Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

I made my first salad dressing from scratch! Salad dressing was the one thing I was always intimidated to make myself, just general laziness when you can just buy a bottle of it. lol My favorite salad dressing is Trader Joe's reduced fat Cilantro Dressing so I thought I'd try making it myself.  Here's the ingredient list for their dressing:
Mayonnaise dressing (water, expeller pressed canola oil, modified food starch, distilled vinegar, soy protein, apple cider vinegar, non fat dry milk, lemon juice concentrate, onion powder, xanthan gum, vitamin E, natural flavor, mustard oil, paprika), nonfat milk (fat free milk, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin d3), red wine vinegar (contains sulfites), cilantro, pasilla chile, garlic, cojita cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, skim milk, sea salt, enzymes), pumpkin seeds [natural soybean oil (refined), salt, wheat flour, pepitas], xanthan gum.
I stored my dressing in my Wean Green glass food storage container. It's not as thick as it looks.

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Siggi's 0%)
  • ¼  cup olive oil
  • 1 or 2 garlic gloves
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
  • pinch of pink Himalayan salt
  • dash of onion powder, mustard powder, paprika (optional)
  1. Combing the cilantro, yogurt, garlic, lime and salt in a food processor. 
  2. Then slowly add in the olive oil and vinegar
Nutritional Analysis
Makes 12 - 1 TB servings
48 cal, 1g protein, 5g fat, 1g sugar

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Autumn Mustard

The LOFT already has their fall line up and the color theme is Mustard. Even though they had a sale this weekend I didn't buy anything because I'm sticking to my 31 Day Closet Challenge. From left to right here's what I tried on:

Autumn Blossom Pencil Skirt - is very form fitting but super pretty!

Tiny Floral Piped Shirtdress - there's a reason it's called tiny! I'm 5'6 and this dress is too short for the office. Also it's a very thin material so it shows every bulge you have underneath.

Floral Bud Utility Blouse - I'm definitely getting this!

Easy Tee - It's a very loose and too long.

Autumn Bloom Cotton Cardigan - I love the pattern and color but not sure how much wear I would get out of it?

I was surprised to find pretty multi-colored Mirrored Aviator Style Sunglasses. The website picture doesn't do it justice.

A matching Autumn Blossom Scarf. With my blonde hair I'm a sucker for yellow scarves.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peach and Cherry Oatmeal

It's cherry season now and to be honest cherries aren't something I usually buy, just too much of a hassle to eat. But then I added them pitted to my oatmeal and am really enjoying them!

  • ¼ cup Country Choice Organic Steel-Cut Oats
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • ½ peach chopped
  • 5 cherries (pitted)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp yacon syrup (optional)
  1. Bring milk to boil on the stove. Then add the the oats and reduce heat. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in vanilla, cinnamon and chia seeds.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and add the yacon syrup and top with peaches and cherries.
  4. You may add additional toppings like shredded coconut, shivered almonds, or walnut pieces.
Nutritional Analysis
255 cal, 8g protein, 8g fiber

Recipe source: the oatmeal artist

Friday, July 25, 2014

Drugstore Makeup Haul: NYX

Drugstore Beauty

I've been a loyal MAC Cosmetics user since high school, anything cheap I'd turn my nose up on.  But I decided to give some budget beauty products a try! I heard that NYX Cosmetics was having a 40% off sale for the 4th of July holiday and free shipping for orders over $25. The company is named after the Greek Goddess NYX (goddess of the night) and their products are 100% cruelty-free and PETA certified. Their products are very affordable and can be found at CVS, Bed Bath &Beyond, Urban Outfitters and Target. For $28.80 I got 6 products and free shipping! So I finally got a brush cleanser as I was always too cheap to spend money on that.

I did a lot research on what are their best products and found that two of their products are dupes for more expensive brands! For instance their Studio Finishing Powder is comparable to Tarte's Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder I bought at Sephora. I'm always on the look out for a good eyeshadow primer and their High Definition Eye Shadow Base is a good dupe for Nars Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base ($25) and Smashbox's Photo Finish Lid Primer ($20) at a fraction of the price! I snagged it for $4.20 but it retails for $7. It really does hold my eye shadow in place, long lasting with no creases. I also got their blush in the brown shade of Taupe because everywhere I saw online people are using it as contour shade!

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! Did you know that you can lend e-books to your friends, amazon explains how it works.

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                       Lelord is French psychiatrist who had a number of patients who were unhappy for no apparent reason, he was finding it more of a strain and made him tired. So he wrote a fictional story of  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 and what the secret to happiness is. It's a very small book so I think it will be a quick read. It was a best seller in France then translated to English and 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.


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

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.

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

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beach Bliss in Santa Monica

The last time I came here was right after high school as a graduation gift. So the minute I saw the pier sign, I was instantly transplanted back to that moment and a broad smile crossed my face. The pier has something for everyone – a trapeze school, funnel cake, an arcade full of video games to play, an amazing balloon clown,  you can have your face modeled for a plastered bust, a Zoltar fortune teller machine like in the movie BIG,  an aquarium, restaurants, and the iconic ferris wheel amongst many other rides.

