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Apple Pie Made Easy

Hopefully, everyone had a wonderful long weekend. To cheer up your Monday, I wanted to share something sweet with you today that maybe you can make when you get home tonight. Recently, I decided it was time to get in on the action and start my own tradition that we can look forward to annually for my family of two (the hubby and I). Part of this new tradition was to tackle baking my first apple pie, although my favorite desserts are the creamy custard types like, Creme Brulee, chocolate mousse, pot de creme, panna cotta and such. I do however, on the rare occasion like to be served a nice helping of a warm deliciously gooey piece of apple pie with a scoop of ice cream melting down over it. And since apples are in abundance during the fall season, I couldn't think of a more perfect enduring American classic to start creating memories with, but the old-fashioned apple pie. Though I've made many desserts in my limited lifetime, overall, due to impatience, I much prefer making quick fool proof desserts in the realm of the ones I've mentioned above. So for years, the idea of making an apple pie sounded overwhelmingly complicated and something that would require too many steps and time for me to tackle. For my first attempt, it was imperative that I found a recipe that would ease me into making apple pies, while still delivering that good'ole (non-soggy) rich apple pie taste permeated with cinnamon flavors that instantly gives you that comforting feeling with the first bite. After a quick Google search (by the way, how did we survive without Google before?), I came upon this unbelievably easy recipe* that at first glance made me very skeptical. It looked too simplistic. I was thinking, 'where's the complex baking calculations that would require a degree in advanced Science?' Then I realized, that's exactly what I'm looking for. A quick easy recipe that would not scare me away from my first attempt at a family tradition. Turns out that this recipe helped remove my apprehension of apple pie baking, and actually gave me confidence that I could do it all along, plus it tasted delicious. I mean, for a first apple pie for a novice - it doesn't look too shabby, huh?! Well, if you're looking to bake your first apple pie. I highly recommend trying this fast easy recipe.

*Note: I used two different kind of apples (2 granny smith and 2 honey crisp), and added one of the most important ingredients an apple pie should have - cinnamon. 1/4 tsp. to be exact. Even though I've made pie dough before, this time I kept it all simple by using store bought ones as suggested in the recipe. Happy baking!


Favorite Deals of Black Friday & Cyber Monday

After attempting to go out and about to do a little clothes shopping this past Monday, I quickly realized why I much prefer shopping online for years now. I rarely shop, so when I do, I want it to be a fun relaxing experience that releases more endorphins than when I work out. So instead of dealing with this new way of shopping that ends up in a pushing and shoving match - I opt for a much calmer and comforting experience in the privacy of my own home while I sip on a favorite beverage. Think about it, you can stay in your comfortable PJs with a nice cup of coffee/tea/OJ or whatever your fancy is and just click away. The best part of it for me is getting those packages in the mail. What is it about getting packages in the mail that makes one so giddy?

Click on the links below for my favorite Black Friday + Cyber Monday online sales that I've curated.

Nordstrom: Designer clearance event now through January 6. Loving these a lot!

West Elm: Buy more, save more - up to 25% off with code SUPERSALE

H&M: Online offer free shipping on orders over $50 with code 2695

J.Crew: 30% off select full-price styles and additional 40% off sale + free shipping, no minimum until November 30 with code HOLIDAY

Cyber Monday: 30% off select full-price styles and additional 40% off sale + free shipping, no minimum with Code MONDAY

Neiman Marcus: Up to 50% off and free shipping

Forever21: Black Friday Deals under $5, $10, $20, plus extra 30% off  clearance until November 30

Cyber Monday: 20% off $60+ with code CYBER20, 30% off $120+ with code CYBER30

Banana Republic: 50% off one full-priced item with code BRFIFTY, 40% off sitewide today using code BRFORT

Cyber Monday: 30% off purchase + free shipping with code CYBERTREAT

Piperlime: 25% off sitewide today + be entered to win a trip for 2 to NYC fashion week with code IHEARTNYC

Cyber Monday: 30% off sitewide + 40% off markdowns with code CYBERSALE

Dorothy Perkins: Up to 30% off everything

Shopbob: 15% off $250, 20% off $500, 25% off $1000, until December 1 with code GOBIG14

Stella&Dot: 25% off all sale items now through November 30th.

Topshop: 30% select product, and 2 for 1 on mid-season sale items until December 1.

You can also see or shop more of my top picks for this season here.

Happy Friday Shopping!

