Life update: the year (so far) in review

Long time, no blog! I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been trucking along with grad school for the past few months, and realized I hadn’t written here in a minute after posting pretty consistently for awhile. At first thought I didn’t feel like anything major has changed in my life recently, but looking back on the first (almost) half of 2021, I’ve done quite a bit. Here are some highlights…and lowlights:

I dyed my hair green! Well, it was supposed to be dark green, and it turned out more of a teal-blue color. Hazards of a DIY dye job, I guess? I loved it while I had it, though (I’ve since chopped off the dyed bottom half), and I’ve been planning to write a blog post about the whole process for, well, months now. Hopefully I’ll actually get around to it soon!

I broke my arms. This was definitely a defining event of my winter, for better or for worse—in early February, I fell while ice skating and fractured a bone in the wrist of one arm and near the elbow of the other. It was actually the first time I’d been ice skating in over 10 years, after another semi-traumatic fall happened the last time. So, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be ice skating again any time soon (though I may try to brave the ice again next winter, provided I’m decked out in full hockey pads). I was pretty immobile for about a week and then slowly recovered over the course of the following month. Although this experience undoubtedly sucked, the silver lining was all the care, love, and delicious food I received from my local friends while I was out of commission—it definitely made me grateful to have such a strong community here.

The initial splint situation (plus a sling I had to take off to drive home from the urgent care).

I started a style-tracking Instagram account. I’ve been following, learning from, and engaging with the sustainable fashion community on Instagram for a long while now, and I finally decided to join in on the fun myself! I post outfits, occasional makeup looks, and lots of thoughts about fashion, sustainability, and my relationship to my closet in the captions. Going forward, I plan to better integrate my Instagram & blog content, delving deeper into the topics I thumb-type in my captions and maybe even sharing some outfit roundups or styling ideas. For now, if you’d like to follow along on this Insta-venture, you can find me here.

My latest style ‘gram!

I road-tripped down South. I tagged along with my friends Kae and Katie to dogsit in rural South Carolina for a few weeks, and we had a lovely time. We didn’t do too much venturing out into the world because of COVID, but we walked the dogs a bunch and hiked and watched multiple Shrek movies together and it was great. Also, I was able to get vaccinated while I was there; definitely another highlight!

I was diagnosed with ADHD. This is a very recent development and something I’m still processing, learning about, and figuring out how to live my life with. I’ll dedicate at least one post to talking about this in the future, because it’s been a long journey to even get diagnosed and I’m sure an even longer path of learning, changing, and fitting this diagnosis into my life lies ahead. So for now, let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll try to answer them in a separate post.

Unrelated to the ADHD thing, I got to see this cool orchid a few weeks ago—the yellow lady’s slipper, Cypripedium parviflorum.

That about brings you up to speed on my major life events so far this year. As summer has begun in earnest (if not yet in astronomical time), I’ve relished being outside, seeing friends in-person now that we’re fully vaccinated, traveling a bit, and having more time and brainpower to devote to my actual thesis work now that the semester is over. I hope you have a great summer, and I’ll see you back on the blog soon.

Best & worst of Versed (skincare review)

Today I’m trying a new style of blog post: Rapid-fire reviews. Rather than talk about one product in-depth, I’ll cover a whole bunch from the same line: Versed.

An offshoot of the highly successful Who What Wear blog-turned-fashion line, Versed hit the shelves of Target stores across the country in 2018 and caught my interest from the jump. Affordable, effective skincare that’s vegan, cruelty-free, “sustainable” (in some sense of the word—in this case, recycled and recyclable packaging), and pretty to look at is still not very common. Over the past few years I’ve tried quite a few products from Versed’s line; read on for my thoughts on each.

Disclaimer that skincare, like skin, is really personal, and what works for me may or may not work for you! So, take my opinions with a big pinch of salt; I hope they’re useful to you regardless.

Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm (cleanser)

Versed | Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
All photos in this post are from Versed’s site.

