Thursday, August 30, 2012

Anthropologie Swooning

I have a pretty solid rule based on principle that I won't even consider buying anything from Anthropologie unless it is on sale or is something from the "house & home" section. The other day, I found myself swooning over a few items and thought I'd share them with you. Given my year-long challenge, the last two are the only possible options for me right now. 

Ruffle Sculpted Tank - $29.95 (originally $58.00)
Knotted Chain Posts - $19.95 (originally $38.00)
Electric Vines Skirt - $59.95 (originally $118.00) 
AG Stevie Polka Dot Ankle - $99.95 (originally $178.00)
Fiametta Holders - $14.00
Metropolis Calendar - $24.00 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Breakfast Toast

Breakfast is easily my favorite meal of the day. I love eating breakfast foods just as much as I enjoy cooking them. (Maybe it's because they're usually quite simple.) The other day I was low on ingredients in my house and managed to whip up this creation which was incredibly delicious and satisfying.

Breakfast Toast
Yield: 2 servings
Total Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices sourdough bread, toasted
1 egg + 4 egg whites
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 avocado, sliced
Salt + pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Start by heating a small pan over medium heat. Mix egg and egg whites in a small bowl. When the pan is heated, spray with cooking spray and pour the eggs into the pan. Let cook for a minute and scramble. Continue scrambling until eggs are fully cooked. Lay scrambled eggs flat in the pan and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover pan and keep over medium/medium-low heat for about a minute, until the cheese is melted.

Take half of the egg/cheese mixture and lay it on top of a piece of toasted sourdough bread. Repeat with the other piece of toast. Top with avocado slices and sprinkle with a touch of salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wanderlust: Albania








It seems that so many people are dying to travel to Greece. Something about the crystal clear water, the delicious food, the unique culture. Well, you might be surprised to find out that Albania, an often unspoken-of country that borders Greece to the North, offers all of these things as well. When I hear "Albania", I first think of its history which, up until 1991, was a communist country. I was surprised to find out that Albania is also a very desirable tourist destination. In fact, in 2011, it was listed #1 in Lonely Planet's Top Ten Countries list. I like the idea of traveling to a more hidden country, one that flies under the radar--it usually means there will be more genuine interaction with locals and better deals. My question is: Is Albania still a hidden gem?

Click on each photo to view the source.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Camo


Top: Caslon, Pants: Target, Shoes: Gazith, Scarf as headband: H&M, Necklace: Rare Bird

My favorite way to "fancy" up an outfit when on the inside, I feel grubby, is by wrapping a scarf around the crown of my head. Not only does it hide my sometimes-unwashed hair, it also makes me feel more feminine and put together. This scarf is one of my all-time favorites. See more outfits with it here and here.

PS... I'm starting to get really excited for "boots" weather.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Smiles

I've been working for the weekend. 9AM-9PM, at the office. It's tough being inside when the weather is gorgeous, but loving what I do and working with people I enjoy being around makes it all okay. Can't lie though, it will be nice to get a good night's sleep tonight.

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

Blogging has taught me the truth of this quote.

This inspiring song makes me feel happy about our world.

My new favorite earrings.

Ochre yellow.

Tasty and colorful.

Frida Kahlo look-alike.

Love this look.

Photo via

Friday, August 24, 2012

S'more Cake



Part of the menu for the baby shower I threw last weekend included a s'mores cake. The mommy-to-be loves s'mores so I knew I had to incorporate them somehow. To make eating the cake even more fun, I baked a miniature baby figurine into the cake and whoever found it in their piece of cake won a prize. The cake turned out better than I expected. It was super moist and the combination of marshmallow frosting and chocolate ganache made for the perfect combination of indulgence and lightness.

S'more Cake
From Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body
Yield one round cake
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: about 1 hour

INGREDIENTS:

{for the cake}

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

{for the marshmallow frosting}

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. jar marshmallow fluff

{for the chocolate ganache}

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

{for the garnish} - optional

chocolate chips
mini marshmallows

DIRECTIONS:

Start by making the cake. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two round baking pans (8-inch or 9-inch) with parchment paper or foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Mix for about one minute. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the liquid mixture alternately with the evaporated milk. Transfer cake batter to the prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make the marshmallow frosting. In a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter for about one minute. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, then the marshmallow fluff.

