Friday, December 16, 2016

Day 351: Lotion on the go!

With winter and dry weather fast approaching, keeping your skin well hydrated is important. And nothing takes more damage than your hands. I've gotten into the habit of tossing one tube of L'Occitane hand cream into all my bags. It is part of my on flight carry bag I take with me as well. They also make good stocking stuffers!  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day 297: Hot journals

I am obsessed with journals. I don't know what attracts me to them. Maybe because a new one is like a blank canvas, the endless white untouched pages just waiting to be used. I collect them, and have them in all shapes in sizes. Hard covers, soft covers. Lined, unlined. Large ones that rival newly released books, and small ones that can fit in the palm of my hand. In fact these smaller ones are great because I toss them in my purse in case I need to make a note of something, or keep never ending grocery lists.  

When I travel I use them to make notes both before I depart. Any research I've done pre-trip like places to go, restaurants to try, and other must-sees. During the trip, I still jot down things I've discovered or epiphanies I've made. I tend to shop for them too when I travel. Airports and museum gift stores are my favorite spots. On my latest trip I picked up a Dan Bennett Magneto Blank book at the Dusseldorf airport. I was attracted to the colorful cover. I had picked up a planner with his art in 2010 from the San Francisco art museum store. This airport by the way had many notebooks to chose from, and I even saw them a new Moleskin store set to open up as well!  

One of the smallest notebooks that I have, and incidentally the most expensive one, is from Smythson in London. This featherweight paper that was copyrighted in 1916 is so elite that each page is watermarked. The patent leather covers come in many colors and you can even get one with a cheeky phrase. I chose one in a hot pink color that said "Supermum" in bold, gold embossed letters. When I got it packaged the cashier asked me if it was a gift, and I said "Yes, it's a gift for me."  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Day 266: Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

"Fresh" from my trip to the French and Italian Riviera, I fell in love with yet another European breakfast staple. When you order the drink, the bar keeper will pull out fresh oranges and make the juice right on the spot. You can't get more fresh than that!

When I got home, along with croissants, I longed for the sweet tang of those morning juices. Packed away in the back of my kitchen cupboard is a simple manual squeezer with a glass jar attached to it. I pulled it out of it's retirement and put it work!Though it looks very nice, I found that my wooden lemon squeezer and a good old fashioned fork were more effective.  

I got four large naval oranges and cut them in half, not along the core but perpendicular to it. With the four oranges I got about 12 ounces, or a serving and a half. It was juice enough to quench my thirst, but to enjoy more I may have to resort to buying it from the grocery store!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Day 245: You do you

Happy September! With Fall right at our fingertips, it's a great time to take inventory of your wardrobe. I'm someone who doesn't follow trends, though I like to window shop and gather ideas from my favorite fashion magazines. I came across this in the latest issue of Marie Claire. This is so true for me, even from when I was a teenager.  It's so important for you to do you!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 234: DIY friendship necklace with tassels

Homebound for a few days, and tired of coloring in my meditative coloring book, I decided to make a friendship necklace.  I got a multicolor pack from Target, and some latches from Wal-mart and viola! The final product is a long necklace with multiple tassels that can be worn as is or doubled up!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 222: Travel must have

When traveling internationally, packing light can be a challenge. I consider myself pretty low key when it comes to beauty essentials, but I find the most frustrating things to pack are hair accessories. To get it under control my thick quick-to-frizz hair requires either a large barrel curling iron or a high quality straight iron. And even when I do pack these hair tools they often go unused because I can't find time (or space) to do my hair properly, or because of voltage issues.  

Enter the CHI Escape Cordless Hair Iron.  With a 220V plug it can easily be used while on the go or when traveling internationally. Though the battery doesn't stay charged for too long (about 20 minutes) it has enough juice to clean up your tresses in no time! Not to mention it's cordless, so you can do it anywhere. Travelgram, here I come!

