Recipe First Impression: Stuffed Acorn Squash

recipe fip acorn

I recently moved in to my first apartment, giving me the opportunity to try lots of new vegan recipes. So to share my culinary experiments with you, I thought I would create a series of “Recipe First Impressions.” In these posts, I will share a recipe I have never made before, recreate it, and share my finished product and opinion about it.

The first new recipe I am tackling is Stuffed Acorn Squash, using this recipe from The Roasted Root. I decided to veer away from the recipe by filling the squashes with wild rice, cranberries, apples,  pecans, and a drizzle of maple syrup. When I first picked up the acorn squashes, I was a bit nervous about how this meal would turn out, since they are a bit strange looking! But I found that they were very easy to cut open and cook. The wild rice filling was lovely and fragrant, too.

I enjoyed the combination of the buttery, nutty taste of the squash with the tart cranberries and apples. The pecans also added a nice texture. The only drawback was that I overcooked the squashes! 35 minutes as recommended in the recipe was not long enough, but the 55 minutes I cooked them for was too long. Next time, I will try cooking them for around 40 minutes.

Overall, I really liked this recipe. It was easy to make, delicious, satisfying, and healthy. It makes a festive and pretty autumn meal, and would be perfect for the holidays. I would make this recipe again, and I would recommend it to anyone interested. Below is a picture of how my stuffed squash turned out:

acorn squashhh

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any recommendations for what I should make next, please let me know!

Best,

Leila

A Small Fall Haul

a small fall hail

The chillier temperatures, changing leaves, and cloudy skies can only mean one thing: it’s fall! I apologize for my absence last month. In the midst of starting my second year of college, moving into a new apartment, and starting a new job, I have been taking some time to figure myself out. But I’m back today to share a few fall-inspired items I purchased recently!

ModCloth Harvest Fest Coat in Vermillion

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Product listing here. And if you are a college student I recommend taking advantage of the 10% Modcloth Student Discount!

This coat was more expensive than I would have liked, but I am so glad I purchased it. Complete with a warm, reddish-orange color, cute toggles, big pockets, and a faux fur-trimmed hood, this is the perfect fall coat. And to seal the deal, it’s non-wool! The proportions are perfect: the sleeves are long enough to cover my half of my hands, and the medium length of the coat is extremely flattering. My only complaint is that the faux fur trim flops over my eyes when I put the hood up, and it cannot be removed. But overall, I could not adore this coat more and can’t wait to wear it all season!

Bath and Body Works Leaves Candle

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Product listing here.

I have heard many people rave about this candle, and after browsing the Bath and Body Works website and reading loads of positive reviews, I decided to give it a try. I love this candle’s pretty leaf-patterned bronze lid, and it has a lovely scent to match. Even when it’s not lit, this candle fills the room with a festive combination of autumn wreaths, cider, spices, and berries. I imagine this scent will be perfect for Thanksgiving time.

Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Pie Candle

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Product listing here.

Candles were 2 for $24 at Bath and Body Works, so naturally, I had to purchase a second one…And of course, what would a fall haul be without a pumpkin scented candle? I picked this one because I thought the picture on the jar was adorable, and who doesn’t want their home to smell like a scrumptious pumpkin pie is in the oven? I love this candle’s a warm, sweet, vanilla scent. My only complaint is that I wish the pumpkin and spice undertones were a bit stronger.

Bath and Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Foaming Hand Soap

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Product listing here.

Since fall is the season of pumpkin-flavored everything, I have to complete my fall haul with one last pumpkin scented item: hand soap! This scent is described as “warm pumpkin, fresh cinnamon stick, & sweet sugarcane,” but to be honest, I don’t think it smells like pumpkin at all. To me, it smells sweet and slightly fruity with a hint of spice, but the soap does the job!

That is my short and sweet fall haul! I hope you are enjoying the autumn season. If you have picked up some fall-inspired goodies lately, I would love to see your hauls too! 🙂

Best,

Leila

70’s Inspired Fall Fashion

70's inspired fall fashion

This season, the 70’s are coming back into fashion. The bold styles of the 70’s can be a bit intimidating, so in this post, I will demonstrate how to incorporate bohemian details into modern and wearable outfits for the fall.

