Ten Winter Activities

Hey, loves! Like everyone else in the world, I’m coming at ya with a winter themed post. I’m one of those annoying people who listens to Christmas music basically all year long. I just love this time of year because, generally, everyone is much happier. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas specifically, here are ten winter activities you can either do by your lonesome, with family, or with your friends!

ten winter activities

1. Decorating your house/room

This can be either just for the winter season or specifically for Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I love the look of fresh pine branches around the house (plus they smell really amazing).

2. Sledding

This is kind of location specific. If you live somewhere with plenty of snow, sledding is so much fun. However, if you don’t have snow, there are plenty of other fun outdoorsy activities such as hiking or swimming so don’t fret!

3. Winter walk

No matter where you live, winter walks are possible. There’s something so refreshing about the cooler air.

ten winter activities4. Movie marathon

Okay, I know that this is a year around activity, but it’s just a classic winter activity. Make some hot chocolate, grab a blanket, and settle in.

5. Cozying up with a good book

Yes, like number four this is another year around thing, but something about winter just screams cozying up inside. I hope to do a few book recommendation posts soon but in the meantime, I suggest picking up The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

6. Baking

So you’re probably thinking, “God. Does she not realize that you can also do this year around?”. And yes, you can, and I do, but like movie marathons and reading, it’s so much cozier in the Winter. I really like to bake snickerdoodles, but you could even bake your own gingerbread for activity number seven!

7. Decorating gingerbread housesten winter activities

See, here’s another one you can’t do year around (well you can but you know what you mean). As a kid, I always loved decorating gingerbread houses and men. It’s delicious, fun, and gives you a chance to tap in to your inner architect and interior designer.

8. Looking at lights and house decorations

If you’ve read my Where to visit in the US post (here it is in case you missed it), you’ll know that I spend a lot of Christmases with my family in Houston, Texas. Now, when people say that everything is bigger in Texas, they completely mean it. We always drive around when we’re down there at Christmas time and look at all of the insane lights and displays. If the weather’s nice enough where you live, you can hop out of the car and combine a winter walk and looking at lights into one!

9. Christmas caroling

This is a little specific, and I know that it isn’t for everyone, but I always love singing Christmas carols. Singing in general just makes me happy. However, if this isn’t your thing, you can always just listen to winter-y music in the comfort of your own home or listen to other people carol.

10. Family time

Finally, this is what the holidays are all about, and that’s spending time with the people you love. I use “family”  loosely because close friends (and pets) can also be considered family as well. You can do any of these aforementioned activities together or something completely different.

I hope you enjoyed these ten winter activities. Let me know which ones are your favorites or if you have any suggestions for what I should do this winter!

Love,

Emma xx

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What I’m Thankful For

Hey, loves. If you’re from the US, Happy Thanksgiving! If you’re from somewhere else in the world, the ideas behind Thanksgiving still hold true. Anyway, I just wanted to take a little bit to list out what I’m thankful for. I’ve read a ton of articles about how important it is to be grateful and keep a gratitude journal or list (I do have one but I always forget to write in it). While I’m not the biggest fan of turkey or stuffing, I do like that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on our lives and let people know that we love them.

So without further ado, here’s what I’m thankful for.

  • My family and friends
  • My pets, Abby and Lily
  • Montana
  • My scholarship so I can attend college
  • Music (I’m loving Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish. I found it after reading this blog post)
  • Coffee (and tea)
  • Obama (it was a good 8 years)
  • My phone + all of the apps on there
  • Cozy sweaters
  • Snow
  • Good food
  • Books
  • Netflix (especially with all the new movies they’re adding)
  • Three-way calls and FaceTime
  • Sleep

And lastly, my blog and all of you reading this or any other post. It’s been a good few months, and I can’t wait to see what more is to come. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

What are you thankful for?

Love,

Emma xx

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Five Things to do on a Sunday

Hey, loves. I just wanted to give you a short list of five things to do on a Sunday. I’m still usually doing on homework on Sundays (there’s no rest for a college student), but every now and then, I manage to sneak in a few hours for myself. Here’s what I do in those stolen moments.

