Friday, June 29, 2012

On Birthdays and Food

As I've grown older, I've noticed that birthday celebrations tend to be focused a lot less on gifts and a lot more on food. I wonder if this is singular to the American food-obsessed culture or if it is the same way all over the world? Either way, yesterday proved to be an excellent survey of great food in LA. I started out with a breakfast of greek yogurt and homemade granola. Then, I met up with my Mom at Lemonade in Venice for some killer salads, orange-blood lemonade, and a chocolate cupcake. For dinner, we rode our bikes and longboards down the Strand to meet up with friends at El Gringo, a classic California Mexican joint. I ordered the Mexican pizza which was pure grub. All this was topped off with some amazing birthday confetti cupcakes made with love by my dear friend, Emily.

Thanks to all of YOU for the birthday wishes, yesterday. It was a fabulous day and I am one lucky girl. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One-Way Plane Tickets

Last night, I spent a beautiful evening eating a dinner of homemade turkey burgers and tomato-mozzarella salad on my patio with Bradford and our friend, Scott.

Scott and I met while we were both attending a study abroad program in Jerusalem in 2008. Since then, we've only seen each other a handful of times, but each time has been incredibly meaningful because we always manage to connect on some deeper level.

You know the feeling when someone is explaining how they feel about a certain subject and you think to yourself, "That's exactly how I feel, yet I've never managed to put it into words like that." Between the three of us, there was a lot of that going on last night.

Scott is about to book a one-way plane ticket to Bangkok, where he'll finish up his thesis on Thai immigrant workers. And the idea of him booking a one-way ticket to Asia is making Bradford and myself slightly jealous. But we won't focus on that. Instead, we'll enjoy the fact that today is my 27th birthday! Yay!!!

Photo of Hermosa Beach c/o FEST

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Invitation to Join The Challenge

Shirt: Target, Pants: Target: Shoes: Banana Republic, Necklace: Stella & Dot, Sunglasses: Target

Many of you know that I am currently in the midst of a year-long challenge to not purchase any new clothing.

I'm almost halfway through the challenge and so far, it is going GREAT. Not purchasing new clothes is so much easier than I thought it would be. This challenge has simplified my life and allowed me to focus on more important things and accomplish more. I'd love for you to experience my new-found simplicity and happiness so I'm extending an invitation for you to...


I want you. To join me. Stop shopping. Start living.

I know this probably goes against the biggest fashion blogger rule in the book (most fashion bloggers encourage their readers to buy more in order to keep sponsors happy), but I firmly believe that cutting spending and shopping habits can not only help you save money, it can push you to maximize your wardrobe and define your personal style. This, in turn, will enable you to make smarter and better clothing purchasing decisions in the future.


The challenge starts July 1.


You can start out small, if you like, and only commit to 1 month of no shopping.

OR, you can step it up a notch and commit to 3 months of no shopping. 

OR, you can go big and finish out the rest of the year with me. 6 months of no shopping.


If you're participating in the challenge, feel free to grab a button and post it to your blog. This will let others know that you're doing it, making you more likely to succeed. At the end of each month, I will host a link-up, allowing us to share our experiences with the challenge and support and encourage each other. 

Now, for my final question...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Simple Strawberry Syrup


Last week, I shared my recipe for whole wheat waffles. Now, I'd like to share the strawberry syrup that is just DELICIOUS with those waffles, pancakes or even ice cream. This recipe may sound so simple and obvious, but I had never made it before. After making this syrup with strawberries, it has the wheels in my head turning about all the different types of fruity syrups I could make (mango, blueberry, blackberry?).

For now, let's stay focused on the strawberries...

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup strawberry purée (about 8-10 strawberries*)

*May use frozen strawberries. Just put them in the microwave to de-thaw before puréeing.

DIRECTIONS:

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and continue stirring until sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour into spouted dish and serve over waffles, ice cream, pancakes, or anything else that sounds good to you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Smiles

Happy weekend! This morning I finished reading this fantastic book. If you're looking for a good summer read, I highly recommend Unbroken. The rest of my morning was spent doing a major deep clean of my house. (Think removing all food from the fridge and freezer and actually cleaning the inside...am I a little too neurotic?) I LOVE the feeling of a clean house. Now it's off to run errands and make it in time for a summer BBQ with friends.

