Confession: I’m 20 years old. I have Bieber Fever, again. And I’m not quite sure it went away to begin with.

On November 19, I took off of classes early and drove 150 miles to Houston, where I would be reunited with the Biebs. In honor of his forth studio album released on November 13, Justin Bieber returned to the Toyota Center to steal the hearts of every audience member with a raw, truthful, and exclusive evening with Justin Bieber. He shared the true meaning of Purpose and his faith that carried him through the darkest times, answered some questions from the audience, then gave the audience a private concert, even performing oldies such as Hold Tight and Boyfriend. The evening finished with a 45-minute dance film, a compilation of the short films he released for every one of his tracks on Purpose.

To say I became a bigger fan of Justin Bieber after this performance would be an understatement. You can’t deny that he has talent (oh, that falsetto) and his lyrics story-tell the experiences he’s been through in his 21 years of life. I could write about the evening forever, but I decided to take you there first hand. Come with me as I take you to experience Purpose: The Movement at An Evening With Justin Bieber.

Austin Fall 2015 Bucket List

“Ask me how many times I come to Texas, I say Austin.”
-Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd

To my beloved readers… I have not forgotten you; I have just been elsewhere. Where? The UT student activity center, the business school atrium, Starbucks, my Finance class, office hours, an Ansolo concert, Dallas to visit a friend, the original Starbucks in Seattle, a couple of airports, a few interviews, Starbucks, and most recently, the Austin City Limits Music Festival. You could say that things went 0-100 real quick, which is why I hadn’t been able to write a new post for Green Tea, No Splenda.

Well, let’s cut to the chase. It’s no longer summer. It’s fall. The horrendous Texas heat isn’t that present anymore. I’m a summer girl, but let me tell you this– there’s something about the chilly (but not too cold) weather and the crisp, low-humidity nights that makes me fall for fall. Maybe it’s the scent of the Sweater Weather candles at Bath & Body Works, the spicy smell of Starbucks drinks, or the hoards of pumpkins outside of supermarkets. There’s something about that week before October that flips a switch in my brain and makes me want to dive head-first into fall-time activities.

It’s my third year at the best university in the world in one of the greatest cities on this planet, so I’ve created a checklist of some fall activities I plan on doing this season in Austin.for

  1. Go to Austin City Limits. – I can already mark this one off of my list. With headliners such as Drake, the Weeknd, and Disclosure, this ACL was one for the books. If you’ve never been to ACL, fear not because it happens every year in early October for two weekends. To experience the festival to it’s potential, invest in a 3-day pass, an over the shoulder CamelBak, and a good pair of sunglasses. This year I was lucky enough to spot Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) and Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) of Supernatural and even snagged a picture with Jensen!

    ACL 2015
    Festival tip: wear something breathable that you’ll be comfortable in. While the temperature is cooling, you’re still going to get hot from all the body heat around you.
  2. Visit a pumpkin patch and pick my own pumpkin. – Austinites, you’re in luck because we’re near a couple of great pumpkin patches.Opt out of going to the grocery store and buying a pumpkin and go pick one from a pumpkin patch! My recommendations if you’re in Austin? Barton Hills Farm (open weekends through November 8), Sweet Berry Farms (open daily through November 7), and the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm Pumpkin Festival on October 10, 11, 17, and 18.
  3. Have a movie night with Hocus Pocus or Halloweentown and kettle corn. – This one doesn’t even require an explanation. Get a couple of friends together and make the popcorn. It’s not officially fall until you’ve indulged in these classics.

    Let’s be honest, who didn’t have a little crush on heartthrob Max Dennison?
  4. Bake pumpkin bread. – I recently went to Trader Joe’s and picked up their signature Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix. I like this one because it’s a fall favorite and it has just a subtle flavor of pumpkin with the zest of nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s seasonal—so be sure to grab it while it’s still in stock!
  5. Carve pumpkins in front of the UT Tower. – I did this my freshman year of college with one exception. It was pouring rain so we improvised and carved the massive pumpkins outside of the FAC. To avoid the mess, be prepared when you carve! Bring a carving knife, some extra plastic bags, gloves to scoop the innards of the pumpkin, and a Sharpie to draw out your design before you carve.
  6. Go to a haunted house. – I’m from Houston, so it’s second nature to go to Phobia Haunted Houses in October. While I haven’t been to a haunted house in Austin before, I plan on going to House of Torment this season. Blood and gore doesn’t scare me—it’s when things pop out and surprise me that all hell breaks loose.
  7. Tailgate and go to a UT football game. – This doesn’t even require a description. There’s nothing like the air around Darrell K Royal on game-day. From the hours before the game, through the entirety of the fourth quarter, win-or-lose, there’s something I can’t quite put my finger on about a Longhorn football game. If you’re a University of Texas at Austin student, alumni, or fan– you must go to a football game in your lifetime.

    Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.
    Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.
  8. Go to a drive-in theater and watch a scary movie. – I’m a sucker for classic TV series like Leave it to Beaver – where drive in-theaters were a commonality—so my senior year of high school, I went to a drive-in with some friends and had such a memorable experience. Drive in theaters make the perfect date spot too, so cozy up and drive to the Blue Starlite Drive In for Halloween classics like the Twilight Zone, Beetle Juice, Ghost Busters, Scream, and more.
  9. Navigate a corn maze. Barton Hills Farms not only has the perfect pumpkin patch, but they also have an intricate 5-acre corn maze! If you’re not wanting to go out to Bastrop, Sweet Berry Farms in Marble Falls also has a 4-acre corn maze in the shape of the state of Texas. What’s unique about this maze is that as you travel through the pathways, you’ll find signs representing various destinations in Texas.
  10. Go stargazing with a cozy blanket and some hot-drinks. – Year round, this is one of my favorite activities. Head over to South Lawn and watch the stars with some soft-tunes and hot tea. Want an experience away from the city lights? Head down to Eagle Eye Observatory or the McDonald Observatory for their weekend Star Party’s.

    Who wouldn’t want to stare at the stars with Leonardo DiCaprio? Just a thought.
  11. Roast s’mores. – I’m a college student who lives in an apartment, and for lack of an actual fire pit, making s’mores is limited to my stovetop. For those of you who can’t start your own fire, head over to Halcyon on W 4th Street for a lively, lounge atmosphere and a cute s’mores dessert.
  12. Volunteer at a food bank. – It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new season that we often forget what’s most important: giving back to the community. Something that lies at the core of my interests is volunteering, and what better way to show your community that you care than volunteering for a couple of hours at the local Austin food bank. If everyone in our community could sacrifice just a few hours out of their month to volunteer, so many more people in our community can feel the joy we feel in the new season. I’ll be heading to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas this month, and if you can’t make it out, you can still make a difference by donating online.
  13. Hike the Greenbelt. – I absolutely adore Austin for its various nature trails, and now that it’s fall, the leaves are changing colors and the pathways are changing in scenery. While you’re out feeling Austin through nature, check out the Pennybacker Bridge for a beautiful view (and incline) alongside the lake. Don’t make the mistake I made– be sure to go on the cliff on the right side of the bride (going northbound) for the awesome views.

    I made the incline twice wear booties (with heels!), so to make your climb easier, come prepared with tennis shoes.
    I made the incline twice wearing booties (with heels!), so to make your climb easier, come prepared with tennis shoes.
  14. Make homemade apple cider. – I’ve yet to try this one out, but I found this neat, easy to make recipe online that I’m going to give a try! Maybe I’ll even make a vlog out of it (remember when I taught you how to cut a pineapple?).

for (1) Makes 6-8 servings. Recipe courtesy of
Ingredients: 8-10 apples. ½ cup of sugar (or skip this step and add Stevia at the end). 4 tablespoons of cinnamon. 4 tablespoons of allspice.
Directions: Cut the apples into quarters and pour them in a pot with boiling water (just enough to cover the top of the apples). Add sugar then wrap the cinnamon and allspice in a cloth and set it in the pot. Allow the cider to boil for one hour on high, leaving the pot uncovered. After the hour passes, put the stove on low and allow the cider to set and simmer for two hours, leaving the pot covered. When the two hours pass, turn off the heat and allow the cider to cool. By this time, you’ll notice your apples are soft and mushy. Remove the spice cloth from the water and mash your apples. Once the cider is cool, run the cider through a strainer to remove the apple-pulp. The cider will last for up to a week and a half if refrigerated properly. Enjoy!

