Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

I am always on the lookout for alternative ingredients for baking. For a little bit of my life, I was fully committed to a vegan lifestyle when dairy products had my stomach doing somersaults until the aching pain began. After moving to New York City and dining on delicious Italian food and dollar pizza weekly, my stomach began to tolerate the dairy I slowly reintroduced it back into my diet. Since then, I would not consider myself vegan or vegetarian, but I do try my best to eat at least one meal a day that is either vegan or vegetarian; even if that meal is dessert!

With autumn in my sights, I am ready to celebrate with rich, spicy treats. This carrot cake is something I came across in my search for delicious desserts that I would love, and my vegan friends could enjoy with me. Below you will find the recipe, steps, and gifs that will guide you on experience this milk, butter, and egg-free cake yourself!

Also, stay tuned for the coming months as I use this recipe to make some autumn-themed treats as I finally pull out my flannels, put out my fall decor, begin binge-watching Hocus Pocus, and pinpoint all the orchards I want to visit over the next three months.

Full Disclosure, the frosting is not dairy-free, hence its absence from the post. I will include my cream cheese frosting for this final product at the end of the post, but I am currently experimenting with other dairy-free icing recipes! 

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Snapshot of the ingredients

Recipe

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 1 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon 
1 1/3 tsp. nutmeg 
2/3 tsp. salt
2 cups of almond milk 
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or liquid state
1/2 cup maple syrup 
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups finely grated carrots 
1/3 cup raisin 
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts for decorating

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and prep two 8-inch rough baking pans with spray oil, parchment paper, and flour. Spray the pan a bit, so the paper you cut to size sticks, and dust the pan with flour.
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Prepping the tins with spray oil, parchment paper, and a dusting of flour
2. Gather your ingredients. I have measured out all of my ingredients below to save some time trying to sort for what I need (although it makes extra dishes, it looks a bit more organized).
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The ingredients measured out and ready for mixing
3. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
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Adding together the dry ingredients

4. Mix together the dry ingredients until they look well combined.

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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

5. Combine almond milk, applesauce, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar in another mixing bowl.

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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

6. Whisk together the wet ingredients, so they are no longer separated and form a rich caramel color.

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The holy combined wet ingredients
7. Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mind you, I am using a 4-quart Pyrex mixing bowl for this recipe, a 2.5 quart is a tiny bit too small for the next whisking step.
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I wish I left the slopping noise on the gif
8. Thoroughly combine the ingredients together until you are sure there are no clumps of dry ingredients left. The batter should be slightly thick but on the runny side.
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Whisk, Baby, Whisk

9. Add in those finely shredded carrots. I left this process out because of how messy it can be. I used a tapered shredder that has a fine side and used about 2 VERY large carrots. Your hands will be orange, and you will be finding carrots for days after, but it’s worth it.

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Not Pictured: my orange fingertips
10. Raisin time! Add those babies in and stir it all up, at the end it will appear that everything has sunk to the bottom, but it’s there, don’t worry.
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Who knew vegetables and fruits belonged in a cake? 
11. Evenly pour the batter in your two pans, the batter should go about 2/3 of the way up the pan, and be mindful you don’t for all the raisins into one, we want those evenly distributed too!
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Looks a little lumpy, dealing with the oils can be hard, but I promise if it looks combined, it’s combined
12. Tap those babies down to loosen any air bubbles and put the pans in the oven for 35 minutes.
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Ready for the oven!
13. After the 30 minutes are up, take a fork and test to see if the middles are done by puncturing the middle and pulling it out; a clean fork is a happy cake!

14. Let the cakes rest in their cake tins for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, and then after ten minutes, they should just fall right out when you tip them over. I peeled off the parchment paper to help the steam release for an optimal cooling period.
15. Let the cakes completely cool before frosting with your favorite dairy-free or dairy-full cream cheese frosting; no one wants a melted frosting regardless if it has dairy or not. (See my recipe below!)
16. You can decorate with walnuts like I have, or not, the choice is yours! But you better cut & enjoy 😊
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Bonus Recipe

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  1. With an electric beater, cream together butter and cream cheese until well combined.
  2. Add in vanilla, mix. 
  3. Sift in powdered sugar slowly, possibly a cup at a time at low speed with an electric beater, until the final cup is combined. If you want a richer vanilla flavor, and a touch more. 
  4. Frost away! 

