Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Red Hot Tamale



Pants: Target (similar), Shirt: Anthropologie, Belt: H&M (similar), Shoes: Steve Madden (similar), Earrings: gifted, Watch: Nixon, Sunglasses: Jee Vice

Happy Leap Day!! These pants have 8 pockets. Eight! If you're ever getting sick of carrying around a purse, I recommend getting a pair of cargo pants. They are so convenient and you can easily fit all of your essentials in one of your eight pockets! 

Last night, I came home from work and made this artichoke chicken and these Cadbury Mini Eggs cookies (recipe coming soon!) I'm so grateful for my health that gives me the energy to do the things that I love, even after a full day of work. 

Do you have any favorite Easter recipes?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Destination: Costa Careyes, Mexico

I've lived 22 years of my life in Southern California, just 3 hours away from Mexico's border, yet the only time I've spent on Mexican soil was a 5-hour cruise stop about 5 years ago. I'm dying to spend more time there, but the current situation means it's unsafe to just drive across the border. Flying in and staying in a resort town is definitely the best option right now. So here I am, swooning over this Mediterranean-inspired Mexican resort, Costa Careyes. Someday, someday...

All photos via

White Bean Asparagus Salad (with NO dressing!)

I love to eat salads. I love to eat good salads. Salads are an amazing way to enjoy pure, tasty ingredients. Unfortunately, eating salad with sub-par ingredients can leave a sour taste in your mouth. I'd like to challenge you to exercise flexibility with this recipe. While I used asparagus and avocado, feel free to use whatever vegetable is fresh in your kitchen. Corn, broccoli, bell peppers, perhaps? Asparagus is merely a suggestion. As long as the ingredients in your salad are fresh and delicious, you hardly need any dressing. This is the case with this salad. The olive oil which is used to grill the asparagus and lemon zest are enough to complement this healthy and satisfying meal.

White Bean, Asparagus & Avocado Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Total Time: 5-10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 handfuls baby spinach
4-5 spears asparagus, cut diagonally into fourths
1/2 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
1/4 cup feta cheese
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small lemon, zested

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle pan with olive oil and add asparagus spears. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pine nuts to the pan and cook all ingredients for one additional minute. Remove pan from heat.

In a serving bowl, add the spinach, avocado, white beans and feta cheese. Top with cooked asparagus and toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle with lemon zest and serve.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Best Dressed at the Oscars

Gwyneth Paltrow won my pick for Best Dressed this year at the Oscars. She looked stunning in her white Tom Ford gown. I wasn't a huge fan of her red carpet cape, but give her props for waiting to reveal the full dress until the actual show. Maybe the Oscars would get more viewers if other leading ladies did the same.
Runners-up:

Maya Rudolph in Johanna Johnson (See the back of the dress here!)
Milla Jovovich in Elie Saab Couture
Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli
Octavia Spencer in Tadashi Shoji

What was your favorite dress this year? Were there any that you hated?

Photo sources: 12345

Primary Colors



Jeans: Silence + Noise (similar), Shirt: Zara (similar), Sweater: F21 (similar), Shoes: Steve Madden, Necklace: Stauer, Earrings: Nordstrom, Watch: Nixon

This outfit incorporates several of my staple pieces, yet it's an outfit I've never worn before. All of these pieces have been photographed already in previous posts (click on each link to see: Shirt, Sweater, Jeans, Shoes, Belt). I love the fact that my wardrobe challenge is already helping me to discover new combinations in my closet.

One clothing item that I've grown to love in the last couple of years is the button-down shirt. I used to think they were stiff and "too dressy", but I found that lighter (usually linen) options are one of the more comfortable pieced in my closet. Comfort and style? Yes.

To read more about my wardrobe challenge, click here and to see all 2012 wardrobe challenge outfits, click here  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Smiles

What are your weekend plans? I hope it involves dancing and free-spirited fun like the kids in this picture. Isn't it inspiring?

Here are some links from around the web that I've been loving lately.

Garance Doré's Pardon My French series, providing an awesome behind the scenes look at NYFW.

These neon earrings.

My mouth is watering.

Double-take.

An interesting article about how opposites attract.

This mix of colors is just lovely.

Tipping etiquette around the world.

(P.S. Does anyone else love this Easter treat as much as I do?)

photo via

Friday, February 24, 2012

What I Learned in Ecuador

by Kylie Turley of The Flybird

Kylie lives in Los Angeles, California and works as a freelance photographer and videographer. She loves to travel and document the world around her and she values the many lessons learned amongst people of diversity. While living in Ecuador doing humanitarian filmwork, she learned a few important things from the people there.