  1.  Sleep in5 Things to do on a SundayLike I said, all I do is homework, and because I’m an architecture student, I stay up to all ridiculous hours of the night finishing projects. Sleeping in is so necessary or even just sleeping for at least 8 hours.
  2. A little pamper sesh5 Things to Do on a Sunday This activity falls under pampering yourself. I like to do a coconut hair mask, take a bath, and use a nice sugar scrub. For a hair mask, I just put plain coconut oil in my hair the night before, braid it, and then sleep on it. As for the sugar scrub, my skin is always super dry so exfoliating is super important. The sugar scrub I’ve been using lately is this lemon cream one. It was a gift from a friend, and it smells amazing
  3. Catch up on YouTube videos5 Things to do on a sundayI love my youtubers. BUT I also have a love-hate relationship with the vast majority uploading on Sundays. I love having the new videos to watch, but I hate during the week when I don’t have anything new to watch. Some of my favorites are Zoe Sugg (Zoella), Tanya Burr, the SacconeJolys, Audrie Storme, and Claudia Sulewski. (Of course there’s a ton more but these are who I most highly reccomend)
  4. Make a good dinner5 things to do on a SundayAgain with the kind of taking care of yourself theme, good and healthy food makes a world of difference. Pictured here is sauteed arugula, salmon, and mushrrom couscous. Yum yum yum
  5. Make a current mood playlist5 Things to do on a sundayI love making playlists, but I’m definitely someone who listens to like one or two songs on repeat for at least a week. My current playlist has The Head and The Heart, Billie Eilish, and Daniela Andrade. Daniela Andrade literally has the voice of an angel.

 

Anyway, I hope you all are able to take time this Sunday to do something for yourself. Is there anything you like to do on the weekends?

Love,

Emma xx

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Home is Wherever I’m With You, Coffee

Hey, loves. I just wanted to share an essay I wrote last Spring about coffee shops, and their significance in my life. I hope you enjoy this kind of long post. I hope you can either relate with your special place being coffee shops as well or maybe somewhere else completely. Anyway, here’s “Home is Wherever I’m With You, Coffee”.

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In a joking manner, I say, “There’s a fair chance I may just run away to Italy, open a cafe on the Amalfi Coast, and no one will hear from me again.” Although we laugh at the idea of abandoning all responsibilities and take a sip of our coffees, a hint of truth lingers. We talk about life, funny stories, and our friends while the espresso machine and chatter of others fill the background. The hours pass, and our drinks have sat empty on the table for a while, but we make no move to leave or order anything else. Instead, we sit, enthralled in our conversation about nothing. Even though we are not doing homework, being productive, or active, we are happy. We are happy because of each other’s presence, the coffee, the subtle buzz, and the atmosphere of the cafe. You may ask where are we? What is the name? Do they make pastries? When are they open? And the answer is we could be anywhere. The only prerequisite is coffee.

*  *  *

The characteristic wind slams against me as I fight to the door of a small coffee shop in Livingston, Montana. This tiny place known as Coffee Crossing which boasts on their website “Livingston’s favorite cup of coffee…” is a favorite of everyone from middle schoolers ordering their sickly sweet marble mochas after school to adults grabbing the cheap, dark drip coffee to start the morning. The door sticks a little as I turn the handle, but with some force, it slowly opens up, welcoming me in with a subtle jingle from the bell hung on the door. The first sensation that hits is the warmth, a stark contrast from the gusts outside that leave my face a bright crimson and my hair a massive knot. The homey scent of coffee comes next. The bitter and sweet notes mingle in the air, creating an easily recognizable smell associated with long conversations with friends and relaxation. The barista calls out a sweet hello which is almost lost among the chattering of high schoolers and the sound of milk being steamed. After a short wait, I take my place at a small, square, cold, metal table and wrap my hands around the cup holding my coffee in an attempt to recover from the weather outside. A single sip brings heat back into my mind, the sharp taste embracing all my taste buds while simultaneously causing my brain to release dopamine, the chemical that controls pleasure in the brain (Mandal). I bask in the glow of my drink and the atmosphere until the door jingles, and a friend I have not seen in months enters. Greetings and hugs ensue, and we talk until the sun sets and are ultimately forced to depart.