Last Week of Summer

Well, it is the last week of August, which mean the “-ber” months are upon us; “-ber” meaning September, October, November, otherwise known as the best time of the year. I am ready for the days where morning mist pushes up against my rosy cheeks and causes me to tighten my layered jacket around my shoulders. I am looking forward to afternoons illuminated with a soft, golden light that cascades across the yellowing leaves in Central Park. I have waited all year for this time to great us, but we still have one last week of summer.

As summers go, this one has been relatively eventful and problematic. I officially have a degree, but as of today, I am still sending off my resume to jobs, I have little interest in because I am craving a job that seems to be on pause. I have traveled the most this summer out of many summers before, but I think I have lost chances to win over potential companies because of my travels. However, I did finally cross off Wyoming, Montana, and Oregon off my 50 State Countdown list, but I didn’t get a chance to visit my family or home. The last time I was in Florida was 2018, and I miss watching the sunset fade below the horizon as I dug my pedicured toes into the warm sand.

I anticipated having a job before August was over, but it looks like I will begin autumn the way I began summer; hunting. It is strange to think I have spent the majority of summer in front of this laptop typing away at cover letters and tailoring my resume for the various jobs, a task that seems tedious and boring, however, this summer has flown by regardless of the fact that I have been stationary for a lot of it.

Maybe its because I spent over a month traveling the country, or maybe its because although it has been a trying summer, I have done everything I can to sprinkle in activities that make me happy. I take breaks from applying to read, write, and cook. I have spent afternoons dreaming up new book ideas, autumn activities, and decorating ideas for the apartment. There were happy hour dates, movies on the pier, and picnics in the park. I spent afternoons sipping lemonade with my friends and evenings drinking frozé until our brains froze and our words slurred.

I am excited that autumn has come to an end, but it has been a long time since I had a summer like this, and these memories will always stay with me. I won’t miss the sauna that our apartment transformed into or the stench of the heated trash on the sidewalks, but I’ll miss the laughs fighting over the spot next to the A/C and the neighbors enjoying the brownstone stoops while children laugh and ride their scooters. With this being the last week of summer, I have made my list for the final stretch of the season.

To-Do

  • Purge the remnants of summer’s clutter and ready the apartment for the changing of seasons.
  • Get a meal prepping schedule down, so I can continue to enhance my cooking knowledge before I fall into an “I’m too busy to cook” mentality.
  • Grab a Mister Dips from an icecream truck, and enjoy it while the sun sets over midtown while the vanilla trails down the back of my hand and sprinkles fall to the sidewalk.
  • Take my bags to the Columbus Street Farmers Market, and locally source a summer meal.
  • Enjoy a meal on the patio of a new restaurant before all “outdoor” seating is stored away for the year.
  • Fill out my travel journal, or at least compile all the memories from this summer spent on the road, so I can look forward to what is to come.
  • Make a change to the apartment; paint a wall, put up wallpaper, or just make it a cozy place for the months spent snuggling indoors.
  • Keep up the momentum on job applications and nail a career that I would be proud to grow with.
  • Burn the last remaining “summer scents” and get the pumpkin candles ready.
  • Plan for the apple picking afternoons that are to come in the next month.

Tell me, what is on your final summer to-do list? 

Creamy Tortellini Soup

I’ve been missing the warmer weather, but this soup is perfect for a rainy summer evening when you don’t want to spend a lot of time prepping dinner (also it’s great for lunch and leftovers the following days). I definitely recommend letting the flavor simmer for some time, but otherwise, this dish will only take 45 minutes from pot to bowl.

