Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 1...

Welcome to the last day of the photo challenge.  And the last day of 2013.  It is “New Years Eve”.  Our house is a mess as evidenced by the photo above.  At least three out of the five of us are sick or getting sick.  Our dishwasher broke today and our sink spewed water at its seams, down the cabinets, onto and all over the floor.  My grandma’s still not feeling well.  I can’t think of a worse New Years Eve, but it’s ok.  Every other year, I’ve had a blast and they haven’t always been the best years.  Maybe this is the year, the one that starts off rocky and ends amazingly.  After all, when we write, when we dream, it’s always about happy endings not perfect beginnings.

Read All About It: 30 Day Trial Expired

After today, December will be done and so expires my first 30 Day Trial.  I can honestly say (sorry guys!) I did not read everyday as intended BUT I did read most days and many days I read for much longer than my allotted hour.

Not only did I find reading to be a source of relaxation after busy days, but it was exhilarating and inspiring as well.  There is something so necessary about reading in a time when the act of watching has become so commonplace.  The process of having someone sketch another world in your mind while you simultaneously color in all the details is a beautiful one.  It is something that is lost when we plop down on the couch and become purely spectators.

In addition to reading the first two installments of The Hunger Games trilogy, I read a lot of blog posts.  For someone who aspires to write, reading is essential.  And, for someone who aspires to be a blogger, reading blogs is imperative.  Through this process, I realized how unfair it was of me to ask people to discover and appreciate my work when I hardly made an effort to seek out and take in the works of others.  I will not make that mistake again.

All in all, I’d say December’s 30 Day Trial was a success for me.  I’m not sure if anyone joined in this month, but if you did feel free to comment and let me know how it went.  Come back tomorrow to read about - and maybe even take part in - my 30 Day Trial for January!!

<3 n

Monday, December 30, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 2...

“Night” is the photo challenge today.  After a long day of cleaning, a hot bath seemed like a great idea.  I’m going to keep this short as the water is waiting, I'm not feeling too well and it’s getting late.  Goodnight everyone!

What's on the Menu Monday: Back on Track

Breakfast: Since the New Year is upon us, the time has come for me to once again attempt to adhere to refreshed regimens and work toward unattainable goals.  I started today by eating healthier and remembering to take my vitamin.  For breakfast, I had Cheerios with honey and Caribou Reindeer Blend Coffee.

Lunch: Half a falafel wrap from Zankou Chicken with a Trader Joe’s salad (pictured above)

Dinner: In addition to a better diet, we’d like to start 2014 off with a clean, well-organized home.  Because of this, J, Ella and I cleaned all day today.  We had a quick, light dinner consisting of baked potatoes (and chicken for everyone but me).

Dessert: After dinner, I had Chips Ahoy Reduced Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies and a glass of milk.  J bought these by accident, but it worked out well because they were actually really good.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 3...

Today’s photo challenge is “Smiles with a Friend”.  Sadie has recently begun to smile at her toys, so I thought photographing this would be appropriate.  Although she’s only been in the world for two and a half months, she’s growing up far too quickly it seems.  Chubby cheeks have replaced her once sharply-edged jawline and the little baby who used to be blissfully unaware of her surroundings is now alert and reactive to her environment.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 4...

The photo challenge subject for today is “Scarf”.  This is by far my favorite scarf as it was a Christmas gift from and made by my grandma.  It’s super long and warm and cozy, so it’s the perfect winter accessory.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gifts from J: Christmas 2013

J is amazing at gift-giving.  He always knows exactly what to get me and often surprises me by giving me things I’ve forgotten I’d even mentioned to him.  Here’s a quick look at what he got me this Christmas…

1. Nike Free Run+ 3 Running Shoes - I’ve been in love with these for a while, but I never purchased a pair as I rarely wear athletic shoes.  I don’t think Nike even makes these anymore, so J had to do some hunting in order to find them.  Either he really loves me or really hates my old clunky cross-trainers!

2. GlamGlow Gift Sexy Set - This looked promising so I pinned it via Sephora’s site a while back.  I’ve only used each product once so far, but I did enjoy the results.  My skin was definitely visibly smoother and my pores seemed smaller.

3. Mossimo “Camp Fox” Sweatshirt - Two words… Love. This.

4. BaubleBar Neon Nightingale Necklace - I pinned this on Pinterest not long ago onto my “Nicky’s Wish List” board (LINK) and, thanks to my honey, it ended up under our Christmas tree this year.  What’s that quote from Field of Dreams?  If you pin it, it will come?  Hehe.

5. Faux Leather Leggings - I’ve actually never thought of buying super shiny pants for myself.  I had red pleather shorts in high school and let’s just say it didn’t work out between us.  These leggings, however, were a nice surprise.  They look really cute, so I’m glad J went with his style instincts and bought them.

