Monday, December 31

what i learned in 2012

an excellent motto, thanks to my ex-neighborhood's trash can

When the New Year comes around, I prefer to reflect on the previous year rather than make a million unattainable goals for the year to come (because I've tried that before). 

I think the New Year is exciting. It's a time to make some changes in yourself, most importantly concentrating on what's inside. Sure, it's fantastic if you lose those five extra pounds and make it to the gym to kick your own ass everyday, but I think a lot of people (including myself) forget about bettering your character. Doing good in this world and being an honest and decent person, in my opinion, is highly underrated and something we should all strive for.

So what's my point? Challenge yourself. Yes; make that promise to workout more. Eat healthier. But don't forget about your character. It will always get your far in life. Volunteer once in a while. Send snail mail to an old friend. Do random acts of kindness. Buy that sweet homeless man near your work an occasional burger; because it'll make you a kinder and happier person and maybe even make someone else's day. And you'll never regret that.

Though I absolutely, 100% know that I live a blessed and exceptional life, this year was hard for me. I struggled with my emotions, letting people go, unemployment, anxiety, stress... the list goes on. So in the spirit of reflecting, I made a list of the things I learned this year. Despite how tough 2012 was, I learned a ton. And you know what? That counts for more than I once thought.

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Expect the unexpected.
No job will ever be perfect, but don't settle for a job that makes you miserable 
or doesn't make sense for your path.
Patience really is a virtue.
Sometimes, you just need a few too many beers... in the dive-iest of dive bars... with your best friend.
That being said, some nights Speedway Stout and 90's hip hop are the only option.
It's okay to go on dates.
The Bar Method is hard. And I like it.
If someone has hurt you in the past, they will likely hurt you again. 
Though I believe in second (and often third and fourth) chances, you should 
always keep your guard up.
There is almost always an exception to every rule.
Be spontaneous. Go camping and travel... see the world!
Food will always be a huge part of my life, but I don't have to overdo it. Portion. Control.
Say yes more. Go on that date you think will be awkward. Who knows, it just might be great.
I'm officially too old to drink Long Island Iced Teas. 
Good guys might be few and far between but they do exist. Don't settle.
Stop prejudging. Just stop. It's ugly.
My family will always be reliable and supportive. Thank you!
One pair of navy and white polka dotted shorts is all you need.
Seeing Dr. Dre at Coachella really was one of the highlights of my life thus far.
Buy local. Support small businesses. It'll almost always make you some new friends.
Be nice to everyone, smile at strangers and always, always, take care of yourself first.

Thursday, December 27

(not weiner) schnitzel

Recently, my family found this fantastic recipe and we decided to try it ourselves. Needless to say, it was the perfect chicken dish, combining both zesty and peppery flavors. Plus, it was quick. Winner winner chicken dinner!

4 boneless chicken breasts, 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs, 
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 eggs, salt and pepper, 
olive oil, fresh lemon juice (about 4 teaspoons), 
3 cups arugula and 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced

First, cut chicken breasts in half (vertically) and open. Cover with plastic wrap and pound out the chicken until thin. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place flour in a dish; panko and parmesan in a second dish; and eggs (beaten) in a third dish. Dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg wash and dredge in panko mixture. Cook cutlets in olive oil on the stove, two minutes each side. Continue until all chicken breasts have been breaded and fried. Place in a pan and keep in the oven. 

In a small bowl, whisk one tablespoon olive oil with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add this dressing mixture to a bed of arugula and the thinly sliced red onions. Arrange chicken and top with arugula mixture.

For an extra kick, add a bit of lemon juice to the egg wash to bring out the lemon in the salad topping. 
{Seriously one of the best chicken recipes ever... try it out and let me know how it turns out!}

Wednesday, December 26

it's the holiday season

We don't have a ton of traditions in my family, but the ones we do have kiiinnnda solely 
revolve around food. Shocker. 

