Thrifting for Photography

This weekend, my friend and I decided to go thrift shopping. She was on the lookout for a desk, and I was on the lookout for anything I could craft with, or anything to help improve my photography. I take a lot of pictures of food, and although our table is vintage and has recently come back into style so it makes a cute background, our plates are just old. Seriously, whenever I post a food picture, someone has to comment about how their grandma used to use those plates.

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This is the plate we most often use for meals. It was my grandparents’ plate, and as far as I know, they’ve had it for longer than I’m alive.

That’s why I was so excited to see a deal at the thrift store we went to. You could get three coffee mugs for 99 cents- an awesome deal since I collect coffee mugs- or three plates, bowls, or saucers for $1.99.

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This was the first thing I spotted. After this green bowl came into my view, I knew I was going to have to buy it. J makes a lot of soups, chilis, and stews in the winter. The bowls we have now are awesome to eat out of, and pretty nostalgic, but they photograph horribly. So this was calling my name.

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Next, I spotted this striped plate hidden under a pile of other plates. It’s pretty and graphic, and I really think food will pop on it.

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Finally, I grabbed this tiny white saucer. It’s a lot like the ones we used at my wedding, so half my love for it was sentimental, but seriously, it was cute and I could spare a few cents on it.

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Since cute dinnerware is half the battle of good food photography, I’m pretty impressed with what I got for two dollars. I wish I had found a cute mug, but alas, I think I’m stuck with my kitty mug for now.

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You know what? Actually, I think I’m okay with that.

Macarons and More

Today should be Style Sunday. Should being the operative word there, because it is not actually Style Sunday. Although I had every intention of dressing someone up in something trendy, doing their makeup, and photographing it, I actually spent most of the weekend doing anything but looking cute. It was a tee shirt and yoga pants weekend as I thrift shopped for plates and cups for my food photography, took my brother too and from a County Fair, and met up with a friend to discuss our upcoming plans for our Disney trip.

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This is the face of an exhausted but happy spoonie who has discovered the perfect place to meet for serious travel discussions. While some people might suggest a library, a coffee shop, or even a Panera, I have a bit of a different idea. In my mind, there’s no better place to get some work done or have a serious discussion than the local chocolatier.

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Yeah, hot chocolate is fantastic. It was finally cold enough to have an actual hot chocolate (with cinnamon and hot peppers, just the way I like it.) Before this, I was having to make do with frozen hot chocolate, which is great but definitely not the same.

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But let’s cut to the chase. There’s a real reason I chose this place, and it has nothing to do with their namesake sweet. I am here for one reason, and one reason only: macarons.

Macarons are the standard by which I judge any bakery or restaurant that has them. The best are from Rice and Noodles Vietnamese restaurant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The worst won’t be named, but if you’re at overpriced French bakeries in St. Louis, Missouri- look out.

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I know I shouldn’t judge too harshly. Macarons are notoriously difficult to make. But if we’re speaking truthfully, while the best macarons taste like slightly crispy pillows around a creamy center, the worst ones taste like styrofoam Oreos. And that’s just not acceptable.

Every restaurant has the traditional flavors, like pistachio and strawberry. I give big points for any restaurant or bakery that goes above and beyond the usual offerings while still providing some quality, adorable desserts.

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So when I stumbled through the door of the chocolatier today and neon purple macarons greeted me, I couldn’t help but get excited. Recently, this chocolatier has had some delicious Earl Grey macarons, so I had high hopes. These turned out to be blackberry goat cheese.

I know what you’re thinking. “Goat cheese? In my macarons? That sounds absurd.” You’re right. It does sound absurd. But this was done right. So right. This was delicious.

So while these aren’t ready to knock Rice and Noodles out of the running just yet, I’m glad I have a solid place to snack on some macarons while I write blog posts like this one. I’ll take all of them, please.

Where’s your favorite place to get macarons?

Friday Five

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for me to gush about my favorite things of the week again! This week I’m excited, because I have a lot to talk about with you guys.

1. Covergirl Foundations

I have tried a lot of foundations. From high end to drugstore, they all work for a while, then irritate my skin to no end. We’re not talking acne here. We’re talking full on rashes, hives, and horrible itching. This is generally considered “not good” by the majority of the population, so that leaves me with skin that looks funky and no way to cover it.

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Enter my three new best friends in the makeup world. Covergirl NatureLuxe liquid foundation in 305, and Covergirl Sensitive Skin powder and liquid foundation in 210 (powder) and 205 (liquid).

I’m not sure why my face color varies so widely in these three foundations, especially two of them seem like they should be identical, but I really don’t care. These aren’t breaking me out, they look flawless, and they’re cheap too! Seriously, nothing better.