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 5...

Today is “Fun” day for the photo challenge.  This collage is of Hendrix playing in his new Avengers tent that J’s mom got him for Christmas.  He had a blast crawling through and sitting inside it, especially when his daddy joined in.  Seeing my little ones laughing and playing is definitely something that makes the holiday season so special to me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 6...

The photo challenge of the day is “Bundled Up”.  Above are two of my cozy Christmas presents that I used today as I’m sick.  The zebra print blanket was from J’s mom.  It’s so warm and soft and it definitely kept me cuddly in bed today.  J bought me the “Camp Fox” sweatshirt.  I fell in love with it during a routine Target trip, so he went back and picked it up for me for Christmas.

Very Thankful Thursday: Here's to Health

This is going to be a super short post because I'm a bit physically and mentally drained today. I've been sick for the last couple days and, what's worse, my grandma was hospitalized yesterday due to an illness. She's doing ok now - well enough to talk to me and comfort me and tell me to stop crying over her - and she should be home soon which is something I'm very thankful for.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 7...

“Morning” is the subject of today’s photo challenge.  When I think of Christmas morning, two things come to mind - presents and pajamas.  My little ones (minus Sadie who slept through most of her first Christmas) opened their gifts from Santa shortly after they woke up, still wearing their nighttime attire.  Ella received a Pokemon card set, Hendrix got Transformers and Spiderman action figures and Sadie was given a pink rattle ball.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 8...

The photo challenge for today is “Holiday Tradition”.  I can’t think of one Christmas ritual that I loved more as a child than leaving a note and cookies for Santa along with sugar for the reindeer (does anyone else do the sugar part or was it just my family?).  This year, Ella and I baked Snickerdoodle and Molasses cookies and set them out with milk, a sugar/cinnamon mix and a coffee cup with a Reindeer Blend K-Cup inside so that Santa can help himself to some coffee.  Ella is a little on the fence this year as far as her belief in Mr. Claus, but with a little explanation from me and a couple confirmations from the Norad Santa Tracker, she decided the big guy is still worthy of the annual note and snacks.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!!

<3 n

Monday, December 23, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 9...

Today is “Presents Under the Tree” day!  When I was little, I was always very excited about Christmas and extremely anxious to rip into all of my presents.  That’s pretty natural for a child.  Now that I’m older and I’m on the giving end of gifts however, I get far too excited about seeing other people open presents.  I’ve been guilty, once or twice, of forcing my family members to open gifts prematurely.  More often, I have the horrible habit of talking to the recipient about their gift without saying what I actually bought them.  I just can’t stand the wait!  Because of this, I think last-minute shopping and wrapping actually help me since I know I don’t have to wait too long before giving my loved ones their goodies.  I’m weird.  I know this.

What's on the Menu Monday: Did I Eat Today?!

Breakfast: Starbucks Pike Place Coffee with International Delight Sweet Cream Creamer

Snack: Nope!

Lunch: Nothing here either!

Dinner: In-N-Out Animal-Style Grilled Cheese and Fries

Dessert: Another round of Starbucks Pike Place Coffee with International Delight Sweet Cream Creamer anyone?  I needed a little boost to finish wrapping presents tonight.  Don’t judge me.

As you can tell, it was one of those days when life itself keeps you from doing the things that are essential to living (i.e. eating, sleeping, occasionally stopping to breathe).  Between last-minute shopping, feeding babies, bathing babies, changing babies and, oh yea, showering once, it was hard to find a moment for a real meal today.  I’m also feeling kinda sick, so I think that killed my appetite as well.

<3 n

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Countdown to 2014 in Photos: 10…

Today’s photo challenge is “Red”.  Since most of our holiday shopping bags and buys feature this rosy Christmas color, I decided to photograph a few of them.  Included in this picture are a Macy’s bag containing a Gap sweater for my dad, a Victoria’s Secret bag which holds a gift set for J’s mom, Snickerdoodle and Molasses cookie mixes for Santa’s snack, Target bags filled with various goodies for J and Sadie, and a Vans bag which houses a gift for one of my best friends.  Parking at the mall was absolutely horrible.  It was like trying to find an inn with a vacancy on Christmas Eve.  Nevertheless, Ella and I braved the crowds to purchase the presents listed above.  The venture reminded me of the wonderfully chaotic Christmas shopping trips I've taken with my mom over the years.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Countdown to 2014: The Last 10 Days in Photos

This month, in addition to my first 30 Day Trial, I’m participating in a daily photo challenge created by Lianne Stewart, author of the Lulabelle blog.  Since I started off poorly (I missed days one through five), I thought I’d finish strong by posting the remaining days’ photos on my blog - where they will be full-sized with bigger, better descriptions - as well as on my Instagram page.

