Monday, April 30, 2012

I Really Love My Plain White Tee


 If there is one staple I rely on more than any others, it is my plain white tee. It always looks clean, fresh, and relaxed. Beyond that, it literally matches anything. A plain white tee is the perfect article of clothing to represent my style: practical, comfortable, and versatile. You may think a plain white tee is boring, but the best part about it is that it can be styled in an endless number of ways. Here are some of my favorite ways to wear a white tee.



And here are the three white tees I tend to rotate through on a regular basis (with a tendency to favor #1).

1. Short-Sleeve Pocket Vee Tee - Target - $8.00
2. Scoop Neck White Tee - H&M - $5.95
3. Shirred V-Neck Tee - Caslon - $29.00

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Smiles

Right now, I am enjoying a lovely weekend with friends in nature. We drove up to Los Padres National Forest to enjoy some time away from the hustle and bustle of LA (and technology).

Here are some lovely links from around the web that made me smile this week:

The life of flowers.

Love the muted colors and simple design of this bedding.

Planning a party anytime soon? This site looks awesome for cute party supplies.

Helpful tip for quickly thawing meat.

One of my favorite foods.

Are you kidding me? Can I please go here.

photo via

Friday, April 27, 2012

Greek Yogurt Pancakes


I've always enjoyed making Saturday morning breakfasts and I usually take that time to try out new recipes. (Of all the recipes I pin and bookmark, I always seem to get the most excited about breakfast ones.)

Greek yogurt has been somewhat revolutionary in the home-cooking world and I love finding recipe after recipe incorporating this protein-packed ingredient. One of my favorite uses of this new ingredient is to thicken up hearty soups, like this one. Since I love pancakes and I love finding ways to make food healthier without compromising the taste, I was very excited to find this recipe for greek yogurt pancakes. The batter for these breakfast treats is incredibly thick which means the pancakes take longer than normal to cook all the way through, but this also means that the resulting product is THICK AND FLUFFY. Need I say more?

Greek Yogurt Pancakes
Adapted from Everyday Belle
Yield: 3-4 large pancakes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: about 5 minutes per pancake
Total Time: about 10-25 minutes, depending on the size of your griddle

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

DIRECTIONS:

I a small bowl, combine the yogurt, egg and vanilla with a whisk. Mixture should be a pale yellow with a few lumps here and there.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking soda. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The batter will be very, VERY thick.

Using a griddle on medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray and spoon batter to form a pancake of your desired size. Wait about 3 minutes or until bubbles start to form. Flip and cook for about 2 more minutes. Serve with your favorite breakfast topping.

TOPPING SUGGESTIONS:

1. Butter & Syrup
2. Nutella & Bananas
3. Sweet Yogurt & Syrup*
4. Fresh Fruit & Whipped Cream
5. Lemon Juice & Powdered Sugar

*Personal Favorite

More Breakfast Ideas from FEST:
Guacamole Breakfast Burrito
Vanilla Pudding Cinnamon Rolls & Berry Smoothie

Thursday, April 26, 2012

5 Lovely Places I've Traveled

I was going to title this post "Top 5 Places I've Been", but I felt horrible leaving any place out. Each place I've traveled to has added to my experience and owns a little piece of my heart. So instead of singling out 5 places as "the best", I've chosen 5 places I've traveled to that seem to encompass the word "lovely".

5. Venice, Italy: My memories of Venice are filled with beauty--eating good food, laughing with friends, and getting lost among the bridges, alleyways and canals of this colorful city on the water.





















4. Glasgow, Scotland: I lucked out and visited Scotland during a weekend where sunshine filled the skies. Our day spent at Loch Lomond was one of the most relaxing and lovely days. I couldn't get over the expansive and rolling green hills set against the looming and ominous loch. Our meal of juicy stewed lamb and berry crumble at Balloch House was icing on the cake.





















3. Paris, France: So, Paris. It's kind of hard to leave this one off the last. I spent no more than 3 days in Paris with 3 girlfriends. We literally frolicked our way through the city, seeing just about every major landmark and eating a crepe at every stop along the way.





