I couldn’t let the fall season go by without a post of this nature, and I hope all of my readers get a chance to indulge in these fall bucket list activities! I’m so fortunate to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet and to have the city as my playground. Think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.

7 Austin Things You Must Do This Winter

If I were to write Texas weather a letter, it would begin with:

As Katy Perry would say, “you’re hot and you’re cold,” you’re jeans then you’re shorts, umbrella or scarf? Boots or flip-flops?

Though it feels like a very confused motley of summer and autumn here in Austin, it’s my pleasure to inform you that it’s nearly wintertime! Recognized for its snow-white landscapes and frosty cold temperatures, winter is a time celebrated across all cultures and religions.

Persians celebrate Shabeh Yalda (“Yalda night”), the longest night of the year, an ancient Zoroastrian tradition celebrating the arrival of winter, renewal of the sun, and victory of light over darkness. Buddhists reflect on Bodhi, the day Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment, earning the name Buddha, meaning the “enlightened one.” For Christians, the winter brings cheer and patience, as they celebrate Advent, the time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, leading to Christmas. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is observed for eight days across all nations, commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. African Americans celebrate the festival Kwanzaa, the celebration of life with the seven principles and symbols. In all richness of cultures, we find unity in celebrating the wintertime for all it symbolizes.

As for me, the wintertime marks the transition from light sweaters to layers engulfed by my North Face, the preference change from iced coffee to extra-hot Americano’s with steamed soy, and Mahogany Teakwood candles over my summer favorite, Palm Leaves. While I spend most of my winter back home in Houston, or traveling to destinations around the world, I love the few weeks of winter that I spend in Austin while I’m in school. Though as I’m caught up in preparation for finals, it’s easy to miss out on all the holiday spirit Austin has to offer. As a sophomore now, I’ve learned from my experiences and plan to maximize my winter holiday festivities, starting by making this list of some of the top winter-holiday things to do in Austin. Enjoy!

  1. Ice Skating at Whole Foods in Downtown (Nov 29 – Jan 11) – even if you’ve never ice skated before, all the fun of making memories with your friends will be worth the few times you slip and fall on the freezing cold ice! For just $5, you’re given music, the perfect backdrop for pictures, a magical view of Downtown Austin’s beautiful skyline, and even the option to buy a cup of hot cocoa. Unfortunately, I missed this opportunity last year, though this year I certainly plan on going!
    babmi-skating(P.S. I will gladly be the Thumper to your Bambi if we go ice skating)
  2. Santa’s Ranch (Nov 7 – January 3) – from the warmth of your car, get a group of friends together and drive through a winding country road decorated in Christmas lights and displays, complimented by homemade kettle corn or hot cocoa.
  3. Elgin Christmas Tree Farm (Nov 28 – Dec 23) – fields of Christmas trees make for the best holiday pictures, and what better way to bring the holiday spirit than the refreshing scent of evergreens in the open air. Plus, there’s even a little animal farm for visiting, hayrides, and a maze! (P.S. you can take the perfect holiday Instagram picture here! I know I will)
  4. 37th Street – much like the Heights in Houston, 37th St. is an Austin tradition. From all the research I’ve done, the reputation these lights have made beg the qualifier, “Keep Austin Weird.” Quirky lights in a quirky little-big city.
  5. Trail of Lights (Dec 7 – 21) – whether it be with a group of friends or a first date for a budding romance, the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park is one of my personal favorite traditions. The home of ACL,  Zilker provides the perfect wintery backdrop as you walk through the pathways of flickering lights, under the starry skies. My first time at the Trail of Lights was with a group of friends during my freshman year, after we finished studying for finals (for the night), we took the bus to the lights then walked all the way back to campus!

    Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 10.20.08 PM
    Photo courtesy of Jacob Bage.
  6. Capitol Christmas tree lighting (Dec 6) – just a short walk away from campus, the Capitol celebrates the holidays with their annual Christmas tree lighting. With live music, entertainment, and free food, Austin’s Congress Ave. turns into a holiday getaway with a noble cause. While you’re there, spread the holiday spirit and support the City of Austin by bringing by canned goods for donation to the Capitol Area Food Bank.
  7. Mozart’s Lights – it’s a fair statement to say that if you’re a student at UT, you’ve seen the Christmas lights at Mozart’s at least once in your four years here. Mozart’s is the perfect place to go with friends, order hot chocolate, coffee, or tea, and sit by the lake, admire the lights, and talk for hours. I absolutely love Mozart’s, and during the holidays, it packs a just a little extra charm.
    copyrighted image, Thomas McConnell
    Photo courtesy of Mozarts Coffee.

