Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

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Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

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This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

Hair Products I am Obsessed With.

Do you guys remember this post I made a while back about hair care? Well, since then my hair routine has changed just enough that I felt I needed to make a new post. And in the summer, Texas gets super humid, so my focus goes from moisturizing to frizz control.

I wash my hair maybe every two or three days, depending on how greasy it’s gotten. Since it’s curly, the oils hang out near my scalp. I use Redken All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner. I forgot to take a picture of it, oops. It’s really helped get my hair from dry and brittle to really soft and silky.

Now, here’s what I use afterwards:

hair lineup

This isn’t an every day thing, since I don’t wash my hair every day. But I’m really enjoying how the Redken shampoo has eliminated the need for a lot of the serums and products I’ve been using.

Coconut Oil:

coconut oil

Every two weeks, I use coconut oil as an overnight hair mask. I get this Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil from the Indian grocery store, but it’s cheaper on Amazon. It’s really moisturizing, and once I wash it out, my hair is noticeably more hydrated.

Redken One United:

redken one united

This stuff is seriously magic. I use it when my hair is damp but not nearly dry, just to detangle it and brush it out. It’s Redken’s One United All-In-One Multi-Benefit Treatment,  and it’s a leave-in conditioner and detangler and hair treatment all in one. It’s so wonderful. And it smells amazing.

The Redken is a little pricey, but Not Your Mother’s Way to Grow Long and Strong leave in conditioner  is really nice too.

CHI Iron Guard:

chi spray

I’ve been avoiding using heat on my hair unless absolutely necessary, but after a bad haircut I’ve been straightening the ends so they lay flat instead of poufing out. I’ve been using the CHI Iron Guard for years and years, and it does a great job. I really saturate my hair with it before using my flat iron or curling wand, and so far I’ve been fine.

Not Your Mother’s Volumizing Hairspray:

nym hairspray

I’m not a huge fan of hairspray. I feel like it’s heavy and sticky and makes my hair crunchy. But this one, Not Your Mother’s She’s a Tease Volumizing Hairspray. Also it smells pretty nice too. It holds my hair down without making it too stiff or crunchy, and if I sleep on it it’s not horrendously misshapen and plastered to the side of my head like with other sprays.

I wish this post was more detailed about exactly what I do to my hair, but really, I’ve been trying to make my life more simple and less overwhelming.

Also, all of these links lead to Amazon, where I have an Affiliate account. Buying something from one of my links would let me collect a few cents for every dollar, but really, all the opinions are my own, from products that I’ve already gone and bought myself.

And as always, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

 

My favorite lipsticks for when I’m feeling a touch melodramatic.

Remember last week how I made you a list of my favorite red lipsticks? Well, last summer I went on a quest in search of the perfect dark, vampy purple. And I found a few that I really really liked, and I’m finally starting to branch out from my standard reds.

purple swatches

Now, these aren’t all drugstore like my reds. A few of them are fairly pricey, especially if you’re not gonna wear them every day. I’ve provided links to Amazon*, but I’m sure that you can find most of these at your local Ulta or Sephora.

At the very top is a lip stain, Revlon’s Just Bitten lip stain and balm in Beloved/Adoration. This is a fairly sheer (at least on me) raisiny-brown purple, which looks pretty natural, so this is what I wear if I’m not wearing any other makeup, or if I’m doing my eyes super dramatic and don’t want to do super dramatic lips as well. It’s very versatile. Now, there’s a balm on the end of it that’s supposed to either make it stay for a while or to make your lips softer, but I really don’t use it.

The wine-y color underneath is NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. It goes on so soft and velvety, and dries matte, and lasts seriously forever. This perpetuates my obsession with NYX. I know Desiree loves one of their Soft Matte Lip Creams too, I think it’s called Aspen, it’s a neutral nude shade, and looks perfect on her.

That perfect dark vampy shade underneath it is also by NYX, it’s a Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Vintage. I do have to warn you, it’s cheaper at Ulta than on Amazon. But it’s so perfect and lasts for so long that the Amazon price really isn’t that bad.

Alright, now to the more expensive things.

The next one is Smashbox’s Be Legendary Lipstick in Plum Scene. It’s a nice raisin purple, with just a hint of a shimmer. And it stays on for a while. On me it looks almost wine colored, but in the tube it looks much darker, so it’s fairly buildable.