1.  Button Front Denim Skirts

Button front skirts are shaping up to be a massive trend this season. These mid-length jean skirts give a casual and laid-back vibe, yet are still neat and dressy. For a balanced look, pair them with a flowy lace blouse or brightly colored peasant top.

2. Shift Dresses

Feminine and flattering, loose shift dresses make excellent layering staples. Try styling one in neutral color with a faux leather jacket, scarf, and tights. For a simple yet head-turning look, pair a dress in a statement pattern with boots. If you prefer a more fitted look, define the waistline with a thin leatherette belt or tie a patterned scarf around your waist for a 70’s inspired detail.

3. Bell Sleeved Tops

Though not the most practical, bell sleeves are an iconic look of the 70’s. Since bell sleeves make a bold statement on their own, try pairing a top in a neutral color such as cream, black, taupe, or caramel with jeans or a suedette skirt.

4. Shawls, Kimonos, and Ponchos

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Shamelessly twirl your heart out in a flowy chiffon kimono this season. To channel your inner Stevie Nicks, style a fringed shawl with neutral-toned staples. Paired with cognac riding boots and jeggings, western themed sweater ponchos make a stylish go-to on a chilly autumn day

5. Flared Jeans

This daring jean is the most difficult to style of all the cuts, but makes for a real head turner when paired with complementary pieces. Try wearing them with flowy blouses, loose tees or sweaters, and jackets. For footwear, choose a structured boot or wedge. If a bell bottom is outside of your comfort zone, give a boot cut a try instead.

6. Fringe Details

Fringe is not just for music festivals anymore. Style a fringe-detailed piece with casual fall textures such as distressed denim, leatherette, warm knits, and autumn-toned prints. As a rule of thumb, be sparing with fringe to prevent the look from venturing out of hand.

8. Bohemian Jewelry

Eye-catching bohemian jewelry has re-emerged this season. Complete your outfit with silver statement bangles, long pendant necklaces, turquoise and silver rings, tassle bracelets, or coin-detailed statement necklaces. Don’t be afraid to layer jewelry for an eclectic look.

9. Patterns and Color

The 70’s were all about bold prints, bright colors, and fearless layering. This season, try spicing up your wardrobe with colorful floral blouses, patterned maxi skirts, and bright scarves. Style a single bold piece with neutral staples, or mix prints for a more daring look.

10. Maxi Skirts and Dresses

Feel like a goddess in a comfortable yet stunning maxi skirt or dress this autumn. Be creative with colors, patterns, and textures and even dabble with stylistic details such as tiers, ruffles, and layers. Pair these statement pieces with neutral toned sweaters and jackets. To take the look a step further, layer with vests or kimonos.

love life hippie boho colorful advice kindness positivity mantra kind Spiritual

And of course, for an outfit that truly radiates peace and good vibes, be cruelty-free and avoid animal-derived materials such as leather, suede, fur, and wool. ❤

Best,

Leila

Summer to Fall Transition Makeup

summer to fall transition

Sadly, summer is coming to an end. Fortunately, we have rich, smokey eye shadows and dark lips and nails to look forward to. But before you break out your fall colors, here are some tips for transitioning your makeup smoothly from summer to fall.

Eyeshadow

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Honey Pot is a beautiful gold-toned shadow from the Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette. 

To transition from summer brights into darker fall eyes, give a muted gold shadow a try.  This color has a beautiful sheen and flatters every skin tone. The ultimate late summer color, a soft gold is the perfect stepping stone between summer corals and fall bronzes.

Lips

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NYX Simply Nude in Sable

When in doubt, go nude! A rich neutral lipstick just a smidge darker than your natural lip color is an excellent transition from summer brights to dark fall shades.

Nails

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OPI Nail Lacquer in Barefoot in Barcelona

Mauve tones are the perfect colors to prep your nails for the deep and dark shades to come. Put the summer neons and pastels aside and instead embrace this earthier look. I chose this purple-toned mauve and love how it matches every outfit, from sun dresses warmer days to the sweaters on cooler days.

