Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wanderlust: Peru







Have you been to Peru? In college, I took a Humanities of Latin America class and was so moved by some of the history, art and literature that were born from the ancient cities of Latin America. Peru feels like it would be a magical and mysterious place to travel to, filled with adventure and beauty. I would love to make the hike up to Machu Picchu and spend an entire day wandering around the gorgeous green ancient city.

Photo Credit: 1, 23, 4, 5, 6, 7

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Brights




Sweater: Gap, Jeans: Vigoss, Sandals: Gap, Scarf: Thrifted, Earrings: F21

Now that the warm weather is upon us, it seems the only thing I want to wear is bright colors. This sherbet orange sweater has a soft glow about it that makes it appropriate with both formal and casual outfits. In this case, I went for comfort, pairing on old pair of cropped jeans (which I rolled up) with strappy sandals and messy but elegant hair. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork Mexican Salad

Yesterday, I threw a Memorial Day party. Instead of BBQing, I pre-made some pulled pork and created a Mexican-style salad bar. It was a big hit. The salad recipes are inspired by a restaurant called Cafe Rio that has somewhat of a cult following in the Western United States. For me, the creamy tomatillo dressing is what makes this salad.

In the coming days, I'll be sharing the recipes for the sweet pulled pork, cilantro lime rice and creamy tomatillo dressing. Everything else (tortilla, cheese, black beans, shredded romaine, mango salsa, parmesan cheese, lime wedges) are simple ingredients that can be store-bought.

Cafe Rio Pulled Pork Mexican Salad


INGREDIENTS:

Tortilla (I like to use the uncooked flour tortillas from Costco)
Shredded Mexican cheese
Cilantro lime rice
Black beans
Sweet Mexican Pulled Pork
Shredded romaine lettuce
Mango-peach salsa
Parmesan cheese
Creamy tomatillo dressing (recipe coming soon)
Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS:

Melt cheese on cooked tortilla in the microwave or on the stove. Layer all remaining ingredients in the order listed above. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Smiles

I don't think this three-day weekend could have come at a better time. In the last year, I've fit a lot more in to my daily and weekly schedule than I ever thought was possible. While I've been feeling very productive, a weekend of friends and fun is very welcome and I'm excited to recharge my batteries.

I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day holiday and a big thank you to all of the men and women who are serving and have served for our country.

Below are some things from around the web that made me smile this week.

Two-faced.

Solar eclipse in Manila Bay, Philippines.

A hilarious tumblr for advertising nerds like me.

Funny banter to help you understand the European Debt Crisis.

What a fabulous idea for a patriotic drink.

Cutest thing ever?

Photo via

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wanderlust: South Africa






When I think of South Africa, my mind is filled with so many different things, I almost don't know what to even expect from future travels to the bright, lively place that includes a bustling city and one of the most intriguing national parks all in the same country. I knew there was a lot of wildlife in Africa, but penguins? I did not realize that South Africa had penguin colonies. I suppose it makes sense being that it is so close to the South Pole, but it's just another thing that makes me feel unprepared yet super anxious to someday travel to the mysterious and elusive country of South Africa.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Meet & Greet




Pants: Jolt, Shirt: H&M, Shoes: Target, Belt: H&M, Purse: UO, Sunglasses: Jee Vice, Earrings: F21

Last night I attended my first-ever blogger meet & greet. I was a little nervous walking in to Elleni (a gorgeous boutique in Manhattan Beach that sells shoes and chocolate!), but it was so much fun to meet people I had only known through my computer screen and I was surprised how quickly the time passed. It's so exciting to have conversations with people who are passionate about something. From cheese to make-up to the city they live in, I've found that if someone takes the time to maintain a blog on a certain topic, chances are they're pretty darn passionate about that topic. And that is pretty darn awesome.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

Is there any food that screams summer more than fish tacos? This coming weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and I couldn't be more excited. I've decided to host a Memorial Day party and while I'm a little nervous about everything running smoothly, I'm super excited to celebrate the holiday and enjoy time with friends. 

I discovered this recipe about a year ago and it is the perfect summer staple meal.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos
Yield: 4 tacos
Prep Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup beer (may be substituted with milk)
8 oz. tilapia fillet or other white fish, cut crosswise into 1-inch wide strips
Vegetable oil
Corn tortillas
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, sliced
sour cream
paprika or other seasoning 

DIRECTIONS:

Combine flour, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk in beer to create a batter. 

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat tilapia pieces in the batter and, letting the excess batter drip into the bowl, add fish to the pan. Cook until crispy and golden, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Serve with tortillas, tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and season with paprika or your favorite seasoning

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What I Learned in Cambodia

by Ashley from A & B C the world


I'm so excited today to be featuring Ashley from A & B C the world. Ashley is a fellow travel addict and has been to six continents. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her fiance, Brian and they have a goal to be permanent digital nomads in about a year or so. They are currently planning a trip to Mexico and Belize (where they will be tying the knot!). A & B C the world features fabulous photos from Ashley's travels as well as travel tips, travel essentials and, of course, wanderlusting. Without further ado, see below to read what Ashley learned in Cambodia. 


