Album Review: Made in the A.M

1:00:00 PM

They've really done it this time. It's an entirely different sound, yet their voices are still the same but grown up. If you read my post about their concert (I'm still not over it). I wasn't going to write an album review, but I really really enjoyed this one and I know some people think "oh One Direction, how childish" They might have young fans, but who cares? If the music makes you feel good, makes you smile then why not just love it then? 

While many fans had pre-ordered the album via Itunes, I still chose the old fashioned route and went out to the store to buy the hard copy. I got done with classes, hurried to my car and into my local Super Target (the thing is literally a mini shopping mall I love it.) I hurried back out to my car and tore off the packaging and popped the orange cd into the player. I immediately loved it and I cannot wait to be driving that two hour car journey home with these songs on repeat. This album has songs for everyone in all honesty, and I've come up with a list, in case you want to have a listen. 

For Fun. If you're looking for a fun road-trip type song, they've got you covered. 
  Drag Me Down, Perfect, Infinity, End of the Day, Never Enough, Olivia, History, Wolves and What a Feeling are just a few that will help lift your mood and do the "nobody can see me" car dance. Just, be safe. 

For Working Out. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Drag Me Down, Perfect, Temporary Fix and A.M are songs I could definitely speed-walk to in the sunshine. (Who runs?) 

For Being Sad. There aren't many songs in general that have made me full on cry, but they've done it again. I cried during Little Things on their Take Me Home Album circa 2012 and I cried during Walking in The Wind. Though personally, it was probably because it reminds me of my dog who I still miss a lot. Other songs that are good for wallowing in that sad feeling are Love You Goodbye, I want to Write You A Song and Long Way Down. 

This album is probably my favorite (until their next one comes out), but they've worked really hard on this one and it well paid off. As a fan, I know that the break they're about to go on after they promote their album is well deserved. Five years of touring and never being home. Can you imagine? 
 So thanks boys, for sharing everything you have thus far and I personally cannot wait to see what they're going to do next. Let's just stay out of trouble as much as we can yea? x 

What are your thoughts on the album? Have you heard it? Any favorite songs? Mine seem to change everyday! If you want to read my last review of their album it's right here! 
Can't wait to read all of your comments! 

(Make sure to follow me on twitter and instagram as well! ) 


Going Bananas for Bread

9:43:00 AM

I've written this time and time again. I love being home. I love being able to sleep in my own room not having to wait until my roommate leaves. I love the fact that I can just bake something homemade, with ingredients that I love. The last time I was home, I decided to whip up a batch of homemade whole wheat banana bread. I usually eat breakfast in my dorm room, gotta make use of that sleeping time you know. Banana bread is just something that is so easy to pop into the microwave to warm with some almond butter or regular butter
and eat before class! I thought I would share the recipe with you! 

Here's What You Need: 

1/2 banana
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons milled flax seeds and 6 tablespoons water
3 mashed bananas
1 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons alt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Sliced Almonds
Semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Here's What You'll Need to Do:

Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350*F or 176*C
Spray 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray; though I used a bit of coconut oil all over the pan instead!
In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 banana, honey, brown sugar, vanilla and milk together until combined.
Whisk in flax seeds, water and bananas until combined, this should be a smooth mixture. 
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and pecans 
Pour wet ingredients into dry 
Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes
Add the almonds and chocolate chips to the top at this point! 
After 30 minutes cover with aluminum foil and bake again for 30 more minutes. 
The bread is done when toothpick is inserted and comes out clean

I love baking, and I love this bread! You can enjoy it anytime for a healthy snack, just pair it with a little bit of butter or almond butter or even just eat it on its own! I hope you try this one out! Again, my parents are always the best taste testers (don't really think they mind it at all). I'm really loving their new oven! I cannot wait to see what I'll be baking for the holidays that are coming up! 
Do you love a certain kind of bread? Any recipes that I should try next? I'm always looking! 
Like always, thanks for reading! 
Make sure to comment below! 


An Autumn Fire and Early Christmas views

8:30:00 AM

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to come home once again and spend a bit more time relaxing and less time running around as I felt like I had last time. 

On a perfectly crisp, autumnal day, my family decided to pack a little lunch and venture out to my grandparents land. There aren't very pretty colors in the woods at this time of year, but spending an afternoon near a autumn fire roasting turkey dogs and regular hot dogs seemed perfect. We were here to celebrate my grandmothers birthday a little early as my aunt from Minnesota was home for the weekend as well. We bundled up and made our way out to the woods. 

There's always something nice about sitting around a campfire. Especially when it's a bit chilly out. The sun popped in an out of clouds and the trees above swayed gently in the breeze, yet we felt protected somewhat from the wind. It felt really nice to be far away from town and away from school, just enjoying each others company. 

