Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Happy hump day!  Today, I am linking up with Shay for my second "What's Up Wednesday," which consists of answering the following questions, plus the bonus question, "What is your favorite Halloween tradition?"  My first one ever can be found here.

1. What We're Eating This Week
It still feels like summer here in California, so I've still been eating a lot of salads, like this one below, which I made and blogged about last week.

I've also been baking a lot.  I made this delicious Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake and had it with some cold brew coffee.  It was relatively easy to make.  You can find the recipe here.

2. What I'm Reminiscing About
My birthday last month, which was filled with lots of friends and family time. And as you can see from the pictures, I had plenty of cake and sweets.  

I also enjoyed a birthday dinner at a restaurant in L.A. on Melrose that had the most beautiful outdoor patio.  Look at those twinkling pretty!

3. What I'm Loving
Starbucks bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino!  These are available exclusively at Costco and are a cheaper option to getting a pumpkin spice latte or frappaccino at Starbucks, which can run you about $4.  You can also put this in a blender with some ice and coffee extract to make your own frapp at home.

4. What We've Been Up To
Visiting places in L.A. like Grand Central Market (an indoor market in downtown L.A.), the beach, and Santa Monica.

5. What I'm Dreading
The time change in November.  I hate, hate, HATE leaving work when it's dark outside.  I makes me want to crawl under a blanket when I get home and eat comfort food (read: lots and lots of carbs) instead of going to the gym.  It's the only thing I hate about Fall.  I love everything else: the cooler weather, all things pumpkin, the cute scarves, and the fall leaves.  I can't wait to wear this scarf.

6. What I'm Working On
Eating better and exercising at least 4 times a week.  I'm proud to say that for the past two weeks, I have done just that.  I've been using my Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor (yes, of course it's pink!) to log my exercises and keep me on track.  It's nice having something that summarizes everything and tells me how many calories I have burned.

7. What I'm Excited About
All the pumpkin goodies that are starting to pop up at several stores (like Trader Joe's and Sprouts), and I've already picked up some of my favorites.

8. What I'm Watching/Reading
All the Fall shows I watch are finally starting again.  One of my favorites is Dancing with the Stars.  I love seeing the interaction between the pros and the stars, the glittery costumes, and the fab choreography.  I'm also looking forward to Scandal and Nashville.  I ended up binge watching all 4 seasons of Scandal this past summer, so I'm excited to finally be seeing it live along with everyone else.

I just finished reading three books:

Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicoll
I enjoyed reading this book because it gave me a detailed look into the childhood Kate had and her time at school. Available here.

Dangerous Betrayal:  The Vendetta That Sank Titanic by Bill Blowers
I wrote about this book in another blog post I did recently.  Available here.

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger
This is the sequel to the popular book and movie The Devil Wears Prada.  The devil herself is back in full force, and I'm amazed at how everything turned out because of that (sorry, no spoilers allowed).  Available here.

9. What I'm Listening To
Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift.  What can I say, I love all her catchy songs.  I've also been listening to a lot of Frank Sinatra when I cook.  For some reason, whenever I am in the kitchen in the evening preparing, cooking, or cleaning up, I have to put my Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and listen to him.  I equate his soothing music to cooking for some reason. 

10. What I'm Wearing
These super cute and super comfy sweat pants from Whitney Eve.  I had to have them since they're pink, which is my favorite color.  They are also available in gray (and on sale!) here.

And I've been living in these Banana Republic stripped drapey pocket tees on the weekend.  They're a tad looser which is nice when it's so hot out  They're currently on sale too!

11. What I'm Doing This Weekend
Going dress shopping for a wedding I have up in Portland in November. I'm thinking something black (always safe, right?) since it will most likely be cold and rainy around that time.

12. What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month
Halloween and pumpkin carving (and roasting the pumpkin seeds!).  A few years ago, I carved a Hello Kitty pumpkin.  It was time consuming but worth the effort in the end.  I'm not sure what design to do this year.  Any suggestions?

13. What Else is New
I've been researching granite counter tops.  Exciting, right?  I want to put in granite and a back splash in my kitchen, which sounds so simple, right?  Wrong!  There's so many decisions that need to be made, like the type of sink, over or under mold, the type of curve on the granite edge, the grade of granite, the back splash options, etc.  Here's what my kitchen currently looks like:

14. What Is Your Favorite Halloween Tradition
Growing up, my favorite Halloween tradition was coming home after trick-or-treating and separating my candy with my younger brother.  We would dump all of our candy on the carpet in our rooms and separate it by type (for example, Snickers, Twix and Milky Way were ranked highest, followed by Mounds, Almond Joy, Milk Duds, etc.  And lowest were Dots, Smarties, and other random sugar candies that didn't have a name on the wrapper).  We would then also trade among ourselves.

Thanks for stopping by! I can't wait to read all the other posts for today.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

National Coffee Day

It's the most wonderful time of the year...well...not quite, but it's a close second. ;)  Today is National Coffee Day! And thank goodness for that and the existence of coffee. My mornings would be so sad and gray without my favorite cup of Joe. I am also linking up with Sweet Little Ones today for Tuesday Talk.