Traveling in Cambodia is definitely not for the faint of heart. A lot of times I felt frazzled, pushed around, and like I was being scammed by everyone I met (especially around Angkor Wat). But, after meeting numerous kids along the way I started to understand a lot more about Cambodia and its people and even started to feel at home (well a little bit:).


When we arrived to the coast of Cambodia, we instantly left the town of Sihanoukville for a quieter scene at Otres Beach. We stayed in one small strip of delapitated beach bungalows for around two weeks. Everyday we would watch groups of children as young as three to around the age of 18, walk the beach all day in the hot sun. They would do constant laps, selling fruits, bracelets, or basically anything they could sell.  These kids were determined and we were constantly surrounded by a group of ten. We eventually gained their trust and asked them lots of questions about why they sell on the beach and why they are not in school. At first the answer was that they didn't have school that day...or that they were sick, but then it got personal. They talked about their home lives, how there really wasn't an option for them because school required uniforms that they just couldn't afford. After listening to these kids who really just wanted to learn and play, but were forced to work because of their circumstances, the poverty in this country became a whole lot clearer. I immediately felt embarresed about how I was viewing Cambodia and Cambodians and realized that their determination to sell anything was definitely not a means to drive me crazy.



We eventually paid for a group of kids to take the day off and visit a waterfall with us. It was great to see them just being kids, and how easy it was for them to be happy. I think those kids definitely humbled me and taught me that I need to take the time to understand a country and its people first because it will ultimately make traveling so much easier and more rewarding.





Be sure to check out more from Ashley at A & B C the world.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ooh la Ombre



White tee: Caslon, Skirt: F21, Cardigan: BP, Shoes: Steve Madden, Necklace: Rare Bird, Sunglasses: Jee Vice, Earrings: F21

One thing I was really looking forward to when starting my wardrobe challenge was being able to re-discover and re-purpose items from my wardrobe that have somehow ended up wadded in a deep corner of my closet. This skirt is one of those items. And it's ombre! I'm not sure about you, but a year ago, before pinterest (aka all of you guys) decided that everything looks better when it's "ombre", that word was not even a part of my vocabulary. This skirt was purchased long before I knew what "ombre" meant and I bought it because I thought it was pretty. Oh, and by the way, this skirt is actyally a tube top dress/swimsuit cover-up. But I think it looks better as a skirt (at least on me). So that's how I wear it. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday Smiles

It feels like summer has arrived in California. The weather isn't just warm. It's hot. And I like it. I plan to spend today at the beach playing volleyball. What are your plans this weekend?

Here are some things from around the web that made me smile this week.

Camera Apps Family Tree.

Great post on staying classy and fabulous.

An unexpected (and really good) cover of LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It".

The birth of a baby quail.

A lovely (new-to-me) blog.

One of my favorite twitter feeds is now a book!

These cupcakes would be perfect for a summer beach party.

photo via

Friday, May 18, 2012

Vanilla Almond Granola



Granola has always been one of my favorite foods. The earthly texture combined with the simple sweet taste is enough to take me straight to my happy place. Oddly enough, I hadn't partaken of its loveliness for a couple years. Until last weekend. While in Arizona, my friends threw a baby shower for our dear friend who is expecting her first baby next month. For party favors, they made homemade granola and put it in small mason jars for guests to take home with them. I couldn't stop obsessing over this granola all weekend and now I'm savoring the last portions of my incredibly delicious party favor for breakfast. I have a feeling I'm going to be making this recipe on a regular basis now.

Vanilla Almond Granola
Adapted from Alton Brown
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: about 1 hour 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup pecans, diced
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut (this is the key ingredient--don't leave it out!)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the honey, vanilla, oil and salt.

Combine both mixtures and spread on to two sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl. Go to heaven.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Packing Light, Part 1

I've always appreciated and enjoyed packing light for trips. In travel, there's plenty of chaos and potential obstacles that are out of your control and I find that keeping the things I can control as simple as possible gives me less anxiety and keeps me calm. As a result, I enjoy the trip more. 

Most recently I traveled to Phoenix, AZ and here are the things I took with me. 

On the plane I wore a simple outfit of cropped colored pants and a white tee. Flip-flops and no belt helped to ensure a speedy trip through airport security.
The temperature forecast was as high as 102 degrees, which meant there was no need for bulky sweaters or jackets. (I still brought a cardigan on the plane in case it got cold.)

I brought 5 pairs of shoes, which seems like a lot, but I actually wore every single one of them. Shoes do an incredible job of changing up the entire look of an outfit. If you're looking to create some versatile outfits on your next trip, I recommend skimping on the clothes you pack and leaving more room in your suitcase for shoes.

Another great tip for packing light: bring at least one or two scarves. They take up barely any room in your suitcase and can be worn a variety of ways. Win-Win.

