I Left My Heart In London

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There’s some cities that just pull you in. You put your airplane seat in the upright position for landing, your pilot gives a speech about the current weather conditions, and a euphoria engulfs you. You find a magnetism to everyday things and an excitement that makes you want to stay out until  2am every night and start apartment hunting without even have been there a week.

For me, it’s London.

London has a heartbeat that so visibly declares itself as soon as you step foot outside of Heathrow Airport. The extravagant houses you walk past to get to Primrose Hill. The  smells and sounds at Borough Market. The hum of the Tube on a weekday morning. The buzz of a pub on a weekday night after work.

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There’s so much to see, so much to eat, so many people to write home about.

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This is Tower Bridge. It’s literally a bridge. That’s also a tower. It’s my favorite place in London and I used to take the Tube here just to walk across it and stare out at the Thames. 

I studied abroad there in college and it was the single most exhilarating part of my college experience. Every day was a new adventure, and every neighborhood I explored was better than the last. Whenever anybody asks my favorite city or the place I would live if I could, it’s always London. It will always be London.

I interned at a talent agency whose office was a itty-bitty studio apartment (if that) above a cheese shop. I loved it.

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Okay, now that I’ve successfully talked your ear off about London, here’s a round-up of my favorite London goods:

I’d Rather Be In London Shirt: I would rather be in London.

London Print: I’m currently trying to get wall art for my living room because every time anybody comes over they ask me why my walls are blank. And I tell them it’s because I haven’t put any pictures up. It’s really a thrilling conversation every time. Anyways, I want to have artwork of London above my couch and this is a cute print.

A Street Cat Named Bob: OKAY LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEN I STUDIED ABROAD IN LONDON I WOULD WALK PAST THIS GUY AND HIS CAT EVERY SINGLE DAY. THEY HAD A SPOT RIGHT NEXT TO URBAN OUTFITTERS IN COVENT GARDEN AND HE WOULD SIT THERE AND PLAY GUITAR WITH HIS CAT EITHER IN HIS GUITAR CASE OR ON HIS SHOULDERS AND I JUST WALKED PAST EVERY DAY NOT THINKING MUCH OF ANYTHING AND THEN ONE DAY I WAS IN A BOOKSTORE AND I SAW A PICTURE OF THE CAT ON A BOOK AND MY MIND EXPLODED. AND APPARENTLY NOW THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THIS CAT TOO AND I FREAK OUT EVERY TIME I REMEMBER THIS CAT. OKAY? OKAY.

London On The Rocks: This is cute, right?

London Tapestry: I kinda want to buy this for above my bed.

London Is Always A Good Idea Mug: Okay this is definitely cute.

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Have you ever been to London? What’s your favorite city? Let me know!

Super Bowl Appetizer Round Up

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I don’t watch sports. I don’t know what a field goal is. (I’m guessing it’s a touch down?) I don’t know what all the players do. I don’t know how scoring works. But do you know what I do know? HOW TO MAKE A BOMB ASS SPINACH DIP WITH SOME HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS.

I’m only interested in the Super Bowl for the snacks.

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So today I will be rounding up the best appetizer recipes from around the interwebs. So that you can dance around your kitchen with a glass of rosé in one hand and a spatula in the other hand. It’s the only way to cook, really! Enjoy:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas: This recipe takes a normal quesadilla dish and gives it a kick in the loins. That’s a weird way to describe a quesadilla, I’m sorry. But this dish looks b-o-m-b.

Roasted Chili Pepper Guacamole: There’s a certain rule around these parts. We trust Gaby. Anything Gaby makes, we trust it and we make it. Especially when it has to do with guacamole….

Sourdough Pretzels and Beer Cheddar Sauce: Joy is one of those bloggers whose recipes I trust without even reading them. I know she wouldn’t let me down. I’ve been wanting to make pretzels with beer cheese for so long you have no idea. I’m trying to figure out which of my friends would want to come over for a pretzel and beer cheese party.

7 Layer Dip – This is a personal essay about seven layer dip which really speaks to me on a very deep level. We all should aspire to be this passionate about beans.

Charred Corn and Poblano Pepper Queso Fundido: Anything with the word Fundido in it and I’m sold. It just sounds Fun, you know? This is a super simple recipe that will make sure no chip gets left behind.

