Summer Reads, Relaxation, and Rays

If anyone has discovered an ingenuous and revolutionary way to find time to read for pleasure during the school year, please do let me know ASAP because, as of now, I am convinced that it is pretty much impossible to find time thanks to class, homework, group projects, social life, etc. I mean, there’s only so many hours in a day, right? That’s why I like taking advantage of the summer months to make a dent in my seemingly never-ending list of books to read. I try to keep it interesting by alternating between fiction and non-fiction as well as classics and faster beach reads because, let’s be honest people, there’s no better way to spend your summer days than curling up poolside with a good book to catch some rays. Here’s a list of some of my favorites this summer:

1. Wild (Cheryl Strayed)

This is a true story about 22-year-old Cheryl Strayed who, after her mother’s untimely death, went through a crisis of sorts as her own marriage dissolved and her family fell apart. Four years later, Strayed embarked on an adventure to find herself by hiking more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through California to Washington State… alone. Definitely pick this one up before it turns into a major motion picture in December.

2. Paris: The Novel (Edward Rutherfurd)

Although I find non-fiction fascinating, I will admit that I also sometimes find it a bit dry. That’s why I loved how Rutherford crafted a spectacular story spanning various centuries and following the trajectory of several families whose fates are all ultimately intertwined with each other and with the city of Paris. I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty amazing when I can become so engrossed in a story and not even realize that I’m learning about the history of the city I lived in for a semester in the process.

*Rutherford also wrote a similarly structured book about New York which is on my reading list.

3. Strength in What Remains (Tracy Kidder)

Kidder tells the story of Deo, a young man escaping from Burundi in the aftermath of a brutal civil war and genocide. Deo arrives in New York with no place to stay, no one to turn to, and a mere $200 to live on until he meets some strangers that will change his life and ultimately help him get to Columbia University and medical school. Kidder travels with Deo and writes his honest, raw, and heartbreaking story in a way that will stay with you forever.

4. Mountains Beyond Mountains (Tracy Kidder)

Since one Tracy Kidder book just wasn’t enough for me, I decided to read Mountains Beyond Mountains about Paul Farmer, a man who founded Partners in Health with the mission to heal the world by curing infectious diseases in third world countries such as Haiti and Peru. Farmer embodies the “preferential option for the poor” and believes that, as a human right, proper medical care should be available and accessible to everyone. The root of the problem in our world, according to Farmer, is the very idea that some lives matter less than others.

“How could a just God permit great misery? The Haitian peasants answered with a proverb: ‘Bondye konn bay, men li pa konn separe,’ in literal translation, ‘God gives but doesn’t share.’ This meant… God gives us humans everything we need to flourish, but he’s not the one who’s supposed to divvy up the loot,” writes Kidder when quoting Farmer. “That change was laid upon us.”

5. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)

This novel follows the lives of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, whose fates resemble that of Adam and Eve as well as Cain and Abel. Steinbeck explores the idea of good versus evil through these biblical roots in the least cliché way possible, which may explain why, since its original publication in 1952, East of Eden has never gone out of print. Although brutal and oftentimes disturbing, it’s some of the most beautiful and restrained writing I have ever read.

Hope you enjoy! Feel free to let me know what good books you’ve read this summer!



Totin’ Around

Looking for the perfect bag that’s not only stylish and affordable but also versatile and big enough to carry your stuff without being too large? Look no further, friends, I’m here to save you from your tote troubles with a bag that will not only look good, but also do good: the Taaluma Tote.

Founded by two Virginia Tech students, Jack and Alley, Taaluma Totes are backpacks that #carryacountry. Here’s how it works:

1. Each tote is made from traditional fabric from whatever country you choose (Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malia, Thailand, Vietnam).

2. 20% of the profits from each tote fund a microloan for a person in that tote’s country.

3. The totes are made in the USA by adults with disabilities alongside experienced seamstresses.

4. Once repaid, the loan is reinvested in that country’s traditional fabrics for the next tote!

“We really liked the idea of microloans because as one person pays it, you reinvest into that country,” explains Alley in an article on on “It’s not a one-time donation. It continues. We think microloans are a really great way to give back to the country.”

My tote of choice? The Indonesia tote. It’s the perfect bag to take with me when hiking, traveling, or simply running errands around town. Check out Taaluma Totes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the movement. Which country will you carry?

Mount Major (Meredith, NH)



Lately on Instagram: summer flavors

Happy (almost) weekend! Hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks of sweet summertime by soaking up some Vitamin D, working your way through the end of your summer reading list, getting as much wear as possible out of those white jeans before Labor Day, or cleaning up the grill in preparation for the last hurrah of the barbecue season. It’s hard to believe that this time next year, I will officially be a R*eA*l  PE*rs*O*N with a college degree (fingers crossed), which means I’ll (in theory) be employed and (in theory) be making my own money. But, in the meantime, I’ll just slip slowly into a state of denial and pretend like I’m still in kindergarden thoroughly enjoying nap time. Or I can just distract myself by sharing what I’ve been up to lately on Instagram instead. Sound like a plan? Alright, good.

Whoever said smoothies were just meant to be enjoyed in a cup with a straw has obviously never made a smoothie bowl with frozen raspberries, blueberries, mango, and pineapple with fresh blueberries, chia seeds, and slivered almonds on top.  smoothie bowl

During hot summer days, it’s so important to stay hydrated. Let’s be honest, though, plain water can get a bit boring. I like to spice it up by adding lemons and limes or frozen grapes.

hydration Spending time in the library isn’t as bad as it sounds if you’re able to make it to the New York Public Library and enjoy this view.


