lemon juice, simple syrup, white rum, and fresh spearmint leaves. You can use a standard popsicle mold, or make these pops portable with these zip-top heavy-duty bags (just like the Freeze Pops you remember as a kid, only with BOOZE).

What else will I do this weekend? If it’s sunny, but bearable, I’ll hit the pool with a book – and don’t worry, Blanche’s Book Club will still be in full swing come fall. There is also a free day of yoga not too far from my apartment, so maybe I will get my butt out of bed and check that out!

Lately, I’ve been slightly obsessed with food blogger Gaby, from “What’s Gaby Cooking?” – I stumbled upon her on SnapChat, and she does a weekly “Snapisode” where she shows you how to cook something fabulous. Last Friday, she made a peach and tomato panzanella with burrata, and she was saying how peaches and nectarines are going out of season, so she wanted to use them up from the farmer’s market.

This salad she made looked DELISH, and very easy! A panzanella is an Italian summer salad, usually made with tomatoes, day-old bread, and a simple vinaigrette; everything else is pretty much up to you! Gaby used peaches and nectarines (she said any stone fruit is good), heirloom and cherry tomatoes, burrata from Trader Joes, plus orange champagne vinaigrette (also from TJ’s), chunks of bread (go for a really sturdy bread), olive oil and basil leaves.

Simply toss the cubed bread in olive oil and toast it, wedge the fruit and tomatoes (halve any baby tomatoes), tear the basil leaves and the burrata, and simply plate it! It looks so good and I bet it tastes just like summer – it is just the excuse I need to go to one of these fantastic Austin farmer’s markets!

Who knows what else I’ll get into, but I’m down to have this one last weekend of summer, and then make the switch to fall; something new.

Already thinkin’ ’bout fall fashion…

That’s right, forget summer (not really), ’cause I’ve got fall fashion on the brain. I’m totally blaming “The Real Housewives of New York” for this. Did you guys see last week’s episode?

If not, Bethenny threw a birthday party for herself at her fabulous Hampton’s home (so jealous) and it was an outdoor BBQ, complete with Skinny Girl Moscow mules and roaring bonfires. Everyone was in their sweaters and Joan of Arctic Boots…and it was simply lovely!

Need.

Need.

Fall is definitely, DEFINITELY my favorite season, and I have always loved fall fashion. So, of course I cannot stop thinking about this red and white flannel jacket Bethenny was wearing at the party.

After searching for it online for hours, I found out it’s from Forever 21, but of course, these episodes were taped last fall, so I couldn’t find it anywhere online to actually purchase it. But fear not, because I will have my eyes peeled for something similar from now until October.

In a later part of the episode, Bethenny and Carol arrive for Brunch, and Bethenny is looking so chic in her over-sized white sweater and knee-high moccasins. I saw that style of boot a lot when I was working in the mall last fall, but they look way cuter on Bethenny than anyone else I saw.

I found a pair that I love, but of course, they’re from Free People, and a mere $400. When I have nothing else to spend my money on, I’ll be traipsing around Austin in these boots, with a margarita in one hand and the other arm reaching for a hot dude with a man bun.

Dream big, y’all.

I already bought the red and navy Buffalo Checked loafers (pictured above); they were on sale for $30 (down from $110) at J-Crew, and I cannot wait to slip these babies on (I mean, aside from wearing them around my apartment while dancing to James Bay).

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer – strictly for the white jeans of course, but fall looks are just so…cool and cozy.

In other news, it was brought to my coworkers’ attention earlier this week that whenever they plan after-work events, I do not attend.

I’m not doing this to be mean, but the truth is, I’m becoming less and less a social person as I get older. And I’m not even mad about it. The other thing is, there are lots of things I like to do after work that does not involve work folk.

Right now, I go to a dance class right after work Monday-Thursday. And next week, my blog class kicks off, so I’ll have that one night each week. I also like to read, blog, and sometimes I have freelance work to complete.

A coworker told me it wasn’t healthy that I was so busy; why don’t I just “relax” after work? But the thing is, going to dance class or reading a book ARE relaxing to me. Those are the things I want to be doing, and they help me relieve stress from my very challenging job.