As cleansing balms go, Day Dissolve is solid. I’d put it on par with Farmacy’s Green Clean balm, as it does pretty much the same job (at a fraction of the price). Both balms successfully took off my makeup, although both unfortunately stung my eyes. I’ve realized that I prefer a liquid makeup remover, like a cleansing oil or a more liquid balm instead of one that you scoop from a jar, so I didn’t repurchase Day Dissolve. But if you like Farmacy’s balm or one of its even more expensive counterparts, check out this product for an option that feels similar on the face and lighter on the wallet.

Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution (toner)

Versed | Weekend Glow Daily Brightening Solution

As with the cleansing balm, this toner is a decent product that I don’t dislike; I’ve just outgrown it. In comparison to other chemically exfoliating/brightening toners I’ve tried, it doesn’t quite match the superstar (in my opinion) Pixi Glow Tonic, or the similar-but-more-expensive REN Ready Steady Glow. But it does its job just fine. I’ve just decided to, in the words of beauty podcast Gloss Angeles, “Obey Renee” (a.k.a. esthetician and brand founder Renee Rouleau) and take my chemical exfoliation via serum, not daily toner. So I currently have a half-used bottle of Weekend Glow sitting on my vanity—I’m saving it for emergencies, I guess? Side note: Are brands contractually obligated to put the word “glow” in the name of any brightening toner?

Baby Cheeks Hydrating Milk (toner)

Versed | Baby Cheeks All-In-One Hydrating Milk

Not to show all my cards or whatever (I don’t play poker so I don’t know even know if I’m using this analogy correctly), but this is my favorite product from Versed. As the name suggests, it’s a hydrating toner instead of an exfoliating one, and it’s become a crucial step in my skincare routine—I’ve gone through at least three or four bottles of the stuff already.

The product description is a bit confusing on where to use this product in your routine; personally, I use it in the mornings as a sometimes alternative to fully washing my face, and in the evenings as a step between cleanser and serum to keep my skin hydrated and prevent it from getting that tight, squeaky-clean feeling. For the record, Versed recommends this product for dry skin, but I have pretty oily skin and still love it. (This was also a product recommendation from Gloss Angeles — fun!)

Just Breathe Clarifying Serum (serum—shocking, I know!)

Versed | Just Breath Clarifying Serum

The best way to describe how I feel about this serum is “meh.” I used it up, and it didn’t break me out, but it didn’t seem to do much of anything for my skin, either. I bought this serum because one of its main active ingredients is niacinamide, which I’ve found helpful for my skin in the past, but I’ve seen much better results from The Ordinary (cheap) and Blissoma (expensive) niacinamide serums, both of which I’ve repurchased multiple times. Investigating for the sake of this blog post, the percentage of niacinamide in Just Breathe is the lowest of the three by quite a bit, so that’s likely why it didn’t wow me. If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to niacinamide, it might be more up your alley, but I’d probably just recommend you try The Ordinary’s instead.

Found the Light Vitamin C Powder (serum-adjacent)

Versed | Found the Light Vitamin C Powder

I’ll be honest: I have yet to see a result from any Vitamin C skincare product I’ve tried, and this one is no exception. So in that sense, I can’t single it out for underwhelming me.

The idea behind this product seems good: Offered in powder form, Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) is much more stable and has a longer shelf life than its liquid-integrated or encapsulated counterparts. You’re instructed to mix the powder as needed into your serum or cream. In practice, though, I’m wary of leaving the amount of active ingredient to apply up to the consumer. This product caters to the growing trend of skincare enthusiasts moonlighting as amateur cosmetic chemists, and while I’m all for more women in STEM, having only partial, incorrect, or misleading information about your ingredients, without the scientific training to understand them, can be a dangerous state. Also, “two shakes” of powder as prescribed by Versed’s website is not a measurement that instills confidence in me that consumers will use this product properly.

I don’t think the brand has any malicious intent in offering this product, but I do think skincare formulation is better left to the experts. Also, the product just didn’t do anything for me.

Look Alive Hydrating Plumping Mask (self-explanatory)

Versed | Look Alive Hydrating Plumping Mask

I’ve used this mask several times and it truly just does nothing for me. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend spending your money on it.

