Monday, October 5 

It’s crazy that it’s already October, isn’t it? 2020 is seriously flying by, which I suppose is a good thing, since 2020 hasn’t really been treating anyone kindly. I’ve been a bit behind on blogging and writing, so today is all about playing catch-up after the very busy weekend I had! From Friday to Sunday, I was in Cape Cod with Buck and his family to attend his sister’s wedding. I had never been to the cape before, so it was really exciting to visit a new place I know nothing about (and of course, I was super excited to go to attend Hil’s wedding!). We went to the private beach near where we were staying at sunset and when I saw how beautiful the rainbow sky looked, I actually cried. I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight in my life, and especially in such a negative year, it was such a treat to watch something so astonishing and be reminded of the goodness in the world.

The ceremony was also on the beach, and I felt perfectly safe being there because it was a small ceremony (and since it was outdoors, there was plenty of breathing space.) I cried once during the ceremony because I’m such a feeler, and a couple more times during the reception during the first dances. I can’t help it- I think weddings are so beautiful and filled with good energy, it’s hard for me not to tear up a little. And particularly since I adore Buck’s family so much, it was hard not to feel blanketed in love. Being engulfed in the wedding energy all weekend made me think about my own future wedding a lot too; what I’d like for myself, who I would invite, etc. Buck knows I want to propose to him next year, but it’s not something I’m actively planning at the moment. I have a general idea of what I’d like to do, so maybe I’ll tell y’all someday. 

Normally I would be working today, but I took PTO in advance because I wasn’t sure what time I would get home last night. It’s a good thing I did, because like I said, I really wanted to catch up on some writing and do some things around the house. I’m working some overtime in the next few weeks anyway, so it’s not like I’m losing hours or money anyhow.

That’s pretty much everything I’ve been up to this past week and weekend! Obviously a lot of wedding excitement for Nathaniel’s sister and the family, which I felt so honored to be a part of, and now I’m slowly easing myself back into my normal routine. I’m looking forward to getting my paycheck on Friday and my food stamps on Saturday- my fridge is starting to look a little bit bare! When I say I’m low on food, it’s because I (stupidly) buy a lot of perishable things at once and don’t realize that many of them will go bad before my next SNAP benefits land- not because I can’t afford to eat. It’s moments like this that I’m actually grateful to work at Starbucks, because I know I can get some free (or heavily discounted) meals from my job until then. I hope you guys have a really great week ahead- I’m looking forward to spending my days with my friends at work and my weekends with buck- so I have nothing to complain about. Stay safe, everyone!

Now that I am making tips at work and my income is steady, I’m happy that I’ve been able to make a few fall purchases here and there. If I am going to make any sort of purchase, especially if it’s something on myself, I try to stick with things that I know I will keep and take care of for as long as possible. With that being said, let’s hope I’ll get a good, long use out of all of these new purchases! 

Quilted Bedding | Target

I’ve been using white bedding for a while now, and while I like it in theory, it’s not as nice anymore when you realize it looks SO dirty so fast. Literally two days after I washed my white bedding, it would already be covered in lint and dirt and look just as unkempt as it did before. A lot of the bedding/bedroom setups I’m drawn to on Pinterest are yellows and burnt oranges, so when I decided to purchase some new bedding, that’s the color scheme I opted for. I would have ideally wanted a set that came with pillowcases as well, but I couldn’t find a set in my size, so I just opted for the quilt instead. I like it because it’s not too heavy, it’s extremely easy to wash, and so far, it’s been holding up nicely! Definitely a pricey purchase, but also worth it. 

Plaid Scarf | Target

I saw this scarf during the same shopping trip as the bedding, and seeing how it was only 5 bucks, it didn’t take long for me to decide to buy it. I like this style of scarf because it can be worn as both a shawl or a regular neck scarf, and since I’m living on a budget, there’s nothing I love more than a two-in-one! I’m looking forward to keeping warm with this all season long (and for many seasons to come,) even if I already have a mask to cover the lower half of my face.