And finally, is my 23rd birthday present to myself, MAC’s Gunner. This one was part of a limited edition collection, so it’s not available from MAC’s stores or online, but they’re selling it via their Amazon account. It’s the bluest of these purples, and I on;y really wear it if I’m feeling melodramatic and it’s nighttime.

That’s all I’ve got today, maybe next week I’ll show you my favorite pinks.

I think I do have a problem with lipsticks, lol. Comment below with your favorites!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

*I use affiliate links, so I would get a teeny bit from each sale using my referring link. However, the opinions are totally my own, and I really do love these lipsticks.

Books are like new friends.

Does anyone else have the unfortunate problem of buying new books before you’ve finished the ones you’re currently reading? I do that all the time and it’s such a wonderful problem. I’m trying to stop though, because I don’t want to get overwhelmed with all the books to read. And since I’m heading to Chicago soon, I’m going to try not to buy anything to read at the airport, and take along a book I’ve already got. But let’s be real, I’m going to have to grab a fashion magazine or two, because that’s what I do at airports.

books

This is what’s on my reading list currently. I’ve been on a nonfiction kick lately, and I’ve branched out from the books about doom and gloom and terrorism that I usually end up reading. I’ve provided links to Amazon* to make it easier if you want to grab one or more, but I bought these at Barnes & Nobles.

The one I’m actually reading right now is Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life by Lisa Chaney. It’s a biography of Coco Chanel, and her advent into the fashion industry. It’s really fantastic so far.

Another one I’ve read a little bit into is Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. It’s the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of my favorite books of all time. I first read it in high school, and Scout definitely reminded me of one of the kids I babysat.

When I picked up the Coco Chanel biography, I also grabbed The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank. I’ve never read anything by this author, but she’s supposed to be pretty great. I might take this one with me on my next flight.

Today while I was at Barnes and Noble, I grabbed Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book, In Other Words. I really enjoyed her previous books, and this one is a non fiction memoir written in both Italian and English. So one page of the book is Italian, and the opposite page is the English translation. Even though I can’t understand Italian, the dual language format is really interesting. Kat took Italian all through university, so Kat, you might enjoy this.

Finally, I picked up a copy of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while. I’m fuzzy on the exact details, but it’s basically about a bookstore that’s more than it seems. This one might need to come to Chicago with me too…

I should really hold off on buying more books until I finish what I’ve got so far, but let me know what else I should read in the comments!

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, and by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com. And now, you can also find me on snapchat, my username is VrishaliMK, as usual.

How to work from home and not hate yourself.

When I’m not chasing a toddler and teeny baby around and basically getting paid to play all day, I mostly work from home, since both my classes and thesis work are online and I work on blog posts from my kitchen. And I tend to get off track a lot, so I find myself two days before a deadline, panicking and hating myself for putting it off for so long. So I decided to make a list (because apparently I love making lists, no joke) of ways to work from home and not end up hating every decision you’ve ever made so far.

Have a set schedule.

Make sure this includes the end of the work day. It’s tempting to just work all the time or into the night, especially if there’s a deadline to meet. I found that sticking to a routine is helpful, which includes dragging myself out of bed at around the same time every day. For me, since I’m not much of a morning person, this is around 9:00am, and I’m at my desk by 10:00am. Now, since I nanny during the day, I’m not working straight through until the evening. I have to leave my house by 11:30am, so I work for a solid hour and a half, and then when I come back around 1:30pm, I have a solid chunk of three to four hours until I have to leave again. This seems weird and difficult in print, but it works for me because my attention span is mostly non-existent, so I get to pause and change what I’m up to every so often. This way, I can bang out a blog post in the morning, then do schoolwork and shoot pictures for the next blog post in the afternoon. I end my workday when I get done with nannying in the evenings, usually around 6:30 or 7:00. I go straight from the family’s house to the gym, and by the time I get home I’m exhausted enough to start winding down for the day.

Get dressed for the day.

This sounds silly, but when you stay in your pajamas all day, you work like you’re in your pajamas all day. At the absolute least, change from pajama pants to sweatpants. You don’t need to get all made up and business casual, but the physical act of changing from things you sleep in to things you work in helps change your mindset to “I’m at work now.”

Treat it like you’re not home.

For me, this means holing up in my study and not coming out unless it’s a set break. It’s like I’m working anywhere else, I can’t just get up and wander. I also don’t let myself keep other crafts and fun things on my desk unless I’m “officially” not working, because I get distracted so easily.