Christmas Eve 
(garlic pork tenderloin with mojito, black beans and rice)

Christmas Day
(prime rib, twice baked potatoes and brussels sprouts)

Needless to say, after back-to-back feasts, we felt (and looked) like beached whales Christmas night.

Exhibit A 
Please note my dad on the far left. Struggles.

I hope your holiday was as good as mine! Stay tuned for some feastly recipes this week!

Tuesday, December 25

have yourself...

wishing anyone who has ever read my blog the merriest of Christmas' and the happiest of holidays! you all make my day... every day! xoxo

Tuesday, December 18

wise words

image courtesy of project merit badge

"I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting." Barack Obama

This has never been more relevant.

Monday, December 17

losing it

For once in my little ole blog life, I'm actually referring to losing weight and not my mind. Since moving home to the Bay Area just a little over a week ago, I already feel relaxed, happy and at ease. My friend Lori says it's because I'm meant to be in the Bay Area; I think she's right.

While I'm only semi-employed (seasonal position at lululemon - hello discount and free workout classes!), I'm concentrating on myself. Though I'm a big advocate for loving yourself no matter what, it is important to stay active and eat right (most of the time) and I have definitely not been doing that... until now.

So let me ask you all... how do you stay in shape? What are your favorite healthy snacks? I'm all ears.

In other news, SantaCon was this past weekend in San Francisco. Basically, everyone dresses up as Santa and the entire city, so it seems, partakes in a bar crawl. Let me tell you... it was quite an experience.

me and katie - the birthday girl!

my best friend lauren

{Good times, good times.}

Friday, December 14

gift guide guest post: mommy dearest

Hi all, it's Jenn from A Pop of Style! I'm so happy Allie has given me the opportunity to share one of my gift guides on her blog. I love all of her beautiful pictures, recipes and always learn something from her beauty tips! Hopefully you find something here for your momma for the holiday and I hope to see you over on a Pop of Style!


Thursday, December 13

gift guide: dear ole dad

Is it just me or are dads notoriously hard to shop for? Especially on a budget. Hopefully these decently priced gifts will give you some ideas for dear ole dad this holiday season!

▲ art of shaving kit  golfer grill set ▲ scotch lucero olive oil + balsamic 
▲ Custom tumbler ▲ SPERRY'S ▲ river of doubt by candice millard 

Wednesday, December 12

gift guide: the manly man

This might be creepy. But I'm trying to not be selfish since I do realize that I'm about the only person in the world without a boyfriend. Plus I'm kind of a sucker for cute couples. So ladies, if you're looking for a gift for your outdoorsy, manly man boyfriend... you're welcome.

Other ideas [do you think I'm pathetic yet?] could include: concert tickets, beer of the month membership, a planned weekend getaway or a stocking stuffed with all of his favorite things. Why am I single? Just kidding. ;-)

Tuesday, December 11

it's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas is coming; Hanukkah is here. And no matter what you believe in or celebrate, December is  a month for gift giving. Like every other blogger in the world, I've put together a series of gift guides for those hard-to-shop-for people in your lives. First up, your besties. Personally, I know my pals would be psyched to get a best friend beanie... tehehe.

Also, my friends at Beau & Stella were kind enough to give us all 15% off using coupon code BEAUTY15... along with free shipping. Enjoy these perks until the 17th... I know I will!

Monday, December 10

moving on

photo courtesy of lauren millslagle

Moving on from people and places is never easy. Though I'm used to change and I can't say I hate it, it makes me uneasy. A few days ago was my last day in San Diego... a city I've lived in basically full-time for the past six years. Though I knew moving on to San Francisco was and is a good (and necessary) move, I can't help but feel sad about what I've left behind: an incredible community, bursting with small businesses and a truly wonderful friend.

But even in a storm of emotion, I've already felt a sense of empowerment because I know I'll prevail. I know myself and I believe in myself and that's important.