Cheeks

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Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette

When I think about summer, bright pink, coral, and orange blushes come to mind; however, fall is all about the darker red and purple tones. Using bronzer as a blush serves as a great segway into fall blushes. This may seem strange at first, but it gives the cheeks a beautiful summer-tinged fall look. Just blend the bronzer onto the top of the cheekbones and up towards the temples.

Here is a look combining these products:

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Those are my suggestions for transitioning your makeup from summer to fall, cruelty-free as always! I hope you found this post helpful. Happy (almost) fall! 🙂

Best,

Leila

10 Tips to Shop Smarter

10 tips to shop smarter

I love shopping as much as the next girl, but I will be the first to admit that nothing good comes out of a mindless shopping spree. There are a ton of cute clothes out there, but a jumble of adorable pieces does not make for a functional closet. Below are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your shopping trips.

1. Decide What You Need

shopping list

Just browsing can be fun, but if you want to make it a productive shopping trip, it is best to go with a plan. Figure out what you need.  Is your closet missing sweaters or a coat for the upcoming fall season? A top to match the skirt you picked up last time? Shopping with a purpose will help make your shopping trip a productive one.

2. Go Pre-Shopping

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Pinterest is a great place to see what’s trending and get style inspiration

Before heading out,  browse the online stores to give yourself an idea of what to look out for. For even more outfit inspiration, visit fashion sources such as Teen Vogue (still useful even if you’re not a teen!) and Pinterest. Getting up to date on the season’s upcoming trends is a great way to give your shopping trip direction and inspiration.

3. Budget Your Trip

Before going shopping, check your bank account and decide upon a rough budget for the trip. This will encourage you to make more thoughtful purchases instead of buying first cute item you find. Also, don’t forget to check for any good sales going on, and whether you have any coupons to use.

4. Shop Alone

Going shopping with friends is a lot of fun, but if you want to get the most out of your shopping trip, it is best to go solo. When shopping with others, you may tend to take less time to think through your purchases, view fewer options, or buy what everyone else is buying. Shopping at your own pace allows you the freedom to accomplish what you need to.

5. Leave Your Options Open

If you come across something you are thinking about purchasing, don’t be afraid to leave it and come back later. This gives you the opportunity to think through whether the purchase is truly necessary and allows for the possibility of finding something else you like better.

6. Staple Pieces vs. Statement Pieces

The bright daisy print dress is a statement piece and the nude sweater and brown belt are staple pieces.

Statement pieces, such as stunning patterned dresses and floral blouses, are most tempting when browsing a store. But staple pieces, such as basic tees, tanks, and cardigans, will get the most wear. Staple pieces can be worn together, but statement pieces typically need to be paired with neutral-toned staples. Maintaining a balance of staple pieces and statement pieces is the key to avoiding having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.

7. Try It On

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And sometimes a dressing room mirror selfie is completely necessary!

For the life of me, I don’t understand why people buy clothes without trying them on first! Sometimes a piece that looks really cute on the mannequin turns out to be disappointingly lackluster after trying it on. In the fitting room, move around, check out the back, lift your arms/legs, and really get a feel for whether you could live in the piece. Don’t be afraid to try on multiple sizes!

8. Ask Yourself…

dogs question

While examining a piece in the dressing room, ask yourself a series of questions: Am I prepared to care for it as recommended on the label? How often will I wear this? How would I style this piece with the clothes I already have? Would I feel comfortable wearing this all day? Do I have something like this already? Answering these questions will help you choose the pieces that will contribute most to your closet

9. Know What You’re Buying

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This is the only reason why an animal should be in your closet!

Every time we make a purchase, we are voting with our dollars. It is important to know what we’re voting for. I avoid purchasing animal materials such as leather, fur, wool, and down because I cannot truly know how these animals were treated. Even animals at “humane” facilities are often subjected to cruel treatment and are ultimately slaughtered. I also try to inform myself about a company’s treatment of their workers to avoid supporting companies that do not treat them fairly.

10. Hang On To Receipts

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The fridge is a great place to keep new receipts!

In case you change your mind about a piece or notice any defects, keep the receipts in a safe place until you are completely sure that you love your new finds. This takes a lot of the hassle out of making returns.

Those are my 10 tips for shopping smarter. I hope these tips help you make wiser purchases during your next shopping trip!

