My Week in Movies: January 7-13

by lauren atkinson

This week was my birthday week and although I wasn't expecting to watch much, I ended up having a pretty good week for movies despite only watching two. 


Haunters: The Art of the Scare
This documentary focuses on individuals running "Haunts" throughout the US. I find this fascinating because as much as I love horror, I am not big on haunted/spooky attractions. In fact, I have been known to cry and run through a haunted house in attempts to get out as quickly as possible. 
The attractions in this documentary are two ends of the spectrum: the stereotypical spooky haunted house and the extreme, over-the-top "must sign a waiver" style attractions. 
I really enjoyed this. There's a few reasons: 1. I *hate* haunted attractions despite my love of most other things "horror" related. 2. I've always wondered what prompts someone to create such attractions. and 3. The people in this documentary cannot be made-up. They are raw and strange but so so amazing. 
Now I wonder: how many of my parents' suburban neighbors are creating haunted attractions in their basements and garages? 

Phantom Thread
This film is going to be a tough one to top for me for the 2017 Oscar season. It is beautifully made and the story is unlike anything I've watched before. PTA is a favorite of mine and this has officially jumped in the list as my favorite by the director. 
Daniel Day Lewis plays a dressmaker in the 1950s and his behaviors are obsessive but driven by the women that surround him: he is compulsively inspired by affection and love. 
The film's score, by Jonny Greenwood, is captivating and moving. Personally, I'd say it's the best out of the four he's worked on for PTA. 
I got the opportunity to watch this in 70mm and am so glad that I was able to. 

Quinoa Beanballs

by lauren atkinson


I like this variation of a meatball as they are hearty and have a fantastic texture. The sage and paprika together will bring through a meatier, smoky flavor. This recipe created ~24 balls and they can be kept in the refrigerator, uncooked, up to 1 week or you can freeze them for about a month. 

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can Great Northern White Beans
1 jar sundried tomatoes, with oil (4oz jar)
2 whole cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tbsp sage
0.5 tbsp parsley
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste


1. Blend the Beans and tomatoes! In a food processor or blender, you will want to pulse the beans along with the garlic and sundried tomatoes until smooth. Once this is done, set aside. No need to strain the tomatoes prior to adding to the food processor: the oil from the tomatoes will assist in holding the mixture together. 
2. Rinse the Quinoa. If you are using a quinoa that is not pre-rinsed, you will want to rinse the quinoa.* You can rinse quinoa by using a fine sieve and running warm water over the quinoa while agitating the quinoa a bit with your hands or a spoon.
3. Cook Your Quinoa. I like to cook my quinoa in vegetable broth. Combine the broth and quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat and cover your saucepan. It will take 10-15 minutes for the quinoa to cook. Cooked quinoa will be fluffy and most (if not all) of the liquid will be absorbed.** I then let the quinoa rest for a few minutes, removed from heat so that it cools a bit before being handled.
4. Mix it all together. Once your quinoa has cooled a bit, combine the bean mixture and quinoa in a large mixing bowl. At this point, you will also add your spices: the sage, paprika, black pepper, and salt. The mixture should be tacky (that's the beauty of the white beans! food glue!) 
5. MAKE THE BALLS. roll the mixture with your palms into 1.5inch balls. I like to scoop the mixture into my palm using a spoon -- this creates less mess. Once you have your balls, place them gently on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. 
6. Bake at 375° for ~35 minutes. The outside will brown a bit. 


These quinoa and bean balls are great with pasta. I like to add these into my marinara and simmer for a few minutes prior to serving. I'd image these would be AWESOME on a sub too :)


*Rinsing quinoa removes the natural coating on it. If you do not do this, your quinoa might taste a little more bitter than you're expecting. Some brands of boxed quinoa comes pre-rinsed so no effort is needed there :) If you buy bulk foods, you will need to rinse! 
**Cooked quinoa will have "germ" (the outer ring of the quinoa) start to separate from the seed. 

2017 Favorites: Cosmetics

by lauren atkinson

There were quite a few products purchased this year, so I will keep this extremely brief. The below are the items that I kept revisiting and became staples in my cosmetics drawers and now I cannot imagine what makeup life would be like without them ;)

image from my instagram - lcatkinson

image from my instagram - lcatkinson

Fenty Beauty Stunna Lip Paint

This is both a recently released product and recent purchase of mine -- Beyond it being recent and fresh in my mind, this is one of the best lipsticks I have purchase in a while (and yes, I own a lot) The color payoff is honestly, unreal. The application is both smooth and feels luxurious. Once dry, this lip paint is more of a matte-velvet finish. The only downside is there is some transfer when eating but the color lasts all day otherwise! 

I am hoping that this product results in additional colors in the line and I am confident that as soon as those colors are released, they would sell out immediately. 


