7.29.2015

28 THINGS IVE LEARNED WHILE BEING 28


Today is my birthday. I'm turning the big 2-9 today. Not quite yet 30 but getting pretty darn close. To commemorate my 28th year, I pulled together 28 things I've learned while being 28.

I'm not going to lie, I went back and forth on if I should write up this list. First on my mind was if I could come up with 28 pieces of wisdom to share with you. I mean that's A LOT of things that I have learned. But I decided to go ahead with it because I think acknowledging things that you have accomplished can help you grow. It has been a pretty crazy and unexpected year. If you'll recall, I ushered in 28 unemployed but very actively interviewing for new jobs. Since then I have started my new job at Sephora corporate and been there for 10 months!

So here it is…28 Things I've Learned While Being 28 (in no particularly meaningful order, told by my Instagrams )


1. Things Will Work Themselves Out - Trying to find a new job is hard especially when you don't have an income and costs are adding up, but waiting to accept the right job is so important. Take a breath and remember things will sort themselves out. I interviewed for months with Sephora for multiple positions and that led me to my current job.


2. Experiences make really good gifts - my sister gave me the sweetest gift (literally) for Christmas. She gave me a cooking class to Sur La Table. It was such a fun experience that I decided to return the favor for her birthday and give her tickets whale watching. Although the gift might be a little more expensive, the memories you share together will stay in your mind for years to come.


3. Hustle - one of the things I'm most proud of from the last year was all of the work I did with fabulous partners on my blog. I had the opportunity to work with everyone from Serena and Lily to HP. I love blogging for opening the door to partnerships with so many amazing companies. It doesn't come easy though. Behind the scenes, I'm working hard to create great content for the blog and pick the right people to partner with. I'm happy that I have stuck with it and continued to push myself to create (hopefully) inspiring posts.


4. Be Smart - One of the hardest things to do when I was unemployed was cut back on my unnecessary expenses. I cut down manicures to once a month and did my own nails the other 3 weeks. I ordered drip coffee or tea instead of a latte. Believe me, I know that most of these things are #firstworldproblems but they are things that make me really happy. I didn't want to cut them out completely so I just tried to cut back a little more than usual. One thing I did allow myself was mini shopping trips to Daiso, the Japanese dollar store. I stocked up on cute bowls and plates, all for under $1.50 a pop. Now that's a cheap thrill.


5. A good lipstick is hard to find - at my new job I've tried on A LOT of lipsticks in the 10 months I've been there. And the perfect lipstick is harder to find than a unicorn. I'm telling you, it's not easy. So when I tried the Le Marc lipstick and it lasted throughout cocktails and appetizers, I was hooked. My favorites shades are Oh Miley!, Boy Gorgeous and Blow.


6. Stop and enjoy the moment - sometimes the light is hitting the buildings just right on your walk home, or you are poolside in Napa with the only sound being the rustling of trees and, in that moment, it's just perfect. Acknowledge those moments and appreciate them (it makes them even better than they are!)


7. Use It - As a child, I always saved my stickers for something special. I kept them stockpiled in a box for that one special time. Well I grew out of the sticker phase and they were never used. As an adult, I did the same with beauty products. I said, I need to save this special face mask for something important. But since I now have access to a seemingly endless supply (seriously, do you need something? come over to my house) of beauty products, I have been using them with nearly reckless abandon. And, you know what? I still have a lot left. You think that if you use something, it will be gone in the blink of an eye. Well actually it lasts quite long and you can always buy more of it. So go ahead, use up that gold sparkly eyeshadow. The time is now.


8. Blog friends make wonderful real friends - some of the friends that I have met while blogging have turned into "real" friends outside of the fun blogging events that we attend. I am constantly inspired by their creativity and appreciative of their camaraderie as we figure this whole blogging thing out.