Denim Overalls | Gap

This was actually purchased for me by my lovely mother (who has a matching pair, might I add,) but I’m still going to add it to my list of new fall additions. As far as I know, I’ve never owned a pair of overalls before now, and I am totally in love with them. Even better, I’m allowed to wear them to work at Starbucks because they fit the dress code! I’m so excited to wear these out as long as I can- hopefully for many years to come. I love clothing that is functional, comfortable, and of course, very cute. 

Pastel Tie Dye Hoodie | Aerie

Fall is the ultimate hoodie season, so I’m making sure I’m well-stocked in that department this October. Aerie was having a 40% sale on all their hoodies, and since this one looked extremely soft and pretty, I ultimately decided to buy it as a little treat for myself at the mall. Nathaniel has also been loving this hoodie, and according to my friends at college, he’s even been seen sporting it around campus. I can’t say I blame him- it really is a great hoodie!

Grateful Dead Hoodie | Urban Outfitters

Speaking of hoodies I’ve been sharing with Nathaniel, we’ve both been loving this super huge, cozy, Grateful Dead sweater I bought with my tip money last week. I normally don’t really shop at Urban because it’s so expensive, but they do have a great selection of Grateful Dead merch, and I knew I would get a great use out of this hoodie. It also now holds sentimental memories for me, as I brought it with me to a family wedding last weekend and wore it while we all sat around the fire. I think cozy, big hoodies are always a good purchase, so I can’t say I regret purchasing it. 

That’s pretty much everything I’ve been loving this fall, from my wardrobe to my bedding! I love everything, but I think I’m especially living for the overalls and the Grateful Dead hoodie. Let me know what you guys are excited about this fall in the comments below!

As soon as September 1st hits, I go headfirst into Fall Mode and nobody can stop me. I don’t care when the official first day of fall is- summer’s over as far as I’m concerned! I have a great variety of things to tell you about this month, so I hope you guys find this article enjoyable and informative.

Health & Beauty | Method Body

Now that I’ve used up the last of my Lush Rockstar soap, it was time to invest in something new for the shower. I noticed one of my housemates had a Method body wash in our shower, which is what sparked my interest into trying out the brand. I decided to go with the “pure peace” scent, which has notes of peony, rose water, and pink sea salt. I love traditionally soft and “feminine” scents, and this body wash is just absolutely delightful. Not only am I obsessed with the scent, but I also love the ethics behind the company. There’s nothing bad or damaging in this formula, so not only does shower time smell like a luxurious spa- I can feel good about my choices, too!

Home & Decor | Apple Pumpkin Candle by DW Home

I don’t need to remind y’all that I shop for fall candles year-round, and when I first smelled this candle, I knew I had found my new favorite. The scent is pretty strong, so if you’re sensitive to candles, you may not love this one. However, I LOVE the overpowering apple smell and I probably burned it for at least two hours a day this month. Unfortunately, I’ve now run out after burning it so much, but the good news is, I’ve got plenty of other fall candles lined up. 

Lifestyle | Pumpkin Anything

This past month, I have been cooking (and drinking) so many pumpkin items, it’s a wonder I’m not sick of it yet. For one thing, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin cream cold brews from Starbucks are my EVERYTHING right now (god, I sound so white.) And, as someone who works at Starbucks, I’ve seen a lot of other folks jump on the pumpkin drink bandwagon as well. I’ve also been incorporating pumpkin into my baking lately, such as with my pumpkin bread that I made last week. I’m sure I’ll be sick of pumpkin by November, but for now, I’m a huge fan.