Gift Guide 2014 {For Her}

1. Snug in style with this faux fur infinity scarf that's ideal to wear with everything from ripped jeans to a fancy gown. {}

2. Be the life of the party in this dazzling sequins skirt. {}

3. This fabulous eyewear case is sure to make you smile every time you pull it out your bag. {}

4. Bobbi Brown 'smokey nudes' eye shadow set - the perfect palette for day and night. {}

5. This Hermes leather stretch canvas belt is the one must-have piece that every fashionably chic lady should own. {}

6. A statement necklace is the perfect accessory to elevate a simple outfit. {Stella&}

7. Desserts are tastier when served on these pretty white dots coffee and tea plates. {}

9. My winter wardrobe just got a little fiercer with this Rag & Bone leopard print calf hair booties. {}

10. Every girl needs a pave and studs pair of earrings - pure class. {}

11. How attractive is this Kate Spade catchall tray! {}

13. Soft and fluffy cardigan - an ultimate favorite for the cold months. {}

14. I can't think of anything more luxurious than slipping into a soft robe after a nice bath or shower. {}

15. An eye-catching clutch such as this one is definitely crave-worthy. {}

16. Give the gift of glam with these double cubo pearl earrings. {}

17. Paris a love story - makes for a fun read over the holiday vacation. {}

18. Plaid PJ's are one of my must-get this season for lounging around. {Mark&}

19. These mini trio body butter are my faves and essential to keeping your hands and skin feeling moisturized in the cold months. {}

20. Stylish iPhone cases are always on my radar. {}

21. In the winter time a thermal travel cup is invaluable and this Kate Spade one is pretty preppy. {}

Some more great options...


Gift Guide 2014: Beauty Gifts For Less {Under $25}

1. Add a touch of sophisticated glitz with this Essie dazzling nail color{Macy*}.

2. One of my best beauty purchases this year is this non-sticky gluten-free Almay lip balm "Truffle Kiss".

3. A classic Essie fall nail polish color for mani enthusiasts {}.

4. If you enjoy crafts like I do, this pair of scissors makes any card project a lot more fun{}.

5. How adorable is this plaid makeup pouch! {}.

6. This room spray is a great alternative to candles {}.

7. Fragrance sampler is a fantastic way to discover your signature scent before splurging on a bigger bottle. {}

8. I'm obsessed with Voluspa, but even more with the huckleberry scent {}

9. Marc Jacobs Daisy rollerball fragrance is perfect to drop in a clutch {}

Some more options....


Gift Guide: Gilded Gold Accents For The Home

Even though yellow gold wouldn't necessarily be my first pick at a jewelry store, I for sure don't hesitate twice reaching for plenty of it when it comes to accenting the home. In design, I strongly believe that the details are what make the biggest impact. And anytime you add an element of gold or gilded accent, it instantly gives a room that great touch of sophistication and elegance. Whether it be by inserting this anthropologie gold-tipped flatware set  to your dinner table, to these lustrous quirky gold pig book ends - introducing such simple details immediately elevates the style of a home with a level of rich luxurious flair. And who wouldn't want a touch of luxe without spending a ton of money? So why not give the gift of luxe to a dear one.

1// 2// 3// 4// 5// 6// 7// 8

More great options...


Happy for Hudson Jeans

Hudson Jeans "Nico Mid-Rise Super Skinny", Merona Crew neck Pullover Sweater (target style - similar), Striped Blanket Coat (similar here and here), Black Suede Ankle Boots (ancient),

I love to be comfortable, especially during layering season. The hunt to find the right key pieces that are stylish, light, yet warm enough to keep my bits and pieces from freezing when the temperature drops can be difficult. I was very pleased and surprised on how cozy I felt this week in one of my favorite pairs of Hudson jeans.* The crackle soft luxe stretch cotton blend material is such that it feels almost like leather, but what makes these jeans even one of my best purchases yet is the happy feeling that comes over me when getting into them. It's like sliding into a smooth stick of butter, and you know that everything is better with butter. Even butter is better with butter. Anyway, I digress. Back to the jeans, these jeans glide on nicely and hug all the right places perfectly, while keeping me warm when the cold wind is whipping out here in the Northeast. The bonus: they're made in the USA, right there in good'ol LA. What's not to like? This brand has definitely become one of my favorites. After years of struggling to find the right pair of jeans that stay up, are comfortable and I'm able to bend down in and not show crack is a win win for me. I can finally say no to sliding down your butt jeans, say no to zipper never wants to stay up jeans, and most importantly, say no to crack jeans! What?

