Hello Joyflakes!

It appears that the blogging bug has bitten me again because I can't stop thinking about new posts. I feel like this happens every year around the holidays but hopefully this time I can keep the ideas coming through a full year.

Today dawned dreary and cold with a wind that whips through any amount of clothes so I suppose that winter is finally starting to show its face in the midwest. We've had a lovely fall but I have to say, I'm pretty excited that the weather is finally starting to feel like it matches up with the date on my calendar. It makes it much easier to get into the holiday spirit. Don't you think?

The chilly weather also means that it's once again acceptable to spend every waking moment snuggled up in blankets and sweatpants with hot cups of tea and good books and shows. My favorite! My SO and I got back from our thanksgiving trip to visit both of our families late last night and barely got our things unpacked and put away before collapsing into bed with The Crown. We've become slightly obsessed with it recently and I can't wait to get home and watch another ep tonight.

Winter's coming also marks the fact that my first semester back in school full time is drawing to a close. I am proud to report that I'm on track to receive my best set of grades ever (literally since kindergarten) and will be graduating in the Spring. I honestly thought that I may never get here so I'm very much feeling on top of the world. That said, I've got a few more things to tie up before the close of classes and I've got a couple things left to do for my graduate school applications so I can't rest yet. As my sister-in-law always says, "It's time to kick it to the finish!"

I've got some new things coming at you over my school break so keep your eyes peeled for that!


P.S. My next post is my 100th! How should we celebrate?!

Hometown Living

Hello Joyflakes!

Long time no chat. I've been massively busy with classes and grad school applications and as always, this little blog has taken a back seat. But, I've had this post sitting in my drafts for a while and I feel like it's finally time I finish it up.

When I was 3 years old, my mom got a job at the University of Iowa as an education professor and we packed up our minivan and moved across the country from Tucson, AZ to Iowa City, IA. With the exception of 6 months in 5th grade, and my 3 years in Ames, I've been in Iowa City ever since. It's a great town full of amazingly brilliant people and a surprising amount of things to do each weekend. There's a ped mall full of shops and restaurants and shops and with each change of season, the city changes too. In the summer, it's full of laughing children and street festivals. In the fall, it's football and college students celebrating their newfound freedom. Winter brings a blanket of white snow, fairy lights, and sweaters on the trees. And each spring, you can practically feel the promise of bright futures as students celebrate graduation.

But as much as I love this little city, I'm often reminded of the fact that I've been her for over 20 years.  I walk past my mom's old office on my way to work and class every day. I know exactly where to drive or walk when so that I don't have to awkwardly not make eye contact with the "spare change" rasta or deal with students jumping in front me as they rush from building to building. I know where to park for free no matter what time of day it is. I know when to avoid the ped mall and when the people watching is the best. I recognize store owners and I know which servers and bartenders will give me honest opinions about dinner and drink specials. Long story short, I know this city like the back of my hand.

There are definite pro's and con's to spending your 20s in your home town, and as I finish my grad school applications and plan out the next steps in my life, I'm struggling with the idea that I may end up staying in Iowa City for the foreseeable future. It wouldn't be a bad thing. I'm comfortable and safe in's where I know I will always be welcomed. The grad program I am applying to is wonderful and I know that it would be a great fit for me. But, there are definitely times when I think that my head will explode if I spend any more time seeing the same buildings and faces day after day after day.

My decision for grad school will have a lot to do where I get in and the cost of the program. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that location will play a pretty solid factor too. I guess I just don't know how much I should be worried about where the program is. What do you think? How much should location play into my decision?


For Goodness Crêpes! Louisville, KY

Happy Hump Day Crêpe Day Joyflakes!

When I was a student at Iowa State University in Ames, IA, my friend Emily and I had a tradition of going out for crêpes every Wednesday afternoon or evening at a place called Stomping Grounds where I worked. Stomping Grounds is a french inspired café and coffee shop in campus town and they have some of the best food in Ames. It's simple, the portion sizes and prices aren't outrageous, and its the kind of place  you can go on a date, to study in your yoga pants, or to start a night out with friends with a glass of wine or a beer. In short, it's one of my favorite places.

But since leaving Ames, I haven't had the opportunity to go out for crêpes. So, since my mom and I are planning a trip to France after I graduate, we thought my visit to Louisville was the perfect time to try out one of the crêperies in town.

