One Stroke at a Time

I haven't written about my rowing since March, and that's way too long!

This was taken in March… I'm anxiously awaiting September when I can get back on the water with these ladies! 

Since the last time you heard, rowing on the bayou has taken off tremendously! So many of my sorority sisters have come out and tried it (and loved it, of course!).

Me, my coach, and three of my sisters yesterday. Their first time in the four! 

Personally, I've built up enough endurance over this summer to row a 2k (usual race length) in the training single without stopping! I'm hoping to graduate to the racing single within the next few weeks.

I'm also hoping to officially start a club team at my college when school starts! (If anyone is familiar with the logistics of that, please email me! toodlebelleblog(at)gmail(dot).com )

Any readers out there that love rowing, too? 

Happy Birthday, Toodlebelle!

I'm choosing to celebrate today as Toodlebelle's blog-birthday!

Blowing out the candles on a great first year! 

I originally started this blog because I wanted a social media outlet that I could turn into my online journal of sorts. My first posts were some lovely high school poetry (that I've since deleted, sorry/you're welcome) and mostly about New York City.

A year later, I still want to live in NYC, and am still approximately a thousand miles away from that dream. (Blog title before I transitioned to "Toodlebelle's Blog"? "1000 Miles from NYC")

But a year ago from this day was when I stepped into what we'll loosely define as "lifestyle blogging". I'd fallen in love with and some other fab blogs, so I wanted my own.

It's still basically my online journal, but slightly more structured, and (I like to think) organized with around least three posts per week.

Blogging over this past year has helped me realize how much I love writing. I may have never joined my school newspaper or decided to minor in English if it weren't for this blog. Now I recommend it to everyone, and have even helped some friends design their own blogs for school projects.

Even if I'm never "successful" enough to make a career out of blogging, and even if blogging is "on its way out", I'll blog until I don't want to anymore. Plain and simple. Who knows where this next year will take me (I'm guessing not that far, but a girl can dream). I'll keep writing even if y'all stop reading!

(But please don't stop! After all, aren't we friends yet?)

P.S. Did you notice I have my own domain name now?? was a birthday present to myself :)

Loving With Your Whole Heart

Unrequited Love: (nounlove that is not openly reciprocated, returned, or understood as such.

I'm not just talking about that boy that didn't really like you back, either… 

What about the friend that, no matter how nice you were, never seemed to like you quite as much? Or the grandma that always seemed to like your cousins better than you, no matter how sweet you were to her? Some unlucky people might have even had a parent that just didn't have time to "do the parent thing"…  

Yep, that's all considered unrequited love, too, and it's certainly not fun. 

What are you supposed to do when no matter how hard you love someone, he/she just doesn't return it? 

Love. Them. Anyway. 

I mean, basically this is what the bible teaches, but I read this article and it really got me thinking about it. Even though it was probably meant to be a fluff piece, it's about love advice Taylor Swift gave to a fan recently and it blew me away. 

It's pretty short, and you really should read the whole thing, but in a nutshell, she said this: loving someone without expecting something in return is selfless, beautiful, and kind. She added that you should "Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly."

That really hit home for me. As a girl who's never had a boyfriend, most of my relationships have been built on unrequited love… Taylor worded this so beautifully, too. She said, "I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It's just as crushing and just as thrilling."

So the next time you're feeling down on yourself for being twenty years old and still being single, (First, let me know I'm not alone), then think of Taylor's advice: Just keep loving everyone with your whole heart, and someday you'll find someone who loves you in the same way. 

Also, if you're feeling a little discouraged on this Monday morning, try reading this…

I hope your week is off to a good start! 

Begin Again

Today I did something I've never done before.

I went to the movies alone. 

Of course I ignored the strange look from the other person in the theater when I snapped this picture. 

I had been wanting to see Begin Again for weeks, and after reading Carly's review, I really wanted to see it. None of my friends were free, but I just couldn't wait. It was a little strange going to the counter by myself and ordering one ticket. There was an older lady behind me, and she was seeing it too. I was feeling slightly awkward and blurted out that it was my first time seeing a movie solo (why am I so strange?), and she replied that she does it all the time. 

