Fall Tea Haul: Tasting + Review

I am a huge tea lover. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I can’t talk about it enough. Since I’ve had to give up coffee, I had to replace it with something.. and that something is warm, scrumptious flavored teas.

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Fall is the best time for pretty much everything (opinion), and tea is no exception. There is something so cozy about a hot cup tea on a crisp, cool fall night.

My boyfriend Tom and I have teamed up to give you a thorough review of 6 Fall teas from DAVIDsTEA. We made sure to only select ones that we would want to drink during the cold-weather months. We are both pretty skilled in tea tasting (according to us). We had a wonderful help from the super kind employees in picking out some flavors.

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There is a new Fall collection that they offered us to taste in store and they were all pretty great, but we decided to take home a few that we didn’t have the chance to try.

The six teas we decided to review are: Pumpkin Chai, Cranberry Orange Muffin, Honeycrisp Apple, Forever Nuts, Oh Canada! and Peanut Butter Cup.

So, we filled our mugs up and here we go:


Pumpkin Chai 

Tea Type: Chai (obviously)

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Like a fresh baked batch of pumpkin squares. Super strong scent that you can smell across the room.

Taste: A warm, cinnamon pumpkin flavor. This is super nice for Fall. It made us so warm and giggly. We laughed for about 20 minutes. This is Tom’s favorite Chai he’s had (that’s saying something). I’m a big fan of Chai tea, and this one certainly tickled my fancy. I’d suggest giving it a go.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6/10


Cranberry Orange Muffin

Tea Type: Herbal 

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Subtle cranberry, certainly more muffin. Calming.

Taste: You get an orangey taste all over the buds at first sip, but it then mellows out into a final cranberry taste. The smell was misleading with the strength of the muffin; we only got a slight muffin taste at the very end. Very good tea, we agreed this is one of the best. It’s good for pretty much all the time because of how mellow it is. Muffins you can always have (can’t say no to that!).

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EMILY: 7.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Honeycrisp Apple

Tea Type: Green

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Fruity and strong apple smell. Fresh outta the orchard.

Taste: If you love apple juice or cider, this is FOR YOU. I am a huge apple fan, so please note that this may be a little bias, and I could drink this all day everyday. It has a sweet, crisp deliciousness. Tom, however, was not a huge fan (he’s not big on apples). So, if you’re into those fall-time fruits, go grab yourself a cup of this.

**The only tea listed that contains caffeine

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 5/10


Forever Nuts

Tea Type: Herbal

Bestseller 

Smell: Straight up Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Taste: We were right, it tastes like liquified Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The balance of flavors is literally perfect. The cinnamon isn’t overpowering at all. This is probably the best one of the bunch. It is PERFECT for cooler weather. Super impressed. TRY IT.

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Oh Canada!

Tea Type: Rooibos 

Rooibos Collection

Smell: Aunt Jemima syrup… mixed with butter.

Taste: Saves you a trip across the border, aye? Subtle, delicious maple syrup flavor. This is pretty grade A. It’s an interesting flavor explosion, but we decided that this wouldn’t be an everyday tea. It would be nice to have for once in a while, like when you’re sitting next to a fire.. or going to a pancake convention.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6.5/10


Peanut Butter Cup

Tea Type: Herbal

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Melted peanut butter…. nothing is better than that

Taste: Hugely disappointed by this one, especially with us both being pretty big Reese’s PB Cup fans. The entire taste is basically peanut.. virtually no ‘cup’ (aka chocolate) can be detected. If you are a peanut fanatic, definitely give it a try. It’s a little overpowering and rough.

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EMILY: 4/10

TOM: 4/10

OVERALL:

Super impressed with DAVIDsTEA. Every flavor was pretty good, and they have a super wide variety. Would definitely go back and try out more.

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Thanks so much for reading!

I hope you guys grab some tea to try for the upcoming season.

xoxo Emily + Tom

I LOVE ANIMALS (Plus: Experience Being A Vegan)

I am obsessed with animals. My main love is dogs, but I am completely in awe of almost every animal I see. I’ve been this way since I was little, constantly begging my parents to let me have another animal to add to my gang (they would then tell me I could get a stuffed version of whatever I had asked for). I’ll never forget the day, after months of online searching and begging, that we got my first dog Tiger, a very small Shih-Tzu. He unfortunately didn’t have a very long life due to health problems from being inbred (I know, sad).