Silk Slip Conditioning Lip Oil (lip balm)

Versed | Silk Slip Conditioning Lip Oil

I feel somewhat conflicted about this lip balm (or lip oil, technically, I guess), but ultimately I don’t like it. It doesn’t actually make my lips feel hydrated or moisturized. What it does succeed at is sealing in the moisture, so I will sometimes apply it over another lip product that is actually hydrating. So it’s kind of like Vaseline in that way. But it does not do what I’m looking for in a lip product.

Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35

Versed | Guards Up Daily Mineral Sunscreen

This sunscreen is the most contentious Versed product for me. The first tube of it I bought, I loved. It’s a great, lightweight, relatively affordable mineral sunscreen that doesn’t feel greasy or heavy, and the slight tint keeps it from leaving a noticeable white cast on my skin. But the second tube…was gritty! Each time I used it, there were noticeably gritty bits when I tried rubbing it into my skin, and that’s just a no-go. Aside from making the application experience unpleasant, it could be a sign of a faulty product. I actually sent the faulty tube back to Versed so they could investigate. In the meantime, I’m holding off from repurchasing this sunscreen until the issue is resolved.

Final Thoughts

In the spirit of March Madness, I decided to distill my thoughts on the Versed products in my lineup into sports metaphors.

The MVP: Baby Cheeks

The Varsity Squad: Day Dissolve, Weekend Glow

The Benchwarmers: Just Breathe, Found the Light

The Flops (this may not be a sports metaphor but if you have a better equivalent I’m all ears): Silk Slip, Look Alive

The Disgraced Former Pro: Guards Up

The Prospect: Gentle Cycle cleanser (I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list)

Have you tried any Versed products? What are your thoughts on the brand?

Review: Bullet Journal Edition 2

I’ve been bullet journaling for several years now and have blogged about my practice a couple times. But I’ve never discussed my materials, because really, all you need to start a bullet journal is a notebook and a writing utensil. (This is probably a good time to mention that if you aren’t familiar with the Bullet Journal method, the rest of this post probably won’t make much sense to you. But I encourage you to check it out, if you’re interested!)

When (Bullet Journal creator) Ryder Carroll unveiled the official Bullet Journal Edition 2 late last year, I knew I had to try it. I managed to snag a blush pink notebook and I’ve been using it for a little over a month now.

This notebook is currently sold out, but it’s set to restock soon, so I hope this review is helpful to anyone thinking about buying it!

In the past, I’ve used the regular Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot grid notebook as my bullet journal, so that’s my point of reference. The official Bullet Journal is a modification of this style.

Below, I’ll break down the features of the official Bullet Journal and how I feel about them (“Good,” “Meh,” or “Bad”), comparing them to the regular Leuchtturm A5 if relevant. Note: These ratings are just my opinion, shared to hopefully give you some insight into whether you might like this notebook. What I see as a not-so-great feature might be a plus for you!

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Bullet Journal branding: Good

I love the simply embossed “BULLET JOURNAL” on the cover of this notebook. It’s subtle enough to avoid drawing attention to itself, but present enough to remind me of the meaning behind this practice each time I open my notebook. The paper jacket that explains the new features is well-designed, and it’s clear a lot of care went into this presentation.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Grid Guide: Meh

I love the idea of a grid guide—basically, a “cheat sheet” page that marks where to separate a page into halves, thirds, quarters, et cetera—but I don’t feel like it does much stuck inside the front cover. I’d much rather have a removable grid guide on a transparent sheet that I can lay over any page of my notebook to quickly divide it up into rows or columns. In fact, I might make something like that for myself.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Key, Intentions, Index, and Future Log: Meh

I believe these are features of the Bullet Journal Edition 1, too, and I imagine they’re helpful for anyone starting out. Personally, I don’t need a key, and I usually use only two pages for each my Index and Future Log (which are each allocated 4 pages in this notebook), so I’m not sure if I will be taking full advantage of these pages. I did appreciate the dedicated space for intentions, though, and I will carry that practice forward with me.