After filling our bellies, and sitting around the fire for a bit watching it slowly fade into the pit, we had a bit of fun tossing water onto the rocks around them. They were very hot and the water sizzled and steamed once it touched them. The girls (my aunt, mom, grandma, and I) parted from the boys (my step-dad and grandpa) and went downtown to go into a store that is very very christmas-y. 
Though it's not even Thanksgiving here yet, it's still exciting to look at all of the cute Christmas decor. This little shop was filled wall to wall with different decorations and trinkets. It made me very excited for the holidays. Which cannot seem to come soon enough!

This shop has different little rooms that flow into one another, so each has its own theme and variety of holiday decorations! It took a while to gaze at all of the things, we probably still missed a few! After, we decided to walk down to a little bakery to pick out some sweets. 
My favorite is their Peanut Butter Cupcake, as it has the BEST frosting you have probably ever tasted. Though that would have been my first grab, I opted for the smaller version because I was still a bit full from my lunch!

We also shared bites of this Turtle dessert (it's my moms favorite) and had a nice little chat before heading off to our separate destinations. 
It's always nice being home and spending time with family doing things I can't always do while I'm away at University. I had a really nice weekend and I'm glad I got to spend it outside enjoying the weather before it really begins to snow and I won't want to even leave my house. 

I hope you all had a great weekend, what did you do? 
Do you ever treat yourself to some dessert once in a while? 
What's your favorite holiday decoration that you always put out during the season? 
(Mine's a blue fish ornament that we always put on the tree!)
Leave a comment and let me know! 


Cinnamon Spice and All things Nice

11:00:00 AM

That's the saying right? Or something along those lines I guess. I love the fall season, it's time for chai teas (with soy or almond milk thank you), everything tastes like pumpkin it seems, and the holiday countdown begins shortly after Halloween. This blog post comes a bit after Halloween, as I was home during the little holiday. 
 After finishing off mid-term week, I needed to get away from the confinement and slight frustration that comes along with living in close quarters with someone else. I went home. I really get into baking after one thing is done and find myself with three different timers and three different dishes. I love it. 
 I decided that my first thing to bake was going to be these Iced Snicker doodle cookies! 
  Though I had never done a hand in on making these before I was eager to try it out and put my own twist on the recipe as always! 
Fall Baking

Here's what you will need! 

2 and 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted, butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3 spoon-fulls of Rich and Creamy Vanilla Frosting (I used Betty Crocker)
About 1.5 tablespoons of vanilla
Sprinkle of Nutmeg
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Sprinkle of ginger
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Here's What You need to do! 

Toss Flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl
In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together until smooth
Whisk in egg and vanilla until combined
Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together with spoon
Cover the dough tightly and chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes. 
Preheat Oven to 350* F, or  176* C
Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper
Remove dough from fridge and roll dough into balls. (the cookies don't roll so make sure you flatten a bit!)

Mix spices and sugar together in small bowl. 
Roll each dough in mix to coat evenly. 
Place balls onto cookie sheets (about 10 per sheet)

For 10 minutes, though I only put mine in for 9 to get nice moist cookies

Spoon out vanilla frosting into small bowl
Add in the Vanilla, and spices and mix with spoon. 
With a knife, add a little bit to each cookie, or a lot depending on how much frosting you like!
The frosting is something I completely made up and went by taste for a lot of the spices

Snicker Doodles

Baking is something that relives so much stress, and being away from home I really don't get to do that very often, so when I do come home I love to bake. These cookies were such a big hit for my house that my mom woke me up the next morning and we made a batch for my great-uncle and my grandparents. It's safe to say, this was another winning recipe for us all! 
Do you have any favorite recipes that everyone loves? I hope you're weeks are all going great! 
Hopefully the weather hasn't gotten to cold for you yet! I hope you try these out! Let me know in the comments what you think! 
Thanks for reading! 

(also if you follow me on twitter you will know that my fish Latte passed away, though it is sad, the semester was really stressful on him with having a roommate that doesn't have a set or even sane sleeping schedule and all.)


Restaurant Review: Mona Lisa's

12:00:00 PM

A few posts ago, I wrote about how my University put on Family Weekend, and we had all gone out to dinner at this amazing restaurant. The minute we walked in from the cold autumn air, we were met with room filled with photos of the Mona Lisa, and chandeliers made from wine bottles hanging from the ceiling. Two disco balls sparkled above the bar, and it was clear by the amount of people that this place was a good choice. A vast variety of interpretations of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting decorated the ceiling as well as the wall.