*This is not a sponsored post. Just me being me, giving recognition to those that deserve it.


Grateful Moments

{Out with the old fashion + design inspiration board}

If I had to describe my week in one word, I would definitely say: overstimulated. Where do I begin? The excitement of getting some design projects completed daily or my feeling abuzz with the city that is certainly in overdrive right now with the sparkly window decorations. Having a revolving door of different friends coming over and getting back to exercising sure have had me feeling giddy all week. I plan on continuing this great week into the weekend. Starting out with tonight, the hubby has a friend coming over to jam on his guitars, which means they're going to need some munchies. To keep things fun and simple, I'm just going to serve fig and goat cheese crostinis, along with freshly made guac and chips and a pitcher of my favorite - margarita. And while the boys are doing their thing, I'll use that opportunity to paint my nails and catch up on some of my fashion magazine reading that I've fallen behind on.

{So simple, yet so scrumptiously delicious}

{These lovelies made the most delicious fresh orange juice that I've had in a while}

{Fall color enjoyed on an afternoon walk in the park}

{Afternoon brunch with a friend at a new Thai place in town}

What are your plans for this weekend?


Stripe Jumpsuit

The one jumpsuit that I haven't been able to get off my mind ever since I saw it, is finally on SALE! Should I or shouldn't I? Not to mention these other items on the wishlist that are ranking pretty high on my shopping list. Decisions. Decisions.

Favorite Links

 1. Some tips on how to throw a fun bridal shower.

2. A piece of fascinating news reveals an era when Antarctica was like California.

3. Given the latest health scare plastering every news screen, one can never be too prudent when it comes to suggestions on how to stay healthy on a long flight.

4. Articles as these give me hope, reminding me that failure is an inevitable beast on the pathway to success: challenges that Jessica Alba faced running her own empire.

5. 40 more of the iPhone's never-ending secret features and shortcuts.  

Happy Hump Day!


Red Barn Red Lips

Forever21 Sweater, Nordstrom Jeans, Urban Outfitters Felt Fedora Hat (on sale), Franco Sarto "Linden" Booties, Aldo bag (old), Round Sunglasses (similar here, here and loving these)

Judging from how quickly the weather turned to bone chilly cold, I'm afraid to say that the days of just a thick heavy sweater over a pair of jeans won't suffice anymore. The Fall season is like an old best friend that comes to visit annually. As soon as you're finally getting used to that person being around like old times, before you know it, that friend is packing up only to leave you behind with a gaping hole in your heart knowing that you will not see that friend again for a very, very long time. So yes, my most gleeful time of the year where taking strolls amidst a kaleidoscope of blushing trees and rustling my feet through golden maple leaves makes everything feels golden is sadly coming to a close. Thankfully, winter offers its own beauty and I like it almost just the same.


New Family Traditions

When I hear the word tradition - here's what it immediately conjures up in my mind: thoughts of warmth, love, acceptance. Thoughts of a cozy home surrounded with loving family and  nurturing grandparents, gathering by a fireplace at the feet of caring parents and siblings - hearing loved ones' laughter echoing from the kitchen while preparing recipes that have been passed down through generations. On the other hand, I also associate it with popular mind-numbing customs that are followed by generation after generation without any thought of where those customs originate from or what they really mean and why they started to begin with. As a result, that word has somewhat put me off as I've never been one to follow a certain pattern of life without knowing exactly the reason behind it, or without asking myself, does the custom promote the idea that a person is not responsible for his or her own actions? Simply practicing something mindlessly just because you learned it from someone else (parents or others) never made sense to me. Like a Lemming following the herd over the cliff. I suppose, not having grown up in a traditional family forced me to develop this kind of awareness to think deeply about the choices and decisions I make, because our decisions not only affect us, but also others even when we don't think they do. However, although that word wells up such a mental saga in my head, I find that I still like the idea of what it could mean (as described at the outset). Lately, I've been thinking to myself 'well, although tradition is normally associated with customs that I might not necessarily believe in, it still doesn't mean that I can't create for myself the environment that I think of and wished for most of my life, by setting in place fun annual routines for the hubby and I to look forward to with each year.' So this year, I've decided to start our own set of family traditions.