I think today's message is to not be afraid of change but to embrace it. The worst thing you can do is idly stand by and watch life pass. That's where I was just a few months ago and I promise you, if you aren't satisfied with where you are in life or where you're headed, change it. You won't regret it!

Monday, December 3

remember that wedding i went to...

Seriously, how beautiful was this wedding? I felt like I was inside a fairytale. Keystone, Colorado was the perfect background and my friend, Carey, was the perfect bride.

photographer: marianne brown

Friday, November 30

mascara on mascara on mascara

Until this year, I've never really been that into makeup. I'd buy whatever seemed necessary and went crazy with different kinds of eye shadows (resulting in many a mishaps). Now that I've matured (...okay that's a stretch), I've been trying out new products to find exactly what works for me. 

As a person who's into making the most of my best feature(s) while keeping my face natural and healthy and not taking more than 10 minutes to put it all on, these are the products I use on a daily basis that have proved to work well for me.

You might be wondering why four mascaras are featured. I know it's a little excessive and likely a little bit vain, but for me, mascara is the most important product. I've found it helpful and effective to use coats of different kinds of mascara for the best, longest, non-clumpiest lashes.

NARS Blush in Mata Hari
Bad Gal Lash mascara
Anna Sui "Follow Your Dreams"
NARS Illuminator in Super Orgasm

Thursday, November 29

protein salad

In the spirit of trying to be healthy during these feastly holiday times, I created this delicious and nutritious salad that's packed with protein. Hope you like it!

chicken breasts, balsamic vinegar, apple, candied pecans, goat cheese,
rosemary, olive oil, onions and spinach (if you want to get really snazzy,
add a few pieces of bacon, too)

First, marinate chicken breasts in balsamic vinegar, rosemary and olive oil for several hours. Then, top with a little extra balsamic vinegar and roast in the oven (covered) on 350 degrees with chopped onions for 30 minutes, then uncovered until lightly browned and cooked inside.

For the salad, put spinach, candied pecans, apple cubes and goat cheese in a bowl. Once chicken is finished, top the salad with the chicken and use the juices from the chicken as the dressing for a warm and hearty meal-in-one. 

Wednesday, November 28

i feel like i'm going through a break up

an irrelevant but nonetheless tasty-lookin' photo from the san rafael farmers' market

There's really no other way to say/write it except that I've seriously sucked at blogging lately. To give myself a little credit, I have been going through a bit of a break up... with San Diego. Like I mentioned, I'm moving to the Bay Area after five years of calling San Diego home. I'm excited for a more motivated and fast-paced city, one I've always adored, but still so much of me feels like I'm letting go of something great; like I'm giving up on a difficult relationship... though the relationship isn't with a guy, it's with a city.

I think it'll be a good thing, though. A fresh start where I don't have to pay rent for a while and where I can concentrate on myself and my career... whatever that may be. I know I should be excited and hopeful but instead, I'm anxious and confused and really just plain scared. Mostly of failing. But isn't that what holds people back in the first place? Fear? And isn't overcoming the fear the first step in being successful? I'm hoping that's the path I'm on.

One of my family's Thanksgiving traditions is to go around the table and say what you're grateful for. While family, friends and education were popular answers, what I found myself truly grateful for opportunity. How blessed am I to have the opportunity to succeed; to have a family who will bail me out of my failures and cheer me on regardless; to have causes and hobbies I'm passionate about (almost to a fault) when most of the world might never ever know the giddiness and satisfaction I feel when my writing is published, when I make a small difference in the life of another or when I get praised for this blog.

I think the worst part of this whole transitional phase, granted I have been frantically packing and trying to sell a majority of my possessions (anyone want to buy some furniture?), is that I've abandoned my dear blog, which just a few months ago was the number one love of my life. This blog makes me happier than most things and gives me sense of productivity and accomplishment even in a time of unemployment. So why did I stop writing? Even if just for a few weeks, it hasn't seemed right. As of now, I'm vowing to myself and to you all (if anyone is still reading) to make this space a priority.