Then, shortly after, we got my best friend: My beloved Shih-Tzu named Oliver Twist. He came to us sassy, un-cuddly and sort of distant. He has a very big ego still to this day. I think that’s what has always made me love and adore him.. He’s the dog version of me (minus the big ego).

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Oliver (right) and Peanut, my brothers dog (left) on Halloween

I also had a brief stint with a hamster named Charlie. I thought he was the coolest thing ever (turns out HE was a SHE) until I tried to pick him up and he bit me. After that, I was a little distant from Charlie. I’d occasionally put him in his hamster ball and show him some love, but I was too afraid to pick him up again. One night, Charlie escaped from his hamster home and ran across my room. I jumped onto my bed, too scared that if I got down, he would bite me.  I was terrified of a miniature, dwarf hamster. He was found and returned to his cage. To my surprise, my Mom decided to give Charlie away one day to a family friend. I cried my eyes out, but later learned that this was a better decision.

I was soon okay.. because we still had my Shnubby-Wubby (Oliver).

In Spring 2014, I was living in Chicago for school. I had been quite bored during the day in-between classes and had started watching some Netflix documentaries about animal-free diets. I had been kind of big on eating healthy for a good year-and-a-half before that so I figured it was something I could easily do. I had heard of several students around campus who followed this diet and they seemed healthy and fine.  But, this time I wasn’t just doing it to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I was doing it for the animals; my fluffy little friends.

So, that was it. I made my decision. My roommate Taylor decided to join me in this journey. We cold-turkey (hehe) gave up meat and animal products in exchange for veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s basically totally amped-up vegetarianism. I shopped at Trader Joes for everything (I 10/10 recommend Trader Joes even if you’re not vegan) since it keeps things pretty natural and cheap. Below is some food I ate while vegan:

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I lasted total about 1 month. I must say, it’s a lot harder to do then it sounds. I have a lot of respect for those who choose this a life-long thing because it’s awesome. If I wasn’t so weak, I would still be doing it, but I am a huge foodie who loves chicken.

If you’re curious how Taylor and I broke the vegan-life, she was taken over by the cheese fry demons, and I (soon after) was taken over by the cupcake demons. We just weren’t meant to be, BUT WE DID TRY VERY HARD.

Some great things that came out of being vegan: my hair was super shiny, my face was clear and smooth, I felt great about myself and I ate at home more.

Chicago is home to some pretty delicious vegan places to eat (even if you aren’t vegan normally, still amazing to give it a try) like The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. Chicago Diner is if you’re looking for some (normally) unhealthy meals like burgers and shakes. Native Foods has slightly healthier foods like wraps, sandwiches and amazing sweet potato fries.

In my opinion, just because you don’t totally follow a vegan lifestyle, doesn’t mean you can’t try out the foods or try to eat this way a few days a week.

6 Struggles a Chicago Student Searching for an Apartment Knows Too Well..

The time has come to leave the dorm rooms behind and say hello to your own bedroom. You’re in your twenties and the thought process is like: “I’ll just find an apartment this year.. they’re everywhere”… and yes.. they are.. but, it is a little harder then that. With Fall quickly approaching, know what to remember and look for while on the hunt:

1. You Want the IKEA magazine apartment on a student loan budget

The easiest way to sum this struggle up is that you probably have exceptional taste and standards.. which is normally awesome. But, unfortunately your Logan Square apartment might not be exactly what you have envisioned. I mean come on, what do you expect for $700 a month. It’s all about how you decorate and hide the imperfections. Sorry, but unless you have the money you will not be living on the Gold Coast… and that is OKAY.. you are broke probably.

2. You Find the Perfect One! (or So You Thought)

“A 2-bedroom, 1 Bath place in the middle of Wicker Park for $900 a month? The pictures look sooo nice.” I think we have all been here. You have found a great deal and it looks like what you want (and there’s even exposed brick). You schedule a viewing, you walk in AND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. It’s not hard to take make a place look okay through pictures. Just know that going in you may not see exactly what you’re expecting. Again, going back to #1, if you don’t have a lot of money.. don’t expect the best in Chicago.

