Highlights

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree ATG FINAL 3{My little ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree courtesy of my boyfriend. It makes me smile.}

Quite honestly, I don’t really have much more to say other than…

HAPPY 1st DAY OF VACATION TO ME!

I’ll leave it at that…and perhaps mention that I think I’ll take myself to a matinee to see Wild today, that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and here are a few other highlights from the week.

Have a nice weekend! x

Love Actually ATG FINAL 2

{It’s not officially Christmas-feeling until I’ve watched Love Actually. Done!}

Mixtape Stocking Stuffer ATG FINAL

{Putting together a little stocking stuffer for a friend.}

Christmas Cards ATG FINAL

{People don’t get enough handwritten notes in the mail. I decided to send Christmas cards this year.}

Substantial Coffee Quote ATG FINAL

{Stopping in for coffee at Zeli’s in Pasadena. If I ever needed an excuse to keep that coffee addiction alive…}

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Highlights

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I don’t know about you, but right around this time is the beginning of what I think of as “end of the year burn-out.” It’s around the time where you might start to mentally check-out in certain areas of your life. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that the year is winding down, the holidays are gearing up, and people are just ready for a proper breather after 11 months of whatever life happened to throw at them. I’m grateful to be in a position where work pretty much shuts down for the holidays and since I’m not really one to take vacations or extended amounts of time off through-out the year, I tend to wait until the holiday break to tack on some additional vacation days to make it a lengthy one to really decompress.

And the great news is that I’m 4 DAYS away from 3 WEEKS of holiday vacation bliss!

Oh, the fun it will be. After a little road trip and a change of scenery to spend Christmas with my boyfriend’s awesome family (Hi Marilyn!) for a few days in Santa Cruz, it’ll turn into a much-needed LA staycation. I can already see myself sleeping in, making blueberry pancakes for breakfast on a random Tuesday morning, reading books, getting through my never-ending Netflix queue, taking naps (just because), and going to the gym or taking a dance class anytime I feel like it (which I hope will be at least one…or twice). I also foresee a lazy afternoon roaming around a museum to check out a new exhibit and spending a late morning in my favorite cafe working on my blog over french toast.

I’m also desperate to spend some uninterrupted time thinking about how I hope 2015 will shape-up. I realize the trap with New Year’s resolutions, but I can’t help but be excited by the whole “fresh start” aspect when a new year arrives. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s still lots to wrap up before my 3 week break from life (as I’m calling it), but I’ll keep my eyes on the prize.

As I think back over this week, I have to say, it was a good one. A chilly Tuesday night found me at an advanced screening of Chris Rock’s new film, Top Five (a great laugh, but you can wait for Netflix if money is tight) and an even chillier Wednesday night at book club to discuss our December read, Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher (which you can skip). Is it okay to mention that the grilled cheese on sourdough that I ate over our discussion was probably the biggest highlight of the week? Man, sometimes a gal just needs a grilled cheese sandwich to get by. How did I forget this basic staple when needing a little pick me up?

A huge tropical storm is paying LA a visit as you read this, but should clear up on Saturday just in time for the remainder of the weekend. Given that mine broke up with me (for lack of use I’m sure), this would probably be a good time to buy a new umbrella. We might actually have a rainy winter ahead. It’s rained twice already this month…must be a record.

Naturally, the one Friday night I have plans, clear across town no-less, it’s raining cats and dogs, but should be fun. I’m headed to a holiday dinner party with my boyfriend tonight hoping to find similar ecstasy like that grilled cheese, but haven’t a clue what’s for dinner. Otherwise, the weekend will find me uncharacteristically anxious to get through it and then past the next 4 working days….so I can take a break from life. 🙂

Have a lovely weekend! And stay dry. x

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 Image credit: “Christmas Lights at Night” by Thomas Quine used under CC BY.

