Friday, June 6, 2014

The Ultimate Workout Playlist



If you're like me, you count down the days to summer every year. Starting January 1. You may even go to the gym a few days a week in hopes that somewhere beneath those layers of skin lies a six-pack. Or that, come June, you will be able to hike up that massive hill from the parking lot to your office while toting your laptop, gym bag, purse and lunch bag without losing a lung. Somewhere between February and April is where I fell off the wagon, but I'm proud to say I've been back at it since mid-spring and have seen pretty good results. It also helps that I compiled a pretty flawless workout playlist that gets my adrenaline pumping even when I'm not in the gym.

It's a high-energy mix of pop, hip hop, EDM and, yes, trap tunes to get my heart racing and my feet moving. For cardio, I need super fast beats and an accelerating tempo to motivate me to push harder. One of my favorites is "Work B**ch" by Britney Spears. Just try it. You can't help but WORK. Also making an appearance on the playlist are Diplo, A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, No Doubt and even Lonely Island (I dare you not to break a sweat to their hilarious "When Will the Bass Drop")

Follow my playlist on Spotify! I've embedded it here, too, to make it easier for you to share and listen on the go. What's on your workout playlist?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brunch Reflections and a Recipe

Two weeks ago, I hosted a brunch for my eight closest girlfriends to celebrate the arrival of spring. Though the heat forced us to relocate to a shadier spot in my backyard (imagine all nine of us lifting and transporting a giant, marble-top table 20 paces to the left), we were still able to enjoy the warm breeze, smell of orange blossoms in the air and the massive cheese plate that I had laid out for my dairy-loving friends. As the sun moved westward and we digested the copious mimosas we consumed, we laid out blankets on the grass and got started assembling flower crowns out of the blooms and tools set up for my guests.

The only picture of the day. I suck.




But while I love hostessing and providing a nice spread for my favorite people, I learned a valuable lesson: nothing is more important than being present at your own party. Between running to-and-from the kitchen to check on my spinach and feta frittata to making sure the champagne wasn't getting warm in the sun, I feel like I missed out on all of the good conversations and fellowship that took place at the table. After feeling like a failure for the next week, I came to the conclusion that you can't please everyone as a hostess. Next time, I promise to place more value on enjoying my guests and actually tasting the food I prepared. Have you ever been disappointed after an event you had been planning for a while? How did you deal with it? I hope my next event (currently planning a backyard movie night for the upcoming summer nights) will prove to be more successful for both me and my guests.

One of my favorite recipes of the day was the orange marmalade-glazed baked French toast that I decided to recreate this past weekend. I mean. Drool. I combined the best parts of two recipes and baked what was possibly the best brunch dish ever.

Orange Marmalade-glazed Baked French Toast



Ingredients
  • 1 French baguette, day old
  • Butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • Orange marmalade
Recipe
  1. Trim ends off of baguette and slice remaining loaf in half lengthwise.
  2. Cut into 4-inch slices and place cut-side up in casserole dish (do not overlap). Butter each piece.
  3. Whisk the eggs. Add milk, vanilla extract, orange juice/zest, and salt until foamy.
  4. Pour over bread. Flip pieces around every 10 minutes to make sure both sides have soaked up the liquid.
  5. Leave in liquid for about 30 minutes total. You want the bread to be wet, but not soggy. 
  6. Bake until the bread is puffed up and golden (30-40 minutes).
  7. Remove from oven and spread with orange marmalade. I heated it up in the microwave for 30 seconds and spread a thin layer for a hint of sweet citrus.
  8. Return to oven and broil until caramelized and sticky.
  9. Serve warm.









Thursday, March 27, 2014

Vintage California Summer Look

Ask any girl who grew up in Southern California and they'll agree that it's bathing suit season year round. Californians practically invented swimwear. Take a look at any vintage West Coast seaside scene and you will not miss the beach bums and babes in their trunks and teeny-weeny bikinis. My girlfriends and I would even go as far as wearing our bathing suits underneath our school uniforms on the off chance that somebody would suggest an impromptu beach day. The moment the temperature rose higher than 75 degrees, we would hit the coast, ready to take on the sand, surf and sunbathing that lasted many months long.

In honor of the upcoming summer season, I put together the ultimate vintage California summer look with some help from ModCloth and Wanelo (click to peep my storyboard!). Check out how I styled the retro-glam Esther Williams Beach Bingo One-Piece bathing suit with some fun and funky accessories that ooze timeless style.




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Day Cocktail: Love at First Blush



Valentine's Day has always been an exciting holiday for me. Besides the fact that I love a good theme, it's a great opportunity to overindulge my fondness for Valentine's cookies and conversation hearts. Whether coupled up or riding solo, I always find a way to make the most of a day dedicated to showing people how much they're loved. This year I will be clinking glasses with my girlfriends in celebration of our lasting relationship and sipping on blush-hued cocktails to seal the deal. I whipped up this playful and potent cocktail that can be repurposed year round. How will you spend your Valentine's Day?