Thanks for sticking with me, blog world! Good material coming your way... I promise.

Monday, November 19

a quick quote

image courtesy of revelment

{Tehe. I like this. Hope everyone has a fantastic Monday!}

Wednesday, November 14

things i'm afraid to tell you part two

You can read part one here.

I tear up every time I hear "Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky.
[it reminds me of growing up in Texas]

Seeing Dr. Dre at Coachella this past year was one of the highlights of my life.

I'm a food hoarder and I've recently realized that it stems from the fancy lunches my mom used to pack for me when I was growing up and that every other kid at my lunch table would ask for a bite.

I'm unemployed [it's a long story] and I have no idea what this next chapter will hold. Hence all of the trips I've been taking.

I'm moving to the Bay Area [SURPRISE!] at the beginning of December.
Job leads in the editorial world are much appreciated.

In the past year, I feel like I've really learned to stand up for myself and not settle. I feel good about that.

I've recently developed a major love for make-up. Post on my favorite products coming soon!

There are few pieces of clothing I enjoy wearing more than my bathrobe.

I have three pairs of moccasins.

This is the first year in about five or six years that I haven't left the country and I'm dying to get out. Anyone want to accompany me on a trip?

I've never eaten a Twinkie.

Tuesday, November 13

Monday, November 12

things i dig but definitely don't need

As the holidays approach, I find myself scouring the Internet for potential presents for my family and friends... and of course some things to fill my own Christmas wish list. How cute is number four, though? An artsy bottle opener that comes in several different styles! If any of my friends are reading this, don't be surprised if it's your Christmas present this year!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Friday, November 9

a bit of chicago

Friends, if it didn't get so freezing cold in Chicago, I think I'd be just dying to live there. Between the picturesque brick buildings, the perfect fall leaves and the incredible food, I was in heaven.

As one of my best friends and an epic tour guide, AJ (second from the left) took us to the top of the Trump Tower for a beer, Portillos for quintessential Chicago noms, Chicago Bagel Authority for probably the best bagel ever (over 80 bagel sandwiches on their menu!), Farmhouse for our special dinner out and of course a walk around Bucktown/Wicker Park... my dream neighborhood. Chicago, I love you and I will return (when it's a bit warmer).

Thursday, November 8

things i've learned from my mom

In honor of my mom's birthday today, I've decided to share with you some of the most important and valuable pearls of wisdom I've gotten from my dear mother over the years. As a mother who's been the most understanding and non-judgmental (most of the time) person in my life for my whole life, I hope she gasp reads my blog for once and enjoys this... see Mom, I was listening, even when I was the most awful teenager and it didn't seem like it. Happy Birthday, Mom!

[Please note: this post is adapted from a series on Laura's blog.]

mom and i at our cooking class in bangkok, thailand last year. 
i know it's shocking from the information below that we aren't 500 pounds.

Learn how to cook and cook well. Food always brings people together.
Learn how to sew. It'll save you money.
Be selfless.
(My mom is the most selfless person I know.)
Sometimes, you just need make fudge.
Nothing beats lying on the couch drinking iced tea and watching the Food Network for hours.
Don’t text and drive.
You can never have too many sayings or family traditions.
Chocolate cake with chocolate icing always always beats vanilla.
You should always invest in a little black dress.
Don’t overpluck; someday, you’ll embrace those furry caterpillar-things above your eyes.
(I think this day has finally come.)
Pay yourself first (as in, always put money in a savings account). 
Don’t spend money you don’t have.
When it comes to guys, don’t be too available. Also don’t make them a priority when they don’t make you one.
If you cooked, you don't have to do the dishes.
Don’t buy your kids Barbies; it portrays an unrealistic body image for little girls to live up to.
(This one makes me laugh; she never ever bought me a Barbie and I'm okay with with my small chest haha)
Families that eat together, stay together.
If you can’t sleep, read a book and have some milk… maybe a cookie, too.
Start putting vasoline under your eyes as soon as you turn 18. 
You won’t have wrinkles until you’re at least 60.
"To each their own."