Check back tomorrow for day one of the countdown.  If you’d like to join me in sending off 2013 with a photographic finish, visit the link above to view the photo challenge details!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Meet Hendrix!!

Name: Hendrix Rome Matthew

Birthday: October 1st

Likes: biting on everything, Yo Gabba Gabba, puppies, being held, playing telephone, long walks, following his big sister around, warm baths, power naps, Trader Joe’s Dixie Peach Juice

Dislikes: washing his face, sleeping through the night, inedible objects

What makes Hendrix special?
Despite being born seven weeks early, he only spent twenty-one days in the NICU. He quickly proved he didn't need a breathing tube and moved on from a feeding tube to a bottle as fast as his tiny body would allow. He was 3lbs 15oz at his lowest weight and now he's taller - and heavier - than most children his age. He was and continues to be one strong little man.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Very Thankful Thursday: Back to Work

This week, I am very thankful for everyone with whom I have the extreme pleasure of working.  I took a break from maternity leave to visit the office for my baby shower today (baby, pictured above, was in attendance as she came a bit earlier than expected).  Little Sadie received so many beautiful gifts including enough clothing to keep her decked out for months.  The trip to the office was a reminder that my postpartum vacation will be coming to an end soon.  Although I’ll miss my little ones terribly, I get to resume working with some pretty amazing people so it’s not so bad!

What are you thankful for this week?  Comment and let me know!

<3 n

Monday, December 16, 2013

What's on the Menu Monday: Minute-Saving Meals

Breakfast: I had Starbucks House Blend Coffee with International Delight’s Salted Caramel Mocha Creamer.  Since I was focused on cleaning this morning, I returned to my coffee-only breakfast routine.  Our house was a disaster because we ran around all weekend and I completely neglected to clean.

Lunch: For lunch, I ate a bagel with cream cheese and sliced avocado along with a cucumber, corn, tomato and feta salad.  The salad, which I made last night, was even better today as the dressing thoroughly infused the other ingredients during their sleepover in the fridge.

Snack: Half a banana

Dinner: We have A LOT to do tomorrow so I opted to not make a huge mess of the kitchen by cooking tonight.  Instead, we ordered cheese pizza from Little Caesar’s.  Really bad, I know, but it kept me from having to do more dishes!

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Very Thankful Thursday: Watch and Learn

I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to write about for this week’s Very Thankful Thursday post, but then it hit me.  Tonight, as I was adorning the rim of a coffee mug with peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs, I realized how grateful I am for YouTube videos.  As silly as it sounds, they really are wonderful.

I can’t remember the last time I purchased a beauty product without typing the product name into the YouTube search bar followed by the word “review”.  I can (and many times I do) read up on things about which I am curious, but I don’t always have time to sit down and perform my own extensive research.  Not to mention, I don’t have the money to throw away on products that don’t work, so review videos certainly come in handy.   My go-to YouTuber for advice on beauty products is usually Dulce Tejeda (aka Dulce Candy on YouTube).  With her extensive tutorials and detailed reviews, she’s definitely earned her title of “Beauty Guru”.

The coffee mug laced with graham crackers was for a delicious recipe posted by Ingrid Nilsen (aka missglamorazzi).  This month, Ingrid is doing a daily video series which she’s dubbed “DIY December”.  So far, she’s provided the YouTube community with eleven great DIY ideas including yummy recipes, fun and easy crafts and even the reminder to donate to less fortunate children this holiday season (with accompanying footage of her trip to the toy store).  It’s ideas like these that also make YouTube very valuable.  Again, when you’re pressed for time, quick videos are a great source of information and inspiration.

Another fantastic thing about YouTube is the fact that you get to see unscripted people engaging in actual life experiences.  In today’s world of faux reality television, it’s refreshing to watch real humans do real stuff.  Anna Saccone (see Anna Saccone and SACCONEJOLYs) is a perfect example of this.  I like watching her (along with her hubby and adorable daughter) because they’re a regular family just like mine and because they live in Ireland so I get to see a bit of a different culture which is pretty awesome.

As usual, feel free to comment and tell me what you’re thankful for this week, whether it’s small or big, silly or serious!!

<3 n

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's on the Menu Monday: Soup Weather

Breakfast: As we headed out the door to the gym this morning, I quickly ate some shredded wheat cereal with sliced banana.  For some reason, I haven’t had cereal for the longest time.  It was a nice change from my usual coffee-only breakfasts.

Lunch: Nothing complements cold, windy weather better than soup.  I made a pot of sopa de fideo (with shells instead of regular pasta).  The recipe is borrowed from J’s mom with a couple of very slight modifications.

Snack: Raspberries and blueberries

Dinner: Sopa leftovers!

