2013 & Other Resolutions

Welcome back from holiday vacations, ski getaways, family trips, etc. I went home to Austin, TX to spend some short but sweet time with my fam and dogs. Then I returned to CA to watch Hubby and his basketball team win all of their first three home games. None too shabby!
I also must give a shout-out to my amazing mom-in-law and grandma/aunt who read my blog and sneakily picked items from my Xmas Wishlist and Fall Wantlist to gift me for Christmas. Thanks yall! I also must thank my Hubby for his awesome present: a professional grade camera. So you can expect the photo quality around here to start improving dramatically.
This is not the new one. Little Bleu has now become my slap-around camera.
Now that it's New Year's Eve, I am elated to yell at you these hopeful words...
Happy New Year!
While many people like to take this time to reflect on the past year - and drink boatloads of the bubbly- I am a forward-thinker and prefer to gaze in wonderment at the future. My NYR (new year's resolution) for 2012 was simply to be better at correspondence with friends and loved ones. I think I fared pretty well... definitely left some room for improvement though.
But for 2013, my resolution is this :
Begin an oil painting series I've been meaning to start for 6 months!
(That outta' hold me accountable, writing it on my very not-private blog)
However you chose to celebrate tonight (and please do not say you're watching that awful ensemble cast movie New Year's Eve)... have a blast, hold your loved ones tight, and be safe.
I'll see ya next year!
What is your NYR for 2013?


The Big Kids Visit Santa

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Hubby and me!

Wishing you comfort & joy this holiday season. We celebrate the lives of those lost this year & express gratitude for all the blessings we've been given.
May your 2013 be prosperous & full of love!
Image belongs to me. Please request permission before use.


Five Fab Girl Gifts

Uh oh... Got a last minute White Elephant gift exchange with the gals? Have a hard-to-buy-for friend? These are what I consider five no-fail gifts for the ladies in your life:

#1     Coffee Table Books
These are light reads you can pick up, read a few pages, and come back to later. Plus, coffee table books are something a girl doesn't necessarily buy for herself. They're can be great conversation pieces! I've bought Classy by Derek Blasberg for a few girlfriends and they loved it.

#2      Home Decor & Kitchen Items
Depending on where you shop, these lovely little additions can keep you under budget but high on a friend's Nice List. Picture frames, vases, cute kitchen gadgets - all winners. I recommend browsing the shelves of hip stores like Anthropologie, Z Gallerie and Crate & Barrel.
All from Anthropologie Home
# 3    Games
I love having friends over for wine and game night - everyone always has a good time. Games get people to interact in a fun way they normally would not. Pick a game that is easy to learn and easy to teach friends such as the ever-popular CatchPhrase, Apples to Apples, or The Game of Things. 

#4    Stationery
Never underestimate the power of a hand-written note! Stationery - another item a girl doesn't always think to buy for herself. If you don't know the recipient's taste, go with an elegant monogram letter on top or a simple, tasteful pattern. Find great stationery sets at stores like Papyrus, Paper Source, even Target.
Tortoise shell boxed cards from Papyrus.com
#5      Gift Certificates & Gift Cards
When in doubt... gift card! If you know the recipient well, give her some $ to her favorite store, or guide her to a new one. You can't go wrong with the generic girl-friendly gift cards either: Sephora, World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble... Or send her to the movies, dance lessons, yoga sessions, etc.
There you have it! 5 fail safe ways to make a gal smile this holiday.
Need clever gift-wrapping ideas? Click HERE for tips from Real Simple magazine.


Top 10 Xmas Flicks

My Top 10 Halloween movies post was a jolly success, but now we discuss an even more magical time for flicks... Christmas!