Tuesday, November 6

inspired by locals: tim from the donkeys

One of my favorite parts of living in North Park is that no matter what local business you frequent, you always seem to meet the coolest people. On a few particular occasions, I crossed paths with Tim from The Donkeys at our favorite coffee stand... ever... and after casually chatting with him and listening to  his bands' amazing music (on repeat), I knew we needed to be friends. Embarrassingly enough, I hadn't heard of The Donkeys until I met Tim. I wish I had. But in all honesty, they're my perfect band: a mix of chill and relaxing sounds with an oldies kind of vibe. In one word, their music is timeless.

How did The Donkeys come to be?
We've all known each other from high school. We're from Orange County and Sam and I went to the same high school. We were all in bands for years and shared a practice space. Eventually all the bands broke up and so the people who were left kept jamming and The Donkeys were formed.

What has been your proudest moment thus far in your career with The Donkeys?
When we got a song on Lost. The producer contacted us; there's a ficticous band throughout the series and he heard one of our songs and he loved it. So we rerecorded it to make it more "Lost-centric" and it was really exciting! It felt really cool. Also, last summer we were on tour with the Hold Steady. They were a lot bigger than us and the crowd was great in DC. It was cool to have a room that full of people excited to see us. And it made me realize that I want that crowd.

What artists do you look up to?
I was raised on David Bowie; he was a big influence on me. Same with the Rolling Stones. And I love Brian Eno; I spent a lot of time buying records that he was on or that he made.

What's the biggest struggle you and the band have faced as musicians?
I'd love to make a living making music but I'm still forced to have a day job. It's hard. I work every night on the weekends when I'm not playing a show and I work two jobs to support the one job that doesn’t make any money. I told myself I'd do it until it didn’t make sense anymore but it still makes sense because each record has been better than the last. The new record has some of my favorite songs thus far. I like the direction that it's going on.

As a band, we weirdly didn’t have to struggle with the usual touring troubles. A friend needed a backup and opening band so he took us with him and it opened doors for us. Since we were touring, we could get to everyone and play for them. Everything fell into place. But there are four of us, all creatively in control and trying to make decisions and we're always 50/50. I can see how a solo career might be easier though I've never thought of going solo. I like collaborating; I like making music with these guys.

How would you say The Donkeys' music has progressed?
When you listen, there's a bit of a progression from the previous albums but right now, it's going in the same direction. It has a little more of a cohesive vibe and energy throughout. It feels “beachy” and we sound like southern California. 

Your album art is pretty awesome. Tell us about it!
This is one of the things that we "fight" over! The four of us trying make a decision on the art for our albums. Anthony is a graphic artist and we're all aesthetically inclined and want our own say. But anyways! We hired someone this time named Tony Millionaire who's done some comic strips and graphic novels .

What are your (and The Donkeys) long term goals?
I really want to get to Europe on the next record; it's gotta happen. We have label representation over there so we'd hopefully start in London or somewhere in Spain. 

What can we look forward to from The Donkeys in the future?
We're almost done with the newest record. I'd say we're 99.9 percent done recording it. We just need to finish some tracking and mix it.

If you had 24 hours to show an out-of-towner around San Diego, where would you take them?
Definitely coffee at Roast Coach or Coffee & Tea Collective. I go to Influx a lot… they make all their own pastries, so maybe there too. Mitch's Seafood in Point Loma for lunch... Whistle Stop for some drinks and depending on who is visiting, I'd take them to Hamilton's... though I'm kind of into cider right now. If someone cool is playing at the Casbah, I'd take them there; it's quintessential San Diego. Finally, I'd take them to see the Star of India (a ship) and then we'd stop at Mona Lisa for an eggplant parmesan sandwich or a caprese sandwich… those are some of my favorite past times.