3. UTILITIES

This pretty much speaks for itself. Water, gas, electric, cable, and internet: AND NO YOU CANNOT LIVE BY CANDLELIGHT AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH BOTTLED WATER WHILE WATCHING NETFLIX OFF YOUR LAPTOP. I mean you can, but who really wants to do that. Just remember while looking for apartments you will want to factor in the extra $100-$150 bucks a month and don’t think just because you didn’t use any that the roommates will cover you… they will kill you.

4. Access To The CTA

Unless you are that one kid, you don’t have your car in the city (PARKING AND GAS DOWNTOWN ARE BOTH CRAZY OVERPRICED) and you rely heavily on the Chicago Transit buses and train lines. Most colleges now provide the Ventra Student Pass which allows unlimited usage for one low fee included in the tuition.. which is super nice. So, while looking for your new place, pay attention to where the closest transit is located. If you are on Craigslist and it says “close to transit” that could be BLOCKS away. Unless you want to waste your spending money on Uber rides.. plan ahead.

5. Know What Neighborhood You’d Like To Be In

Do not blindly go into apartment searching and wind up in Englewood (sorry Englewood). Do your research online and ask fellow students and Chicagoans where they live. Chicago can be a threatening place if you don’t know where to be. Places like Wicker Park, Logan Square, University Village and Lincoln Park are good spots to be if you can find a deal.

6. Finding The Right Place Could Take Weeks

Don’t just jump into the first place you look at (unless you waited til the very last minute). Try at least 3 places and make the decision then. Scrolling through Craigslist and other apartment searching websites can be super annoying and tedious, but if you want the apartment of your undergrad dreams then recruit your roommates and start a hunt.

Don’t get discouraged, keep looking and you will find a decent place to live. We are in this together, College Kids.

Why Every Girl Needs A Shih-Tzu (or dog in general)

Dogs are the best. It’s a simple fact of life that can’t be fought (UNLESS YOU’RE A CAT PERSON, AND IF SO WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE). They cuddle with you when you’re sad, they’re there for you when theres no one else, and they look up to you like a baby bird to it’s mother.

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More specifically, every girl needs a Shih-Tzu. Mine is named Oliver Twist. He’s my 12-year-old companion and more importantly best friend. He’s the apple to my peanut butter. If he were a human i’d marry him. He goes by the nicknames Shnubs, King, Prince, Barbara, Barbie, Bubz, Ol, and OLLIE. The silly, fluffy little balls of life are the best companions ever.. for several reasons.

1. They are constantly sassy and sort of have a problem with everything. This is an amazing trait; BELIEVE ME. It’s how you wish you could be in life. You wish you could sort of hate everything but at the same time expect everything (some of us do). They just kind of look at you with a stink face even if you just took them on a 5-mile walk and fed them gourmet chicken while massaging their back.

2. Shih-Tzu literally translates to Lion Dog. They’re of Tibetian origin and were used to guard the royal family.. that’s right.. small, little mini, basically harmless dogs were the face of danger when it came to ancient Tibet. The only time I can find this to be true is when my dog is biting and growling at me, which is basically on a daily basis.

3. They’re basically the face of every dog show. The long, flowing hair with a cute little top knot. They were the original man-buns. They are fashionistas til the end.

4. They’re versatile for every climate! No matter where you live, your Shih-Tzu will adapt. You would think with a winter coat on 24/7 they would be pretty hot in the sun, but nope.. They love basking in the sunlight.

5. No matter how ugly they are they are always cute.. even if your friends and family can’t see it, you do! You see the beauty in that crooked-teethed, raccoon-eyed, nugget.

6. It sometimes feels like they hate you even though you’re overly affectionate and love them more than anything. They want to be your best friend only when there is food around. It’s almost like trying to hang with the popular crowd, but the popular crowd says no.. and you keep trying.

Of course, every dog is amazing. Whether you love your Pitbull,  English Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, or Chihuahua it doesn’t matter.. we are all the members of one giant family: Dog People.

Dog people made the world go round.

Respect.