Over five thousand miles away on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, I find myself in a cafe, my legs exhausted and begging for a rest after a long trek on cobblestone streets from a nearby town. The layout is simple. The majority of tables and chairs are placed outside to provide customers with a view of the blue waters and an optimal opportunity to people watch. Inside stands a simple counter with a cash register, a pastry case, and everything needed to craft the perfect cappuccino. I sit at an outdoor table looking out towards the Mediterranean Sea while my dad, the one to blame for my love of coffee, orders our cappuccinos inside at the counter. I am engulfed by the crashing of the waves, voices speaking a colorful and flowing language I do not understand, and the distinct steaming of milk. The sun warms me from the outside while the espresso drink warms me internally. Again comes the delicious bitterness and the dopamine. We sit for a couple hours, people watching and relaxing.

Even further away from my hometown, over seven thousand miles this time, the streets of Ho Chi Minh City bustle with seemingly billions of motor bikes that each hold anywhere from one to five precariously seated people. The honking and noise of traffic are inescapable. There is no silence in a city of eight million. We treacherously cross the street, praying to not be hit the entire time, and duck into a small cafe. Miniature plastic chairs and tables similar to the ones one might find in a preschool fill the tiny 10’ by 10’ box. A surge of confidence arises when I successfully order my iced coffee or “cà phê sữa đá” in Vietnamese without the help of my mom. While I wait, I continue to revel in the independence glow. Ordering my own coffee, something I love, on my own in a different language is a pivotal moment. I think to myself, “If I can navigate a different language, culture, and country semi-independently, I can handle college.”Although the sound is simply more unintelligible conversations and horns honking, there is an undeniable feeling of familiarity. The taste of coffee only confirms the inkling, and despite being far far away from Livingston, I am home.

Scientifically speaking, coffee has been proven to improve moods. A study from Andrew Smith, Rachel Clark, and John Gallagher, showed that coffee, especially when combined with eating breakfast versus not eating breakfast improved working memory, attention, mood, and cardiovascular function (1). A lot of research exists detailing all of the effects of coffee, and while I tend to ignore the articles stating it is bad for you, I still believe there exists something greater behind coffee than simply facts and numbers. Coffee is a bonding force. I do not drink coffee for the caffeine. I drink it for the taste, the feeling, and the memories it evokes. I drink it for the bond my dad and I share because of our mutual love. We critique coffee together, search for the best cafes on vacation, and discuss how to make the best latte art. This is our connection point.

According to the National Coffee Association, “Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau…where legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans” (“History of Coffee”). This strange bean drink has kept us awake for centuries all over the world. I am immediately bonded to anyone who shares my love, similar to the love for football or soccer. There is coffee is South America and in the United States. Coffee in Africa and in Europe. The poor and the rich both drink coffee. This export is what provides me with a feeling a home no matter where I travel in the world.

Alex Ebert, the lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Jade Castrinos, a former member of the band, croon in their hit song “Home”, “Home is wherever I am with you.”  While I do largely agree with this phrase, and I love singing along to the song, there are more places that can be home than simply where your loved ones are, unless you count coffee as a family member or a love. Home can be a physical location, a mindsight, an action, a feeling or emotion, or a person. My home is in Livingston, Montana, but it is also in every coffee shop or cafe I step foot into. My home is the small dorm room at the University of Montana, but it is also every cup of coffee I bring to my lips.

My official title at Gil’s, the local cafe where I spend my summers, was “front of house”. However, that truly meant I was a waitress, cashier, barista, and busser. However, not even the stress and chaos of the food industry could scare me away from my beloved coffee shops, an experience I am sure many others can relate to. Even amidst working over 40 hours a week, I still found myself in a coffee shop on my days off, sometimes with friends and sometimes alone. They are an escape from daily life, somewhere you can relax and truly be yourself. Everyone deserves to have their own place of contentment. For some this is in the ocean, their childhood home, etc. It is impossible to deny the happiness that bubbles up due to the barista’s hello and memory of your usual order. Nothing quite compares to enjoying a strong cup of coffee while reconnecting with people, working on a paper, or reading a book. Your bank account may not necessarily thank you, but your soul certainly will.