Best,

Leila

Emerging from your Old Skin

 take a chance

Sometimes, nature teaches you life lessons. Today, I found a cicada’s empty shell in my back yard. Since the outer skeleton does not grow with the insect, from time to time, it crawls out of its old skin and grows a new, stronger, and bigger one. The cicada emerges weak and vulnerable. But without looking back, it leaves its old shell behind and aspires to become something more. I started thinking about the empty skin and realized that it serves as a great metaphor for life.

Right now, I am on the precipice of adulthood. In a couple of weeks, I will be starting my sophomore year of college and moving into my first apartment. Finding a job and saving up for a car are at the front of my mind, as well as declaring my major and pursuing a career after graduation. Choosing your path in life is scary. It means letting go of the past and venturing into the dangerous and unknown future, even though it may not turn out the way you want it to.

But at times like these, I think we all could channel the courage of a cicada. We can’t remain complacent and comfortable in our old  skin. We must aspire to grow and move forward, even if it means taking a risk and leaving familiarity behind. That moment when you first emerge from your old skin, unsure of whether you will ever find your new beautiful armor, must be tough. But like the cicada, we need to have faith in who we are meant to be and keep flying.

Best,

Leila

How I Cleared My Skin

How I cleared my skin 1

Since I was 11 or 12, I have been struggling with acne. Even after going vegan over a year ago, my skin was still uncooperative as ever. But this summer, I have been taking measures to clear my skin and am finally seeing results. So in case you are also struggling with skin that has a mind of its own, below are the things I do to help clear my skin.

1. Keep my hair off my face. When you have what feels like a mountain range on your face, it can be tempting to hide it behind a curtain of hair. But after consistently pulling my hair back in a ponytail or half-up half-down do to keep my hair off of my cheeks and forehead, my breakouts began to calm down.

2. Change my pillowcase. I aim to change my pillowcase every other day (1 side of the pillow per night), and it has been making a world of difference! My acne heals much better overnight when I sleep on a clean pillowcase.

3. Sleep well. Going to bed early maximizes the healing sleep your body needs to repair itself. I tend to get into the habit of staying up late and waking up late, but I have found that my skin fares much better if I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, even if I get the same amount of sleep.

4. Don’t touch it! I am always tempted to touch or pick at acne, especially when I am stressed or nervous. Messing with pimples only makes them worse. They heal much slower, can leave scars, and can spread to nearby skin. Keeping your hands off your face makes a big difference in lowering healing time and preventing future breakouts.

5. Go bare faced. My solution to breakouts has always been to slather on a bit of concealer and head on my way. However, even the lightest coverage makeup still does more harm than good for my skin. It can feel embarrassing to leave your imperfections out in the open, but after not wearing face makeup regularly for over two months, I found that the benefits far outweigh those first few weeks of insecurity.

6. Remove my makeup. But if you do wear makeup, make sure you remove it completely. I still have clogged pores near my eyes from not removing my eye makeup thoroughly. To prevent this, I go over my eyes and face with a makeup wipe after washing it to be sure I have cleaned away every last bit of makeup.

7. Avoid trying new products. A month ago, I tried out a new concealer and almost instantly got the hugest breakout. So if you are trying to clear your skin, it is best to avoid risking aggravating it with new products. But if you must try something new, go for something more natural or something that is formulated for sensitive skin.

8. Patience. When taking steps to clear your skin, it is important to stick with it even if you do not see results right away. Healing acne takes time. With persistence, your skin will improve.

My Skincare Routine

My skincare routine 1

I have very sensitive skin, so I find that less is more when trying to clear my acne. I wash my face every evening with Yes To Tomatoes face wash, which is very natural and gentle yet formulated to fight acne. Then, I moisturize dry patches using C.O. Bigelow Rosebud Salve. In the morning, I wash my face with only water and then moisturize.

Final Tip

Remember that having acne doesn’t make you less of a person. Don’t let it get you down or stop you from doing what you love. Make efforts to be the best you you can be, but also don’t fret over every imperfection. My skin still isn’t perfect, and I don’t expect it to ever be. We all just have to learn to love and nurture our skin as it is. ❤

skin you're in

Best,

Leila