Most Liked Instagrams

Wow I was really surprised by this list, expected to see some others make the top 9 list. I've really worked on my aesthetic for photography an amped up my fashion style. This list includes some of my favorite looks.

1.  Halloween I love that my most liked photo is from my favorite holiday. Last summer my guy friends took me to a movie I hadn't even heard of - Suicide Squad so I sat down and had no expectations. Never would have guessed that would be my costume inspiration and the most popular costume this year - Harley Quinn, comic book villain.  I didn't like the pre-made costumes from popular stores so I bought everything individually off ebay from sellers in Asia. Even got the blue and pink hair tips to complete the costume.

2. Pumpkin Patch visit A group of local bloggers rented a bus and spent the day at a pumpkin patch and winery. Fun day!

3. Great Gatsby Party Another fun dress up event held on the grass of the National Cathedral was like stepping back in time returning to the era of flapper dresses and music of the 1920s with the Prosecco flowing. There was a live band, lawn games, prohibition cocktails, and people doing their best swing dancing.

4. New York City trip

5. Canoeing in Georgetown

6. Winery Visit and Apple Orchard

7. & 8. How to Wear Distressed Jeans

9. I've been to Starbucks exactly 4 times this year. I loved their summer refreshers and when I heard about the off the menu pink drink, had to try that too.

You can see my most popular blog posts of 2016 here.

Most Popular Posts of 2016

I've rounded up my 12 most popular posts of the year. I went through my stats to see which posts had the most clicks and brought the most eyes to my blog. Here's what people came here to see most this year! I always think it's fun and interesting to see what makes this list. One of my blogging goals for myself this year was to increase my readership and I'm happy to report I have. If you enjoy reading my blog make sure you follow me (and all your other favorite blogs) on bloglovin where you get a daily email in your inbox with a round up of new posts.

My number one read post this year was 6 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home. This is a great post to read if you've set tidying up your home as a News Years Resolution for yourself. It's based on tips I learned from Marie Kondo's second book "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up"

Fashion Posts
I jumped on the Capsule Wardrobe challenge with my Fall Capsule Wardrobe which came in very handy for me and made getting dressed easier in the morning.

 How to Wear Distressed Jeans

Beauty Posts
Skincare and makeup are really important to me and I shared some of my favorites. The first post is one of top viewed post of all time! I was really amazed at the alarmingly high numbers of views! This was my favorite post that I wrote this year.
Do you want to transform your skin?

February Beauty Favorites

Bronze Summer Glow

Must Haves for Healthy Blonde Hair

Yellow Salad

Need some movies to watch over the holidays - check out - What's New on Netflix

Great Gatsby Party - This was a fun dress up party!

DIY tips for clearing a clogged drain

Christmas in Cancun

I'd love to know from you  what was your favorite post from The Blondissima this year?

Related posts:
2013 Year In Review
2014 Year in Review
2015 Year In Review

5 Things to Toss before 2017

As you're setting New Years Resolutions for yourself, make sure one of those is to declutter your home. It will help you destress having a clean environment to come home to.  Here's a list of some things you should consider tossing from your home.

1. Paper
I have stacks of paper sitting around, I'm sure you do too. I keep all my receipts to check against my credit card bill, old paperwork, junk mail. The magazines I subscribe to but don't have time to read. After I cut them up for my vision board, I will be tossing all the ones I've saved this year.

2. Old Electronics
I still have boxes of old CDs that I never listen to. Cell phone covers I'm over and old chargers. Do you save these unnecessarily like me? I have a closet full of every computer I've ever owned, yes it's true. They're out of sight but they are taking up precious space. I've started to take the hard drives out after watching multiple youtube videos on how to open the box. The front desktop is my new computer that I've had for a month but can't use due to my internet not working. These are all Dell computers and it's interesting how they get smaller every 8 years or so that I've upgraded. And every new monitor gets wider and lighter.

3. Clothing
If you have clothes you haven't worn this year, chances are you aren't going to wear them again and it's time to say goodbye. It's time to clean out your closet and get rid of the things you never wear like things you don't feel confident in. If it still has a tag on it, you know it's never going to work out. Still keep all your old sneakers and Uggs? I think your feet will thank you if you tossed them. Zappos will take your old sneakers and donate them. Are there items you've been meaning to donate? For me my old clubbing dresses and special occasion dresses. You can either donate in one of those charity boxes around town or sell them to a thrift store, I use an online one Tradesy.

