lifestyle

GIFTING GUIDE:

GIFTING GUIDE FOR HERwe’re nearly two weeks away from christmas and i’m just making a list of all the things i need to get. i wish i was more consistent with my christmas shopping. one year, i’ll have everyone’s gifts wrapped and under the tree WEEKS before christmas and the next year i’ll be out on christmas eve braving the crowds and screaming internally. from year to year it’s always different but if you’re like me (this year) and you need some gifting inspiration, you can take a look at my gifting guides below!

 

GINGERBREAD SPICE & EVERYTHING NICE!

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it’s that time of year again! where the christmas music is overplayed (guilty), turtlenecks are worn in 70-degree weather and i pretend to be on the great british bake off. the best place to pretend you know everything about baking is at williams sonoma, but it’s a dangerous place to be during the holidays. they have peppermint bark, holiday mixes and lots of festive dining decor… which is how we ended up here with this blog post! i saw this holiday bundt pan and knew it’s rightful place was at home with me. it didn’t matter that i had never made a bundt cake before, i was going to make a bundt cake now. i’ll admit baking does not come naturally for me, i need a recipe and i will follow that recipe to the very last pinch of salt. so, when i saw this gingerbread spice quick bread i was at ease having the reassurance of detailed directions all along the back of the pretty packaging. this recipe was quick and simple and i can’t wait to make more for the holiday season.

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apparently, while mixing ingredients i bounce as if i’m trying to put a newborn baby to sleep…it’s a new technique.

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A WEEKEND IN CHICAGO

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this past weekend my sister and i went to chicago to see our two friends tie the knot. there is something magical about that city in the winter, maybe it’s because i’m not from there and i’m born and raised a cali girl so i’ve never really experienced “seasons” but i fell hard for this place and it’s crazy weather. i mean the weather wasn’t ideal for exploring and on the day of the wedding, i experienced rain like i’ve never seen before but since it was my first time to chicago, i wanted to make the most of our quick trip… so i made an eatinerary – see what i did there?? this basically determined where our time was being spent based on which restaurants we were eating at. saturday we pretty much dedicated that day to catching up on sleep, crying and dancing. i’m a great wedding date by the way.

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the next day, the weather decided to chill and stop raining sideways, so we were able to spend some time outdoors. first stop on the eatinerary- goddess and the baker. this place was PACKED… so we ordered quickly, snagged a spot and devoured our breakfast. we didn’t get any pastries for the road because we had many more stops to go on our eatinerary and didn’t want to get full before we got to the rest. it’s all about pacing yourself right?? i am kicking myself for not getting at least one pastry to try… my biggest regret of 2018. HANDS DOWN.

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to try and walk off our meal before the next stop on the eatinerary, we headed over to millennium park. as we approached the park, we could see an ice rink peaking through the trees,  we smelt the christmas tree and felt the crisp air on our cheeks. it felt like we were stepping into a hallmark movie and i never wanted to leave.

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next up on the eatinerary was some schnitzel, pretzels and cheese from the christkindlmarket. we underestimated how crowded this place would be (on the 1st weekend of december…who were we kidding??) we looked at as many vendors as the mob would let us and squeezed our way to the front of some store to purchase some christmas trinkets. to emphasize just how crowded it was- this was an outdoor market and i was sweating from all the body heat. unfortunately, because of the crowds and the fact that we had to catch a flight later that night, we had to cut our time at the market short and weren’t able to try the schnitzel, pretzels or cheese but we made sure to grab a hot chocolate in the cutest little souveneir mugs on our way out!lrg_dsc04438-1

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going from one hot chocolate to the next! this was a must for our trip as we’ve read here, here and here . mindy’s hot chocolate… god this place is good and it’s got all the awards to prove it. courtney had the old fashioned and i the dark oat milk… i have never tasted something so diviinnneeee. to top it off, there were homemade marshmallows in our drinks. yep! HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS. i’m ending this post on a deliciously positive note. until next time chicago! xx

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LOS ANGELES COFFEE FESTIVAL

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this past saturday my sister and i decided to get hopped up on caffeine and explore the los angeles coffee festival. if i’m being completely honest, i use instant coffee regularly- it’s quick and doesn’t taste terrible. i, however, did not disclose that info with any of the coffee connoisseurs out of fear of being shunned and having rocks thrown at me. lucky for us, there were a lot of nice people who knew a lot about coffee and were willing to explain a lot of it to us…

our first booth- elmhurst 1925, a plant- milk company. we got to taste their new barista edition series which was created to give a more rich and creamier consistency than your average plant based milks…i told you there were nice people willing to explain things to us! the new barista series will be hitting retailers very soon so keep your eyes open!

