Pumpkin Hits and Misses

First off Happy Halloween! Hope you have a fun costume and are celebrating tonight!

At Target I spotted Noosa yogurt in Pumpkin flavor and had to try it! Lucky me it’s only sold at Target! Noosa is an Aussie style yogurt which is similar to rich Greek yogurt. It’s made in Colorado from milk free of artificial growth hormones (rBGH) and artificial preservatives from outdoor cows that eat grain and alfalfa grown without pesticides. Eating organic yogurt free of artificial sugar (splenda) has always been really important to me. Their pumpkin flavor is absolutely divine, it was incredibly delicious!! I split the container into two servings so it’s better calorie wise. Definitely make sure to get your hands on one, you won’t regret it!

At Whole Foods I spotted Suja’s seasonal pumpkin smoothie. Now I’m a big fan of Suja’s vegetable juices so I was excited to try this. It’s made of sweet potato, carrot, maple syrup, pumpkin, pecans, coconut, coconut palm sugar, black strap molasses, and spices. Sounds good right?  Well let me tell you, it’s no pumpkin pie in a bottle. Even though it has sugar in its ingredients, it’s not sweet at all. The flavor just fell flat to me. I’d skip this.

Leggings Love

I've really been enjoying this Fall Style Challenge and get excited every evening when my email comes in with what I'm supposed to wear the next day! One of the items on the original shopping list was leggings and the question was asked of our group of ladies what is the best brand to buy? Well almost unanimously people said HUE leggings were the best! They have an ultra-wide band which is a must have as it helps prevent any bulges on top. You can find HUE leggings at Macy’s.

Now I've never worn leggings before, I don't know it just didn't interest me and I've never worn yoga pants outside of yoga class. I decided to take the plunge and order my first pair of leggings.  Then I had a problem, what do I wear them with? So I ordered a bunch of tunics as I learned that the rule with leggings is that they are not pants and thus should not be worn like pants. It's always ideal to keep your backside covered when wearing them.

For my first look my sweater was a little short in the front so I paired it with a long layering tee to get more coverage. The purple peacock purse I bought on my trip to Thailand. The infinity scarf, riding boots and boot socks were all purchased because of the challenge, never worn this style before but love it now!

For my next look I'm once again wearing a black layering tee as the sweater wasn't quite long enough in the front.

The sweater is from Talbots, never shopped there before but I saw it in the window and loved the color and knew I had to have it! Since I'm stepping outside the box trying out new fashion trends, I'm also trying out a new nail polish shade - Zoya - Jana, it's a purplish grey, totally out of the norm for me. 

Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah | 
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa  | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison

Bali Soul Shine

rice terraces

Do you want a peaceful, picturesque getaway in the countryside with lush greenery and nothing but the sound of nature? Head to Ubud, Bali. It only takes two planes and 22 hours in the air. But the journey also involves in-flight movies, tiny meals at random hours in the middle of the night, compression socks, a comfy travel pillow, a blow up foot rest, blanket and an eye mask. Traveling isn't as glamorous as it may seem, my last trip to Asia was 9 years ago and I forgot how grueling the long travel was, 12 time zones later it really takes a toll on your body. You can read about the part of my trip in Bangkok here.

The Good Lie

I only talk about movies on my blog when it's an indie type film, something that isn't talked about much but I don't want you to miss it. The Good Lie is a feel-good drama that will educate you on the situation in South Sudan, which Africa's newest country created just two years ago. Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan that begin in 1983 when their villages were burned to the ground and everyone killed, these children trekked thousands of miles for many months, some dying of starvation until they found safety in a refugee camp. Thirteen years later of living in the camp, 3600 displaced refugees won lottery visas to the United States.  The movie centers around four Lost Boys (and girl) of Sudan and their experience after immigrating to Kansas where they meet Reese Witherspoon who is their employment counselor. If you want to read more on this topic click here.

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Fall Casual

I've completed week one of the Fall Style Me Pretty Challenge which has been so much fun to see what the other ladies are wearing and getting ideas from them. Since I'm documenting my outfits every Wednesday with other bloggers in the challenge, I present you the outfits I wore last week and what the assignment was for the based on a fashion trend. 

