Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Do you have that one food that whenever you have it, you think of “home”.  Mashed potatoes are “home” for me.  Every holiday, every fall, every home-cooked, comfort-food meal involves mashed potatoes in the Hunt fam.  Mashed potatoes are the equivalent of a food-blanket.  They’re warm and soft and comfy and make me want to curl up on the couch and watch movies.  Wrapped in mashed potatoes.  Truly, I’m pretty sure that there is nothing better than homemade mashed potatoes.

With that said, I can confirm with full certainty that I am pretty sure I make the best mashed potatoes ever.  Sure they have heart-stopping amounts of butter, cream, and salt in them, but it’s not like you’re eating them everyday, right?

Really though, my mashed potatoes are so good that, while making these for dinner while visiting my family in Vegas, my brother and I may have eaten a good serving or two with just our fingers long before dinner would be served.

A little uncivilized, yes, but totally worth it.

I have to warn you that when I said they have “heart-stopping amounts of butter, cream, and salt” in them, I really meant it.  If you are not a fan of buttery, creamy, slightly lumpy mashed potatoes, you probably will not want these.  (Although to be completely honest, I’m not sure why anyone would want dry, flavorless, starchy mashed potatoes, but to each their own).  One of the best parts of mashed potatoes is that you get to put all kinds of fun things on top of them–like meat juice (gravy).  Also, they get served with wonderful foods like pot roast and turkey and pork chops.  Is anyone else hungry right now, too?

Please just do yourself a favor and make these potatoes at least once this fall.  I know your mom says that she makes the best mashed potatoes ever, but I wholeheartedly believe that you have the power to prove her wrong with this recipe.  (I know this because now every time I’m making dinner with my mom, she asks me to make the mashed potatoes.  Coincidence?  I think not).


10 small russet potatoes, peeled

3/4 c. heavy cream or half and half*

6 Tbs. butter, softened**

Lots of salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1-2 tsp. garlic powder***

Bring a large pot of water to a boil at medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes and boil until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and let cool slightly.  Transfer potatoes to a large bowl, and begin mashing using a potato masher (alternatively, you can use a potato ricer or a hand/stand mixer, but it’s up to you).  Add cream, butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Continue mashing to desired consistency.  If you like lumpier mashed potatoes, I would recommend stirring ingredients in to maintain consistency.

Taste and add more seasoning, if desired.

–Mashed potatoes can be made in advance.  To reheat, I recommend putting them in a large pot on the stove on medium heat.  Add a splash of cream and a couple more tablespoons of butter to keep them from drying out.  Stir frequently to prevent burning.–

–Sometimes I add 1-2 Tbs. of finely chopped fresh rosemary.  It tastes amazing, and it’s an easy way to make potatoes fancy!–

Serves 6-8.

*I know this is an ungodly amount, but just trust me.

**Remember what I said about trust?

***I highly recommend garlic powder over chopped fresh garlic.  I like the consistency better with garlic powder, and it’s easier to season it.  However, you can totally use fresh garlic if you prefer!  I also recommend starting with 1 tsp. of garlic powder and adding more if necessary.  I like mine very garlic-y, but some may not!



My little brother (A.K.A. my honorary photographer reflected in the spoon above) told me that mashed potatoes reminded him of mountains while photographing these for me.  I told him that reminded me of the children’s book “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.

Happy fall, friends.


*Song of the Day: Hold On–Alabama Shakes

My Favorite Summer Albums 2015


In the 3+ years that I have been blogging, I realize that I haven’t really written much in the way of music.  Sure, I’ll throw in some music references when blogging a recipe or outfit, and I might mention an album I’m currently digging every once in a while.  And of course, I always do my “song of the day” at the end of each post.  If you go onto my ‘me in a nutshell’ page, you’ll notice that I list about 846 bands/musicians that I love.  But I’ve really slacked on actually writing about music.


So, in an attempt to connect with some of my music-loving readers (as well as other music lovers), I’ve decided to write a post every once in a while about some of my favorite albums.  Since it’s way too difficult for me to pick my overall favorite albums, I decided just to limit the post to what I listened to this summer.  (That doesn’t mean that I only listened to a few albums this summer, either.  I listened to sooo many…still, I need to have some limits or this could go on for days).  Some of the albums are newer, some are older, some of the bands are together, some aren’t.  The point is that these are some really great albums regardless of how old they are.  Here’s to the end of summer!