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next up, the straus family creamery. 1. it’s organic- (the first 100% certified organic creamery in the country) 2. the woman at their booth made us milk tea coffee and we will remember it and cherish it for the rest of our lives.

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i know what you’re thinking…“you went to a coffee festival and all you did was try milk and creamers?” don’t worry, i’m getting the coffee…

there were a lot of vendors that were environmentally conscious. it was so great to see all these companies showing that they care.

cold brews… i love a good cold brew and chameleon cold brew is one of the good ones. i already knew what they were all about and stopped by their booth to selfishly indulge in their goodness. if you haven’t tried the mexican coffee cold brew, drop everything now and go to your nearest gelsons, whole foods, cvs, target and get your hands on one. you won’t regret it.

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one particularly great part about this festival was the support it had for the arts. to learn more about each project, click on the links below.

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and now for some “adult coffee” by mr. black coffee liqueur…all the way from australia! coming from a visual merchandising background, i was originally drawn to this booth because of its decor. i was handed a shot of the cold brew coffee liqueur. thinking it would taste mostly like coffee with a hint of alcohol, i took the shot. i was WRONG. it tasted mostly of alcohol with a hint of coffee. they have so many yummy looking recipes online that i would definitely be interested in trying some of them but i think i’d pass on having any more shots.

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this booth isn’t technically coffee, but it is coffee flavored! i didn’t get to try any of the coffee candy but i overheard only good things from the folks that did.

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thanks for the good times and the caffeine high LACF!img_7124-1

 

A DAY OF RUINS

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i was planning on posting about the rest of my trip to peru much sooner but well…life happened…between work and an unexpected surgery, i’ve only just finished organizing my thoughts and notes that have been left on my phone for too long. so here it is in all it’s glory, part 2 of my trip to peru, “A Day of Ruins”. in case you need a refresher, you can find my first post here.

our day began with the ruins at ollantaytambo which for the record are at the bottom, middle and top of a mountain…just for the record! so, we began our ascent to the top. much like the burning in my thighs, it’s hard to forget about these incredible views. we were up among the clouds, face to face with the mountain- it was definitely worth the climb… you know, just for the record.

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after our morning “workout”, we went to see the town of chinchero. as we went deeper into town, the quieter it seemed. the little noise we did hear was only from our own footsteps on the cobbled ground. our guide brought us to a church; it was sunday. it felt like we were standing there waiting for something to happen and then the church doors opened. out poured what seemed to be the entire town of chinchero; talking, eating, playing. this quiet part of town was now filled with color, laughter and food. i felt surrounded and consumed and i loved it!

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our guide told us that after church, the women gather to talk about their community and discuss items of “business” while the men play futbol. i think these peruvians might be on to something! just below the plaza was a marketplace with food, trinkets and lots of peruvian goods, so we went to have a look. surprisingly i didn’t buy a thing! rob, however, couldn’t help himself…he just HAD to have it.28

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we ended our day at pisac with some more ruins on top of another mountain, with more incredible views…are you sick of it yet?? me either. stay tuned for the main event…peru post number 3…MACHU PICCHU!39

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SEDONA: A WEEKEND GETAWAY

Sedona 6sedona is one of my favorite places to visit, as i’ve mentioned here, here and here. it’s just close enough for a quick weekend trip, yet far enough to escape the city life in los angeles.

{i originally wrote this post a year ago and never got around to actually putting it up on the blog…why? because sometimes life happens and you move on to different things BUT since it’s now a year later, on memorial day weekend, i decided why not post it?? it’s like a weird full circle moment. a lot has changed since the last time we were in sedona, more on that in another post.}

this memorial day weekend i spent most of my time reading and soaking up some vitamin d in santa monica. as i’m typing this, courtney and leo are flying back from england…i’m waiting to pick them up from the airport and trying to distract myself from the excitement that i will soon be reunited with my two favorite people…it’s been a long two weeks. aaannywaaayy, last time we were all in sedona was to visit the newest member of our family; squirt the mini horse. for a long time, leo was the newest member of the family- taking in all the love, attention and glory… not sure how he’s been coping with the fact that squirt has stolen his thunder, but i mean look at this horse! he’s stolen all of our hearts!Sedona 7Sedona 5on our way back to the house, we stopped by the mcguireville annual tractor and engine show. each year the town hosts this show over memorial day weekend putting all their tractors on display. we didn’t stay long, not that there wasn’t much to see but if we stayed any longer, we would’ve melted into the asphalt… so we went to the creek to cool off.Biker

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before our long weekend came to and end, we had to make one last visit to see squirt. we just couldn’t get enough of him! after saying goodbye to the little guy, we headed back to the house for a bonfire, cake and some tunes. god, i love sedona.