I have to say, it was nice to just "peace-out" for a few hours, and have a little me-time. I walked out of the movie theater with my shades on, feeling like I could take on the world. This movie was probably the perfect "first solo-movie". Without giving too much away, I'll just say that I didn't walk out of the theater feeling pathetic and lonely. And all the songs were stuck in my head, too, which was definitely not a bad thing. I listened to the soundtrack on Spotify the whole way home! 

I also LOVED that the whole film takes place in New York. As if I didn't love the city enough already? 

I do believe I'll be adding this movie to my ever-growing list of favorites, and might actually find my way back to the theater to see it again (on a Thursday morning when they give student discounts, though).

Have you ever been to a movie by yourself?

French Macaron Recipe

Raise your hand if you've spent hours ogling at beautiful pictures of French macarons like these on the internet. *Metaphorically raising my hand with you*

via Tumblr

 Now I want you to raise your hand if you've never tried one. 

I know. They aren't as easy to come by (or make) as cupcakes or donuts or other sweet treats that make excellent props for fashion bloggers.
I bet some of you are just dying to try one just like I was last year.

Well it's your lucky day! Today I'm going to give you my recipe* and walk you through the process of baking French macarons! 

I can practically guarantee** that if you follow these directions to the 'T', you'll get perfect or next-to-perfect cookies that will make your heart smile. 

Warning: This recipe may seem challenging. Though there are many steps involved, the end result will be well worth your efforts. (Just like in life).

Chocolate Macarons

  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (grind them up into a fine powder with your food processor before measuring)
  • Scant 1 cup powdered sugar (aka confectioners'/icing sugar) (Scant = baker term for not completely full)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar (We never have this stuff at my house, but "normal" or granulated sugar works)

For the filling:
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

To make the shells:
  1. Place ground almonds, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl and set aside for later. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Find a large bowl & mixer (My Kitchenaid stand mixer with whisk attachment are my personal favorite), and spatula and wipe them down with a paper towel moistened with lemon juice and dry them after. It's super important that there is no trace of grease in your bowl; if there is your meringue will not whip! 
  3. Place egg whites into the clean large bowl and whip until they hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in the granulated or superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. 
  4. Using a clean spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue one third at a time using a cut and fold technique. When all the dry ingredients are throughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbonlike consistency. 
  5. Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip. Pipe 24-32 small circles onto the prepared sheets. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove ugly air bubbles. Let your cookies stand for 30 minutes at room temperature so they can form a shell. Resist touching them! Fingerprints aren't cute, and you've already worked so hard! Preheat your oven to 325°F/160°C.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the macarons from the parchment paper and let cool completely on cooling racks. 

To make the filling:

  1. Fit a heatproof glass bowl over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Do not let the water touch the bottom of the glass bowl. This is a makeshift double boiler. 
  2. Place chocolate and cream in glass bowl and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. 
  3. Let it cool completely until thickened. Chill in refrigerator if necessary. 
  4. Use like glue to sandwich pairs of cookies together. 

Now you can make your own and Instagram them to your heart's content. 
Tag me (@SydneyLandry) if you decide to try the recipe out! 

The life of a blogger. Are the macarons still considered cute on plastic plates at Disney? 

Basically my life. 

*Adapted slightly from the recipe in the book Macaroons.
**I can't actually guarantee anything. Egg whites are persnickety, but they've always whipped for me. 

Sorority Recruitment Style

I can't believe sorority recruitment at Nicholls is only a little over a month away! It feels like just yesterday I was stressing out (for no good reason) about what to wear to each party! I bought all of my dresses so far in advance that I was worried I'd jinx myself! Ha!

I knew going into recruitment that I wanted/had to be a Phi Mu (I don't recommend setting your sights on one sorority; it only adds to your stress levels).

Because Nicholls is such a small school (6,000ish students?), there are only three NPC sororities to choose from. This makes our recruitment process a million times simpler than LSU or other big schools in the Southeastern Conference (not to be confused with the Southland Conference, home of our fighting Colonels).

