June 25, 2014

Nutella Cake-in-a-Mug

The two things I love most in the world are 1) instant gratification and 2) Nutella. I hope most of you can agree with me on this. I love to bake, but sometimes the idea of collecting all those ingredients, dirtying all those pans and then having to clean up all that mess is just too much to undertake. Thankfully, there’s a magical land called Pinterest that makes our lives a million times easier. I get almost all of my recipes on Pinterest, because it’s that good.

While browsing one night, I found a recipe for a 5-minute Nutella cake that I knew I had to try. To my surprise, the recipe didn’t call for pots, pans or an oven, but rather a coffee mug and a microwave. You can bake a cake in a microwave? Oh yes you can, and it is just as delicious. I couldn’t have been more excited. So gather up those ingredients and get ready for some true instant gratification. Ok, maybe it’s more like 90-second gratification, but that’s close enough.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/4 cup self-rising flour  (or use regular flour, but add baking powder!)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, or more to taste
2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (I highly recommend Nutella), or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

What I like most about this recipe was how easy and foolproof it is. You don’t need a fancy stand mixer, sifter or any other professional grade tools. Basically, just throw everything in the mug, mix and you’re ready to go. Really, that’s it. I’ve tried this recipe a thousand times and never messed it up. Also, the ingredients are pretty flexible, too. Don’t have oil? That’s fine! Just double up the milk and it’ll taste the same, or vice versa. Throw the mug into the microwave for about 90 seconds, give or take depending on the strength (basically, keep a close eye on it!).

I added an extra dollop of Nutella on top, along with a strawberry garnish. I like the way it looks like I’m a pro and trying really hard when I’m actually not. However, this recipe is extremely customizable and the possibilities are really endless! I’ve tried adding whipped cream on top (delicious!), throwing chocolate chips in and also adding a peanut butter swirl. This is the place to let your creativity shine--or to just clean out your pantry.

Happy baking!

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June 21, 2014

The Alligator

So, I have a secret. 

I'm cheating on my blog. 

Scandalous, right?! I promise it's really not that dramatic, I just love writing and wanted to spread my blogging wings a little bit. Therefore, a few weeks ago, I started blogging for my schools newspaper The Independent Florida Alligator. 

Fun fact: it's the largest student-run paper in the country. Every Friday, I write a column called "The Starving Gator" where I write about my all-time favorite topic, FOOD. I've only published a few stories so far, but it's a long term commitment, so expect lots of yummy recipes and food chats in the near future! I wrote a recipe for a Nutella cake-in-a-mug this week that is probably the most delicious thing you will ever eat. Seriously people, I would love for you to go check it out!

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

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photo source

June 18, 2014

NYC Week 1 + New Design!

A couple days back I posted about how I'm struggling to adjust to life in NYC. While that post is totally true, there have also been some pretty fun/awesome moments so far. So for the sake of balance, I thought it would be nice to share the good, since I was so eager to complain about the bad. I haven't had a lot of free time (and I've only been here about 10 days) so there's still a lot of things on my bucket list. If you're a New Yorker or just love the city share with me some of your favorite things to do! I absolutely love exploring the city on the weekends...and eating, I love to eat.

 First stop was the Top of The Rock. Way better than the Empire State building.

I plan on spending basically every weekend in Central Park...so gorgeous! 

This squirrel was overly friendly...and I'm 99.9% sure it had rabies   

Had to do a few touristy things, like a boat cruise. Touristy, but a lot of fun. 

 I claim I don't like touristy things, but I'm clearly on a mission to photograph every NYC landmark. #sorrynotsorry

There's nothing better than NYC when the weather is this perfect! 

 If you're in the city, go to Three Cups in the East Village and order the margherita pizza...you won't be disappointed!

The NYC townhouses get me every time. How cute is this one?! I'm convinced Sarah Jessica Parker lives here (spoiler: she actually doesn't). 

 Magnolia Bakery still has my favorite cupcakes in the city! And trust me, I've tried them all. Really, all of them, I'm not exaggerating!

You can't visit the Upper East Side and not at least walk by the MET. XOXO. 