"Like" them on Facebook.
Listen to their music (which is also on Spotify).
Do whatever you have to do... but The Donkeys will be your new favorite band!

Monday, November 5


Recently, I've really taken a liking to Instagram. For the longest time, I couldn't figure it out... but now I kind of love it! This is what my life's been looking like lately... San Francisco and Chicago with some of my favorite people and lots of snacks. Life is good. 

Let's be Insta-Pals! 

Tuesday, October 30

inspired by locals: dave from home

As I've mentioned before, my neighborhood has some pretty awesome spots... most of which are run by small business owners. Recently, I befriended Dave Ross, co-owner of HOME, an adorable yet edgy boutique in the heart of North Park. Read on to hear what inspired him to quit the corporate world and follow his passion for marketing and branding:

dave ross, co-owner of home 

Your logo is pretty iconic. Tell us the story behind it!
The HOME logo was designed by our uncle and his wife, Cynthia and Richard Ross. HOME was a bar in New York City in 1969... it was open for 10 years and our unclesold it in '79. HOME as a bar was a safehaven, it was off the beaten path, 92nd and 2nd in Manhattan,so it brought in a lot of artists and musicians. Our uncle (Richard Ross) became fast friends with John Lennon. They partied, yachted, even though they weren’t sailors and drove fancy cars around together, just living it up. The whole time John lived in NYC, they blossomed into spiritual friends. Anyways, when John was being deported from New York, he wore the HOME shirt to signify that NYC was his home. It was one of the most photographed tees John wore.

photo courtesy of espacio alternativo... does this guy look familiar?

Why did you decide to open a retail store?
I worked in the action sports industry for two decades in marketing and brand development so I had a branding background. I got to a point where I wanted to work with my family and get a businesss to its full potential. Plus we loved the logo [from our uncle's bar] and we wanted to pay homage to our uncle and the friendships he had with people, the kind that signified a fun aspect of American life. Our first retail store opened in Encinitas 10 years ago. We've had the North Park store for two years now. People love the fact that HOME has to do with John Lennon because The Beatles touched so many peoples’ souls. So it was just kind of a give in.

adrian ross: buyer

Why did you choose to open your stores in San Diego?
My dad's from the Bronx my mom's from upstate [New York]. They left New York because they wanted a change in their lifestyle. They were raised in a certain type of household and they wanted to explore themselves while they were young and ambitious. They wanted to find themselves. So I was born and raised in San Diego as well as my partners and brothers, Nick and Adrian.

How do you plan on growing the brand?
We've talked about having more stores and building the brand. We just want to concentrate on getting more shoppers out and teaming up with clothing retail stores here to build awareness that North Park isn’t just a place to come to drink and have dinner but you could spend the whole day here shopping and enjoying what the neighborhood has to offer.

What makes your store stand out against the other shops inSan Diego?
We offer well-rounded products at great prices. Adrian is the main buyer and he's really talented at merchandising stores. He takes into consideration the neighborhor and who he wants to dress. But I think HOME is special because there's something for everyone... almost. We take pieces of existing clothing and reengineer the pieces to make them unique, mostly jackets, denim vests, mostly mens. We also buy off the public. We believe that a mercantile company is a unique blend of vintage and local jewelry designers and brands. We sell 60 percent new and 40 percent vintage/used clothing.

What do you think makes North Park a special neighborhood?
It's packed full of magic! Haha, it’s a nice blend of what downtown can offer without the congestion. There are eclectic stores and restaurants, mostly owned by small business owners. The people who live and work in the community are awesome and then there are a few dangerous guys who keep it interesting.

Visit Dave and spiff up your fall wardrobe at one of HOME's two locations

North Park, San Diego
3013 University Ave.

Encinitas, San Diego
629 South Coast Highway 101