Health & Beauty | POPBeauty

I’m a strong believer that one should switch up their skincare routine every few months to keep things fresh and updated. Particularly with the seasons changing and the weather getting colder, I wanted to pick out some new products that would really focus on hydration and renewal. I decided to go with POPBeauty because their line was very affordable, vegan, and none of the items looked too intense for my sensitive skin. Right now, I’m using the Fizz Jelly Cleanser, the Extra Aqua Shot serum, the Zero Shine Hydrator, and the ZZZ Mask before bed. I also bought the Makeup Magnet Mist, which I’ve been loving as well. Like I said, these products are super clean and gentle on the skin, and I also really enjoy the bright aesthetic of this brand. I’m super excited to continue adding to my collection! 

Food | Candy Corn Boom Chicka Pop

I have to make a confession, I bought this popcorn at Star Market and I literally ate the entire bag in one day. In my defense, it was a medium-sized bag and not a huge one, but still. This stuff is VASTLY addicting. I’m actually not a big fan of candy corn itself (it gives me a sore throat?), but this stuff was straight-up delicious and perfect as a sweet fall snack. I’ll definitely be buying this again on my next trip to the grocery store.

Entertainment | The Michelle Obama Podcast

I think Michelle Obama is simply just a lovely person. She seems like she really has her life together, and her wisdom shines through for so many admirers. I was really excited when she announced that she was starting a podcast; I felt like it was a really human thing for her to do, to open up about her life experiences in a very personal way with her guests and her audiences. Not only have I learned a lot about Michelle from the podcast, but I also feel like I have learned a lot about womanhood and what I can expect as I continue to navigate through the world and develop into my own strong woman. 

Fashion | Oversized Sweaters

I’m basic, I know, but there is nothing I love more on this planet than a huge, cozy, neutral sweater. It definitely does not help that I live down the street from a TJ Maxx and I can go shopping for sweaters whenever I want. I’ve been really into neutrals lately (when am I not into neutrals?), which will account for why most of my oversized sweaters are an array of beiges, whites, and grays. I’m particularly loving this gray zip-up sweater I picked up the other day; I’ve been wearing it almost every day since I bought it. 

That’s everything I’ve been loving so far in September! What have you guys been enjoying so far this fall? Let me know in the comments. 

Saturday, September 26

Right now, I’m sitting at Starbucks (the one my boyfriend is working at, actually,) enjoying a pumpkin cream cold brew and trying to get some work done. I don’t know if other people feel this way, too, but I find it easier to work when I’m not in my own house. If I try to work in bed, for example, I either end up napping or scrolling through my phone. So coming to Starbucks seemed like a good idea for today; I got to see Buck, reload some money on my Charlie Card, and get some work done! And coffee, of course. I get a horrid migraine if I don’t have my caffeine. 

As you can see from the title, yes, I did sprain my wrist this week. I’m actually not exactly sure how I did it, but it was almost definitely caused by work. I have to do a lot of heavy lifting, so it makes sense that one wrong move or strain on my wrist could cause me to get a grade I sprain. It’s not too bad, but for the past few days I haven’t been able to put any pressure on that wrist without feeling a shooting pain. So I’ve been doing most things with my left hand, which has been tricky, but going alright. I also currently can’t really afford to buy a cast or a splint right now, so I’m sure that’s going to slow down my healing as well.

Anyway, work was quite stressful this week and physically taxing (mostly due to my injury,) so I’m really happy to have a few days off to catch up on other things and have some self-care time. On Tuesday, I had a lovely dinner with my co-workers, and we decided that we’re going to continue to have weekly dinners and rotate whose house we go to. Next week, we’re going to have fancy ramen at my friend Luke’s house which I’m really looking forward to. Obviously we talk about what’s going on at work, but we also talk about our relationships, our lives in Boston, being queer, etc. It’s really nice to know that I’ve made some solid friends for life since moving to Boston.

Then, on Wednesday, Buck came to visit me at work and ended up just hanging around until the end of my shift. We got some pizza afterwards, which was so lovely of him to treat me to, and then he ended up coming back home with me and staying the night. It’s nice to have someone to sleep next to and then wake up with; somehow, it makes the day ahead feel more bearable and comforting, knowing you are starting your morning on a note of love and safety.

