The weather continues to play tricks on us. Warm one day, cool the next, then dreary for the last 3. It was such a sleepy week with plenty of days where I would’ve rather slept in, made a late breakfast, then curled up with a book and a stack of movies. I have to say that before the weather turned ugly on us, I spent quite a few memorable days outside that made me grateful for the simplicity of hanging out by the water. There’s something so comforting in that, that I never get tired of.

I found myself around a lot of small gems that made this otherwise sleepy week a bit more happy. I don’t really have anything major planned this weekend, but would very much like to spend it roaming around a museum with my boyfriend. We’ll see what happens. Have an amazing weekend guys, and thanks for reading!

Here are this week’s highlights…

EAT| the melt

1-ATG pix

I’m always game for grilled cheese and was happy to spend an evening at The Melt trying out the new spot that recently opened in Hollywood. (Shhh – don’t tell anyone, but I still prefer Heywood for my fix.)

WORDS| jonathan adler


I loved reading the manifesto while browsing Jonathan Adler on Melrose.  Number 2 stood out to me most (as well as the slogan pictured at the top of this post.)

VISIT| manhattan beach pier


Watching the sunset and passer-bys on a perfect Saturday afternoon at the beach. I was happy when I took it and I am happy every time I look at it.

EAT| cupcakes


I can never resist a cupcake and tried Cupcake Couture’s S’mores flavor. 🙂

SEE| a place at the table


A significant night this week was at The Nuart Theatre (the front window cardboard cutout gets me everytime!) to see A Place at the Table. It’s a new eye-opening documentary about hunger in America. Please see my full review here. And please see this film.

READ| the host


I’m finally getting around to reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer, a book I purchased LAST YEAR to read during Christmas that I’ve neglected far too long. I have the resolve to finish before the film opens at the end of the month and it’s really getting good!


|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||

I’ve secretly always wanted to just pick-up and move to Europe for at least a year (it’s a toss-up between Italy or France). I would channel Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love (minus the messy divorce) completely immersing myself in a new culture. I’d learn French or Italian, sit and write (or blog!) in cafes, walk to museums, sip cappuccinos, develop a hardcore appreciation for fine wine with lunch and dinner, have conversations with strangers, and eat croissants with a side of pasta all day long (not gaining a pound, of course). Needless to say, I was elated to read Vanessa Larson’s inspiring story of a gal who stopped talking the talk and did it. This isn’t a dream that I’ve given up on completely. I’m still pretty young, but find that as I get older, it feels like time is slipping away and I’ll be twenty years older looking back at a youth that I wish I’d taken better advantage of. It’s my personal biggest fear and would be my lifelong regret. I cannot think of anything more enchanting than following your dreams, and when seeing that magic happen for someone else, it re-enlivens you to pursue your own.

here’s what i’m lovin’ right now

|| …Following your dreams // Read Vanessa Larson’s story here. ||


|| Two Penny Blue // Cambridge Blazer in navy. ||


|| Words. ||


|| 10 Minutes to happy hour // Sparkling White Peach Sangria // Recipe here. ||


|| Chic storage // Sunglasses case to store cords and cables in your bag. Genius. ||


|| See By Chloé // My next perfume splurge. // Those magazine scented pages do work. ||


|| Blueberry Dessert Pizza // Recipe here. ||


|| Birchbox Tutorials // How To: Curl Your Hair With A Flatiron. ||

Highlights: Christmas Road Trip

1-Car #2-001

{Let’s go!}

I was ready for a change of scene! Don’t get me wrong, I’m an L.A. girl at heart, but I was definitely happy to leave the City of Angels and spend some time absorbing the very different Northern California air. I was going to spend Christmas in Santa Cruz with my boyfriend’s family this year. And p.s. – I literally envy the fresh, clean, crisp air up there. You can actually breathe! Not exactly a forte in smog-filled, rains twice a year, L.A.

