Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love seeing all of the creativity people put into their costumes and all of the peanuts dressed as pumpkins! And if there is a pun involved in your costume, chances are I will love it 10x more.

So far my favorite costume this year is the little boy who dressed up as the pope causing the president to double over in laughter. Too cute.

My house throws a Halloween Party for our school each year which is a ton of fun and usually concludes with an epic dance party.

My first year I made an R2D-tutu costume (I told you I love the puns) and last year our house decided to all be Peanut's characters (I'm Snoopy).

I prefer costumes that don't require many resources outside of things I already own. I think the tutu is the only thing I've had to purchase material for in the past 5 years or so of Halloweens.

This year, the four of us are going as the four seasons (of the year, not the band) and I am winter. I'm working on a snowman costume right now, so we will see how it goes. If plans fall through, I might just layer up in hats, gloves, sweaters and scarves...

What are you dressing as this year?


Friday, October 30, 2015

My Summer with the Saints

November 1st marks the Feast of All Saints in the Catholic Church. Each year around this time, I try to choose a saint to learn more about and try to pray with as a guide to holiness through the year. Saints Bernadette, Ignatius of Loyola, John Paul II and Joan of Arc are some of those whose devotion to God I have come to admire through this practice.

After my adventures in Europe this summer, I find myself reflecting and praying with the many beautiful holy men and women whose lives I was fortunate enough to learn about and experience on another level.

So rather than just choosing one saint this year, I'm feeling connected to and comforted by many.

 (above: Basilica of Loyola, below: view of Montserrat on the way to Manresa)

By walking the footsteps of Ignatius of Loyola, I felt myself draw nearer to Christ in prayer and reflection along the camino. I wanted to walk those 200 km to learn more about and grow closer to the saint, but instead found myself diving deeper into my relationship with Christ, which is exactly what Iggy would have wanted. He calls all of us to live our lives so that everything is for the greater glory of God. AMDG.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October Budget

It's that time again, friends. The end of October is upon us, Halloween is approaching and Fran has shared her monthly budget link-up!

These link-ups are some of my favorites because they have exposed me not only to some great items and deals, but also to a wonderful community of bloggers who are supportive in efforts to keep track of monthly spending.

I don't know about you all, but I tend to do most of my spending toward the end of each month. Over halfway through this month, for example, I found myself thinking "wow, I may have nothing to post this month." But then, sure enough, I stumbled across a few things that I loved enough to add to my wardrobe.

Old Navy Go-Dry Cool Muscle Tee - ($16.94) $8.97 + Rewards = $0

I wore this tank on a hike in Yosemite Monday and loved it. Overall, it's a well fitting gym tank that doesn't have arm holes that expose your side too much. Mine is pretty much sold out, but there are others available. I really like the "hustle" one!

Madewell Slub V-Neck Pocket Tee - ($25) $17.99 + 40% off and student discount = $9.97

I've been a huge fan of the color rust lately so when I saw this tee on sale at Madewell for under $10, I had to get it. A plain tee-shirt and jeans is one of my favorite combinations for running errands, so this shirt is perfect! The material is incredibly soft and it comes in so many other colors! (I'm very tempted to buy the mustard one too...)

Gorjana 'Lido' Ring - ($55) $27.50 +25% off = $22.59 + giftcard = $0

This summer I participated in one of the countless blogger giveaways out there and actually won (which admittedly I thought was impossible)! My prize was a lovely $50 gift card to Shopbop! I ordered a few things to try earlier in the summer which I ended up sending back, so I still had the gift card - minus $10 because of shipping :( - when Shopbop had their friends and family sale earlier this month! I've had great experience with Gorjana jewelry in the past, so I ordered the Lido ring expecting to love it and I think I have worn it every day since its delivery. It's sold out at Shopbop, but is available at Nordstrom!

Uniqlo Sleeveless Black Blouse - $9.90

This plan black, silk shell is absolutely perfect! It's perfect for layering in the warmer California weather, and very easily transitioned from casual to business. I could not find the Uniqlo link, but I did find a couple of similar tops here and here.

The No's:

While on the same shopping trip where I bought the Madewell tee and Uniqlo tank, I tried on this dress at Old Navy and loved it. However, at the time there was no discount and since Old Navy has pretty good sales all the time, I waited to buy it until it was marked down online. Sure enough, the price dropped and I ordered it immediately. 

However, when it arrived I tried it on again and am still trying to figure out why I thought it looked good in the first place. The sleeves were tighter than I remembered and the dress body was a lot larger too. I was so bummed! Needless to say, it is being returned.

Total: $19.87

I am very happy to again come in way under budget, especially because my house is throwing a Halloween Party this weekend which will mess a bit with my normal food budget.

What deals did you find this month?