2. Sevilla, Spain: As if the stunning, jaw-dropping flamenco show on my first night in Sevilla wasn't enough to steal my heart, my love for this colorful, warm city exploded during the day I just wandered around and took it all in. The highlight was stumbling across this lone, humble guitar player playing the most beautiful music. I still remember the tune.





































1. Amman, Jordan: You may be surprised to see a Middle-Eastern country as the "loveliest" place I've visited, but Amman holds such a special place in my heart. I traveled here from Jerusalem which is a country filled with hostility and coming to Jordan felt like entering a beacon of hope with people who are proud of their country and eager to show you a level of kindness and hospitality you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.






















Top photo via
All other photos c/o FEST

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Coral Punch



T-shirt: Target, Pants: Target, Scarf: H&M Men's Section, Shoes: H&M, Belt: H&M, Lipstick: Boots Moisture Drench in Sienna

Ladies & Gentlemen, I've found the perfect lipstick (for me)! I have been looking for the perfect orange-y, coral shade to match, well, almost everything in my closet. I wanted a nice, bright color but with some measure of earth tone to keep my make-up from looking too "plastic". The product name "Moisture Drench" intrigued me and it turns out this lipstick really does keep my lips from drying out, which is such an unfortunate side effect of so many lipsticks. Another added bonus? It's 10 bucks.

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pesto

There is something so natural and satisfying about cooking with fresh herbs. Someday I hope to have an herb garden. Until then, I have to purchase herbs at the grocery store and do my best to keep them fresh for as long as possible. The great thing about pesto is that you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in your fridge until ready to eat. So if you ever have fresh basil in your fridge and you sense it may be starting to go bad, make pesto! You won't regret it.

Homemade Pesto Sauce
Yield: about 2 cups
Total Time: about 5 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons garlic
3 Tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

1. Toss with fresh pasta
2. Spread on pizza dough, sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees
3. Spread on top of cooked salmon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wanderlust: Belgium








Did you know that what we call "french fries" actually originated in Belgium? I've never been to Belgium and while I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, I've never really considered traveling there either. After a bit of preliminary research, however, it seems that Belgium would be a great way to experience a more authentic Europe without the onslaught of tourists that more popular cities like Paris, London, and Barcelona experience.

Have you been to Belgium? What is it like?

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Smiles

So, it turns out the sun is not yet ready to make it's big summer debut in Hermosa Beach. Despite grandiose weather forecasts telling us to expect 80 degrees and sunshine, the skies have been grey all day. At least it makes grocery shopping and cleaning my house a little more appealing.

Here are some links from around the web that have been making me smile this week.

Studded friendship bracelets? Oh yes.

This Olympics commercial from P&G makes me well up a little.

I'm currently coveting this iPhone case.

Watch this video and tell me you don't want to travel.

Easy beach waves.

Need help drinking more water?

LOVING these shoes. (Does anyone read Japanese?)

photo via

Friday, April 20, 2012

Minty Stripe



Skirt: Zara, Shirt: Target, Cardigan: Target, Shoes: Steve Madden, Scarf: H&M, Purse: Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses: Jee Vice, Earrings: Charming Charlie

It's almost the weekend! With the forecast showing temperatures in the high-70s and low-80s, I have a feeling the beach is going to be packed tomorrow and there's nothing wrong with that!

I love this time of year. Everyone seems to wake up from their winter hibernation and join the party in a good mood. What are your plans this weekend?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

White Chocolate Chip-Cherry Cookies

Those who know me well know that I love cookies. It's just the perfect little treat. While good old-fashioned chocolate chip cookies will never get old, I like to switch it up a bit. A while back, I took one of my favorite, trusted cookie recipes, swapped out the whole wheat flour for white whole wheat flour (the consistency is a bit finer and the taste is slightly sweeter) and used white chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips. And then, I still felt like something was missing. So I scanned my kitchen and saw the dried cherries. Bingo!

White Chocolate Chip-Cherry Cookies

Yield: about 24 cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 16-20 minutes
Total Time: about 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (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. white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries

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 white chocolate chips and dried cherries 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.