10National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation   1989
I'm a Chevy fan. And a sucker for slapstick comedy.
9. Four Christmases   2008
More slapstick. And great cameo appearances (Jon Favreau as a UFC fighter).
8. Rent    2005
Not technically a Christmas movie, per say. But I always find myself watching it around the holidays, and I dare you not to sing '525,600 Minutes' when you hear it!
7. Just Friends    2005
Anna Faris has never been funnier. And Oh Hello Mr Reynolds...
6. The Grinch    2000
Jim Carrey. Best. Grinch. Ever.
I used to pretend that I lived in Whoville when I was younger (...last year).
5. Home Alone    1990
I'm fairly certain this movie is the reason I'm paranoid about burglars.
A classic Christmas flick nonetheless.
4. Elf    2003
The movie in which we learned that gum on the sidewalk is not free candy, South Pole elves are angry, and spaghetti and syrup go well together.
3. The Holiday    2006
Yes it's cheesy, and poor Cam Diaz is kind of annoying in it. But everyone needs a little cheese at Christmas time... followed by wine.
2. A Christmas Story   1983
"I can't put my arms down!"
[ PS. This is weirdly the 6th time I've used this photo on my blog... ]
#1. Love Actually   2003
Greatest ensemble cast ever. Unique love stories. Colin Firth. And British accents. Winner!

What's your #1 holiday movie?

Images from IMDB


Deckin' the Halls

Happy 12-12-12 everyone! Christmas is around the corner, so I thought I'd share some photos of our little decorated apartment on the coast:

Our condo doesn't allow lights to be hung on the balcony (those Scrooges), so I brought them indoors...

Strewn haphazardly on the entertainment center mixed with glittery ornaments.

 Piled into a hand-blown glass bowl with pretty, reflective ornaments.

... just kidding. I didn't do this. I don't have a barn (yet).

My peeps at Real Simple magazine also have 30 simple holiday decor ideas.
Click HERE to learn more.

Did you add any creative touches to your home this year? Tell me about 'em!
Outdoor image from SOURCE


Lovely Luxe

I've always been drawn to the glowing opulence and ornate accessorization of the old European aristocracy, both in period film and in art. That's why I loved this How To Spend It magazine editorial by Andrew Yee. It has shine, it has texture, it's baroque... it's beautiful. Swoon!

Peep Peep

Designs by Lanvin, Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Valentino and others.
Images from SOURCE


Mint Chocolate Yums

I've been experimenting in the kitchen lately with baked goods. This week's experiment: Mint Chocolate Cupcakes made with Andes Mints. Yummola.

I started with a generic cake recipe from the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix box, then I went rogue! Here's how you can reinvent the magic:

- Betty Crocker Super Moist cake mix in Devil's Food
- 1/2 cup Canola or vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3 large eggs
- 1 package Andes chocolate mints
- 1 container whipped chocolate icing
- 1 container holiday sprinkles
- foil baking cups
Tools:  Hand mixer, large mixing bowl, muffin pan, chopping knife, ice cream scoop, spatula
1. Heat oven to 350F
2. Beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs in mixing bowl on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. Then unwrap anywhere from 18-24 Andes mints and chop into slivers.
4. Add mint slivers and fold them into the mixture with a spatula.

5. Fill baking cups 2/3 full with mixture.

6. Bake for 18-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.


7. Wait about 10 minutes for cupcakes to cool. Then ice each with a thin layer of whipped icing.

8. Add holiday-inspired flourishes as desired.  TIP: the mint and chocolate combo is even better when you refrigerate them.  

I brought a dozen to my Hubby's office and they were gone in minutes! Enjoy ~


Wishlist | Accessories for Xmas

Terracotta leather tote by Foley & Corinna

The Dont Even pump by Jeffrey Campbell
Ralph Lauren gold link bracelet (only $58!)
Dulcet Plume Cocktail Hat from Anthropologie
Tortoise shell barrel ring by Michael Kors

The Taylor bootie by Sam Edelman in the color 'beach'
Poppy Blossom Eau de Parfum by Coach
Carmella Coiled stretch headband from Anthropologie

Did you ever wish for a bicycle in your letters to Santa? While I'm wishing for stuff...
The Porteur, an electric bicycle by Faraday Bikes
And while we're at it, I'd also like a puppy.
Thanks Santa!
What's on YOUR list this holiday?