Ingredients

1 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Garlic and Herb butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Red pepper flakes (will add a kick to the soup)
3 tbsp. flour
3 c. chicken broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans of Trader Joe’s Diced and Fire-roasted Tomatoes
3 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 pkg. of Trader Joe’s Cheese Tortellini
1/3 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
3 c. spinach, roughly 3 large handfuls
Kosher salt to season
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Basil, sliced for garnish

Steps

  • In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add onion and cook until translucent, roughly 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until you call smell the flavors.
  • In a small bowl, mix the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and flour and whisk to combine, then add seasoning to the pot and mix with the butter. Cook 1 more minute.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and bring to a boil,
  • Add the tortellini and cook until the tortellini is floating, around five minutes.
  • Reduce to a simmer and stir.
  • Add the cream and Parmesan and stir to combine, the soup will thicken
  • Add spinach and let wilt. Stirring to make sure all is combined
  • Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil and serve in warmed bowls

Enjoy!

Let me know if you would like more TJ’s recipes I am definitely getting into more vegetarian and vegan recipes!

Starting a Book Club

As a writer and aspiring author, I have found myself buying up more books than my Ikea bookshelves can handle all while calling myself a “reader.” Which I am, but I am the type of reader who rewards myself with new books, even when I have hundreds of novels left unread on my shelves, and I wasn’t reading to keep up. For a while, I obsessively bought every recommendation and new release and added them to my fast-growing collection of “want to read next” while I neglected to read.

In May, I said enough is enough, no. more. books.

Before I get ahead of myself, I was doing this to save money. I called it my ‘book hiatus,’ which is where I set the goal for myself to read 1/3 of my books before heading out and buying new ones. My bookshelf would always be accepting of Advance Reader Copies and gifts, but I am now actively trying to read what is already in my collection.

It was around the time of my hiatus that I realized I was reading a lot in the spring, but that number started to dwindle in the summer. At one point, I was reading a book a week, which sounds like a lot, but I was a fast reader and I often get sucked into a story and have a hard time putting them down. In order to maintain my habit of buying and not reading, I revamped the goal by talking to my fellow reading friends and asking if they wanted to start a book club.

My best friend is just like me, she obsessively stalks Barnes & Noble’s inventory, rewards her seven-foot-tall bookshelves with more books, and is trying to find time to catch-up with all the books she wants to read. It was back in 2016 when we first started this idea of a book-club. We were prepping for our road trip from Florida to Colorado, and I was showing her all around my home town of Naples; which included stopping in Barnes & Noble. We both, separately, found the book Virgin by Radhika Sanghani which followed a 21-year-old on a mission to deflower herself.

We both decided to pick up a copy, read it on our own time, and discuss the book when we were done. Together we sat in my living room on matching couches and turned the pages in silence. I ended up devouring the book before bed, which pushed my best friend to read it faster, and still to this day, I loved the book, and I loved discussing it with a friend.

Since then, I have picked up duplicate copies of books for us to read, in addition to us both recommending and FaceTiming one another to show our recent book haul.  Together, we decided enough is enough. No more “let save this for a book club” instead, “lets actually read this for a book club.”

Those words made me a reader again. We planned for September 1st to be the start of our monthly book club. We planned to read one book together, starting with Uncommon Types by Tom Hanks (yes, that Tom Hanks). We habitually start multiple books at a time, so we left the final weeks in August to wrap up our books of the summer. Because I had a plan, I stuck with it. Throughout the past few weeks, I finally finished A Darker Shade of Magic and City of Ghost by V. E. Schwab, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dryer.

I mention that I habitually read multiple books at one time because I would love to read more books with more people. I may have started a book club with close friends, but also entice to my readers to join along in the conversation! You may just be here for my mental-health blogs and tantalizing travel essays, but in actuality, I would love to interact with my followers, and I feel like reading is something you can do to improve your mental well-being and a book is portable enough to take on your journies.

So whether you are interested in reading Uncommon Types with us, or are wanting to discuss books with me, please comment below; if there are four full weeks in September, then you better believe that I am going to be up for at least starting four new books soon!

I think one will be Educated by Tara Westover. I am all for a memoir, and I have never had so many recommendations for a single book since I became a more mature reader. Have any of you read it? Let me know if you’ve been meaning to and want to read it with me!

14 August 2017

Holy Hot. 

