Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Reading List for Summer 2014

If you read my blog regularly you know I enjoy reading books. Here's a link to all of my past book posts. This summer my reading list has a wanderlust theme of stories that talk about travel adventures. One book is on Oprah's reading list, I've always enjoyed her selections! Two books are coming out as movies this year and so I want to hurry up and read them before they hit the theaters because you get so many more details in the book.  Here's the books I've downloaded to my kindle or put on hold at my library.  I've finally learned how to get digital books from my library!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0 1) by Cheryl Strayed

Wild is the memoir of 26 year old Cheryl Strayed who details her 1,000 mile solo hike along the Pacific Coast Trail to deal with both the loss of her mother and filing for divorce. Reese Witherspoon is starring in the movie adaptation coming out in December. I started reading it this weekend and haven't been able to put it down. 

Cheryl is a very articulate writer and the book is about soul searching and having the guts to overcome something in her life.  This is a woman who was flat broke, had so many dysfunctions in her life, is so brutally honest about her weaknesses yet funny at the same time. The book is not about backpacking nor a trail guide, it's a story of an ill-prepared woman trekking alone, with no electronics in 1995, hiking at night with no lamp posts, when she had never backpacked before. She didn't practice for this hike, including not trying on her backpack to see if it might be too heavy. lol She hikes with sore feet on a healing journey. I found myself googling pictures of the Mojave Desert so I can picture the terrain.  

Couple neat facts  - upon her divorce she and her ex-husband got matching tattoos and she gave herself the last name Strayed. 

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord                       Is a humorous book about a psychiatrist named Hector who traveled around the world to understand what makes people happy. As he travels from Paris to China to Africa to the United States, he lists his observations about the people he meets. Is there a secret to happiness, and will Hector find it? It's a very small book so I think it will be a quick read. The movie adaptation comes out in September starring Toni Collette. 

Margarita Wednesdays by Deborah Rodriguez
In answer to the question of what happened following her New York Times bestseller Kabul Beauty School, Deborah Rodriquez is back with a new memoir. She's an American who decided to move to a seaside town in Mexico despite having no plan, no friends, and no Spanish. This book is about her adventures and misadventures that ensue.

Only in Spain: A Foot-Stomping, Firecracker of a Memoir about Food, Flamenco, and Falling in Love by Nellie Bennett 
This is written by a first time author and just published on July 1, 2014. It's the memoir of an Australian who worked retail but decided to move to Spain to take flamenco lessons. This intrigued me since I visited Spain last year.

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir by Kristin Newman 
Another new book by a first time author just published in May 2014. It's a memoir of a young woman who traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year and shares her hilarious stories from Paris, Amsterdan, Moscow Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, New Zealand, Iceland, Tel Aviv  and just about everywhere in between.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sample Society Beauty Subscription Box

After nine months I finally cancelled my Ipsy monthly subscription which I kept for way too long. I switched to Sample Society which is a monthly beauty subscription from and Allure magazine. It's made of generous sample sizes from high end brands, more up my speed! It comes in a glossy red box with a mini magazine (not pictured) with info on the products included.

This month I got a full size Butter London nail polish in a pretty penny copper color which is worth $15. I paid $15 for this box and received about $45 worth of product, so I'm thrilled with that and definitely think the box is worth it and I plan on using everything.

Also included:
Laura Mercier Matte Highlighter
L'Oreal Lip Gloss in bright red which I can wear with my RiRi Woo
perfrume sample of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris Aqua Universalis which smells amazing!
Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intense Fortifying Hair Masque with Argan Oil

use code: ANNA0420
Buy Beauty Products at

Excludes existing customers of,, or other Quidsi sites. Restrictions apply.

Monday, July 21, 2014

31 Day Closet Challenge

I'm really excited to be participating in the 31 Day Closet Challenge. I've been reading several blogs that have participated in this challenge and have really enjoyed reading their content. As I have been working to reduce clutter in my home and in my life, I thought I also needed to get my closet in shape. The goal is to not repeat an item of clothing for 31 days. Have you ever looked at your closet and been overwhelmed by what to wear in the morning?  Well that's me! I feel like I wear the same things over and over again to work when I have an overflowing closet full of clothes I forget I own. It's already mid-summer, so I just want to give you a little motivation to get your July looking stylish. My goal is to spend the month wearing all of my dresses paired with a necklace. And to not buy any clothes for the next 31 days.

I just read a really interesting article in the August issue of ELLE magazine called Goodbye To All That which is about dressing in your 30s. I really related to the author who was trying to redefine herself with her wardrobe and get rid of the pieces she bought when she was in her 20s. For me I want my wardrobe to be more "officey" with stylish dresses. I tend to wear a lot of pants to the office then feel frumpy when I know that's not my fashion personality at all. I'm sure you've heard the saying "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have." I've decided that my work wardrobe is way more important than my weekend clothes since I spend more days at work, so I try not to buy pieces that can't be worn to work.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Oil-Free Zucchini Walnut Bread

My co-worked brought some home made zucchini bread  to work and it reminded me that I hadn't had it in a long time! Her bread didn't have any extras (walnuts, raisins, chocolate) so it tasted a bit plain. So sought out to find a no sugar no oil recipe to make myself! I used Spelt flour because unlike wheat flour, it's richer in nutrients in that it's high in protein and fiber and added minerals.