*These albums are in no particular order.*

1. The Strokes-Is This It

 Oh man, where to begin?  The Strokes are just wonderful.  When I found out that they would be playing in Hyde Park while I was visiting London, I bought the ticket immediately.  I didn’t even have a plane ticket at the time.  Yeah.  That’s how bad I wanted to go (notice Julian’s face up there in my header picture?  Concert pics whaddup).  Is This It is an instant classic in my book.  The lyrics are simple, yet relatable.  The music is raw, edgy, and has a classic rock sound while still remaining post-punk.  It’s a mix of everything you’ll ever want in a good, solid rock band.

Also, I’m sorry for saying whaddup earlier.  I’ve been watching too much How I Met Your Mother…

2. Little Joy-Little Joy

Little Joy has been one of my favorite albums for years now.  Although it is perfect for any time, I especially love it on road trips.  I think most of it has to do with listening to it on repeat while driving to San Francisco for vacation a couple summer ago, but I think it also just has that relaxed “no worries” vibe that comes with summer.  Rodrigo Amarante and Binki Shapiro’s voices are lulling, with a sort of old-fashioned feel.  Their sound is light and catchy.  Breezy almost.  These guys know what they’re doing.  If I could see any broken-up-band live, this would be my choice.

(P.S. Fabrizio Moretti, drummer of The Strokes, was in the band too.  What can’t he do?)

3. Courtney Barnett-Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is just straight cool.  There’s really no other way that I can describe her.  In my mind, she’s that one mysterious girl in high school that nobody really knows, but everyone wants to be her friend, because she’s just so cool.  Listening closely, I think this vibe is reflected in her music.  She reminds me of a female Bob Dylan in some ways.  She sings about every day life.  About people’s thoughts and feelings.  She even sings about normal inanimate objects.  Her songs are not complex, yet they are.  Just do yourself a favor, and listen to this album.

4. Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend is one of my all-time favorite bands.  I remember listening to them when I was a young teenager, maybe even a pre-teen.  However, I never fully appreciated them until this album came out.  It was only then that I really started listening to the lyrics and their use of unusual instruments in an indie rock setting.  They’re one of those bands that is able to make their albums sound different while still sounding like Vampire Weekend.  Their lyrics are poetic, their sound mellow, with a few upbeat tracks thrown in every once in a while.  Everything you want while sitting around semi-drunk with your friends on a late summer night.

Also, Ezra Koenig is probably the love of my life, but that does not mean I’m biased in any sense.

5. Mac DeMarco-Another One

This album is new guys.  Really new.  But I knew I could trust Mac DeMarco, because well, he’s Mac DeMarco.  He can’t do much wrong.  I’ve never come across another artist that is quite as experimental as he is.  His music is raw and laidback.  I love that everything he produces sounds like he just sat down with an acoustic guitar and started playing whatever came to his mind (which is kind of what he does).  When this album came out, I kept an open mind.  But I knew that in the end, it would be a exactly what I want out of his music.  Thanks, Mac.  Truly.

6. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers-Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty is one of my favorite classic rock artists.  I have very fond memories of swimming in the pool at my childhood home, my dad keeping an eye on me while he BBQed chicken and vegetables, and this album playing on the fake-rock-painted speakers.  Every time “American Girl” comes on, I can practically smell the sweet mix of BBQ smoke and chlorine.

7. Karen O-Crush Songs

I have this theory that my spirit animal is the lovechild of Karen O and Zooey Deschanel.  Sadly, this combination is not realistic or possible, but I still love them individually, of course.  When Karen O debuted Crush Songs, I was pretty stoked and for good reason.  In Crush Songs, Karen O was able to create a sound that is both feminine and edgy punk.  It is pretty much everything that I have always wanted to create on my own but have not been able to accomplish.  Thank you Karen O for being such an inspiration for all those women who love punk but have a hard time finding legit female punk artists.