For the longest time, I never thought the life of just the two of us constituted a family (say what?!). Until one day a discussion ensued about what makes up a family and he helped me to come to grips with the realization that even two people (like us) are considered to be a family. I know, major brainfart. Now that I know you don't necessarily need to be more than two to be considered a family, I resolved that this year we'd start our new annual family traditions, one of which will be going upstate for apple picking and using the apples to make fresh apple pie. It's such a small thing, yet it's something that we've never done. I guess when you grow up in the beauty of  Long Island, you never feel the need for a change of scenery. And it's not because we've never been invited by friends, but every time we'd get an invite in the past (even including a last minute one last month), apple picking dates never seem to fall on the right days for us. This past week we were itching to see the beautiful fall foliage of upstate, so we decided that it was time to start our new tradition right away, (even though we were late for actually picking the apples off the trees, they had no chance as we were just as eager to pick them right out of the barrels at the farm.) The orchard's were aglow with red, orange and yellow leaves as far as the eye could see, and I got to indulge on some 'hot fresh out of the oven' apple cider doughnuts in this whimsical setting. Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm. Yum!  Making that drive made us feel so grateful to be back home in NY, especially during this time of year. It's simple moments like these that create the fondest memories, melting away problems if even for a brief period of time. Yes, even the smallest family of two can glow with warmth, kindness and love.

Do you appreciate the family you have?

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." - Amelia Earhart


Grateful Moments

Even though this week presented its many challenges, it still turned out to be a productive one, as I accomplished several things on my unending long list such as wrapping my rose bushes on our terrace to prevent them from frosting away and dying this winter, to spray painting some objects and revamping my inspiration board to reflect what's inspiring me at the moment and/or looking to incorporate into my decor.  Besides, the amazingly intense rich hues of the fall foliage in New York right now just have this soothing effect on me as I walk/drive around or when I look out my windows and balconies of my apartment. This weekend, I'm looking forward to baking my first apple pie (more coming up about that in another post), taking a stroll in Central Park to enjoy the fall while it's at its peak and a night out with the hubby at a 'new to us' spot. In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with some warm rich Autumn hues from our recent upstate trip to warm your heart for the weekend.

Happy weekend!


Beaming for Boots

In just two days, the weather has significantly dropped from moderately cool to frigid, which signals that winter is nearly upon us and that means wearing one of my favorite things: boots! I can't tell you how excited that makes me feel! It's been a while since I've been able to really wear them. When we lived in Southern California, obviously I didn't really have a need for them since the weather is Summer-like almost year-round there. But now that I'm back to this New York weather, it made me take an inventory of the condition of the boots that I do have in my closet, and let's just say, there were a couple of pairs that I had to part with. Womp womp. I really can't complain though, they'd served me well. Even though the ones that remain are stylish but to be honest, they won't be practical when the biting winter air or icy rain approach. It's definitely time to up my boots game a bit this season (time to re-boot as it were), which has me beaming for boots. While the 'keeping me warm and dry' factor is of utmost importance - in my book, style and details are just as equally important. What styles fit those criteria, you ask? Here are some of my picks thus far that I feel will deliver so much more than just practicality.

1// 2// 3// 4// 5// 6// 7// 8// 9// 10// 11// 12

And these bad boys are on their way to me as I'm writing. So what do you think? Likey?

P.S. For more eye-catching cold weather fashion options. Check out the fall layering essentials' list and the items that enticed me from the Madewell sale.

Next Up: Coats


Flirty Tiered Scalloped Skirt

Nordstrom Milly Laser Cut Tiered Skirt (no longer available - similar), Rockport x Adidas Leopard Pony Shootie (shown here - loving these),  Leather Jacket (shown here), Balenciaga Bag

I love days when getting dressed happens seamlessly without much thought. I'm not one to lay out my clothes ahead of time (since I never know how I'll feel each day, thus allowing my mood to guide my daily outfits), unless I'm going to some big event. This particular day, I opened my two imposing dark mahogany closet doors which seriously make me fee like I am an Ant standing next to the tallest Giraffe on earth and reached in for a tiered skirt. Next I opened my chest of drawers and effortlessly grabbed a glitter orange sleeveless top. Then looking over on the shoe shelves, I unhesitatingly decided on my leopard shooties for pop and rounded the outfit with the leather jacket for contrast and a little of bit edge to keep the femininity of the flirty tiered skirt from falling flat. The combination of the laser cut design and the tiered scalloped edges really blends comfort and chicness - giving it this versatility to either dress up or down by pairing it with cowboy boots, tucked in t-shirt and a denim jacket.