I honestly cannot believe last month I resigned my lease for my apartment in New York City for another year. That means this is the third August 14th that I have spent living in New York even though every year since moving in has felt like the warmest day of Summer ever.

Yet here I am, always with my window A/C unit blowing into my face because I cannot stand how hot the top floor can get. I switch from either suffering as I feel either sweat drip down the crevasses behind my knees as I crisscross my legs as a makeshift laptop stand when the unit is off or a having a dry mouth and a raspy voice from the partially filtered air being run into the room when it is on.

Regardless, Hannah in 2017 would have never thought that two years from my first moving day would be spent in a courtroom in lower manhattan because I was called into juror duty. My stomach growls for the train ride home to my Upper West Side apartment, so I can eat pulled pork sandwiches that I made in the Instant Pot because it is way too warm to have the oven going for any reason.

I took the featured photo the summer before I moved, July of 2017. My father and I had spent the entire week apartment hunting, and I was feeling the ungodly stress that is “apartment hunting in NYC.” I experienced my first mental breakdown and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to a brownstone on St. Marks in the East Village. I had my heart set on an apartment on 9th Street and was at war with another renter for the same place, mind you, my favorite one was the first one we saw out of 25+ apartments.

I dragged my feet up walk-ups to only be disappointed and nervous that I would lose the one I loved. It all worked out in the end, I landed my first apartment in NYC, and it only set me back 2,785 dollars a month. We celebrated the completion of the ordeal with an afternoon in Central Park; little did I know I would end up living blocks from the location the photo was taken within the next year.

(I also say only as sarcastically as I can: I had friends in the Village paying roughly the same or more, and I had friends in Brooklyn starring at my wide-eyed as I shelled out how much I spent for my first apartment in New York.)

However, as you’ve read, I no longer live in the East Village. I have only visited my old neighborhood once or twice in the past year; weirdly since it was my life for nearly a year. When I did, it felt strange to cross over Broadway from my campus at NYU and head into the more historically grime-y neighborhood. I lived for the rock-n-roll, hardcore scene back then, and the avenue life gave me. As I traveled through life and New York and found out the nightlife was my vice and not my friend, I knew I needed a change.

After looking to move last year, and this year, I still suffered the same mental breakdowns and subsided into tears on the steps leading up to brownstones and the horror of apartment searches. But as always, rent prices rise, and I am still struggling to afford Manhattan.

My current apartment suffers from a four-story walk-up and outdated furnishings. It’s significantly cheaper than my last apartment and comes equipped with slanted and uneven surfaces. It’s “homeier,” as many put it, compared to my previous apartment. But with my partner and I making the leap to save money in Manhattan by sharing a place, I found myself wanting to find something that was “ours”.

I wanted a two-bedroom in the UWS. I wanted it to have exposed brick, and for it to be within budget. I was thinking our combined income gave us more wiggle room, but in turn, I experienced so much more horror with trying to move this year.

I recently went back to look at an older blog post that I recalled giving apartment hunting advice on. It went as follows:

Research before and find the median prices and keep an eye out for what is for sale. // Go in with a price range, but expect to change it. // Breath. Between. Viewing. They may be short, but don’t hold your breath. // Figure what you need and know where you can and cannot compromise // Research the building, there is a difference between 4 complaints and 400. // Brooker fees suck, but sometimes fee-less apartments suck more. // Love the area, you are going to be spending time walking there.// Envision yourself in there, if you can’t, move on. // Have all your paperwork ready or readily available. // Apply when you know and don’t let doubt prolong the situation.

Now having two years under my belt in this concrete cluster, I know some of those tips stand, but there needs to be an explanation with each.

  1. Streeteasy.com is your friend. Use it, filter it as much as you can, but remember the photos always look better online.
  2. Brokers/Real Estate people want to be your friend, but they have no problem rushing you along if they want a sale, so breathe.
  3. You’ll need to know what you are capable of when going into a viewing. Is 5 flights, okay? Can you do with only one drawer in the kitchen? Well, of course, you are capable of walking upstairs, but with 22 lbs of laundry/ this week’s groceries make a difference. Yes, and if you cook, 2 drawers make a HUGE difference.
  4. Research complaints AND your management. I’ve had some nightmares with mine, and I wish I asked more questions in the beginning.
  5. Fees Suck. Period.
  6. Love where you live, know what’s around you, but then spend your year exploring. As much as the Village was sucking in Feb/March, come May when I was packing everything up, there was so much I was missing out on.
  7. Paperwork is important but also measure during viewings. If your couch fit in the door before, it doesn’t mean it will fit in a NYC apartment door.
  8. There will be downfalls of the apartment, weigh the downfalls and figure what you need most.

