Year in Review

I wanted to make a recap of all of my favorite moments from the year to reflect on how grateful I am for them. This past year was full of a lot of changes for me and as I reflect on it I think I've grown personally from it. I wound down the year with a much needed massage on Saturday. I did a big cleaning out of my closet and donated clothes and shoes I never wear. If you're looking for a new NYE tradition, borrow one from another country.

So looking at the bigger picture, the top highlights of my year were my vacations and the joy they brought me. My trip to Bali was an amazing experience, feels like so long ago now.

Even though this was my fourth trip to Thailand, it never gets old. I wrote another post on the delicious food and luxurious experiences I had there.

Then I did a week in LA and enjoyed every minute of it! 

            Los Angeles                               Santa Monica                                Vegetarian in LA

I had a weekend in New York that was a blast!

I joined a weekly running group and made some good friends out of it. We even took a day trip to the beach together where I had my first yoga class on the sand. I'm in the green shirt in the middle:

I ran two races this year, the Glo Run and the Color in Motion. And I SoulCycled.

Lots of wardrobe changes this fall as I pushed myself to try new things when it comes to style. 
Fall Fashion Challenge                               Leggings Love                                         Cami Organizer

I dressed up for my favorite holiday - halloween.

I read 26 books this year, finally started borrowing books on my kindle from the library.

As I reflect on 2014, I would say that I am enjoying where I am and just focused on being happy in the moment and not constantly waiting until the next big thing happens.

Cranberry Chocolate Baked Oatmeal

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Per tradition, my mother and I see the Nutcracker ballet and visit the botanical gardens (which had huge lines) during Christmas week. I noticed many churches in my city had their "midnight mass" at 10pm,  but my family went to the 5pm Christmas Eve mass at the Presbyterian church where it was nice to seeing all the men (even kids) wearing suits. It was the family nativity service which I didn't realize means no sermon. lol But it was really nice! It was a whole hour of the nativity story done by kids in costume with a live nativity (and baby). Afterwards I took a 2- hour candlelit yoga class which served eggnog and treats afterwards. Here's the class description:
The great Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart said it would be far better for God if Jesus was born in our hearts than in a manger in Bethlehem. Every year at Christmas millions celebrate the birth of a miraculous child said to be the savior of the world, yet it's often easy to forget that the savior emerges from the purest part of our own hearts. In this special candlelit asana class, we'll merge the radiant themes of a mystic Christianity with the equally stunning beauty of the yogic belief that everyone is an incarnation of God.

In the spirit of Christmas flavors I present this delicious recipe! I layered the chocolate on the bottom of the dish that's why you don't see it. For another delicious cranberry recipe, check out this desert I made.


  • ½ cup rolled oats 
  • ½ cup peeled and diced zucchini
  • 1/3 cup frozen (or fresh) cranberries
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • handful of Hershey's sugar free chocolate chips
  • ½ tsp Ideal Sugar (optional)
  • pinch of salt

  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  and spray a single-serve ramekin with nonstick spray.
    2. Peel and discard the outer layer of the zucchini unless you want green oatmeal.
    3. Puree the milk and zucchini in a food processor.
    4. Add the oatmeal and vanilla to the food processor.
    5. Pour into the ramekin and add the baking powder and salt.
    6. Stir in the chocolate chips and cranberries and make sure it's evenly distributed.
    7. Bake for 25 minutes.
    Adapted from: The Oatmeal Artist

    Herringbone Vest

    On the shopping list for the Winter Fashion Challenge was a puffer vest which so far I've found to be both a fall and winter closet staple. Looks like JCrew sold out of the herringbone color, but it's all over ebay. Once again I have the fashion challenge to thank for this outfit as I never would have put it together into an outfit if I wasn't given the idea to do so. From the shopping list I was in search of a tunic to wear with my leggings which brought me to the Express where the saleslady gave me this blue shirt off the clearance rack for $11, I told her it wasn't my color but I thought hey it's the right length and so cheap why not and now it's turned out to be my most favorite outfit.

