December 30, 2015

I always do a nice resolve to "love yourself this year" post around New Years. Click here to read my post from 2013, click here to read my post from 2014, and click here to read my post from 2015. I just feel like giving yourself a resolution is a reason to push your real problems deeper down. Health may be a deeper problem, and, in that case, seek a dietician or personal trainer. I think going to the gym is great, and is something we shouldn't have to resolve our selves to do. You can give yourself a resolution to be happier, but have the reason behind that be because you love yourself and your body, and want to be healthier to live a long and happier life. But giving ourself numbers on a scale as a label, we are perpetuating a nasty cycle that begins with body shaming and ends in eating disorders. Here are 27 better resolutions than going to the gym this year:

  1. Taking yourself on weekly coffee dates.
  2. Do a good deed.
  3. Take up the hobby you've always been meaning to.
  4. Read that book you've always been meaning to.
  5. Learn that skill or computer program you've always wanted to.
  6. Have a night with your friends in a place you've never gone to.
  7. Strengthen a friendship or relationship that you feel needs more attention.
  8. If you've been meaning to mend a broken friendship or relationship, do it.
  9. Think of something you love about yourself every day.
  10. Go on day trips with your close friends, family, or significant other.
  11. If your heart is broken, take time to mend it.
  12. If your heart is empty, find someone to fill it.
  13. Take a vow to sleep in more, or go to bed earlier. 
  14. Start power napping.
  15. Take a look at your finances, and see if you have an opportunity to save more. 
  16. Hit up local flea markets or farmer's market.
  17. Practice mindful meditation.
  18. Vow to speak up for yourself more often.
  19. Be more honest with yourself.
  20. Be more honest with others.
  21. Fix up your resume or portfolio.
  22. If you need professional help in any way but are avoiding it, look into it.
  23. Count your blessings and be happy to be alive every day.
  24. Tell the people that you love in your life that you love them. 
  25. If you don't have a pet, but want one, rescue one.
  26. Redecorate a room in your living space.
  27. Do self-improvement things because you love yourself and want to learn how to love yourself even more. 

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!



December 29, 2015

Merry Christmas! It's time for the annual Christmas look of Dollar Store Diva. I feel like every year, my Christmas look changes with my style. If you've been following my blog, you've seen my style change throughout the years. However, most people go through style changes. This year everything is darker, slimmer, and smokier.


Tank: White House Black Market
Shoes: ALDO
Necklace: Forever 21
Joggers: Kohls

I could get away with a tank top because it's unseasonably warm. I'd like to thank the Heat Miser and my lack of self-restraint.  I got this tank from work (WHBM) after the first shift I worked this break, and loved its simple elegance.


Eyeshadow: LORAC Pro 
Lips: MAC
Eyeliner: CoverGirl
Highlighter: Benefit "It Girl"
Blush: NYC Cinnamon 

I got the Influenster VoxBox, for free, with the CoverGirl #Plumpify Mascara.
The #plumpify mascara has a bilayer wand for extra plumpness of my eyelashes. Here's a before and after picture:

You can also see a closeup of my winged eyeliner, highlighter at the corner of my eyes, and revlon eyebrow filler. I love the shape and definition this gives my eyelashes. 

Here's a picture of our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day spread:

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!

butternut squash


December 23, 2015

One of my favorite things to do is to make recipes "Nikki-fied", which usually means, add a healthier kick to it. I do this all the time. It may be me being stubborn and a perfectionist, it may be me being a health nut, it may be me wanting a reason to make a new blog post, the world may ever know. However, I do know that I love butternut squash and pasta.

On Christmas Eve, my family likes to make Italian-style food. Perhaps it's because the food we eat on Christmas day is so Americanized. Perhaps it's because pasta food is such a comfort food for a cold December night. Either way, it's a tradition I don't mind. I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it instantly stuck out to me. Pasta, gorgonzola, bacon, butternut squash, pasta... it's all heavenly to me.