CHI Escape Cordless Hair Iron, $109.99 at

Friday, July 29, 2016

Day 210: Vintage that never gets old

Something about fall, and the back to school sales makes me want to get a new pair of sneakers. Though my school days are long gone, I get tempted every decade or so by one of my school time favorites. These Converse Chuck Taylor Shoreline kicks were on sale, and since I already have a pair of neutral tan ones, I got them in turquoise. They have enough of a pop of color to seem interesting, but pleasantly go with most of my outfits and pair well with jeans. And who doesn't like a bright clean pair of shoes at the start of a new school year?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Day 158: Jamie Oliver's Steak and Chips

I tend to watch a lot of cooking shows while I'm traveling. I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe because I don't get the Food network at home, nor do I have time to watch it! But I've stumbled across some of my favorite recipes from celebrity chefs while channel surfing in hotel rooms.

I've never tried a Jamie Oliver recipe (though I've gotten many of his cookbooks as gifts for friends.) Like most of his recipes, it's meant to be simple, economical and for the most part, healthy.  I have also never made steak before and it was super easy on a cast iron skillet.  It came out super yummy for the first time I'd ever made steak!  


800 g baking potatoes
olive oil
optional:  2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 small onion
100 g button mushrooms, or whatever you can find
50 ml cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
400 g frozen French beans
4 cloves of garlic
500 g flank steak

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 Celsius). Halve the potatoes and slice them into wedges. Put in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, then drain and tip into roasting tray. Drizzle oil over it, adding salt and pepper per taste. Toss with rosemary leaves (if using) and roast for 40 minutes or until golden and crispy, turning over occasionally.

2.  Peel and slice the onion along with the mushroom. Put the vegetables into a medium pan on medium heat with salt and pepper to taste and a drizzle of oil. Cook for 10 minutes or until lightly golden, then add cream, mustard and a splash of water. Lower the heat and simmer, adding water if needed.  

3.  Put the frozen beans into a large frying pan on medium heat with some oil. Stir to help them defrost. Peel and slice the garlic, adding to the beans once all the liquid has evaporated. Lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes until crispy and golden.

4.  Season the steak with salt and pepper, rubbing with a little oil. Pound with a mallet to flatten and tenderize. The steak should be flat now, about 1/2" - 1" in thickness. Sear in a cast iron skillet (or hot frying pan) to a high heat. Turn every minute for 5-6 minutes for medium-rare, or until cooked to your liking. Add thyme or rosemary for last 2 minutes. Remove to a board, letting it rest for 2 minutes.  Add any resting juices to the mushroom sauce and season.  Spoon the mushroom sauce over the steak and serve with potato wedges on the side.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 126: Cinco de Mayo! Sippin' on some Virgin Margaritas!

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Mexican food. But somehow I planned a playdate on May 5th, and thought why not have a Cinco de Mayo themed playdate? Aside from sombrero related crafts, I thought my mom friends might like to kick back with some virgin Margaritas and let our kids make their own soft and hard tacos.  

Here is one of the recipes I used! I even rimmed some of my plastic Ikea cups and let the kids have a bit!


1 lime
2 cups orange juice
4 cups limeade
4 ounces simple syrup*  

1. In a large jug, squeeze the juice of one lime.  Set aside to use latter to rim the glasses.

2. Add the orange juice, limeade, and simple syrup.  

3. If a blended drink is desired, add orange juice mixture to a dozen ice cubes in a blender and blend on high speed until completely blended.

4. To rim glasses, take the lime halves and trace them over rims of glasses.  Spread sugar over a small plate or saucer.  Then put the glass face down in the small plate, covering the rim neatly with the sugar.

5. Pour mixture over ice in rimmed glasses, or from blender into rimmed glasses.  Sip and enjoy! 

Serves 4

* This can be easily made by adding equal parts water and sugar and heating up in a sauce pan on the stove

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 125: Cinco de Mayo! Pico de Gallo for tacos!

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Mexican food. But I somehow planned a playdate on May 5th, and thought why not have a Cinco de Mayo themed playdate? Aside from sombrero related crafts, I thought my mom friends might like to kick back with some virgin Margaritas and let our kids make their own soft and hard tacos.  