*  *  *

The colors of the sky begin to change to a fantastic combination of red, pinks, and oranges, and the barista begins to wipe down the tables, flipping the chairs upside down and setting them down on the table in preparation for sweeping and the next day. The buzz of conversation is gone besides ours. Long gone are the business professionals stopping in for a black coffee to go and the high schoolers gossiping about prom and boys. The scent of coffee of course lingers, but it comes time to leave the safe, warm haven of the cafe. We hug and make a few jokes about one day this will be me, closing up my own place and watching my last customers say goodbye. “You’ll have to come visit me in Italy,” I chime in, and then we part our different ways. The evening air is crisp but not cold. I begin the stroll home, the train horn sounding loudly. A mere block away, I sneak a final glance at the storefront, only to catch the lights disappearing. I continue my journey, humming, “Home”.

Home, let me come home.

Home is wherever I’m with you.

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Five Ways to Make a Bad Day Better

Hey loves, I wanted to talk to y’all about bad days. This week, I had a few of these. I had so much work. Plus, I was just constantly exhausted which caused everything to tumble out of control. It’s impossible to avoid bad days, and most of the time, you just have to stick it out (I know it sucks but it’s the only way for it to end). I do want to share, however, five ways to make a bad day better. Even though it may not fix everything, hopefully, it’ll help a little.

  1. Watch your favorite movie/something that makes you happy.Love ActuallySo for this first step, I decided to watch Love Actually. Although I’ve seen it a gazillion times, it is still my favorite. I love it so much, and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s even on Netflix!
  2. Cuddle with someone/somethingCat cuddlesI definitely cuddle my cat the most out of anyone or thing, but you can also cuddle with your dog, a friend, your SO, a family member, or a stuffed animal. Giving and receiving some love makes things seem a little better and brighter.
  3. Drink something warm and cozy
  4. Do something that distracts you/gives you something else to focus onColoring and golden milkI know drinks aren’t typically described as cozy, but it’s the best adjective. My favorite warm and cozy drinks are hot chocolate, tea, and my most recent favorite, golden milk (pictured above). Golden milk is an Indian, turmeric drink. Here‘s a blog post all about the benefits of turmeric and how to make golden milk. Also, this coloring book is the Enchanted Forest coloring book by Johanna Basford (From Amazon here). Coloring has become wildly popular in the last couple years, and there’s no question why. It is so nice to sit down and simply focus on coloring in the picture and filling in all of the small details. It helps you take your mind off of your bad day and shift those thoughts to something calming and less stressful
  5. Last but not least, get some sleep.BedI know, it feels like your mind is going a million miles a minute, and you just need to dwell on every last detail. But one of the best things you can do for yourself is just get some rest. Like I said at the beginning, the only way to get through a bad day is to stick it out. Thankfully, sleeping makes that next day come a little bit sooner. It also helps ensure that the next day isn’t as bad either. Everything is better when you actually feel like you have enough sleep.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone somewhere. I know that I will continue to use all of these tips and hopefully some of yours.

What are your five ways to make a bad day better?

Love,

Emma xx

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The First Snow

Hey, loves!

So this week brought the first snow of the season. Although it has already melted, it was wonderful while it was here. I am definitely one of those Christmas people who sings carols as early as possible. I was listening to Michael Buble’s Christmas album all day Tuesday. Anyway, this post is kind of an outfit/day in my life kind of thing. Let me know if you like this!

Because it was so chilly, I cozied up in this amazing pink sweater and my embroidered 501s. I was also able to wear my brand new Sorel Joan of Artic snow boots.

 

Omelette and toast

For breakfast, I made a cheese and arugula omelette with toast. Of course, I had coffee (not pictured), and I enjoyed my meal while reading my latest issue of Dwell magazine (feeding my obsession for design).