    Funny enough fellow blogger  Carrie has the same sweater! She expressed perfectly how I feel about the two fashion challenges I've participated in so far:
    I realized I am really happy with how my wardrobe looks right now. I love so many of my pieces and can create tons of outfits. Much of this is because of the many outfits Alison created for me and the pieces she suggested using the shopping lists provided through the Style Me Challenges. I feel like my wardrobe has a completeness that makes more sense now. It’s no longer just random pieces but items than can be remixed. And yes, I read other blogs and find great style inspiration on Pinterest but there is something about the Style Me Challenges that has me coming back. You know what it is? It’s community. Real women of all ages speaking words of encouragement and kindness to other women in ways that cause them to get out of their comfort zones and take fashion risks.

    My fall wardrobe was totally lost and I never thought to look to pinterest for fashion. Now I've created fashion boards with outfits showcasing wardrobe pieces from the fashion challenge shopping lists; things I never knew I needed but now make my wardrobe complete. My winter wardrobe was all the same uniform of sweaters and pants so I've really changed my style and feel good about how I look. Because I like to be super organized, I use the stylebook app to organize a calendar of outfits in advance for each month to make sure I'm wearing my closet.

    The necklace I got from Rocksbox.

    Just in case you need more convincing that you need a herringbone vest, let's take a look at this collage that I put together of how to pair it.

    Weekends are made of this

    I had a fun weekend! Friday night I went to happy hour and had a blast! Saturday I went ice-skating with some awesome ladies and afterwards we stopped for cupcakes (eggnog and gingerbread), then we went to happy hour for margaritas. On Sunday I invited some girlfriends to brunch at a new restaurant in town that was amazing.

    Then met up with some other friends to see the movie Top Five. The movie stars Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, lots of strippers and so many comedians you might recognize if you go to the comedy club as often as I do. One scene was filled on my college's campus which I recognized immediately! The movie had an awesome soundtrack, probably because Jay-Z was the producer. I'm a tough critic but this movie had me laughing the whole time! Chris Rock was actually in town last week sneaking into theaters to see what people thought of his movie. The movie is titled after who are your top 5 MCs of all time so the soundtrack CD for the movie is classic rap songs and the song I put at the top of this post by Jay-Z and Kanye played repeatedly throughout the video. To me it's always been a song that never gets old and makes me want to get up and dance! Chris Rock's last movie Good Hair was awesome as well, you should definitely check that out. It's about what black women go through with their hair. By the way ladies Chris Rock is back on the market, he just filed for divorce. I can't believe he's 49 years old! It's true what they say "black doesn't crack". lol

    There was stuff I needed to get done at home this weekend but nothing beats hanging out with your girlfriends. I read something the other day that I thought was so insightful I saved it. It said that the four steps to lasting friendship are self-disclosure, supportiveness, interaction, and positivity. Interaction being key to friendships – meeting in person.

    My Christmas home tour

    Who said fake trees can't be pretty? Mine is full and tall and to get the Christmas tree scent I use plug-in scents. It also has candles on them which is a European tradition. And if one light goes out, the other ones stay lit!  My tree is filled with pink ornaments, ribbon, pearls, snowflakes, icicles, and roses.  Earlier this month I posted about some of my favorite Christmas things and here's a list of my favorite Christmas songs. Another tradition of mine is to watch the movie Elf before Christmas. I also love to do Christmasy nailart, click here to see last year and here's this year's snowflakes:

    I just got a bottle of my favorite light dairy free eggnog by Califia Farms!

    I got my annual delivery from Pittman & Davis of juicy red grapefruit!

    Light up the Season

    Baby, It's Cold Outside (feat. Nick Lachey) by Jessica Simpson on GroovesharkOn the shopping list for the Winter Fashion Challenge was a poncho sweater which is something I never would have thought to buy, but I had this outfit on my pinterest fashion board and thought let me give this trend a try. It's been said that you should never wear white after Labor Day but it's also been said over and over again that times have changed and that rule is no longer true. Come winter I love wearing my winter white pants for winter looks! I recently picked up some off-white corduroys that I love. I got my purple poncho sweater from the Limited but it's no longer up on their site but they have a few others to choose from. Old Navy has one too.