Love at First Blush

Ingredients
  • 1 tangerine, cut into wedges
  • 2 ripe strawberries
  • sugar
  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 1 tbsp. cherry syrup
  • tangerine slice (for garnish)
Recipe
  1.  Place tangerine and strawberries in a highball cup and use muddler to mash together
  2. Add a pinch of sugar to fruit mixture
  3. Strain into another glass and add vodka and cherry syrup
  4. Stir to combine and pour into coupe or old-fashioned glass
  5. Garnish with a slice of tangerine

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter Beauty Essentials and a Giveaway!



When I was younger and going through my awkward adolescent years, I stuck to one, singular beauty routine year round. I won't even get into the unfortunate makeup trends I thought looked so cool as a teenager. If I washed my face at night, I used my tried and true St. Ive's Apricot Scrub and didn't bother to moisturize before bed. I never worried about aging, especially because good skin runs in my family, so I had a pretty inconsistent regimen throughout the years. Once I started noticing the fine lines that typically show up one morning when you least expect them, I became more serious about what I put on my face and switched it up seasonally. This philosophy is even more important to stick to in the cooler months, when unpredictable temperatures and harsh conditions can really do damage to your skin. It can even make your daily cosmetic products look different due to your drier skin and paler complexion. Here are a few beauty products that have worked for me this season.

Skin

Toner: L'OCCITANE Immortelle Brightening Water (alcohol free)

Primer: NYX High Definition Studio Photogenic Primer

Face

Foundation: Smashbox Studio Skin 15-Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation

Highlighter: Benefit High Beam

Blush: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Eyes

Shadow: MAC eyeshadow in Naked Lunch

Mascara: L'Oreal Telescopic in Carbon Black; Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara in Black

Lips

Lipstick: Revlon Super Lustrous Creme Lipstick in Black Cherry

Gloss: Smashbox in Tease; NARS in Greek Holiday

Fragrance 

Eau de Parfum: Tocca "Margaux"

~*~GIVEAWAY~*~

In honor of the ever-changing seasons and the release of uber-romantic flick Endless Love starring Alex Pettyfer (swoon) and Gabriella Wilde (gorg) on Valentine's Day, Universal Pictures is helping me give away an awesome gift pack, including a sweet $25 Sephora gift card to get you date-night ready! Enter below using Rafflecopter. Winner will be announced Monday, February 17, 2014. Please read terms and conditions below. 



One (1) winner will receive:
  • $25 Sephora gift card to get date night ready
  • Endless Love EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm
  • Endless Love earrings, t-shirt and hair-ties

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Sponsored by Universal Pictures. Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Up to 15 entries per person. Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter generator. Giveaway ends at 12:00 a.m. [midnight] PST on Monday, February 17, 2014. Winner will be announced in a blog post. Winner must respond within three (3) days of announcement to claim prize. If there is no contact by the 4th day, or the winner did not follow the entry rules (i.e. is not a follower), another winner will be chosen at random. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rose Water Panna Cotta



When it comes to dessert, I like to keep it simple. A little bit of whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel, or a dash of spice is all I need to cap off a a sweet dish. For me, it's the little things that take it from simple to spectacular. I apply that same philosophy to life -- and love. When thinking of the perfect dessert to whip up for Valentine's Day, I was reminded of the effortless preparation and pure taste of one of my favorites: panna cotta. It means "cooked cream" in Italian and, when joined with an extra special ingredient (in this case, rose water), panna cotta can completely transform from something so basic to a dish that can truly change you. Am I still talking about food? I'm not quite sure anymore, but I do know that the smallest adjustment in the most unexpected of ways can be quite the pleasant surprise.

Rose Water Panna Cotta

Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tbs cold water
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tsp rose water
  • 2 drops pink food coloring
Recipe
  1. In a saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a slight simmer until the sugar has melted.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the gelatin and water and mix until the gelatin has softened.
  3. Add the cream and sugar mixture to the gelatin, constantly stirring.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.
  5. Strain the mixture into individual ramekins.
  6. Chill in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Wines...and Drinking Games

Very few things can keep you warm on days when it feels like your insides are chilling on ice. Wine, I have discovered, is one of those things. Though the weather hasn't reached freezing temperatures on the West Coast as it has on the East, I have found it to be a good practice to edit your wine collection to reflect the changing seasons. Most varietals will transition easily from spring and summer to fall and winter, but here are some recommendations based on ones that I've tried myself and others that I have discovered through much research. I don't claim to be an expert in all (or any) things wine, but I hope this short list will help you the next time you reach for a bottle at the end of a long--and cold--day. 


Now that you're familiar with some of the recommended varietals of the season, why not use your new knowledge to test your friends in a party game of wine, wit and wordplay? UNCORKED! challenges players to come up with entertaining tasting notes as they sample new wines. Players will learn a thing or two about wine terminology and have fun coming up with smart, silly and pun-filled descriptions of well-known and obscure varietals. My favorite part of the game is the themed rounds, like "Compare this wine to a celebrity" and "Use sexual innuendo to describe this wine." Support UNCORKED! on Kickstarter!