8. The Lumineers-The Lumineers

This album has a sweet, nostalgic sense that comes with the folk-indie genre.  Although I would not necessarily classify The Lumineers as folk, there is definitely a prominent influence which perfectly compliments the summer-feel I was looking for.  Beginning with “Flowers in Your Hair”, this album starts out with tales of fond memories of a past life and continues the story-telling theme with slower, sadder songs such as “Dead Sea” and “Slow it Down”.  Calming, catchy, and candid, this is the album to listen to while spending an intimate evening on the patio.

9. Bright Eyes-I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is by far the most popular Bright Eyes album there is.  Conor Oberst, the man behind the twangy guitar and slow drawl of a voice, is an expert in writing honest, raw music.  There’s a large part of me that believes that most of the album was written behind a closed bedroom door, the lyrics taken straight out of his personal diary.  I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is one of those albums that almost everybody likes.  That album that, when you turn it on, everyone goes, “Ohhhh…I forgot about this song.  I love this song”.  If you’re ever at a bonfire, there will inevitably be a guy with an acoustic guitar slung around his shoulder.  Ask him to play “Lua”.

10. Modest Mouse-Strangers to Ourselves

If there’s one thing to be said about Modest Mouse, it’s that they always deliver.  Every time a classic punk band comes out with a new album, I get nervous.  I’m perfectly aware that no band wants to recreate an album that they’ve already made, but I still want them to sound familiar.  Modest Mouse is able to accomplish this tedious task so perfectly, and Strangers to Ourselves is proof of that.  If you’re ever looking for the ultimate grunge-y album to play at a party, throw this one on.  Everyone wants to jam to this album.

11. Paul McCartney-RAM

While in London over the summer, a new friend nervously recommended that I listen to this album.  Claiming it to be the original, indie album, his suggestion immediately intrigued me.  1. I love indie music.  2. I was in London, so I had to listen to The Beatles, or at least Paul McCartney.  I listened to the whole album in one sitting, and I have to say, I was impressed.  While a few songs such as “Oh Woman, Oh Why” were familiar, most of the album was a completely new experience for me.  Rest assured, the album was Sara Lynn-approved.

12. The 1975-The 1975

As I said earlier, I was in London this summer (wait, did I tell you that I was in London this summer…???), so basically The 1975 was playing everywhere.  The British are very proud of their artists, and they should be.  The 1975 has such a hip aesthetic that is hard to compare to any other band.  Punk-rock with a few splashes of pop, it’s a fun album to throw on when you want to have a solo-dance party in your Honda Pilot on the way to your morning coffee stop.  Or while sitting in a Geek Squad shop in the basement of a London-based technology store.  Either works.

What albums did you listen to this summer?


Song of the Day: take your pick ^^^

My Happy Things 9.9.15

happy things

Hello friends!

I haven’t posted a “happy things” article since I was in Europe.  That’s mainly because I originally intended for “my happy things” posts to be a way for me to communicate with my readers overseas since I did not have kitchen access and didn’t really want to worry about getting a bunch of clothing pics the whole time.

However, I have been having a pretty rough couple of weeks.  Without getting into too much detail, the past few weeks have been very stressful and have left me a little heartbroken.  I’ve had a lot of those “I can’t catch a f***ing break” moments.  As dramatic as I make it sound, this is quite abnormal for me, so I do not always know how to handle it.  Panic attacks are somewhat typical for me, but they’ve been worse than usual lately.  While I know it has a lot to do with lack of sleep, not working working out, and not caring for my body as well as I should be, a series of events have lead my life to be very stressful.  I do my best to remain positive, but sometimes I’m just sad.

I’m not afraid to admit that.  I find nothing wrong with sadness, and I find nothing wrong with my anxiety.  It’s just a part of my life, and while I think I’d be better off without it, I also know that it is a part of who I am.  Admittedly, I have a hard time expressing this over my blog since it is very personal and vulnerable.  However, I think it is important to acknowledge that everybody has “something”, whether it’s anxiety or depression or anything else.  I feel lucky that I have the resources and self-motivation to break myself out of my anxiety-funks, and truthfully, I do feel a lot better now than I did a few days ago.  However, not everybody has those means.  There’s an unfair stigma associated with mental health issues, and I would love to help end that.  After all, most people do not know right off the bat that I have anxiety.