So that's it for now! I've taken lots more on my Instagram so head on over there if you want to see more! Also, you can follow along for lots more NYC adventures and food, of course! In other news, you may have noticed that the blog looks a little (a lot!) different. That's thanks to the lovely Stephanie from How Sweet Designs. Honestly, she's a genius--I couldn't have asked for a better design or an easier process! I 100% recommend her if you're looking for a redesign! My design has been in the works for almost 3 months now and I'm so excited to finally reveal it. Let me know your thoughts and excuse the bit of dust as I get everything back up and running! 

Hope you're all having a fabulous week!

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June 16, 2014

Literally, My Life

To be honest, my transition into NYC intern life hasn't been easy. I've never adjusted to new situations that well, so the chaos that is life in this city was a massive change for me. I know that I'm incredibly lucky to be here, and I know I shouldn't complain. But, while I'll say I feel bad for complaining, I actually don't. Because honestly, everything that could go wrong pretty much has. It's just one of those weeks, you know?

We all have those weeks, so I'm sure (or I hope at least) that most of you can relate. Becuase I'm a blogger, I thought I should make a list of gifs that pretty much sum of my life. I'm constantly stalking the tumblr of #whatshouldwecallme and it's honestly scary how relevant it is to my life. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please run, do not walk, over there and check it out. Laughter is guaranteed or your money back. Now, laughter is not guaranteed on this post, but I still hope you find it funny anyway. Let's get to it: 

In this scenario, I'm the paparazzi and Kanye is the world.

1. When people at work ask about my career goals:

2. When I have a super long and stressful day at work

3. When I wake up the next morning after eating my feelings

4. When I try to be nice to the people of New York:

*totally kidding here (kind of) New Yorkers are actually pretty nice (most of them)

5. When I try to get out and explore the city but I'm just not feeling it:

6. Whenever I see/do something that's typical New York (i.e. brunch, subway rides, central park, juice bars)

7. When the NYPD tries to question me 

Note: they've never tried to question me I just really wanted to include this.

8. When everyone on the street looks really put together and I'm a hot mess 

So that's about it. I really shouldn't be so dramatic. I've had good days and bad days, but that's to be expected with a massive lifestyle change like this. Honestly, I don't have as much time to waste on Tumblr anymore (cry!) so this list was shorter than expected. But if you have any funny gifs that basically explain your life, please share them with me! I could really use a good laugh.

All images from here. None are my own.  

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June 15, 2014

Guest post: Starbucks summer favorites REMIXED!

Last in my series of guest posters (but definitely not least!) is the lovely and super sassy Taylor from  Pinstripes & Lipgloss. The reason I love blogging most is because I get to me awesome people like her! That sounds sappy, but it's the truth! We have so much in common and she's seriously one of the sweetest people I've met (if only on the internet!), so I highly recommend you go check out her blog! I promise you'll get some great advice and a great laugh--she's hilarious! Now, let's get to the post, shall we? 

Hey there! I’m Taylor, the sassy girl behind Pinstripes & Lipgloss, and today I’ll be guest blogging for the lovely Sydney. If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love Starbucks. My friends and family say I have a problem (I’m surprised there hasn’t been an intervention yet). I know all of the tips and secrets, and my drink order is usually longer than Roy and Pam’s engagement on The Office.

How I feel when Starbucks is closed

It’s summertime, and between frappuccinos and refreshers, there are a ton of secret-menu ways to spice up your favorite drinks. Today I’m giving you my Starbucks summer favorites, remixed.

The Iced Latte

The iced latte is a classic, but most people’s idea of “adventurous” is adding vanilla. Boring! There are tons of ways to customize a latte, and not taking advantage of them is like going to Sephora and just buying one thing. It seems wrong.

The remixes:

· Iced White Mocha Latte with Peppermint Syrup (Tastes like a delicious peppermint patty)

· Iced Mocha with Hazelnut (Nutella latte…don’t tell me this isn’t a good idea)

· Iced Vanilla Latte with Cinnamon Dolce Syrup (Cinnamon + vanilla = yum)

The Frappuccino

Pro tip: The key to ordering a secret-menu frap (or any secret-menu drink) is to never call it by a name. Baristas don’t know what a “pina colada” frappuccino is, as frap recipes can vary from place to place. They get annoyed when people expect them to know every secret-menu frap on the internet. Order the specific combos of syrups and add-ins that you want and you’ll look like a pro.