Dessert: For dessert, we had cake baked by my mom and decorated by Ella (as seen above).  I’m still not quite sure what the inspiration for her design was.  She drew several things onto the frosting in icing and then proceeded to cover most of it up with the green sprinkles.  In any case, it tasted great!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mini Haul: Target and Victoria's Secret

Today, J and I enjoyed a little alone time while Ella was at school and J’s mom watched Hendrix and Sadie.  We ventured to the gym, then to lunch and afterwards did a little bit of shopping.  Since I love watching haul videos, I decided to do a mini haul blog post about what we bought.  We didn’t get much at all as we need to focus our funds on Christmas shopping (and other fun stuff like rent and food), but I thought it’d be fun to post this anyway.

’Tis the season for a Victoria’s Secret sale!  Until Sunday, you can get five pairs of undies from the PINK line for just $26.  I posted the accompanying photo in hopes that it would provide you all with an idea of what I purchased without being too inappropriate.

Free PINK Puppy
With my Victoria’s Secret purchase, I received another adorable mini dog to add to my collection.  I’ve actually given most of them to Ella over the years, but looking back I kinda wish I’d kept them all in mint condition.  Oh well!  I’m still very much enjoying my new blue iridescent doggy.

Baby Wipes
Scented Up & Up brand wipes from Target.  Gotta have ‘em!

Two Basic Tanks
When we left Target, J asked if these tank tops are for the gym.  Silly man!  The reason I bought two simple, neutral-colored tank tops is because they’re super versatile.  “They’re for the gym, for home, for going out, for anywhere,” I told him.  Besides, women don’t sweat to the point of spoiling clothing like guys do - most of the time anyway.  Just in case I should require more, Target currently has them on sale for two for $16.

Sadie’s Snuggly Suit
It was imperative that we purchased a warm winter suit for Sadie as the weather’s been very cold for us Southern Californians the last few days.  Now, when I say “very cold” I’m talking highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s.  It’s not that cold and there aren’t any snowflakes in sight, but she does need to stay nice and cozy so we bought the suit.  Pink is my favorite color and the polka dots are very cute.  Bonus - the suit matches the Victoria’s Secret shopping bag which, I informed J, I will most definitely be hoarding as it’s just too beautiful to toss.

Big Sis/Little Sis Headbands
These Cherokee brand headbands from Target are labeled “one size” so, thinking that they’d work for both of my girls, I bought two!  The headband’s a little large on Sadie (it fits but the flower decoration is a bit massive), so I think it will only be practical for photography purposes for now.  Ella will get a lot more use out of hers as the proportions are more appropriate for her.  We briefly toyed with the idea of getting Hendrix a black bow tie, but J reminded me that there’s zero chance of him keeping it on.

The Trader’s Joe-Joe’s
These seasonal cookies are absolutely delicious.  If you haven’t tried them, they’re essentially Oreos but with candy cane cream filling.  Personally, I think they taste better than Oreos.  They seem to be less processed or more natural-tasting, if that makes any sense at all.

Work-Out Warmth
Last, but not least, J got a pair of lined leggings for the gym.  I tried them on when we got home and I think I might need to get a pair of my own.  The inside lining is nice and fleecy and, since I get cold very quickly, that would certainly come in handy.

So that’s it for my first haul blog post!  I hope you enjoyed it.  Please comment with a link to your haul posts or videos and I’ll gladly read or watch them.

<3 n

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Very Thankful Thursday: It's That Time of Year

Since I was busy cooking and stuffing my face on the most thankful of Thursdays, I neglected to write about what I was grateful for last week.  This week, as we are now post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas, I’ve decided to write about that thing that makes the holiday season so truly special.  Family!  It’s extremely cliche, but the holidays do seem to be a grand reminder of the importance of one’s kinfolk.

Admittedly, I am the worst at keeping in touch.  I’m constantly telling myself, “I’ll call [name of loved one] as soon as I finish [task that is currently petitioning for my time and attention]!”  And then that never happens because something else comes up and before I know it it’s tomorrow and I start that same cycle all over again.  Nevertheless, I love and appreciate each one of my family members - and friends as many of them are so close to me that they’re practically family and I consider them to be just that.

I’m so grateful to have people I can confide in, laugh with and even vent to when necessary.  They accept me no matter how wacky I am and they’re always there to pick me up regardless of how down I get.  My parents and siblings have been, and remain to this day, beyond supportive and I’m so thankful for each of them.  I’m blessed to have a wonderful partner who doubles as a best friend and three beautiful healthy children.  Even when Ella is talking back or Hendrix and Sadie are wailing simultaneously, they’re precious and their presence in my life is invaluable.

So, although I shouldn’t require a reminder, I’m glad the holidays have come around once again to help me remember to be super thankful for my family.  Here’s to another year of being surrounded by the most amazing people I know!

Please comment and tell me what you’re thankful for this week or what you’re most thankful for during the holidays!