While completely exhausted from the events over the last month, I was slowly getting excited. Before we’d even hit our final destination, I was very much looking forward to the experience of our mini road trip journey ahead. Six hours of chatting with my guy; staring out the window at endless fields, grass, and smelly cow farms (just typing that brings the smell to life. ugh.) thinking about whatever came to mind; stopping for gas and praying that the restrooms were decent to use; and realizing that no matter where you go, it’s true, you can’t escape McDonald’s because I saw one at EVERY exit off the I-5.

What I’ve come to discover, truly believe, and even like about myself is that I’m happiest when I’m exploring anything new; be it here in L.A. at new restaurant or museum, or off the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere. I’m most alive when I’m traveling! If there’s any one thing that I know I need to do more of is chase adventure.

I don’t know what it is exactly that makes me this way, perhaps it’s the fact that I love doing something new and exploring places outside what I know, and I’m sure it has much to do with the fact that I get bored easily and need to be stimulated, away from the mundane often, and always learning.

It was Saturday, December 22nd, a rainy day as we took off for the latest adventure.  Here are a few highlights from our mini Christmas road-trip:


{Taking one last look at all the wrapped gifts I would be giving out this Christmas right before packing them away for the trip. I love buying presents and coming up with creative presentation.}


{Pretty much what most of the I-5 drive looked like out my window.}


{Part of the fun of road trips? Snacks! Though I resisted and went for the oh so healthy Taco Bell instead.}


{Taken outside our stop at the TA (Travel Centers of America) in Wheeler Ridge for a restroom break and food. I loved this view and BY far one of the cleanest bathroom facilities you’ll see on the road here. Make a note of this. Especially for us ladies!}


{This was supposed to be my road trip read, but admittedly, I don’t think I read more than 5 pages of this book the entire time I was on vacation. So this is what I’ll be working on now – but the highlight being I bought it as my holiday read.}


{Once we made it into town, I wanted a really good, HEALTHY meal. We stopped at Mimi’s Cafe where I enjoyed chicken and veggies for dinner, then ruined it with this yummy triple chocolate brownie sundae. Oh well, I was on vacation, right!?!}

2012: Best in Books, Guilty Pleasure

Let me start by saying that I know many of you will roll your eyes, possibly declare me insane, or stop reading my blog altogether by what I’m about to reveal. It’s no secret that I like to get lost in all kinds of stories. I’ve already reflected on my favorite fiction and non-fiction books this year, and not to brag, I have pretty decent taste as you can see. Usually. Sometimes. 🙂

Let me further say, before I get to the point (it’s coming), that this series was by far the WORST written and edited books I think I’ve EVER read. These certainly weren’t the best representation of superior writing in modern day literature. Embarrassingly, for whatever reason, this didn’t bother me enough to stop. (What is wrong with me!?) I hadn’t read such a page turner, if ever, like this. I was so entertained, annoyed, turned on, turned off, and turn upside down by my favorite guilty pleasure read(s) for 2012…

Fifty Shades of Grey1-2012-12-10_08-27-022

Fifty Shades Darker


Fifty Shades Freed


E.L. James (2012)

It started out as a book club selection to read the first novel only. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up the first book…and then the next…and the next. I spent two weeks in June trapped in the web (or rather the Red Room of pain) created by the alluring Christian Grey.

Synopsis: Anastasia Steele stumbles (literally) into Christian Grey’s office mere weeks before her college graduation to help out her best friend by conducting an interview for their college newspaper. Christian Grey is a 27 year old, gray-eyed, intensely flawed, but ridiculously hunky CEO and billionaire of his own self-made empire. He’s also pretty darn kinky. He extends his kinkiness to Anastasia. She agrees. He learns she’s a virgin, immediately has a fit, and gets over it. They have crazy sex. Engage in a little BDSM. Fall in love. More crazy sex. Fight. Break-up. Make-up. Fight. More hardcore BDSM. Some terrible sub-plot about stalking ex-girlfriends and Anastasia’s insane boss enters. More crazy sex. More BDSM. Bomb drops. Bomb resolved. More crazy sex. The End.