You can thank me later. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What I Learned in Paris

by Marissa Bognanno of The Boot

I'm very excited to be featuring Marissa Bognanno of The Boot. Marissa is originally from Boston, but she currently lives in Italy with her soon-to-be husband, where she lives a beautiful life filled with lovely Italian experiences and delicious food. At her blog, you can find an abundance of inspiring posts about travel and food. Marissa's guest post today combines two of my favorite things: fashion and travel. Enjoy! 
If you think you’re stylish, coordinated or en vogue, go to Paris and you’ll realize, “Oh wow, I’m not.” 

The thing is, Parisian women are gorgeous. Effortlessly, simply gorgeous. Five days in Paris and I left with pages of my journal dedicated to outfits I saw on the street, written like poetry. “There goes a flower-print sundress with gladiator sandals and a cute head scarf. Oh wait, look at those red pants, paired perfectly with a white, lacy tank and tortoise Ray Bans. Hm, it seems as if tucking in a shirt is the new black.”

This is funny because I’m not a fashionable person. Like, at all. My idea of an outfit is a pair of converse, jeans and a tee. (If I feel like trying. Otherwise I’d stay in my pajamas if it were socially acceptable.) It’s not that I don’t appreciate a nicely put-together outfit, I just don’t feel the motivation to create one. But Paris and its beautiful women taught me that I could look good with less. That it doesn’t take much to have style that sets you apart. Like a good blazer, for example, I learned is key to looking chic. The same goes for a good belt, a nice handbag and shoes. If everything else you’re wearing is simple, you’ll still stand out with those nice pieces. Their hair was simply adorned with beautiful clips, or pulled up loosely into a chignon. Makeup was positively minimal and I appreciated that they let their natural beauty shine through. 

So, thank you Parisian women, for teaching me that fashion doesn't have to be a time-consuming, wallet-depleting stress inducer.

One last thing I saw girls sporting left and right, though? Tights and shorts. No, merci. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Neutral Pop

Pants: Zara, Top: F21, Shoes: Banana Republic, Belt: H&M, Purse: gifted, Scarf: local Garage Sale, Sunglasses: Jee Vice, Watch: Nixon, Yellow Bracelet: Anthropologie, Antique Bracelet: gifted from Turkey, Pearl Bracelet: gifted, Pink Ring: gifted from Brazil, Gold Puzzle Ring: gifted, Red Necklace: Petra, Pearl Necklace: gifted

I've been reading a lot about the neutral & neon trend. Since my neon options are limited (read.. non-existant), I decided to interpret that trend by pairing several different hues of neutral with my favorite bold, warm-colored accessories. I was very generous with my accessories and just kept piling them on, which I think creates a more sophisticated and dynamic look. 

One of my favorite things is to "wear" my travels and in this case, I'm representing Jordan, Turkey and Brazil with my jewelry, which I love.    

PS..Today is the tax deadline, which means I get my husband (and outfit photographer) back tonight! 

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Key West Grilled Chicken Skewers


In the last few months, I've had a hard time finding new and delicious chicken recipes. I struggle eating plain old chicken breasts because it feels so boring, yet I still strive for simplicity in my cooking. This recipe uses simple ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen. The marinade really adds a deep flavor and using skewers makes eating fun. (Everything is better on a stick, right?)

Key West Grilled Chicken Skewers
From GroceryBudget101.com
Yield: about 8 skewers
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Grilling Time: 6-8 minutes
Total Time: about 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Juice of one lime (about 1 Tablespoon lime juice)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly chopped cilantro (optional)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, garlic and cilantro (if using). Whisk to combine.

Cut chicken into one-inch cubes and place in a large ziploc bag. Pour lime juice marinade into the ziploc bag. Seal shut and shake to coat the chicken. Place in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes. Once you are ready to grill, spear chicken on to skewers. I like to put about 7-8 pieces of chicken on each skewer. If you like, you can also add pieces of onion and bell pepper between each piece of chicken for more flavor (and nutrition!).