#1 Family first. Period. In the end, they're all ya got, people! Friends come and go but family is always there.

#2. Don't complain. It's so unnecessary. So often in life we get all hung up on the fact that we don't have that essential piece of clothing for our wardrobe, the newest iPhone, or some other desirable (and rightfully so, we are human after all!) product of interest. When it comes down to it, that "stuff" doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, it's meaningless and life narrows down to a few humble things: to be loved, to love, food, water and shelter. If you have any and/or all of these things, you are blessed.

Love
Thank you Kylie! You are wise and true and beautiful. 

Now FEST readers, do yourselves a favor and head on over to The Flybird to see more of Kylie's amazing photos and videos. Or watch the video below and realize the truth of the things Kylie has taught us today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tea Time

Pants: Jolt, Tee: H&M, Cardigan: Eyeshadow (similar), Belt: H&M, Shoes: Steve Madden

What is it about lace that makes me feel ultra-feminine? I tend to keep somewhat of a "tomboy" style, but every now and then I fall for really girly pieces like this soft, lace-back cardigan. I've dressed it down here, but it could easily be paired with a pencil skirt or dress for a fancier occasion. 

To read more about my wardrobe challenge, click here and to see all 2012 wardrobe challenge outfits, click here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl

During the colder winter months, I stay warm by embracing warm soups and hot drinks. When I spotted sourdough bread bowls at one of my go-to grocery sources, I knew it as a sign telling me I needed to make clam chowder. I had always envisioned clam chowder as a difficult recipe to tackle, but using canned clams made this one of the easier meals I've made. And it's delicious!

The next time you see bread bowls for sale at your grocery store, take that as your sign to make clam chowder. (Maybe one day I'll learn to make homemade bread bowls. Maybe.)

From Dave Lieberman
Yield: 4 servings
Cooking Time: about 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 celery stalks, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, then sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 10 oz. cans chopped clams in juice
1 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
1 pound potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sourdough bread bowls (I purchased mine at Costco)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery and saute until softened, about 5-8 minutes, mixing often. Stir in the flour to distribute evenly. Add the stock, juice from 2 cans of chopped clams (reserve the clams), cream, bay leaves, and potatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, stirring consistently, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 20 minutes, stirring often until potatoes are nice and tender. Then add clams and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until clams are just firm, about 2 minutes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Double Up


Pants: Target, Boots: Target, White Tee: Target, Cardigan: BP, Black Scarf: Canal Street in New York, Gold Scarf: Nordstrom Rack, Belt: H&M, Sunglasses: Target, Earrings: F21

Today, I'm guest posting on Pier to Peer about my wardrobe challenge. Welcome to all P2P readers! I'm excited to have you here. 

As I've been utilizing my current wardrobe in more ways than I ever thought possible, I've been discovering new ways to wear different items. One such way that has helped to add some dimension to my looks and create a more layered, chunky (and warm!) upper body is wearing two scarves at once. I've mentioned before that scarves are my secret weapon, adding that extra punch to an outfit that needs a little help. I guess this option gives your outfit a double-punch. Hi-ya!!

To read more about my wardrobe challenge, click here and to see all 2012 wardrobe challenge outfits, click here

Wanderlust: India

The Conservatory
Ever since I met my husband, I've been fascinated with India. When we met, he had recently spent 3 months traveling throughout the country and his passion and excitement for the country was contagious. The way he described walking down a busy road in India was hilarious. He said it feels as if every single one of your senses is operating at full capacity, meaning you are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling things that you've never before seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt. Everything is just amplified. I can't wait to go there someday. 

Have you ever been to India?

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Monday, February 20, 2012

Be Mine



Jeans: Citizens of Humanity, Shirt: F21, Sweater: BP, Boots: Jessica Simpson, Necklace: gifted, Earrings: Nordstrom, Watch: Nixon

I wore this outfit on Valentine's Day and I love the way it came together. The cuffed sleeves add another dimension to the plum sweater and the side braid adds a casual element to a more sophisticated button-up shirt/sweater combo.

Creamy Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie


During my years as a college athlete, I was incredibly attentive and somewhat obsessed with my nutritional intake. I was always searching for foods that gave me energy. One of the most filling and energizing post-workout snacks for me was a banana eaten with peanut butter. Inevitably, I would always end up washing this down with a glass of milk. If I had known about this smoothie back then, I probably could have enjoyed that snack a lot more.

While I'm not nearly as active as I used to be, I still strive to eat energizing meals. This smoothie is one of those meals. I recommend drinking it for breakfast. The peanut butter and milk provides a nice protein boost. One warning though: it might feel like you're eating dessert for breakfast, but don't worry, this is good for you! 

