Friday Favorites, and So Long 2016

December 30, 2016

It's kind of crazy, and exhilarating at the same time, to think that in less than 48 hours we'll be existing in an entirely new year. For many of my friends and family, as well as complete strangers on social media, 2016 can't be over fast enough; it's been a year marked by tragedy, from fatal, unjustifiable police shootings and a seemingly endless list of celebrity deaths to an historical election that proved to be the most controversial ever, and terrorist attacks that have left our hearts broken and our minds reeling. And Aleppo. It has been an ugly year, indeed. 

But I would be remiss if I let this, my last post of 2016, highlight only the misfortune and pain of the year without also mentioning the many wonderful moments and bits of magic that happened in the past 365 days. There was the victory for the Standing Rock protestors, the removal of the giant panda bear, green sea turtle, and humpback whales from the endangered species list, and Simone Biles (yes, of course, all of the Americans who won gold at the Olympics...but mostly Simone Biles). Scientists discovered a 100% effective vaccine against the Ebola virus, world hunger reached its lowest point in over two decades, and charitable donations in the US and other countries reached record highs. 

On a personal level, after two years of living apart and only seeing one another on weekends (due to my husband's job), we purchased our first home and my family is now living under one roof; both of my little girls are in perfect health and are as happy as can be; and I had a few breakthroughs and small victories with my writing. I'm looking forward to more growth, more opportunities, and more learning in 2017. And I'm wishing you all happiness, health, and prosperity in the new year! God bless!

This throwback look from Christian Dior--so perfectly '90s.

DIY marbled Oreos.

A wildflower champagne cocktail that would be gorgeous for tomorrow night's festivities.

This fly girl.  

A pink record player.

10 Just For Fun Resolutions for a Happy New Year

December 29, 2016

The beginning of a new year is when people are most inspired to make significant changes in their lives--losing weight and getting shape, getting out of debt, quitting their job to pursue their dream, etc; it's as if the world is magically transformed when the clock strikes twelve on January 1, and all the things that seemed impossible before are suddenly ours for the taking. But all too often those great big hopes become smaller and smaller, and our resolutions become afterthoughts. Instead of putting all that pressure on yourself, here is a list of just-for-fun resolutions that may not be entirely life changing, but will offer some enjoyment and adventure in 2017. Do them, or don't--no biggie either way. 

1. Start learning a new language.
2. Try a type of cuisine you've never eaten.
3. Create your own masterpiece at a local Paint Nites event.
4. Make a list of books you've been wanting to read.
5. Actually read at least one of the above books (this may not seem possible if you have children, but even if you only read a few pages a day you'll feel like you're winning).
6. Find a fun class to take, such as sushi making, photography, or lyrical jazz dance.
7. Celebrate your birthday like a kid--get excited about it, tell everyone you happen to pass on the street that it's your birthday,  wear a tiara, blow out your candles, and, instead of worrying about the calories in the cake, just eat a slice.
8. Cook more of your favorite recipes, even the ones that are excruciatingly time consuming (that's what weekends are for).
9. Use the power of the interwebs to track down an old friend you haven't seen in a long time.
10. Buy yourself a gorgeous pair of shoes that are outside of your budget (even if that means skipping a few happy hours).

image via

Wordsmith Wednesday: Epicene

December 28, 2016

Here's where I share my favorite words with you. Because savvy girls have impressive vocabularies.

Wordsmith Wednesday: Evince

December 21, 2016

Here's where I share my favorite words with you. Because savvy girls have impressive vocabularies.

Friday Favorites

December 16, 2016

Today my daughters woke up to a sign from their elf, Ellie, announcing that there are only nine days left until Christmas--how can that be?! Wasn't it just June? Now I've got a little over a week to find time to take a drive out to see some awesome Christmas lights, go ice skating, make a gingerbread house, take pictures with Santa's helper (my girls know that the bearded guy in the mall is just a helper because the real Santa is extremely busy), and finish up my holiday shopping. And I haven't even wrapped a single gift! Luckily, I work best under pressure. Have a great weekend, God bless, and may the force be with you!

Different ways to wear eyeliner. I'm obsessed!

Charming Amsterdam.

Christmas cookie sticks that look way better than regular old round cookies. 

These super pretty embellished socks

DIY 'Merry' pine garland

Wordsmith Wednesday: Alacrity

December 14, 2016

Here's where I share my favorite words with you. Because savvy girls have impressive vocabularies.