The remixes:

The “Snickerdoodle Frap”: Chai Creme Frappuccino with cinnamon dolce syrup (this actually tastes like the cookie)

· The “Mint Chocolate Chip Frap”: Green Tea Frappuccino with Peppermint Syrup and Java Chips

· The “Chocolate Raspberry Frap”: Mocha Frappuccino with Raspberry Syrup (Simple but beautiful)

· The “Banana Chocolate Chip Frap”: Vanilla Bean Frappuccino with Java Chips and a banana blended in

The Refresher

This drink was MADE for summer. I like the Refreshers, but find them a little lackluster on their own. With the simple flavor bases, these are perfect for remixing and customizing, like I’m perfect for Zac Efron (He just doesn’t know it yet).

The remixes:

· The Gummy Worm Refresher: Valencia Orange Refresher with half pump Raspberry Syrup and half pump Peach Syrup

· The Mojito Refresher: Cool Lime Refresher with Classic Syrup and Peppermint Syrup, Blended With Ice

· The Strawberry Limeade Refresher: Cool Lime Refresher with Strawberry Puree

· The Berry Lemonade Refresher: Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher with Lemonade instead of water (that’s exactly how you order it)

Summer’s hot, but with these fun drinks, you can both stay cool and feel like a total Starbucks diva. Do you have any secret menu favorites of your own? Have you tried any of these?

Thanks for letting me stop by! If you want to be friends, find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or at my blog.

June 13, 2014

Guest post: the lip addict tag

Happy Friday everyone!

Next up in my guest blogging series is my blogger friend (and now friend in real life!) the lovely Rachel Holbrook from Brook Beauty. Rachel is one of the sweetest girls I know and now we go to the same college! While I get really excited about all the shenanigans we're going to get into this fall, go over and give her blog some love! If you love beauty products (and I know you do) her blog is for you! Now, let's get onto the post. You all know how much I love tag posts, so when Rachel suggested she do the lip addict tag I knew it would be perfect! I'm a huge lip product addict and always have about 10 (or 20 or 30) lip things floating around in my bag at once. So enough of my chatter, go on and read the post! Also leave Rachel some comment love, so she knows you love lip products as much as she (and me, too!) does!

The Lip Product Addict Tag

A quick peek into my handbag will reveal my love of lip products. I have a whole section of my bag dedicated to them! I've searched through my overflowing pockets and pulled out some of my favourites to share with you:

1. Favourite balm/treatment?

Recently I've fallen in love with the Christian Dior Creme de Rose lip balm. It's by far the most extravagant lip balm I own, but that's what I love about it! It feels so luxurious, smells amazing and most importantly, actually improves the condition of my lips! It's quite a thick formula so I tend to apply this at night as a treatment - you can see it's been well-loved!

2. Best eye-catching red?

One of the first luxury lipsticks I ever bought was a Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Passion. I hardly ever wear it, but I refuse to throw it away because it looks so glamorous and sophisticated! Red lipstick always makes me feel like a grown up - I really need to wear it more often! MAC Ruby Woo deserves a mention too since it's so flattering on so many people.

3. Best luxury & best drugstore?

Best luxury lipstick would have to be from Yves Saint Laurent. Their packaging is to die for and I love pulling one of their gold lipstick tubes from my makeup bag! The formula of their lipsticks is also fabulous: they feel as moisturising as a lip balm but have the same pigment of a lipstick.

Best drugstore lipstick goes to Maybelline. They have such a huge range of shades and are as good as high-end lipsticks for a fraction of the price. Some of their bright shades look amazing and would be perfect for the summer!

4. Best MAC lipstick?

Purely because it's the first MAC lipstick I ever repurchased, it would be Patisserie. It's the perfect nude that isn't too glossy or matte, it doesn't wash you out and suits pretty much everyone.

5. The most disappointing?

This will no doubt be an unpopular opinion, but the Revlon Lip Butter in Creme Brûlée was a let-down for me. The color looked far too brown and ageing on me and also felt thick and clumpy.

6. Liner - yes or no?

Usually no, but recently I've been using a nude liner and have really been liking the results! I've been using the Naked Lip Liner from Urban Decay and the creamy formula is so effortless to apply. It just slightly enhances my lips and makes them look fuller. I always used to think lip liner looked artificial and ageing but the Urban Decay liners have really impressed me!