The first step was to make the sauce. The sauce is a rich butternut squash sauce. The first step is to roast the butternut squash with garlic.

When it was almost done, I started sizzling the pasta toppings in a sautee pan. I replaced bacon with turkey bacon, and added sun dried tomatoes.

After the squash and garlic were tender, I took it out. I don't love too much garlic, so I minced it after roasting. Then, I added both to a food processor. 

In a bowl, I whisked light cream instead of heavy cream, nonfat greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, 3/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, and low sodium chicken stock.


I got the squash processing away while adding my dairy mixture in through the tube.

Then, according to the recipe, I cooked the pasta according to bag instructions. My replacement here was organic linguine for regular linguine. The instructions called the save some pasta water to loosen up the sauce. However, since I used nonfat greek yogurt and my diced tomatoes were more watery, I didn't need to. 
I combined the pasta, sauce, and topping, and boom!

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 medium-sized butternut squash, cut into chunks
  • 16 oz of linguine
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil 
1. Roast the cubed butternut squash and garlic in an oven set to 375 for 40 minutes
2. Sautee 6 cut turkey bacon slices and 1/4 cup cut sun dried tomatoes in a sautee pan on medium 
3. Whisk light cream instead of heavy cream, nonfat greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, 3/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, and low sodium chicken stock in a bowl to make a thick liquid mixture.
4. When squash and garlic are done, put it in a food processor or hard blender.
5. While squash and garlic are processing, add in the liquid mixture through the tube.
6. Cook 16 oz organix linguini according to package instructions.
7. Mix together and garnish with more gorgonzola cheese.
8. Enjoy!

** note that sauce ingredients will make enough sauce for 3 pounds of pasta. Make it all and freeze for leftovers, or lower amounts**

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!



December 21, 2015

You know those days when you just love your outfit so much you want everyone to appreciate it? That was my day on Friday, December 11. How else would I increase my amount of outfit appreciators? Make an #OOTD blog post about it, duh!

Cardigan: Forever 21
Tank Top: Forever 21
Jeans: Charlotte Russe
Booties: Payless

Usually in the north shore of Massachusetts, December 12 means I'm bundling up in my chunky sweaters, North Face jacket, fuzzy socks, and my bean boots. However, I'm getting away with this chunky Forever 21 seater and light tank top. Temperatures have been between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit around here.

Lately, my style has been two words:  masculine and dark. I loved playing with the two textures of this tank top and cardigan. I also love seeing how the pants and booties work together.

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!

christmas cookie

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

December 17, 2015

Two-ingredient cookies are a blessing. Last Christmas, I made Key Lime Cool Whip cookies. They were MAGICAL. Honestly, when I make these two ingredient cookies, it's all about the batter and not about the cookies. What I like about these cookies is that they taste like little cakes. That means that they're very moist and will pair will with ice cream. Some people do these cookies filled with chocolate chips, some pair it with a cream cheese frosting.

These cookies are incredibly easy to make.
  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
1. Mix ingredients in a bowl
2. Grease a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees
3. Bake for 18 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes

Pumpkin and spice cake mix makes pumpkin spice... it's the cookie of the "typical white girl!" Happy holidays!  

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!

college life

Finals Inspiration As Told by DJ Khaled

December 14, 2015

Recently, DJ Kahled has stolen many hearts and inspired many people's days over snapchat. He's formerly known for his rap songs with phrases like  "we the best" and "another one" thrown in, however now he's known for recording ten-second snapchat  videos of inspiration while wearing slippers that are embroidered with "another one".
Who else to turn to for finals inspiration besides him? Here are some tips right from his videos.

1. They don't WANT you to succeed... but you GOTTA!

DJ Khaled know that not everyone out there is your friend. Not everyone wants you to succeed. Prove them wrong this finals season.

