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2.28.2014

Grateful Moments

{Finally found the right type of slate cheese board without breaking the bank and in the perfect size}

Lately, I feel like time hasn't been on my side, and I know I'm not alone because it seems like that's all everyone has been saying. Obviously, the older you get the faster time goes by and the strain of what seems to be a constant never ending rush, has left me feeling drained, uninspired, tired and sadly, unmotivated. It might be a culmination of so many things but mainly I think homesickness is taking its toll, which means I'm going to lay low this Oscar weekend. However, to ensure that my head doesn't totally hang down low to the point of no return, I've treated myself to a few favorite things that have been on my wishlist forever. Sometimes, you have to get that thing you've always wanted in order to soothe away the painful spots that the journey through life can bring.

{What do you do with an unsightly soap dish attached to your bathroom wall that I wish never existed? Fill it with pretty rose soap petals.}

{Cozy faux fur throw at the foot of the bed adds such instant luxury and glam to a bedroom}

{The cover made me buy this magazine -one that I've not read in years}

{After a year of not settling for any'ol pepper mill, I'm finally happy to have found this copper one. Love it!}



2.27.2014

Favorite Links


1. Since spring is about to make its appearance sooner than later (on the west coast anyway), might as well make it sweet with this recipe. Perfect timing to refresh the palate during spring and summer.

2. Knowing these practical beauty tips about roses will make me look at their short lifespan as a gain, instead of a complete loss.


4. Rachel Bilson is an individual that I'd love to meet - seeing that her sofa placement mirrors mine (due to some funky french window placements in our place), makes me feel like we could be friends. Yep, I certainly do think so. Why not?

5. I thought it was normal when I was growing up. Who wouldn't want to see this face and lips reaction?



2.26.2014

Upcycled Spice Tins {Makeover}


I think I've mentioned here before how much I hate to waste things - whether it be food or other useful items such as jars and in this case, spice tins; especially if I can remove the labels off of them or cover them with pretty contact paper. This is one of the simplest upcycled projects that anyone can do using leftover contact paper or wallpaper lying around the home. Using the remnants from this last project, I gave these otherwise boring spice tins a spicy makeover - taking them from trash to treasure. I mean, imagine the possibilities of things you can store in these neat little chic tins? From whitening strips to Q-tips. I now, like how my band-aids and alka-seltzer are displayed in a much more elevated style than in their ugly boxes while preserving the earth from unnecessary landfill. The bonus: every time I look in my medicine cabinet for other necessary items - seeing those cute little guys certainly puts a smile on my face. Besides, as you've probably already noticed, I'm not one to settle for an unsightly medicine cabinet. No matter how big or small, renting or not, the medicine cabinet has to be functionally good looking. Sometimes it's just the little things that helps start your day in a better frame of mind.




Materials Needed:

* Spice tins rinsed with alcohol to sterilize and kill any strong odor
* Contact or wallpaper of choice
* Measuring tape or string
* A marker or pen to trace out your measurements
* Scissors
* Label maker to label each one of your tins (optional)

Directions:

1. Measure the circumference (from top and bottom right above the bottom lip) of your tin by using either a tape or a string around the tin.
2. Trace out your measurements on the paper side down, adding a little extra so one seam can overlap a little bit.
3. Cut out your tracing all at once to save you time from re-measuring.
4. Once you have all your pieces, peel back off of contact/wallpaper. Place your paper in the center on the front of the tin above the bottom lip and pull the paper around the curve of your tin snugly as you press down for a nice smooth coverage, bringing the seam together on the back of the tin's seams.




2.25.2014

Nutritiously Delicious Carrot Muffins


Do you have a schedule that keeps you running from your home like a bat out of hell most mornings, causing you to skip breakfast only to find yourself wolfing down some non-nutritional food mid-afternoon because by now you've got a voracious appetite and are willing to eat anything and everything? Then minutes later your feeling sluggish, tired, and all you can think of is your bed.  That was happening to me quite a bit. It isn't a fib when they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fueling up before starting your day not only gives you the energy to face the day with success, but it also improves concentration and short-term memory (according to science anyway;). Imagine that you own a car, but you never take time to maintain it. The car will only go so far before it breaks down. The same can happen to our bodies. Always having that thought gnawing at me constantly, and being a person who needs to eat/snack on something every two hours, I've since figured out a way to have a quick, prepared nutritionally nourishing breakfast foods for the week that we can just grab on our way out of the door. Really, all that's needed is better planning. After tailoring this muffin recipe to make them especially nourishing and fit our taste buds, I now alternate my grab and go breakfast between them and this, that you can just slice and quickly warm up in a microwave while getting ready in the morning, or these cute as a button bites. And when I have time, I also usually fall back on some good'ol  not-so-your-typical oatmeal. But on the weekend, it's a whole nother ball game. I get a little bit more fancy with making us breakfast, as I'm sure many of you do as well.