I had store bought taco shells and tortillas, and had shredded lettuce, ground beef, cheese and this pico de gallo as another filling.  


3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 lime, juice
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix!

2. Serve alongside tortilla chips, or as an addition to salads or tacos.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 124: Guacamole, Gua-Guacamole! Cinco de Mayo preparations continue...

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Mexican food. But I somehow planned a playdate on May 5th, and thought why not have a Cinco de Mayo themed playdate? Aside from sombrero related crafts, I thought my mom friends might like to kick back with some virgin margaritas and let our kids make their own soft and hard tacos.  

Here is one of the recipes I used for the guacamole. It was nice to use as a dip with tortilla chips and as a filling for the tacos!


4 ripe avocados
1/2 lime, juice
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 medium tomato, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 tsp sea salt

1.  Peel and deseed the avocado.

2.  Squeeze lime juice over it and mix.

3.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Can use the cilantro to garnish as well.

Honestly, this was the last thing on my list of things to make, and deseeding and peeling the avocado took a lot of time.  My guests were about to arrive, so I decided to use a food processor instead of doing it by hand. Though it was a little more pureed then I had hoped it to be, it was still very good!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 123: Mexican Fried Ice Cream

I have to admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Mexican food. But I somehow planned a playdate on May 5th, and thought why not have a Cinco de Mayo themed playdate? Aside from sombrero related crafts, I thought my mom friends might like to kick back with some virgin margaritas and let our kids make their own soft and hard tacos.  

Here is one of the recipes I used.  The trick is to work quickly, and to do about three at a time and then put them in the freezer before they melt.  


2 L container of vanilla ice cream
2 cups of frosted flakes cereal
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1. Scoop out the ice cream onto wax or parchment paper.  Put in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

2. Crush the cereal by hand, and add the cinnamon.  Mix thoroughly.

3. Spread the mixture into a pan.

4. Have a small tray or tupperware box ready.  As you take the scoops of ice cream out, roll quickly and thoroughly to coat it completely with the cereal mixture.

5. Serve with honey if desired.  Serves 12.

This was a hit with the kids, and parents!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Day 105: Strawberry Petit Fours

Sometimes you need just a bite of cake!  These cute and delicious petit fours are easy to make, and with the blueberry on top gives it a burst of fruit that goes nicely with the sweet buttercream frosting.  To bake the cake you will need three square eight inch cake pans.  You can use round ones, but you may have excess edges that you can use to make cake pops or enjoy on your own.  The cake is from's recipe for Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Birthday cake.    I like this recipe versus other vanilla cake recipes because it is super simple and I have most of the ingredients at home.  Even though the original recipe calls for self-rising flour and all purpose flour, I simplified that by adding the baking powder and salt to regular all purpose flour.  They are a wonderful treat for a bridal shower or baby shower this Spring!

To make the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
blueberries (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and lightly flour three square 8 inch cake pans (or one large cake pan), then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

2.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually until fluffy.

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  

  1. 4.  Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add to the wet mixture, alternating in four cycles with the milk and vanilla.  Beat well after each addition.  
  2. 5.  Divide the batter among the cake pans.
6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire racks.

Strawberry buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
8-10 strawberries

1.  Rinse and dry the strawberries.  Cut off the stems.  Puree them in a food processor or blender.

2.  In an electric mixer, cream the butter.  Add the confectioner's sugar, mix well.

3.  Add the strawberry mix.  Due to excess water from the strawberries, you may need to add more confectioner's sugar to improve consistency.  It should be soft, but not runny.

Once the cakes are completely cool, you can adde the frosting.  To make the petit fours, cut the cake into 1" - 1.5" cubes.  You make need to trim the edges off to get a nice clean edge.  Add one blueberry to the top for decoration. 

Yields 70 petit fours.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Day 100: MY KonMarie checklist

We are officially in Spring, and with that comes Spring cleaning!

Last fall I picked up the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Since then I've been wanting to start the method, but haven't had the courage to do it.  It all seems too daunting, going through all your personal affects while following a strict, but proven method.

The book that has the title that promises to change your life.