Instead of running around to different sorority houses (sadly, we don't have those) for a week, there are three nights set up for potential new members (PNMs) to get to know the sororities.

I don't have many pictures from my own recruitment (there was a rule about no phones and social networking), so I put together new outfits that I'd wear if I could go through it again!
Recruitment Night 1
outfit details here! 

The first night is Philanthropy night, the most casual night. PNMs will visit all three rooms, learn a bit about each group's philanthropic activities, and do a craft that goes along with it. 

slideshow night
outfit details here!

Slideshow night is the second night. This is when PNMs watch slideshows that show what each sisterhood is all about. At Nicholls, this is business-chic night. I wore flats because heels make me nervous, but either are acceptable. (I'm in LOVE with this dress from J.Crew Factory!)

pref night
outfit details here!

The final night, preference night, is the most formal night when PNMs and the sororities make their decision. It's a mutual selection process, and girls receive their bid cards are on the next day, Bid Day. It's a good idea for PNMs to stay away from solid black or white dresses on this night because that's what most of the sororities will be wearing.

If you're planning to go through recruitment this fall and are having outfit concerns, check out this guide from Sorority Sugar! Every school is different, and what works for Nicholls may not be the norm at your school. I suggest checking your school's NPC website or talking to someone in a sorority there just to be sure. 

Is anyone planning on joining a sorority this fall?

Missing New York

It's no secret that I love New York. I was incredibly jealous of all the girls who were able to attend the Smart Girls Conference last week (still not completely over it, but somehow life will go on). I'm already planning a trip for October -- how convenient is it that Mom's fall break and my birthday weekend fall at the same time? 

Anyway, I was looking through pictures from my past trips to the big apple and thought it would be fun to share some of the "artsy" ones (ha!) with y'all. Happy #FlashbackFriday! 

Ceiling at Ellis Island

Inside the Palace Theatre (Annie Gift Shop)

View of the Chrysler Building from the top of the Empire State Building

View from inside the MoMA

Hanging with Frida at the MoMA (Her eyebrow game: fierce)

Minton Tile Ceiling at Bethesda Terrace (@ Central Park)

RIP Juicy Couture


I can't wait to go back! Keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to meet Carly or Hallie for coffee (and not fangirl all over the place). 

What are some of your favorite spots in the city? 

Sheinside Dress Review

I fell in love with this navy J.Crew dress when Mom and I were outlet shopping at the beach.

(Truthfully, I fell in love with it a long time ago when Carly blogged about it last summer.)

Don't you hate when you seriously regret not buying something? (For me, it's that black scallop dress and this Kate Spade Bag.)

But when Dorothy blogged about her turquoise scallop dress a few weeks ago, she included a link to Sheinside, a website I had never heard of. Turns out, they had a similar looking scalloped dress on their website for a remarkably lower price than the sold-out J.Crew version.

I told my mom that if I ever saw this black dress again, I'd spend a small fortune on it. I was slightly suspicious at the practically microscopic price, but figured for $30 (shipping costs and such), it was worth a try.

I was so excited when they came in, but unfortunately, they are too small. I thought large meant 12/14, but this large fit more like an 8/10. 

I'm just going to sell them to my friends because shipping them back to China would cost more than I paid. 

But other than being too small, they really seem like nice dresses. Not as wrinkle resistant as their high-end counterparts, but still pretty good quality. 

If you take anything away from this product review, let it be "order at your own risk". You can't be afraid to lose a little bit of cash (hopefully I can find a friend to squeeze into this one). 

As for me, I'm still on the hunt for the perfect black scallop dress! Does anyone know where I can find one that would fit my size 12/14 self??? 


I cannot be the only person who seems to lose touch with the world over summer break.

I don't even remember the last time I turned on my TV, let alone actually watched the news.

I'll admit to getting a major dose of my daily news from Twitter (I do follow news sources like @NYTimes@CNN, and of course my local newspaper @DailyComet, too).

But since I'm not constantly checking twitter, sometimes news happens and I don't know about it.

That's where theSkimm comes in! 

The Skimm, a fabulous newsletter filled with easy-to-understand important world-news sent to your inbox every morning, is my secret weapon for feeling like an educated person on a daily basis.