Smart Grid: Good

This is one of my favorite features in Edition 2. Subtle dots at the inner and bottom edge of each page’s grid allow you to quickly divide a page into halves or thirds (or quarters, or sixths…). It’s drastically cut down on my time spent counting dots and is intuitive to use once I identified the extra dots. The Smart Grid might be the single most compelling reason to choose this notebook over another one, in my opinion.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Page Status bullet: Good

I am still figuring out how I want to use this feature, but I love the idea of a single bullet that you can use to determine, at a glance, whether a page requires your attention in the moment or what it’s for. Although I don’t do my Daily Reflection/Monthly Migration exactly like the original Bullet Journal method, I’ve still found it useful to X out this bullet on my Daily Log pages when I’ve completed all my tasks. For my other Collections, I want to color-code this bullet somehow, I just haven’t nailed down my system yet. Also, the page numbers are now centered above this bullet, which is a nice touch.

Larger Margins: Meh

This isn’t a bad feature, it just doesn’t make much difference to me. I tend to write from the top to the bottom of the page without much regard for the margins, anyway. It does mean there are two fewer squares in the grid in each vertical and horizontal direction, if that matters to you.

The Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot grid notebook (left) vs. the Bullet Journal Edition 2 (right). See how much lighter the dots are?! (You can also see the Page Status Bullet and Smart Grid in this photo, though, which are nice.)

Lighter Dots: Bad

Alas, the only bad feature of the Bullet Journal Edition 2, in my opinion! The dots in this notebook are significantly lighter than those in the regular Leuchtturm A5. In bright light, it’s not too much of an issue. But in low-light conditions I really struggle to see the dots, and then they’re not really serving their purpose as a guide for writing neatly or drawing straight lines. I imagine the intention of this change was to make the dots less prominent under drawings and other artistic creations, but since I primarily write and create simple collections in my journal, I’d much rather the dots stand out than fade into the background.

120 GSM paper (and fewer pages): Meh

I’m torn on this feature. One one hand, the thicker pages in Edition 2—120 GSM (grams per square meter, a measure of paper weight) as opposed to 80 GSM in a regular Leuchtturm—feel very nice, and I do notice less ghosting (writing visible through the back side of a page), although that never bothered me much in the first place. The tradeoff, though, is that there are only 204 numbered pages in this journal, a significant decrease from 251 pages in a standard Leuchtturm notebook.

I imagine the thicker pages were added to appeal more to the artistic bullet journalers who use heavier inks and paints in their notebooks, but most of that community (in my experience) prefers even thicker 160 GSM pages. And for me, someone who’s just writing in my journal 95% of the time, I’d rather have more, thinner pages than fewer, thicker pages.

One more good thing, though: This new paper is “sustainably sourced.” I don’t know exactly what is meant by that, but if it’s true then I’m glad to hear it.

Three Bookmark Ribbons: Good

Before I got this notebook, I didn’t think having three built-in bookmarks instead of two would drastically alter my bullet journaling practice, but it’s actually been great. I use one bookmark for my Monthly Log and one for my Daily Log, as before, but now I have an extra one for whichever other spread I want to quickly reference. Sometimes this is a weekly log, or it’s another collection I update often, like the books I’m reading. (This is also a feature of Edition 1, but not of the regular Leuchtturm notebook.)

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Sticker Sheet: Good

Now, this is a feature that fits perfectly with the Bullet Journal ethos. If you use the original vertical Monthly Log layout like me, the rose gold-printed stickers with dates and days of the week are the perfect time-saving efficiency—and they look lovely, too. Ditto for the names of each month, though I use those a bit differently than originally intended. I haven’t much used the lightning bolt and bullet icon stickers yet, but I’m excited to incorporate them.

Photo from the Bullet Journal website.

Pocket Guide: Good

Edition 2 comes with a removeable booklet in the back cover laying out the basics of the Bullet Journal Method. I’ve been bullet journaling for a few years, so I don’t need to read it, but I think it’s a great introduction for any new journaler without taking up precious page space for anyone who doesn’t need it.