For those unfamiliar with it, the KonMarie method is a way to go through all your belongings by asking one single question of each item:  Does it spark joy?  The idea is to surround yourself only with things that "spark" joy, and to declutter superfluous items.  Sometimes we needlessly hang on to things, such as gifts, because we appreciate the gesture or it brings back good memories.  Marie Kondo, the author of the book and creator of the method, says we need to cherish the meanings and experiences behind these items, not keep them around, taking up valuable living space in our homes, because we feel obliged too.

There are many rules in the KonMarie method, such as you can only do your own items.  This means I can't donate all of my husband's old rarely worn t-shirts just because I want more space in my closet!  You have to stick to your own items.  Lay out all your items in one particular category in one place so you can see how much of one thing you have.  Say if you wanted to clean out your sock drawer, you have to put out all your socks right in front of you.  If you find a pair of socks later that were forgotten somewhere, you have to get rid of them regardless of whether or not it sparks joy.  Speaking of socks, apparently donning them up distresses them too much.  By them I mean the socks!  So they need to be folded in thirds.  Likewise t-shirts need to be folded a certain way.

Once the decision has been made to discard (she uses the word "discard" a lot, let's hope she means donate) the items, you can't go back.  For example, if you have a trash bag of things to donate sitting next to your front door, you are not allowed to rummage through it again.  Commit to the decision!  She found with her own clients that if they did find they had discarded something that they needed, they could often find a way around it.  And to them the cost of getting rid of everything else that went along with it was still worth it.

The book itself has a lot of good pointers, though it is not completely applicable to parents.  The idea of laying out all of my clothes and organizing them one by one frightens me because I have two toddlers endlessly running around.  I guess I could resign myself to doing it when they go to sleep, but I know even doing one category will take at least a few hours, so it's either organize or sleep!  (By the way, I choose sleep).

There are a few things I have already started.  She says that when you come home, empty your bag or purse.  Put all the items back where they belong, or have a centralized place where you keep your daily essentials (wallet, keys, cell phone).  When you go through your bag daily, you save yourself from all the receipts and wrappers that inevitably get crumbled up on the bottom.

My personalized KonMarie Method Checklist.
There are plenty of checklists and flowcharts available for the KonMarie method.  I looked at a bunch of them, and skimmed through the book and came up with my own personalized chart that I put together in ten minutes on PowerPoint.  I encourage you to do the same.  We all have different things that we have more or less of.  You can even make it fancy with different fonts, colors, and images.  I also have a section that goes through each room in the house, working sequentially from the master bedroom all the way through the house.  I know Marie Kondo doesn't like thinking like that, but I prefer to compartmentalize my cleaning.

Now with a game plan, I'm ready to spend the next few weeks/months/years spring cleaning.  Wish me luck!  Will it change my life?  We'll have to wait and see...

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 91: Shanghai Tang coin purse

I am constantly shopping, which means when I travel I shop. There is nothing more perfect that finding something when you are abroad that is not only beautiful, but functional and one of a kind. It's like you can imagine someone asking you where you got that little souvenir, and you have to apologetically say "I got it in _______ (insert any exotic destination)."

On my recent Asian travels I've been introduced to the store Shanghai Tang. A frequent mall find, imagine Banana Republic with an Far East Asian twist. The last time I visited it's store in Hong Kong I got a beautiful red cord bracelet with a jade piece in the center.  My latest acquisition, a baby blue quilted coin purse, also has a jade accent on it's side tassel.  I had been searching for a coin purse that was just big enough to fill all my necessary IDs and credit cards, while also allowing me to put some change in it.  This piece is one that I absolutely adore, and will look forward to using it on a daily basis!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 89: Give a gift bag

Giving a gift is usually about the gift inside, unless it comes in one of these colorful gift bags.  I was initially drawn the vibrant color when I came across these at the House of Fraser.  At first I thought they were napkins holders!  With their delicate crescent moons on top, and dome structure, these mosque-resembling bags would be great at Eid parties for kids gift bags during Ramadan.  