Besides seeing him and my friends this week, I haven’t really been up to too much! I did buy some new bedding, which I’m currently loving a lot. Besides that tiny new update, really nothing in my life has changed. I’m just having a good time enjoying my life, spending time with my loved ones, and getting blogging done in-between. Next weekend is Buck’s sister’s wedding, which we will obviously be attending, and I’m really looking forward to telling you guys all about that! Stay safe this week and remember to take care of yourselves.

Since living in Boston and working almost full-time, my makeup routine and budget for makeup has certainly changed a bit! For one thing, I hardly wear any makeup at work, so a lot of the products I do pick out are more so designed to enhance my features a little bit and make me look awake, rather than a full-coverage glam beat. It’s noteworthy to add that while I wish all of these products were cruelty free (it’s an ideal I strive for,) L’oreél and Maybelline are unfortunately not cruelty free at this current point in time. With that out of the way, I hope you enjoy reading about some of the makeup I’ve been using lately from the drugstore! 

Lightshow Palette Fire Fit | POPBeauty | $12

I normally steer clear of drugstore eyeshadow palettes because I just don’t think they hold up to the more expensive ones (nor do I find the color stories interesting,) but this one just looked too beautiful for me not to try. I’d never heard of POPBeauty before, but since the price was decent and the entire collection of products looked adorable and clean, I decided to give it a go. As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of warm browns and oranges, and that’s exactly what this palette has to offer! The colors are gorgeous and the shimmers are especially stunning, but the mattes were not quite as pigmented as I had hope. Nonetheless, I’m definitely going to keep using it this fall and I’m glad to add it to my eyeshadow collection! 

Colour Riche Matte Lipstick in “Matte-Traction” and “Matte-ly in Love” | L’oréal | $11 each

I definitely don’t need another red lipstick in my makeup bin, but oh well, I really loved the look of these two colors. I think $11 for a lipstick is super reasonable, particularly since they all perform relatively the same and look all alike once applied on the lips. I was expecting these lipsticks to be a bit more matte, considering the names, but they still looked very flattering despite being a more cream-based formula. I also really like the packaging on these lipsticks: for a drugstore item, I actually think they look quite sleek and expensive. 

BrowFast Sculpt | Maybelline | $6

I’ve been meaning to buy a brow mascara for forever now, because I’ve finally grown my brows back in and I think they look much more natural when I use a mascara wand as opposed to a brush or a pencil. Although I really love this product a LOT and I think it’s so simple to use, I wish I had gotten a lighter color! My natural hair color is quite a warm brown, and the brow mascara shade I picked out is quite an ashy, dark brown. Nonetheless, for $6, I’m super impressed and I’m definitely going to keep using it because I love the formula. 

Matte Lip Stain in “Empower” | L’oréal | $12

Right behind a classic red, my second favorite lip color is a nudey pink. This time, I decided to opt for a lip stain formula and go with this one, also by L’oréal. I love this formula because it’s not too drying- something I pay attention to as the weather starts to get colder. There’s nothing worse (makeup-wise) than putting a drying lip stain onto your cracked lips! Because this lip stain is so soft and smooth, I think it could also double nicely as a cream blush. What do you guys think? 

MasterCamo Crayon Corrector | Maybelline | $10

I’ve always had very red, uneven skin, and since I’ve had luck with green concealers in the past, I decided to buy a new one. One of my biggest reasons for wearing such a heavy foundation in the past was because I wanted to erase my redness, but now that my makeup is on the softer side these days, I’ve found it looks more natural for me to just counteract the redness and then put a BB cream on top. I really like the spongy design of the brush, and I think it’s been doing a pretty good job so far! This is definitely going to become an everyday item for me. 

Lip Liner in “Brandy Wine” | wet n wild | $4

Last but certainly not least, I decided to pick out a dark lip liner that I could wear with my nude-colored lipsticks. I think that adding more emphasis to your lower lip and cupid’s bow can make them look more defined and rounded, which is why I decided to pick a color that may mimic a shadow of my natural lip color. I’m pretty happy with the color, and for $4 there isn’t much I can complain about. What do you guys think?