From chiquitabananas.com
Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 frozen banana
3 oz. vanilla yogurt
2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Smiles

I'm so glad it's the weekend! I'm not sure why, but I've been feeling a little lethargic lately. I'm playing in a volleyball tournament today and I'm looking forward to playing around in the sand and getting my heart rate up under the warm sun (hopefully!). What are you up to this weekend? Below are some lovely, inspiring links I've gathered this week from around the web.

A nice reminder about doing.

Adding color to old, iconic images makes me see them in an entirely new light.

Loving this melon-colored metallic belted coat from Calvin Klein's Fall 2012 NYFW runway show.

I am LOVING the studded boots in this top picture.

This blog makes me want to slow down and cook, cook, cook.

The cure to anything...

This internationally-inspired wedding in San Francisco is so beautiful.

The Stone Mirror in Antalya, Turkey

photo found via

Friday, February 17, 2012

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies


There's nothing better than a good chocolate chip cookie. Can I get an "Amen"? A while ago I made a commitment to use more whole wheat flour in my cooking. Along that journey, I discovered this cookie recipe that uses 100% whole wheat flour. Can I get another "Amen"? (Ok, I'll stop the sermon now.) But seriously I love these cookies so much because they're delicious and I don't feel guilty eating them. In fact, I often find myself eating them for breakfast. Aaaand, they're PERFECT for a picnic dessert.

From: Orangette
Yield: about 18 large cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 16-20 minutes
Total Time: about 45 minutes - 1 hour


INGREDIENTS:

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces or chocolate chips (I don't have bittersweet, so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS:

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or tin-foil).

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Put the butter and sugars in a large bowl. With electric beaters (or a stand mixer with paddle attachment) on low to medium speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended. (This may take a while depending on how cold the butter is.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. 

Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. 

Add the chocolate and incorporate with a wooden spoon. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop mounds of dough, about 3 tablespoons in size (yes, larger than your typical c.c. cookie), onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2-3 inches in between each cookie. You should be able to fit about 8 cookies on each sheet. 

Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. 

Let cool, pour some milk, and go to your happy place.

To see my entire picnic menu, click here.

Work It



Pants: Level 99, T-shirt: Target, Wrap Sweater: Zara, Shoes: Target, Belt: H&M, Sunglasses: BP

It's been one of those weeks where every day since Tuesday has felt like it should be Friday. I'm just glad today finally is! These pants are some of my favorite. I usually feel the need to pair them with a slim top to counter the wideness of the leg, but I think the next time I wear them I may try something completely different. 

To learn more about my wardrobe challenge, click here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What I Learned in Okinawa

by Amanda Marshall of Marshalls Abroad

I'm very excited to introduce Amanda Marshall who writes the beautiful, inspiring, (and sometimes jealousy-inducing) blog, Marshalls Abroad. Amanda's husband is in the military and they are currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan, which is a pretty idyllic subtropical beach setting, to say the least. They make the most their time there by adventuring throughout the island and traveling to nearby locations whenever they can. She is here today to teach us a little about Okinawa...

1. Explore, explore, explore. There is a new spectacular beach, hike, neighborhood or restaurant around every corner.


2. Most of the island is dense jungle.
But worth exploring!! It really does look like this!

3. Get scuba certified. Okinawa is one of the best dive spots in the world - for good reason!

4. English is NOT widely spoken here. The language barrier can be very frustrating at times. But this is actually a good thing because it is forcing us to learn Japanese -- as we should in our host country!

5. Goodbyes last a long time. They're wonderful: you're truly seen off - continuously waved at and thanked a hundred times until you're out of sight. This even happens when we leave a restaurant we go to regularly.

6. Bow with your head or torso. It's a respectful way to acknowledge someone's presence, to say hello, goodbye or thank you.

7. It is expensive to travel off the island. Do it anyways!! There is SO much to see in Japan and Asia.

8. Absolutely visit Okinawa's outer islands. We are blown away every single time we go out there.

9. Generally speaking, Okinawans are some of the warmest, kindest, most polite, hospitable people we've ever lived amongst. But they are terrible drivers!

10. There are so many festivals throughout the year, especially during the summer - many of which celebrate ancestors.  

11. Lastly, we've learned to take advantage of every single day living here - time flies when you're abroad and I think it is one of the most rewarding experiences to have. We remind ourselves to enjoy it, travel, seize every learning opportunity while we can and to be thankful! It's an incredible blessing to get to live amongst another culture and travel in a new region of the world.

Thanks Amanda! I may or may not have looked at airfare prices to fly from LAX to Okinawa after reading this. :)

To read more from the "What I Learned In" series, click here.