After exploring the pier I went and sat on the beach for awhile. The water was too cold to enter for me (yet other people braved it) but I did dip my toes in and admired the unique seaweed washed up on the sand. The seagulls were very aggressive; don’t even think about eating anything on the beach! lol The wind was strong so even the lifeguards wore jackets, no Baywatch swimsuits. lol It was a breezy 70 degrees so I rented a bike (like just about everyone else there) and took a 2 hour bike ride from the Pier to Venice Beach and through the canals.  There were so many beautiful palm trees and I was in awe of the architecture of all the homes I passed. The beach had dozens of beach volleyball courts. It was such a pretty ride on the bike path along the beach.

I used my anytrail app to map my course. Venice Beach had a totally different vibe: medical marijuana for sale, tons of young homeless people, surfers, lots of shops selling only t-shirts or sunglasses, tattoo salons, and weird entertainers. There’s also Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym on the beach and a basketball court. It’s definitely very artsy and diverse and a fun place to just people watch. Venice Beach got its name from the canal area a bit away from the beach, it’s very charming to see with lots of lovely homes and gardens between the waterways.

Back to Santa Monica, which is one of my favorite places in the world! I spent two days there both times taking the public bus from LA. For $1.50, I thought the hour long drive was pretty cheap. I heard that it’s hard to find all day parking and it will cost you an arm and a leg. Once in Santa Monica it’s really a small walking town. There’s a mall with no roof so palm trees can grow next to the escalators. The restaurants and food courts are on the rooftop with outdoor seating as well. Then there’s Third Street Promenade which is a popular shopping street with dinosaur fountains, an iconic theater and amongst palm trees the new glass front apple store. And of course I couldn't pass up shopping at lululemon. In the evening everyone was watching the Stanley Cup finals at bars. Gotta say I was surprised LA has an ice-hockey team, actually California has 3 teams! Did you know LA doesn’t have a football team? 


Muscle Beach

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Chillin' in Los Angeles

I had been saving a bookmarked list of things I wanted to see in in LA for the last couple years never thinking I'd ever get out there. So I was so excited to spend a week in Los Angeles in early June!  Everyone I met was nice, easy going and had that sunny laid back Cali vibe.

Walt Disney performance hall
I traveled by myself and have to say that one of the benefits of traveling alone is that I am master of my own day and that includes eating where ever I want. When I travel I enjoy trying out vegetarian restaurants in every city I go to. I’ll write more about this in another post later this week. Something new for me was that Rite Aid has a liquor and wine aisle and plastic shopping bags cost you 10 cents a bag.

Being alone also forces me to be more social with strangers as it gave me the opportunity to strike up interesting conversations with my lyft and uber drivers in which I had a free tour guide sharing some info about their city. As a city girl, I'm comfortable walking everywhere alone and taking the city bus to get around. This gave me the opportunity to explore a lot of neighborhoods including a free celebrity star home tours as the bus went through Beverly Hills. Well all you see is gates and tall shrubbery. lol I also toured San Francisco via city bus and this also proved to be an easy way to get around. Random side note – did you know dogs have to pay their own fare to ride the bus in SF? I saw a Chihuahua get on the bus and take his own seat so I inquired. lol

When I travel I always type up an itinerary of what to do each day as I like to squeeze the most out of every day. I love traveling at my own pace and without compromise. So for this trip I could breeze through the Getty museum as fast as I wanted to or read every single plaque at the Japanese American Museum. Both museums are free so I highly recommend visiting them.

Using the anytrail app  I did a walking tour of downtown LA and the app also gave me a lot of history of the area. I never would have known what sites are worth seeing without it. Then I hiked up to the Hollywood sign which was an hour long, steep uphill hike. LA is actually a city in a desert with lots of great hiking trails.  

I walked along the Hollywood Walk of Stars and checked out the nightlife on Sunset Strip. I also ventured to Melrose Place to go to Dash (the Kardashian store) and next door was Hermes (Kim's favorite designer of bandage dresses) and a Nars makeup store (which there's only 6 stores in the whole US). I kept an eye on Groupon LA before I left and snagged a coupon for a pedicure at Bliss Spa at the W Hotel in Hollywood where I saw Jermaine Jackson. Then I enjoyed strolling down Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills where I saw Tyra Banks. All the best stores are there - Giorgio Armani, Chanel, Prada, Coach, Saint Lauren, Lacoste, Guess, Cartier, Gucci, Dior,  Louis Vuitton, G-Star Raw, and my two favorite brands -  Badgley Mischka and Bvlgari (for sunglasses). Everywhere I went were ads for this funny movie.

bus stop
The weather was a cool 70F degrees in early June but at night it was really chilly. I went to a few chic rooftop bars (The Standard, The Mondrian, Perch) and they all had heat lamps but I was still cold. I didn't feel any of those Santa Ana Winds. During the day there was a marine layer in the air that always provided a light fog, plus the haze of smog (mix of dust and pollution), so no really great views of the skyline.

I got around LA via the public metro and bus systems, pretty cheap way to do it. My only complaint was that the LA transit website and app is the worst I’ve used. For instance it would tell me what bus to ride, but not where to walk to find the bus stop or where to walk after getting off my bus, that’s pretty important details part of the directions.  I've found that mapquest was better for finding public transportation routes for me. Another frustrating thing is that you can not transfer from LA buses to Santa Monica buses (both lines criss cross into each city) you have to pay another fare.

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