Maybe there will be one day when my day job fulfills most of the things I’m looking for in life. But that day is not today, and it’s not tomorrow, and until then, I’ll be spending my evening hours as I please (lately it means plugging my laptop in on the balcony and sitting beside a citronella candle while I blog and listen to podcasts).

So, speaking of freelance work, I need help writing a good pitch letter. Are any of my readers good at this? If so, is there any way you could send me some pointers or examples that have worked? I’ve got ideas up my sleeve and I’m ready to pitch to some popular online magazines. So, please send any tips, tricks, cheap ploys, or examples to me at holly@thebitterlemon.com

Thanks y’all – now, onto that fall countdown!

Fresh Friday: Ageless.

A wonderful scent selection.

A wonderful scent selection.

Howdy! Whew, I’m SO happy it’s Friday! It’s been a crazy-busy week all around, and it flew by. It’s supposed to rain (again) in Austin this weekend, so if you’re following me on SnapChat (OrangeJulius7), be prepped for lots of couch-lounging-DVR-CSI-snaps, K?

I officially joined Dance Austin this week, so I can attempt to whip (and nae-nae) my ass back into shape. I took two classes this week, including “Twerk & Burn,” where there was lots of ass-shaking, booty-poppin’, and grinding thighs. It certainly burned, but it was hella fun.

Anyway, I’m bringing back “Fresh Friday” just for this week, because there was a new perfume in my Birchbox last month and I just love it — Ageless by Harvey Prince. It is a light scent constructed of citrus and mango, pomegranate and jasmine, with a touch of floral.

I love it!

In other news, I’m wearing a new blanket scarf today — I have always loved the ways these are styled but have never taken the plunge, until now.

So, I had to do some Googling before walking out the door this morning. And here’s a handy guide I found on different ways to style the scarf, which I thought y’all might need as we approach the chilly weather.

I'm rocking the one on the right.

I’m rocking the one on the right.

I went for the “Bandana” look, but instead of tying it in the back, my scarf was long enough that I just brought the end pieces to the front and it shows all of the different layers, and colored plaid!

I hope y’all have a fantastic weekend — hit me up on social media and let me know what you’re up to! Otherwise, I’ll see you on Monday!

Budget beer tasting.

Yum is on the way!

Yum is on the way!

Fall is slowly starting to creep in, and no matter what the season, I’m always looking for fun ways to try new things, without hurting my wallet.

While I love wine, I think it’d be really fun to host a beer tasting at your home this season (or during any season, really)! It’s super easy, and your guests will love it.

Depending on how you want to host it, you can provide as much, or as little for your guests. Love to cook? Great! Or, host a potluck and everyone is in charge of a dish or an appetizer.

Want to provide all the drinks? Cool. But this can absolutely be a BYOB event, as long as people bring beer, and contribute it to the tasting.

When you go to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or any specialty grocery store, they’ll often let you build a six-pack, so you could get a ton of different beer without having to buy several cases (not that it wouldn’t get consumed, I’m sure).

Provide enough glasses or cups for your guests to taste the beers, and you can even download and print beer tasting scorecards for each guest (get them right here).

Food ideas:

As for the actual beer tasting portion of the evening, it can be as formal or informal as you wish. A proper beer taste is 4 ounces, and is poured into a flat cup (no tilting to avoid foam). Swirl the glass before smelling and sipping, and a bucket for your guests to dump unwanted beer would be appreciated (even though I’m sure ALL the beer will be delicious).

This, of course, could be a wine-tasting, or any type of tasting, depending on your guests and your taste. The thing I love about tastings, is that it gives you something to talk about with people you may not know, and there’s no wrong answer — if you taste the beer and it’s chocolately, then it’s chocolatey!

While the beer and food will probably be plenty of fun, feel free to add to your night with games or trivia. And of course, don’t let your guests drink and drive. Feel free to use my Uber code for a free ride: hollyp1093ue

It’s fall, y’all — cheers!

Single Girl Recipe: Pumpkin Coffee Cake.

Nearly guilt-free and oh-so-delish.

Nearly guilt-free and oh-so-delish.