Life Lessons From the Movie Love Actually

December 13, 2016

Love Actually is a classic holiday movie, and it's definitely among my favorites (for the holidays and otherwise). It's a feel-good flick with valuable lessons about matters of the heart, like, finding love in a hopeless place, saying "I love you," and saying it often, and not letting a little thing like a language barrier stop you from being with the one you love. But if you look more closely at the film, you'll find that there are also precious life lessons that go beyond the romantic, "love conquers all" motif. Here are a few things we should try to remember in our every day lives.

Lesson #1: There comes a time when you have to put your own needs first. 
Laura Linney's character in the movie passes up a shot at romance with her crush to permanently care for her mentally ill brother; she puts his needs before her own, and basically succumbs to a loveless, sparkleless existence. All too often we make this same mistake in real life--we tend to the needs of others, we put the happiness of other people ahead of our own, we make ourselves less of a priority--and we risk missing out on a fulfilling, joy-filled life. Sometimes we've got to learn to say no to the demands of other people and put ourselves first.

Lesson #2: Wonderful things can come out of the most awkward or uncomfortable situations.
This is perhaps one of life's most difficult realities to accept, but it actually does apply to all of us. In the film, John and Judy are two body doubles, gracelessly fumbling around like a pair of shy teenagers (granted, they're working on a porn film set, and wind up simulating sex whilst naked--awkward), until they eventually turn their uncomfortable scenario into a love story. In real life, we all have to navigate some difficult and awkward situations, but if we can just hang tight, there could be an extraordinary reward waiting for us at the end. 

Lesson #3: Sometimes you've got to look elsewhere to find the thing you're after. 
In the movie, young Colin travels to the U.S. to find love after being rejected again and again by English women. This narrative can easily translate into all aspects of life--career, love, home, you name it. We are not meant to live our lives in the safe zone, and more often than not, the thing we want most is located on the other side of the comfortable little box we've placed ourselves in. If you've been searching and searching for the thing that will make you feel complete and happy, and you still haven't found it, it might be time to look elsewhere. 

Lesson #4: Know when to keep your mouth shut.
There are a lot of experts and a lot of books that will probably say otherwise, but sometimes it is best to keep your feelings to yourself. In this movie, Mark is in love with Juliet; Juliet is married to Peter; Peter and Mark are best friends; Mark keeps his big mouth shut. There is a moment where Mark shows up at the door with cards professing his feelings, but he never actually speaks the words. Our words wield the power to destroy, so we must not only choose them carefully, but we also need to know when it's best to say nothing at all. 

images via 1, 2, 3, 4

Friday Favorites

December 9, 2016

The last few weeks of 2016 are upon us, and even though the holiday season is my favorite, I'm not quite ready to welcome a new year. I wish I could freeze time and stretch the days'  most precious moments--my girls waking up to discover their elf or doing a silly dance with daddy when he gets home from work. Our new home feels especially cozy now, with our Christmas tree lit and scented candles burning, and I'm looking forward to a relaxed weekend with the people I love most in this world. Have yourself a merry little weekend, and God bless!

Tips for growing lavender, which I might like to try in the new year. It should be noted that I've never successfully cared for any type of herb, plant, or flower, so this should be interesting. 

DIY gold-tipped paper feathers that look stunning as gift toppers. 

A cozy backyard patio for SoCal winter evenings. 

Homemade peanut butter cups that I think my little girls will enjoy making. 

The most adorable rosemary wreath place cards for a holiday dinner party.

Wordsmith Wednesday: Brevity

December 7, 2016

Here's where I share my favorite words with you. Because savvy girls have impressive vocabularies.

Holiday Magic With Portable North Pole

December 6, 2016

The holiday season is my favorite time of year and I work hard to make it as memorable and special and magical as I can for my family. This includes, but is never limited to, creating holiday playlists, making special hot chocolate, complete with whipped cream and crushed candy cane bits, loads of baking, and Christmas movie marathons. 

One of my favorite traditions, which I started a few years ago when my big girl was a tot, is sending my daughters videos from Santa with the help of Portable North Pole. It started with a simple greeting from Santa Claus, but now my little ones love to see pictures of themselves in his big book, hear him talking directly to them, and learn whether they've made it to the good list, or if they'll be on the naughty list. It's simple to use--I upload a photo of each girl, input a little information about them, and an email with their video shows up in my inbox--and my little girls absolutely light up when I tell them their messages have arrived. Each year they're amazed that Santa knows them so intimately (like how my big girl loves to read and how I have to bribe my little one to eat her veggies). It adds so much to an already magical time and creates memories that they will carry with them forever. 