What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

As we make our way toward the climax of the holidays, I find myself drawn to find small and simple ways to incorporate the magic of the season: festive manicures, cozy scarves, and frequent sips of a warm beverage. It should be no surprise then, that I was more than thrilled to find inspiration on how to spice up all three of these areas, in particular. Below you’ll find a unique take on the classic french tip with a red and silver holiday twist; the perfect scarf to guide you through the colder months ahead; and my personal favorite, taking the epitome of the cozy weather beverage and adding a little something to take it to a whole new level. These goodies, along with a few others are making me smile big at the moment. Here’s…

Blend 3

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 1. The best holiday mani inspiration I’ve seen so far. | Red and Silver French Tip Nails
2. A rustic approach to showcasing those jewels. | Jewelry Organizer
3.  Pretty in pink, year-round. | Tom Ford’s “Flamingo” Lipstick
4.  A unique and oh-so-chic way to keep those books upright.|  DwellStudio Gazelle Bookends
5. A quick approach to up the ante on bad hair days. | Runway Ready Low Ponytail
6. Fashionably bundled. | Holiday Plaid Scarf
7.  A hearty meal inside, during a chilly night outside. | Slow-Cooker Classic Beef Stew
8. Dressing up the windows to the soul with a flourish. | Bolded Eyes with Sparkle
9. Coffee to-go and in-style. | Pike Place Tumbler
10. A classic beverage made even better. | Lavender Hot Chocolate

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Highlights

The GROVE TREE ATG FINAL{Where Angelenos go for Christmas Cheer, The Grove, for the 100-foot tall tree and lights everywhere!}

December is off to a chaotic start to say the least, but luckily I’m only 2 weeks away from some much-needed downtime. It’s been helpful to lean on the holiday season to make my way through. Christmas music does wonders during chaos!

LA had its first real bout of rain in ages this week. It’s been so long since we’ve had this much rain, that I’d completely forgotten how much my hair doesn’t like it! I’m willing to be a trooper about it though…in the name of our drought situation. I enjoy the rain – especially when it happens to arrive on a day that I can stay home and curl up with my Kindle or my Netflix queue and a cup of tea (as opposed to having to deal with the eternal nightmare that the 405 becomes until the roads dry again). The caveat to all of this, is that whenever it rains for more than a few days, I can also feel myself emotionally changing. Aside from my hair not being a fan of the rain, I also forget how much my body thrives on Vitamin D. It’s a stern reminder that I’m a total SoCal gal. If I don’t get some sun after a couple of days, I can feel my mood take a complete nosedive. As such, it pretty much solidifies that I won’t survive many other places in the world with actual weather. I’m stuck here.

Unfortunately, the holidays have become a rough time of year for me as I’ve gotten older, but I do still try to channel as much of what makes this season special. Aside from Christmas music, it’s always helpful to head to The Grove to walk around marveling at how they transform a simple shopping center into a stunning holiday oasis (pictures don’t do the place justice). This was certainly a big highlight since we caught up last.

Another highlight had to be a rainy Tuesday night in North Hollywood. If you’re looking for a great film out right now, I saw Whiplash earlier this week with a girlfriend and it blew my mind away. It’s aptly titled, given that you literally feel like you have a case of “Whiplash” when you leave the theater after following Andrew’s harrowing musical journey. It’s one of the most intense films I’ve seen in a while that stays with you days later. It will certainly be in my top 10 films of the year. Bravo to everyone involved!

The weekend ahead will be low-key. I don’t have any plans as of writing time, and that’s a-okay with me.

Have a great weekend! x

Bo Nuage ATG FINAL

{Admiring the pastry case at Bo Nuage…}

Bo Nuage Red Velvet ATG FINAL

{…then indulging in their Red Velevet Meringue Cake. Yum!}

Whiplash ticket ATG FINAL

{It’s been 3 days and I still have “Whiplash.”}

Dalai lama Quote ATG FINAL{The writing on the wall (literally)…in a public bathroom. I loved these words.}

 

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5 Reasons This Week Will Rock!

5 Reasons November 2014 _ ATG FINAL

1. | A Honey Baked Ham is on the way…

Naturally, we have to turn our attention to the important part of this week and that’s the amount of food that will be consumed. Without question, I always, always, always get excited for our new Thanksgiving tradition of indulging in the best ham EVER from the Honey Baked Ham Store. We add a few of the necessary sides that we order from Bristol Farms: mashed potatoes, candied yams, honey glazed carrots, and their green bean almondine; bake a pie; and sit back and eat…and eat…and eat. The caveat is that we tend to burn-out on ham because we eat it for breakfast and dinner the next 3 days after Thanksgiving as leftovers. By the following Monday, I’m usually so sick of ham I can’t stand it…until the following year comes and I’m excited all over again. Hooray for ham! (image via.)

2. | A short work week…

It’ll be a relatively quick and quiet work week ahead. This is in large part because a lot of people are taking the entire week off. I’m opting to work through Wednesday and save the vacation days to take a longer Christmas vacation in late December through early January instead (for a much-needed and restful 3 week break!). I have 3 big things I want to get crossed off my to-do list on the work front and then I’m ready to leave it all behind in favor of food, a good book, and finally correcting the error upon learning that my boyfriend hasn’t seen all the Rocky movies, which happen to be streaming on Netflix (minus the last one, which we’ll borrow a copy of) and make it a Rocky movie marathon this holiday weekend.