Y’ALL. Where has this week gone? It completely flew by, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I kicked things off by making this pumpkin coffee cake for my coworkers.

Originally, this recipe called for sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin, but I wanted to jump on the pumpkin craze, plus, it’s way easier to buy a can of pumpkin puree. But, feel free to alter it to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box Gluten-Free White Cake Mix (14 oz.) box makes one 8 or 9-inch cake
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (or sweet potato)
4 tablespoons light olive oil or coconut oil
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer (made with 1/4 cup warm water) (or 2 eggs beaten)
1/2 cup vanilla hemp milk– or non-dairy milk or orange juice
1 teaspoon mild vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or 2 teaspoons fresh grated, if you prefer

For the topping:

2 tablespoons Organic Spectrum Shortening or coconut oil
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl; rub and crumble it between palms to create a sandy texture.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with shortening and dust lightly with gluten-free flour.
Pour the cake mix into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients — pumpkin/sweet potato through ginger. Beat until a smooth batter forms; beat an additional minute.
Pour into the prepared cake pan; shake a bit to distribute the batter evenly. Crumble the topping all over the cake batter.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and tender- about 30 minutes or so. I bake at high altitude, so your mileage may vary.
Cool on a wire rack.

Place a large plate on the cake pan; quickly turn over and release the cake; repeat onto a clean cake plate.

Makes 8 to 10 slices.

…Now, since tomorrow is “Fiction Friday,” I need to go ahead and say this now. Tomorrow, the love of my LIFE is turning 37. My love, John Mayer, I’m sending you a happy, happy birthday!

Fall is for Lovers.

FALLing in love with yooouuuuu...

FALLing in love with yooouuuuu…

We’re less than two weeks away from the official start of fall! And yes, I know, Baton Rouge doesn’t really get a fall season.

Instead, we get “slightly less hot,” and the leaves start to turn brown instead of that burnt orange color I saw growing up in the Midwest.

But still, we wear hoodies and go nuts over pumpkin spice… everything. Fall is the first sign of the holiday season, and when I think about the holidays, all I can think about is cuddling up with a cute guy.

I’ve survived many, many years being single during late September, and all the way through January. Trust me, it has its perks.

While the cooler months definitely seem prime for finding a match (see: body heat), it also seems like every season has found a way to make singletons feel a little left out.

There’s a John Mayer song, “St. Patrick’s Day,” from his debut album, “Room for Squares,” that explains my theory.

In it, he sings about how everyone wants to be in a couple for Christmas, then right around the corner is New Year’s, followed by Valentine’s Day, therefore every relationship is safe until St. Patrick’s Day.

But in Baton Rouge, St. Patrick’s Day means you definitely need a date for the parade and funnels of green beer, right? And you can’t leave out Mardi Gras or baseball season. After that, we’re on the fast track to summer, and who doesn’t want a summer love? I know I do.

At the close of summer, we’re right back where we started: football season.

Of course, there is much more to a relationship than the season it falls in or the weather surrounding it, but I think there’s some weight to it. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but it seems about right to say that any time of year is a good time to jump into a new relationship.

An article on YourTango.com, “Seasons of Love: When is the Best Time to Fall in Love?” proves my idea wrong, on the account of science.
According to the article, winter is the most difficult time to fall in love with someone because we are less sociable and spend more time indoors. The spring season that follows gives us more confidence, but not enough to start a new relationship. And while summer love seems like a hot idea, we’re often traveling and too “on-the-go” to get involved in anything serious.

However, according to the article, the summer months prep us for the perfect time to fall in love: autumn. Fall is the best time for a new relationship because we’re getting into the swing of things; we’re back in our normal routines.

In 2012, Facebook Data Science published a study on what times of the year users’ relationship status changed. Across all age groups (under 25, 25-44, over 45), the month of February saw the biggest change from either “Single” to “In a relationship” or from “In a relationship” to “engaged.” Every age group also produced a massive trend of relationships ending during the months of June, July, and August.

Interesting.

Not to overwhelm you with data, but the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology published a study that proves the need for bodily warmth during the cooler months actually makes us crave romantic comedies. No, seriously!

Apparently, romantic comedies provide us with psychological warmth, which fulfills our need for physical warmth. Who knew?