7. Best gloss?

I love the Chantecaille Brilliant Lip Gloss in Lucky. The neutral pink colour works with anything and compliments any other makeup I'm wearing. It's probably the only lipgloss I've come close to finishing!

8. Something extra!

I must give a mention to the Soap and Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Nudist and Bashful. They're like a lip balm/gloss hybrid and are so easy to apply that you don't even need a mirror. I always have a few lying around in my bag!

Follow Rachel: 


June 11, 2014

Guest post: how to be a kid at heart

Next up in my guest blogger series is the lovely Raewyn (from Be a Warrior Queen) and I couldn't be more excited about this post! Her blog has been one of my daily reads from the beginning, and I always leave feeling inspired. Therefore, I highly (highly!) recommend you go check it out, after reading this post, of course! Also, be sure to give her some social media love! Now, let's get to the post:

Hello! My name is Raewyn and I blog over at Be a Warrior Queen

I'm one of those people that can be loud and in your face, but in the most loveable way ever. I try my best to always be happy and find the positive. My blog is one part being positive and another part starting a movement. I want to start a magazine to empower young women and girls to be themselves unashamedly.  I have a pick up truck named Chuck the Truck; my favorite clothes are 1950s inspired and I drink tea like it's going out of business. I just married my best friend of ten years and couldn't be happier! I would love if you'd stop by my blog and we could become the best of friends!

I love going to the park. My all time favorite thing is to get on the swingset and feel the air swish past me. I like those weightless moments that make me forget that there are things in this world stressing me out.

I still love the swoosh of going down the slide, even if my legs are longer and the slide ride is over in just a few seconds. The monkey bars? Oh you could definitely find me there.

But, I'm 25 now. It's not exactly acceptable for me to be hanging out at the park on the kid's play things. Granted, I look like I'm still a teenager, but I'm not.

Check out this awesome night camera quality from my high school years...

Playing at the park is just one of the things that you no longer get to do as an adult. People might consider you a creep for hanging out at the park.

Playing video games all day and ignoring responsibility is also frowned on. If I were to break out into a game of Hot Lava, I know that at least one of my neighbors would think I was the strangest person on the planet.

Those of you who are kids at heart know what I'm talking about. The struggle is real.

So I've come up with a couple of ways around all of this:

Public Place

If it's in a public place, bring a child with you -- a child you know of course. I like to take my nieces and nephews - they're really young - and swing with them or go down the slide with them. You get the added bonus of little kid giggles, which I believe actually de-stresses human beings.

Also, if you're at the store and you TOTALLY can't help yourself and ride around on the kid toys...pretend like you're buying it as a gift. Mutter things to yourself like "How many years do you think it will take for Josie to grow out of this? I better check out how much leg room there is."

Testing how well this thing will spin, obviously...

At Home

If it's something that's done in the privacy of my own home but my friend's might look down on me...turn it into a drinking game! Do you watch New Girl? No? You better go watch it now. In New Girl they play this game called True American which is a really complicated game but at the base of it is...HOT LAVA and CANDYLAND. Also, you drink tons and tons of alcohol so pretty much no partygo-er will turn it down.

So what's your favorite "kid" thing to do?

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P.s. There is no alternative for coloring in a coloring book. FEEL NO SHAME!

Follow Raewyn on:


June 9, 2014

Guest post: socially responsible gift guide

First up in my guest post series is the lovely Hoda Katebi, of JooJoo Azad! Hoda is an Iranian activist and fashion blogger from Oklahoma going to school in Chicago. Her blog, JooJoo Azad (meaning "Free Bird" in Farsi), is filled with photography of personal style and discussions on social-responsibility within the fashion industry. Warning: her site is more than just pretty pictures. I love Hoda's passion for showcasing brands with a conscience, so I'm extremely excited to share this post with you all!

Let's get to it:

[Socially-Responsible] Gift Guide for Her!

Fashion is a destructive industry that devastates the world and millions within it. From Adidas toxic waste polluting fresh water sources for hundreds of people in rural areas to Gap’s unsafe working conditions and lack of oversight that led to the Bangladesh Factory collapse, unethical fashion is a trend that needs to become obsolete.

And you can help make that happen.

Your money speaks.