3. | Snow in LA…

It’s no secret that it doesn’t quite feel like the holidays to me until I make a stop at the best place in LA to get in the spirit, The Grove! (Yes, you read that right). I’ve written before about why The Grove makes me happy around this time of year, so I won’t go into it again. I will say that it’s become a bit a tradition after Thanksgiving to stop at The Grove over the holiday weekend to see the 100-foot REAL Christmas tree, the lights, the music, the people, and Santa’s “mansion,” because there’s no place in LA that does it better when it comes to channeling the magic of the season. I’m willing to overlook the usually way too crowded venue, grab a hot chocolate with my guy and walk around to take it all in, just before they drop the faux snow at 7:00pm. (Hey – it’s LA and the only way we’ll ever get to channel our version of a “White Christmas.”) It makes me smile just thinking about it.

4.| Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

That aforementioned good book that I hope to lose myself in is Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. It’s my next book club read that the gals selected for December and I’m excited for it. I don’t know much about it to give you a thumbs up or down since I plan to start it this week, but I’ve have heard that it’s a great saga set during the Christmas season and a wonderful way to compliment to the holidays if you’re looking for something heartwarming and charming.  (image via.)

5.| The Holidays are here…

I like to think that the holiday season officially kicks-off the day after Thanksgiving (though every store I’ve been in somehow got the memo that Halloween was an appropriate time to start shelling Christmas stuff at you). I love the idea that just a few short days from now, it’ll be time to pull out the Christmas music, make lots of cocoa, and go about the business of celebrating.  So I won’t wish you  a “Happy holidays” quite yet, but go ahead and make it a point to save my well wishes for first thing Friday morning. Happy Holidays to you (on Friday)!

I hope you find 5 reasons this week will rock for you, too. They’re there, I promise. Have a lovely week ahead! x

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Highlights

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I look at this image and it pretty much sums up how I feel at the moment, soon embarking down a new path – while still trying to take in the beauty and enjoy the journey as you walk toward the fog unknown.

So, you might have noticed that I was M.I.A. for two weeks prior to my last post (on what had to be the bright spot since we last caught up, my time at the AFI Film Festival). Rather than go into the details as to why, I’ll leave it at that it’s because they’ve been pretty lousy weeks if I’m at all honest. I’m definitely at a proverbial crossroads in my life. I realize that when things aren’t going so well, it’s probably a good time as ever to sit down and write about it to help give you perspective and get things off your chest, but I often struggle with how much to share and how much to keep private here, particularly when you take into account that once you put something out into the blogosphere, you never know how it might come back to bite you in the ass. As such, I’ve taken the approach of usually writing about the lesson learned, or what the universe is trying to tell me through whatever difficulty, and perhaps my feelings about it, rather than go into specifics. It just works for me.

It didn’t help that I got sick during this time, but as I look back over it now that I’ve (nearly) recovered, it wasn’t a surprise. I don’t get sick too often, but when I do, it typically takes place around a time of immense stress for me. I think my immune system likely takes a bit of a nose dive, I’m likely not eating enough or right, and therefore become more susceptible to not being able to fight off a simple virus that I would otherwise kick the crap out of. Though it always sucks to be home sick, I actually welcomed it with open arms this time around. I was actually grateful to be lying in bed for 3 days straight nursing a cold because it immediately put things in perspective. (It was also a productive time to get through my Netflix queue). It finally got my mind off the things that were bothering me, and forced me to focus on taking care of myself and getting some rest. In other words, it forced me to be present. It also made me realize that while I think the aforementioned situation that’s been bugging me still sucks, it’s not worth further jeopardizing my health over.

Add in the fact that I think anyone who has a passion for blogging (or whatever your choice passion may be), also goes through phases of complete burnout and lack of inspiration, and it’s almost required of you to take a step back and regroup. My only regret was that I didn’t say so before I took that break (sorry!). I’m still here…for the time being.

The good news is that things are starting to turn around for the better, mostly because I’ve learned to accept the situation (after much moping about it) and then because I decided to do something about it (once I stopped moping about it), which is quite empowering. You know that old saying along of the lines of: accept the things you cannot change, and change the things you can?

Well, I’m decidedly changing them.