Which goes back to that old cliche.  Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Unfortunately, oftentimes when I get sad about real things, I start to get upset about stupid, irrelevant things.  Like why did Little Joy break up?  Why is it socially unacceptable to eat ice cream for dinner every night?  WHY IS SEASON 4 OF NEW GIRL NOT ON NETFLIX YET?!

(Seriously though, Netflix.  New Girl.  Season 4.  Let’s go).

Anyways, since I’ve been having a hard time lately, I decided to bring back the “happy things” posts.  I probably won’t update them every week like I did in London.  But I will definitely keep them around for when I need encouragement, or for when I just want to share some cool things with you guys.

So while I am sad, I also know that there a lot of beautiful things in life.  There is so much to be happy about.  Writing music and blog posts is one of my favorite ways to express how I’m feeling.  I tend to use sarcasm when I write, and I like to make fun of myself–life is too short to take everything seriously.  Sometimes life is hard, but we just have to laugh it off and keep going.  Plus sarcasm makes me happy.  And I would like to use my writing to spread happiness.

And occasionally use profanity on the internet.  Sorry, readers.  It’s who I am as a person.


My first “happy thing” was getting my disposable pictures back that I took in London.  Although this one came out blurry, I’m really in love with it.  Flowers + coffee = a perfect day.

“The Medic” by Foxing.  Foxing is one of my favorite bands ever.  Also, their album The Albatross is just all around so perfect.  You know when you can feel somebody’s emotions through their music?  That’s how I feel when I listen to their album.

Plus, they’re going to be playing a show in Reno in November, and I’m soooooo excited.

So.  Excited.


The balloon races in Reno!  This is an annual event that is super popular, and one of the coolest things about living in Reno.  I have never actually been to the balloon races, but last year a balloon went off track and landed in my cul de sac!  It’s a pretty neat event, because you can see the balloons floating around Reno for pretty much a whole weekend.

Anyways, this year I’m going to go (even though it means waking up at like, 4:30 a.m. to watch them light up O: ).


Living in beautiful Reno.  I took a little walk around the midtown/downtown area the other day, and I was just so happy to be there.  Although the river is really low, it’s just such a pretty place to live.  And the people are so nice.  And there’s really good food and coffee and music.

And I’m really just so lucky to live here.

Whine About It.  Nothing cheers me up quite like watching these videos.  Okay, maybe baby elephant videos make me a little happier, but these do the trick also.  This one is probably my favorite, because it’s just so accurate.

(P.S. How do I get a job where I get to drink wine and bitch about life?  I want that job).

Thanks for reading, guys.  My family comes into town on Friday for my aunt’s wedding, and I can’t wait to have an amazing weekend.

*Insert inspirational quote here*


*Song of the Day: The Medic–Foxing*

Mediterranean Chicken Skewers


Happy back to school for most college students/students in general!

And if you’re one of the lucky bastards that doesn’t start classes again until September…you can just keep quiet in the back there.

Just kidding (mostly), but I am super jealous and I hope you’re having a wonderful summer break.

Anyways, I started school on Monday so RIP to my brain.  In just a few short weeks, I won’t be able to talk about anything but balance sheets and the 4 P’s.  But until then, let’s just enjoy the semi-normal Sara Lynn that loves to cook and dress up and talk about music and is successful in getting a post up on her blog on an almost-weekly basis, yeah?


Since I am back in school now, it means I can’t use the “…but I’m on summer break” excuse anymore.  That’s when I eat whatever I want/don’t work out/avoid paying off my credit card for one more day/don’t bother getting the mail for 2 months/avoid all adult responsibilities/etc. because I’m on summer break and I want to hike or lay in bed and watch How I Met Your Mother.  It’s not something I’m proud of, but I really only get to be a lazy college kid for a couple more years, so let’s just not worry about it.

Anyways, now that I’m waking up for class every morning, it also means that I’m eating chicken, brown rice, and veggies and working out 3-4 times a week.

If you have similar eating habits, you probably know how boring chicken and brown rice and veggies really are.  And that’s why food blogs exist.  To break the mundane and try out new recipes and gain the trust of our readers so that, they too, can have more exciting eating experiences.

I promise that this chicken is really delicious and tastes like lemon and rosemary–and is not boring at all.  I had it with a Greek salad only, but I think next time I’ll make lemon-sage rice because that would make it even better.