Trend:  Military jacket, plaid infinity scarf and riding boots
Military style jackets always seem to stay in style and this challenge encouraged me to purchase one. My jacket is sold out but I've seen similar ones at JC Penney or Anthropologie. Payless has a really cute pair of camo pumps. I paired the jacket with a plaid infinity scarf, never worn one of those before. I wasn't sure it would keep my neck warm since it's open in the front but I guess the extra layer of fabric on your chest is what keeps you warm. Not being a big fan of plaid, so I kept it modern with a burberry print. These are my first riding boots! I've been wanting to get a pair for years, but it wasn't until this challenge that I finally did.

Trend: Plaid shirt and puffer jacket
I'm not a big fan of plaid, it's just too lumberjack/country for me. I went for a stylish plaid print in a pretty olive color from the Banana Republic. 

Trend: Dressy Sweatshirt
I needed a new white sweater but it wasn't really on my radar as I'm not usually on the lookout for basics. The challenge called for a dressy sweatshirt and I saw this Animal Jacquard  print tunic and immediately scooped it up! 

Trend: Striped Shirt and leopard flats
You know I actually didn't own any stripped clothing before this challenge. I didn't realize this until a year ago when I was reading a fashion blog where the woman said that her closet was filled with stripped shirts and that she might have a problem. lol It made me want to never venture into the land of stripes. But when I tried this shirt on I thought it looked great and would be very versatile. Just about every store at the mall has striped shirts right now, the problem was finding just the right color and stripe width. I've been wearing leopard flats for years as I think leopard is a neutral and goes with any color. 

Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah | 
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa  | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison

Food & Luxury from Bali & Bangkok

I thought I'd write a separate post detailing some of the delicious food I ate and some of the luxurious experiences I had.  Massages, pedicures, tailors and personal drivers can all be enlisted for a fraction of what you’d pay back home.  

Postcards from Thailand

Thailand is a country full of exotic fruits and flowers, gorgeous temples, elephants, silk, massage and amazing food! Thailand is one of my favorite countries; hence this is my fourth trip here! Arriving in Bangkok feels so easy, familiar and friendly — yet exciting and full of surprises. No two days are ever the same. My last trip was in 2005 and can you believe my luck that the tour guide that picked me up at the airport was the same one I had in 2005?!! I used a different company and was beyond shocked he remembered me because I didn't remember him. It wasn't until I got back home and looked at my old photo album and saw wow he has a great memory, he leads tours every week meeting hundreds of tourists a year, how could he possible remember me?! But what a wonderful welcome back!

Allure Magazine - Best of Beauty

I received the October issue of Allure magazine in the mail and immediately devoured their annual Best of Beauty issue and bought a few of the products they recommended.

A few brands this year have Kajal liners out so I wanted to give it a try. In case you didn't know a kohl eyeliner is called kajal in South Asia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.The magazine recommended the Smashbox liner so I purchased that as well as the Mayelline liner which I thought was similar but at a different price point to compare, the trend being able to ditch your sharpener. Neither was waterproof, in that by the end of the day they wore off. If my eyes were watery while applying it came right off on my finger. As you can see from the picture the Smashbox liner is very thin while the Maybelline one is extra thick and for me the winner would have to be the Maybelline pencil. 

Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in Violetta $20

Maybelline Master Kajal No Sharpener Needed Waterproof Liner in Midnight Brown $5.99

Oil of Olay Fresh Effects Shine, Shine Go Away! Shine Minimizing Cleanser   $5.39
I had just finished my last cleanser and was urgently trying to decide what to try next and the magazine made it easy for me, I went with their Olay recommendation and used it with my sponge. Olay says it has the “purifying power of a mask ;with the fresh feel of a daily cleanser.” The cleanser, formulated with kaolin clay, created lots of lather and my skin didn't feel much dryness afterwards. I usually buy my cleansers at Sephora so wasn't sure something this cheap could work, but then I found out it's a dupe for  Lancome's Creme Radiance Clarifying Cream-to-Foam Cleanser ($25)  - just compare the ingredients.