Some of my favorites include Philz Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, Intelligensia, and Chameleon. I've done some brew reviews in the past on this blog (only cold brew, though), which you can find here, here, and here.

In honor of National Coffee Day, here are some freebies you can get from well known coffee chains:

1. Dunkin' Donuts
Get a free medium cup of iced or hot coffee.

2. Krispy Kreme
Get a free small coffee and a glazed donut.

3. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Get 1/2 off all iced coffees.

4. Starbucks
The giant of coffee chains will plant a tree on behalf of customers who purchase a bag of coffee.

5. Nespresso
For those who have a Nespresso machine, if you order or buy 20 or more sleeves today, you will receive 2 free complementary sleeves from Nespresso.

Happy sipping!


Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Favorites

Another Friday, another post! Today, I am linking up once again with Andrea for my favorites of the week.

1.  All things pumpkin at Trader Joe's!
Yes, it's that time of year again when Trader Joe's starts receiving in all their pumpkin goodies! Two of my favorites are the "Pilgrim Joe's" Pumpkin ice cream and the pumpkin biscotti...I always enjoy a couple with my afternoon coffee. I discovered the ice cream last year, and it's literally like eating pumpkin pie in ice cream form. It's extra creamy, extra yummy, and extra flavorful.

2.  Trader Joe's Organic Sriacha Ranch Dressing and Trader Joe's Soyaki
I blogged about the dressing in my recipe post this week.  It's my new favorite dressing and has an ample amount of spice.  Last night, I also made a chicken and veggie stir fry and used Trader Joe's Soyaki for the first time.  I was super easy to use and tasty-- just pour over and cook.  Or you can use it as a marinade.  It's a cross between soy sauce and teriyaki sauce.  Yum!

3.  Pottery Barn Fall catalog
Since Fall is my favorite time of early, I eagerly look forward to receiving this catalog in the mail around August.  So much cute stuff this year!

4.  Cute AND comfy sweats
Is there such a thing?  YES!  I live in my sweats on the weekends, especially during the Fall and Winter, and recently found a pair made by Whitney Eve that were both stylish and comfy.  AND they're pink!  I had to have them.  Bonus:  they were on sale.  They also come in a gray color that is deeply discounted, more so than the pink one.

 5.  Kate Spade Seaport Grand Pave Watch
This watch is currently on sale (available here) and I was eyeballing it yesterday.  It reminds me a little of the Chanel J2 watch, but wayyyyyy more affordable.  I will have to put it on my Christmas list for Santa. :)

6.  Reading!
I've started doing more reading again, and part of that involves browsing one of my favorite places:  a bookstore.  I picked this up from Barnes & Noble and look forward to reading it.  See reviews for it on Amazon here.

Happy Friday!  Wishing everyone a wonderful and restful weekend.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blogger Recognition Award

I have been nominated by the lovely Sophia over at XOXO, Sophia for the Blogger Recognition Award.  This means a lot (thank you, Sophia!) since I just recently started blogging again more regularly.  So, here's how the nomination works.

  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Attach the award to the post.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them.
  • Provide a link to the award post you created (You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you).

How I got Started

I started my blog in August 2006 (can't believe it was so long ago!) as a way for me to keep an online journal. I was tired of keeping a paper journal and decided blogger was the best route to go. Since then, it's grown from a journal to a place where I post random tidbits, thoughts, rantings, ideas, photos, etc.

Advice to New Bloggers
  • Be consistent! I cannot stress this enough. Be consistent in your posting to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
  • Join a blogging community and be a part of link-ups. This will grow your blog and the readers you have. I'm a part of SITS.
  • Don't worry about the look of your blog right away (there are many free templates available that are great to use). You can upgrade and have a custom look after you have a loyal readership. I had my blog designed by Gisele. She also has some free templates available on her site.


Given that I've just recently started blogging again, I will list some of my favorite blogs that I think you should check out instead:
  • I Hate Green Beans:  I love this blog for hilarious recaps of the Bachelor and Bachelorette shows.
  • SITS:  A great blogging community to join.
  • Bakerella:  Two words- CAKE POPS!
  • Mix and Match Mama:  I love this blog for recipe ideas, and I just like seeing her family updates (and the fact that she loves coffee as much as me).
  • A Girl, A Style:  One of my favorite fashion bloggers, and she lives in England, so I get to see fab pictures of there that she posts. I love her girly and feminine style!
  • Fraiche Nutrition:  Yummy and nutritious healthy recipe ideas can be found here.
Happy reading!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On a Health Kick

I joined a new gym recently that's more boot-camp oriented and smaller, which is awesome because the staff knows everyone by name. I attend classes there four times a week if I'm able to, and I love the high intensity boot camp circuits they make us do (although I usually dread going to classes because they are so hard, I feel a sense of accomplishment after).

Now that my fitness is back in check, I've started cooking healthier dishes, specifically ones that are higher in protein (I never seem to get enough protein in my diet, for some reason). I'm usually a happy camper just munching on veggies, salads, and fruits, so I've started incorporating more protein in my diet.  I especially love getting my protein in by drinking a shake (see this post for a delicious protein shake recipe I did a while ago), but sometime it's best to consume it the natural way through lean meats.

