7.29.2014

The Easiest Pesto Chicken Sandwich

ingredients:
shredded chicken
pesto (store-bought or homemade!)
ciabatta roll 
provolone cheese
roma tomato slices
arugula

to make the shredded chicken, i buy thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts at the store and bake them in the oven at 400ยบ for 10-12 minutes (until cooked through). to shred it, i toss it in my mixer and let the mixer to the work -- that little trick saves lots of time and hand cramps from shredding it yourself! you certainly can shred it yourself with a couple forks, too. 

once the chicken is shredded, i mix in the (store-bought) pesto to evenly coat the chicken. you can use as much or as little as you like. i probably use close to 1/4 cup on a pound of chicken. what can i say, i love pesto! 

toast your ciabatta roll in the oven or toaster oven, melting the provolone cheese on it just before you're ready to take it out of the oven. add a couple slices of roma tomatoes, a nice amount of chicken, and a pile of arugula. 

devour the sandwich. 

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i love how simple and easy this sandwich is to make. i like to make something fresh for lunch everyday, but i don't want to spend 30-45 minutes making lunch, so this chicken is perfect to keep on-hand for a week's worth of lunches/dinners. the chicken is also really yummy on an arugula salad with some sliced roma tomatoes and drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. 

7.28.2014

My Guide to Working From Home

when i first moved to Chicago, i wasn't sure what i wanted to 'do for a living', so i accepted an internship at an event planning/restaurant company as a marketing assistant. it was good experience, but the biggest thing i took away from it was that i was not made to work in an office environment. i felt like my creativity was stifled and did not enjoy having to adhere to a set schedule. i didn't like the monotony of going into the office and doing the same thing every time, so i knew that i had to do something else. 

i've been fortunate enough to run my own business and work from home. never in a million years did i think that this is what i would be doing, but i'm so glad that i am! working from home is definitely the best environment for me, so i'm hoping to make it happen for as long as i can. it's been about a year since i've been doing it exclusively, so i thought i'd share some things i've learned along the way. (some of these things can apply to those of you that work in a different environment, as well.)


have a designated workspace

i can't even express how important this is! even if i didn't need a desk for jewelry making, i would want one for my computer and work-related materials to keep them all together and have a place to go to when i need to work. although working from my bed is nice sometimes, i like to have a spot that i keep everything together and can go to when i need to get down to business.

making 'to do' lists is essential

part of this is probably just my personality (i like to cross things off), but another part is that i can easily get distracted by other things happening around me and forget to do something. i like to have a running list on my desk with my tasks - it's just how my brain works. if i don't write it down, i'll likely forget. 

get other things done first

since i have a totally flexible schedule, i find i'm the least distracted and most productive when i don't have other things that i need to do. for example, if i know that i have to run to the grocery store or clean the apartment, it's best for me to do those things before i start working (or on a lunch break) so that i can focus totally on my work. 

setup a lunch break

something that has worked well for me is setting up a designated time for a lunch break. on days where i'm going to be sitting at my desk all day, it helps to have a schedule to hold myself accountable to. if i set my lunch for noon to one, then i know how much time i have left to get work done before lunch. it's nice to have something to look forward to! 

curb 'the munchies' with water

i don't know about you, but having my pantry full of food just 20 feet away from me at all times is pretty tempting. i tend to be a snacker, so i've had to learn to reign that in a bit since working from home. what helps me a ton is having a glass of water nearby. i'll add lemon or berries to it to dress it up a bit and will reach for that (instead of chips!) if i feel the need to munch!

set work hours

although i don't do this, for some people it will be absolutely essential to set work hours. figure out a schedule that is reasonable and will work for you, and stick to it!

keep your weekends work-free

this is probably the thing that i have the hardest time with. since all of my work is within arms reach all the time, i have to mentally shut off my 'work brain' on the weekend so that i get a break. obviously, if i need to do work, i will. but if i'm just bored or have some free time on a Saturday, i no longer allow myself to do anything work-related because i want to use that time to relax and rest.

be active

to avoid feeling cooped up all day long, i like to get out and do something every day. whether it be going to Starbucks for an hour or two to work, picking up lunch, or running an errand, i find that my productivity increases after that time of getting out and doing something. take an hour to exercise or use your lunch break to walk around outside!

although there are surely other things that can help productivity for us work-from-home people, these are a few things that i've found work well for me! have other tips or ideas? i'd love for you to leave a comment below! 

7.26.2014

Date Night (with P.F. Chang's)


it's been almost a year now since Mike and i were in a long-distance relationship. although we both agree that long-distance was good for us, we're both incredibly happy that it's no longer the case. we see each other just about every weekend, so we've definitely been taking advantage of our relatively close proximity to spend time together. it's been fun to have him around to explore Chicago with me! 

since seeing each other regularly is 'old news' these days, i've found that i appreciate date night even more. and it's even better when it's a full date day, which is what happened last weekend! we decided to rent some bikes and ride along the lakefront path, both for exercise and to enjoy the beautiful weather we had. on our ride, we decided to stop at Lincoln Park Zoo - one of our favorite things to do together. after watching the monkeys and apes for quite some time (they're incredibly fascinating to us) and walking through the cat house to admire the lion and few cervals they have, we got back on our bikes to continue riding. after what felt like hours (it was pretty toasty outside, so every minute felt like 30), we finally made it back to my apartment to clean up and get ready for dinner. we took a fast-paced walk down to P.F. Chang's and were seated immediately, at which time we could  have probably eaten anything put in front of us. hungry doesn't begin to describe how we felt. 