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

Lazy girl fitness.

Past gold-medal moments (that might make you cry).

Can't believe these images are from Google Street View!

10 Best Places to Live for Escaping World Conflict.

A pink lake!

Wouldn't this be a great shirt to wear on a summer picnic?

On Love.

Photo via


Friday, June 22, 2012

Wanderlust: Cannes, France

Right now there is a major creative festival happening in Cannes, France. Lots of advertising industry professionals are there (meaning pictures have been popping up on my instagram and facebook feeds) so this sunny, glamorous, cosmopolitan city has been on my mind.

When I think of Cannes, I think of sunny beaches, beautiful people, and money. Perhaps Cannes is a bit more humble outside of "festival season", but it seems that I always see pictures of Cannes during the International Film and Creative festivals thus I associate it with celebrities and socialites and yachts. I don't think I'll be traveling to Cannes anytime soon (I'd have to buy an entirely new wardrobe just to fit in), but maybe when Bradford and I are in our sixties and we're sailing around the world in our sailboat, we'll make a stop in this beautiful city.

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Thursday, June 21, 2012

And the Livin's Easy


Jeans: Silence + Noise (purchased at Urban Outfitters), Shoes: Vans, Shirt: O'Neill: Cardigan: Target, Belt: H&M

It's officially summertime and I don't think I could have started this season off on a better foot. Last night after work, I rode my bike to the Hermosa Beach Pier where I met up with some of my dearest friends from high school. We played beach volleyball, then enjoyed catching up over Mexican food. 

In other news, my blow dryer died the other day, which means I'm currently doing my best to follow this advice. No frills, no fuss. That's my mantra. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Waffles


This past Sunday evening, my husband confidently told me, "I think you should make some waffles. With strawberries."

"I think that's a great idea," I responded.

I didn't have any fresh strawberries on hand, but I was able to whip up a delicious strawberry syrup using frozen strawberries. The meal turned out delicious and it was such a great way to end a fun weekend. I could see this becoming a Sunday evening tradition in our house.

Whole Wheat Waffles
From The Laidlaws
Yield: about 3 large Belgian-style waffles
Prep Time: about 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 5 minutes per waffle
Total Time: about 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your waffle iron while you make the batter. Whisk together the egg, milk and melted butter. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Stir just until combined. Cook the waffles as directed per your waffle make instructions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What I Learned In Guatemala

by Amy Schlauder of Defining Amy

I'm so excited to have Amy Schlauder guest posting today and I hope I can give her the proper introduction she deserves. Amy is my real-life friend who helped me get through four years of Division I college volleyball. Whenever I wanted to give up in volleyball, I would just look at Amy who always played through her injuries with such grace and composure, and she never complained. Not only is she an amazing athlete, Amy is an incredible writer, a gifted teacher, and a true lover of the world and its people. She has taught me so many things and with this post, she taught me even more. 
I am a lucky girl. I’ve traveled to some awesome places around the globe. And in each country, I’ve learned the people’s customs, seen their famous attractions, tried to communicate in their languages, eaten their food, and held their beautiful babies. Traveling has done so much to shape the person I am, and the only things I treasure more than my travel experiences are the relationships I have with people in my life.

I’ve traveled for all sorts of reasons – running away, being a pretty predominant one. But a couple years ago, my reason for traveling to Guatemala was completely different than any reason I’d had before. At the time, I was struggling with my job, my relationships, my health, my…et cetera. I was feeling pretty crappy one day when I decided to do something, just for me. A normal/ reasonable person might have scheduled a massage or splurged on cheesecake. I booked a trip to Guatemala on Saturday afternoon and flew out Sunday morning. I signed up for a month of Spanish classes and stayed with a Guatemalan host family. No, I didn’t already speak Spanish. And yes. I went completely alone.



I signed up for salsa lessons. Adventured around Mayan ruins with complete strangers. Spent a couple of very unproductive days on the beach. Took my camera on day-long dates around the city. Made friends. Ate heaps of guacamole at every meal. Volunteered with kids because it made me happy. Didn’t put too much effort into learning Spanish, but loved hanging out with my teacher. Took naps, liberally. And had a Guatemalan boyfriend named Francisco.