2. Beet Salad

I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve fallen even more in love with this, if that’s possible. Each week I get to pick out one “treat” at the grocery store. This week I picked out a pint of local beet salad!

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Goat cheese, mandarin oranges, and local root veggies. What could be better? Well, not eating all of it at once and freaking out that your pee turns neon pink, probably. (Am I allowed to talk about that on a blog? Well, I just did.) Other than the unfortunate side effects of consuming large amounts of these bright veggies, this has probably been the highlight of my week.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar.

Great for digestion. Great for your skin. Apparently great in fresh juices with a little bit of ginger, too. Need I say more?

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(Speaking of juice, I just found out that my watermelon juice habit is actually good for me. Watermelon has a ton of iron, which is great because I am always lacking iron. Plus it’s pretty, too!)

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4. NYX matte lipstick in “Nude.”

I’m almost ashamed to admit is, as someone who talks about makeup as much as I do. Out of all the fabulous lipsticks I have collected over the years, I did not previously own a true nude.

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I cleaned out my makeup drawer earlier this week, which meant a lot of swatching and a lot of “keep or ditch” conversations with friends. During my total overhaul of my lipstick collection, I noticed that I had a ton of fun winter colors, but nothing to transition into fall! I had to fix this.

So I am now the proud owner of Nyx’s “Nude” matte lipstick. I’ve worn it twice since I got it this week and I’ve gotta say, it’s fantastic.

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5. Desserts.

Okay, this is a broad category, but let’s be real. When I was little, sweets were the last thing I wanted out of a meal. Now? This is my first time admitting it, but I love sweets. Macarons, cheesecake, frozen hot chocolate, I love it all. Which is why it made my week when my husband surprised me with this treat:

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Yep, you’re seeing this right! Frozen hot chocolate from a local chocolatier, and macarons that combined two of my favorite things- dessert and Earl Grey! Do I have the best husband or what?

So what are you loving this week?

Juices: my latest obsession.

I have to drink a lot of liquid every day. I’m pretty good about it, really! I have about two liters of water a day, sometimes more if I’m feeling especially POTSie. The only problem I have is my undying hatred for plain water. I just don’t like it! I drink it, sure, but I’m always looking for some other ways to get my liquid intake up.

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I allow myself one glass of earl grey or green tea a day, because I can’t handle very much caffeine. Sometimes I add in an herbal tea, like Chamomint Moon by Higgins and Burke. It’s a nice change from plain water, and I’ve already talked about how warm beverages make me concentrate better. (It’s a mental thing, I know.)

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Lately though? I’m loving these fresh juices from Grocery Bar. This week, lemonade with cucumber was on sale for two dollars, as was watermelon juice. That’s a great price for fresh, cold-pressed juices, so I picked a few up. They were awesome, and I might have replaced breakfast with them a few times when my stomach just wasn’t feeling up to real food. After I finished them, my husband and I headed back to pick up a few more while they were still on sale.

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While we were there, I saw the Juice of the Day and knew I had to try it out. It was a mix of carrot, apple, orange, and ginger. I’ve been a fan of carrot-apple juice for years, so this was right up my alley. It was $7, which still fit in my budget, so that was pretty neat.

I love the packaging of these juices. The glass jars and minimalist logo are absolutely adorable, and I’ve repurposed them in my house as flower vases. A single long stem daisy in each of the bottles in a row in the window is a cute look and a great way for me to recycle!

If you’re in the Chattanooga area, and you want fresh juice, check out The Grocery Bar! I’m also looking for the guy who does juice from a bicycle, which seems like a really cool concept even if I can’t remember the name of his business right now.

Since I hate smoothies, juice is the next best thing when it comes to nutrients! I’m loving fresh juice as a water alternative, and just in general. Who’s with me??

Tea Time!

I love tea. I think it started out as a Southern thing, because I was raised on tea sweeter than hummingbird spit. However, when I moved out if the south for college, I had to develop a taste for other kinds of tea to get my fix. Unsweet tea, herbal tea, earl grey, it doesn’t matter. I love tea. However, in the summer, which seems to last five or six months in my part of the country, I can’t deal with hot water. Boiling things on the stove is a sure way to make me pass out, and tea never tastes right if I microwave the water.

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As you know, I’m a little obsessed with my Keurig lately. But I’m about to show you why. There was an amazon sale on a K-cup variety pack, and since my husband and I both drink hot tea and coffee drinks several times a day, we splurged. It wound up costing us 66 cents per drink, which is better than what the husband was spending on coffee and tea drinks at gas stations when he had to rush out the door in the mornings.