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy in WildCard  $6.39
This wasn't on Allure's list but it was this picture in an ad in the magazine and immediately the color wowed me! The bottle says its a color and base combined and you're supposed to use it with their Revlon Diamond Top Coat. Well I still used my a base coat as I heard from a friend that the color stains. Then I used my regular top coat so you don't need to buy theirs. The polish is a thicker gel like formula, so I only needed one coat of the dark blue color. I loved the way it went on, the application was really fantastic! The drying time was the same as any other polish. I painted it Sunday and got a couple chips on Tuesday, which I patched up then was chip-free through Sunday. On Tuesday of this week I patched up the new chips and put another coat of top coat on. And as of today, Friday, it's still looking good and I'm getting tons of compliments on it. I've never been able to get 2 weeks out of a polish so I'm really impressed by it! It doesn't require the use of a lamp to apply.

Allure Magazine produces a monthly Sample Society Beauty subscription box which includes high end generous sized products for just $15. Each month it comes with a perfume sample which is fun to have a new perfume to wear each month. I received a full size Alterna Caviar RepairX Re-Texturizing Protein Cream which retails for $35. Additionally there was a  full size Restorsea revitalizing eye cream which is made from a natural enzyme released by salmon at birth (extracted from the hatching waste water along with eggshell fragment proteins and amniotic fluid) and targets crows feet and eliminates dark circles, it retails for $85. Also included are Tarte self tanning face towelettes, and LORAC POREfection Mattifying Face Primer. Click on the link below for more info about the box.

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Fall in Style

As you know I'm always up for a closet challenge, so when someone told me about a Fall Fashion Challenge I had to jump in! With a group off over 1100 women we are all doing the Style Me Pretty Challenge where we were sent a clothing shopping list and then every day for the next 21 days we will be sent an image of the outfit we should make out of those items. So it's like having a personal shopper and virtual stylist for our fall looks. A lot of the pieces I bought are things I never would have thought to buy - infinity scarf, plaid shirt, riding boots, and skinny jeans!

I'm going to be trying out all new trends that I've seen on pinterest but never thought to try. For starters the pic above are my new skinny jeans! I wear very little denim, in fact I've bought a new pair each decade of my life, seriously. I guess it's because my mother is European and forbid me from wearing jeans as a child. The shopping list for the challenge asked for skinny jeans to go with riding boots and I realized that my bootcut jeans would have too much fabric for that. Now let me tell you that never in a million years did I ever think I'd embrace the skinny jeans trend but I found a pair of jeans that fit me like a glove and only cost $35! I didn't want to invest too much because I wasn't sure how much wear it would get. I paired my new jeans with hearts on top and sparkly shoes, in front of this pretty fall backdrop. Don't you just love the look of orange leaves on the ground?

The challenge started on Monday but since I just got back from a long weekend vacation I haven't had a chance yet to wear the outfit combos but check out the linked bloggers below who will show you the looks so far.

Deena | Christy | Jordan | Carrie C. | Shaunacey | Danielle | Beth | Joy | Sarah | 
Leslie | Katie | Jennifer | Carrie M. | Lisa  | Sheila | Lana | Lauren | Anna | Alison

Pumpkin Pie Popsicles

I know you're still wondering why I'm still making popsicles now that's it's chilly outside, well it's because it's that time of year when all the amazing pumpkin recipes are coming out I saw this flavor idea and had to try it! I found many recipes for this that use either heavy whipping cream, half and half, full fat coconut milk, greek yogurt, or almond milk as it's base. I used what I happened to have on hand in my fridge (hence the small batch), a little bit at the bottom of a can of coconut milk and fresh pumpkin puree. I use Ideal no calorie sweetener but you can use agave nectar.

Makes 3 popsicles (double for a larger batch)

  • 6oz Pumpkin Puree (I make my own, recipe here)
  • 3 oz Full Fat coconut milk from a can
  • ¼ cup Ideal Sugar
  • ½ ts vanilla extract
  • 1 ts pumpkin pie spice
    1. Mix all the ingredients but taste to make sure it has enough spices and sugar.
    2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours of overnight.

    Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

    I was thinking about making Halloween glamorous. I think white pumpkins are very chic and bought a few to decorate my home. You can add confetti, spray paint, glitter or sequins to it to bling it out pumpkins! Check out these ideas:


    Fall Reading List

    I've finished all the books on my Summer Reading List and wanted to share with you my next batch of books. Some of these books I read while on vacation in Bali and the rest are on my to do list.

    The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser
    Rebecca grew up in the polygamist FLDS cult and became the nineteenth wife of the 85-year-old prophet Rulon Jeffs. After he died she escaped the compound and details her struggles and life in the real world. After the 2008 Texas raid of the Zion Ranch, she then takes the witness stand against the new prophet Warren Jeffs to protect her younger sisters from being married at young ages. The book gives a fascinating expose into what life was like growing up on the compound in a religious cult. She went on the Dr. Phil show with her father (who was kicked out of the cult) to talk about it, you can view the whole episode here.

    A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout   Amanda grew up poor in a dysfunctional family in a small town in Canada. She became a waitress and saved her money to travel the world backpacking first to Latin America, then to Laos, Bangladesh, and India, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, and finally war-ridden countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq  and Somalia where she started a short lived  career as a television reporter.  On her fourth day in Somalia, she was abducted by a group of masked men and held captive for 15 months. To survive captivity she converted to Islam, while she is beaten, starved, kept in the dark, and tortured. It's full of reflection on the human strength to stay alive. The book is a New York Times best seller and featured on Oprah's bookclub. You can watch a little video clip about it here. 

    Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman

    The TV show was based on this book. I read this book after watching two seasons and recognized a lot of scenes from the book. The book gives more depth to the situation, it's not just a comedic TV show, but still a fascinating read. I think having watched the show first made reading this book such a fast and easy read since I could picture the characters in my head.

    The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

    In 1967, a 25 year old  Palestinian named Bashir traveled to Israel to see the house his father built with a lemon tree behind it that his family had been forced out of 19 years prior. To his surprise,  he was greeted by Dalia, a 19 year old Israeli whose family fled Bulgaria for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship that lasted over the next thirty-five years. The author brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level to bring understand to this complicated history. 

    The Last Taxi Ride: A Ranjit Singh Novel by A. X. Ahmad

    I saw this book on the shelf at my library under the new releases as it came out this summer. It's the fictional story of a NYC taxi driver Ranjit Singh who has 10 days to prove his innocence of the murder of  Bollywood film star  Shabana Shah who was murdered, and her body found in the apartment where Ranjit ate dinner mere hours before. Ranjit’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon and caught on surveillance camera leaving the apartment alone, Ranjit is accused by the NYPD as an accessory to murder.

    Ranjit’s only credible alibi is Shabana’s Indian doorman, but he has vanished so he must find the doorman to prove his innocence. His search through the underbelly of New York leads to the world of high-end nightclub owners and their bottle girls to a shady businessman who imports human hair from India which is a lucrative business. With New York City as the backdrop to the novel and the characters being Indian immigrants, it shows an interesting slice into their life. The book was a fast read as I couldn't wait to read what happened next! For a book I picked up on a whim, and my first mystery novel, the author was an amazing story teller with all the twists and turns I didn't know how it would end until the very end.

    Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
    "Little Bee" is about a young Nigerian refugee whose very existence changes the lives of a group of English citizens in dramatic ways in this #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah book club selection. I downloaded this from the library to my kindle and am reading it right now. 

    Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown by Paul Theroux
    In the book A House in the Sky, Amanda mentioned that all of the travelers she met at the time in during her travels through West Africa were reading this book. It's the story of Paul's travels throughout the continent of Africa. 

    Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet by Amara Lakhous

    It’s October 2006. In a few months Romania will join the European Union. Meanwhile, the northern Italian town of Turin has been rocked by a series of deadly crimes involving Albanians and Romanians. Is this the latest eruption of a clan feud dating back centuries, or is the trouble being incited by local organized crime syndicates who routinely “infect” neighborhoods and then “cleanse” them in order to earn big on property developments? Enzo Laganà, born in Turin to Southern Italian parents, is a journalist with a wry sense of humor who is determined to get to the bottom of this crime wave. But before he can do so, he has to settle a thorny issue concerning Gino, a small pig belonging to his Nigerian neighbor, Joseph. Who brought the pig to the neighborhood mosque? And for heaven’s sake why?

