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1.31.2014

Grateful Moments

"Happiness is a grateful spirit, an optimistic attitude and a heart full of love."

{Enthralled with this amazing ceiling + chandelier}

One thing I know for sure... no matter how challenging a week may be, there's always something that's inspired you, made you smile and that you can be grateful for. The above quote is such a good reminder of that simple fact. Enjoy your super bowl weekend dearies.

{Happiness is intimate date nights}

{Rope mirror: a nod to nautical - such a great DIY inspiration}

{Another quaint cafe full of personality and good treats added to the list of favorites}

{Things on my desk: that I couldn't do without on a deserted island}



5 Simple Recipes for Super Bowl Sunday!


It's been a good while since the hubby and I have hosted a big super bowl party. Over the past few years, we have kept it low key and instead of going to noisy, overcrowded  parties or having one of our own - we have opted to watch the game in calm and solitude. When we do decide to go it alone instead of heading to a large super bowl gathering, we keep the menu comforting but rich in flavor and somewhat decadent. This year, we've been invited out yet again, for a super bowl bash... still kind of debating whether we want to be surrounded by a screaming crowd, or a quiet time at home where I'd whip up these 5 simply delicious recipes and watch the game by candle light. When I say watch the game, I mean pop in the living room to see the half time' performance; so I really hope Bruno Mars brings it, cause let's face it, the best part of super bowl is halftime. In any event, I hope these dishes come in handy for your super bowl shindig. Happy super bowl Sunday/Saturday or Monday depending on the east coast' polar vortex situation.

1. Baked mini meatballs served with spicy sauce

2. The quickest and simplest recipe for a healthy version of chips and dips

3. One of the tastiest margarita recipes (can be made a day ahead ) that will put a smile on your face even when your favorite team is pulling foolish moves on the field. Guaranteed.

4. These mini sweet and sour pork sliders are sure to comfort you whether or not your team wins or loses.

5. Talk about chewy chocolaty goodness that is smooth to the palate and savory to your taste buds. Every bite of these salty caramel chocolate and pecan squares might make you miss some minute details of  what's happening during the game, cause they sure will make you close your eyes after every bite.

P.S: We want to know when are the NY Jets going to ever represent? C'mon guys. What's the deal.i.o? I have no clue about football, but even I'm disheartened to know you didn't make the super bowl yet another year. I keep telling my husband that the Jets needs to hire me as their kicker, not only for a good kick in their teletubbie butts, but I strongly feel I'd get the team into the super bowl next year and better yet, we can finally get to hear the yelling of 'field goal (or goal field whichever one it is...but you catch my drift;) because I'm a good kicker as I used to be called 'tiny but mighty' on my soccer team. So calllll me.



1.30.2014

Vegetable Empanadas With Cream Dipping Sauce


After spending a cornucopia of days eating when our out of town visitor was here, we were ready to go back to our preferred style of dining - tapas style. My first go-to meal was to make a version of one our favorite tapas choices - empanadas. It's one of those simple dishes that makes me reminisce of good times during my teenage years eating at my best friend's mom's house, where great Latin music (of all my faves - bachata, meringue, salsa...who am I kidding? All Latin sounds really) was always playing, and echoing out of their windows adorned with pretty flower boxes as you approach the house. Aah... love such memories. Empanadas are very much a no-fuss meal as it is meant to be eaten by hand with a small dollop of dipping sauce after each bite. Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm!




Ingredients

1 (10 discs) Goya empanadas package* or as many as you need
4 tbsp. olive oil (your choice - I use extra virgin for all my cooking)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 lb. bag of frozen vegetables
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika (or whichever one you have on hand)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Direction

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, saute onion and garlic until soft.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and saute, stirring frequently until the vegetables are softened, about 4 - 5 minutes.

3. Let your mixture cool down.

4. In the center of each disc add a spoonful of the vegetable mixture.**

5. Fold the dough over in half, crimp the edges with a fork and fry in oil (or bake*** for a more figure friendly option).