2. Relaxation is key

He may have a lot of bills but you have a lot of schoolwork. You may not be able to afford a massage three times a week, but take mini study break and no something that makes you happy. Take a walk, grab a frappuccino from Starbucks, watch an episode from your favorite TV show.

3. Wake up, rise up, bless up.

Every morning count your blessings (and the days you have left until winter break).

4. Keep your head on straight.

Finals can be stressful but keep it healthy so it will work on test day. Keep your head above the (jacuzzi) water.

5. Sleep when possible

Sleep can be minimal during finals week, however make sure you still get it. At least some.. please.

6. Remember the bigger picture.

At the end of the day, will you remember the ins and out of the social welfare system or that you stayed up until 4 a.m. cramming the night before the final? Will you remember how to create a business plan or will you remember how horrible your group project members where? Take a step back and remember the latter.

7. Always remember: you're smart..

Happy finals and have a great break!

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!

chemical free

Chemical-free Produce Cleaning Solutions

November 30, 2015

Today's post is a guest from Edna Thompson who is writing to tell us about chemical-free cleaning solutions. I write a lot about incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet. However, having clean fruits and vegetables is equally as important as getting the nutrients from them.

Remember how your mother used to tell you when you were a child you should eat your fruits and veggies because they are good for you? But “Wash them well before you eat them!” she said. And this is a good advice indeed. Especially nowadays when most of the fruits and vegetables we consume are laden with pesticides and all sorts of growth-enhancing chemicals. Removing those is an absolute must if you care for your well-being. Sadly some amounts of chemicals remain in the produce even after washing - bad news for all “fruit-bats” out there. High pesticide levels may lead to a number of health problems including long-term cancer and lowered immunity. That's why we offer these simple tricks for toxin-free produce so you can actually benefit from their consummation. Adopt them to avoid damaging your health.

Wash your fruits and veggies the right way

Never, we repeat NEVER, consume fruits and vegetables before washing them first. Even if you have grown them in your very own garden they are still covered in dust. Wiping them just won't do! That's why you should wash all produce with cold water – this is said to remove up to 80 percent of pesticide residue from the produce' surface. For optimum results you can wash them with salt water. Be especially careful with some types of leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Napa cabbage and kale – many people do a sloppy job washing them but mind you wash carefully each single leaf under running water before consummation.


You have probably heard most of the vitamins and micro-nutrients are concentrated in fruits and vegetables' peel. True, but the same is valid for chemical and pesticide residue. So next time you decide to add a few slices of cucumber to your sandwich make sure you peel it first. This goes for potatoes, eggplants, parsnips, apples and so forth. But bare in mind that even if you plan on removing the skin so and so, you should always wash first! Another efficient way to rid your veggies of toxins and pesticides is to blanch them which basically means you should soak them in boiling water for a few seconds before plunging them in cold water. In addition blanching also helps vegetables to retain their colour, as well as most of their nutrients. Plus, if you decide to sauté them they will absorb far less oil.

Soak the Produce in Vinegar

We suggest you use apple vinegar for best results. Soak the veggies or fruits in a bowl filled with water and several tablespoons of vinegar and let them sit for five to ten minutes. If you hate vinegar feel free to use lemon juice – it's just as effective. With some fruits like nectarines, peaches and apricots you can skip the sitting as it may damage their soft and gentle skin. Then you can take them out and wash them carefully with a brush under running water. Make sure you don't use this brush for any other purposes though. Finally, you can dry the fruits or veggies with a clean piece of cloth and they are chemical-free and ready for consumption.

Yet Another Vinegar Method – Cleaning Spray

Vinegar is very effective when it comes to cleaning in general and used by many companies like TenancyCleaning Acton. That's why we offer a second vinegar cleaning method for maximum convenience. If you don't want to soak your produce in water you can easily prepare a produce cleaning spray. You will only need some clean spray bottle, half a cup of vinegar and the same amount of water, one tablespoon of lemon juice and one of baking soda. Mix the ingredients and pour them into the bottle. Spray your fruits or veggies with the solution, allow them to sit for several minutes and rinse. This will insure all chemicals are removed from the surface.