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 88: Covetable China

The housewares section in department stores is one of my favorite sections to wander through.  Nothing can update your hospitality skills so efficiently as a few new pieces mixed in with classic pieces, or colors matched in fresh ways.  

I fell in love with the chinoiserie green dinnerware set from the Wedgwood Jasper Conran collection.  These pieces of fine bone china with delicate green and blue flower designs, contrasted with the white napkins and sterling silverware bring a modern element to a luncheon or tea.  Add some white roses, lilies or hydrangeas to the table and you're all set to host!

Wedgwood Jasper Conran collection, available at House of Fraser.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 74: Travel Yoga Mat

It's not always easy to make time to exercise when you travel.  Even staying at a hotel with a well equipt gym, you may not have the motivation or be to jet lagged to conform to their operating hours.  On occasion, all I've wanted to do was do a few yoga stretches or some basic strengthening moves, so I've borrowed the yoga mats from the gym.  Some hotels, like the Mandarin Oriental chain, has a yoga mat available in the room!

That's when I decided that I need to have a yoga mat that can travel with me.  There are a few listed on Amazon, but I went with The Khataland YoFoMat one because he had the best reviews.  After four trips with it so far, I am happy with how it's performed.  Even if I'm using it only once I feel like it's a good investment because it keeps me balanced and more in tune with my body when I am traveling. 

The Khataland YoFoMat is easy to fold and comes with it's own carrying case.  Inside the case, you'll find a placard that has a few yoga moves on it if you need suggestions for energizing yoga poses.  There is a line that goes down the middle to aid in folding, but it comes in handy to keep your alignment.

Now whenever I travel, I make sure to pack my toothbrush, and my yoga mat!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Day 47: The "it" color

My obsession with blue nail color has be replaced now with bright fluorescent hues.  It's like I want to it be spring already!  Though bright colors are usually reserved for the warmer months, you can totally rock a bright shade as it goes well with gray, and black fashion staples.

When I friend asked me what shade I had on, I said that it was the "it" color.  Before I could sound too much like an arrogant trendsetter, I said that's actually what's it's called!  OPI's marigold yellow is all you need to brighten your toes in the cool of February.  That's why it's February's shade of the month!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 30: Roasted sweet potato salad

As I've posted before, I'm trying to increase the amount of veggies in my diet.  I tend to stick to veggies I love, and sweet potatoes are one of them.  Instead of eating them "straight up" I've added them to salads, and enjoyed the outcome!  Whether they are hot or cold, roasted sweet potato salad is a new favorite of mine.  It doesn't even require a dressing.  In fact I found that dressing, even a light vinaigrette, takes away from the sweet potato taste.  You can pre-roast the veggies and serve them warm or cold with the salad.  


2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper
8 oz baby spinach leafs
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into quarter moon chunks.
2.  Toss them in the olive oil, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste.
3.  Spray a glass or metal pan with non-stick cooking oil and spread the sweet potatoes evenly.  Roast at 400F for 60 minutes, stopping at 30 minutes to flip the sweet potatoes to the other side.
4.  Cut the bell pepper into thin strips.  Line them in a pre-treated pan, and roast at 400F for 25 minutes.
5.  Add the sweet potatoes and bell peppers and toss.  Add a honey mustard, balsamic vinaigrette dressing if desired.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 25: Dirty works works!

The older I get, the more I realize that taking care of my skin is incredibly important.  Since the age of twelve I've been using the Clinique 3-step system religiously.  But for more intense up keep, like exfoliating, I've been experimenting.  

I recently came across these British products in a grocery store, of all places.  I wanted to try an at home weekly mask to clean my pores.  A quick search on my phone from the aisle told me that these were quality products, so I tossed them along with the rest of my groceries and decided to try them at home.

Dirty Works Pore-fect Face Scrub has anti-oxidant properties that reduced skin's aging.  Touting pomegranate and raspberry extract, this scrub was light and easy to apply.  Immediately after I put a thick layer of my Kiehl's moisturizer on and felt like my skin was smooth and soft to the touch well into the next day.  