<3 n

Monday, December 2, 2013

What's on the Menu Monday: Leftover Thanks & Bday Cakes

Breakfast: Starbucks Pike Place coffee with pumpkin spice creamer!  That’s been breakfast lately, but starting tomorrow we’ll be back on track.  J and I have just rejoined the gym, so we have a newfound motivation to whip our diets into shape.

Snack: Butter waffle cookies and pistachios (more bad stuff!)

Lunch: As we’re still grazing on Thanksgiving leftovers, I had my mom’s homemade sweet potato pie for lunch.

Dinner:  I ate Turkey Day overstock for dinner as well.  This time it was string beans, Brussels sprouts and portobello mushrooms.  I also had a slice of pizza J’s mom brought for his birthday.  He’s 29 today.  Yay!

Dessert: Birthday cake! (also courtesy of J’s mom)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Day Trial: Read All About It!!

I have a confession.  I am not a reader.  I’d love to be a reader.  I’d love to be one of those people who immerses themselves in literature and simply can’t put a book down once they’ve picked it up, but I’m not.  Lack of time combined with an unwillingness to dedicate my attention to anything more than a short news article or the description section below a YouTube video, has made me, well, not exactly book club material.  I realize that, as someone who enjoys writing, this is extremely detrimental.

And so, I pledge to read for at least an hour each day during the month of December.  This shouldn’t be too difficult, in the beginning at least, since I just bought The Hunger Games trilogy for my Kindle.  I downloaded it as soon as we got home after watching Catching Fire.  I can’t wait to know what happens in the third book, but I figured I should read the first two books instead of relying solely on their cinematic counterparts.  Yes, I understand that the series is geared toward young adults but hey,  I’m trying to get back into reading.  Starting with something simple that I know I’ll enjoy is probably the best approach.

I’m hoping that this month-long commitment to being a bookworm will help me establish a regular reading routine.  If it does, I’m sure I won’t be the only beneficiary of this experiment.    I’ll be able to set a great example for the kids (mainly Ella as she is the only one who can read at the moment) and spark a love of books in each of them.

Be sure to check back on December 31st for the results of this month’s 30 day trial!

<3 n

Welcome to the 30 Day Trial!!

In order to become a healthier, more well-rounded individual, I will be trying something new every month.  On the first of the month, I will explain my new venture and tell you why I’ve decided to explore it.  Then, on the last day of the month, I’ll report back to you with the outcome of my trial and let you know what I learned and/or gained from the experience.  As always, feel free to comment or, better still, take part in my 30 day trial!  That way, we can do this together and you can comment on my end of the month post with details about your own experience.  I’d love to hear from you!

<3 n

Monday, November 25, 2013

What's on the Menu Monday: Popcorn for Breakfast!!

Breakfast: Popcorn and Cherry Pepsi!!  JayR and I went to see an early showing of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (which was amazing), so our breakfast consisted entirely of movie theatre fare.

Snack: Blueberry muffin when we got home from the movies

Lunch: Ella, Hendrix and I had grilled cheese sandwiches with Trader Joe’s pumpkin soup.  The soup wasn’t as yummy as I’d hope it would be, but it was a nice nod to the season.

Snack: Starbucks French Roast Coffee with International Delight’s Salted Caramel Mocha Creamer

Dinner: To balance out the extremely unhealthy breakfast and questionably nutritious lunch I consumed, I decided to reel it in tonight.  Lettuce, tomatoes and a spoon of cottage cheese topped with a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing wrapped up the day’s meals.

What's on the Menu Monday: The Intro

Happy Monday!!  Today marks the first day of my “What’s on the Menu Monday” posts.  What better way to keep myself blogging while simultaneously forcing myself to eat better for fear of being judged than to tell you all what’s on my menu?  I briefly entertained the idea of posting a weekly meal plan on Sundays, but I figured this would be less boring for everyone - including me.  I hope you enjoy it!

<3 n

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Very Thankful Thursday: The Beginning

As I drive to and from work and all around running errands, I notice the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the potholes and the jerks who refuse to acknowledge the little white lines separating their space from mine.  I usually don’t think to admire all the amazing things around me like blooming flowers or fresh air coming through the window or even the sound of the reliable vehicle that facilitates my trips.  Oftentimes, this forgetfulness extends into other aspects of my life and I’m not as thankful as I should be.  To help myself become more aware of all the great things and remember to be grateful for each of them, I’ve decided to implement these “Very Thankful Thursday” posts.  Each week, I will be writing about something - big or small - for which I am thankful.