This year, Portable North Pole is better than ever with the addition of the Magic Pass! The 2016 Magic Pass includes unlimited Premium Santa Videos, a Reaction Recorder, phone calls from the man himself, HD Video downloads, a special Christmas Eve video, plus access to previous seasons' videos all for one price. And as my gift to you ('tis the season of giving, after all), I've partnered with Portable North Pole to offer you 20% off your purchase of a Magic Pass! First, visit and get registered, then click here to redeem your 20% discount--the discount is automatically deducted and you'll see the price difference right away. 
Alternatively, you can enter promo code PNP6INTBLGPFXG20 after you register, and you'll receive your special rate.

Happy holidays!

Friday Favorites

December 2, 2016

So I've committed myself to doing Elf on the Shelf this year. After a 4-year hiatus (our elf was packed away), Ellie the Elf is back and this mama has the challenge of coming up with clever ideas for our mischievous little elf for the next 23 days--thank God for Pinterest! I started yesterday, and seeing how excited my little girls were to see her made the effort more than worth it. I've adjusted the rules of the game a little (my angel babies are allowed to hug and kiss our elf), but otherwise I'll be finding new hiding spots for Ellie until Christmas Eve...I'm just praying I don't forget! Do you do the whole Elf on the Shelf thing, or do you have another way to count down the days until Christmas? I'd love to hear some ideas!

Enjoy your weekend, and God bless!

I've had two good friends lose a parent in recent weeks--this is a wonderful, and painfully true, reminder

Mushroom penne with walnut pesto is total comfort food for this cold weather.

Somewhere in Italy...(well, Ischia to be exact).

Bunny ears, Kate Spade style. 

Wonderful, wonderful,  WONDERFUL for the next 23 days!

Everything You Need to Know for an Amazing Holiday Season

December 1, 2016

Season's greetings and holiday blessings! Everyone who knows me (and even strangers in line at the Coffee Bean) can attest to how much I adore the holidays. And there isn't one particular aspect that I love most; it's the combination of it all--the Christmas tunes, the cold weather, the colorful decorations and twinkling lights, the festive mood in the air--it all makes for the most wonderful, and my favorite, time of year. Whether you love the holidays as much as I do, or you're hosting a Christmas party and have no idea where to start, here's everything you need to know--from a festive playlist to gift wrapping ideas, and more--to make this holiday season the most amazing one yet. 

On Pinterest: 101 Ideas for a Holiday Party

From drink recipes to tablescape ideas, and even festive and sparkling manis, this page offers 101 inspiring ideas to make your holiday party even more epic.

On Pinterest: Holiday Season

Nothing but lovely pictures of all things Christmas and holiday season related. Peruse images of lighted trees, cups of cocoa, and wintry scenes.

On Spotify: Fun Holiday Playlist

There's no denying the appeal of classics like O Holy Night and White Christmas, but this playlist leaves out all the slower holiday tunes in favor of the more upbeat, toe-tapping sounds of the season. Think Jackson Five, Brenda Lee, and Mariah Carey.

On the Blog: Party Hosting Tips

A complete timeline that tells you everything you need to know, from when to get dressed (because yes, it matters) to where to place the food tables. 

On the Blog: Pretty Gift Wrapping Ideas

Clever ideas for remixing old magazine pages, newspaper, and even foil into festive gift wrapping for the holidays (and beyond!).

On the Blog: DIY Holiday Cookie Body Scrub

Whether you're trying to combat dry winter skin yourself, or looking for the perfect gift for your friends, this homemade body scrub has got you covered. 

On the Blog: Fun Holiday DIYs for Kids

The kiddos are out of school for a couple of weeks so keep them entertained with Christmas movies (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, Home Alone, and Santa Paws are always great, kid-friendly picks), trimming the tree, and a few crafty DIY projects  

On the Blog: 3 Ways to Transform Store-Bought Cookies
Everyone seems to go crazy for cookies this time of year (perhaps it's the influence of a particularly jolly, sack-toting fat man?), but with so much to do there may not be time to bake. But this is no problem for a savvy girl like you--just take store-bought cookies and elevate them to gourmet heights with the addition of ingredients like melted dark chocolate, dulce de leche, and pistachios.

image via Pinterest
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