I’m grateful that I’m at least in a situation where I can. I’m pretty nervous about it, I admit. It’ll be a journey to get where I’m trying to go and likely a bumpy one, but what I know for sure is that it’s time to take it. I’ve gotten my sign. I only hope that I remember to try to see the beauty in it, trust my instincts, and enjoy it. Somehow this black and photo I came across while looking for the perfect image to go with this post makes me feel more confident about taking new paths.

It’s my first weekend back in the swing of things since the last two found me at the festival one weekend, and home sick last weekend. I’m looking forward to it.

Have a nice weekend! x

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 Image credit: “Un instant magique” by Fan.D & Dav.C Photography used under CC BY.

What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

Happy Hump Day! 9 random things making me smile today. One that aims to help you make better pasta (because I could eat it all day). One that gives advice on how to start the first 10 minutes of your day with purpose (as opposed to stumbling out of bed and straight for the coffee maker). And one that makes you giddy scarf (and plaid) season has arrived. The other 6? Well, read on and see. Here’s what I’m lovin’ right now…


1-WILRN NOVEMBER 2014 ATG FINAL

1. Plaid on plaid done right. |  Happily Grey

2. The best way to scare off burglars and keep that entry hall mud-free. |  Neighbors’ Doormat

3. Something fresh for fall…and your nails. | Essie’s “Take it Outside” (image via)

4. “10 Things To Do the First 10 Minutes of Your Day.” |  Apartment Therapy

5. A playful and fashionable way to take on rainy days ahead. | Kate Spade’s Rain Check Umbrella

6.  A little something vintage-esque & glowing to add to your space. | Mason Jar Chandelier Light

7.  How to glam up your bathroom counter, while organizing that burgeoning lipstick collection. | Lipstick Holder

8. “Mario Batali’s 6 Essential Tools for Cooking Pasta.” | Food52

9. The best “a-ha” I’ve moment I’ve had in weeks. | Pro-tip

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With Gratitude…

make-a-wish-atg-final_With Gratitude

I’ve been feeling out of sorts as of late and though I’m pretty aware of the reasons for it, I’m also trying to remember that it goes with the ebb and flow of life. It’s only natural, apart of the ride. Much of what’s contributing to this feeling I realize is a signal that it’s time for a change. I’m trying to work out what I feel the next steps should be to bring me into better alignment with “what next?” but it’s producing a range of emotions that is another story altogether. Rather than dwell on it too much, I know the best way to deal with a flux in your mood as you work through anything in life is to continue to live in gratitude. It’s when you focus on the good, what brings you joy, however big or small, that makes the journey all the more meaningful…and a little easier.

I try to live by the philosophy of keeping your spirits in the right perspective, even as you progress through a range of emotions. Of course, this is a constant conversation I have to have with myself when dealing with the unknown. The interesting thing is that oftentimes whatever is nagging you tends to works itself out, or the right guidance will come just when you need it to. So though I’ve been in a pretty blah mood this week, I’m with gratitude for the small things, waiting until that ah-ha moment comes and I find my next step. These 11 come to mind:

  • As the weather continues to cool in LA (finally!) and it actually starts to feel like fall (finally!), my (very girly) addiction to candles is alive and well again. Nothing beats the warm glow and the heavenly scent that makes home feel all the more like my special refuge.
  • 7 words: Gilmore. Girls. Is. Now. Streaming. On. Netflix. (Amid the glow of those aforementioned candles, will be much “ass on couch time” re-living one of my favorite shows as a teen.)
  • I recently discovered Trader Joe’s Belgian Butter Almond Thins and I can already tell this is going to a be problem. I can’t put them down. Yum!
  • The one thing I never take for granted: being in good health.
  • The other thing I never take for granted: a good job and a paycheck.
  • The other, other thing I never take for granted: a warm place to sleep at night.
  • Iced vanilla lattes.
  • My Stinker – who makes me breakfast every weekend…and readily helps in my coffee addiction.
  • Along with the switch in seasons means (finally!) getting to rock scarves – the ultimate fall staple.
  • Birchbox makes me happy.
  • The smell of a Stargazer lily, arguably my favorite flower if I had to pick one.

I’m with gratitude…

What are you grateful for?