This week, I’m especially grateful for my new iMac.  This may sound a bit materialistic, but please read on!  I’ve been without a home computer for a few years, so it’s such a blessing to have one now.  I can finally write, view photos and surf the internet somewhere other than my phone and Kindle.  On top of that, this is my first Apple computer, so discovering all of its cool features has been tons of fun.  I’ve been editing pictures of my little ones, writing more than I have in quite sometime and watching YouTube videos in non-mobile site mode which hasn’t occurred in I don’t know how long.  Christmas came early this year and, as I’m sure you can guess, I am very thankful!

<3 n

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Meet Ella!!

Name: Ella Shae Ashley

Birthday: July 22nd

Likes: her Kindle Fire, Monster High dolls, cheerleading, ballet, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series, Barbie movies, fashion design, animals, Adele songs, Hello Kitty, lasagna, trips to the beach

Dislikes: long hikes, cooked mushrooms, cleaning her room, brushing her hair

What Makes Ella Special?
Her awesome sense of humor!  She's not childish and cute, she's witty and intelligent and even borderline offensive at times.  From our close friends to complete strangers, everyone tells us she should be on TV.  I may be a bit biased being her mom and all, but I tend to agree with them.  I think her comedic abilities along with her amazing personality will definitely take her far.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Fall!

Despite the lovely L.A. weather, it is, in fact, fall and as such, I thought I'd post something seasonal. This is the blog version of the modified version of this tag which was posted by one of my favorite YouTubers, "missglamorazzi". Enjoy!

1. Favorite candle scent?
As its name and label would suggest, Fresh Balsam is definitely a winter scent. Despite this, it is my favorite for fall. It fills the room with a woody crispness which I feel is perfect for this season - and the next!

2. Coffee, tea or hot chocolate?
Although I love all three, I'd have to say coffee! My current favorites are Starbucks' Pike Place and Pumpkin Spice.

3. What's the best fall memory you have?
Dodging Palm tree branches! I'm laughing at this as I type because it seems like such a true California fall moment. There is a large Palm tree in my parents' front yard and each year when the wind kicks up, some of the branches fall. Unlike light, dainty leaves riding the breeze, Palm tree branches have the grace of a lightning bolt racing violently toward the earth. And, on occasion, I've been unfortunate enough to have been outside while these branches make their seasonal descent.

4. Dark lips or winged eyeliner?
Dark lips. There's a richness about them that just says fall.

5. Best fragrance for fall?
Viktor and Rolf's Flowerbomb. Flowerbomb for any season. Flowerbomb always no matter what. It's my favorite. Can you tell??

6. Favorite Thanksgiving food?
Since I don't eat turkey as I am a vegetarian, it's a tie between dressing and cranberry sauce for me. More accurately, it's the combination of dressing topped with cranberry sauce. Yummy! Tip: Check out the back of the packaging of Trader Joe's cranberries for an incredibly easy and delicious cranberry sauce recipe.

7. What is autumn weather like where you live?
The weather in Southern California only hints at seasons. When we feel a bit of wind and see a few tanned leaves, we know it's time to throw on a sweater or scarf. That's our autumn. It's more about wardrobe updates than climate changes.

8. Most worn sweater?
My black button down boyfriend sweater from Target. It goes with almost anything and I wear it with almost everything.

9. Must-have nail polish this fall?
I have yet to purchase it, but I'm loving the look of Essie's After School Boy Blazer.

10. Football games or jumping in leaf piles?
Are you kidding? It wouldn't be fall without football! It's my favorite sport and my honey plays every year on Thanksgiving so it will always be a autumn tradition for our family.

11. Skinny jeans or leggings?
Leggings are great but denim reads more fall to me. Skinny jeans + brown riding boots + a great sweater and scarf = perfect autumn outfit.

12. Combat boots or Uggs?
Uggs. I don't really wear mine out of the house because I hate my wide calves, but I still like their comfy cold weather vibe.

13. Is pumpkin spice worth the hype?
Definitely! It's amazing. Go get one now. Make it a venti. It's even great with soy milk. Go now!

14. Favorite fall TV show?
I'm a huge How I Met Your Mother fan. It's very well-written and the cast is extremely talented. The only bad part about this show? It's the last season! Monday will soon regain its title as the worst day of the week.

15. What song really gets you into the fall spirit?
Miles Davis' Freddie Freeloader. It's the perfect soundtrack to an autumn drive.

I don't think my reader population is even in the double digits yet, but if you do read this, consider yourself tagged! Please please please comment with a link to a sweater weather tag of your own. If you neither blog nor vlog, comment anyway and tell me your favorite thing about fall!!

<3 n

Don't Call It a Comeback...

Ok, call it a comeback! That's exactly what I'm doing - coming back after a nine month hiatus. Ironically, nine months is the standard gestational period of a human baby and I just had a human baby, but I didn't stop blogging because I was incubating our new arrival. I stopped because I had two and a half kids and a full-time job and the combination of those things made me super tired and busy. Since that's absolutely no excuse for not taking the time to do the thing I claim to love to do, I'm back to do it now. That thing that I love. The writing thing.