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Spinach Dip With Homemade Tortilla Chips: This is the recipe in the pictures. Honestly I had no idea making tortilla chips was so easy. But now I know, and will be making them on frequent rotation. I love Gaby’s recipes because she makes it so easy. This dip took zero skill – just basically a pot and some spinach.

Pull Apart Pigs In A Blanket: Can you even believe this???!? A Pigs-In-A-Blanket PIZZA??????!?? I am losing my mind.

Peanut Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies: A party without cookies is just a meeting. Literally I would honestly prefer if there were cookies at every get-together ever. They’re just a stable, ya know. I am the friend who brings homemade cookies to the trivia bar. That’s just me.

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole: I’m gonna give you a second to read that name one more time. Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole. What even is that? I’m glad you asked… It is HEAVEN. I can’t even look at the recipe without salivating.

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What are you making tomorrow for the Super Bowl? Lemme know!

Easy Like Saturday Morning

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This Saturday morning’s usual plans were un-RSVP’d at the last minute because I had an appointment to get a haircut at 8am. I walked in and my stylist Abbie was fresh-faced and cheery, and I was wishing I was nurturing a warm cup of coffee with extra cream and sugar with a side of “still in bed”. But I didn’t fall asleep in the chair and my hair is now shorter and blonder and I now quite honestly don’t recognize myself in the mirror.

In other happenings, I volunteered at a charity auction for a homelessness organization last night and it was actually so fun. I’ve never worked an auction before but my friends Steven and Koko and I were on the ground floor spotting the bidders.

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ANYWAYS, ENOUGH WITH THE SMALL TALK, LET’S GET INTO THE ROUNDUP:

The hair queen Kristin Ess just released a TEMPORARY PINK HAIR TINT. For only $10. Can you even believe?!??? All her products are sold at Target so you better start running to your car.

This BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad is on the menu this week — I basically trust anything that Gaby makes.

Oh Joy just released a line of Calpack suitcases for travel and it’s lighting the flame under my travel bug, like woah. I have my eye on New York right now.

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the Larry Nassar case that was in trial this week. It sickens me that so many young women were exposed to him. I just hope that this brings them some sort of healing. I can’t even imagine.

I made these this week. Basically the result of me having no food in my kitchen except sweet potatoes and eggs.

I really want to make this soup. Liz made it on an Instagram Live last week and it looked so good. Making soup is also so therapeutic.

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Have a great weekend, friends!

Easy Like Saturday Morning

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Saturday morning is a very important time of the week for me. It’s when I decompress from the work week and do an assortment of things that make me calm and collected. Like go to the Farmer’s Market. And browse Whole Foods (literally I do this, please don’t judge me). It’s my therapy, you could say. So, every Saturday morning I’m going to share a weekly update on what I’ve been reading, watching, cooking, and more. Because I think catching up on news and friends is what you’re supposed to do on Saturday mornings.

I’m writing this from one of my favorite coffee shops, Copa Vida. I ordered an Avocado Toast, which basically make me the most “LA” person ever, but I worked out this morning and if I didn’t eat afterwards I knew that my friends would give me lectures about eating right, so here we are with my avocado toast and latte. I repeat, I am the most LA person ever today.

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Let’s talk about my week:

I made this Chicken Noodle Soup and it was so easy I was shocked, honestly. So easy and so good.

I’m reading Everything Is Awful by Matt Bellassai and it’s amazing to say the least. If Matt isn’t one of your favorite people, then you need to re-evaluate your life and go binge-watch Whine About It immediately. Watch this one to get started and then report back with your findings.

Liz from Sequins And Stripes did an Instagram Live where she cooked her Mom’s soup recipe and all of a sudden I want to do weekly Instagram Live shows where I just cook.

I got a gift card for Macy’s for Christmas and I bought this Cuisinart blender because I didn’t have a blender and now I do and now I can make smoothies but I don’t really know how to make smoothies so please send me all your recipes.

My coworker Desirea told me about this pottery throwing studio in LA and I want to do it really bad. Their classes are a month long with one class a week. Also I would like to point out that my boss Kristina literally though Desirea meant throwing pottery against a wall hahahahaha

I also had a $50 gift card to Williams Sonoma to use so I BOUGHT THIS PIZZA STONE AND I VERY EXCITED TO HAVE PIZZA NIGHTS WITH ALL OF MY FRIENDS.