    Outfit Post: Autumn Mustard

    As I mentioned in my Wardrobe Refresh post I'm working on styling my outfits more for work. I purchased a number of items from the LOFT's Autumn Mustard collection and wanted to show you the complete look. I searched high and low for yellow heels as I have a lot of yellow clothing and found the perfect pair. I started off the day at work wearing a black cardigan which I realized mid-day that it took away from this outfit by hiding it and made it look frumpy so I switched it out for the scarf. I've read that a scarf keeps your neck warm so I felt fine without my cardigan. This was my second time ever wearing a fashion scarf, first experience here

    Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal


  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • ½ cup coconut milk (full fat from a can)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (I make my own, recipe here)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  and spray a single-serve ramekin with nonstick spray.
    2. In a small bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and maple syrup.
    3. In another bowl mix together the oats, baking powder, and salt.
    4. Pour into the prepared ramekin and bake for 25 minutes.
    Adapted from: The Oatmeal Artist

    Wardrobe Refresh

    For me the thing that makes the transition from summer to fall (and cold weather) easy is Pumpkin flavored everything. I have been seeing a lot of olive green in the stores which is such a hard color to find yet my favorite shade of green! According to the Pantone forecast olive green, royal blue and mustard yellow are going to be popular. Sorry heels, but I'm having a moment with pink sneakers this fall. As you can see today and in this post  you can make them work with a cute dress.

    This summer I participated in the 31 day closet challenge in the hopes of wearing more of my closet. I'm embarrassed to admit that my closet is overflowing because I have a hard time throwing things away. I tend to hold on to things just in case I might want to wear them. Then I read a magazine article saying would you really wear something you bought 7 years ago, and for me that is honestly a "no". I was in a different age bracket and at the club every weekend. I've since filled up a garbage bag full of clothes, yet barely scratching the surface.

    Every since reorganizing my shoe closet where I can actually see my shoes, I realized that I don't wear half of my heels and am thinking about donating all of them too. While I feel my weekend clothes are stylish, I feel very frumpy at work. I feel my work wardrobe doesn't reflect my style personality. I use pinterest to organize my recipes, but never thought to pin outfits. In the hopes of having a more pulled together look at work where my fashion sense can shine, I've started pinning outfit ideas which has given me great color combo ideas.  I feel this has helped me feel more pulled together and confident in my work clothes. It also gives me definitive items to shop for instead of just buying things that fancy my eye at the moment. I'm still using the stylebook app to have no outfit repeat months.

    It's Pumpkin Season!

    I went to Trader Joe's and they were full force into Pumpkin Palooza! I bought a sugar pumpkin to bake, they are smaller and sweeter than halloween pumpkins and I think they taste better than canned pumpkin. I posted a simple how to recipe here. With the fresh pumpkin puree I make Sugar Free Pumpkin BreadPumpkin Soup, and Pumpkin Shakeology. If you still have some leftover pumpkin makes a great DIY Facial Mask.

    If you're wondering what that green thing is, it's a Kabocha Squash that I was surprised to find at Trader Joe's. I use it to make a delicious Thai Pumpkin Curry. I also bought pumpkin waffles, pumpkin macarons (I LOVE macarons), pumpkin cream cheese (healthy ingredients than that Philly brand), pumpkin yogurt (just one because it's high in sugar) and pumpkin butter.

    Last year I raved about how great TJ's Coconut Body Butter is. By sheer coincidence I just finished my jar and was going to buy a new one when I saw that TJ's sells Pumpkin Body Butter!

    Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

    It's apple season and I've stocked up on my favorite apples - honeycrisp!  I took a break from baked oatmeal over the summer, but now it's back! You can see the rest of my tried and true oatmeal recipes here.


  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • ½ an apple, sliced
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut nectar sugar  (optional)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil (optional)
  • dash of salt

  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a ramekin or glass container
    2. Mix all ingredients except the oatmeal in a bowl, then add the oatmeal and fold in apple slices.
    3. Bake for 20 minutes.

    Recipe source: theoatmealartist