9. Give yourself a break - Starting a new job is super tough. I was (and sometimes still am) so hard on myself when it comes to learning new things but you have to be kind to yourself. You have to give yourself the time you need to learn a new task. It will take time and you probably will make mistakes. The key is to be nice and keep moving forward.


10. Get Dirt on Your Shoes - One of my favorite things that I have started doing this year has been getting out of the city to go on hikes. Being in nature instantly calms me down and makes me less stressed about work. I am fortunate that we have so many amazing trails so close to home.


11. You can DIY something - For being an interior design-focused blogger, I dont do much around DIY for your home. I'll be honest, I'm not that into it because I dont have the space to be spray painting etc. But I saw this on the side of the road and knew I had to have it. I convinced my friend to help me load it into an Uber and take it up the stairs for me. It was all worth it. After I polished up the brass handles and re-coated it in shiny black spray paint, it looked as good as new.


12. If You Really Want Something Work for It - To me, photos are such an important part of blogging. I am such a visual person that photos are everything to me. So it didn't quite make sense that I was still using a little point-and-shoot to do all my blog posts for nearly half of last year. When November rolled around and I was firmly a month into my new job, I bought myself a "real" camera. I love my camera and can't imagine blogging without it. I put aside money for months to save enough to buy it. If you really want something, find a way to make it happen.


13. Take Care of Your Skin - Much to my dismay, wrinkles have started popping up around my eyes. It was a wakeup call to invest a little more into my skin. I have been making a point of it to be more dedicated to putting on eye cream, wearing a hat in the sun and drinking plenty of water.


14. Get Outta Town - This year, I took several amazing trips. One of my favorites was to Palm Springs with my girlfriends. You don't have to go far and it doesn't have to be expensive. There is something so magically restorative about spending a weekend away from home. It gives you perspective. I for one am going to be planning more mini-vacations in the future.


15. Great Co-workers Make All of the Difference - I really like the group of women that I work with. They are funny, collaborative and solutions-oriented. If something goes wrong, they all pitch in to help. They are also really great at celebrating successes and giving credit where it is due. It makes going into work a whole heck of a lot easier.


16. If you have a little routine and it makes you happy, it's worth it - Every morning, I love to stop by Blue Bottle Coffee for a drip coffee. My unemployed self would have scolded me for this seemingly frivolous activity. After all, I have coffee sitting in my refrigerator. But coffee at home rushing around isn't the same as sipping at my desk. It's a little routine I look forward to and it is worth paying a little more for.


17. Friends will have babies and that will be ok (great, actually) - A few years ago and continuing until now, my entire Facebook feed way a blur of weddings, bridesmaid dresses and bachelorette parties. I have been seeing those wedding pictures slowly be replaced with baby photos. It is a crazy transformation from early college drinking pics to baby pics detailing their first step. But it happens and, you know what? It isn't that bad. My old roommate had her baby this year and she is just the cutest thing ever. I feel fortunate to be in her life and am so happy for this next stage of my friend's lives.


18. Fresh flowers are a must - If it already wasn't painfully obvious, I love flowers. I love how they add color to my otherwise monochromatic apartment. They also give a sense of life. My favorite is to pick them up on walk home.


19. There is something magical about the water - This year I was fortunate to go to Hawaii with my family. I realized how magical being by the water is for me. My favorite feeling in the whole world is getting out of the water after an hour of snorkeling all pruney and salt-soaked. I learned that I am at my happiest when I'm by the ocean.


20. Family is important - Having my sister in San Francisco is such a nice comfort. We actually work in the same building so have been able to coordinate breakfast, walking home or grabbing a drink after work. I am so fortunate that she is here for me to go to when I need a little pick-me-up or someone to watch the latest Magic Mike movie with.


21. Don't underestimate the power of heels - Sometimes when I know I'm going to have a really busy day or it just feels a little overwhelming, I put on heels. For me, heels have this crazy ability to help me feel pulled together and ready to take on anything.