Here are the features I rated as Good, Bad, and Meh:


BuJo branding

Smart Grid

Page Status bullet

three bookmarks

sticker sheet

Pocket Guide


Grid Guide

Key, Index, etc.

larger margins

120 GSM paper / fewer pages


lighter dots

Overall, I’ve enjoyed using my Bullet Journal Edition 2 for a fresh start to the new year. Right now, the good features (especially the Smart Grid and stickers) outweigh the meh/bad (those pale dots!!) for me, so I’ll probably keep using this notebook unless I find another one that better suits me needs.

This is purely speculative, but I feel like some of these changes—especially the thicker pages, Grid Guide, and lighter dots—are designed to appeal to the more artistic members of the Bullet Journal community, while still retaining the system’s simple utility (page numbers, and dedicated pages for some core elements of the method) that attracts its more minimalist users. To me, it seems like splitting the difference. As I mentioned above, I think artsier BuJo-ers will still gravitate toward notebooks without page numbers and with even heavier pages, while those who tend toward a simpler style, like me, would appreciate having more pages instead of thicker ones. So if more changes are in the pipeline for a future Edition 3, I’d love to combine some of the excellent features of this edition, like the Smart Grid, with the classic specs of the blueprint.

I hope this review was helpful in determining if the Bullet Journal Edition 2 is a good choice for you! If you have thoughts of your own about this notebook, I’d love to hear them.

What’s on my bookshelf? Jan. 2021

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a bookshelf post! Today I’d like to share with you what I’ve been reading this month and what I’ll be picking up soon. (Technicality: several of these are not physically on my bookshelf because I had to return them to the library, but you know. We can pretend they are.)

Just finished: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Is Glennon Doyle's new memoir 'Untamed' inspirational or heavy-handed? |  The Seattle Times

This was going to be a book-club book for me, but our book club sort of took a holiday hiatus and when the audiobook showed up in my Libby app a few weeks ago, I decided to read it anyway. I have mixed feelings about this book. The personal-narrative parts were compelling to me, and the broader generalizations about ~why women are the way we are~ were less so. I enjoyed hearing about Glennon’s big life changes (I don’t want to spoil things for you so I’m keeping it vague) and how she approached them, but I found myself tuning out during the sections that went on about her more abstract ideas. At several points I was genuinely moved and I even cried a couple times. If you are a fan of Glennon’s past work or generally like books of the self-help and female empowerment variety, I think you’d like this one too.

Just finished: The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3) by N.K. Jemisin

This finale of Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy was as engrossing as the last iteration and brought the story to a satisfying conclusion. Like the other two books in the series, it takes work to read; you have to pay attention to the details and mechanics of this fantasy (or is it?) world to get the most out of it. In my opinion, that work is worth it. Although the first book (The Fifth Season) still stands out to me as the best, and its unique structure sets up some incredible twists, Jemisin had plenty of reveals left up her sleeve for the second and third installments as she expanded our understanding of her world and introduced a secondary protagonist. Jemisin is a talented storyteller and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Just finished: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted: A Novel: Novik, Naomi: 9780804179058: Books

Uprooted is a fairytale that takes pleasure in subverting the typical fairytale tropes. It presents an enchanting world with a likeable protagonist (although her best friend, despite driving a lot of the plot, has no character development or personality). I was especially endeared to the Eastern European-inflected setting due to my own family background (although a sovereign Ukraine doesn’t exist in this fantasy world between the Poland and Russia stand-ins, I….pretended it does). For this and other reasons, it reminded me a lot of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, so if you liked that book I bet you’d enjoy Uprooted as well (and vice versa). The last quarter or so of the book was lackluster for me, as all seemed hopeless and the story wallowed in the bad parts a bit too long for my taste. But of course, like any self-respecting fairytale, there is a happy ending.