School work

Here’s just a quick snap of my note taking set up for my Biology class. I’m honestly never anywhere without my planner. I have to write absolutely everything down or else I miss and forget so much. This school year I decided to go for the Lilly Pulitzer one in Southern Charm (you can get it here). I spent hours trying to decide on which brand to go for, and I’m so glad I chose this one. It actually spans a year and a half rather than just a year which is super nice.

Snow boots

Now, comes a cute shot of the first snow and my beautiful new boots. Agh. This just screams Christmas.

Oil

This is just an artsy pic of the parking lot and the oil. The environmentalist in me is crying, but the artist in me loves it.

Snowy mountains

And finally, here’s a quick look at my gorgeous view on my drive home. You can kind of see the patches of yellow and orange in the mountains amidst the snow.

I hope you enjoyed this kind of post, and I hope you had a lovely week. Let me know what kind of Christmas person are you! Do you listen to Christmas music all year long or strictly in December?

Love you all,

Emma xx

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My Personal Bucket List

Hi, loves!

I thought I would take some time to write out my bucket list/things I want to achieve for both you guys and myself. I know this may seem cliche, but I do believe setting personal goals is soooo important. So let’s get into it.

I’m going to break this list up into two kind of categories. The first will be more short term, say 6 months from now, and the second will be in the far future.

Short Term, I want to…

  1. Actually learn how to play guitar rather than just letting my guitar collect dust
  2. Wake up even earlier because I truly am most productive in the morning
  3. Read more books for pleasure which means watching less tv (Sorry, netflix)
  4. Learn the dance to Love on Top by Beyonce. I know most of it, but I really want to perfect it
  5. Get back into doing yoga because a. it is a really good workout and b. really sets up your day
  6. Learn how to hand letter with brush pens and how to make block prints. Stalk her insta (https://www.instagram.com/riseandwander/) for a little and you’ll understand why I want the latter

Long Term, I want to…

  1. Travel again to Europe, especially the Amalfi Coast of Italy (aka my favorite place ever)
  2. Go back to Vietnam with a better grasp of the language, so being able to say more than “mom” and how to order my coffee
  3. Drive back up to Glacier National Park and see more of the glaciers before they disappear
  4. Also go to Nicaragua, Peru, and Morocco
  5. Learn French. I am currently in the 5th year of German, but I also want to add French because French
  6. Find what I’m truly passionate about
  7. And ultimately, be happy and worry less

I know that this bucket list (or maybe more of a goal list) will change over time with items being dropped and added. For the short term at least, I really want to make those things happen, and I will make sure to update you guys on my progress.

What are some things you want to achieve whether it be in a few months or in 10 years?

Love,

Emma xx

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Expectations

Do you ever set these great goals and expectations and a day or two later all of your motivation goes down the drain?

This always happens to me. That’s what happened with this blog (but I hope to change that in the next few weeks). It also happens when I want to learn a new piece on the flute or really learn how to play the guitar or even do my homework.

I think it’s important to remember to be easy on ourselves and not beat ourselves up when our goals aren’t met or we fail to meet our own expectations. I know that I have always felt the need to be perfect, even though I know that’s unrealistic. As I grow older, I try to push away these thoughts and really strive to simply do my best and accept that, but sometimes I can’t.

So moving forward, I really do want to keep this blog alive. I know that no one may ever read this or maybe only a few, but I hope no matter whoever and where ever you are, you remember to be easy on yourself and be proud of what you have accomplished.

Love,

Emma xx

 

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Who Am I?

Who am I?

In regards to the deepest sense of that question, I am still searching for that answer myself, but I can give you a short overview of who Emma is.

I am:

  • A Montanan, born and raised
  • A coffee lover and snob
  • A cat enthusiast
  • An architecture enthusiast
  • A college student
  • A kombucha brewer
  • A plant mom
  • An environmentalist
  • A runner
  • A musician and music lover
  • Interested in makeup but often too lazy to put it on
  • Half Vietnamese
  • Filled with wanderlust like most my age
  • And searching for my passion and what will make me happy

Who are you?

Love,

Emma xx

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