Enter, For Goodness Crêpes, a funky little place located on Baxter and with a menu that can suit any mood you're in.

The restaurant is pretty small with only about 25 seats, but they pack a lot of flavor into each crêpe on the menu. I opted for a sweet, lemon and berry crêpe called "Quite the D'Lemon" while my mom opted for a breakfast crêpe stuffed with eggs, bacon, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and basil mayo called the "Jiggy Piggy". Both were FANTASTIC.

It's a good thing that I don't live here, because you can bet your butt I would be at For Goodness Crêpes a lot and both my wallet and my waistline would be in BIG trouble. Needless to say, on my next trip to Louisville, we will be making a stop for some crêpe goodness.


The Farmers Market: Louisville, KY

Happy Wednesday Joyflakes!

I love the farmers market. It's by far one of the best parts of summer. At home in Iowa City, we have two farmers markets a week and it's a great place to kill some time, eat some delicious food, and stock up on the amazing fresh summer produce. But since I'm currently in Kentucky visiting my parents (although  by the time you read this I supposed I'll be in Wisconsin), I got to experience another farmers market in Louisville.

We went in with a mission to have a great breakfast, and to buy a bushel of corn to put up for the coming months when fresh produce isn't so readily available.

Breakfast consisted of breakfast burrito bowls for my parents and a delicious breakfast sandwich on a fresh pretzel bun for me. We sat at picnic tables and talked about all of our plans for my visit. The list included lots of food to eat and lots of shopping. My kind of vacation!

After scarfing down our breakfasts, we headed into the stalls to buy peaches, tomatoes, berries, and of course, corn.

Don't you love all of the colors!? The peaches were SPECTACULAR! Perfectly ripe and juicy without being smooshy. yum.

One of my favorite parts of farmers markets is the fresh flowers. While I rarely feel like I have enough of a budget to stock my house with fresh flowers at the moment, I can't help but admire them. Especially when there are sunflowers (my favorite flower) in abundance!

Corn in hand, mission accomplished, we headed home to put up our 60 ears (and eat a few too!) but more on that later.

What do you love about the farmers market?


Bucks Chicken & Biscuits Chicago

Good morning Joyflakes!

One of the best things about Misha's family living in Chicago is that we get to eat at new places almost every time we go to visit them. On our recent trip to celebrate Chicago Pride, we got in touch with my southern side at Bucks Chicken & Biscuits.

Bucks is located on Division in Wicker Park and it is a perfect little oasis of southern hospitality in the bustling big city. We chose to sit out on the patio and soak up the summer evening along with our delicious food and my favorite, Cheerwine!

The fried chicken is delicious and the biscuits come with a pot of honey so you can drizzle to your hearts content. I however, opted for the head on shrimp and grits which were pretty dang good, I couldn't wait to dig in and managed to totally space on taking a picture.

No dinner at bucks is complete without a little dessert and in my opinion even if it's not Cookout, you can't go wrong with a Cheerwine float.

If you ever find yourself in Wicker Park, make the time to stop at Bucks. It is definitely a place I would like to go back to again and again. What are your favorite Chicago eateries?! Where should I try next?


Camping at Geode State Park

Hello Joylfakes!

This summer has been BUSY and it has included some pretty great adventures. A couple of weeks ago Misha and I packed up the car and Izzy and headed south to Geode State Park. This was our first camping trip of the summer and we couldn't wait to get away for a weekend of camp fire cooking, hiking, and sleeping outside. 

We made it there in just about an hour and a half and we stopped to pick up some firewood and grab a quick dinner on our way. 

Our campsite was tucked into the woods just across from the main campsite which meant not only did we have a little extra privacy, our neighbors weren't literally right next-door. 

For christmas last year I gave Misha a 4 person Kelty Acadia tent and it was SO easy to set up! The whole process probably took less than 15 minutes and there was plenty of room inside for us, all our stuff, and Izzy. Plus, with the rain fly on, there is extra room outside of the tent to keep firewood dry and store any extra odds and ends. 

The next morning, Misha treated me to some delicious eggs and sausages for breakfast and we headed out to hike around Lake Geode.

After a long hike and a little bouldering, we settled in for an afternoon of relaxation and then cooked an FANTASTIC dinner. There is something about cooking over fire that just makes food taste better. The Potatoes were probably the best part and they were so simple to make! We cleaned and sliced up some golden potatoes, mixed in some diced onions, garlic powder and adobo and then folded them up in tin foil with a couple of pats of butter. Put the whole things on the grill and voila! Buttery, soft, flavorful potatoes and onions. YUM.