    One of my favorite desserts are a macarons and I'm not talking about the coconut macaroons with 2 o's. I'm talking about the little pillows with cream in the middle that come in every flavor yet so delicious it's hard to describe! If you're ever in New York City start with the best at Laduree. They fly their macarons in straight from Paris! I once took a baking class on how to make lavender macarons and it's not easy, any slight temperature in your oven can ruin the whole batch. Trader Joe's sells frozen pumpkin macarons that are delicious! I stopped by my favorite macaron shop in town over the weekend and they had eggnog and gingerbread flavored macarons! Plus silver and gold dusted macarons, how pretty is their window display?

    Christmas Sweater

    Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by The Temptations on Grooveshark It's that time of year when you're either looking for a festive holiday sweater or an ugly Christmas sweater. Look no father than JC Penney, they have a ton of themed sweater including a make your own ugly Christmas sweater kit! I have Lisa to thank for showing me this hipster sweater. Here a bunch for you to decide fugly or not?
    Christmas Sweater

    And check out my favorite Christmas songs.

    Winter Gym Fashion

    Just because the weather is drab, doesn't mean you have to resort to wearing all black. There's nothing like walking by twinkling lights everywhere you go to get you into the holiday spirit. Wearing bright colors make me smile so let the festive and decorative winter months inspire me to keep the celebrations going by wearing bright colored workout clothes. Can you tell purple is my favorite color? lol I have to wait all year for clothing manufacturers to decide this season they will release purple clothing. I don't need new sneakers as I'm still wearing my neon ones but I'm snatching these up to have on the shelf in my shoe closet for when I'm ready for them. I'm loving the shine on the crackle pants, definitely a unique look! How cool is the sequin sports bra?! It's not actual sequins but a print of sequins. Hope this inspires you to brighten up your gym wardrobe.

    Winter Fashion Challenge

    I'm doing December a little different this year, I declined the invite to a cookie exchange party and am reinventing my fashion style as well. I enjoyed the Fall Fashion Challenge so much that I signed up for the Winter Fashion Challenge. Thanks to the previous challenge most of the items on the shopping list I already owned and here is a picture of my capsule. Some of the new items I've added to my wardrobe in the past couple months are a poncho sweater, herringbone vest, embellished sweater, dark wash skinny jeans, grey jeans, plaid shirt and riding boots. I've admired women wearing riding boots for the last few years but never got around to buying my own pair. This year I've really noticed that the fall/winter "uniform" is skinny jeans with tall boots over them and then a scarf. Funny how everyone is dressing in the same outfit now. lol

    Yesterday I reviewed Nicky Hilton's - 365 Style book which is something I never would have thought to pick up had it not been for these fashion challenges. I always knew how to dress myself, but I wanted to be better at it, just having a more pulled together look and to always feel good about my daily outfits. In her book she lists her must have fashion items for each season, and I smiled when I saw it was some of the same staples the fashion challenges had me purchase.

    sweater dress (bought new ones this year)
    dark wash skinny jeans (click here)
    boyfriend sweater (you can see it here)
    scarves (only wore them for cold weather, now obsessed with infinity scarves)
    large envelope clutch 

    cashmere sweater
    fleece lined leggings (bought my first pair of leggings)
    sparkly box clutch
    bib necklace

    Nicky Hilton - 365 Style

    I borrowed this from the library not knowing if a book from a socialite would appeal to me, but I have to hand it to her she knows fashion and I think we can all benefit from her tips of finding your personal style. She says that "no amount of money can buy style" which I have observed with some celebrities. The 31 year old heiress has had her own fashion line, designed handbags, and costume jewelry. She's obsessed with cats and buys anything that has a cat on it. Unlike her sister's obsession with pink, you're more likely to see Nicky in blues and neutrals. The book also pays homage to Hilton's favorite models and includes tons of pictures of Nicky over the years. I can't say I share her style, but did like her practical suggestions.