For this month’s little ramble on human behavior, I thought I’d talk about a metaphor I think about frequently and have definitely posted about before: veils. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll leave the little excerpt from the book that first explained this concept to me here:

“Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. Then they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.”

This quote is from a book called When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead- a book I highly recommend, by the way. And ever since I first read the book about ten years ago, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with my own “veil” a lot, and what seeing the world with one means to me. After taking a required Ethics class back in college that discussed the theory of Rawl’s veil of ignorance, I began to think even harder about it and how other peoples’ veils affect their feelings towards themselves and others. And I wondered, years after first reading When You Reach Me, if perhaps Rebecca Stead was thinking about Rawl’s theories as well when she penned the quote.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about what this means to me and how shifting my view of the external world has created an internal change within me. Instead of the wind softly blowing my veil out of my face, I feel like 2020 has just ripped it away completely. For me, there were several moments of my veil being snatched away and forcing me to look at the world how it really is: COVID-19. Racial Injustice and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others. Wildfires scorching across the hottest places on earth and mercilessly destroying everything. Hurricanes. Politics. Corruption. Shootings. Death.

And then, aside from those worldwide, universally-traumatic events, I had my own private life changes that shifted my view of everything. And not all of them were bad, actually. Falling in love with Nathaniel (and realizing I have everything if I have him) was a huge shift in my world that lifted my veil and opened my eyes to what true love means. Moving out of the house and getting my first apartment, being on welfare and working a “real job” and doing everything for myself, by myself, shifted me without me even noticing. Because sometimes, you don’t even see the change happening until you suddenly wake up one day and realize everything is different now.

Going through coronavirus and being forced to examine how broken things are in this country, and how I, even unknowingly and blindly, have been contributing to a corrupt system by ignoring it, has really forced me to reevaluate everything. It has made me realize that although I have my own problems in my life, and my struggles are valid, there are other people around the world who have it ten times worse than me. There are people who are losing their lives, their loved ones, their faith in humanity, and their homes. And while I have my own share of loss, I still feel inclined to open myself up to the world with arms of empathy and kindness and sorrow, ready to help in whatever way I can. I am ready to un-learn old ways of thinking and continue to think critically about how I can be a better light in this world for others.

I’ve noticed that these external changes in my life have subtly changed the way I think about a lot of things. I feel quite comfortable in my own skin now, and I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, despite all of the scary things happening around me. I’ve noticed in the past six or so months that being a harder worker has made me a brighter, kinder person, who appreciates human interaction and connection more than anything in the world. I’m the person who will start a conversation with anybody- the old man sitting next to me on the train, the person behind me in the grocery store line, or the customer ordering a coffee from me at work. There’s something about 2020 and needing to feel connected to everybody that has made me want to throw positivity around like confetti.

There’s another veil-lifting moment I want to talk about that struck me a couple of weeks ago. I went back to my hometown for a couple of days so that I could visit my eye doctor, and I ended up staying overnight with my dad. He put dinner down in front of my face- it was a piece of pizza from one of my favorite spots in New England- beach pizza from Tripoli’s. And I don’t know why it was this exact moment in time that struck me so strongly, but I just stared at that pizza in awe and looked back up at my dad, like, “Wait, you’re sharing your food with me? This is for me? And you don’t have to buy food with SNAP benefits? And I don’t have to clean up the dishes?”

I don’t know if I’m doing a great job of explaining how astonished I feel, so let me try again. For the past few months, living on my own and paying my own bills and just trying to get by on welfare living with two people who I don’t like very much (and definitely don’t share anything with, let alone pizza,) my brain was just having a really hard time processing what my father was doing for me, giving me some of his food. And in that moment, I felt my veil being lifted, seeing my world for how it really is, and how much I have changed along with everything else around me.