I started using Tradesy in June and have had really good luck with it selling about one item a month.
It's super easy and way less stressful then selling on ebay. The way it works is you get an email when something sells and you confirm if you still want to sell it. Tradesy's commission rate is 14.9%. You can use your funds to buy stuff from their website or withdraw it from your paypal account for a 2.9% transfer fee. You have the option of using Tradesy's shipping kit for $10 which the seller pays for. After your sale is confirmed, Tradesy mails you a polybag and a pre-printed mailing label with tracking. Listing is free and your listing remains up indefinitely.

Seems like I change up my jewelry style every year. Now is a good time to get of your broken, piece missing, and costume pieces you have no plans to wear again. You can also sell them on Tradesy.

4. Drinking Mugs
I'm always buying cute mugs but don't have space for all of them in my cabinets. I keep them all because I think what if one day I might have a tea party or hot chocolate bar. lol I think it's time I admit that won't be happening and I should get rid of my collection and donate it to Goodwill. I can always buy more. lol Here's my latest acquisition - reindeer mugs. I realized I had a void in the holiday drinkware department. But these have a narrow opening so I can't get in as many marshmallows as I would like so I'll need to upgrade again next year. lol

5. Clean out your Bathroom Cabinets
Do you subscribe to various beauty boxes and have samples you've never used? Do you stockpile the samples that come with your Sephora orders? Do you have a bunch of facial masks you started but never emptied the container? Have you stocked up on every shampoo out there? Your bathroom shouldn’t be filled with a bunch of random half-used beauty products. Just imagine how much more space you'll have once you clear out the bottles you won't use?!

Related Posts:
Folding Clothes Vertically
6 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home
Reorganizing My Kitchen and Taming Clutter
An Organized Entry
Nail Polish Organization

7 Charities to Give Back to This Season

The Christmas season brings about a lot of consumerism and I think it's important we also think about the spiritual meaning of the season and give to others in need as well. I think it will bring you a sense of fulfillment to do good for others. Charities say they get the majority of their donations towards the end of the year. This is the true spirit of Christmas, it's about more than gifts.

I recently read an article called Stop donating canned goods to the food bank which had some interesting arguments I hadn't thought of, but I think one size doesn't fit all for all food banks. It says that food banks get a lot of expired and random food items and that they would prefer cash so they can purchase food in bulk at discounted prices. Maybe food banks could be more specific in what types of food they need most, like things that can make an actual meal instead of pistachio pudding.

I've researched the charities I've donated to by looking them up at which ensures that the bulk of individual donations goes to programming or meeting a specific need of the donor's choice. Check with your employer to see if they match your charitable donations, my previous employer did.  There's so many charities out there so I hope you give to a charity that supports a cause you feel strongly about.  For me I feel that the worst humanitarian emergency of our time is in Aleppo, Syria. The civil war has been waging for 4 years now and over 10 million refugees have fled the country. It's hard for me to watch the coverage on the news every night. Did you know Syria has winter? It's 40 degree there right now (30F at night) while they're fleeing their homes and living in tents. Last Wednesday the Eiffel Tower went dark in solidarity with the people of Aleppo. This article shows where all the Syrian refugees have gone in the USA. The first charity I gave to is a local one, but the rest all support Syrian refugees as well as other causes.

Wreaths Across America
Each December their mission is to remember and honor our veterans by laying wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes. You can participate at Arlington National Cemetery by laying a wreath on graves as well as over 1000 other locations all over the US. If you can't participate, you can donate money for a wreath - $15. A couple weeks ago they said hadn't raised enough money to put wreaths on all the graves. From the article, "Three years ago, Hanson was placing a wreath for a special request in a section that had not been covered when he ran into a father visiting the cemetery who asked Hanson, "What about my son?" "I said to myself, 'How many other people come to Arlington and see these thousands and thousands of wreaths and there's not one on their loved one's marker?'"