Happy hump day to you! x

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Highlights

What I Know for Sure ATG FINAL{A new read for a new season.}

What I know for sure? T.G.I.F! I’m happy the weekend is upon us again. And while this sentiment is rather surface compared to what Oprah might say, it’s about as fitting as I can get at the moment. I waited almost a month and a half to grab a hard copy from the wait list at the library, and I can already tell after reading just a few pages so far, it’s going to be something quite special to take in and reflect on. I’m actually considering just buying a copy of my own so that I can add it to my non-growing bookshelf because I made the switch to a Kindle and never looked back (though admittedly, it took awhile to give into digital reading).

I’ve always known when it comes to books, there are just certain reads that work well the good old-fashioned way: with pages that you can turn, and words you can highlight in bright yellow as you make your way through them. It’s no secret that I read a lot, but what you might not know is that I don’t usually buy books in general, unless it’s something I’d like to reference again – it just saves money and space. Thus, I get my fix from being an eternal lover of the local library and use it frequently, but mostly for downloadable titles now.

Side note: I’ve also heard that the “What I Know For Sure” audio book is quite moving because Oprah (and that thoughtful voice of hers) personally reads it.

As I think about this week, I do recall stopping a few times and asking myself “What do you know for sure?” I hope to have a much more eloquent answer as I think more about this (with perhaps a post in the future dedicated to exploring this topic), but one thing that comes to mind as I write this is remembering to always be grateful if you wake up every morning with your health alive and well. It seems medical scares and stories are rampant lately about those who are struggling with what I’m sure most of us take for granted, or don’t take the time to really be mindful of…and that’s good health. So I’ll answer this question, in part, now:

What I know for sure is that if you can get out of the bed with your health in tact, that my friend,  is truly priceless. Take care of yourself. Take care of each other.

Life lately has been good, a little hectic, but overall well. It feels like fall, though almost a month behind the calendar, is slowly starting to join us here in LA. Mornings have been foggy at times, my car windows might need de-frosting before I hit the road, a sweater is almost always necessary, and I successfully dusted off my leather jacket and black boots earlier this week to celebrate the transition. Funny enough, I was talking to my boyfriend about how it just didn’t feel like the Halloween season last weekend. Yes, I have my festive pumpkin lights up, and have indulged in at least 3 pumpkin spice lattes already, but it’s strange (even for LA) to be doing so while wearing sandals, with your A/C on in 95° weather.

Thank goodness this weekend will find it temperate! The plan here is to meet a few co-workers for happy hour tonight, catch what many are calling a sure Best Actor nomination for Michael Keaton in Birdman with my boyfriend and a group of friends on Saturday night, and perhaps a jaunt to the farmers’ market on Sunday to stock-up on produce, and of course, to spend some more time with my girl Oprah.

Have a great weekend ahead!

A few other highlights since we last did a life catch-up…

Pumpkins ATG FINAL

{My boyfriend’s sweet response when I complained about it not feeling “Halloween-y” enough. He brought me 5 mini pumpkins Add a $3 Glade pumpkin-scented candle and things are feeling more appropriate at home while we wait for fall to finally get here.}

Pedi ATG FINAL

{A Saturday afternoon at home pedi.}

Milk Hazelnut Ice Cream ATG FINAL

{After years of seeing the line hang out the door, I finally grabbed some of Milk’s famous all-natural homemade ice cream. Yum!}

plan check ATG FINAL

{A Tuesday date night over drinks.}

Urban Sunset ATG FINAL

{Admiring an urban sunset.}

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Inspired.

Where is the time going? How is it already Wednesday? October is half-way over? Why am I starting my post with so many questions?

This week has been hectic so far, to say the least. I can’t seem to catch my breath long enough to feel totally grounded. My Monday night yoga class zen is already gone (and mind you, that was only the day before yesterday!). And though I think I work well and even thrive under pressure (I love a challenge!), I try to remember that it’s important not to get too caught up in the chaos – it’s how life passes you by and how you lose perspective. Since I can’t get to another yoga class to re-capture that zen feeling at the moment, I’m going to my next best resource – the words of wisdom I’ve been collecting as of late on Pinterest.

It’s funny, while I don’t necessarily get the same feeling as I might after an hour and a half of an invigorating yoga class, I do find stillness and inspiration in reading the right words. I have entire notebooks just filled with quotes I’ve collected since I was a teenager. Now in the digital age, I’m finding Pinterest is my new notebook. In the spirit of turning to good advice, I’m taking a mid-week pause to share words that are keeping me inspired and in perspective. I hope they remind you, too, to take a moment to just breathe, keep going, and keep your focus.

“Make today count, you’ll never get it back.” Find your zen within the chaos. x

Inspired ATG FINAL October 2014

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