<3 n

Friday, February 22, 2013

Holy Résumé, Batman!!

You've checked every classified ad and scoured every job search site and you finally found a job that's perfect for you. The only thing left to do is submit documentary evidence of your job-worthiness. That's right - I mean your résumé. As the company supervisors, my best friend and I were entrusted with the task of reviewing emails from potential employees. After coming across a few of the same faux pas in almost every résumé I read, I decided to put together some to tips on how to successfully launch your job-seeking missile. So, before you submit that résumé, read on. 

Formatting Fails
Save the crazy, nearly unreadable fonts for another project. You're going to want to make this one as legible as possible. What you believe to be eye-catching may be an eyesore for someone else so play it safe with a normal, non-offensive font. If you use • for one bulletpoint list, don't switch to + for the next. Even individuals who aren't sticklers for formatting may notice such a pattern change and be super annoyed by it. For me, inconsistency in capitalization is a major issue. If you list your job title as "Assistant Customer Service Manager" in one section, stay with that. DO NOT use "Assistant customer service manager" for the next job title. Again, not everyone may be disgusted by it like I am, but they could find it distracting. The thing you want readers to focus on is the content of your résumé not the way it's constructed. 

Don't Over Do It!
Write a résumé that sounds like you. Once upon a time, when I used to love to write poetry, I read an article that advised against attempting to write like an eighteenth century author whilst living in modern day society. This concept can be applied to any type of writing unless you are, in fact, composing a period piece in which case the use of thou, thee and thy is perfectly fine. Since we're talking twenty-first century résumés here, just write like you. Being formal is great, but don't try to mimic some form of formality that you've overheard from other people and don't normally utilize in your own speech.

Introducing... You!!
I came across a work experience section yesterday in which the applicant made detailed bulletpoint lists explaining what each company did instead of what his duties were during his time with them. Because we're looking for a candidate for employment not acquisition, I'm only interested in what you did. If I'm curious about the company you worked for, I'll just Google it until my curiosity is completely satisfied. Another thing that can fail to make a great first impression is the cover letter. I'm not really into them. I'm a pretty smart girl so I know not everyone out there is a "highly motivated, very experienced self-starter" and I don't like reading those same buzz words over and over in every cover letter we receive. Just introduce yourself. Who are you? Why are you applying for this job? Give potential employers a brief (very brief because they will be reading your résumé later... hopefully... fingers crossed!) description of your "extensive experience". For example, "two years customer service experience" will do nicely. Let the hirer decide if that is extensive or not.  Also, avoid listing "skills" that are more opinions than facts. Go with "55 WPM" in lieu of "extremely fast typist". Again, the employer will decide if your skills are sufficient for their needs.

Get Smart!
If you have trouble with basic grammar, do something about it! Having a friend look over and correct your misguided résumé is awesome, but you need to understand where you went wrong. After you're hired based on your ghostwritten résumé, what then? Eventually, your employer will find out you're not the grammatical genius they thought you were and the consequences could cause you to be out of a job.  There are plenty of books as well as online resources that can help you obtain a better grasp on the English language. Find them and use them. That way, in the future, whether you're composing a résumé or any other document, you're doing it properly. 

Adjust for Your Audience
If we were all cavemen, we'd be forced to etch our résumés into stone tablets. If we wanted to modify what we'd written, we'd have to whip out the hammer and chisel and pray that our slabs don't crack. Luckily, through the miracle of technology, we can change our résumés anytime with the backspace button and a few keystrokes. If you're applying for a certain position, tailor your résumé to suit that position. Don't fabricate. Simply highlight the skills and experience that pertain to that job.

I am not a English major by any stretch of the imagination and I am not an expert on the résumé writing process. I'm simply sharing with you my thoughts on how to avoid having people (like me!) who read your résumé, file it in the rectangular receptacle. Best of luck!

<3 n

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Top Ten Worst Friends on Facebook

Ah, the wonders of social networking! You can chat with your kindergarten buds and catch up with your cross country cousins. You can keep everyone in your circle in the loop about what's new in your world. You can even plant imaginary crops and help your real friends with their virtual farms. Yes, it's all fun and games until one of your peeps posts their twenty-eighth cat picture this month or pokes you for the fifty-second time today and leaves you frantically searching for the unfriend button. We all have them. Hell, we might even be them. Here are my top ten picks for the worst Facebook friends.

The Overly Stressed - Sad face! This bad news bear lives by the motto "If you don't have anything nice to say, write it on Facebook!" Even the mildest of bad days send him spiraling into the deepest of depressions. And, since it's never healthy to keep those emotions bottled up, he lets loose on Facebook and you get to (extra! extra!) read all about it.