This news makes me even more excited to stock up on the pumpkin products (are dudes into that?), break open my stash of rom-coms and perhaps cozy-up to someone new.

Getting Into the Game.

Surviving football season ain't easy.

Surviving football season ain’t easy.

It’s finally here. What some would call the most wonderful time of the year: football season is upon us.

What I’m about to admit is going to lock in my single status for the rest of my life, but here goes…

I’m not really a fan of football.

There, I said it. I’m a Yankee and I prefer hoops. But, I understand that football is a necessary evil of living in Baton Rouge.

Don’t get me wrong; a Saturday night in Death Valley is an experience like no other. And I always hope the Tigers win.

But during these months, any and nearly every male in this city is consumed with football.

So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s time to accept reality, buckle down and have a game plan for surviving the next six months.

And yes, I know, there are lots (and lots) of women out there who love football just as much as the men do.

But for those of us who are on the struggle bus when it comes to the sport, there are ways to cope.

For starters, you’ve already got a team to root for — the Tigers — so you can start building your Game Day wardrobe.

Whether it’s for a night in the stadium, tailgating, or a house party, you’ll need plenty of purple and gold.

Next, find the good things about football. Personally, I like the fact that day drinking is not only accepted, it’s required. So, bring on the bloody Marys, cases of cheap beer, and the LSU Jell-O shots.

There are also the amazing spreads of food that go hand-in-hand with the drinks.

And finally, there are the hot guys — on and off the field.

The next step in surviving football season is (take a deep breath) attempting to learn the rules. I still don’t understand all of the rules and calls, but once you get the hang of it, the game gets a little more interesting.

Finally, if you really want to get into it, and perhaps earn a little cash, throw some money on it. Bet on it.

If I’ve learned one thing living here, you never bet against the Tigers.

Over the years, I’ve seen infamous eye rolls from women when their boyfriends or husbands mention “the game.”

But, we all have our passions. My passion isn’t football, but I love to cook. So, if I get invited to a tailgate, I’ll be there with homemade chili.

And what better way to get to a man’s heart, amiright?

I will say, though, that seeing a man get so into something (yes, even football) is pretty sexy.

Few things fuel men: sex, grilling, and sports. So, let’s roll with it.

If anything, football season is the kickoff for fall, hopes of cooler weather, and right around the corner are the holidays. It really is a great time of year.

So, fan or not, slap on your war paint (purple eyeliner), take a shot (homemade moonshine), and get in the game.

The chances are, you’ll meet someone new, and won’t you look so festive and cool knowing a few things about football?

That is what I call a touchdown with a two-point conversion. In other words, it’s a major score.

College crash course.

Look who goes to college!

Look who goes to college!

Today is the first day of college for many students – this is something most people probably don’t pay much attention to, but when you live in a college town, it’s all anyone talks about. It probably doesn’t help that I work with mostly college students.

But, hearing my coworkers’ stories often reminds me of college, even though it’s been 12 years since I started and a whopping 8 since I graduated! However, working at LSU for almost 7 years… sometimes it feels like I never left (until I actually did).

For the longest time, I never even considered going to college. Neither of my parents went, and I figured their lives were pretty good. But the older I got, the more my friends talked about college as if it wasn’t even a question: of COURSE they were going.

When I presented an interest in higher ed, my parents graciously offered to send me wherever I desired. They also offered a piece of advice that ended up being invaluable to me: get out of state.

My parents knew that I had dreams of leaving Indiana, and that if I didn’t leave for college, I would probably never leave. And so, long story short, I ended up in Baton Rouge to attend Louisiana State University.

I won’t lie, it was scary as hell the day we had to pack up and leave the house I grew up in. Even after an entire semester down South, I was homesick. It was a huge culture shock. But of course, I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience.

I learned a lot in those years — in and out of the classroom. I look back at it, and sure, there are moments when I wish I could have worked less, partied more, perhaps studied more, or been more social. But I am who I am, and a lot of that had to do with my college years.