Another veil-lifting experience of pure happiness and astonishment: A few days ago, Nathaniel was walking me back to the train station after I came to visit him for an afternoon cup of coffee. The sky was playing some sort of an optical illusion that evening and the sun looked ginormous and red and beautiful, like a big glowing circle of red construction paper, and the clouds were streaked with pastel oranges and purples, and he proudly pointed out the sun to me because he knew I would gasp with delight. And I don’t know why, but there was something about that evening and Nathaniel showing me the sunset that made my eyes well up with tears and my heart feel so full, I thought it would burst. I remember I just grabbed him and hugged him so fucking hard, and I felt so happy to be alive in that perfect moment with him. That, to me, was another moment of lifting my veil and taking time out of my usual day-to-day life to stop and appreciate the world for what it really is. 

It’s moments like that which remind me why I have so much to be grateful for and appreciative of every day. I may not have much, like reliable food or enough quarters to do my laundry, but I have all the blood red sunsets and ten-minute hugs I could ever ask for. And that, for me, is something I’ve never even had to consider before this year.

Thanks for showing me the sun!

Saturday, September 19

Hi folks! How are we all doing? I’ve had a pretty solid week, albeit busy with work, and now I’m relieved to have reached the weekend for some peace and quiet. I’ve been trying to hold myself to going to bed early and getting up at a reasonable time, even on weekends, so I’m happy to report I was up and walking around before 9am today. I’d ideally like to be up at 8am every day, but if I don’t have much to do, then what am I even getting up that early for?

Normally I go to the Starbucks down the street from my apartment for coffee, but this morning, I decided to take the journey outbound on the train to visit Nathaniel at his Starbucks. It was a pretty long train ride, and then I had to walk quite a bit, but it was worth it to see his smiling face and get a coffee from him. 

Now I’m back at my place and I’m currently eating lunch- a bowl of macaroni and goat cheese (surprisingly delicious) and some steamed broccoli. Nathaniel might come over for a sleepover tonight, depending on what time he finishes up his homework, which would be lovely (even though I saw him literally yesterday and this morning.) 

Sorry for only talking about my boyfriend this week; anyway, here’s a picture of me in my new favorite overalls.

My goals for the rest of the day are to get some laundry done, cook dinner (I’m thinking spaghetti and meatballs,) and schedule a blog post for Tuesday. It’s funny how much my personality and my goals/values have shifted since graduating and moving out of my house, in a way that I have a difficult time describing. Even though my life is objectively harder now, I still feel like this is the most simple and happy life I have ever felt. COVID obviously makes things a bit confusing, but in general, I feel like I have a lot of clarity and confidence in my life right now. I’m looking forward to this upcoming fall and all the subtle changes that it brings: colder weather, pumpkin lattes, and the hintings of Christmastime ahead. 

Sunday, September 20

It’s Sunday afternoon now, which means tomorrow I have to resume getting up obscenely early for work (honestly, I don’t mind that much anymore now that I’m used to it.) And besides, I’d rather go in early and get out early than get home at 8 or 9 o’clock at night. At least when I get home between 4 and 6, I have time to unwind for a bit, cook dinner, and enjoy what’s left of my day before it gets dark outside.

Buck left a little while ago; he slept over last night and went to brunch with me this morning. It’s such a nice change to see him more often now that he’s so close by for school, and it’s comforting to know I can always go to him if I need anything. Since living in Boston, I’ve felt so far away and disconnected from most of my friends and family; it’s nice to know that someone is nearby for me.

I don’t have anything particularly exciting planned for this week- just working, writing, and probably baking more delicious bread. I’m thinking either banana bread or cheesy loaf may be next- what do you guys think? I hope you all stay safe and healthy this week, and enjoy the weather as it begins to cool down (depending on what hemisphere you’re on, I suppose!)

I actually had an entirely different article planned for today, but you know what? Bread ended up happening instead. As many of you probably know, I am undertaking a newfound hobby of baking and my goal is to bake a different kind of bread each week. This week, I decided to make pumpkin bread!