This past year, my partner and I started looking in March when we had two rents and too much invested after finding the ideal spacial and updated apartment that was around the corner from our current one. it takes a lot to apply and have to not follow through with it, brokers will also hate you, but you need to do what’s best for you––you’re living there, not them. 

I Wrote a Novel

For my Master’s thesis, I undertook 280+ pages of pure emotion that bleed throughout my first completed fiction piece. I only needed to write a 20-page academic paper to get my degree, but my advisor encouraged me to write a novel because it is what I want to do in life. It was hard, but I did it

Entering February, I only had a 1/4 of my book done and I needed it completed before the end of March. In April, I found myself trying to edit my book, but there was so much more I neede to accomplish, including actually writing that 20-page academic paper.

Although the novel isn’t where I wish I would be, I would love to share my site, some samples of my book, and where you can find it as I start the process of publishing my work. I look forward to blogging more about my process and the steps that are to come in the

Book Synopsis

Elizabeth Calhoun fantasizes about her child’s future, while her daughter, Annabelle, fights for her life after a devastating accident. The traumatizing sight of her daughter in pain spurs Elizabeth to gather her thoughts into letters for Annabelle to read. For two years, Elizabeth fills the letters with stories and advice while imagining a world where her daughter opens them after turning eighteen.

What remains on the page is a mother looking back on vulnerable teenage years, misguided decisions, and serendipitous first loves, all while reexamining who she is as a person. The letters tether the mother and daughter together through a collection of memories that Elizabeth uses to uncover who she is through the words of wisdom she aims to pass along to her daughter.

To face the harrowing details of love, anger, grief, and relationships, Elizabeth must come to terms with her daughter’s altered life journey and meet her darkest temptations. Through the process of Elizabeth’s passage through madness, depression, and pain, this evolving stack of letters collect on her desk and become a refuge that both heals and terrifies a mother.

About the Novel

I conceived the idea of Open When, my first self published novel, while reflecting ways I have tried to help my friends and family through trying times. During my time spent writing, I traveled to Leavenworth, Washinton to experience life in such a unique city. From there the idea of having letter writing tether two lives together inspired the epistolary form of the letters. The entirety of the novel is narrated by Elizabeth, the mother, as she encounters advice that her daughter may need in the future while still maintaining the form we have all come to know within letter writing. The novel had its first reading on May 10th, 2019 during “XE Thesis Symposium” where I presented on the Explorations of Form.

Enchantment Park, Leavenworth, Washington when I was on-site for research 

Sample of the Book

Purchasing a Copy

Within the immediate future, I will revisit the manuscript, initially prepared for my graduate thesis, and prep it for literary agents to manifest it across bookshelves in the future as a way to inspire more to understand life’s most difficult times. In the meantime, Open When is available for purchase on Lulu Publishing.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

NYC Bedroom

Sometimes I miss my old room.

There was a quaintness that came to waking up every morning to some exposed brick and the sunlight drenching the white curtains hanging in the window and ivory sheets that cloaked my body. There was an elegance that came with cozying up in my emerald green, crushed velvet chair that sat in the corner and became my nook for writing, reading, and studying.

I am looking forward to making this new bedroom even more exciting, although it is smaller, but a new home for myself in the coming year. As this new place is a work in progress, enjoy some interior inspo from my last place and enjoy a sneak peek to the way I incorporate the past into my new space!

Life as a Master

If money wasn’t an issue, where would I be? 

For months now, I’ve been planning the reboot of my blog. I thought about what I’d write after spending the past months writing my own novel. And any day I became excited about starting over, letting go of my previous dreams and really pushing the other ones I was dreaming up, but I froze. I thought about blog ideas, hundreds of them, but never followed through with a single one.