    Whichever holiday tradition you celebrate, be sure to check out some of the beautiful sights Austin has to offer. As you can see by this list, I really love Christmas lights and walking under the stars. And hey, if it’s not too cold, bring a blanket to a South lawn, pour some hot tea in a thermos, bring some speakers and stargaze with friends! I truly hope this list helped get you in the holiday spirit, just as it’s making me excited as I write it!

Edit: As I wrote this blog post in 2014, I’m so thankful that one year later, I’m able to share the winter spirit with thousands of people. Whether you’re a native Austinite, a visitor, or just a lover of all things winter, I hope that you find the holiday cheer in this beautiful city to be just as magnificent as I do. Thank you for sharing this article with friends and family, as you give me reason to continue to do what I love and to share it with the world. All suggestions are my personal opinion.

The Attitude of Gratitude

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Today is the day where businesses market their sales with the buy this, buy that, show that you’re thankful claim. Where stores stay open till 6pm to make final holiday sales before mayhem erupts at midnight. Where social media turns on it side as everyone drops their troubles and transforms into do-gooders with Happy Thanksgiving! status updates. And celebrities embrace their inner philanthropist, staging their publicity stunts. Now, what we all tend to forget is the true meaning of this American holiday. Thanksgiving. The word itself says it all. This is the day where we’re to put aside our bickering, disagreements, and look past all of the cracks and crevices in our relationships. Today is the Calendar day where all of America is supposed to spread love, happiness, and kindness, regardless of your religion, sex, occupation, and social standing.

However, one part of this holiday, Thanksgiving, has always bothered me. The idea that we’re putting aside an entire day to give thanks is beautiful, refreshing. Though why stop it at one day? To live life to it’s fullest you need to remember what you’re thankful for every day, to create a greater appreciation for what you’re blessed with, who you’re blessed to be with. I’m currently sat at home in my living room, a hot glass of tea next to me, the heater running, my puppies playing around with each other, and my family cooking Eggs Benedict in the kitchen. So sitting here I’ve had some time to think, and I’ve compiled a list of a few things this Thanksgiving day that I’m thankful for.

♡ – persian tea and cardamoms
♡ – the health of my supporting, loving, remarkable parents
♡ – the health of my crazy sister who I can’t live with, or without
♡ – the health of my unconditionally loving Yorkshire Terriers
♡ – my cozy home, keeping me comfortable, fortunate, and hidden from the cold
♡ – my best friends who never fail to make me happy
♡ – the opportunity to go to one of the top university’s in the nation
♡ – leonardo dicaprio
♡ – my senses of sight, touch, smell, and taste
♡ – laughter for bringing joy, tears for helping me mature, love for giving me reason
♡ – the little things in life, like the sound of raindrops falling on the pavement
♡ – the moon, sun, and stars
♡ – you, who took the time out of your day to read this post

What are you thankful for? There’s so much to appreciate, love, and learn from when you just put aside a few moments of the day to reflect on this. So maybe having one day of the year set aside is amazing, a blessing. Maybe this way, people who normally wouldn’t recognize all they have, and all they have to give, without this day of giving thanks. So I’m thankful for thanksgiving, for helping people realize that there’s so much more to live for, and it’s the little things in life we tend to overlook that matter most.

I wish you a very restful, grateful, and refreshing Thanksgiving. Spend time with those you love, remind them how much you love them, and take a break from your preoccupations to embrace life to it’s fullest.

Rediscovering My Old Vines (Part 3)

I’m pretty much certain that I lived at my best friend’s house this entire summer. There wasn’t a day that we didn’t spend together, and in this time, we grew so close. I can’t imagine my life without her and now that we’re both at university, making a point to see each other turns into an actual struggle with our overwhelming course load. However tomorrow I go home for Thanksgiving “break” (it’s definitely not an academic break as I have five major exams/essays the week I get back), back to Houston, and we’ll finally be able to spend time with each other again! So here’s a 6 seconds at the Jones household with Danielle’s cat, Stryzer.