As with last week’s bread, I found this recipe on pinterest and will link it here. I was drawn to it because it claims to be a “Starbucks copycat”- I’ll be the one to judge that, as a Starbucks employee and connoisseur. Find out at the end how this recipe measured up to the Starbucks pumpkin loaf!

I already had most of the ingredients; the only things I had to go out of my way to buy was the pumpkin puree (and a can opener for the said puree.) The rest of the items were just your basic kitchen staples- flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. First I mixed together the dry ingredients- the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking sugar, and salt. I only added half a teaspoon of cinnamon because I didn’t want it to be *too* overpowering, but you can definitely add another teaspoon of cinnamon if you want an extra kick.

Next, I mixed together the wet ingredients. I was a little bit nervous about “whipping up” the sugar and the butter because I don’t have a mixer, as the recipe instructs, but honestly, just using a regular ‘ole pastry spatula worked fine for me. I mixed the sugar and the butter until it was as light and fluffy as possible, and then I added in the pumpkin puree, eggs, and almond milk. After that was mixed adequately, I slowly added in bits of the dry ingredients until I had a very thick batter. I was expecting it to be less chunky, but again, I don’t have a mixer, so that probably affected the consistency a little bit.

I then poured the batter into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper (easier cleanup for me) and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes. The recipe only calls for 50-60 minutes, but my bread actually wasn’t quite done for an additional fifteen minutes. Make sure you test out your bread with a toothpick or a fork to make sure it’s cooked all the way through! By the way, this bread smells AMAZING while it’s baking. It’s a perfectly sweet and subtle pumpkin scent, and it made my entire kitchen smell like fall. 

I waited until Nathaniel got here to cut into it, so we could both try it at the same time (he also works at Starbucks and was ready to compare it to our pumpkin loaf.) I personally think the bread came out absolutely delicious, soft, and so perfectly sweet. I also think it had the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor and tasted preeeetyy darn similar to the actual Starbucks version (minus the fact that this recipe doesn’t have the nuts on top.) Nathaniel thought the bread was delicious, too, but he didn’t think it tasted “pumpkiny enough.” I’m gonna have to disagree with him there, I think the notes of pumpkin really came through and it didn’t need any alterations. Overall, this recipe was a huge success, and I’m excited to bake this bread for my family! Maybe for Thanksgiving this is what I’ll be bringing to the table.

So, that summarizes this week’s adventure in baking! I think next week I’ll switch back to a savory recipe, so let me know if you have any ideas or recommendations for me. Thanks for reading!

Every now and again, I like to post some sort of an update on the foods I’m buying and how I’m preparing dishes for the week ahead. This past weekend has been a great opportunity for me to cook some delicious things, and Nathaniel even helped me to cook as well! I hope you find some inspiration from this article and enjoy these fall-themed food ideas.

Breakfast: Overnight Oats

It’s hard to go wrong with overnight oats, and whenever I prepare them, I feel like I really have my life together. I love everything from brainstorming the different ideas for customizations, prepping them, and of course, eating them! I’ve been sticking with strawberry banana overnight oats this week because that’s what I picked up at the grocery store, but next week I’d like to try pumpkin oats and PB & J oats. Ellie Krieger has a great recipe on her website for the pumpkin oats, so I’ll have to think about giving those a go! 

Bread: Soft ‘N’ Sweet Dinner Rolls

Like I said, Nathaniel and I did some cooking together last weekend, and one of the things we made were soft ‘n’ sweet dinner rolls. I have to say, this bread baking experience was a lot different than my other bread experiences because this one required activating the yeast and kneading the dough. Our rolls were delicious, but they were definitely much denser and biscuit-like than the recipe intended them to be. I’ve been pairing them with my dinner soup, which I’ll get to soon. I’m really happy with how they came out, and I hope they come out even better the next time.