Our second night of camping didn't go quite as smoothly as a raccoon decided our campsite was the perfect place to terrorize humans. After some seriously scary glimpses of glowing eyes in the woods, a lot of live tweeting, and lots of banging of pans and fire pits we finally decided to pack anything that smelled remotely like food away in the car and go to bed. It seemed to do the trick until something ran into our tent just above our heads at about 1am. Apparently our raccoon friend doesn't have very good night vision and tripped over the ties for our rain fly.

The next morning dawned grey and ominous and after the third giant clap of thunder in about a minute we decided that a little extra sleep wasn't worth packing everything up in a downpour. Luckily, the Kelty Acadia was just as easy to take down as it was to put up and we got the campsite torn down and cleaned up with seconds to spare before the heavens opened up and it started pouring. 

It rained all the way home so I'm glad we didn't try to wait it out! Who knows when we finally would have gotten back or how much mud would have been caked to our stuff. 

So our trip may have ended a little early, and it may not have gone perfectly, but it was a great trip that I'm sure we will always remember and laugh about. And we will definitely be camping at least one more time this summer and a fall. Do you have any camping stories?! I would love to hear them!


Recently: June & July

Aloha Joyflakes!

The last few months have FLOWN by and I can't believe that summer is almost already over. It feels like just yesterday I was quitting my job and heading back to school full time. Now, I've finished two semesters worth of french and I'm only 8 classes away from finally graduating. Tomorrow I'm heading to Louisville, KY to visit my parents but for now, here's an update on what I've been doing recently.

Reading: More Outlander! I know you're shocked. I finished up books 5 and 6 during June and July and am about a 1/4 of the way through book 7. I know I've said it before but I absolutely LOVE these books. They're incredibly well written and I love the attention to detail that Diana Gabaldon uses. Plus, the books are set during one of my favorite periods of history so you really can't beat 'em.

Writing: I haven't been on the blog nearly as much as I wanted to be this summer, but I have been journaling again. Currently, I'm trying to journal a few times a week so that when I look back on this year (which may be my last year in Iowa City) I'll have a record to look back at. Who knows, maybe it will become the outline for that book I've been wanting to write but haven't ever gotten more than a paragraph into.

Moving & Shaking: It's been a busy couple of months! As I said above, I've been back in school full time so a lot of my life has revolved around my french classes. One year worth of french classes boiled down into twelve weeks was INTENSE! But, I'm also working and trying to have a social life so things have been jam packed. Misha and I took a few trips to Chicago and we've spent our weekends camping or up at my families cabin. Tomorrow I'm off to Louisville and then next week we're heading up north to the cabin again for some final relaxation before classes pickup again, so we're making the most of our summer and loving every minute of it. I can honestly say this has been one of the happiest summers of my life.

Sounded like: Ahh, the sweet sounds of silence. But seriously, I've been living without a soundtrack these past couple of months and I'm loving it! At the beginning of June I lost my headphones. One second they were in my backpack and the next second they were gone. Rather than running out to pick up a new set, I put it off and I've been loving it. I'm not sure if I'll ever get a new pair. Not having music playing in my earbuds has also carried over to my car. I rarely turn the radio on and when Misha and I have been taking weekend trips, we've left the radio off as well. It makes you have real conversations with the people around and you allows you to actually take note of your own thoughts and feelings. I know it sounds kind of hippy-dippy, but my accidental, totally Kae, act of losing my headphones has helped me to become more mindful in my everyday life.

So there you have it! The last two months have been great and I'm looking forward to a whirlwind year of school, work, and preparing to leave my home town for real. I can already tell it's going to be a good year. What have you been up to recently?


My Everyday Makeup Routine (and how much it costs)

Good morning Joyflakes!

Those of you that follow me on snapchat know two things, I'm obsessed with my dog, and I have certain makeup products that I will never give up or trade out. Even when I'm feeling bored with my routine and ready for a change, I can't stray for more than a day from some of those products.