To say that month in Guatemala recharged my broken-hearted, burnt-out schoolteacher batteries, would be a giant understatement. Before that trip, I didn’t quite understand the value of my own happiness. I didn’t realize that when I am truly happy, it is easy for me to bring happiness to others. When I am whole, I can help heal others. When I am broken, I can’t. I am so grateful I took that month in Guatemala, just for me. I don’t mind saying it was selfish, because it was. Totally. And even though my experience sounds like nothing more than the fourth country in Eat, Pray, Love – that month was exactly was I needed to become closer to the person I ultimately want to be. I learned to love myself. And that has been the single most important lesson I have ever learned while traveling.






To hear more from Amy, visit her at her blog, Defining Amy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The 3 Most Important Beauty Secrets You'll Ever Need to Know


MY MOM'S OUTFIT: Hat: Nordstrom, Pants: The Loft, Shirt: The Loft, Cardigan: H&M, Flip Flops: Havaianas, Sunglasses: Kate Spade, Necklace/Bracelet: Stella & Dot

MY OUTFIT: Shirt: H&M, Sweater: F21, Jeans: Vigoss, Belt: H&M, Shoes: Sperry Top-Sider, Necklace: A Street Vendor in Granada, Spain, Sunglasses: Target

Today is my Mama's birthday and I couldn't be happier to claim this mother as mine. Let's just say I really hit the jackpot when it comes to having an awesome Mom that knows how to love unconditionally, teach you what's important in life and have fun while doing it. Yesterday, we met up with some extended family for a picnic and by coincidence, we both happened to be wearing similar outfits: black & white stripes with yellow accents. It's not all that surprising given that my Mom has pretty much taught me everything I know about good style and real beauty.

In fact, through her example, I learned the three most important beauty secrets I'll ever need to know.

1. Be graceful.
2. Be kind.
3. Be loving. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Smiles

I stumbled upon this photo today and it immediately took me back to the spring of 2007, when I lived in New York for two months. Walking around one evening on the upper west side, I saw this exact image: the sun lined up perfectly between the buildings of Manhattan and setting over the Hudson River. It was so gorgeous and so awesome to witness this phenomenon that only happens 4 days out of the year. I loved living in New York, especially at this time of the year when the weather is just about perfect, but I'm grateful for my current home near the Pacific Ocean.

I'd like to wish a Happy Father's Day out there to all the dads and future dads in the world. On Sunday, I plan to celebrate Father's Day with my dad, mom, aunt, uncle and cousins at a beach picnic in Orange County. I'm so grateful for my dad who has always pushed me to do more, do better, and be the best I can be.

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

So much style in this trailer for The Great Gatsby.

This man traveled for 150 days, through 11 countries... FOR FREE.

Loving this forward yet classy look from J. Mendel.

I just really love this quote.

Airplane passengers as explained by their pants. (Thanks, Ashley, for this one.)

How one man affords a life of constant travel.

I love a good salad without lettuce.

Photo via.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Feeling Thankful



Shirt: H&M, Cardigan: H&M, Jeans: Silence + Noise, Shoes: Vans, Purse: MSS, Belt: H&M

I would like to take a moment to thank all of YOU, the readers of this blog! FEST is a project that I truly love and feel passionate about and I'm very grateful for the opportunity I have to share my insights and experiences on food, style and travel with you. In exchange, I am constantly being inspired and educated by you as well. Everyday, I look forward to the time I get to spend dedicated to this here internet space: reading your comments, perusing your blogs, creating new content and writing posts. It is my happy time. (If only I could spend MORE time in that happy place!) The creative journey this blog has taken me on has been surprising, challenging and most of all, rewarding. So, thank you! Thank you for your support, your comments and your love.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

BLT Summer Salad


A couple weekends ago, during the two days where I lived in a pool, my sister and I got this idea in our heads that we needed to eat a BLT salad. We couldn't get it out of our heads so we looked up this recipe, got the extra ingredients we didn't have, and went to town in the kitchen. We were using a kitchen that wasn't fully stocked, so it was a sight to see us chopping garlic on a pizza box lid and using paper plates for cutting boards. It always throws me off cooking in a different kitchen. Nevertheless, the salad turned out great and seemed perfect for summer.