The Pasadena Half Marathon is tomorrow! I’m a proud resident of Pasadena and I’m hoping to get out in the city to watch.

For anyone who lives in LA, Carmela is having some ice cream making classes next month. They are at the Pasadena location, which is literally a mile from my house, and they are guaranteed to be so fun. I wish I could go!

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What are you up to this Saturday morning? I hope you have a restful weekend ahead, friends ❤

How To Host A Wine-Tasting Party

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My co-worker Melissa and I share an office. And a birthday. And a mutual love for pouring a glass of wine after work and slumping deep into the couch cushions to watch Netflix. We were destined to be birthday twins, truly.

We also have a lot of the same friends because we’ve worked at two of the same companies together now and have formed relationships with a lot of the same people. So when we were sitting there one Wednesday afternoon in our office trying to decide what each of us should do for our birthdays, we came to the conclusion to decide that we would host a joint birthday party together. A wine-tasting party. And after successfully hosting the party, I am now sharing the best tips to perfectly plan one for yourself.

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Set A Schedule: It’s a well-known fact that if you start a party at 7PM, nobody will arrive until 7:30 or 7:45 (at the earliest). And that’s being generous. Send out a tasting schedule beforehand to ensure everyone arrives on time; nobody will want to miss a second! We did hour-long tastings for each wine category, and it worked great. Once the hour was up, we brought out the next type of wine! However, I did morph into Cruella De Ville because my friend wanted to open a bottle of red wine at 5:30PM, and I told him that we were still in Rosé hour. The rules are strict, folks!

Have Everyone Bring A Bottle Of Wine To Share: Wine is not cheap, especially if you’re catering for 20 or more people! You’re already providing all of the food and appetizers and it might run you bankrupt to buy 15+ bottles of wine on top of that. Have your guests bring their favorite bottle of wine, and when they arrive they can fill out a card sharing what they love about it (tasting notes, how they discovered it, what it pairs well with, etc!)

Provide An Activity For The Guests: One thing I’ve learned after attending enough parties over the years is that if there’s no activity for guests to do, they will make one. And for a crowd in their mid-twenties, it will usually involve alcohol games. Melissa and I wanted to ensure that our guests would be properly entertained throughout the night. Conveniently, our party was the same night as the Golden Globes, so we streamed that during the party and everyone was glued to the screen and sipping away!

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Cheese Board: Truly, there are few things I love more than I love cheese boards. My family and I were in Italy this past Summer in a tiny town called Panicale, and we had a cheese board with literally every meal. It was glorious. Have a cheese board out for the whole night; each wine pairs well with different items on the board! Tip: Don’t put all the fixin’s out at once – leave a stash in your fridge so that you can refresh the board as the night goes on.

Have Appetizers As Well: A glass a wine in itself doesn’t have a ton of alcohol in it, but if your guests are refilling their glasses all night.. it adds up. Make sure you have real food in addition to your cheese plate so that your guests have some protein; a cheese board can only do so much! Melissa and I had Pigs In A Blanket, Flatbread, and a couple other appetizers that we got at Trader Joe’s.

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We had so much fun and it truly was a the best way to celebrate our birthdays with all of our friends around us. Here’s to full glasses, full lives, and lots of wine! Have you ever had a themed birthday party? Let me know in the comments!

 

Healthy (kinda) Cookbooks

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If you know me at all, you know that I’m not really a healthy eater. I don’t diet, I bake cookies at least once a week, have a glass of wine with dinner more times than not, and love a good stack of blueberry pancakes. I’m not a big eater though overall, and I do cardio exercise so it’s never been a problem with my weight or otherwise.

But earlier this week, my body basically told me (excuse my language) that I need to get my sh*t together. Cue: Driving down the 101 freeway in Los Angeles, in the middle of rush-hour traffic, puking while driving from food poisoning (I will not delve into the exact details of this, for the sake of the breakfast you’re probably eating right now). That day, I had coffee for breakfast, German sausages for lunch, and a brownie. Pretty sure it was food poisoning from the sausage, but it was also that my body had basically no nutrients in it and was sending a cry for help. Since then, I’ve put myself on a vegetable-driven diet with no alcohol, sugar, or caffeine and my body feels great.