I signed up (for free!) in the spring, and read my morning email as I'm waking up or eating breakfast.

The two fabulous ladies that came up with the ingenious idea obviously realized that almost everyone with a smartphone checks it as soon as they wake up in the morning (why didn't I think of something like this?).

Danielle and Carly are basically rockstars and I'm not-so-secretly green with envy over their awesomeness and creativity. 

Click here to sign up for your daily Skimm! You won't regret it!

10 Little-Known Facts About Me

Because we're all friends here (and I'm an over-sharer). Here are ten things you didn't/never would ask to know about me!

1. I've got a list full of baby names for my future kids. I've also never had a boyfriend. Not sure if the two are related…

2. I don't just sing in the car. When I'm driving solo, you can bet your last dollar that I'm having my own Broadway audition. If you see me in your rearview, I'll probably look ridiculous. Please don't think less of me for it. It's my favorite form of me-time.

3. I don't have pinky toenails. I usually just fill them in with nail polish.

4. My dreams are always super vivid. If I remember it, then I remember every single crazy detail.

5. I used to cry about my curly hair in middle school, but I kind of love it now.

6. The reason I've always had my sights set on law school is because my mom told me at an impressionably young age that lawyers got paid to read all day.

7. I'm Catholic. I went to Catholic school for my entire life and go to church every Sunday.

8. I struggle with disordered eating daily. I've made a lot of progress in the last year.

9. All of my friends are really cool, and I'm constantly wondering why they choose to hang out with me. Not that long ago, a good friend told me straight up, "You have low self-esteem." I was like, "Yeah, I know. Thanks for pointing it out. I really had no idea." Naturally, I also over-analyze everything: texts, snapchats, past conversations, etc.

10. I cannot stand plucking my own eyebrows. Even the idea of pulling hair out of my face makes my skin crawl and my knees go weak (I hate waxing even more). My eyebrow maintenance is reserved for special occasions and especially handsome gentlemen.

Is it August yet?

In my nineteen years of experience, summer loses a bit of its sparkle around this time. August seems light-years away, but my fall move-in day is officially one month away.

If you're anything like me, you've already gone on your vacations and exhausted your bank account with trips to local cafes (and everything on the Starbucks menu). You may have been to the library a dozen times, and even cleaned out your closet. 

So now what's a girl to do? I don't go to the country club pool anymore (those hairless, overly-bronzed lifeguards make me too self-conscious), so that's out. 

Of course if you're lucky enough to live near the beach, you've got it made (unfortunately…).

So here's how I plan to spend my weekend/rest of the summer.

These are also double-threat activities because they're perfect for rainy summer afternoons! 

P.S. I'm still working on my Summer Bucket List!

Manners Matter

Fun fact about me: I love reading etiquette books.

I spent my early high-school years trying to become Audrey Hepburn, which naturally led me Emily Post and other etiquette guides.

I seem to always find myself in awkward situations, and I like to think that reading these books helped prepare me (just a little) to avoid sticky situations.

Here are my top-five most-used (or should-be-used) bits of etiquette wisdom!

1. If you feel the need to compliment someone on their appearances/clothing/jewelry, do so out of earshot from others.

There's nothing more awkward than standing next to your best friend as a group of people compliment her on how pretty she is. Actually, I take that back. It's even more awkward when the strangers realize you're standing there because you are suddenly the "not quite as beautiful" friend.

Also, if you do and try to cover your mistake by complimenting everyone else individually, you come across as insincere.

2. Keep your room/bathroom clean at all times. 

Sometimes guests pop in without warning and if you haven't cleaned your bathroom in two weeks (who me? never!), you're definitely going to be embarrassed.

3. Don't gossip.  

This really should go without saying, but it's never a good idea to talk about someone when they aren't there. Even if you're among friends, even if you're only joking, even if you're talking about your best friend or worst enemy. Gossiping is never a good idea. Ever.
And it's a hundred-thousand times worse when whoever you were talking about taps you on the shoulder.