Lunch: Fall Apple Salad

Keeping with the seasons, lately I’ve been enjoying prepping this easy fall salad. It’s a common variation of a salad I’ve made a lot and talked about on my blog: sweet kale base, apples, walnuts, craisins, and poppy seed dressing. I really like crunchy, fruity salads, and this dish definitely offers me the perfect combination of both. It’s super easy to whip up in big batches, and several of the ingredients are fairly cheap and easy to find (if not all of them.) My favorite poppy seed dressing to use is the Panera variety, as I find the creamier versions don’t quite pair as well with the other ingredients.

Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

Lastly, I’ve been burning through my homemade butternut squash soup all week, and there’s still a ton left in my fridge! This was the other dish Nathaniel and I made together, and I think it was an absolutely perfect choice. I was surprised because the recipe called for two cups of apple cider, but once it was incorporated into the actual dish, it actually tasted really good. I think this is one of those dishes that tastes better as a leftover, too, so I’ve been really enjoying eating a little bit every day and observing different notes in the flavors. 

So, that’s everything I’ve meal prepped to eat for this week! I really wanted to choose dishes that I felt celebrated the fall season, and I also made sure I picked ingredients that are cheap (and fresh) as well. I already have a lot of ideas for what I want to cook next week, so I’m looking forward to sharing that with you guys. I’ve been meaning to make pumpkin bread for forever now, so maybe that will be on my agenda next.

Sunday, September 13

It’s been a sufficiently busy weekend, and although it was also loads of fun, I’m happy to have some quiet “me” time now to catch up on other things. Work has also been crazy and exciting, per usual! I feel like my coworkers and I have moved beyond the initial cordial phase and into being goofy and lax with each other, which is a nice feeling. My shifts have also been starting a bit later than usual, which is nice because it means I can sleep in later AND not have to worry about the trains being delayed. 

I had an eye doctor appointment on Friday that I needed to attend, and since my mom’s birthday was this weekend (it’s today, actually,) I decided to take a two-day trip up to my hometown to hit two birds with one stone. Actually, I hit multiple birds with one stone. I got to spend some quality time with my father, with whom I have a complex relationship, and Eli and I went to our favorite local farm on Friday morning. I haven’t seen him since March, so that was a nice treat. And I got this pumpkin!

After that, I spent some quality bonding time with my mom since I won’t get to see her on her actual birthday. We did some cute mother-daughter shopping, and just had a great time catching up together and hanging out. After my appointment, she dropped me off at the train station and I headed back to Boston.

But my Friday didn’t end there; actually, it was just getting started. My friend Alanis, who I also haven’t seen since quarantine started, came to visit me at my new apartment that night! We got some cocktails at the bar down the street from me (safely, of course,) and I had THE BEST macaroni and cheese ever. In fact, I’m kinda thinking about getting some takeout tonight. I mean, it’s right there. She slept over afterwards as well, and it was great to see her after being apart for such a long time.

After Alanis left on Saturday morning, I took a quick errand break to go to the grocery store because my SNAP benefits finally landed and I desperately needed to restock my fridge. Buck came over a little bit later and we cooked an incredibly yummy dinner together- butternut squash soup with dinner rolls and salad. I lit a candle and set the table as nicely as I could with my current resources, and we ate dinner over jazz music and candlelight. It was so sweet and relaxing, and we finished off the night with some beach pizza for dessert and lots of episodes of Adventure Time.

So that brings us into today. After we made delicious (but very thin and shriveled-up) pancakes, we decided to head into the city and check out Newbury Street & The Prudential Center. My favorite part of today was sitting in the garden at the Prudential with Buck and leaning my head on his shoulder, talking and letting the warm sun wash over us. He’s so nice to have around, and it makes me unbelievably happy to know that he’s so close by. I can’t wait for another dinner date + sleepover with him; I think we agreed to make spaghetti next time. It was a really busy weekend, as you can see, but also so wonderful and worth it. I got to spend much needed quality time with my loved ones, I have a fully-stocked fridge, enough money in the bank, and a great partner. I’ve never felt so full to the brim with happiness.