I looked at my blog nearly every day as I applied to more and more jobs, saying I had blogging experience, which is true, but felt like I had abandoned the first platform I had to produce work I was proud of.

Until the other day while I sat in Central Park in complete isolation. For 30 minutes, only a mother and daughter passed my area, but they turned and walked deeper into the brush. Across the way, I would see tanned faces and colorful shirts flick through the leaves on the sidewalk parallel to the one I rested my feet on, but no one seemed to ever find their way towards me.

I had needed a break that day. I had spent the most part of that afternoon sulking in my jobless stupor, putting myself in a box of being too tired of not having a job, but not working hard enough on trying to fix it. For the first month outside of my grad school graduation, I applied to a few, putting myself out there and looking for something new. The next month I was shooting blanks out into the universe. Applying to jobs I’m overqualified for, attending cold-call interviews, and being unhappy with the results I was staring down.

Except for one; I had a phone interview with a company and job I was perfect for, however, they picked someone else before I even had a shot at interviewing. I was sad, hopeless, and trying to ground myself in some mentality that was telling me I was no good for any job apparently.

The position was an editorial assistant for the psychology and humanities department at a publishing house. If you don’t know, I have my bachelors in psychology, and I just received my Masters in Humanities. For the job, all you needed was a bachelors degree and Microsoft experience— how could I not be a shoo-in for the position? I’ve gone beyond and received my masters, I wrote a book for my thesis, have experience in the editorial world and book industry, yet there I was on Friday receiving an email saying they went with someone else.

So that day, in the thick brush of Central Park, turned to my bench and noticed the plaque behind me. It was a poetic verse: welcoming the world to sit for a moment, enjoy the serenity in the quietness of the breeze, and look for the light.

How sweet it was to sit somewhere and take a moment to forget my stress. Then I thought, what a great memory to purchase. I wondered what it would be like to have a bench here and commemorate my time here. I thought about the unveiling of it, bring my lover, and family to sit and enjoy a space I loved to enjoy. Would I put it near the Zoo? Somewhere I loved to people watch. Or would I put it by the Great Lawn, the area I first found the confidence to run again after my ankle surgery? I know, I would put it in the brush, tucked away for only a few to find, but me to know exactly where it was when I needed quiet time.

Would I follow in the footsteps of this mystery person and write something poetic about nature, or would I devote it to something I loved? I started fantasizing about what I would put it as The Adopt-A-Bench program loaded. Then I realized a bench plaque would set me back 10,000 dollars. As someone hiding out in Central Park trying to avoid my fears of not making enough money in this city, I was sitting on a bench that someone felt comfortable in their income to give more of it away; a lot more.

At first, I was sad. I was immediately reminded that I couldn’t donate a chair unless I score a book advance significant enough to pay off my student loans, supply me with rent, and living wage so I could then afford a silver plaque for people to either admire or never even read–– I’d say a million would be reasonable. I was sad but then thankful to be somewhere that made me happy if it wasn’t for the money.

It had been a while when I last thought about being happy where I was. I remember feeling so uncomfortable in New York when I first moved here. By recognizing that it showed me that my experience in this city is continually evolving. I was happy enough, even in the stress of a job hunt, to commemorate my time here. That was something I never sat and thought about during all of my anxiety.

I spent so much time for so long thinking I didn’t belong; that it was time to move on to another place for another part of my journey. I can write this post and not be sad because I have found a way to make money and have interviews for more job, and even though my hunt is not over, I still am trying; I am always hopeful the situation will turn around. It has taken a moment to remember where I started in New York. I was reminded that at times, I may feel stressed as I try to keep up with the fun and work of the city. But had you asked the Hannah that moved here roughly two years ago if she even considered buying a plaque in Central Park to commemorate her time, she would have said “no way” this place doesn’t deserve it.

Let’s see what “author Hannah” has to say when shes sitting on a couple book deals and a film request (:

Also if you are looking to hire for a position, I am totally available to start ASAP!