Just finished: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea: A Novel: Morgenstern, Erin: 9780385541213:  Books

I…don’t know how to feel about this book. Let me rephrase that: I don’t know how I feel about this book. Actually, it’s more that I feel several conflicting feelings about this book and am trying to figure out how to talk about them. First of all, Morgenstern’s prose, overflowing with description and lavish with details, annoys and compels me in equal measure. “That’s not how you’re supposed to write!” I grumble, reading page after page describing a party that amounts to a bookish, daydreamy, Tumblr-scrolling teen’s fever dream. And yet, I keep reading. And there’s still a part of that uncool teen within me that genuinely loves it and wishes I, too, could stand on the shores of the Starless Sea. Morgenstern gives voice to that impulse for fantasy and extravagance that I suspect still lies dormant within a lot of us cynical adults, and I have to grudgingly respect her for it.

One part of this book I liked unreservedly was Morgenstern’s lack of concern for justifying or explaining her fantasy world. How, exactly, did there come to be a mystical story-flanked sea under the Earth’s crust? Who cares; it just is. Some people may hate this lack of explanation, and I get that too. But for me, a story is always more exciting when there’s still an element of mystery to the phenomenon or danger present. For example: When a dreadful monster is finally revealed, it always lets me down, because the fun and horror and uncertainty of imagining what it could be is more compelling than its actual form. (See: Stranger Things.) There are no monsters in The Starless Sea (okay, maybe a few, but they’re not really important), but the effect is the same. By refusing to explain how or why (beyond a certain extent of revelations to move the characters along), Morgenstern keeps the magic and the mystery intact.

A few final thoughts about this book (I read it the most recently, so I have a lot of reactions fresh in my brain!): Its structure is ambitious, interweaving tales that exist in the world of the main characters (I know there’s a word for this, but I don’t know what it is!) between each chapter of the main story, and I think it really works. That said, the main thread of the story and the main character are both kind of passive. Zachary Ezra Rawlins (whose full name is stated far too many times, IMO) is sort of swept along by the ambiance and the mystery of this whole deal, and as the reader I found myself swept along in those currents, too. The Starless Sea frustrated me at times, but it was certainly an enjoyable and atmospheric read. If you love fantasy and/or describe yourself as a “reader,” I’d recommend at least giving this one a try.

Currently reading: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the  Teachings of Plants: Kimmerer, Robin Wall: 9781571313560: Books

I’ve had this book recommended to me countless times and I’ve been meaning to read it for over a year. (I’ve actually had it checked out from my university’s library for a about the same amount of time…I have to return it next week, though, so I’m really motivated to finish now!) A few chapters in, I already love it and feel like it’s going to become one of those favorite-status books for me. I want to highlight something on every other page and I think I’ll just need to buy my own copy so I can. If you aren’t familiar, ecologist Robin Wall Kimmerer blends the Western science she was trained on and the Indigenous knowledge she was raised with to talk about the natural world and humanity’s place in it. The result is absolutely captivating and if you, too, love nature, I would highly recommend it.

Up next: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Los Angeles Public Library -  OverDrive

A creator I recently came across who is quickly becoming one of my favorite people to follow, Elizabeth Turn (AKA Plant Based Bride on YouTube), recommended this book so I decided to check it out! I’ve been getting more into reading sci-fi in the past couple years, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a try. I don’t know much about the plot…but it’s the first in a trilogy so hopefully I’ll have plenty more to read from Becky Chambers.

Up next: The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll

The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the  Future: Carroll, Ryder: 9780525533337: Books

I’ve been using the bullet journal method for several years now and it’s the best way I’ve found to organize my thoughts, events, and to-dos (and have a bit of fun with doodling along the way). I discovered this practice through Ryder Carroll’s blog, but I never picked up the book he came out with a few years ago because I figured I already had the method down and didn’t need to read about it again. It was recently recommended to get more insight into the mindfulness aspect of bullet journaling, so now I’m giving it a go!

What are you reading these days? Any thoughts on these books or recommendations for others? I’d love to hear about it!