6. Before folding your empanadas, fill a deep pan (I use my dutch oven) with enough vegetable oil so that they will float when you drop them in. Heat oil until it's hot and ready (Tip: on when to know your oil is ready), that way you avoid the shell from absorbing too much oil.

6. Add empanadas to oil and fry (several minutes per side) until golden brown.

7. When finished, rest them on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil for a couple of minutes before                serving.

8. Serve with cream dipping sauce (recipe below), or another favorite like, chimichurri alongside them.

Cream Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup light sour cream (non-fat yogurt can be substituted)
1 lime, juiced
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Pinch of paprika

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.


NOTE:
*Due to lack of time, I usually just buy the pre-made empanada discs, but you can always make your own pie dough (which I'll post at a later time).

**Empanada filling mixture can be your choice (savory or sweet).

***If you prefer them baked just pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. What's great about these is that you can freeze them (uncooked) for quick future snacks and/or dinner. Bon Appetite!



1.27.2014

Kitchen Shelf Display {Before & After}


I've always been drawn to older style houses, specifically the 1920s for their unique character and charm - one of the main reasons why I was attracted to our place. It's full of details that just speaks to you in a comforting sort of way that I can't explain; like the old faux fireplace in the living room, the wainscoting in the dining room, the french pane windows (that reminds me of the type in downton abbey with the exception of them opening on the inside, eating up precious room space), the large wide molding, a long narrow kitchen that leads into a small breakfast nook drawing your eye to its small narrow corner shelving (as shown) and dark colored wood floors. Now the bathroom on the other hand, though charming, still has its original pink and baby blue tiles which was a bit jarring at first until, after a few sprucing details it's now looking a lot easier on the eye.

When I first saw the shelves in the breakfast nook, I was thinking, 'what can I put on there without making it look like grandma's house?' (Not that there's anything wrong with grandma's style, but we want to save that nostalgia only for when we visit grandma - never would we want to wear out that special feeling). After living with them empty for a several months, I realized the way to awaken the charismatic details was to use some favorite items that were hidden away in cabinets that I'd enjoy looking at every day instead of just on special occasions. Being that I'm a huge advocate that pretty things should be seen and displayed;  little by little, I started pulling out a few gold rim plates and dishes (similar) that were just hidden away in the sideboard of my dining room, and began playing with the placement on the shelves, mixing them with other objects that not only tell a story about what we're about, but also add interest and texture, such as my dazzling gold pine cone salt and pepper shakers.




Thus far, this is what it looks like for now. I'm sure I'll edit things on and off with each season (as it is, I've already changed out some things...). For the spring/summer seasons, I'm thinking of possibly adding small potted succulent plants on one of the shelves to bring life into the space, or even a casual grouping of fresh blooms in a variety of small recycled vases/bottles. I mean, the possibilities are endless! Bottom line is to look at any unused space with creative eyes; as a way to collect different objects around the home that might not make a big impact alone, but when arranged together, can make a great conversation piece, telling your story. This also served a dual purpose as it opened up precious space in the cabinets for extra storage.

Also shown here



1.24.2014

Grateful Moments

{Best quiet cozy corner for cocktail}

After a fast-paced yet productive week, I'm looking forward to guiltlessly using this lovely gloomy Friday lounging around my home with a little bit of pampering before I plunge back into what's going to be a busy weekend. My schedule has been so crazy that I had no idea the Grammys are this Sunday until a friend mentioned it to me yesterday. I hope the rest of you are planning what I would have normally done on an award show day - throw an intimate party flowing with bubbly and cupcakes. Party on for me Fashionistas!