The Overly Blessed - Haven't you heard? Church isn't just for Sundays anymore! This friend is waking up and working out with capital H-i-m and she can't wait to tell you about it. Your wall runneth over with her abundance of blessings and, although you may also love the Lord, you totally want to snuff out her this-little-light-of-mine.

The Love Bird - She loves him. She loves him not.  One day, she's posting pix of her new beau and the next, she's switching her relationship status back to single. She's stuck on the love rollercoaster and, unfortunately, you get to go along for the ride via posts that read like a bipolar romance novel.

The Tweeter - With so many sites in our favorites list, it's easy to make a bookmark blunder. While attempting to fly on over to Twitter, this poor friend has crash landed onto Facebook and filled your news feed with short frequent bursts of text. It's all there. Every thought. Every move. Every second of every day. In 150 characters or less.

The Poster Poster - Just because a picture is worth a thousand words, it doesn't mean one should use them in lieu of every communication. This friend expresses himself through inspirational quotes affixed to photos of soaring eagles and the occasional ill-mannered e-card. You just wish he'd [cute cat covering its mouth picture] already.

The Out-of-State Event Inviter - Who? You! When? One week from today! What? The most awesomest party ever! Where? Some tiny town in a state that, much like sasquatch, you've heard of but never seen with your own eyes because it's just too far away to even care about. While you're completely flattered, you're also confused by your friend's invitation to a soire that you'd have to spend your entire life's savings to attend.

The Poke Master General - Rain or shine, this friend is delivering a plethora of pokes straight to your inbox. You send back a courtesy poke only to discover that yet another poke has been sent to you at express mail speed which leaves you wondering, "Where the hell did Zuckerberg put the 'Return to Sender' button?!?"

The Sir Likes-A-Lot - We all secretly love watching that number near the thumbs-up icon grow and grow as our friends become admirers of our posts and status updates. All this admiration takes on a peculiar vibe, however, when you notice that one particular friend has liked every one of your posts... and all of your mutual friends' posts... and even each of his own posts. Is there anything that he UNlikes??

The Entree Enthusiast - Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but this friend believes every feast is special in its own way. And as such, she's seen fit to share her every eating experience with you by way of three square photos a day.  Bon appetite buddy!

The Tag Me In Guy - Everyone loves a good game of tag - except when that game involves the constant documentation of your precise geographical location and super embarrassing photos.  This pal is chronicling every adventure you share with accompanying pictorial evidence.  Last week's Starbucks run. That impromptu trip to TJ you took without your significant other. And of course the day you puked after the mile run with your crossfit class. The bright side of all this? You'll always have an alibi!

<3 n

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Inner Garden Geek

Our fairly large balcony serves as a home gym at the moment, but come spring it'll hopefully be home to my compact-sized apartment garden. I grew up with two green-thumbed parents and ended up with a pink thumb (read: better at girl stuff than garden stuff). Armed with a couple of great resources, however, I'm determined to water and grow and not kill some plants this year.

While on Pinterest, I found SproutRobot.com. This site allows you to type in your zip code and find out exactly which fruits and vegetables thrive well in your area and when to plant them. They'll even send you weekly email reminders. In addition to this, you can view illustrated planting instructions for both in-ground gardens as well as container gardens and order seeds from their online store. I'll probably be purchasing seeds from a local source, but I'll definitely utilize the how-and-when tips the site provides.

Another potentially useful tool for my gardening adventures will be Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington. I say potentially because I have not read the entire book nor have I put its advise into action yet. What I've read so far, along with many positive reviews, tells me this book will come in handy though. The author is a former farm-dweller turned city girl who created a surprisingly expansive and productive garden in a limited apartment setting. I'm hoping her tried-and-true methods will help me grow a mini Eden of my very own.

I'd like my garden to be mainly comprised of vegetables. Having a large supply of veggies on hand to cook for my family would be a definite plus. I'd also love to grow pumpkins for the kids this Halloween, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough to attempt it. Here is my list so far:

Pumpkins (maybe!!)
Habanero peppers
Bell peppers
And a few random non-edibles

Wish me luck!!
<3 n

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine!!

Welcome and thank you for coming by! My name is Nicky and this is my blog. It's pretty much about everything. My family. Current events. Photography. My random opinions (I have a lot of them). Home decor. Beauty. Writing. Life in LaLaLand (aka Los Angeles). Art. And pretty much everything that makes me me.

If you'd like to know more about me, feel free to view my Google+ profile or, better yet, read on because this blog will probably provide more info on my inner workings than any other source.

Please comment on my posts and follow me if you'd like! I also welcome criticism - constructive and otherwise - as beggars cannot be choosers. And, as most authors that have yet to be published can tell you, nary a more pathetic panhandler exists than the unread writer.

<3 n