The Mountains are Calling

In 2012, my father suggested I looked into universities in Colorado when we were there for a family ski trip. I had spent my entire life on the sandy shores of the Gulf Coast, all my friends I had made were staying in-state (for the most part), however, I kinda always had an inkling I would move away from the beaches I had grown accustomed to visiting. 

Every year I looked forward to heading to the mountains. I loved the snow, outdoor activities, and chill in the air. When my father suggested looking into the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, I signed up for informational sessions and tours. When we landed in Denver we headed straight to University of Colorado-Denver campus. It was a gray cold day and the clouds hung low over the gray buildings. I had loved the time I spent previously in Denver, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t moved by the campus. 

The next morning we spent the afternoon at the University of Denver. It was all that I was looking for in a school, except for a football team. The campus was gorgeous, the faculty and students were kind, I found myself gearing up for the application process. We left early from the orientation to make it to the CU-Boulder session. I was ready to sign up to be a member of the 2013 freshman class, but then I saw the foothills off the highway on our drive on 36. 

We parked and sat through a lengthy informational setting, and then took a tour around campus. I think it was the first steps onto the quad where in my heart I knew, this is where I need to go to be my happiest. 

I spent three years at the University of Colorado-Boulder as a double major in psychology and sociology, where almost every day walking to class I snapped a photo of the foothills that were the backdrop of my campus. Seeing them peak out above the football stadium made losing not so bad, but winning even better. Every season painted the mountains with breathtaking colors, and I never got over how lucky I felt to be a part of the school.

Although I traded the mountains for over industrialized skylines, I still find myself craving the mountains. Even a trip upstate means me gawking out the train window to grab a glace at the Catskills. Any chance I can get to heighten my vantage point, I do it. This past summer I traveled to Eibsee, Germany. After sitting it the shadows of the Zugspitze for a minute, I knew I had to see the view from the top. 

We all loaded in the gondola and I glued my face to the window to see the sights. Stepping off I breathed in the cool air and a calm feeling came over me. I looked over Germany, Austria, and Italy, and knew I was where I was happiest. 

Happy International Mountian Day! Check out what the UN has to say on why #MountainsMatter. 

Final Month of Autumn

Autumn is my happy time—I thrive for the overcast days that mist the fresh air and amber leaves. It is the perfect time for warm sweaters, tea, and cuddles under a flannel blanket. Outside of my cozy time, Autumn inspires me the most. It is when I head out to the park and just take in my surroundings. When my journals overflow with ideas and I can’t help but be happy.

By now, Autumn has slowly crept into to New York City. I remained patient for the month of September, filled my October with jackets, boots, and Hocus Pocus every day, and I am prepping for my first Thanksgiving this month. This time last year, I was still settling into the fast-paced lifestyle I found myself in. I could not fully enjoy my first fall in The City, because I was incredibly sick and a negative headspace. I still had fall films on repeat, but I was limited on what I felt up for. I did, however, get out of the city for a weekend, and it was my best decision yet.

To ring in autumn, I boarded an early train to Poughkeepsie, New York, to explore Dubois Farm. I was excited to explore their Annual Harvest Festival, and as a Florida girl, I had never experienced apple picking. I came home with pounds of apples, pumpkins, and yummy apple cider donuts. The remainder of October I prepped my home with decorations and lit every fall candle I could find.

My partner picked our outfits this year, based on my affinity for scary makeup and dead costumes. I have a feeling I make him watch Harry Potter a bit too often, but everyone at the bars and parties enjoyed our couple costumes as Moaning Myrtle and Cedric Diggory. I was sad to see October go, but now it is time for my first November in New York. 

I started walking to work this month — the wind kisses my cheeks and turns them a rosy-hue, while I wake up during my morning commute. I know the winter will be cold, but for now, the colors in Central Park make my morning a lot brighter.

This time of year inspires me to give and be thankful so I have decided to host Thanksgiving at my house for my friends, and have volunteered myself to make multiple gâteaus for my work’s potluck. Hopefully, I will find some time to capture everything as I take on this new endeavor, but I am excited for the coming weeks! For now, I am enjoying the final month of Autumn.