{Attempting to embrace 80 degree weather in dead of winter via IG}

{I could live solely on cupcakes - all the more heavenly with butter cream frosting}

{Obsessed with rustic wood ceilings, especially a solar system like one}

{Dinner at sunset}



1.22.2014

Winter Warmth: Cozy Sweaters


So many of my friends from back east have been sending me pictures of the snow and lamenting about the chilly weather that they're experiencing. On the other hand, I've been lamenting to them about wearing spring dresses, open toe shoes and no coats in the middle of January here in sunny California. Not that I don't appreciate it, but psychologically as soon as the fall season hits, my mind immediately goes into hibernation; looking forward to those occasional snowed in days to fully enjoy the warmth of a cozy home, wrapped in a faux fur throw, drinking something hot and watching favorite TV shows without feeling guilty. But being in a climate with no real winter or seasons, somehow messes with my mind and seems to never really give my body any down time to rejuvenate...not to mention, I miss wearing my winter wardrobe.

Being in a NY state of mind and in honor of sending warm wishes to my chilly friends back home, I thought I'd share some of my favorite fashionably chic cozy sweaters that are sure to put a smile on the face and dispel any winter blues. They're fun, and whimsically snug.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:

Tory Burch graphic adlee sweater (ToryBurch.com)

Navy batwing sleeve eagle pattern sweater (SheInside.com)

My ultimate favorite - Alice+Olivia reyn sequinned cat's eye sweater ON SALE right now (AliceandOlivia.com)

Lips striped cream jumper (Romwe.com)

Wildfox Couture white label Paris sweater (Revolveclothing.com)

Infinity cowl scarf (Gap.com)



1.21.2014

I Wish I could: {Cut My Hair}

*Image via

...just like this! Talk about a sassy hairstyle! 



1.20.2014

Printed Pants

Coral sweater (appears pink in photo, but it's coral in reality), Printed pants, VS gold sequin clutch, Steve Madden bronze gold metallic heels, Gifted necklace (shown here)

Shopping for jeans is my worst nightmare to say the least. It's rare when I can ever find a pair of well-fitted jeans that fits my petite frame in all the right places. If and when I finally do find one that fits nicely, most of the time they're either too big in the waist or I can't sit without my derriere hanging out or worse yet, drags my underpants right off (that's never a good look). On this particular day, after a long stretch of trying out every brand of jeans there was, I wearily walked out of the store's fitting room dejected and headed to Marshalls (a place that I haven't been in I can't even tell you how long) to browse their household section, but then thought to check out their rack of pants/jeans and stumbled upon these printed pants. The print immediately caught my eye, even though the hubby wasn't digging them - in fact, we both immediately referred to them as "hammer time pants". I still decided to try them on and totally loved the way they fit. They are super comfortable. I love the print, the way they feel on, and I especially dig the tuxedo look of them. Printed pants make such a fun addition to any wardrobe and are ideal to dress up or down without sacrificing comfort - gotta love that! And most importantly, they were so inexpensive. Scored there. If you're tired of wearing jeans, I'd suggest investing in printed pants - a definite statement staple.






Below are some other favorite options...



1.17.2014

Grateful Moments

{New acquisitions added to my bauble collection}

After a tumultuous few weeks away from home, I've been longing to be back to my normal routine of sleeping in my own bed (hotel stays can be nice and pampering, but it's a novelty I don't ever want to wear out), sitting on my sofa, cooking in my kitchen, working in my office and taking care of my plants/flowers. This weekend, I'm looking forward to catching up on things around here, especially some of our favorite shows sitting on the DVR. I'm behind about 30 shows on LIVE!WithKellyandMichael as it is. Yikes! I can't wait to watch my girl Kelly Ripa; she never fails to put a wide smile on my face and heart. LOVE HER! So that's partly what I'll be doing this weekend besides sorting out some cool nice things from my mother-in-law. Enjoy your weekend


{Crepes: an all time favorite...my first homemade breakfast back in the kitchen}

{Just love staying in beautifully designed hotels - such a treat. It takes the edge off being away from home}

{Got my eye on these cuties}

{I still miss fall - my pretty mums have since changed to partly brown/green}

Happy Friday!



1.15.2014

Favorite Links


1. Viewing such awesome sights can only help put things into proper perspective. We are not the center of the universe (contrary to how some may view themselves..)

2. The best haircut for your face will come in handy for when I itch (if ever) to cut my hair short again.

3. It might not be everyone's favorite breakfast, but it sure is a satisfying one that will leave you feeling full. It's been one of my favorites.