BLT Summer Salad
Adapted from A Bird and A Bean
Yield: about 6 servings
Total Time: about 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

12 ounces corkscrew shaped pasta
1/2 cup milk
12 oz. lean bacon
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 Tablespoons chopped green onions
1 head chopped romaine lettuce

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but about 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme, garlic and garlic salt to the pan and toss until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces and set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and tomato mixture with the pasta.

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce and toss again to coat. Garnich with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.

ALTERNATE VARIATION: BLT Pasta Salad

For an alternate variation, double the pasta in the recipe, remove the romaine lettuce and increase the green onions and bacon by about 50%. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wanderlust: Mauritius







I'll never forget the first time I heard about the country Mauritius.

I was standing in a hallway at my university on a Sunday afternoon (church services had just ended) when I met Thomy. He had one of the nicest demeanors and through the course of our conversation, I found myself laughing often and feeling good about life. His dark skin and French accent ultimately led me to ask where he was from. 

"Mauritius", he replied. "Mau-what?", I said back. He laughed and told me it was an island country about 600 miles off the coast of Madagascar in Africa. In my mind, I thought, "that sounds amazing". 

Later in the day, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) came over to my apartment and I told him about my new friend Thomy from Mauritius. He immediately became very excited (unlike me, he knew exactly where Mauritius was) and expressed a desire to meet my new friend. As luck would have it, my roommate had actually invited Thomy over to our apartment and about 30 minutes later, Bradford, Thomy and I were all in my room having a very exciting, animated, and open-minded conversation about the country of Mauritius. Mainly, I listened while Bradford asked all the right questions and Thomy taught us all about his home. 

Other than the express result of being incredibly impressed with the knowledge, curiosity and open-mindedness of my handsome, smart boyfriend, I walked away from that conversation with a huge desire to travel to Mauritius. As I've researched travel there, I've learned that it is unfortunately one of the more difficult and expensive places to travel to from the US (currently the least expensive price for a round-trip economy-class ticket from LAX to Mauritius is $2353). But it sounds oh so beautiful, wonderful and magical. 

One of the most intriguing areas of Mauritius is Chamarel, which features rolling dunes of brightly colored earth: blue, brown, green, orange, purple, red and yellow. This is a bit symbolic of the ethnicities that populate the island. There were no indigenous people on Mauritius when the island was discovered by European explorers, but the make-up of the country now mainly includes people of Indian, African, Chinese and French descent. Oh, how I love the blending of cultures. 

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This is LA!

Shirt: Gap (stolen from my husband's closet), Skirt: H&M, Shoes: Banana Republic, Handbag: H&M, Sunglasses: Jee Vice

First off, can I get three cheers for the LA Kings?! I know many female bloggers out there (especially fashion bloggers) aren't that into sports, but I, for one, am a huge fan. Not only do I work in advertising for a major sports brand, but I also played volleyball in college. Being a college athlete required so much sacrifice and hard work. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life but also one of the most rewarding. While my competitive athletic career is now over, I still enjoy watching professional sports and especially championship games. It is so inspiring to see the reaction of athletes when they've finally realized a goal that they have basically spent their entire lives working toward. And since I'm an LA girl who grew up attending Kings games at the Forum, I'm especially excited about this championship win. This is LA!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (Cafe Rio Style)

I'm very excited to be sharing the final installment of ingredients for the famous Cafe Rio Pulled Pork Mexican Salad. In my opinion, this green, creamy dressing is pretty amazing. It has the perfect amount of zest and creaminess to make your mouth water. Obviously, this works great as a salad dressing, but it can also be served with chicken, fish or other poultry. Try it. Trust me, you will be glad to have this on hand in your fridge.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
From Just Cook Already
Yield: about 3 cups
Total Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeded
3-4 tomatillos, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package buttermilk ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon lime juice

DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients together and chill. Transfer to a glass bottle for storage and serving.

This works great as a salad dressing, but can also be served with chicken, fish or any other poultry.