Today even the healthiest foods may produce some undesirable effects on your health. This goes especially for fruits and vegetables. With those quick and easy to follow tips you will rid your produce from all pesticides and chemical residue so that they can serve their purpose and keep you healthy and energetic.

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!


Turkey Day OOTD

November 26, 2015

I can't believe it's that time of year again. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning, I find myself scrambling between wrapping my last curl around my curling wand, asking my mother to take pictures of my OOTD, and quickly uploading a quick holiday OOTD. This year, I'm thinking ahead a little and writing out the outfit descriptions beforehand.

I'm especially thankful for my rest this year. I've been so busy at school this year, as you can tell by the lack of blog posts. I have plenty of recipes to post between now and Christmas, so that will fix that problem. Now you have plenty to look forward to! Vegan blondies, greek tex-mex, and more awaits you. I've already tasted these things and from experience, I can attest that they are in fact delicious. I don't know what it is about being home for holidays that makes me want to bake like Betty Crocker, especially since I have fully-equipped apartment with a stove and all now at school. That just means more recipes for you guys!

However, the highlight of being home, besides my friends and family, is my dog. Jackie is  y trusty steed, my loyal buddy: 

This picture really shows all of the "love weight" that she's acquired over the two years.

Here's my OOTD:

Dress: Forever 21
Scarf: Mall Kiosk
Tights: Forever 21
Socks: Forever 21
Shoes: Urban Outfitters

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!



November 16, 2015

Before I left for Atlanta this weekend, I would have described my general sentiment towards life as "dead inside", being my overly dramatic self. However, the practical term is burnt out. I wasn't even burnt out from doing things, however I was just burnt out at the long to-do lists ahead of me. This weekend, I attended the PRSSA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  I've been to two regional conferences at BU hosted by the wonderful BU PRSSA chapter, however, I've never attended a national conference. I was so excited to learn so much, improve my skills, network, and get away from Salem for a while. However, I didn't know how much I would learn.
PRSSA is a part of PRSA. PRSSA is the Public Relations Student Society of America, and PRSA is the Public Relations Society of America. There are many PRSSA chapters in multiple colleges and universities across the country. They offer webinars, conferences, scholarship, and articles about the industry. The National PRSSA board provides help to PRSSA chapters at schools. This conference was a week of keynote speakers, breakout sessions, networking, presentations, performances, and fun. I will break down exactly what I learned, and steps I will take to improve my career path, my PRSSA chapter in general, and my professional portfolio in another post. Here are some picture highlights!

The conference took place at the Marriot Marquis in Atlanta, GA. The conference rooms and ballrooms were modernly designed and just as gorgeous as they were functional. 

One of my favorite sessions was about how to make a personal, unique experience for consumers when marketing. The brand that presented was Coca Cola freestyle. They have an app that you can choose your mix of favorite Coca Cola drinks, and have it delivered to a dispenser near you.

I'm high-key obsessed with the hotel. The elevator was straight out of a movie. The rooms' circular configuration makes it look like a beehive.

Thereare many restaurants and bars in the hotel. 

We also attended the PRSA general session, which is way bigger and less intimate than the PRSSA session. Speakers included U.S. Congressman John Lewis and Weather Channel personality Jim Cantore.

This is the diner-turned karaoke bar that we hit up every night. It's the most fun I've ever  had that much fun at a breakfast place.

The relationships you make at these through networking are incredible. I love business lunch dates, especially if they include mediterranean food!

This was a huge board of analytics about the hashtag #PRSSANC and tweets about the presidential candidates. Clearly, I was in heaven. 

 Awards were presented to chapters and students who stood out this year, along with a delicious dinner.

Love the SSU PRSSA crew. It can only get bigger & better!

Never miss a tweet:
Sign up for my E-MAIL alerts!