4. I wasn't shocked at reading about 15 of NY's most underrated restaurants, only because most of us tend to just stick to the ones we love and not branch out. This is a great list to have for when you want to try out a new spot.

5. A much safer workout for me to ease back into shape since this experience.



1.14.2014

The Sting Of Death


I debated for days and hours over whether or not I should write this post. Mainly because I know most people read blogs for the pretty pictures and the glamorous lifestyle of others. Also, my goal is to inspire and motivate by sharing beautiful things that can make life worthwhile. But unfortunately, even amidst the many blessings, life can be unpredictable. Sometimes bad things happen, and since I'm a keep it real type of girl, I figured it's also good to share and/or show that life isn't always peachy; we all have our problems.

These past few weeks have been rough dealing with my mother-in-law's illness which took a turn for the worse and she fell asleep in death. If you have gone through the ordeal of losing someone you love, you know the sting that death brings and the overwhelming feeling of grief that ensues. To be honest, seeing someone you once knew in their full vigor and vim, quickly fade away to a completely feeble and sickly person can only make you reflect on how fragile life is and the importance of living in such a way that makes each day count so as not to have any regrets. Throughout this terrible experience of barely sleeping, being constantly on the run to the hospital, finalizing her affairs - we went through many moments of feeling completely helpless, but with the support of many loving friends and sustained by the knowledge of the true condition of the dead, we have been able to cope with our great loss. When this enemy death strikes it helps you realize how unnatural this process is because even knowing she had been ill for a while, it still takes you by surprise when the person you were just conversating with the day before is no longer around. It's all been very surreal.  Life is only but a mist that quickly fades away in an exhalation. Of course, people handle their grief in different ways. However, for me, I've always found one of the most helpful outlets to grieve is to express emotions by putting them in writing or keeping a journal. Sometimes, reflecting back on moments shared with that loved one can turn those painful tears to joyful ones. I will miss my greetings to her "hello, mothers!", our visits together, our jokes, and the way she signed her texts to us "love you, mothers". There's such a deep void now that just jolts the heart every now and then.

Ever since she passed, I can't seem to get rid of this song out of my head...





1.13.2014

Decor Details Around The Home


Decor Details That A rental home

Life in this world is not only serious, but can be hard to deal with. One of the many ways I've been able to cope is by keeping my surroundings as appealing and happy as possible. As a child, due to my father's business I grew up moving from one house to the next, but these places never felt like home...in other words, a place that felt safe, nurturing and protective. As a result of this, very early on when I had control over my life, I always made sure that where I lived wasn't just a place where you reluctantly go to just to eat/sleep and do your business, but a place I could find comfort. Though this past year I'd taken on an innumerable amount of diy projects, all those personalized details injected our own personality into the space, which has made a big difference in making it feel more like"home" rather than just a rental. The majority of the time, I decorate by instinct and stick to what makes both my husband and I happy and our friends feel welcome. I have an affinity for things that make me feel good or pieces that put a smile on my face whether it be a vintage painting, old vintage frames, motorcycles picked up from a trip to Mexico, a non-traditional bar cart, happy colors from our bright canary yellow draperies in the living room, or an eclectic wall of animal heads and frames. You'll find our place to be one filled with pieces that are warm, inviting and makes you feel good to be there. I thought I'd share some of those decor details around our little humble abode with you here:







To be honest though, I never thought that we would miss being home owners so much, even with the all the responsibilities of the constant upgrading and repairs that come with owning - those issues are still more satisfying than just dealing with someone else's problematic rental property. In our couple of years back in the renting scene we've come to realize that the benefits of owning far outweigh the cons and is in fact more cost effective. Besides, having owned two homes, I think it's now in our our blood to have our own home instead of paying someone else's mortgage in addition to the headaches that come along with renting.








Personally, I feel perfection is in the attention to those little details. When decorating be sure that your personality is clearly evident through the decor choices in your space. Thank you for reading. Hope your year has begun with much laughter, happiness and success.