What's your at home grab and go breakfast (excluding just a piece of fruit)?






Ingredients

4 cups flour (spelt, wheat or all-purpose can be used. It;s all up to you)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tbsp. chia seeds
6 tbsp. water
1 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup apple sauce
3 cups shredded carrots chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Line your muffin tins.
1. Mix first 5 ingredients.
2. Then mix together remaining ingredients.
3. Add the flour mixture slowly and stir until combined.
4. Pour into your paper-lined muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the       center comes out clean.


....and Bon Appetite!





2.24.2014

Very JCrew

Club Monaco blazer, Ann Taylor Tank top, skirt and necklace, Steve Madden pumps, Volcom clutch, Vintage sunglasses

Hello everyone! Yes, I'm still alive and kicking. I'm sure all of you tens of my readers were wondering what happened to me (chuckles). Well, between a hectic life and hosting out-of-town visitors, my days fled by in a dizzying rush. I'm still trying to catch my breath around here. Phew! Hope all of you had a fantabulous weekend.

Funny story about this outfit. A week ago, I wore it to a meeting. Afterwards, a colleague came to me and said, "love the outfit. Were you going for a J.Crew look? Is it J.Crew?" I giggled and replied: "really!? No, but thank you!" I thought, 'Uh?! Au contraire, mon ami, J.Crew didn't even cross my mind when I put it together.' She immediately uttered: "Oh, I mean that as a compliment, because I love J.Crew so much that years ago when my best girlfriend was into the Gothic look when it wasn't so popular - I remember bringing her a J.Crew catalog to help her transition her look to the J.Crew style." Now, I did not for one second take offense to that for I do love J.Crew. In fact, I thought, why doesn't that comment come from J.Crew itself so I can get offered a modeling gig for their petite line. Ahem, did you hear that J.Crew? Call me, because I just inadvertently gave you a free promotional shout out by my ensemble choice. I've said it before and I'll say it again here: that it goes to show by your choice of clothing, you unwittingly send a message to onlookers who judge things according to their face value - affecting the impact you have on people you meet and how they treat you. So, what does your choice of clothing reveal about you?






2.14.2014

Grateful Moments

{Since Paris has been on my mind, I switched from a cheetah to a springy bike case from Saks Fifth Avenue}

In a world of complicated relationships, possibly the most complicated and hard to keep are genuine friends. I speak as a person whose life, to a large extent depended on friends as they've always been all I've had in my life - they gave me a sense of belonging having had a life devoid of family. I cannot imagine how my life might have turned out if it wasn't for some of these kind people. That's why starting tonight, this weekend is going to be such a special weekend as we'll be picking up at the airport one of my best friends accompanied by her hubby who will be spending a week with us. It's been a good ten years since we've physically seen each other, so there will be a lot of sight seeing around town, lots of eating, a trip to wine country of course, and last but not least, some good sofa chatting by candlelight with bubbly in hand as the guys do some catching up of their own. I hope your Friday and weekend plans develop as lovely as you've imagined it.

{The fruits of my labor is paying off on our back wall}

{Best scented stone for your closet}

{Been wanting a gold bangle lately}

{And I'm grateful for that}



2.11.2014

Vegetable Turkey Biscuit Mini Pot Pies


Over the years, I've created many of my own dishes that I often refer to as "Inventos"; this one was created on a whim because (a) I needed something quick to make (besides the usual: eggs, pancakes, crepes, waffles etc...) in the morning for breakfast, and (b) up until several years ago, both the hubby and I developed allergies to chicken (yes, including "organic chicken"). Though we weren't big chicken pot pie fans for they were always either too starchy, salty or just plain flat and unsatisfying, every now and then we would crave the flaky top part of a chicken pot pie. So, rather than following the typical recipe - I created my own revised version of this staple by using biscuit dough to create a pocket as it were with mixed frozen vegetables, left over turkey meat that I shredded and a sprinkle of cheese. Just when you think there was no way you could improve this good'ol traditional recipe, here I come with my own concocted version! It's buttery biscuit meets hot pocket in a pot pie sort of style that'll have your guests begging for more. All that's needed is one can of biscuit dough, some left overs and in 13 to 17 minutes, depending on the oven, you will hear the sound of your oven clock going ding! All ready for you to enjoy.