Speaking of the big apple, New York tops the list of the unhappiest metropolitan areas in the country. (Should I move to Atlanta?) Buuuuut, if I’m going to live in New York, I might as well read a lot because research proves that reading makes you happy.

Also, on an unrelated but very delicious note, check out this list of surprisingly affordable superfoods that you should add to your grocery list ASAP.

Peruse one taste at a time’s instagram for more!

Eating the Seasons

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my food explorations this summer, it’s that eating local food means you’re eating food that’s not only tastier, but also fresher and more nutritious because it has traveled such a short distance to get to your dinner plate. Local food consumption also supports local farms, boosts the local economy, contributes little waste, and is good for the soil.

Strolling of the Heifers, a local food advocacy group, recently released its list of the most farmer’s market-friendly states by developing a ranking system, known as the Locavore Index, to assess each state’s commitment to providing local food. Find out where on the list your state falls by checking out this article I wrote on the report for Rodale News! 

If you’re looking for an easier, more convenient way to purchase and enjoy local food in your community, check out Farm2Me, a NYC tech startup with a mission to support and sustain local food systems by connecting local food producers with local food consumers. Sign up on their website and start ordering from locally-sourced bakers, farms, creameries, butchers, charcuteries, ranchers, etc via Farm2Me’s webstands.

My favorite late-summer seasonal fruits, veggies and herbs are:


  • Rasberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Watermelon


  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Beets
  • Summer Squash


  • Basil
  • Mint

seasonalfood1 seasonalfood3 seasonalfood2 seasonalfood4 seasonalfood6 seasonalfood5









Thoughts on Ethical Consumerism

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself completely overwhelmed by all the different deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, makeup removers, shaving creams, razors, lotions, etc. Some products are less expensive while others are designed for the Donald Trump’s of our time. Some are scented with everything from grapefruit extracts to coconut oil and sea salt crystals (gosh, doesn’t that sound so fancy??) while others claim to be “unscented and great for sensitive skin.” Some products have famous faces plastered all over them while others have plain designs without a claim to fame. Some are always on sale while others remain at full price. I mean, give a girl a break. All I want are products that are real and that work. Is that too much to ask for? Turns out that, for some companies, it is. However, I’ve done some digging and testing to uncover what I believe to be the superstars of the beauty industry to share with you.

What I Looked For:

1. No Parabens

Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent bacteria from growing in beauty products. However, in 2004, Dr. Philippa Darbre from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom published research results showing that high concentrations of parabens were found in human breast tumors due to the preservative’s ability to interfere with estrogen in the body. Since this pioneering study, other researchers have detected parabens in urine and tissue. In response, several companies have eliminated it from their formulas, but many have not. Take a glance at the ingredients list on your hand soap or shampoo to see if your products are paraben-free.

2. No Phthalates

Phthalates are a class of chemicals that have been linked to increased risk for early menopause and diabetes in women.

3. Cruelty Free

I searched for products that do not test on animals in any stage of production and do not use animal ingredients in their formulas.

My Favorites:

PicMonkey Collage

1. YesTo Carrots (Shampoo, Daily Cleanser, Facial Scrub, and Facial Wipes)

2. Tom’s of Maine (Toothpaste)

3. Kiss My Face (Body Moisturizer)

4. Alba Botanica (Cream Shave)

Check out for other organic, fair trade, green, and cruelty free products!

Let me know if you use any great products that I’ve missed!




Lately on Instagram: The Butcher’s Daughter

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately:

DISCLAIMER: Despite the fact that it looks like I eat all day every day, that’s not exactly true. But it does come pretty close. What can I say? There’s just too little time and too much to taste.

It seems like The Butcher’s Daughter is all over instagram these days, so I had to try it out myself to see what the hype is all about. Here’s a breakdown of my heavenly experience:

1. I get on the subway and, thanks to some miracle from the underground transportation gods, find a seat. A mysterious liquid drops on my shoulder (not the first time that has happened). No idea where it comes from.  Ahh the glory of the NYC subway system. #kidding

2. After one very hungry subway ride down to Little Italy and a short walk later, I make it to the quaint café and take a seat outside.

3. The waiter hands me my menu and… OH MY GOODNESS IS THAT MY VERY OWN MINT WATER? Well, that didn’t take very long. I’m in love.

4. I glance at the menu. Pretty sure I’ve died and gone to food heaven because I want EVERY salad, drink, and entree that they offer. If only I wasn’t a poor college student. Oh well, I settle for some avocado toast and a kale salad.

5. My meal comes and it looks like it’s from a magazine. No joke. Here are the deets:

-Local kale, sunfower seed tahini, avocado, green apples, sunflower seeds, and smoked sea salt salad

-Curry avocado toast with cilantro mustard seeds and lime

Eating slowly and savoring your food is seriously overrated. I scarfed down my meal in no time. Don’t worry, though, I resisted for a few seconds to take a picture.

Butcher's Daughter

Hottest trend this summer? Leftovers. Save everything you don’t eat after dinner to prevent wasting delicious foods that can be used later for different meals. Case in point: this past weekend, we grilled up tons of veggies (asparagus, eggplant, broccoli, peppers, onions, and mushrooms). I tossed in the leftovers with kale, avocado, cranberries, tomatoes, and lemon juice the next day for a hearty lunch.

grilled veggie salad

If I could go anywhere at this very moment, it would be back to Paris. But, since that’s not very realistic, I guess some delicious nutella, banana, and strawberry crepes will suffice.


Check out one taste at a time’s instagram for more!