P.F. Chang's has a new seasonal menu featuring perfect pairings with new dishes and wine pairings (and craft beers!). my family is particularly fond of P.F. Chang's and i dine there probably about every 2 months or so. i'm hooked on their crispy green beans, chicken lettuce wraps, and chang's spicy chicken, but you really can't go wrong with any dish! although i tend to stick to my ways, especially when it comes to ordering food, i was excited to try some items off the new menu to broaden my horizons a bit. i'm not a particularly adventurous person when it comes to food, but Mike is willing to try just about anything and there's almost a 100% chance that he'll eat every last bite (even if he doesn't like it much!). he tends to eat about 1 1/2 meals every time we go out to eat - his and the leftovers from mine. 


after browsing the menu for a few minutes, we settled on starting with the Heirloom Tomato Salad (we wanted the Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Spring Rolls but they were out) and a couple entrees. his was the Chiang Mai Curry Noodles with Chicken (the man loves curry, which i do not share an affinity for) and mine was the Korean BBQ Chicken Stir-Fry. i ordered the wine pairing for the salad and Mike enjoyed a beer. 


the salad was a yummy combination of fresh tomatoes, avocado, basil, and a zesty dressing. i love a good vegetable salad (sans lettuce), so i was excited to try it! the mix of flavors and textures was refreshing and tasty, and went perfectly with my glass of white wine. when our entrees arrived, we were both pretty excited to dig in and give them a try. Mike's plate was clear within about 7 minutes and then he helped himself to some of my Korean BBQ. i'd never tried any sort of dish like that before and i was pleasantly surprised by how much i liked it. like i said, i'm not particularly adventurous with food, so i'm always hesitant to order an entire dish that i'm not 100% sure that i'll like, but i can honestly say that i'd order this entree again. the mix of veggies, chicken, and kimchi slaw was wonderful. the veggies still had a bit of crunch to them and the chicken was nice and tender.  it had a bit of a kick to it, but nothing my wine couldn't handle! 


overall, we really enjoyed our meal. it was light and refreshing, but also incredibly filling. we walked out of the restaurant happy as clams.

P.F. Chang's is currently running a Perfect Pairing Contest, where one lucky winner will win an all-inclusive food trip to Boston, including a personal tour of the Samuel Adams Brewery and a craft beer pairing dinner at P.F. Chang's! You can enter the contest here.

this post is sponsored by P.F. Chang's. all opinions and images are my own. 

7.25.2014

High Five for Friday

happy friday! if you're new to these parts, today's post is a look back at some of my highlights from this past week - you can do the same! (details below) at the end of the week, i like to reflect on the good that happened, even if it wasn't a particularly stellar few days. this week, however, was pretty good for me! here's why:

1. i was in the burbs earlier in the week to do a little apartment furniture and decor shopping with my mom. i was only planning on picking up some of my bigger furniture items, but ended up finding loads of great stuff to use for decor, as well! it was one of those days that you can't plan to happen because then you wouldn't find anything. i was pleasantly surprised by how well-stocked both Home Goods and Marshall's were, which is where i picked up the majority of my goods. i cannot wait to see it all come together soon! 
pillow: Nicole Miller | rug: Safavieh (both from Marshall's)
2. after a real scorcher earlier in the week, the 70 degree days we've had since have been glorious. they've made me quite excited for fall, mostly because fall is my favorite season to dress for! 

3. i did, however, take advantage of the warm temps over the weekend and headed to the beach for a few hours. there's this magical thing that happens in the summer in chicago where seemingly everyone is in a wonderful mood and life is just great - it's called lake michigan being warm enough to actually step into and not get frostbite. it's a beautiful thing.

4. i've rediscovered the goodness that is curling my hair with a 1 1/4" iron and i'm hooked (again).

5. i joined a friend for happy hour the other night and loved having a legitimate reason to get dressed up a bit. since it doesn't happen too often, i like to take advantage of every opportunity to use my heels and fancier pieces! 
shoes: Nickels (Marshall's) | pants: Anthro (similar) | sweater: J.Crew
how has your week been? link up below! 
if you'd like, feel free to add the button below to your own #H54F post!
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7.24.2014

Brows Matter

if you're even remotely active on social media, i'm sure you've seen one of those articles floating around that's called something along the lines of, 'celebrities without eyebrows'. if you haven't, please google it now. no, seriously. just come back when you're done. 

anyway, it really shows how important eyebrows are in shaping your face. they're essential, if you ask me. now, most of us have eyebrow hairs, but not all of us were born with beautiful, thick, dark brows that require no extra work. i fall in that first camp - the one that has to take a couple extra steps while doing my makeup. for years, i withheld filling in my brows because i didn't feel like dealing with the 'hassle' of it. oh, cute sweet naive me. it takes me 1-2 minutes to do my brows and makes an incredible difference for my face.

here's what i've been using:
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo in Medium Brown
Julep's Angled Liner Brush
e.l.f. Small Angled Brush

the liner brush is used for setting my outline of my brows, while the small angled brush is for filling in.




brows make a huge difference, right?  it took me a few trial runs to find the best shape, color, etc. now that i've been doing it for a few months with this brow powder, i wouldn't do it using anything else! the powder goes on beautifully and gives a really natural look, which is important. it lasts all day and doesn't require touch-ups. if you don't currently fill in your brows, i recommend trying it out and seeing if you can notice the difference in your face! these days, i don't leave the house without a little powder in my brows, even if i don't do anything else with my face. 

if you need a tutorial for how to fill them in, Keiko Lynn's tutorial is great!

shirt | old from Madewell
necklace | Kate Spade