This is not a government agency.  Last Saturday they had over 44,000 volunteers in the freezing rain and lay 245,000 wreaths. 30 trucks brought in wreaths from Maine. Volunteers had to walk up to 40 minutes to the back of the cemetery just to find an empty grave to lay a wreath on. You can also volunteer with the clean up in January, a date hasn't been set yet.

Save the Children
Save the Children invests in children around the world. On their website you can sponsor a child or shop their catalog to purchase for example a goat which provide protein-rich dairy to satisfy hungry children. The charity also provides emergency food for Syrian children, and supports education in Syrian refugee camps among other things.

They provide emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis including survivors of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the earthquake in Nepal, the typhoon in the Philippines, and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

"ShelterBox has been providing emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria When the water pumping station at Al-Khafsah in Aleppo failed, cutting off water supply to the city, panic and chaos ensued, with people resorting to drinking from puddles in the streets. Hospitals and schools were also attacked, with at least nine medical facilities bombed in Aleppo and Idlib during July 2016. ShelterKits contain a variety of essential items such as jerry cans, mattresses, tarps, solar lights, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, and water purification equipment"

American Refugee Committee
"In Syria, we remain committed to the most marginalized in society who have lost everything, but who are trying so valiantly to regain control of their lives. Since 2013, ARC has provided water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in collective shelters, protection support for women and girls facing violence, and distribution of much-needed emergency items for people who have fled their homes but are still inside Syria."

"The humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis has been operating half empty for years. There has simply not been enough funding. The aid community has called for increased food aid – their pleas went unanswered and Syrian families went hungry. What we’ve seen in the past year is Syrians reaching their tipping point. They’re giving up hope – they will no longer stand by as their children starve. We have simply not done enough to help the people who are looking to save their lives, who are trying to grasp the last shreds of hope for peace."

International Medical Corps
IMC has administered programs on Women and Children’s Health in over 70 countries including the health of pregnant women. They offer mental health programs in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Yemen, Chad, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan, the Philippines, Liberia and Nepal.  IMC helps run a service center for Syrian refugees in the Turkish city of Gaziantep that provides medical care, classes and job training. The IMC said they hasn’t seen any increase in donations to their Syria response efforts, but their “work to help those affected by the conflict continues and is more critical than ever.”

"International Medical Corps began operating in Syria in 2007 to support Iraqi refugees who resettled in Damascus during the Iraq war. Since then, we have established ourselves as a key player in the health sector in Syria with strong technical capacity in primary health care, mental health and psychosocial support services, and related humanitarian assistance programs. We have continued to support Iraqi refugees and vulnerable host populations with a range of critical health services, including maternal and child health, mental health, psychosocial support, and gender-based violence prevention and response."

"Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, International Medical Corps has expanded our services to address the critical needs of affected Syrians both inside Damascus and in bordering countries where refugees are seeking shelter and humanitarian resources. We operate mobile medical services and support health care facilities in and around Damascus, providing primary health care, mental health care and psychosocial support, and distributing critical supplies. In addition, International Medical Corps has scaled up our Syria refugee responses services in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq."

Medical Teams International
"Medical Teams International focuses on health and dental care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Their volunteers monitor chronic disease patients in their homes and provide families and communities with vital information on chronic disease recognition, management and disease prevention. Violence has forced millions from their homes in Syria. In a war that's taken countless lives, traumatized refugees are in desperate need of medical care and support. Medical Teams International works in the Middle East, primarily providing care for Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon settlement camps or traveling through Greece. We are also sending volunteers to serve refugees in Serbia."

International Rescue Committee
"The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.  In the United States: The IRC has 29 offices across the country and has resettled 270 of the 1,541 Syrian refugees who have been accepted into the U.S. We provide immediate aid to refugees, including food and shelter, as well as access to the tools of self-reliance: housing, job placement and employment skills, clothing, medical attention, education, English-language classes and community orientation.

More than 3,000 IRC aid workers and local volunteers operating inside Syria and in four neighboring countries have reached over 3.3 million Syrians fleeing violence with emergency relief and long-term support. We're focusing on health care, protection of vulnerable women and children, education, and economic recovery."