I’ll leave you with the recipe and hope you’re happy knowing you can eat healthy and have really, really amazing food.

It’s a wonderful feeling.


1 lb. chicken breast, cubed

1/4 c. olive oil

2 Tbs. white wine vinegar*

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bamboo or metal skewers**

*Red wine vinegar would also be good, and have more of a Mediterranean flavor.  I just ran out and used what I had in the cupboard!

** If using bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water so that they do not burst into flames while grilling.

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the chicken.  Place cubed chicken in a plastic Ziploc bag, and pour marinade over the chicken being sure it is completely covered.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the grill to a medium high heat.

Remove chicken from marinade and discard leftover marinade.  Thread the chicken onto the skewers.

Spray the grill with a cooking spray to prevent sticking.  Place skewers on the grill and cook, turning every few minutes, for about 15 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Serves 4.


In non-chicken related news, I have started an Instagram page for all of my posts!  Just follow serendipitybysaralynn, like my posts, tag me if you make my recipes, etc.!  I love reading your comments and talking to my readers, so please share with your friends so I can talk to even more people!

(See.  I did at least one productive thing during my summer!  Go Instagram!)

Have a wonderful fall semester, college students.

Have a wonderful fall, everybody else.


*Song of the Day: Coffee and Pie, oh my! by Brightside*

*A new band I’ve been really into lately!  Not all of their music is on Spotify, so check out their bandcamp:

Healthy Granola Bars


Aside from crying at IAMS dog commercials and avoiding all conversations involving politics or football, my most common past time of late has included attempting to make the best chocolate chip cookies e v e r.

I know this is a hefty task.  Everybody has their favorite version of the best chocolate chip cookie, and somebody else’s favorite may not match mine.  But if I’m going to own a bakery and coffee shop in the future, I just have to have the best chocolate chip cookies ever.  It’s become an obsession of sorts.

I’m not going to lie, my favorite chocolate chip cookie has always been the Nestle Tollhouse recipe.  They have magic within them.  I don’t even know what they’re doing over at Tollhouse, but I want in on it.  It’s the recipe I grew up with, so I will always love them.  But what if I can make Nestle’s recipe even better?

Yeah, that’s what I’m going for.


Unfortunately, my cookie labs are only done on the weekends when I feel like my friends can stand trying another batch of chocolate chip cookies (about once or twice a month).  This is also because 1. I don’t have time to bake cookies constantly and 2. Even if I did, I’m sure humans actually cannot function long term on a complete cookie diet.  It’s a sad, but true, fact.

Therefore, I preoccupy myself with other kinds of projects.

Enter healthy granola bars.

I really love granola bars as a quick snack or breakfast.  Sometimes I spend entirely too much time looking at myself sullenly in the mirror because I don’t want to put on makeup and I haven’t had breakfast or coffee yet.  That’s a granola bar in the car morning.  They happen more than one would expect.

Unfortunately, the nutrition facts on the back of granola bars terrify me.  Oh my god.  The mere amount of added sugars alone.  And I don’t want to get into sodium, fat, and chemical additives.

It makes me realize why American food is banned in multiple countries around the world.

Additionally, I cannot justify spending $10 on a box of somewhat “healthy” granola bars that mostly taste like cardboard.  Why is it so hard to get some quick, healthy food for a reasonable price?!  Am I really asking for too much?!

Luckily for us all, healthy granola bars are super easy to make at home!  They’re also way cheaper and freeze-able, and don’t have a bunch of sugars and icky gunk in them!!!

People who care about their bodies, rejoice!


2 c. quick oats

1 c. raw almonds

1 c. dried cranberries

1/4 c. pumpkin seeds

1/4 c. sunflower seeds

2 Tbs. flax seeds

1/3 c. almond butter or peanut butter

1/2 c. honey

1/4 c. agave

1/4 c. coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch salt

*Optional step*: Toast oats, nuts, and seeds in an oven at 350* until you can smell nuts and everything is a nice golden brown.  I left out this step, but you can totally do this if you want less of a “raw” taste.

In a large bowl, mix together the almond butter, honey, agave, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt until smooth.  Add oats, almonds, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.  Stir mixture until combined thoroughly.