The following evening I tried Dirty Works Detox Mud Mask.  This one claims to have blueberry and willow bark extract.  Honestly I hate using masks, but this one was so easy to take off, I didn't even need a rag like it recommended.  A generous amount of water washed all of it off.  

Since it was the first time I used these products, I used them one at a time.  But next time I will use them together.  It will definitely be a staple in my skin care regime!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Day 22: Good and easy chocolate buttercream frosting

I had resigned myself to the fact that my homemade buttercream frosting was meant to be chalky.  No matter what I did - cream the butter more, add vanilla, add cream cheese - it still had that consistency where you could taste where the confectioner's sugar met the butter instead of being melded together in buttercream perfection.

Yesterday I happened across this recipe to frost cupcakes, and I was skeptical at first.  I was supposed to melt the butter?  It seemed like more work, and I was hesitant since I had guests coming over and these cupcakes were my plan for dessert.  However, this recipe is one I'll repeat again since it came out so wonderfully!  I made a few changes to the original recipe, lowering the amount of vanilla and confectioner's sugar.  


1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk 

1.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat.
2.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and stir.
3.  Put the confectioner's sugar in a mixing bowl.  Add the chocolate mixture and stir on a stand mixer or with hand mixer.  The mixture will be crumbly and dry.
4.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time to desired consistency.

Even after I put the chocolate mixture into the sugar, I was worried.  It was looking dry and crumbly - not at all frosting-like.  I was about to have my husband run the grocery store to pick up a tub of store made frosting.  But after I added the milk, like magic it became this silky milk chocolate frosting which turned out to be the highlight of dessert!  I added the first tablespoon just to have it mixed in and ready.  When my cupcakes had cooled sufficiently and were ready for frosting, I added the other tablespoon.  It spread easily, and after about 20 minutes the frosting had become more firm atop the cupcakes.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 19: live. laugh. love.

I've always loved birds on a wire pictures.  One Friday night at home I decided to do this with pastels.  It didn't take too long, about an hour an a half.  I sized it so that it will fit a frame at IKEA.  For this meme, I added the text.  It seems to fit perfectly with the picture of two lovebirds, sitting together, watching the sun set.  

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day 17: Winter flower bouquet

Have you ever been at the grocery store, ready to rush out the door, but were tempted by the pre-made bouquets in the floral department?  

It seems so easy right?  To grab an okay looking bouquet, feeling like you're getting a deal even though you are just getting a few flowers you really like, surrounded by a bunch of filler flowers you really don't like.  

It seems silly to spend $15 to $20 on something that's going to wilt die in a weeks times.  It seems even sillier to only like a fraction of the flowers you are buying too!  After all my years of buying pre-grocery bouquets, I have found a better way to make the most out of my floral budget.  

I don't get flowers that often - it's usually when we guests coming to visit, or if I'm throwing a dinner party.  But now, I bypass the easy pick-up flower section and go straight to the florist.  Now, this doesn't mean you have to skip the grocery story altogether.  Stores like Wegman's or Harris Teeter have a pretty good selection, and their staff is knowledgable enough.  

The first thing I start with is my budget.  I let them know how much I want to spend, and then pick the flowers I mainly want first.  I ask for their advice, and usually they will throw in some filler flowers and green foliage at no extra charge.  

You don't even need that many flowers for a centerpiece.  Once I got a few orchards, some sticks, and a long banana leaf that made a very nice and modern looking centerpiece.   

Below is my latest floral arrangement that I picked out last weekend.  They had fresh peonies that I couldn't resist, and I accented them with some white hydrangeas, my favorite and go-to flower.  And the best part - it was under my budget!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 13: Not your average candy bar

Lucky for me, candy aisle temptations at the grocery store are few and far between.  But over the holidays I couldn't resist this trio of organic chocolates near the register at Whole Foods.  

Lake Champlain chocolates are gourmet chocolates from Vermont.  This chocolate company prides itself on it's bean-to-bar chocolate production, even harvesting their own bee's to make honey to sweeten the chocolate.  They have also collected accolades for their Fair Trade practices.