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What I like about the variety pack is that we have got to try a lot of drinks we wouldn’t have otherwise ordered. One of the herbal teas I originally scoffed at has turned out to be my new favorite drink! Meanwhile, J likes to wind down at night with a cup of hot apple cider.

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If you’re feeling uninspired by your usual coffee drinks, I highly recommend checking Amazon for Keurig sampler packs. Not only are they a lot cheaper than in stores, I’ve found a lot of drinks that aren’t available around here.

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The teas we picked out were eligible for Prime so we got them delivered in two days, for free, which was another great bonus.

Plus, if you shop through Amazon Smile, your k cup obsession can help the charity of your choice at no cost to you! Our contribution goes to the Blind Cat Rescue Society, but there’s a variety of charities to support.

So, for me, it’s tea time! And for a blind cat, hopefully my purchase is providing a bit of a better life.

Friday Five

Once again, it’s time to share the five things I’m loving this week. I’m really excited to make this post this time because it’s been a great week and I could think of way more than five things to share with you. However, I’ve set precedent with myself, so I’m going to stick with the five best of the best. Without further ado, I present the Friday Five!

1. Wild-caught Georgia Shrimp

When presented the chance to eat some fresh Georgia wild-caught shrimp, your answer should always be yes. It’s not just because I’m a Georgia resident, Georgia wild-caught shrimp really is the best. So when my husband’s store had some in stock, there was only one thing to do! We had a shrimp boil.

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Shrimp boils are one of the best ways to enjoy wild-caught Georgia shrimp, and they’re super easy. Definitely a highlight of the week.

2. Secrets by Mary Lambert

This is my go-to feel good song at the moment. I love Mary’s voice, I love the message, I love the beat… There’s not a thing about this song I’m not into! Plus it’s on spotify so I can listen to it whenever I want!

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3. Heir of Fire

I’ve been waiting for this book for so long. I keep saying I’m going to post a full review on the blog, and I will, but for right now, I’m just going to revel in how great it was. Seriously, I read it in one sitting. If you’re looking for a young adult fantasy novel with a female lead, this series is fantastic. There are a lot of female assassin novels out on the market now, but this is the best. And I would know because I’ve read most of them.

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4. NYX matte lipsticks

It’s getting closer to fall, so I’ve been pulling out darker lipsticks again. Yeah, I know, between my jogger obsession and my willingness to pull out winter makeup, you’d think I was ready for summer to be over! I admit I’m not looking forward to winter, but fall is my favorite season because it doesn’t make me pass out. Plus I can wear my favorite lipstick ever: NYX matte lipstick in Alabama. It’s a quintessential deep red, and looks good on a variety of skin tones. You can use it with a NYX lipliner to make it last longer, or alone if you’re daring.

5. Hammocking

I really need to get an eno. My hammocks are cool but they aren’t portable, and I think taking a hammock with me wherever I go would be just about the coolest thing ever. As it is though, me and Minnie the foster dog like to hang out and read or nap in the two backyard hammocks. If these storms ever blow over, I’m heading back out there so I won’t be pale anymore.

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Okay, okay, I know I said five things. But here’s a bonus “family photo” of my husband, me, and our two youngest cats. Aren’t we adorable? I love that my husband was willing to pose for photos with me and the cats until I got a few I liked!

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Zoodles

I’ve spent the summer wondering just what zoodles are, anyway. I’ve seen them on twitter, on Instagram, and on Pinterest for months now. It turns out zoodles are zucchini used as pasta. It also turns out you can use crookneck squash for noodles as well. I’m an adventurous eater, but zoodles weren’t really on my radar. Well, they weren’t on my radar until Aldi ran a great sale on produce. I went a little zucchini crazy and wound up with more summer squashes than I knew what to do with. There was only one solution to this problem: zoodles.

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Now, all of the pretty zoodles you see online are made with a spiralizer. I can’t afford one of those gadgets, so I might have made mine with a cheese grater instead. I used the side with the three big holes. I grated the squash, patted them dry with a paper towel, and dunked them in salty boiling water for two minutes.

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The verdict: delicious, even if they’re not as pretty as I hoped. My husband immediately asked if he could take the leftovers to work with him as a change from his normal junky snacks. (He can still eat gluten, and does very often when he’s away from me.)

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With my homemade tomato sauce, it was a nice healthy change up! I’ve been sick for the past month with a POTS flare, so my diet has mainly consisted of milkshakes, tea, and powerade. This was the first thing I’ve really been able to eat in a while and I’m glad I tried it. I guess the zoodle trend isn’t so weird after all!