Press mixture into a greased 9×13 pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the granola bars are golden brown on the edges.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Cut into bars.  You can do larger or thinner bars depending on your preference.

*You can do any mixture of nuts and seeds, dried fruits, etc.  You can also do more agave, less honey, etc.  Everything in this recipe is super easy to replace and adjust.  You can make these however you want!*



Also, I’m just going to throw out there that a small amount of mini chocolate chips would be good in place of cranberries.

Chocolate chip cookie granola bars?!

I’m going to go ahead and stop now.


Song of the Day: Let Her Go–Mac DeMarco

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad


While in London, I ate french fries and gelato every single day.  I also indulged in a pint (or two) of craft beer.  Every single day.  For a month straight.  In short, my destructive, unhealthy diet was a sober vegan’s worst goddamn nightmare.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was prepping myself for an intense detox consisting of straight juiced kale and other horrible concoctions nutrition bloggers insist are good for the body and the soul.

While I didn’t *exactly* end up subjecting myself to some kind of horrible, liquid diet (I mean, last weekend was my birthday, so of course I was going to eat steak and cake!), I was able to come up with some yummy, clean recipes.


One recipe from the mix is this roasted vegetable orzo salad.  It’s light and summery which made me extra excited to eat it for lunch all week.

Although I’m longing for sweater weather season with soup-based dinners and a nice mug of warm tea before bed every night, I’m still trying to push as much summer recipes into my life as I can before it’s too late!

This recipe is especially great served over spinach with a little extra dressing and a grilled chicken breast.

On a side note: My heartburn has gone away since I started incorporating more veggies and less french fries into my life.  Weird right?!

Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad:

1 1/2 c. orzo pasta (whole wheat if you can find it)

2 zucchinis, cubed

2 yellow squashes, cubed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

1 can chick peas, drained

1/2 c. walnuts, toasted

Crumbled feta, for topping (optional)


1/4 c. olive oil

2-3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried parsley

Onion powder, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of sugar, agave, or honey

Preheat oven to 350* F.  Toss zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers in olive oil and a few pinches of salt.  Spread onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and let cool to room temperature.

While pasta is boiling, whisk dressing ingredients together until incorporated.

To make the salad, mix cooled roasted veggies with the orzo, chickpeas, and walnuts.  Pour dressing over the top and mix to coat the orzo.  Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Serve with crumbled feta over the top.

Makes 4 entree servings or 8 side servings.


Although I miss the nights of drinking pale ale at the Craft Beer Company in London, eating deep fried foods, and laughing with my friends, I’m also happy to be on a normal eating schedule again!

It’s also nice to not have to take an antacid before bed every single night.

Can’t say I wouldn’t do it all again!


Song of the Day: Smother–Daughter

Fondue in the Forest


Hello my wonderful readers!

I’m back home in Reno (although I’m still dreaming of London), but I’ve had a wonderful summer and it’s time to get back to business.  Before I came home, I went to my parents’ cabin for the first time in two years which is where I used to spend my childhood weekends hiking, fishing, and riding quads.

It was also my getaway for watching movies and reading countless books which I did not always have time to do with all of my extracurriculars.  I cannot even tell you how many times I blew through the HP series up there.  7 books and 8 movies were no match when I had a good two weeks of lounging on the porch swing with an iced tea in my hand.

Some of my best memories from growing up were at my cabin, and I wish more than anything that I could make it up more.  Luckily, I have Tahoe just a short 30 minutes away, but there’s nothing like (vacation) home, right?

Anyways, I had a really amazing time with my family hiking, white water rafting, and of course, reading.  We also had some really great food.

Cue fondue.



Before I share with you our delicious dipping recipes and whatnot, let me first disclose that all of the pictures posted today were taken by my baby brother (except for the fondue pic taken above, which was posted by my mom).  He’s the guy in the maroon striped sweater.  He’s only 17 and far more talented than I will ever be.  So thank you to Garrett (and mom!) for the beautiful pictures shared today.

About fondue:  Fondue is really really fun.  Like, really fun guys.  Although I did this with my family, I’m totally considering getting a fondue pot to have parties with my friends.  Especially since I learned some good tips and tricks from this experience.  We actually did an Italian version of fondue called bagna cauda which is a method of cooking the food in hot oil.