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TRADITIONS & TEA

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this past sunday i posted a picture of myself and my two dearest friends and captioned it “18 years and counting”. 18 YEARS! 18 years of friendship, laughter and some embarrassing stories… but 18 years of life together. i don’t know if it’s because of oprah’s golden globes speech or because it’s my time of the month (not sorry) but 18 years is giving me ALL the feels…feeling extremely grateful in particular.

every year during the holidays we get together to exchange gifts, it’s been our tradition for as long as i can remember. each year is a little different but more or less the same. we’re tasked with trying to chat, open presents and consume all the cheese and wine within a respectable amount of time. this year was particularly different… it was the last year with just us three. next year will be momma kenna, auntie taylor, auntie kenzie and baby easton! i have spent a lot of time with these two over the years; with their families, in their home and both of them in mine and i can’t believe all of the things that we’ve done together but i especially can’t wait for all that we will do in the future. xx

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something i get from my mom is her love of wrapping and decorating… and her freckles. sometimes i forget that people need to be able to open their presents rather than just stare at my beautiful creation. bless kenna and her patience, this bow was no easy feat.

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the night before our get together, i was at disneyland with the fam and saw this adorable “baby’s first christmas” ornament. i had to get it for momma kenna.

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THE LAST LADY DATE OF THE YEAR

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last post of 2017! what better way to end this year than with my ladies. man, lady dates are good for the sooouuul! earlier in the week, i went out with my sister and my museum buddy to spend the day downtown. first up was yayoi kusama’s exhibit at the broad. somehow by the luck of the draw we got tickets to this amazing exhibition… 4 months of anticipation and we finally were able to see yayoi’s amazing work.

after the museum we walked over to the grand central market to eat ALL the yummy food. we ate at the sari sari store where courtney and i reconnected with our filipino side. it was the second best adobo i’ve ever had…first being my grandma’s and nothing can ever top that. dessert was served at valerie’s where dana and i shared a coffee crunch cake with honeycomb all over the icing and we nearly died. it was the best last lady date of 2017!

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on our way to the grand central market, we stumbled upon the angels flight railway and hopped on. this is where we cried when we had to walk up all the stairs on our way back to our car. good times…good times.

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RECIPE: MIXED BERRY PIE

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the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear by baking PIE. okay… to each their own but for me, nothing says “merry christmas” quite like a homemade pie baked with lots of love.

meet taylor- yoga instructor, pie baker and best friend of mine for 19 years and counting. for tay, it all started one night at home watching the food network. she was looking for something to cheer her up and decided to bake using whatever ingredients she had available in her pantry… and that’s when the mixed berry pie was born, bringing a happy tear to every pie lover’s eye. she brought the pie to work to share with her coworkers and they LOVED it. so much so that folks requested her pies for their party, their sister’s baby shower and for their thanksgiving. she sold 15 pies for thanksgiving! this pie is no joke. we’re sharing her recipe below but if you want one made special with her love and magic touch, you can message her here!

dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup of ice cold water

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in a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water, one teaspoon at a time until a ball forms. Toll out to fit 9-in plate. set in the refrigerator until filling is ready.

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with the remaining dough, gather and roll out to create your own personalized stamp on your pie. IE 11

filling:

  • 2-3 cups of frozen berry medley mix
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

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heat berry mix in a sauce pan on medium heat. in a separate bowl, mix together; sugar, flour, eggs, sour cream, vanilla until completely smooth. in another small bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, cinnamon.

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pour berries into the dough lined pie dish. pour custard on top of the berries. sprinkle the sugar and flour mixture on top and lightly mix with fork.

set oven to 350 degrees and let the pie bake for 40 min or until edges are golden brown.PIE 31

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ALMOND BUTTER ACAI BOWL

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ingredients:

  • 1 packet of frozen acai mix
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2 bananas- 1 for topping
  • 2 tablespoons of almond butter
  • 2 cups of frozen strawberries, blueberries and kale
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • granola
  • fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries for topping

ACAI 1there really isn’t much to this recipe. run hot water over the frozen acai packet and then squeeze into the blender. add in the frozen berries, kale, banana, almond milk and honey. once blended, i taste to see if it needs more of anything. this time around i added some fresh strawberries to the mix for more sweetness.ACAI 9i think i would skip the blueberry topping next time. it’s not their fault, i just don’t like little balls in my food. it took some time for me to even like the idea of boba….ACAI 4ACAI 10