Supporting these brands that are on the Boycott List is supporting their unethical practices, and this is not okay. Humans are worth more than a piece of clothing. Rather, put your money where your heart and soul is—fashion that is not only produced ethically, but supports brilliant causes!

As socially-responsible gifts, these items not only are made from all-natural vegetable dyes, 100% natural soy and coconut wax, or recycled cotton paper, but they also positively change the lives of adults with developmental disabilities, plant a tree, or help to reduce lung cancer mortality!


Angela Roi Square Navy Tote  2. Angela Roi Palette White Cross-Body 3. Reveal Bamboo iPhone 4s Case 4. The Tea House Multi-Purpose Grey Chevron Zippered Wristlet 5. Horny Toad Classic Pom Beanie 6. MaeluDesigns Navy Prairie Infinity Scarf 7. Raven and Lily Hand-carved Wood Journal 8. AngelaMonaco Sharktooth Knuckle Ring 9. Pacifica Perfume Persian Rose Solid Perfume 10. GH Bass & Co. 2-Tone Burgundy Weejuns 11. PACT Women's 3 Pack Socks 12. LippedLove Vintage Dead Stock Ralph Lauren Frames 13. Hovey Lee Vantage Earrings

And that is just a few of the good things these products are doing!

Just click on any of the product links above to learn more about their initiatives and do-goodness!

Doesn't that just make you all warm and fuzzy inside?

Follow Hoda:

June 5, 2014

May Faves + Update

To be honest, I'm not too sad to see the month of May go. It was a nice vacation month for me, but I'm itching to get back to a routine and have something to do all-day everyday. It's a good thing I'm ready for busy, because my flight to NYC leaves in less than 24 hours! Having had this internship booked since February, it's honestly so crazy that it's almost here! By the way, I really should be packing for that right now, but instead, I'm blogging...oops! Anyway, although May was a pretty uneventful month for me, I still had a lot of favorites, old and new! So let's get into it already:

(I couldn't find the same one on the site, so I linked to a similar one!) 

While I loved all of those products a lot, my favorite of my favorites has to be the Revlon Colorstay. I used to wear that foundation all the time in high school, but haven't used it since. I picked up a bottle at the drugstore (after forgetting my other foundation back at school *sobs*) and fell in love all over again. It gives amazing coverage, but doesn't look cakey and heavy like so many drugstore foundations do! I still love Chanel foundations over everything else, but this is a great, less expensive alternative. It will also be my go-to this summer in NYC when I'm dirt-poor and can't afford Chanel anymore! 

On another note, because so much is going to be happening in the next few days, I'm starting something pretty exciting on the blog! A series of guest posts will go up, starting Sunday, through next week. I've never had guest posters on the blog before, but some lovely ladies stepped up to help me out, so I know it's going to be a great week! So stay tuned for that, and also for an overload of pictures of NYC! 

What were your favorite products of May? Any exciting things planned for June? Tell me in the comments! 

xo Sydney

June 2, 2014

Apartment Envy

Confession time: I have a serious love of interior design. My apartment decor board on Pinterest is one of my most loved boards and I could spend hours on Anthropologie or West Elm drooling over rugs, side tables, throw pillows. I really can't wait for the day when I have my own apartment or house than I decorate every square inch of. I'll be moving apartments in August, but the college student apartments don't really offer the same kind of freedom! They're already furnished, I can't paint and the features are all super basic. So for now, I'm stuck drooling over what could-be:

If you can't tell, I love pastels + metallics , candles and mirrors (can you say narcissist?) a lot.

What would your dream apartment/home look like? What do you think of my picks? Tell me in the comments! Also, tell me your favorite TV show on HGTV (any fellow House Hunters fans out there?!).

xo Sydney

June 1, 2014

June Playlist

Happy first day of June! In preparation for my upcoming summer in NYC (4 days until I leave!) I knew I would need an epic playlist to set the tone for the trip. From subway rides to when I'm running late and flat-out sprinting to work, I'm definitely going to need some tunes to pass the time. So, I spent quite a few hours on Spotify the other day and here's what happened:

Side note: If you have Spotify, I highly recommend following The Vampire Diaries playlist. I'm not a massive fan of the show (ok, maybe I actually am) but the music is on point! 

What songs are you loving for summer? Tell me in the comments so I can listen! No playlist is ever too long for me.

xo Sydney