Some tips for a fondue (bagna cauda) party:

1. No more than 4 people should be at the fondue pot at any given time.  Just trust me on this.

2. Wear clothes you won’t be totally sad about ruining.  I don’t think I ended up dripping anything on myself, but there’s always a risk.

3.  Lay down a black garbage bag or old table cloth.  There will definitely be some drippage action there.

4.  Have plenty of dipping options.

5. Consider having some small appetizers or a nice side salad to munch on.  Although fondue is very fun, it’s also time consuming, so you’re waiting a few minutes between each bite.


Are you ready for some kick-ass dipping sauce recipes and also some wonderfully safe cooking instructions?!

You bet you are, champ.

*Recipes and instructions courtesy of Pillsbury.  Some recipes adapted slightly.*

Bagna Cauda Ingredients:

4 cups peanut oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled (optional)

Cubed beef tenderloin, Cubed chicken breast, Cubed squash, Mushrooms, Cheese cubes (coat with melted butter and bread crumbs beforehand), Shrimp, Cubed pork tenderloin, etc.

Pour oil into a fondue pot.  Add garlic, if using.  Heat until 350* F.  Place setting on warm to maintain heat.  Remove garlic, if using.  To cook ingredients, place 1-2 items on fondue sticks.  Place in oil and cook until desired doneness.  Dip in favorite sauces.

Garlic Basil Aioli

1/2 c. mayonnaise

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped

2 Tbs. olive oil

Salt, to taste

Curry Dip

3/4 c. mayonnaise

1 tsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Salt, to taste

Horseradish Sauce

1/3 c. mayonnaise

1/3 c. sour cream

1 Tbs. prepared horseradish

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Directions for all sauces:  Whisk all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

*We also used A-1 steak sauce as a dipping sauce*.





In addition to bagna cauda, we enjoyed the sunset, had a lovely campfire where we looked at the stars, and I got to play with my puppy.  All in all, it was an amazing weekend.


Song of the Day: Suicide Saturday–Hippo Campus

My Happy Things 7.14.15

happy things

I’m back from London :-(

I’m so sad, but I also figured that I would make myself happy by posting my last “happy things” London edition.  After some very spotty wifi services, I can finally show you guys all the cool things that I did!

I had the most amazing trip, and I can’t wait to show you all more pictures as I download and edit.

I’m on to Utah to spend some time with my family at our cabin, but I will post right when I get back!

Here are my happy things for the week:

abbey road

Going to Abbey Road!  This was the coolest experience.  I almost died trying to get this picture, but luckily the cars stopped for half a second to let me get this.  It was truly magical.

Also, this group of three people randomly walked up and asked me to be their fourth Beatle which was kind of fun.  I didn’t get to be Ringo, but I think I’ll let it slide.


The vintage teacup exhibit at the V&A Museum!  Oh my gosh guys.  This was my dream.  I’m not kidding.  There were rows and rows of teacups like this.  Six rooms full.  It was my heaven.

And yeah, that little blob on the end is me.  That’s how many teacups there were.


The ceilings at the Courtauld Gallery.  They were so beautiful!  I was almost as excited about the ceilings and walls as I was about the art.  I saw some Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas which was amazing!  I could have spent all day in there.


Going to the Harry Potter Studio Tours in London.

I can’t even explain this one.  It might become a whole post in itself.

I’ll just say that if you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is something you can’t not do in London.  It was one of my favorite activities I did while I was there.  I may have cried at one point (but that’s not something we need to talk about).


It took me the whole month to find a pour over, but I did it!  The CoffeeWorks Project saved my life.  I am forever grateful.  It was the raddest little coffee shop, and I’m so glad I got to go.  You guys are the besssss.

NYC Baby by Karen O is one of my favorite songs!  I had it stuck in my head for the last few days I was in London (???), so I figured it had to be added.

Thank you to London and to the amazing people I met while I was there.

It was truly incredible.


Song of the Day: posted above

My Happy Things 6.28.15

happy things

Bonjour! (I think that’s spelled right).

I have some really fun things to share with you guys this week, because I just got back from a weekend in Paris with my best friend!  (Shout out to my BFF Hannah.  She’s my #1 reader).