  • 2 cups whole grain Arrowhead Mills Spelt flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½  cup Ideal sugar 
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or Hershey's sugar free chocolate chips)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 TB unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1¼ cup shredded zucchini (leave skin on)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 6 oz of Fage 0% plain yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Oil a regular-sized loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, powders, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, raisins, and walnuts).

3. In another large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (egg, shredded zucchini, lemon zest & juice, yogurt).

4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed. Be careful not to overmix the batter as spelt flour is delicate.

5. Spoon the batter into prepared loaf pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 60 minutes at 350F or until toothpick comes out clean. Cover with foil for part of the baking time.

Nutritional Analysis
Makes 9, 1-inch thick slices
193 calories, 7g protein, 4g fat, 5g sugar
(The fat comes from the walnuts and the sugar comes from the raisins, apples and yogurt)

Compared to Starbucks zucchini walnut muffin which are smallish
490 calories, 7g protein, 28g fat, 28g sugar

Adapted from: ohsheglows

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lulu summer

I'm loving all the fun crop styles at lululemon this summer! I already have a camo print tank so I'm debating if I need the pants too? To be worn separately of course. I did snag a pair of these super cool sheer panel pants! I just need to get myself some neon color sneakers that I'm been coveting for a long time!

Lulu summer

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sunburn Relief

When I was in Santa Monica I forgot to wear sunblock and went for a 2 hour bike ride. I didn't think it was a big deal since it was only 70 degrees and breezy but my face and arms ended up red as a lobster and my skin seemed to have acquired its own heart beat that evening.  This really surprised me because it was cool out and  I tan easily. After that I had to use makeup to hide my sunglasses outline on my face.

To help make things easier I treated my arms immediately with Aloe Vera gel and my face with coconut oil. Then I made sure to consume foods that would give me beautiful skin from the inside: cucumbers, radishes, hemp seeds, coconut oil. avocado and arugula. I've never eaten radishes before and found them actually to be a bit spicy. But radishes are a wonderful rejuvenating food for our body as it's high in sulfur, silicon and Vitamin C. The water in radishes help to maintain healthy moisture levels in the skin and decreases excess heat in the body. It's a rejuvenating food in helping in  repair better cell production and keeping your skin glowing.
Arugula is high in Vitamin A and sulfur and helps to alkalize your body. I talked about the benefits of alkalizing foods in this post. Vitamin A in greens help protect you from skin cancer. Cucumbers are high in silicon and cleanse your body.

I also applied these topical products to my skin which I highly recommend:
Sunburn Relief

Two weeks later my skin started to peel so I went to my trusted Clarins After Sun Moisturizer that I've been using since high school.  At night I used the H20 Night Oasis which is made of cucumber and seaweed. During the day I rotated between the Malin & Goetz and the Pur-Lisse which are Vitamin E moisturizers. Since I have oily skin I typically only use moisturizers in the winter time, but I found these products prevented my skin from over producing oil from being dried out and my skin stayed clear. I also recently bought myself a new mineral matte sunblock for my face.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Vegetarian in LA

matcha green tea latte
I was really excited to work my way through all the vegetarian restaurants in Los Angeles however I was overwhelmed (as a good problem) by how many options there were. It's described as a "haven for privileged eaters and folks with pricky diets and the trim and healthy." I can only eat but so many meals and did end up going back to some places twice to try other things on the menu but still there's more places I want to go to! Whenever I travel I always make it a point to find the vegetarian restaurants in town, I find it gives me local flavor without meat. (See my post about Spain.) So at the LA spots I went to I often had tacos since California is known for its authentic Mexican, so this was my version of California Comfort Food. As you can see from these pics, vegetarian food is not boring! The places I went to had really innovative, complex menus with amazing flavor.

It was just so excited to go to a restaurant and not just have to point to the one vegetarian dish on the menu but be overwhelmed with so many choices. Getting vegetarian protein in my dishes meant I was truly felt full after eating,  I often didn't finish my plate because these were huge serving sizes. I loved being able to fuel myself with nutritious high protein meals. You can read my trip recap here and here. If you go to LA make sure you check out Native FoodsVeggie Grill, and Real Food Daily they each have multiple thriving locations and RFD is even in at LAX airport.

Kale salad with "chicken" and papaya dressing

Egg white tacos with guacamole for breakfast

Tempeh Tacos with cashew cheese and kale and cucumber lemonade

Lavender Lemonade

Blackened "chicken" wrap

Veggies, kale, super grains, cannellini beans, hemp seeds, curry sauce

Baja "Fish" Tacos

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