Whimsical Wednesday: Why I Love Not Wearing Makeup (some days)

  It’s no secret that society makes being female quite difficult. There’s the ridicule for our weight, our face (which we ultimately can’t control without surgery), and our behavior. Who is to say how I should act and look? 

I’m my biggest critic, probably like most of you reading this are, and there have been some deep dark parts of my life where I have been completely down about my appearance.

 Growing up, I loved reading fashion and celebrity magazines. I was so dazzled by the beauty I was seeing and couldn’t believe people could look LIKE THAT. I have no problem with the magazine industry, but I can say it played a role in the negative feelings I had about myself. 

For years after this, all the way up until after high school, I struggled. I would pile on makeup in hopes of finally passing as beautiful. My smile definitely hid how I was feeling. I struggled with dieting, restricting myself from almost every food, and over exerting myself in exercise.  My weight drastically fell; I can now look back and admit I wasn’t healthy, mentally or physically. 

Those days are behind me now. I’m in the best place I have ever been.

This leads me into WHY I LOVE NOT WEARING MAKEUP, what you’ve all been waiting for..and why you came. I’m talking about makeup both in the actual stuff you put on your face, and also every other aspect of your appearance. 

Three days a week, on average, I leave the makeup off. There is something so empowering and beautiful about feeling comfortable enough in your skin to show yourself in the purest state. I suggest trying it, and I know this is not an easy task for everyone, at least once. 

I think it’s important to know that I love makeup. I have the Sephora receipts and wedge out of my checking account to prove it. Makeup is awesome. I use it all the time and CANT SURVIVE WITHOUT MY RUBY WOO LIPSTICK BY MAC.

With these trials of being makeup free, I have found myself smiling when I look in the mirror. I will take a selfie bare-faced..and OOOH can you believe it–I’ll post it! 

It may be attributed to growing up, to stop caring what people think, to have a revelation of self clarity, or being too broke to afford it anymore (IM IN COLLEGE, I UNDERSTAND), BUT try to rock your femininity no matter how you look on the outside. Realize your beauty and self-worth and you will shine on the inside and out.

Who run the world?

GIRLS

Perfect Summer Breakfast: Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

Chances are you’ve heard of these Acai (HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?!?) bowls. I was a little skeptical to give it a try because they looked like purple mud, but it is now one of my absolute favorite things. They are incredibly filling and keep you full and happy well into lunch. Here is the recipe and process for my own personal Acai Bowl:

Ingredients for blender:

  • 1 Pack of Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie (They come in a pack of 4. I get mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 Banana (The more ripe, the better. Even if they’re brownish)
  • 1/2-3/4 a cup of Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (if you prefer more, do more)
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • *2 Tbsp of Honey if you like it sweeter*

Toppings: 

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey Almond Granola (got mine at Whole Foods) or any Granola you love.
  • 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds (THEY KEEP YOU VERY FULL AND ARE SUPER GOOD FOR YOU)
  • 1/8 Cup of Raisins
  • Extra blueberries
  • *you can literally top these with whatever you like such as Peanut Butter, Banana, Strawberries, Pineapple, Chicken Tenders… knock yourself out*

RECIPE:

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  1.  take your Sambazon Acai Smoothie Pack and run it under warm water for 5 seconds to loosen it up. It’s impossible to get out of the plastic without this step. Then, empty contents of the pack into your blender, NutriBullet, or Ninja. Break your banana in half and throw it in. Drop in your blueberries. Pour in your water. It should look like the picture below.

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2. BLEND. If you run into a little difficulty with blending, add a bit more water. Continue until smooth (about a minute). Then, pour your smoothie into a bowl. It should have the consistency of a smoothie, not a soup.

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3. Top your smoothie bowl! This is really where the creative, personal choice comes into play. I top mine with granola, raisins, blueberries, and chia seeds and I LOVE the taste. If you want an Instagram-Worthy photo op, line your ingredients as neatly as you can. If you don’t really care, just sprinkle them on top like a wild animal (MOSTLY WHAT I DO because I am INDEED a wild animal). IMG_1392

AND HERE IS THE FINAL PRODUCT:

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I hope you guys give this recipe a try, or even make it your own and switch it up. 

Do I Attract Creeps (and other concerns from being in the city)?