Unfortunately, I did not get as much time as I wanted in Paris (there’s so much to do!), but I will be going back in the near-ish (?) future, and I will definitely get everything accomplished on the next trip!

Paris is pretty much exactly what you want it to be, which means that I may have eaten my weight in cheese, bread, and wine.  But it’s fine.



(RIP cholesterol.)

I also found chocolate croissants.  I died a little.  Seriously, the hype is justified.

And I don’t just say that about any croissant.

Really I don’t…

Here are my happy things for the week:

rave bathroom

Rave bathroom!  When we got to our hostel in Paris, we immediately noticed that the bathroom was bathed in black light.

(Haha, get it?  Bathed.  Bathroom.  Okay.)

Anyways, it was really fun to take pictures in.

And also made it really hard to put on eyeliner…


Macarons!  Please note: this is a macaron.  The yummy little coconut balls are macaroons.  And it is an important difference for somebody who loves baking as much as I do.

Anyways, I really wanted to get some macarons in Paris before I left.  This morning, I took two metros, got lost, and walked for half an hour to find Laduree, which I’ve heard so many rave reviews about.

I haven’t tried them yet (I’m trying to wait until after dinner!), but if the price speaks for the quality, then they’re probably pretty damn good.

I’ll update you soon.

fancy drinks

Fancy drinks with glow sticks!  Perfect for our rave bathroom!  We ended up at this fun little bar last night around happy hour.  Happy hour = 5 euro Cosmopolitans that taste like really delicious cranberry lemonade.

They’re dangerous, and also taste much better with a glow stick.

Plus, the bartender let us have 5 euro drinks even after happy hour was over.

He was quite a guy.


Basque food!  Somehow, we randomly ended up at this little French/Basque restaurant.  Coming from Reno, where Basque food is suuuuper popular, I was stoked!  It is one of my favorite cuisines, and I actually got to have it in France!  Very exciting day for Sara.

Also, we sat next to legit Basque guys.

They told us all about being Basque.  We pretended that we understood them.

It was a perfect night.

Last but not least…

Gay marriage is legalized in the U.S.!!!  I’m so proud of our country.  I wish I could be there to celebrate but since I’m not, I’m sending my love and support from the U.K.!

Go America and love and equal rights!


Song of the Day: Can’t Take my Eyes Off You–Frankie Valli and The 4 Seasons

(Which is actually being played live outside of my dorm window right now.  Cool!)

My Happy Things 6.19.15

happy things

Hi hi hi hi hi!!!

I’m super stoked about doing my second “happy things” because I’m finally in London and I have soooo much stuff to share with you!

For now, I’m only going to share my happy things, but when I get back from London expect a really long, detailed London post (or two).  I’m having the best time here making friends and exploring London.  Not to be too cheesy here, but London is very serendipitous.  Also, most of the pictures aren’t great because they were taken on my iPhone, but you get the idea.  I’ll have better pictures later, but for now I’m just too antsy to edit!

Can you tell I’m a little excited?

I’m kind of really excited!!!

Here are my happy things for the week:

PicMonkey Collage

What you see here is me in the midst of utter joy, because I was standing right in front of Big Ben.  Also the London Eye.  I’m so in love with it that I actually want to go back just to get more pictures like this.  No, I don’t have a problem.  Not one that I’m willing to admit to anyways.


This bakery & coffee shop is called Bloomsbury Coffee House.  It’s pretty close to my dorm, so after class I decided to stop by and grab a coffee.  They really know what they’re doing, and I will be visiting again.  I plan on writing a review of the coffee shops I visit while I’m in London, but for now just look at this cute little set up they have going.


Gelato!!!  Just go to Scoop if you’re in London.  Okay?  Just do it.

I got amaretto and pistachio.  I almost always get nutty “old-people” flavors.  It’s actually a joke in my family.

This demo version of “You Only Live Once” by The Strokes.  I actually like this version a *little* better, but don’t tell anyone.  I’m posting this because I SAW THE STROKES LAST NIGHT AND IT WAS PRETTY MUCH THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME.

But that’s a story for another day.

For now, have a lovely weekend, and I will update you soon, soon, soon!


Song of the Day: posted above!