The Fifty Shades novels introduce its reader to a story, a mystery, and a fantasy that draws you in on page 7 and holds you captive for the next 1,500 pages. It opens you up to another world that is quite fascinating, complex, beguiling, at times extremely upsetting, but above all highly satiating and entertaining. You resent the characters, then you like the characters. You reject the situation, then you open yourself to the situation. It’s quite a roller coaster of emotions that E.L. James takes you through.

Admittedly, the characters and the given situations chronicled are quite unbelievable, unrealistic, and un-everything. (Pardon my bluntness, but a girl cannot have THAT much sex and not have even one yeast infection come up throughout the entire story. Oh, and she also happens to orgasm every. single. time.) Furthermore, I realize that themes in these books scream violence and promote what seems to be the ultimate unhealthy co-dependent relationship, multiplied. I also realize that despite these themes and this lack of reality, I interpreted the series as simply being fantastical and what E.L. James did best: she used her imagination (regardless of how twisted one might think hers must be to come up with this stuff!).

The Fifty Shades Trilogy is not for the squeamish at heart, nor the the conservative of mind. It can be, however, an interesting and ever so sweet escape.

“Laters, baby.”

2012: Best in Books, Fiction

My life was filled with pages and pages of fiction this year. Nearly all of the novels that I read fell into this genre. Well-crafted stories with lots of imagination, unexpected twists and turns, and strongly developed characters enveloped by an equally well executed emotional spectrum are always the right formula in my book. There were some fiction reads that missed the mark during my literature journey (I can’t for the life of me understand why Gone Girl was THE book to read this year); however, there was one story among them all that resonated with me and stood out as stellar. My favorite fiction read this year was…


The Language of Flowers


Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)

As the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover (or its title)! I was immediately consumed by this story, these characters, exploring their way of living, and how flowers are even more enchanting than I could ever imagine.

The Language of Flowers follows Victoria Jones right as she is emancipated from the foster care system at 18 years old. Victoria has no family, no friends, not much education, an understandably hard exterior, but a talent for communicating through flowers. Once hired by a local flower shop owner, Victoria begins to help her clientele send their message to loved ones through the impeccable arrangement of floral bouquets utilizing the Victorian language of flowers to express the right emotion. Victoria’s world unexpectedly evolves in a way that is very foreign her, something she initially rejects. Page by page, she learns how to open up, how to trust, and eventually how to fall in love. This is a tale of growing into yourself, your relationships, and ultimately facing the demons in your closet.

In some ways, I can relate to Victoria – being careful of who you let in and keeping your guard up to protect yourself – as I’m sure many of us do to different extents, but this story exposes the depths of what living this way does to the soul. Through the eyes of a young woman who one might think never really stood a chance being birthed into the foster care system, passed from home to home; one can see that if you really surround yourself with the right people, live for the right reasons, speak your own language, speak your own truth, and take a chance – life really isn’t so complicated after all. You might even end up with something better than you ever even imagined if you let it happen.

This was one of the best novels I’d read in awhile. I couldn’t put this book down.

*Book cover image courtesy: goodreads.com

2012: Best In Books, Non-Fiction


I’ve always been a book worm, in and out of the library, hanging out in bookstores (for fun!), juggling two different reads at a time. That is, until I’d hear about something else that would catch my attention where I would then unceremoniously drop whatever I was reading altogether to focus on a completely new novel. Essentially, this consistently left me with a ton of never finished books. I’m happy to report that 2012 turned out differently and this was largely due to joining a book club late last year (making me accountable to actually finish), but also because I found reads that really captivated me enough to not want to put them down. I’m dedicating a few posts to reflect on the best stories that filled my time this year, the best in books across many genres – starting with my favorite non-fiction read this year about a lady you might have heard of…

Marilyn Monroe


Barbara Leaming (2000)

I’ve always wondered why the lasting fascination with Marilyn Monroe? After seeing “My Week with Marilyn” last year, I was lured into wanting to watch the original 1957 film that inspired its events, “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Instantly, I understood it. You’re drawn to her whenever she’s on camera, no matter who else is in the scene – your eyes follow her. There’s a charm to her, a beauty to her, a mystery to her, that pulls you in and doesn’t let go.