We were seating in a little corner of the restaurant which was spread between two rooms and we were served by the friendliest waitress, she told us that they always update their menu, creating new dishes about every two or three weeks. Which is fantastic if you ever want to go to a place and want to try something new with the comfort that you know it will still be really great food.
We devoured the delicious bread, that came with a selection of dipping choices. Olive butter, hummus and two types of oils. It was really great, and I'm sorry I don't have a photo to show you all! I did however, take photos of the food! 
The dish on the left is mine, it was an elbow noodle with green sauce and veggies, while my mom opted for the mushroom ravioli. Both were very delicious. The sauce was incredible on mine, and my mom agreed that hers was great as well! I even had enough left for a little bit of leftovers to take to my dorm with me the next day. Which was good. The cafeteria isn't opened on weekends. 

My stepdad raved that the scallops, like our waitress said, were amazing! Definitely one of our waitress'  favorite dishes along with my dads girlfriends choice of gnocchi. My stepdad eats out a lot because his work requires traveling, and he's had a lot of scallops at nice places but he definitely stated over and over that these were the best. 
While there are many pasta choices to choose from, you can also have a nice tenderloin like my dad chose, with a side of beans and potatoes that come along with it. 

We all really enjoyed this meal and the owner even came over to introduce herself, Lisa is so kind and even stated that they're opening a new place next door and there is a patio for summer seating, and also a fireplace for the winter. Though we haven't tried a large number of places to eat, if you're ever in Eau Claire Wisconsin, Mona Lisa's should definitely be the one to go to. 
Also, I should point out that we weren't even left with that uncomfortably full feeling, and it was great! The food tastes amazing and I cannot recommend it enough! 
What are your favorite Italian dishes?  Let me know in the comments! 
Have you found any new places to eat near you? I'd love to hear about it! 
Thanks for reading! 

Apple Cider

Autumn Adventure

9:30:00 AM

Well, here we are. It's the middle of the semester. A couple weeks ago, my University declared one of the weekends 'Parent's Weekend'. It's also called Family Weekend, and it's a nice way to get the family together and show them around campus and town. It was such a great weekend, so I thought I would share a few bits of it with you guys here! 

It was a cool, crisp Autumn day to begin with. Though that's typical here in Wisconsin this time of year, it was so beautiful outside. My dad and his girlfriend picked me up from the dorm and met my roommate before we went off to meet my mom and step-dad at the farmers market (which I visited back in this post.) It wasn't difficult for them to find us since I had stopped to pet the cutest dogs for at least five minutes. 

Here's a photo of the bridge, everything is so beautiful yet. I'm so glad this weekend turned out to be very nice weather-wise for us all to explore. 

We ventured to a not-so-secret spot that I found by myself last semester to check out the fall colors. 

After hiking about, and scaling down the steepest hillside (I honestly felt like I was sitting while walking just to get to the bottom). Our tummies were hungry and we decided to head back downtown to have a lunch together. 

I ordered this delicious Cider Salad, with goat cheese on a brushetta bread. The place was set in an old building which was really neat, and I think it's safe to say everyone enjoyed their food. After craving cheesecurds for the longest time, I finally snagged some and they were delicious! There were actually pieces of bacon in them as well. The salad balances that out...right?  

I then lead them to my campus where I gave a tour, it's always fun showing people around, especially since not everyone gets together like this all in one place besides move-in day. This was much more relaxing and they could see all of the pretty parts of the campus. Some of us even scored some campus clothing to represent! 
Afterwards, we split for about two hours, since my mom and step dad were staying over night and I was staying with them. A nice break from the roommate and closeness of the room. We all came together once again at a bar, which is the same bar that we all ate at my very first day before University!

This is the first time I ordered an alcoholic-adult beverage out at a bar since turning 21 last month! It was actually the best warm apple cider and Captain Morgan!  

We then went to the restaurant a few doors down for dinner, it was amazing and I'm going to tell you all about it in a separate post because it was just that great. After our really nice dinner, it was time to go our separate ways. Though my mom, stepdad and I weren't too tired, we actually spent a good hour or so wandering the Super Target near our hotel. Only to have to make an emergency run back once I realized I hadn't packed my contacts solution or case. Oops! 
The next day, we woke and had tea for me and coffee for them and went off to a very nice breakfast of pancakes, omelettes, bacon and eggs (though different things for everyone of course). I stopped off at the dorm, definitely not ready to be back, we were stopping at a new grocery store and a place called the Leinie Lodge in a town nearby. 

The cool thing about going here is that it's part brewery and part shop. You can taste test the different beers. I've been coming here with my parents as we passed by on our way to Minnesota for ages, and I could never taste test the beer. Another first for me this weekend! I even got a souvenir cup. Don't worry, they give you clean ones! 
I had the best time, and I think it's safe to say everyone else did too. It's such a nice thing to get away from the dorm and away from roommates (no offense), and just get out and do things with people who just want to be with you. 
What do you do when your parents visit your University or school or even city if you're away? 
Stay tuned for my restaurant review! Thanks for reading as always, leave a comment below I love reading them!