Next, make the chocolate ganache. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over a medium heat. Once the cream is simmering (not boiling), add the chips. Remove the pot from heat and stir until all the chocolate is melted. Let cool.

Now, it's time to assemble the cake. Lay the first layer of cake on your serving platter, flat-side up. Spread marshmallow frosting on the top layer. Top with the second cake layer, flat-side down. Pour ganache over the top of cake and place in the fridge so the chocolate sets and firms up.

Remove cake from fridge about an hour before serving. Garnish with chocolate chips or mini marshmallows (or both!) to make the cake more festive.

ENJOY!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sail Away

Keeping with my nautical theme this week, I thought I'd share a beautiful picture of Hermosa, from one of my favorite photography websites. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Anchors Away





Jeans: Vigoss, Shirt: H&M, Shoes: Sperry Topsider, Sunglasses: Jee Vice, Bag: gifted 

I live less than one mile to a beautiful marina with lots of pretty boats and last Sunday was the first time I've taken the time to walk around and admire these beauties. I've never been sailing before, but I'd love to try. There's something pretty amazing and humbling about being completely surrounded by the ocean. I'd love to experience that more often. My husband's recent obsession with getting a boat might make that a reality sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ocean Water




This last week has been one of the hottest I can remember in recent years. It makes swimming in the ocean super enjoyable, but trying to stay cool in our apartment has been somewhat of a challenge. Without air conditioning, we've been doing everything we can think of just to stay cool. One of the best ways we've managed to beat the heat has been by drinking this refreshing, delicious drink. It's actually a copycat recipe of one of my favorite Sonic drinks. I made this for a nautical-themed baby shower I threw for a friend last weekend and it was a huge hit. Here's the recipe, which I quintupled for the party. 

Seriously though, you gotta try this. 

Ocean Water
From Yummly
Yield 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

6 Tablespoons water
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coconut extract
4 drops blue food coloring
48 oz. Lemon-lime soda
Ice

DIRECTIONS:

Combine water and sugar. Microwave for 30-45 seconds and stir to combine until sugar is fully dissolved. (Alternately, you may heat this on a stovetop to dissolve.) Allow to cool, then add food coloring and extract. Mix into lemon-lime soda and pour over ice.

SERVING SUGGESTION:

For an even more refreshing treat, turn your ocean water into a slushie! Pour ocean water in a plastic cup and place in the freezer for about 3 hours. Stir with a spoon to ensure an even texture and slurp away.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Wanderlust: Morocco






For the 2 months I lived in Spain, I had one free weekend to spend traveling to a nearby place. The shortlist included: Paris, France, Marbella, Spain, and Tangier, Morocco (it's literally a ferry ride from the southernmost point of Spain). I ultimately chose Paris for my weekend getaway but I often think about Morocco. I've always had a love for Muslim cultures and architecture. After gawking at photos and researching information for this post, I think I'm actually glad I didn't take that weekend trip to Morocco, for I'd much rather set aside at least a week to travel to this colorful, culture-filled, beautiful and geographically-diverse country. As you can see from the above photos, there are some amazing beaches, however the Atlas Mountains also provide some great hiking experiences. Surely, the shopping would be an irresistible temptation and I also know that I would love to interact with their locals and pick their brains about life as a Muslim and life in Morocco.

Have you been?

Click on each photo to view source. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Boots


Jeans: Silence + Noise, Shirt: Zara, Boots: Target, Belt: H&M, Necklace: Stella & Dot, Bag: Urban Outfitters

Even though Hermosa Beach is currently experiencing some of the hottest weather all year, I couldn't contain my excitement for fall fashions much longer. Yesterday, I decided to reintroduce my trusty ankle boots into my wardrobe. Since it is still summer after all, I paired these grey ankle boots with some rolled-up jeans and a bright white button-up shirt to help the look feel lighter and more casual.

To read more about my wardrobe challenge, click here.

To see more outfits featuring these BOOTS, click here and here.

To see more outfits featuring these JEANS, click here, here, here, here and here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Simple Blackened Chicken

It's no secret that ingredients are super important when preparing delicious food, but one thing that can be easy to forget about is technique. Especially when it comes to preparing meats, technique can be the difference between a fabulous meal or a flop. Chicken is one of those foods that can taste amazing when prepared well but it can also taste dry and awful when prepared poorly.