I couldn't decide what flavor to get, so I decided on all three:  Fruit & Nut, Peanut, and Granola.  Peanut butter was by far my favorite!  Besides Whole Foods, you can find them at other organic grocery stories like Roots and Mom's Organic Market.  Or you can order it online here.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 12: Inspiration

I usually don't like inspirational boards.  I kind of laugh to myself when I see so many at every boutique, and home decor store.  But, lately I've been finding a few that hit me a way that is endearing.  Some of them I would like to put in my house where only I would see, like in my walk-in closet or mud room.  Not all of them apply 100% to me, but I like this one the best.  Good reminders for every family!  

"In this house:  we laugh...a lot, 
we try our best, we are patient most of the time, 
we tell the truth, we support each other, 
we hug often, we make mistakes, we never give up, 
we always forgive, we keep our promises, we always have fun, 
but above all we love"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day 11: Mo' Butter Blues

If you asked me fifteen years ago if blue nail polish was here to stay I would have said no.  Who knew that would become so ubiquitous?  And with some many shades?

My personal favorites come from the butter London line.  When I was pregnant, I was extra careful about what nail polish I used, making sure it had no formaldehyde, no toluene and no DBP.  Depending on my mood and the season,  I can go from the darker shade of "Big Smoke" to the teal shade of "Slapper" and the more subtle "Poole."  In any case, these shades will be sure to chase away the blues.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 6: Read more books

I found this book at a local bookstore and couldn't resist!  I have to admit, towards the end of 2015 I found myself reading more.  I was reading before bedtime, and not just from an eReader but from actual real books!  It felt more soothing to hold paper and read a non-electronic screen to help ease me into bedtime.  For book club this month we are reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Safak.  Hopefully it'll re-introduce me to the poetry of Rumi and make for some lively discussions!

Other books on my to read list:


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion 

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern

Euphoria by Lily King

Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev


The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

House on First by Julia Reed

Building Moral Intelligence by Dr. Michele Borba

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 3: The key to Tiffany's

Though Christmas may have past, the warmth of the holidays still lingers on. As does the glitter of it as so many towns and business every year seem to lengthen the holiday season into the new year. I myself am still drawn to this seasons offerings from Tiffany's. The keys are such a timeless addition to the collection. Not to mention the charms which add a sense of playfulness to such a legendary jewelry store.  Visit for prices and availability.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Day 1 of 2016

One year ago I started this project, not knowing how it would go.  My goal was to make a journal, or catalog if you will, of the creative and lifestyle ambitions in my day-to-day life.  I wanted to make note of the small changes in my life, something that over the course of a year you can't really appreciate or sometimes even remember!  I especially like that it is a quick catalog of my frequent recipes, and I can easily access them from wherever I am.  

How was 2015 for me, you might ask.  As my toddler would say, "It was great!" (This is his typical response for everything).  I fine-tuned a few of my go-to recipes, and though my health and wellness initiations were at times short lived, I lost just over 10 pounds.  I traveled to cities I'd never been before like Prague, Vienna, and Hong Kong.  I also traveled to some of my favorite cities like New York, Paris, and Hyderabad, India.

So here we are at the start of the a new year.  I'm going to try to divide my categories into the following, alternating through them.

1.  Recipes (Knives and Whisks):  I will continue to provide easy to make recipes, that aren't too indulgent, and including dinner, entertaining and snacking options.

2.  Health and Wellness:  this will continue to include fitness, and living well tips.

3.  Style and Beauty:  I'm going to try to work on this section.  Many things when it comes to style and beauty I gloss over because I feel like it is redundant.  And style is so subjective, everyone has their own personal preferences.  I don't want to impose my sense of style over someone else's.

4.  Home decor and organization:  after reading the book about the KonMarie method, I'm going to try to implement it this year!

5.  Literal:  I started a local bookclub, and will be logging my favorite reads through that.

6.  Travel:  again, I'm going to try to focus on this more, maybe shifting my travel writing to this blog.

Here's wishing you health, wealth and happiness in the new year!