If you don't have the left overs, whip up a quick gravy, saute the vegetables in a pan and mix with gravy as directed below, which only takes a couple of minutes while preheating the oven.


Ingredients

Preheat oven 350 degrees
1 can (12 oz) Pillsbury Grand biscuits
1/4 cups shredded turkey
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables
2 cups vegetable or beef stock
1/2 cup shredded mixed cheese (or of your choice)
2 tbsp. butter (plus 2 more for veggies)
2 tbsp. flour
1 egg
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. dried oregano (or fresh)
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste


Direction

Separate biscuits and gently stretch each as you would pizza dough.
Place stretched dough over each Ramekin - pressing the dough into the bottom of the ramekin without puncturing - leave extra to spill over the lip of the ramekin.
Start filling each ramekin with a tablespoon (or as much as you'd like) of the vegetable and gravy mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top of veggie mixture. Then fold biscuit dough over the filling.*
Make your egg wash by mixing the egg with water and brush the top of the dough in each ramekin. Then place them all on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven (follow the baking direction on the biscuits' package).







Gravy
Direction

Place a pan on medium high heat. Melt butter.
Stir in the flour with a whisk, continue to cook slowly to brown the flour for about a 1 minute.
Slowly add 2 cups of vegetable or beef stock stirring with a wire whisk until gravy begins to thicken.


Vegetables
Direction

In a medium saute pan,  heat 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the vegetables to the pan, toss gently by moving the pan back and forth. Cook the vegetables for about 3 minutes until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables into the gravy and mix.



*This is where your creativity can shine in how you close up the top. You can simply fold twisting the top a bit, or you can fold the dough in a bow formation so it can come out of the oven looking like a golden little gift. I kept mine simple this time with what I like to call a simple rustic fold.



2.10.2014

Beauty is in The Eye of The Beholder

Black + White diamond pattern sweater (old), Forever21 jeans (compared), Vintage sunglasses (seen here - similar), Multi-chain necklace, Express color block envelope clutch (old), Black suede open-toe booties (similar - love these too)

Last weekend, I re-watched one of my favorite movies - The Devil Wears Prada. It's one movie that I never tire of. The one liners are so comical yet, cast light on the reality of how some people think and truly are. For some unknown reason, this time around, some of the lines really stuck in my mind in a thought provoking way. Imperceptibly, it triggered in me that I'm the Andy Sachs amongst the "it" bloggers in the blogosphere. Don't ask me why, as no one has said anything negative about my blog. In fact, I receive innumerable positive compliments about the blog. I just wish they'd pen their feedback by commenting on the blog itself, but they don't. It could be that's one of the reasons why some of those lines in the movie elicited my split second thought.


In any event, here are some of the lines (not necessarily in order) from the movie that sadly gives you a glimpse into the world behind the fashion magazines (which are not exaggerated at all):

Nigel: "{whistles at Emily, whispers} 'who's that'?"

Emily: "that, {points at Andy} I can't even talk about"

Emily: "remember, you and I have totally different jobs. I mean you get coffee. And you run errands. Yet I'm... and in charge of her schedule, her appointments and her expenses, and most importantly, um, I get to go with her to Paris for fashion week in the fall. I get to wear couture and go to all the shows and all the parties and meet all the designers..."

Nigel: "who is this sad little person?"

Nigel: "listen 6!" {referring to her size, which he said was the new 14}

Miranda Priestly: "do you know why I hired you? I always hire the same girl - stylish, slender, of course worships the magazine. But so often, they turn out to be - I don't know - disappointing and um...stupid. So you, with that impressive resume and the big speech about your so-called work ethic - I thought you would be different. I said to myself, 'go ahead. Take chance. Hire the smart, fat girl.'{clears throat} I had hope. My God, I live on it. Anyway, you ended up disappointing me more than, um - any of the other silly girls."

Nigel: "Okay. Now, Chanel. You're in desperate need of Chanel. Darling, shall we? We have to get to the beauty department, and God knows how long that's going to take."

Andy Sachs: {seeing Nigel with a black gown} "I love that! Will that fit me?"

Nigel: "a little Crisco and some fishing wire and we'll be in business."