Image via

Image via

Tom Ford Lipstick - BOYS&GIRLS Collection

Not only is the packaging perfectly Tom Ford, the ad campaigns for this line are some of my favorite. The images are striking and sexy. 
I picked up the shade "Evan" which happens to be my most worn lipstick at the moment. It's a mauve-y nude and looks great on both glammed up and effortless days. This lipstick is a creamy matte: It applies smoothly but has a matte finish. 

image from

image from


Drunk Elephant - like, everything...
This year I've been really focusing on skincare. One of the brands that I cannot get enough of is Drunk Elephant: I love nearly every product of theirs that I have purchased. My favorite has been a secret to keeping my skin in great condition all year: The T.L.C. Framboos™ Glycolic Night Serum. This stuff kept my skin smooth (I tend to get dry patches on my cheeks and the skin is stubborn to lift) and the Night Serum allowed for a beautiful exfoliation -- you can feel it working without the harsh impact or burning. 

What cosmetics and beauty items to you grab this year and love? 

Highly Recommended: Favorite Vegan Blogs

by lauren atkinson

I have been slowly migrating back to vegan eating at home over the past year and with that, venturing to find creative recipes that inspire me to get cooking again.

With that, I wanted to share some of my favorite vegan food blogs. Some of these I have been following for years. These are outside of the common Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker (love both of those but figured y'all might want some others) and I don't see enough people posting about them! 

1. - Lauren Toyota is insanely creative with creating meals. She also has a youtube channel with a series she calls "Recipes?" where she creates meals with leftover contents in her fridge. Lauren has a cookbook coming out in February and I'm sure it'll be awesome. Her recipes are generally simple: she has my favorite Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings" She is legit a hero and kitchen wizard... I am yet to find a single recipe that I don't love. 

2. - Timmy has amazing food. I HIGHLY recommend his vegan mac and cheese when you're looking for an amazing "cheater" meal (it contains a lot of cheese subs that are processed, despite being plant-based... something I usually try and avoid) and he also adds playlists to his blog (M/V) which always have good recommendations :) I love his instagram: his pics are beautiful and his instagram stories are fun to watch.

3. - Carnivore Approved Recipes. Candice and James make a lot of vegan style fast food. Candice does a lot of the cooking while James does most of the tasting ;) They also have a youtube channel that I'd recommend! They're fun to watch.

4. - Fragrant Vanilla Cake, best known for desserts, offers tons of fun and simple recipes.

What are some of your favorite vegan/vegetarian food blogs? Any recipes that I should try? 


My Week in Movies: December 3 - December 9

by lauren atkinson

This was a lighter week for movies with only two movies being watched. 

Image via

Image via

The Revenant (2015)
Prior to watching this at home this week, I had only viewed The Revenant once before in theaters. Although I enjoyed the movie in theaters, I had a not so great experience of sitting too close to the screen. So watching this at home proved to be a better experience. 
The director Alejandro González Iñárritu has an interesting range of filmmaking and I'd say that the only common thread is that many of the stories are grim and have hints of supernatural/metaphysical plane involved. 
There's a reason that DiCaprio finally got his his Oscar with this one. He plays emotional, apathetic, tough, and quiet all so well in this film: it is his most dynamic performance. 
This gets 4 stars for me. It is one of the most beautifully shot movies of recent years. 


Image via IMDb

Image via IMDb

Sun Choke (2016)
This was a rough watch. A rough watch that I loved.
Our main is a twenty-something year old suffering from psychological trauma and under the watch of a caretaker is going through some...interesting holistic treatment. 
At the start, I was unsure whether to be sympathetic towards the main character but as the story unfolds, I felt a disconnect from both the main and her nanny as they both carry darkness and disturbing habits. That only further rang true as the movie progressed. 
This takes you on a slow but wild ride where at first you are hoping for vengeance and then you are looking towards relief. 
I give this one 4 stars for originality, cinematography, and pure creepiness. 


Throwback Thursday: Pictures from the past few years

by lauren atkinson

Not sure what it is about the holiday season, but it always has me reminiscing of where I've been and all that has happened in the past few years. It got me scrolling through photos and I figured I'd share simply the photos from December 7. 


On 12/7/16 Jesse sent me an Usagi and Luna funko pop to my office. It was a cute surprise and this now sits on my desk at home. She's the guardian of my work habits, too 😊




Nothing has changed. I take a lot of pictures of my food now and did then as well. This was captioned as being a salad made with leftovers. A "kitchen sink" salad, if you will. 



This is just a shot of our livingroom. It's changed so much from 2014 -- we had just moved in and knew that we finally had a more permanent place to live but hadn't really spent the time decorating to our liking yet. I remember that our apartment (especially the livingroom) still felt like a hodge-podge of furniture and wall decor but there wasn't much that we absolutely loved. Looking back on this, I am glad we've taken the time this year to really decorate our apartment exactly as we want it. We've also gotten rid of so much clutter: looking at this picture, all I see is mess (I know, that's just me) 



Ahead of the holidays in 2013, I was eating extremely clean. There was a point where about 75-80% of my meals were raw foods. It paid off because I was in great shape and felt good. Looking at this encourages me to get back to eating clean but not taking it to such extremes. 




And finally, a selfie. This is actually the oldest picture on my instagram too and was posted in March. Looking through my photo library, however, it's conveniently taken on December 7. I look younger, of course, but not that different really