Today, I'd like to share with you my extremely simple yet satisfying method for cooking chicken.

Simple Blackened Chicken
Yield: one cooked chicken breast
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: about 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 chicken breast
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Using a mallet, beat down chicken breast until it is about 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle garlic salt and lemon pepper on both sides of the breast. Pat down.

In a saucepan over medium heat, pour a tablespoon of olive oil and heat through. Add seasoned chicken to the pan and cover with a lid. Let cook for about 7-8 minutes on each side until cooked through and all pinkness is gone.

Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Destination: Meadow Vista, California







I just spent the last 5 days with my family on a lake in Meadow Vista, CA. Nestled deep in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Meadow Vista is the perfect place to escape from technology and enjoy a more simple life: one filled with lazy mornings playing with nieces and nephews, long afternoons on the boat trying new sports like wakesurfing, cool dips in the lake, fresh peach milkshakes from Ikeda's, and animated games and conversation that go deep into the evening. It's nice to be home but, man, how I love those long summer days.

All photos c/o FEST.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2012 Fall Style Wish List

If there's one good thing about the end of summer, it's being able to switch up your wardrobe and start wearing more clothes again (rather than trying to beat the heat with as few layers as possible). Though I still. can't. shop. (geez, it been a long time), I put together a wish list of some of my favorite items that I'm loving for fall. From studded details to a chunky-knit sweater perfect for that first chilly day to that AMAZING coral peplum dress (you won't believe the price!), this list should have you covered for fall.  

1. BB Dakota Maya Lariat Cardigan - $84.00
2. Madewell Perfect Chambray Ex-Boyfriend Shirt - $69.50
3. Gorjana Infinity Ring Necklace - $62.00
4. BB Dakota Suki Blazer - $110.00
5. Casio Analog Watch - $22.00
6. Report Woods Boot - $169.95
7. Dorothy Perkins Coral V Neck Peplum Dress - $27.00
8. J Brand 901 Waxed Legging Jeans - $194.00
9. Sephora Collection Microsmooth Blush Duo 01 Tangerine Tease - $17.00
10. Zara Studded Citybag - $89.90
11. ASOS Spike Stretch Bracelet - $13.26
12. Steve Madden Kamelia Round Toe Flats - $99.00
13. Zara Young Bowling Bag - $79.90
14. Dorothy Perkins Navy Oversized Cotton Shirt - $39.00

Monday, August 13, 2012

Buttermilk Syrup

A couple months ago, I spent a weekend with some girlfriends in Arizona. While we were there, we made crepes with the most amazing buttermilk syrup. Since I first tried this syrup, I have not been able to get the perfect, buttery, heavenly taste out of my mind. Luckily, my good friend Lexi emailed me the recipe and I was able to re-create this taste of heaven at home. It was even better than I had remembered it. I served this syrup with crepes, but I can't wait to try it on pancakes and waffles.

Buttermilk Syrup
Yield: 2 cups
Total Time: about 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk* (may also substitute with regular milk)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own using regular milk and lemon juice. Just fill a measuring cup with one tablespoon of lemon juice, then add enough milk to reach the 1-cup line. Let sit for five minutes before adding to your recipe.

DIRECTIONS:

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add buttermilk and sugar. Let boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda. (The baking soda makes the mixture expand so be sure the pan is big enough to accommodate this.)

*Store any leftover syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. If syrup thickens up after a couple days, just add a little milk and re-heat in the microwave.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wanderlust: Indonesia







When I was 22 years old, I turned down an opportunity to play professional volleyball in Indonesia for a different and amazing opportunity to study abroad in Jerusalem. Watching the recent USA beach volleyball wins in the Olympics sort of has me wondering, "What if I had moved to Indonesia instead?" I have always thought of Indonesia as some exotic surf trip destination and recently, I've been made more aware of the many yoga retreats that go on in Bali. These types of trips sound relaxing, but I'm interested to learn more about the Indonesian people and culture. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world and features hundreds of distinct ethnic and linguistic groups. From what I've read, the biodiversity is just as broad as the diversity of its people. Add to that a predominantly Muslim population (a religion that's always intrigued me) and I think I'd have a lot to learn and explore in this equatorial country.

Click on each photo to view the source.