Subsequently, I picked up this book and was instantaneously sucked into another world, another time. Hollywood during a very tumultuous, yet booming period. When the movie-making business was very much male-dominated but in a very different way than it is today; and the origins of movie stars as a brand, true sex symbols, no longer simply a person. I have to say reading this novel really made me question: is it simply the brand that Marilyn Monroe created that resonates with us? Is it what she represented or was it in fact “her?”

Marilyn Monroe was admittedly flawed and tragic, insecure and incessantly seeking approval and respect. Perhaps it’s because of these characteristics – despite the sex symbol – she resonates with us, it makes her human. Perhaps even more it’s because she’ll always be that “brand” frozen in time. We’ll never see her age. She’ll always be and represent glamour to us. Either way, the last act of her short-lived life was anything but glamorous behind closed doors: a third failed marriage, a third miscarriage, high profile sexual affairs, drug and alcohol abuse, and several suicide attempts.

Throughout the entire story there’s an air of depression and desperation on each page. There’s a side to her that is explored that I didn’t know much about: her troubled childhood, her temper, her fear of being in front of the camera, her dependency on people that were just using her, and her consistent tardiness or lack of appearance on set which always complicated production on many of her films.

I firmly believe that Marilyn Monroe might not have stood have a chance from the moment she became this “brand.” How do you maintain that? How do you live with that type of constant pressure? Furthermore, it was never enough for her, it seemed. No amount of money, love, fame, or success seemed to satisfy her. It begs to question the idea and realism of destiny and the complexity of the human condition.

Marilyn Monroe would have been 86 years old in 2012 but she is very much alive. Film festivals and museum exhibitions are still orchestrated in her honor. I wondered, as I finished the last pages of this biography, that as she swallows the contents of several bottles of pills, if she would’ve known then that her legacy 50 years later still exists in a way that no other movie star has managed to have, would THAT have finally been enough to persuade her? An excellent, detailed, well-written biographical account of one of the most highly coveted enigmas in American film history, with a tragic and very unhappy ending.

*Book cover image courtesy: goodreads.com


I loved this festive cake I saw in a bakery while in San Juan Capistrano recently.

It’ll be pretty low-key on my end for the long Holiday weekend. We went the total lazy route and ordered our big feast from a combination of The Honey Baked Ham Store and Bristol Farms. We even decided to change things up this year and have ham instead of turkey. Such rebels!

While I write a weekly post (sometimes twice a week, or when I can’t think of anything else compelling to write) where I reflect on the “Highlights” of the simple things happening around me; I thought this would a good time to reflect on what I’m truly thankful for in life in the grand scheme of things that is the year of our Lord, 2012.

My first apartment! I moved into my own place earlier this year and words cannot describe the sense of accomplishment and independence I feel every time I walk through the front door. This is my favorite wall in my humble abode and I’m thankful for having a small place in the world to call my own.

My best friend, who happens to be my boyfriend, for being the awesome guy that he is! This is an old picture I took last year while in Catalina Island. It’s a favorite of mine of us.

I’m beyond grateful in the midst of a tough economy to be working and working in the field that I actually studied in college.

I joined a book club this time last year and one year later, not only have I given myself the motivation to actually begin and finish a book (rather than juggle two at a time and never finish either one of them); it’s also opened my world to a whole new group of girl friends. We’re all ages and from different walks of life, bonded by our nerdiness for books. 🙂

One of the happiest things I’ve done this year was start this blog. It’s really given me the creative outlet that I had been craving for such a long time. Thank you to those that read, comment, or like even one of my posts. I’m grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Highlights: Mid-October

Half-way through October. Someone seems to be hitting the time accelerate button yet again. It’s been a bit stressful this week, but here are some highlights that managed to brighten it:

{The appreciation of a good solid meal. Much pleasure came from some penne pasta with mushrooms lightly sprinkled with parmesan cheese; and the simplicity of steamed broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower on the side.}

{The Halloween project is underway, Midnight by Dean Koontz is in hand.}

{Not to brag, but I have been having the best hair week EVER! There’s nothing you can’t handle when your tresses are acting right. I don’t typically use hairspray, but because of the humidity in the air and some major frizzing, I’ve been looking for a solution. Enter L’Oréal Elnett StrongHold Hairspray (unscented). Worth every dime.}

{A very thoughtful surprise from my boyfriend. This beautiful orchid.}

Amoeba Music

Location: 6400 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood

I don’t care how much more convenient, cheap, and cool it is to go digital; I’ll always be a fan of physically being around CDs, DVDs, and books. Yes, I love my iPod as much as the next music fiend and rarely play CDs in my car anymore; and yes, I smile to myself whenever something on-demand is instantly streaming on my screen with the click of a button; but there’s still something so enduring and solid about the real thing.

Amoeba Music needs no introduction. I’ve been here more times than I can count. It’s one of the few remaining places you can head to in L.A. to buy CDs, to scout for rare and used DVDs, or pick up an LP for your record player. Part of the fun here is just in the atmosphere, the simple elation of being around such a vast collection of art in its many forms. It’s cluttered (in a good way – makes you feel like you can find anything or that you’re digging for treasure), has that “I’m an independent record store” old dusty smell, and while the new stuff can be on the pricey side, this place rocks when it comes to hard to find titles.

My only complaint and continued frustration is that they don’t let you bring beverages in the store. Hello!?! How much more fun would this place be if you could peruse thousands of titles while sipping an iced latte? I’d sure spend more money here if I could. Caffeine affects the body like that.

Thanks to an awesome Groupon find passed my way, I spent an hour on Saturday afternoon sifting through new and used DVDs and Blu-Rays to update my collection. The problem with Amoeba is that you walk in with an idea of what you want, but then you start flipping through the inventory and get side-tracked (owning “Death Becomes Her” on DVD would be real treat once I thought about it!).

In the end, I had 4 movies I was trying to decide on and only a $30 credit to use. I walked out with two films that gave me lots to laugh and think about last year that I knew would get plenty of rotation in my Blu-Ray player: Friends with Kids and 50/50.

Cupcakes and Cashmere L.A. Book Signing

Location: Bloomingdale’s – Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Boulevard

It’s no secret that I have a Cupcakes and Cashmere addiction. I may have joined the legions of “cupcakers” a little late in the game; but within the past 2 months or so, it’s something that I look forward to reading every weekday morning. Emily Schuman has inspired thousands of young women, myself included, by turning a simple blog meant for creative fulfillment; into a full-time career, a book, and a burgeoning empire. In many ways, her daily posts remind me of the importance of celebrating being a woman (even if it’s as surface as to splurge every once in a while, hence my recent sweater purchase because I loved/deserved it!) to honoring the joy of more artful living.

{Emily and I.}

It was a warm September night as I made my way to Bloomingdale’s at Westfield Century City last Thursday. A short 30 minute wait in line, complete with catered treats (nice touch!), and a free make-up session to test out the perfect Estée Lauder foundation made the night more eventful than I had anticipated. And what can I say? Emily was as gracious and well dressed as you would expect. For the record, I did think greatly about what to wear to a simple book signing because I knew everyone would bring their A-game. I went with dark blue skinny jeans, a ruffled blouse with a fitted vest, a chunky long necklace, and my recently acquired patent leather heels.

I left the event with elevated traces of sugar in my bloodstream thanks to the 2 small treat indulgences, a picture and brief conversation with Emily, a signed copy of Cupcakes and Cashmere, a sample of Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Light Stay-in-Place Foundation, and a huge smile on my face! 🙂

{Catered treats: Banana cake-pop and a mini coconut cupcake.}

{My signed copy.}