**I am linking up with Fran over at Franish

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

From That to This: Acorn Squash

Just because October in California doesn't feel like fall doesn't mean you can't still enjoy all of the fall things you love. You may have to get a little creative, but there are countless ways to make this warm hot, no-tree-changin' season into one that feels a little more like a good ol' Ohio autumn.

The easiest thing to do, beyond dressing in fall colors, is eating to suite your season. Of course, there is the classic PSL (which I love), but there's also cider, soups, other pumpkin flavored things, and one of my favorites: squash - specifically, acorn squash.

Acorn squash is one of the easiest side dishes to make for a delicious autumn dinner. All you need is four ingredients and you're ready to go!

1 acorn squash
brown sugar

To begin, preheat your oven to 400°F. Then cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon (think pumpkin carving or eating cantaloupe). Once that's done, use a knife and cut a grid into the inside of each half (this is the part that looks like a bowl and is not the skin). You do this so that the flavors can soak into the whole squash instead of just the very top.

Thoroughly coat the inside of the squash with spreadable butter (around 1/2 tbsp for each half). Then rub each half with 1 tbsp of brown sugar and sprinkle them with around 1 tsp of cinnamon.

Put the halves bowl-up in a baking tray with an inch or so of water in the bottom. This helps prevent the skin of the squash from burning with the baking dish.

Bake for an hour and fifteen minutes and voila! All you have to do is remove the skin and you're ready to eat.

I even tossed some of the left-overs in a salad I made for lunch the next day!

Do you have any foods you especially like to eat in fall?


Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Weekly Graces

Happy Monday all! I hope everyone's weekends were a ton of fun!

Today I'm starting a new thread of posts reflecting on the graces, big or small, I was blessed with during the week.

"Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day." -Alice Morse Earle

In undergrad I started keeping a journal inspired by this quote in efforts to document one good thing from each day and thought I could transition that onto the blog - but trim it down to 5 graces per week in efforts to make it more manageable (and interesting). I found reflecting on my day (typically using the Ignatian Examen) is a beautiful way to stay focused on the beauty of life when so often we tend to spend our energy fixating on the negative.

And so, here are my first 5 graces from last week:

1) A friend taught me how to make a latte at home without a fancy machine and I am super excited because a) it's really tasty and b) I am going to save so much money now that I'm not buying them!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Happy Feast Day St. John Paul II

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Pope John Paul II is one of my favorite examples of holiness in the Catholic Church. He was far from perfect, but this saint has done a lot for the Church and a lot for my faith and arguably, a lot for the world as a whole. 

 He was the first pope to set foot in a mosque and the first pope to visit the synagogue in Rome even though it was only a short distance from the Vatican. By doing so, he profoundly demonstrated the need for the recognition and respect of religions beyond Catholicism. 

When Poland was under communist control and practicing Catholicism was difficult, the young priest would take groups on "camping trips" away from the cities so that they could safely participate in mass and share in their faith. His undying commitment to the formation and recognition of the faith of our youth is inspiring.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Soul Searching

You're in for another long one folks, so please bare with me...

When I began this blog, I was looking for a creative outlet. A space where I could talk about life, maybe post a recipe or two, and also share a bit of my personal style. I wanted a space that would motivate me to do something beyond just studying and a space to write more than academic papers.

And that, thankfully, is what Simply Sarah became. By the end of last semester, I found myself cooking more adventurous things, watching my spending when it came to my clothing obsession, and even documenting bits and pieces of my adventures in Europe this summer.

But if I am being honest, I feel like there is a piece of me that isn't shared as readily on this page simply because it doesn't have anything to do with style or recipes - my faith and spirituality. And I think that is why my blog has felt so lacking for me lately.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sometimes You Just Need a Change

Confession: I am horrible at hair maintenance.

I only have my hair done about once a year - twice max. In fact, the last time I had a haircut was last September (thanks for keeping track, Facebook!). So, as you can imagine, I was definitely due for a trim.

I have another hair-related-confession... I never schedule an appointment ahead of time.

Yes, I am that girl salons hate who calls day-of asking if there is space in the schedule. I wish I wasn't, but I am. I typically toy around with the idea of getting it cut for a month or so and there's always a day where I know I have to take the plunge. I have to get it cut then, or I will put it off for another month and the cycle will continue.

(Does anyone else share my horrible hair appointment habits or am I the only one?)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Few Quick Thoughts and Updates

 I have really been slacking on the blogging front lately.

There just has not been enough time between classes, work, and other commitments this semester. I'm certain you can all understand where I am coming from. I've been struggling to find a balance of everything and unfortunately, my blog has been the easiest thing to push to the side. I wish that I could say that from today on out I would be posting regularly again, but I honestly don't know yet.

But for now, I thought I would share a few random updates and some photos of the California sunset from my balcony last week (#nofilter, but really though. I did not edit these at all. It was crazy beautiful.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hello, October

Today begins my absolute favorite month of the year, and to celebrate I've teamed up with a few other bloggers to host a great cash giveaway!