Just a typical Monday and I survived my long morning commute to Chicago via train. The music in my earphones drowned out the chatter of people arguing with the conductors about why they don’t have a ticket (this happens every time).

I grabbed a black coffee to wake me up from the corner bakery outside Union Station as I waited for my Uber. My first uber cancelled on me (I couldn’t believe it) and I was eventually picked up by Jayc, my very kind driver. He was concerned about my drop off point saying “we gon’ get jumped over there”.

I finished my slow, dragging class and went into my usual panera to sit, not eat, and use their Wifi: The joys of being a part of the technological generation. I was approached at my quiet little table by a boy who asked to sit with me. I passively agreed and looked back at my tablet… But then, of course, he wanted to talk.

I guess I can’t accept friendliness as friendliness in a world where a guy talking to a girl often ends in them asking for your number. He wanted to know everything about my college experience. I just wanted to bask in my loneliness.  Does this make me a cold-hearted wench? I’m not sure.

Additionally, during my panera trip, a homeless man quietly ventured through the restaurant asking for money and food. I have neither so I did the traditional bitchy Chicago thing and ignored him.

During my last year, when I used to actually live downtown, I was involved in some sketchy situations. I was an innocent bystander in a 7/11 hold up. I had a presumably mentally ill man whisper in my ear “y’all gon die” referring to my friend and I; not the most comforting message at 3 am on the CTA. I had a “rapper” come up to my roommate Taylor and I offering us some Patron. I had an insane boy try to kill me because I didn’t want to date him (after one day of meeting him).

Each day downtown provides you with some incredibly interesting stories. There is always something happening and there’s nothing better than fearing for your life sometimes, right? 

5 Ways to Naturally Relieve Anxiety 

Anxiety, Panic, and Depression…. If you’re familiar with these debilitating illnesses you know it sometimes feels impossible to escape. But, know you’re not alone: over 40 million Americans are feeling the same way. Although it may seem like the pharmacy is the one and only oasis..Here are some calming things you can do to naturally relieve yourself:

1. Exercise and Yoga 

Working out releases endorphins through your body that will instantaneously improve the way you’re feeling.. and while you’re at it maybe you’ll get an even more improved version of your already awesome bod. Next time you’re feeling overcome with negative feelings.. head towards the gym or pull up a YouTube tutorial and do it at home.

2. Clean up your Diet

Nobody’s perfect. We all love to indulge in the delicious treats and meals that make us happy. But, believe it or not, some foods can actually enhance symptoms of anxiety and depression. Coffee, chocolate, and other caffeinated foods can trigger panic attacks and uneasiness. Instead try a lightly caffeinated tea.. It will keep you awake but not freak you out. Alcohol may seem like an easy self-mediator, but actually can drive you deeper into intense depression. Try to limit drinking to 1-2 times a week. Processed foods are also good to avoid. Try incorporating fresh ingredients into your everyday meals for gradual improvements.

3. Keep a Journal

Not comfortable sharing your feelings with others? The time will probably come where you will feel able to talk to someone, but until then try writing down the way you’re feeling in a personal journal or diary. This will help get heavy thoughts out of your head and cleanse yourself at the end of each day. Instead of only focusing on the negatives, make a list of things you’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish. 

4. BREATHE

The shakes, the sweats, and the light-headedness.. We’ve all been there at one time or another. If you find yourself in an immediate panic, focus in on your breathing. First of all, make sure it’s happening. Secondly, breathe in slowly on counts of ten and then hold for a few seconds. Slowly let the air out in a small stream. Closing your eyes while doing this can help find your inner calm. 

5. Eliminate Stress Factors

Of course, most of us can’t quit our jobs (unless we are financially stable or retiring) and dropping out of college (although it may sound appealing) will make getting a job a little harder, but there could be other things in your day that have to go. Negative people in your life? If they aren’t family, try your best to push them away. Unhappy with current location? Try to research new places you’ve always wanted to live or maybe even just a weekend road trip for new surroundings. When it comes to college.. Stay on top of your assignments. Falling behind will increase stress and make it feel impossible.

*I am not a doctor.. These are what has helped me*

Comment below with what has helped you or if you’ve tried any of these techniques!