4. Butter your bread bite by bite. 

I didn't know this when I went to a fancy dinner once, but learned from watching other diners. One google search when I got home confirmed it!

5. Try to use your inside voice when you're inside. 

Sure, you have heard it since preschool, but I know all bets are off when I get really excited. Sometimes I even have to remind my mom when she gets going.

This was my favorite etiquette book in middle school! Someone please read the revised copy and let me know if it's any good. 

Little Problems

If you're a regular visitor of this site, first of all, you rock!
Secondly, you may have noticed that neat "Little Problems" button to the right of your screen.

"Why is it there?" you may have asked yourself?

That's because I'm the newest campus representative for Little Problems!

Little Problems started out as a twitter account (@LittleProblems) in May of 2012, but has grown into an actual company, selling things like koozies with adorable sayings like "Like Big Like Little" or "Big Knows Best" and giving back to philanthropies.

My main reason for sending in an application was to get experience working with social media. Since I started this blog, I've become more and more interested in that field of business and this little "internship" is giving me a chance to dapple in it.

It's been fun getting to know the company, and I can't wait to get to know the other representatives and team members!

You should all go like/follow/check out their blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and store! And check this out, I've got my own little write-up in the campus-rep section! ;)

And now, because the brand is centered around the relationships between big and little sisters, I'm sharing some pictures of me and my own fabulous big!

She had a really important class and couldn't make it to to big/lil reveal, so she sent #KardboardKatie 

Of course, I had my grand-big (aka Katie's own big) Raleigh there to comfort me in her absence. 

Katie's and Raleigh's fall schedules were pretty busy, but Raleigh's new little Lauren quickly became one of my best friends. 

When spring semester rolled around, Katie went off to Disney World for the college program. When I went to visit her for spring break, I finally realized that her friends were all right; we really are the same person. 

Who else is excited for school to start again so that they can see their bigs/littles on a daily basis?

P.S. Don't even get me started on how excited I am to get my own little and spoil her with Little Problems goodies

Independent on Independence Day

I don't think there could be a picture that sums up my Fourth of July weekend better than this one. 

My holiday was spent drinking copious amounts of sweet tea; wearing lots of red, white, and blue; and repeating "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" every hour on the hour. 

Speaking from experience, I know how difficult it is to break habits. Everyone has personality quirks to make them unique, and that's great! But when your quirks start prevent you from having new experiences, meeting new people, or making memories with your friends, it's probably time to reevaluate your life. 

I've been so blessed with amazing sorority sisters that put up with me and gently push me from my comfort zone. It still amazes me that such cool girls actually want to hang out with me (Does that make me sound insecure?). 

I may have been a basket case for majority of the weekend, but I really had so much fun. 

From the party on the fourth to our fifth spent on the lake with my family, my biggest life lesson of the summer has been that life is too short; you need to jump in or you'll miss out!

(So go to that party, jump off the deck, and ride in the tube behind the boat, even if it might not be your thing.)

If my little cousin can push aside her fears, so can you and I!

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July weekend! 

(Confession, she jumped first.) 

Perfect Summer-Pop Playlist

One of my favorite parts of summer is driving around topless… Jeep-topless that is! Ha!

But seriously, windows down, driving down the highway, hair blowing all around… That easily makes the top-ten on my favorite things list.

I put together this playlist of fun, upbeat pop songs that put me in a sunny state of mind.

Listening to them all couldn't be easier, either! Just follow me on Spotify!

Just Beachin'

Hi, July! 

Did June really go by that quickly? 

Mom and I spent last weekend in the sunshine state relaxing and enjoying the beach. 

The Destin/Ft. Walton area never disappoints; sugar crystal sand on an emerald coast. 

We managed to get ridiculously sunburnt on Day 1, and spent the rest of the weekend hiding under the umbrella. 

I mean, it could've been worse… 

Summer Bucket List: 
#30. Try Something New

I had so much fun learning to paddle board. Surprisingly, it isn't as hard as it looks; Mom and I both battled the waves.

My beach read of the trip: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. 

We finished off the trip with lunch at this adorable little café. Probably Destin's equivalent of Thibodaux's Weeping Willow Café