Grill on medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Serve with brown rice and a green salad for a delicious, nutritious meal.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Travel Tip: "Listen to their hearts."

Before I embarked on one of the greatest trips of my life (to Jerusalem), I spoke with my grandmother on the phone. She rattled off several bits of advice, but one has really stuck with me and I think it's so important to remember when traveling anywhere. 

"Listen to the people, Catherine", she said. "Listen to their hearts."
Orson Hyde Park, Jerusalem, Israel, Spring 2008

When traveling to foreign lands, we are given such an amazing opportunity to learn things straight from the source. Instead of relying on news outlets, books, or stories from other people, we are able to meet people firsthand who have actually grown up in a specific culture or  lived through specific experiences. Of course, vacations are good for relaxing and enjoying the company of the person(s) you're traveling with, but I've always found that my most rewarding travel experiences involve interactions with strangers (who quickly become friends). 

The ability to connect with a person despite language, cultural, or socio-economic differences is real and it is what makes this world such a beautiful place.

So, if there's one piece of advice I give you when traveling to a new place, it is this: 

"Listen to the people. Listen to their hearts."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2012 Summer Style Wish List

Ah, summer. The season of easy, breezy style. Where dirty hair is acceptable and bright colors are not only celebrated but expected. It seems that summer outfits look best when they are thrown together in 5 minutes or less. It's all about effortless style and comfort. Throw on your most trusted basics, then grab a funky accessory and a bright purse and you'll be turning heads without even trying. 

1. Madewell Lacy Waves Top - $148.00
2. J. Crew Polka Dot Popover Shirt - $88.00
3. Steve Madden Crossbody Bag - $98.00
4. Urban Outfitters Colorblock Sunglasses - $12.00
5. Baggu Canvas Tote Bag - $24.00
6. Old Navy Distressed Denim Shorts - $24.94
7. Forever 21 Pleated Skirt with Belt - $13.50
8. Forever 21 Contrast Striped Top - $19.80
9. Madewell Market Weaver Bracelet - $8.50
10. Target Braided Flat Sandal - $14.99
11. Madewell Porchstripe Sidewalk Skimmer - $82.00

To see my 2012 Spring Style Wish List, click here

PS.. If you go to the front page of bloggers.com today, you might see a familiar face. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nutella Cookies


I remember my first experience with Nutella. I was sitting in the lobby of a small hotel in Rome. I was eating a continental breakfast and had picked up a small packet of Nutella. It was in the same type of container you'll find sitting on the table of most American diners, except at these diners, they're usually filled with jam. I opened the container and spread some of this smooth chocolate onto my roll. "What?!", I thought. "This is chocolate? And it's breakfast?" I looked around and everyone else was eating the Nutella like it was no big deal. So I put the chocolate-covered roll into my mouth and a smile immediately appeared. "Okay", I thought. "Point for Europe."

Thankfully, America has imported this product into most major grocery stores so I don't have to go to Europe anymore to enjoy it. Now if only America could have a bakery on every corner with fresh daily bread. One step at a time, I suppose. Since I don't always have fresh bread to eat with my Nutella, I searched for and found a cookie recipe. This recipe is simple! One thing to note: my experience is that these cookies are best enjoyed within the first 24 hours of baking them. After 24 hours, they started to get a little dry. But that first 24 hours... is like chewy, Nutella-y heaven.

Nutella Cookies
From Tasty Kitchen
Yield: about 24 cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: about 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Nutella
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 whole egg

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Blend all ingredients together and form into 1-inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet and press down firmly with the bottom of a glass. Bake for 7-8 minutes until set. Let cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wanderlust: Istanbul

The country of Turkey has always intrigued me. I remember being a kid listening to my grandparents talk about Turkey (they lived there when they were first married) and I was so confused. "Turkey isn't a country, it's a meat!", I thought. As I've learned more about this once-ancient, now-modern country, I've discovered how truly unique it is in the world. While it has an ancient cultural heritage, it has integrated with the West quite successfully. Not quite Europe, yet not quite Asia, its culture is a very unique one, or at least I imagine it is. Have you ever been to Turkey? What is it like?

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