This past weekend, we went to visit Misha's family in Chicago and in the rush of packing and working and getting ready to go, my perfectly packed makeup bag was left in Iowa City. Thankfully, I'm not a Sephora only snob and was able to find some fantastic drugstore products to tide me over. The thing about drugstore makeup (foundation especially) is that you're not able to try it before you buy it so shelling out your hard earned money for something you're not sure you're even going to like can be a little daunting. Luckily, I avoided any intense disasters (with the exception of some overly sparkly blush) and was pretty happy with my purchases.

Now that I'm home, I have all of my favorite things at my finger tips, I'm finding myself still reaching for some of those drugstore finds every morning. So, I thought I would share them with you.

A little disclaimer: These are my go-to's every morning and they're a mix of high end drugstore products. I am NOT being paid to write about ANY of them, nor was I asked by any of the companies to write about them or test them out. My little blog isn't in the big leagues so that kind of thing doesn't happen just yet. I just wanted to share some products that I really enjoy.

With that business out of the way, here they are!

Primer: Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer in Fair, $36.00

I can be pretty particular about what goes on my skin. I have combination skin and tend don't enjoy putting anything that smells like it came out of a chem lab on it because I know it will make me break out or dry out. But this tinted BB primer from Tarte is amazing. It doesn't really smell like anything and being from Tarte, I know that it is made of natural products. This primer does have SPF in it so for those of you who are like...what!? no sun protection?! I promise, it's there and it's incredibly important to me. Plus, for days when I don't really want to put makeup on but I need a little help, it makes a killer sheer foundation!

Concealer: L'Oreal True Match Concealer $8.95

I have dark circles under my eyes pretty much every single day no matter how much rest I've gotten or what I put under my eyes before I go to bed. It's just they way my face looks. So I love that this concealer comes in so many different shades. I have fairly light skin but need a little extra help from my concealer to make me look awake without looking like I've put white goop on my face. I've used a few different shades and I've loved every one of them. They're so versatile! And for under $10, you can have a few without feeling like you're splurging on something unnecessary.

Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation in shade 110 Porcelain, $7.99

As someone who enjoys wearing makeup but doesn't enjoy looking like a cake face, I love this foundation. This is the foundation that I purchased this past weekend on a whim and I couldn't be happier. It is the PERFECT shade and has medium to full coverage without looking like someone painted my face. Plus, it is one of the few foundations I've found that is marketed to oily skinned people that DOESN'T dry you out. I would highly recommend it.

Blush/Bronzer: You may have noticed that there isn't one...and the reason for that is simple enough, I change it up every single day based on what I'm wearing/feeling so there is no good way to pick just one.

Eye Shadow Primer: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original, $12 (I buy the travel size...they last forever)

I know what you're thinking...eyeshadow primer? really?! That's unnecessary. But here's the thing, I HATE when my eyeshadow either ends up in a line in my crease or on my cheeks. So yes, it's necessary. And in my opinion, it's totally worth the splurge to know when I walk out of my house in the morning, I'll still look good when I come home at night.

Eye Shadow: Cover Girl trunaked Nudes palette, $11.49

You know the Naked palettes? Those perfect sets of amazing shadows that allow you to create the most intense or soft nude smoky eye you've very seen? Yes, those ones. They cost $54.00 and are known to be out of stock regularly because they're so popular. This is the answer to that palette and its less than $15. Sure there are slightly fewer colors, but the color payoff is amazing and it's truly one of those make up items that you can use for ANY occasion. It's perfect. Covergirl also makes Goldens palette and a Roses palette that I am sure will come in handy this autumn.

Mascara: Maybelline Lash Stiletto in Very Black Waterproof, $8.95

This has been my go to for YEARS and I've gotten countless people hooked on it. I was blessed with long, full and curly lashes so you would think that finding a mascara was a piece of cake for me. But in all honesty, it's hard to find something that doesn't make me look like I've gone way overboard. That's why I love this mascara. It gives me a little extra length and oomph to make may eyes pop without being clumpy or sticky. I use the waterproof because not only to I cry almost every time something makes me happy, but the formula is a little thinner so I feel like I can get great coverage without adding too much volume. A word of caution though, the first time you use this you will more than likely stab yourself in they eye. The applicator is shockingly prickly but don't trade it out for something less weapon-like. It's long bristles allow the mascara to coat your lashes without clumping.

So there you have it! My favorites and just a little bit about why. If you would like to see more of these kinds of posts let me know! I would love to chat with y'all about my nightly routine and my favorite pamper items. And I would love to know some of your favorites so let me know in the comments!