    As a clothes hoarder I've been trying to do a closet-cleanout and donate items I no longer wear. I thought 365 might show me what is now "current" and how I might incorporate that into my (limited) shopping for fall/winter. Limited because every since I started using the stylebook app I realized I have too many clothes to wear. So I've slowly been working on attacking my bursting at the seams closet by re-wearing the clothes I own. Nicky says to "recognize your wardrobe needs, when you consider a purchase ask yourself if it is something that would truly benefit your wardrobe or if it would just take up space in your closet. Because there's nothing less gratifying than seeing countless unworn articles of clothing hanging in your closet, with price tags still on them. This clearly shows a lack of judgment and a waste of money." She recommends going on a shopping strike when you reach this point. And to make a rule for yourself to not buy anything new until you get rid of equal amounts of clothing. "Just because you like something does not mean you need to own it. 

    Two generations of sisters

    She says that "no matter what the size of your closet, you have to be able to see everything in it in order to know exactly what you're working with. The same concept going for shoes, always display them on racks or shelves, for jewelry lay it out in drawers." That's exactly what I did last year when I build my shoe closet and jewelry organization.  By the way did you know that Kim Kardashian used to be Paris Hilton's closet organizer?   

    I was surprised to read that Nicky resoles her shoes over and over again even if that costs more than the price of the shoe just to keep her favorite pair. She replaces the rubber on all of her shoes regardless of how cheap they are. She takes the time to do this because it makes shoes water resistant and skidproof and then they last forever. She'll wear shoes for 6 years by having them repaired when they start looking shabby. She says that "if you invest the time, energy and a little money, shoes can seriously stand the test of time. Even your cheap gladiator studded sandals can stay in rotation for years."  Her mother gave her a lot of her vintage clothing that she had updated them to her liking so the pieces are now contemporary. I never thought to do this with my mother's clothes, who is quite the fashionista.  

    As a world traveller myself I was interested to read what Nicky had to say about what she wears when she travels. I've talked about how I pack when I travel but I didn't mention that my go to travel outfit is a stylish velour sweatsuit. Nicky specifically says not to wear velour sweatsuits on planes! lol She says "there are chicer things to wear when jetting to and fro. Start with a loose fitting, breathable top. Accompany that with a pair of fleece lined leggings. Add a chunky, knitted cardigan. Bring your own eye mask and socks." She goes on to say that "when flying long distance apply heavy moisturizer and eye cream to a clean face and be sure to drink extra water throughout the travel day. Most importantly don't forget to pack a positive attitude, be open to new adventures, act street savvy, be safe and take lots of pictures." Great advice! 

    My go to outfit for first dates is a dress and heels, but Nicky has a different idea. She aims to look attractive but not overly sexy, and that she didn't take hours to get ready. So her go to outfit is leather pants or skinny jeans with a not too femme but pretty top and a fitted blazer with heels. 
    "Always dress like you're going to meet your worst enemy" - Kimora Lee Simmons
    I think this is a great rule to live by, the idea is to look your best as often as you can. My mother is queen of dressing down if it's cold outside or pouring rain and without fail she will run into someone she hasn't seen in a long time and feel bad about the way she looks.  Nicky says to "put your energy into looking and feeling your best because people are going to judge you no matter what, feel good about how your presenting yourself." That includes when you're running errands to the grocery store which may be tempting to roll out looking sloppy, but she says you've got to pull it together. She recommends "taking two minutes to throw on a loose fitting button up or boyfriend cardigan and a pair of leggings. Ditch the uggs and put on ballet flats." The idea is feeling amazing in your own skin and exuding that confidence no matter where you go.  She says that "the easiest way to put on a successful front is to dress the part, if you feel comfortable, then you will radiate a new kind of energy that is irresistible.  Dress the way you want to be perceived.  The first opinion people have of you has to do with what they see. We are constantly making first impressions, even when we don't realize it." 

    Nicky's five style goals:
    1. Smile at a stranger every day, easy way to brighten someone else's day.
    2.  Always wear something that reminds you of someone you love.
    3. Give give give, be generous in any way you can, donate your closet.
    4. Go one day a month without makeup.
    5. Write your own style rules.
    I don't think women need another black bag. Everybody has a black bag already, so I thought this season needs color - carolina herrera.

    Wild - the movie

    The book Wild was on my summer reading list and it was an Oprah bookclub selection and now is a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Seems like Reese is on a roll this year with three amazing movies under her belt:  The Good Lie which I also enjoyed and then she produced Gone Girl which honestly was the best movie I've seen this year!