Kate’s chickpea salad: a recipe

Long time, no see! I’ve been super busy with field research this summer and I have a growing list of blog topics I want to talk about. As I transition into the school year and my schedule becomes (somewhat) less hectic, I’m hopeful that I can find time to blog more regularly. For now, though, enjoy this simple and delicious chickpea salad recipe that’s been sitting in my drafts for months…

I’ve had a few run-ins with chickpea salad since I went vegan, and I’ve never enjoyed it as much as I wanted to. I looooove chickpeas, and I like salad (though not the mayo-based ones quite as much), so this should be right up my alley…right?

I think my main problem was that the recipes I tried over-veganified things. This is a term I’m using, starting right now, to describe foods that veer a bit too far into stereotypical-vegan-ingredient-replacement-health-focused-changes for my personal taste. It’s totally subjective! But for me, a chickpea salad that used avocado for the main fat just tasted like weeeeird guacamole. Sunflower seeds didn’t do it for me, either. Too much garlic, an ingredient I usually adore, also kind of ruined the experience. So for the past couple years, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that chickpea salad is one of those vegan things I just can’t get behind, like eggplants and massive portobello mushrooms.

That is, until my friend Kate told me about a chickpea salad she made last weekend. It sounded deliciously simple, and I knew I had to try it as a potential field lunch. When I’m doing fieldwork, I need lunches that are portable, filling, don’t need to be refrigerated, and can survive being jostled around in a backpack for several hours before being eaten while I sit on the forest floor. This chickpea salad sounded like it just might fit the bill…and lo and behold, it did!

No frills, no fancy ingredients, and it comes together in minutes. What more can you ask of a field lunch, really?! Oh, and in addition to being vegan, this recipe is also gluten-free and low-FODMAP. Pretty awesome!

The key to making this a delicious lunch was to eat it with super-crunchy pita chips. I’d packed previous chickpea salads into wraps or sandwiches, where they’d turn into a soggy, monotextural mush by lunchtime. But with pita chips (or maybe a really sturdy toasted bread), there’s a salty crunch that pairs wonderfully with the creamy, tangy chickpea salad.

Anway, that is all to say: I’m so happy to have found my perfect chickpea salad. Thanks, Kate! Let’s get to the recipe:

Simple chickpea salad

It may not look all that appetizing, but personally I don’t think any mayo-based salads are particularly photogenic. Trust me, it tastes good.
  • Serves: 2 as a main or 4 as a side (double the recipe for a week’s worth of lunches!)
  • Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or about 1.75 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried or 2 Tbsp fresh dill


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mash chickpeas with the back of a fork until a chunky mash forms & only a few whole beans remain.
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients & refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld together. Serve with pita chips or on sturdy toasted bread with Romaine.

2020 Vision

We’re a whole month into the new year (!!!) and I’m finally getting around to writing my resolutions down here. I’ve had them written in my trusty Bullet Journal for a few weeks, but there’s nothing for accountability like making things public, y’know?

With that said, here are my resolutions for this pleasingly symmetrical year. I didn’t include anything work/school-related, because those are pretty clear benchmarks that I didn’t come up with on my own.

1. Read 50 books.

Including books for pleasure, not for school. I got pretty close to this number last year but didn’t quite hit it. Here’s hoping I can up the ante this time around. (As of writing this, I’ve finished 3 books so far this year: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Women Talking by Miriam Toews. I would recommend all of them.)

2. Finish my novel draft.

I completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November by getting to 50,000 words, but I didn’t quite finish the story I was writing. I literally have not even opened that file since November 30th, but this year, I’m going to finish writing and editing the novel.

3. Go on 12 dates. (Joint resolution!)

This is a resolution I’m sharing with a few friends of mine. We’re all…not great at dating, so we determined to each go on 12 dates this year for an average of one a month and keep each other posted. Wish us luck!

4. Get more involved in the community.

I’ve done a bit of volunteering since I’ve moved through the local co-op’s awesome member work program, but I want to get more involved in some local organizations that support the community I’m now a part of.

5. Spend my time in ways that fulfill me.

I spend soooo many hours scrolling mindlessly on social media, and at a certain point it’s not even fun anymore. I think (I hope, kinda?) others can relate. I don’t know if it’s a social media “addiction” in my case, but it’s definitely something, and for some reason I’m not ready to give up Instagram entirely. But I am trying to be mindful of how I spend my time and to be more quick to put down the phone. Pursuits like reading, writing, and even sleeping make me much happier than the permascroll.