Last week, I cooked a huge batch of chicken breast tenders, which was great because I had them throughout the week for various meals (I made wraps, salads, ate them with potatoes and veggies, etc).

Below is my homemade recipe that I used (it has some Middle Eastern spices, which I love). I also ended up using the chicken for a southwest salad, which turned out really good (recipe also below). What ways do you cook chicken? I find that chicken sometimes gets boring, so I'd love to know how you marinate it, cook it, eat it, etc. Please comment below.

Chicken Breast Tenders
Note:  I don't really measure anything when I cook, I just sprinkle everything so the spices coat one side of the chicken, and then I flip the chicken over and do the same to the other side.  To last me the week, I cooked roughly 2 lbs of chicken.

  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • All spice
  • 7 spices (a Middle Eastern spice)
  • Cinnamon (go easy on this, or it will be all you taste)
  • Ketchup (about one teaspoon per breast, spread)
I coated a Pyrex pan with Pam and cooked these in the oven at around 375 degrees F for about a half hour or so.  Here is the finished product:

Southwest Chicken Salad
This salad was super easy to prepare, because I had already cooked the chicken the day before.

  • Chicken from the recipe above, cut into cubes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Bell pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Corn
  • Black Beans
  • Avocado
  • Tortilla strips (optional; I didn't add this to keep it healthy)
  • Shredded cheese (optional; I didn't add this to keep it healthy)
Chop all the veggies and mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  You can use whatever dressing you like, but a low-fat ranch probably goes best with this.  I had my salad with Trader Joe's Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing, which is a new product they have.  Although it's not low-fat (my bad), it's really good, but spicy.  Go easy on the dressing, or your mouth will be on fire.  Bon appetit!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Brew Review

I'm back with my third brew review post (you can see the other ones here and here. But before I get to my review, here's a mug I found while running errands that I should probably purchase.  #truth  Also, today, I am linking up with Sweet Little Ones for Tuesday Talk.

Ok, peeps. Onto the important stuff. I have three words for you:  Philz Mint Mojito. This will change your coffee drinking experience.

Sadly, there are not too many Philz locations in the U.S., and most of them are in California.  I was introduced to this coffee shop when I was up north in San Francisco. My friend insisted that I had to try their best selling iced mint mojito latte, so I did. And it was amazing! It sounds wonky (who would think to mix mint AND coffee, right?!), but it's delicious. It tastes just like it sounds: minty mojito flavor and iced coffee.

Here is a link to the Philz locations throughout the U.S.  Hopefully there is one near you so discover the awesomeness that is Philz. :)


Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Favorites

Good morning! It has been nothing but non-stop work, work, and more work lately, but at least it's Fri-YAY!  And since it's Friday, here are my current favorites.

1. Pumpkin Spice!
Sorry, I had to. I know there's probably someone out there reading this and thinking, she must be a crazy pumpkin spice lady like everyone else. Yes, it's true. I shamelessly love my pumpkin spice. I had my first one of the season last week from Peet's Coffee, but opted to get it iced since it's still ridiculously hot here in southern California (but I'm hoping for cooler weather once Fall begins).

2.  Fall Nail Polish
I love the Fall because of all the rich nail polish colors, and I've already started going dark even though Fall has yet to start.  One of my favorite polishes is "Vamp" by Chanel.  Chanel's polishes are super pricey, but I find that my manicure lasts so much longer and hardly chips when I use the polish, so it's worth the price.  You can find Vamp and other colors here.

3.  Lay's Truffle Fries Chips
Each year, Lay's has a "Do Us a Flavor" contest where contestants submit new and unique flavors, and then the contest is narrowed down to 4 finalists that consumers vote on.  I found this flavor at Target, and let me tell you, if you are a fan of truffle fries like I am, you will probably inhale an entire bag in one sitting.  These chips have a subtle truffle flavor that you will love.

4.  Dangerous Betrayal:  The Vendetta That Sank Titanic by Bill Blowers
I've always been fascinated with Titanic and the circumstances surrounding her sinking.  This is a fictional book that tells the story of "what if" there was some other reason or motive behind Titanic's sinking.  Although it's a fictional mystery/thriller, it has lots of historical details and figures.  It was a pager turner for me and I finished it in about a week.  You can purchase the book here.

5. Voluspa Candles
Being that Fall is soon approaching, I have started lighting candles again in my house.  It's one of my favorite things to do in the evenings when I'm reading, relaxing, or catching up on my shows.  Voluspa candles smell amazing...I have yet to purchase a scent I don't like.  I'm current burning the Makassar Ebony and Peach one that I purchased from Nordstrom over Christmas. One whiff of this yummy scent and you'll be hooked too. Although I'm not sure if this specific scent is still available, other ones can be found here.

6.  Fall Sales!
J. Crew is having a Fall sale right now through the weekend.  See my previous post on some of my favorites.  Bath & Body Works is also have a great sale.  You can stock up on, what else, pumpkin lotions like these. :)

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

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