Best Mystery Books of 2016

I'm addicted to Dateline, it's the real life version of crime shows on TV. It has some of the most intriguing real life stories about murder, that leave you guessing throughout the show "who did it?"  It comes on every Friday and Saturday night on NBC and is either one or two hours long. When there's an update to a story, they re-air it with the update and fans discuss it on their facebook page. If you have an appetite for real life investigation and intrigue, then you should watch it as I've enjoyed watching it for years. It's also very informative about dangerous liaisons as it shows how a non-criminal, hard-working person can just snap one day to everyone's surprise, and sometimes even get away with it. On that same note, I've gotten into reading mystery books, here are my favorite thrillers of the year. If you have a long car ride for Christmas, download the audio version of one of these books. These books are great escapes!

Favorite Christmas Activities

Last weekend I did two of my favorite Christmas activities: Zoolights and Santarchy.

Zoolights - For the month of December the National Zoo transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland with a festive Christmas light show set to music. Seeing all those lights gives you a the sense of the Christmas season and just lights up your heart. It's free and was a great way to spend time with friends after going to happy hour at a local Lebanese restaurant. It's the perfect way to spend a winter evening in December.

Santarchy - This event is held in cities around the country and it's my 5th time going! Expect to see hundreds of people in Christmasy costumes walking the Mall, making merry, handing out candy and singing carols. Afterwards we end the day at a bar. Lots of people wear Santa suits but you don't have to! I've gone as Mrs Claus, elves, and an ugly Christmas sweater. This year I went as a reindeer in a DIY costume and did my own makeup.

  Per usual, the banana invasion runs into us! They are anti Christmas and sing that song from Family Guy "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time". they're a lot of fun!

 White House Christmas Tree

 Santa's boombox over his shoulder played Christmas tunes as we walked around.

How to Wear Over the Knee Boots

The trend started a few years ago but it's still going strong. If you asked me last year if I ever thought I would try it the answer would have been a resounding no. Soft Suede is the fabric of the season and makes the colors on shoes look so lush. The great thing about over-the-knee boots is your legs will be warmer in the colder months. Let’s talk about cold weather fashion since it seems like we’re going to have a brutal winter this year. While the weather is no fun, on the bright side you get to wear different looks for each season so fashion gets to be fun!

Must have cookbooks for 2016

I love to cook and love getting cookbooks from the library and working my way through one. Here are my must have cookbooks that came out this year and would make a wonderful gift for your friends.  When it comes to cookbooks one requirement I have is that it have lots of color pictures, I mean after all I need to see what I'm making to be enticed to make it.

Oh She Glows Every Day: Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes to Keep You Glowing from the Inside Out by Angela Liddon  She makes delicious plant based recipes and I loved her previous best selling cookbook and use her app. This book has 100 recipes including a whole chapter on vegan cookies. Last week for lunch at work I made her Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chart and Red Lentil Stew.

Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made With Whole, Organic Ingredients from the Marley Kitchen by Ziggy Marley This book is made up of recipes Ziggy makes in his home and includes a few vegetarian recipes including a Frittata, Tofu in Coconut Curry, Date and Kale Smoothie, and  Coconut Curry Squash Soup.

Inspiralize Everything: An Apples-to-Zucchini Encyclopedia of Spiralizing by Ali Maffucci
I loved Ali's first book and now am making zucchini noodles every week. This book is not a hard cover and is in alphabetical order by vegetable name. It has great recipes like inspiralized apple muffins, vegetarian meatballs and Ginger Pear and Apple Sangria.

The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz This is Isa's 11th cookbook. The book is over 400 pages with lots of holidays covered. There's lots of fancy, meat inspired vegan recipes in here. It's a great book to make impressive party foods.

Other favorite cookbooks:
New Vegetarian Cookbooks for 2015
Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen Cookbook
Chloes Vegan Kitchen

Trader Joe's Seasonal Beverages

Here are some of my favorite beverages from Trader Joe's this time of year. The first four drinks are seasonal and the last two wines are year round favorites of mine.  Also it's pomegranate season! TJ's sells them cheaper than other grocery stores so I've been stocking up and eating one daily. Read my post on how to cut a pomegranate.  I also saw that TJs has persimmon fruit in stock as well.  In the background of my picture is TJ's chocolate advent calendar which I enjoy every year.