Lastly, bring items you can mix and match. I like to have a couple colorful statement pieces and keep everything else neutral.
For those who love lists as much as I do, here is the full breakdown:

{SHOES}
2 pairs of flip-flops
1 pair strappy sandals
1 pair ballet flats
1 pair boat shoes

{PANTS}
1 pair cropped colored denim pants
1 pair denim shorts

{TOPS}
3 plain t-shirts (1 green, 2 white)
1 button-down shirt

{SKIRTS/DRESSES}
2 light-weight skirts
1 sundress

{ACCESSORIES}
1 skinny Belt
1 scarf
1 sarong (can also double as a scarf or light blanket)

{MISCELLANEOUS}
1 swimsuit
1 pair pajamas

*Not pictured: underwear, toiletries, make-up and jewelry

Stay tuned next week to see what I brought in my carry-on purse. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Freebird



 White Shirt: Gap, Jeans: Rock & Republic, Scarf: H&M, Sandals: Steve Madden, Belt: H&M, Earrings: F21

There are few things I feel more comfortable in than jeans and a white t-shirt. It's a durable, clean and versatile outfit. To celebrate the recent sunny weather, I decided to dress up this outfit with all the gold accessories I could find along with my favorite feather-inspired scarf. It makes me feel like a freebird, which is probably the best feeling ever.

What is your favorite way to wear jeans and a white tee?

To read more about my 2012 wardrobe challenge, click here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

S'mores Cookie Bars

Some of you may have seen this divine creation floating around pinterest. After our camping expedition a couple weeks ago, I had some leftover s'mores materials and decided it was the perfect excuse to try this amazing cookie bar. Since I was trying to use up the things I had bought for the trip, I eliminated the marshmallow fluff from the original recipe and used actual marshmallows instead. Using real marshmallows actually ended up creating this gorgeous crispy, caramelized texture which tasted amazing. While the visual result didn't look quite as "s'mores-y", the taste was to die for.

I brought these to work and someone actually told me that these were "possibly the best thing [they'd] ever eaten". True story.

Now, go throw a Memorial Day party and make these babies. You won't regret it. Your friends will adore you. (Tip: You may want to double the recipe because these will be gone quickly.)

S'mores Cookie Bars
Adapted from Lovin' From The Oven
Yield: 9 good-size cookie bars
Prep Time: about 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30-35 minutes
Total Time: about 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 11 graham cracker squares, pulsed in a food processor)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 king-size milk chocolate bars (i.e. Hershey's)
12 large marshmallows, cut in half (or 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff/creme)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix on a low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. If needed, break up the candy bar a little to make sure it is an even layer, no more than 1/4 inch thick. Place marshmallow halves over chocolate to form an even layer. Finally, place the remaining dough in a single-layer on top of the marshmallows. (This is best achieved by flattening dough into small shingles and laying them together.)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Eat your heart out and be happy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What I Learned in Chile

At the age of 15, I traveled to Santiago, Chile with my family. At that point, I had been studying Spanish in school for about 2 years. I could say a few phrases and I knew a lot of vocabulary, but as far as being able to converse, my skills were basic at best. Nevertheless, I felt confident and was excited to speak some Spanish and test out the things I had learned in school.

Then, came my first experience trying to converse with a local. I walked up to the ice cream counter and listened to the worker very quickly and abruptly mumble something. "What in the world had he just said?", I thought. Surely I could have picked up at least one word. Nope. Nothing that came out of his mouth sounded familiar to me. I felt discouraged and sadly pointed to the flavor I wanted, meekly saying "Durazno, por favor." My dreams of having an actual conversation were going to be a lot more difficult than I expected.

I realized then, that it would be really easy to retreat into my comfort zone and rely on my older sister to speak Spanish for me on the rest of the trip. She had, after all, been living in Chile for the past year and a half and could speak the language fluently. But, I made a decision to speak as much Spanish on that trip as I could. Repeating signs as I walked past them. Greeting workers in a store. Patiently speaking with waiters as they took my order. And then, something happened. Towards the end of our trip, I was walking with one of my sister's Chilean friends down a road. Somehow, we had separated ourselves from the group and were enjoying a conversation, just the two of us, that lasted about 10 minutes... in Spanish! The words and phrases were basic, but they were Spanish!

It would have been so easy to let my first experience at the ice cream shop determine my entire trip, but I learned that with will and determination, YOU can make things happen.

photo via

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Smiles


I hope you're having a wonderful weekend. I'm here in Arizona, having a blast and doing my best to stay cool.

Here are some things from around the web this week that made me smile.

The six enemies of greatness.

What a cute idea for serving punch.

Oh, how I wish I had a patio.

This site looks fabulous for authentic (and inexpensive) lodging when traveling.

A touch of tango.

photo via

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bam Shazam!


Jeans: Zara, Shirt: Zara, Cardigan: RVCA, Belt: H&M, Sandals: Steve Madden

Today I'm hopping on a plane for Arizona to spend a weekend with some of my best girlfriends and I'm super excited. We're all 6 feet+ so we tend to get a lot of stares when we walk around together, which I always get a kick out of. And, PS...the weather forecast for AZ right now shows triple-digits. One-hundo. Mentally preparing. Here we go.