I saw an article on Huffington Post offering advice to incoming college freshman. A lot of it was pretty worthless, so I’ll offer the only three pieces of advice I think you’ll need:

  1. Get out. If you can’t go far away to college, at least make new friends — no one wants to relive high school. It also helps to explore the city you’re in; get off campus and see what’s out there.
  2. Do the extracurriculars. Sure, the whole experience of college is overwhelming, but you’ve got to join a club, or something! It should come as no surprise that I was a complete media rat and worked for 4/5 media groups on campus. Not only did I make a little money, but I made some life-long friends. I also met upperclassmen that gave me invaluable advice about classes and graduating. And honestly? I learned more in my media work than I did in any class I took, ever. It looked great on my resume and it packed my portfolio.
  3. Follow through. Go to class. It’s so easy to skip, but if you actually go, it’s really easy to make good grades. I learned it the hard way! If you go to class, pay attention and take notes, studying is much easier, and the tests are a breeze. And by all means, just graduate. College can be overwhelming, and there are times when I was tempted to quit. But not having a degree is going to make your entire life that much more difficult. Take it from me: the job hunt is literally a HUNT. Get that degree!

I won’t say that college is the best time of your life; because if that’s the case, then what’s the point of living after college? I will say, though, that it’s a unique time in your life and it’s certainly a great opportunity to learn about yourself — the person you’ll be post-graduation.

Pic of the Week.

Not pictured: monumental pile of used Kleenex.

Not pictured: monumental pile of used Kleenex.

‘Tis here. Every. Single. Year. Without fail, every single time fall rolls around, I get sick. It has been this way since I was a child — only then, at least I could blame it on being stuck in a classroom with a bunch of dirty kids.

Now? I suppose I’m stuck in an office with all of their parents. Go figure.

The weird thing is, I went to bed Friday night feeling fine, and then woke up Saturday morning with a full-blown cold. Sniffles, chills, you name it.

I had enough drugs in my bathroom closet to hold me over until Sunday afternoon, but then, I had to crawl out of bed and venture somewhere.

I must’ve had a high fever, because I decided Wal-Mart would be the PERFECT place to go to grab a few grocery-like items and cold medicine.

BUT WHY?!

I swear to God, if I had a dollar for every bitch-face I received while trying to find Kleenex in Wal-Mart, I would be rich. That, or just how many times I almost get ran-over by a crazy cart person.

Anyway, I made it through the checkout after waiting in line for 20 minutes (and getting my jollies from the woman in front of me buying frozen hot wings and MAGNUM condoms).

I went home, took my meds and went back to bed… I awoke only because I had a movie date that night (more on this later), and I layered on so much makeup to hide my raw-red nose, and loaded up on meds to avoid sneezing during the flick. I couldn’t help from sniffle a few times, but for that I was equipped with a pocket-full of Kleenex.

Of course, everyone hates being sick. I especially hate living alone when I’m sick because I totally give myself a pity party, and the only person who comes is Blanche, and let’s face facts, Blanche doesn’t really give much of a fuck, she just has nowhere else to go (believe me, if she could figure out how to unlock the front door, she’d be on her way to Dixieland in a heartbeat).

The only good thing about being sick now, is that it’s not a holiday — often, I get sick during Thanksgiving or Christmas, which just seems like bad Karma, and nothing else.

And although it seems like just a cold, I always nurse it as much as possible, because in the past, I’ve had pneumonia, strep throat, and mono. Not good.

If you’re feeling the fall flu like me, I can say I swear by Zarbee’s Cough & Throat Relief Nighttime Drink, peppermint essential oil, and the Hallmark Channel. Lots of good, sappy movies to help me rest easy.

Until next time… ACCHHOOOWWWW!

Pic of the Week.

Completely hyped on fall candles, per usual.

Completely hyped on fall candles, per usual.

Well, it’s the second day of fall, and call me basic, but yes, ’tis the season to embrace every single little thing about the outdoors — even when there’s not really fall-like weather.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I started my stockpile of fall-scented candles weeks ago, and even made a chili (recipe coming soon) over the weekend. I just love everything about fall; the colors (not only in nature, but in fashion), the ever-so-slight chill in the air, and even though it’s a signal that the year is coming to a close, I always get a sense of renewal during the fall months.