The power of the tongue can either build up or tear down. How do you use yours?



2.07.2014

Grateful Moments

{This French Bulldog will have to do for now - via IG}

For the longest time I heard about Netflix, but never had the time to look into it nor did I want to, for the nature of it sounds like a time consumer and I barely have a minute to spare most days - on top of which I can barely keep up with my regular DVR recorded TV shows lately. Recently though, we were offered a free month trial with Netflix. I thought heck, let's give it a whirl just to see what it's all about and have decided to check out Revenge with Emily Vancamp who is one of my favorite actresses. Something about her has always drawn me to her - after seeing a few of the episodes of the show, I'm now even more attached to her for her astuteness. Her acting is impeccable and now the hubby and I are hooked on that show. Not to mention, seeing beautiful Long island, NY connects us more to the show as it brings back so many great memories. I was also thinking, for those of us who often wonder and wish to know what life is like behind the doors of the super wealthy, well, this show gives you a real glimpse of the reality of their lives. Abundant wealth never comes without a price, nor does it bring true happiness. In fact, money, power, prestige, and over abundance of material possessions offer no protection against unhappiness or emotional illness. True happiness comes from having a good conscience, living an honest life, including physical well-being, doing good work, fulfillment of creative desires, true friendships, being content with what you have, and having a true intimate relationship with one's creator of course.

{A great statement necklace is a wardrobe must-have to elevate any simple look}

{Looking to sell this lovely gift as I will not use it - stay tuned to what's inside}

{A different take on lemon tarts}

{Inspiring pencils that sure help get through those tough days}



2.05.2014

For the Love of Candles


One of the most important decor details in my home are scented candles. It's one that even surpasses my must-have fresh flowers in the home rule, and fresh flowers rank high on my list. My love for candles is beyond just having a plain obsession - it's the elixir of life for me. Anyone that knows me really well, would tell you that in my home there isn't a day that you wouldn't find some kind of scented candles lit in every room. This week, despite my usual busy Monday routine (what I like to call 'mundane Mondays'), I found myself running to Bloomies for one of my absolute favorite candle brands that I ran out of - Dyptique. A client turned me on to Dyptique a couple of years ago, and I just can't get enough of them now. Not only are the scents uniquely amazing, they last forever and burn super clean without it being overpowering. But can I tell you, as excited as I was picking up one of their newest fragrances Rosamundi, I got nostalgic thinking about my once a month visit to the Diptyque store in Manhattan on Madison avenue. Browsing the store and chatting with the sales associates was a ritual that added to the whole personalized experience of purchasing the right candle, and I truly miss that.

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to curate all of my ultimate favorite scents into one place so I can just quickly order them as my supplies get low. They're high quality candles, though a bit pricey. But seriously, with all the pressures that we face in this life, I strongly believe scented candles are one of life's simple luxuries that is worth the price due to the transformation they give you after a tense day out in the world to a happy serene atmosphere at home. So, for lack of better words, pop the lock off the wallet and turn your day from ordinary to extraordinary with just one switch of a lighter. Trust me on that one!

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:

Figuier// Firewood// Fig15// Voluspa// Baies//  Roses// Red Currant// Rosamundi// Tubereuse// Wild Fig and Cassis

Other Favorites not in editorial...

* Rachel Ashwell's Fig scented candle is another amazing one that I go to the store for all the time.
* Feu de bois
* Black currant
* Eucalyptus



2.03.2014

Sheepish

White button down shirt, Gap side zip black pencil skirt (old - similar), Fur vest (similar here and here), Bloomingdale's tights, Grey pumps (loving this pair), I used my Marc Jacobs chunky chain link bag strap as a belt, Round retro sunnies (seen here - similar), Mixed jewelry

Happy Monday everybody! How many of you enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday or were plain furious fifteen minutes right before half time (the one and only part that usually interests me) to have been staring at a blank screen for almost the remainder of the show because good'ol Time Warner Cable failed you? Thank goodness, I'm not much of a football fan, so I was not phased but, I can only imagine the rage of the many die hard football fans in southern CA that were effected by it and like the hubby, had to watch it online as an alternative.

Anyway, on to the outfit: dressing in layers has been a bit tricky since the weather isn't predictable. Opting for my warm little furry vest has always been the perfect choice for (a) when the weather isn't too warm or there's a slight chill in the air (b) for the blah days when I'm in need of a little bit of comfort as the super soft texture of the vest makes me feel cozy and keeps me nice and snug.