If you’re looking to incorporate more nutrient-dense meals into your rotation this year, these are my recommendations:

Healthyish: Truth be told, I follow Lindsay on Instagram and just really love her feed. So, thanks to my pal Amazon Prime, it’s now sitting on my coffee table. I’m really excited to dive into it because it has a lot of grain bowl recipes and approachable dinner meals.

The Forest Feast: I actually found this cookbook in an olive oil shop. Don’t ask me why I was in an olive oil shop… (Side note: If you’re ever in downtown Los Gatos, We Olive is a must visit.) The book itself is beautiful, and the recipes are so simple that you’ll basically want to make everything and then move to a cottage in the woods like Erin.

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Going vegetarian isn’t an overnight endeavor, especially if you’re going to do it right and not just eat brocolli for dinner for the rest of your life. This book combines both vegetarian meals and non-vegetarian meals; it’s a mix of both.

Clean Slate: I’ve been following a no-sugar, no-alcohol, no-caffeine diet for the past week and my body feels so good. What we eat can really transform our body, and that’s precisely what this book is out to accomplish. There’s so many good, nutritional recipes included. I personally can’t wait to try the farro and roasted sweet potato salad. Y-U-M.

Love Real Food: My mom is a vegetarian and I got her this cookbook for Christmas this year! She and my brother have been trying recipes from it over the past few weeks and I’ve heard nothing but glowing reviews! What I love is that it makes cooking vegetarian SO easy – the recipes are approachable and don’t require a lot of weird ingredients.

The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: This is basically the bible for vegetarian recipes. It’s massive and it has EVERYTHING. You can count on America’s Test Kitchen to produce quality recipes that anyone can do. Highly recommend this if vegetarian dishes are a staple in your life.

The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook: We’re not perfect. Sometimes we need to sit on the couch, binge-watch The Crown on Netflix with a full plate of chocolate chip cookies at hand. I get it. You’re only human. Laura’s cookbook has so many great recipes, but they’re not all carrots and squash.

What healthy cookbooks take up real estate in your kitchen?

Goals For 2018

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Yearly goals are kind of like flossing. For a while, you’re killing it, you’re in your groove, your gums are shining brighter than when you lie in bed at night scrolling Instagram on your phone, and you are feeling great. But then, out of the blue, without any iPhone notifications or calendar invites, you stop. Your life gets busy, you don’t wake up early enough to make a cup of coffee AND floss your teeth, and your floss routine slides further back into your memory than that one time you accidentally said “you too” after your barista told you to enjoy your coffee. Your gums bleed and your dentist is basically already drafting his “be a better person” speech to you while you will sit there in shame.

Now that we’ve gotten our daily dentist reference out of the way, and now that you’ve decided to never read this blog again, I’m going to tell you my goals for 2018.

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  1. Host more parties. I’m pretty sure I was built for party hosting, and I have a house that is basically the perfect size for having people over. Planning an appetizer menu is my idea of euphoria. “OH, LET THEM EAT CAKE!!!!!” – me, in 2018.
  2. Cook more. I looooooove cooking. Give me a glass of wine and a recipe and lock me in the kitchen for hours, and I will be overwhelmingly happy. I want to cook more this year, which isn’t really a change from this year, but it’s just something that I really enjoy doing that I’d like to continue this year.
  3. Blog more. I used to do this a lot. Like, a lot. Raise your hand if you were here for the failed outfit post and makeup reviews and life advice posts. I want to get back to blogging more, because it’s a great creative outlet and a hobby that makes me really happy.
  4. Spend more time with friends. Working a full time job can be exhausting, and sometimes I forgot to actually spend time with my friends. Friends are so important, and especially living in a city away from my family, my friends are basically like my extended family. One of my favorite quotes is “Invest in the people who invest in you.”
  5. Travel. My parents took my siblings and I on a lot of trips growing up, so I’ve pretty much had the travel bug since I could walk. There’s so many places I want to go to, and I have no idea where I’m going to end up this year. 2019? Already have that planned (Hi, London.) 2018? Not so much. Stay tuned!

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What are your goals for 2018? Do you like flossing? Let me know in the comments.