So far, I’m trying to step away from so many pumpkin-scents (although I can’t totally deny the symbol of the season) when it comes to my candle selections, and find a few different ones that still make my apartment festive and cozy.

And while I love a good Yankee Candle just as much as any great homemaker, I like to find candles that have strong scents, but are less-expensive. A candle is literally just burning, so I aim for $5 or lower in my hunt for candles.

The large jars, by Main Stays, are from Wal-Mart, and were just $3.50 each, while the smaller mason jar candles are from Dollar Tree, making them just $1 each (and they burn for a decent amount of time). The larger candles are in Fall Fruit Cornucopia, Harvest Leaves, and Mulled Cider, while the small jars are both in Pumpkin Pie.

I also purchased a candle warmer for my office, since we aren’t allowed to actually light candles. The candle warmer melts the wax in any glass jar candle, and lets off the scent, while remaining flameless. I’ve had it in my office for a week (using the Fall Fruit Cornucopia) and I absolutely love it!

Here are some other fall scented products I’ve come across in my continuous hunt:

What festive scents are you filling your home or office with this fall?

Fall-ing in love.

One thing I’ve learned in my years as a single person is that love doesn’t just come from dating someone. Love comes in all forms.

One thing I love is fall, and all kinds of goodies that come along with it. Here are a few of my fall loves:

1. Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte 

This is the 10-year anniversary of the beloved pumpkin pick-me-up, made with espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup, and steamed milk. I like to order mine with soy milk instead, but I always go for the whipped cream because it’s got a small sprinkling of nutmeg! Yum!

2. Boots

Okay, so we don’t get traditional “fall” weather in Louisiana, but it’s socially acceptable to put your boots on and stomp around like a boss. And I do.

I have quite a collection of different boots, but lately, I love riding boots. I am currently drooling over these over-the-knee suede boots by Balmain (that I will never afford):

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Here’s a more budget-friendly pair from Steve Madden.

3. Anything & everything pumpkin

I know I already mentioned the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but I love everything pumpkin—recipes, candles, and carving! Last year, I made a delicious batch of pumpkin muffins, as well as pumpkin-cranberry bread in my crockpot (try this recipe).

My friend has a pumpkin-carving party every year, and I’m so excited to chose my design and pick the perfect pumpkin to decorate my dining room table.

4. Jackets

Again, Louisiana weather doesn’t usually warrant a jacket until late October or November, but I do love a jacket! Over the years, I’ve collected some cute pieces including a grey and white houndstooth jacket with an oversized collar as well as a royal blue peacoat from Guess.

This season, I’m on the hunt for a plaid jacket fit for a lumberjack:

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I’m also looking for a badass leather, or faux leather, jacket; I am kind of loving this one from Victoria’s Secret:

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5. Turning off the AC

I am very stingy when it comes to my electricity bill, so I will be glad to give my AC a rest and spend the extra cash on the above-mentioned fashion picks.

6. Using the fireplace…kind of

I live in a small apartment in the heart of Baton Rouge; and although I absolutely love my apartment, I sometimes wish it had a fireplace. I solved this problem last winter when I asked for a “Fireplace DVD” and my loving mother happily purchased one for me.

So when I’m in the mood to curl up with a book, I turn on my fireplace DVD (complete with crackling wood sound-effects) and snuggle up. I’m not going to lie, it actually does feel warmer when it’s on.

7. Apples

People often forget that apples are in season, and I absolutely love making my own apple cider every year (it makes your house smell wonderful), biting into a sweet ‘n sour caramel apple, and baking any apple treat I can (I love apple and cranberry pie).

8. Scarves 

A scarf is not only a wise accessory, but it’s also a cool way to transition your summer wardrobe into fall. Plus, let’s face it, they just look cool. Worried about tying it up all unique? Just get an infinity loop scarf and toss your worries to the wind:

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9. Colors

Growing up in indiana, I was spoiled with the beautiful changing leaves around me—I took it for granted. We don’t have such beauties in Louisiana. Instead, I’ll settle for fall makeup hues. A personal favorite? Nail polishes!

I love Butter London’s nontraditional take on the season:

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Those are my fall loves, what are some of yours?