6. Learn to play the harp.

I’ve wanted to play the harp for as long as I can remember, and I’m determined that this is the year I finally do it! This resolution is the most “out of the box” for me, as I don’t really consider myself a musical person—the most recent musical experience I’ve had was playing violin until 4th grade. So this is a brand new adventure for me. We’ll see how it goes!

Going batty

Happy (almost) Halloween, friends! In this spooky season, several of my friends learned about “Bat Week” (according to the National Park Service, it is Oct. 24-Oct. 31 this year). It’s like Shark Week…but for bats, the only mammals capable of continuous flight!

One of the suggestions for how to celebrate Bat Week was to “Host a bat-centric party.” Well, my friends decided to do so, and it was a b(l)a(s)t. I got really invested, and wanted to share with you the ways I got into the batty spirit this week.

Photo: National Park Service

Monday: When it was time to re-paint my nails for the week, I tried to do some bat-themed nail art. Subsequently, I remembered how difficult nail art is and how bad I am at it. Regardless, this is my bat-accented manicure. It’s……not great, but I think you can at least tell the shapes are bats, which is about as good as I could have hoped for.

That’s a box of maple creme cookies in the background of this nail shot. I was really getting into the fall spirit!

Moving on!

Thursday: I had promised my friend Tessa that I would make bat cookies for the party. What exactly constitutes a “bat cookie” is up for interpretation, but for my purposes, I decided that it was a cookie shaped like a bat. Accordingly, I searched for a bat-shaped cookie cutter all week. I didn’t want to order one on Amazon for multiple dollars and waste the resources for shipping and packaging a single item, and I was sure there would be a cheapo Halloween-themed cookie cutter at some grocery store in town. Alas, no dice.

By Thursday night, I was down to cookie crunch time with no cutter. I decided to go for it and cut out each cookie by hand. It couldn’t be too hard, right? Two hours and two episodes of Queer Eye later, I had 24 chocolate cookies that were recognizably bat-shaped, although each bat had its own personal quirks. This process was pretty time-consuming, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but in the end I think the cookies turned out pretty well.

Bat cookies take flight!

Did I spend a lot of time that I should have been working on other tasks cutting out bat cookies? Yes. Do I regret it? No.

Friday: Finally, it was party time! I brought my cookies, along with a bag of powdered sugar that people sprinkled onto them to represent white-nose syndrome. I dressed all in black. My friends who were hosting the party were fully dressed up as bats—species-specific, of course.

I did bat-wing eyeliner on my friend, and as seems to be the theme for this week/post, it was a bit of a struggle but turned out better than I expected.

As for the long-awaited bat party itself, it was great. People brought bat-pollinated snacks (dates, plantain chips, banana bread, chocolate, tequila-based drinks). A custom song about bats was written for the party, and it’s still stuck in my head. Batty videos like the one below were projected on the living room wall.

Three words: BABY. BAT. BURRITOS.

All in all, it was a great party and a very fitting celebration of bat week!

Since there are a few days left, how are you going to celebrate Bat Week? Perhaps by making a donation to the Vermont Bat Center, or another worthy cause? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to my blog!

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.

— John Muir
Me, circa 2009, sitting on the world’s largest spruce tree in Quinault, WA. Wearing an Aeropostale T-shirt with the words “One Love” superimposed on an illustration of Earth. On a pit stop from a “Twi-Tour” to visit Forks, WA and various filming locations from the movie Twilight, based on the book by Stephenie Meyer. I contain ~multitudes~.

For months I’ve been wanting to start blogging again, but I couldn’t decide which topic to focus on. Veganism? Makeup? Forest ecology? My indecision pushed this project onto the back burner. (And full disclosure: I just started grad school, so this is definitely still a back burner kind of deal.) Finally, I decided to let this be a space for all my interests — that’s who I am as a person, so why not bring the mishmash to the blog-o-sphere? Let’s see how it goes!