The most important thing about this is don’t let anyone use your time. Don’t let anyone say “but you’re home all day anyways!” and expect you to make appointments and run errands for them. That is a waste of your time. You are working. You are not a personal assistant, you are not someone’s errand boy/girl, you are not just sitting on your ass watching Netflix and eating cookies. You’re trying to get shit done and that can’t happen if you’re running all over town for someone else.

Make a to-do list.

This varies from person to person, but I like having a physical piece of paper with everything I need to get done sitting right on my desk. I make it as detailed as possible, with titles of blog posts I’m going to write and subject matter of emails I have to send. It helps me plan out my day, and keeps me on track in the limited amount of hours I have on my desk. Crossing things out also helps keep me from feeling like I’m stagnating at home, because I am very clearly getting shit done.

Hopefully this list helps, I know people work differently and somethings that work for me may not work for someone else. As always, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

Apps I Love (that aren’t social media)

I seem to be making a lot of lists lately.

I am practically attached to my phone or iPad. Makes sense, at this point practically my whole life is in there, especially since both my classes are online and I get constant emails from the university. And my friends live far far away from me (ahem. Desiree.) so the texting, FaceTime, and Skype is a continuous thing. Thank goodness for unlimited texting plans, right?

These apps are not social media. They’re more productivity/keep me from being bored on airplanes/photo editing apps. Some are games, some are calendars, some are fitness related.

Tiny Calendar

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This calendar app integrates all your Google calendars and the built in calendar on my phone. I like how I can edit my calendars on my computer, and it syncs with the app on my phone and iPad. It also lets me color code things, which is great for differentiating travel, course assignments, and other deadlines just from the little dots. Since it’s the beginning of my semester, I don’t have too many dots floating around, but later on I can already tell when I’ll be busy.

Wunderlist

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This is just a fancy to-do list app. But the cool thing is, when you have multiple people working on the same project, you can make a collaborative to-do list and assign everyone tasks, and this app keeps track of everyone. You can also set up reminders, so it warns you when something is coming due. I don’t know how many notebooks this has saved me because I make to-do lists all the time.

Shopkick

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This is an interesting little app. All you really have to do with it is open it when you walk into a participating store, and you get points for being there. Eventually the points add up, and you can cash them in for gift cards to places like Starbucks and Target. It’s pretty cool, especially if you end up running a lot of errands.

MyFitnessPal

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You guys know what this one is, right? It’s a fitness tracker, and I find it really helpful. It tracks calories and nutrients, and also weight, exercise and water consumption. It’s pretty great. It also syncs up with apps like Fitbit to get a better picture of your habits.

Spotify (Premium)

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Spotify is like Netflix for music. It’s pretty fantastic. And I highly recommend the premium version. It gets rid of the ads every three songs and lets you save songs to play offline, which is great at the gym or while travelling. For Desiree’s wedding, we realized the morning of that we had no music so a few of us made a collaborative playlist and used that. It was pretty nice, since we could have a variety of music to appeal to everyone. And yes, we played Boomer Sooner. It was Bedlam day.

Aviary

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Aviary is a pretty great little photo editor. In addition to the lighting and color balance and cropping you can do on Instagram, Aviary lets you edit out little blemishes and even whiten teeth. It’s like a very light version of Photoshop right on your phone.

Adobe Post

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I am in love with this app. It lets you add text to images. Yes, that sounds super simple, but you can pick either your pictures or others that are free to use (but you’re responsible for making sure the copyright allows it), and it provides color palettes and a variety of fonts that make things look so professional.

Two Dots

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This game is so calming. All you have to do is connect the dots to fulfill the little challenges at the top. And the music is so sweet and gentle. It makes me happy. It’s pretty simple, and really fun.

1010!

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This is basically tetris. But on a grid. And the shapes aren’t dropping. You just get three at a time, and arrange them so they make rows and columns, which then disappear. You keep going until you have no moves left. I like playing it when my brain gets itchy and I’ve already cleaned everything in the house.

Twist

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This game is so infuriating. All it is is tapping the screen to make the little ball hop from platform to platform. It even turns for you. All you do is tap the screen. And some platforms are shorter, some are longer, and the pattern varies. Sometimes the color changes. All you have to do is tap the screen. Easy, right? No. If you tap too soon, or too late, the damn ball hops off the platform and falls into the abyss and you lose. See how I’ve played 428 goddamn times and only made it to 116 platforms? Infuriating.

 

I hope you enjoy some of these apps. Hell, try them all. They’re all free. Except Spotify Premium. But Spotify not-Premium is free. So there.

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, my other Instagram, or email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.