    Wild is the memoir of Cheryl Strayed's (she legally made up her last name after her divorce) 1,100-mile hike alone along the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 when she was 26 years old.  She had never hiked before but embarked on this hard journey for reflection on her life after grieving the untimely death of her mother and her divorce due to her promiscuity and heroin use. She travels with a backpack too heavy she can't even carry and shoes the wrong size which cause her to lose toenails. Her physical problems are no match to the emotional baggage she carries as this becomes a journey of redemption and salvation.

    The book is completely honest and open about her faults while still having some humor to it. While all the details of every story couldn't be completely put into a film, I was glad I read the book first to have the back story to the scenes. While reading the book I googled a lot of the names to see the beautiful scenery, which made me want to go to Oregon to do some day hikes. The film brought all the beautiful scenery to life. The loneliness of the trail was met with wild animals like elks, wild cows, fox, black bears, frogs, rattlesnakes on top of intense heat and record snowfalls. She also managed to meet the generosity of so many strangers on the PCT that she was nicknamed the Queen of the PCT for being recipient of so much  kindness from others.

    Cheryl was raised by a single mother who escaped an abusive marriage. Her mother worked as a waitress to support the family and later attended college with Cheryl. Both were avid readers and fans of poetry, this comes out in the lyrical style of her book. I needed a dictionary so many times while reading it.  Once her mother died she basically had no family left as her brother and step-father distanced themselves.  She read books during this solitary journey but couldn't bring herself to burn them afterwards to lose the weight in her backpack. The book Wild, is what it means to be fully alive, even in the face of catastrophe, physical and psychic hardship and loss.

    Season of Joy!

    Winter Wonderland by Jewel on Grooveshark
    I wanted to share some of my Favorite Christmas things like my famed sugar cookies:
    My pink gingerbread house:

    Every year I buy an amaryllis plant that blooms at Christmas. It comes just a bulb planted in dirt and in the span of one month grows tall then blooms multiple gorgeous red flowers. Here it is with my chocolate advent calendar, you're never too old for one! lol

    This is the best time of year to start with a new attitude. This is the season of joy, the time to express gratitude. - Joel Osteen 

    I'll be working on checking off my winter bucket list this month. Never heard of Nurnberger Gluhwein,
    check out this post. You can check out my favorite Christmas songs here.

    Sephora Gift Guide

    I wanted to share a few picks from the top of my list! Check out last year's list whose products are still available on Sephora's website.

    1. Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil  Dry Oil Mist. I just finished up the bottle I had and really enjoyed it because it's a non-greasy hair oil if you can believe that. It de-frizzes and moisturizes my hair.

    Maybelline: Nudes Eyeshadow

    I am not a drugstore makeup kind of gal, I've been a loyal MAC user for years. I got the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette for my birthday this year and have been embracing wearing brown eyeshadow as I normally lean to bright purple/blue/green eyeshadow looks. I was starting to feel that the Naked 2 palette couldn't give me the looks I wanted and that I should try either the 1 or 3 palette which retails for $54 but neither just seemed right to me. 

    Then I ran across the Too Faced Chocolate Bar $49 and thought the shades were perfect for me. So I searched the internet a little more for reviews and looks and stumbled upon a dupe for both the Urban Decay Naked Palette and the Too Faced Chocolate Bar - Maybelline The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette $12. 

    Since I'm not much of a neutral or browns kind of gal  I was up for spending less money on it. If you look at the compact the colors are arranged in an order that every 4 colors go together, takes the mystery out of mixing colors. I love Maybelline's Master Kajal Liner so I figured the brand is trying to compete with more expensive brands. I also picked up Maybelline's Fit Me Concealer as I've read it's a dupe for Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer. Then I stopped by the NYX display and picked up their Born to Glow Illuminator for extreme highlighting.  I bought a total of 5 beauty products with coupons for a total of $26.13 at CVS, not bad! Here's my end result of all the products:

    My favorite nail polish color to wear in fall is oranges. This is Zoya Autumn.