22. Keep moving - I've been making a point of it to walk home at least two times a week. It takes me about an hour but in that time, I can catch up with my parents and my grandma. It also makes me appreciate the city that I live in because everyone is out eating dinner, walking home from the gym or meeting up with someone for a drink. It helps bring a little life to the bus-work-home routine.


23. Macaroons are hard to make - This year I have really challenged myself with making difficult things like layer cakes, macaroons and bread. Yes, there have been quite a few kitchen disasters but you just scrap it and start over. There is nothing like the feeling of conquering a hard recipe and enjoying the end result.


24. Pamper yourself - sometimes you deserve something special: a manicure, a $12 green juice, a foot massage. I find that giving myself these little luxuries really pays off. It makes me feel like I did something good for myself.


25. There's no shame in a favorite place - sometimes it's ok to play favorites with a local spot. I can't get enough of the lox everything bagels at 20th Century Cafe. For a period of time, I was going there so much that I stopped taking pictures for fear of fatuing everyone else out. What can I say, if you find something good stick with it?


26. Learning something new will never be a waste of time - last summer I taught myself calligraphy. Admittedly I don't have as much time to keep it up these days but its a skill I'm glad I learned. It's always good to keep your brain working hard and thinking in different ways. Now what to learn for 29?


27. Keep your friends close - when things go awry, like they did when I got laid off, friends are so important. My friends and I have gone through a lot this year but I'm glad that we are there to support each other. I feel fortunate that they have been there to provide perspective, encouragement and sometimes just a hug.


28. There is still much ahead - I thought that I would wrap this up by saying that there is still much more to come. Many more lessons to be learned, people to meet and experiences to be had. Thank you for following along on this journey with me. All the people that support and read this blog mean so much to me.

Phew. That was hard. I hope that was insightful, a little funny and motivating. How am I going to come up with 29 things next year? I better start now ;-)


7.27.2015

YES YOU CAN MAKE: OCEAN-INSPIRED OMBRE FUNFETTI CAKE


I'm lucky enough to be born only 2 days (and four years) apart from my sister. I have many wonderful memories of pool parties complete with ice cream cake and bowls of watermelon. This year for my sister's birthday I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. Any kind of cake. And she said she wanted Funfetti. I wasn't complacent just to whip up a box and call it a day. I made it a little fancier than your average cake.

Here are the steps to make a fancy Funfetti cake. Feel free to make whatever color you want and add all of the fun toppings to make it customized to the birthday recipient. My sister was having a nautical birthday so we went ocean-inspired.

You will need two packages of cake mix and two cans of frosting.

First mix the batter according to the box and pre-heat the oven. Separate out 1/4 of the mix into a small bowl. Pour the remaining 3/4 into a cake pan lined with parchment (it makes taking it out of the pan a breeze) and greased with oil.


In the small bowl. Put a few drops of blue food coloring.


Pour the blue mixture into the center of the white batter. 


Using a skewer, swirl around the blue batter.


I dare you not to lick the bowl. It is SO good. Repeat with the second box of cake mix. 


While the two cakes cool, separate one of the cans of frosting into three bowls (we'll come back to these later)


Using the other can, begin to assemble the cake by putting the first layer on a plate, topping with frosting and adding the second layer. Then add a very thin layer of frosting, called the crumb coat, to ensure the top frosting goes on smoothly.


Color the three bowls of frosting in graduating shades of blue. Keep the lightest shade quite light.


To create the ombre-effect I watched this super easy video and I think it turned out pretty great for not having a cake stand or an offset spatula.


Then I topped the cake with sea gummies from Sugarfina. Seriously, how cute are these little guys?!


Here's the final product. Now doesn't that look super-cute?



The birthday girl loved her cake. Happy Birthday sis!



7.16.2015

SUMMERTIME VIBES


You guys! We are in the middle of summer. The sun is shining until late in the day and the fan has been getting quite a workout. I have so many wonderful memories of summers growing up. I would stay in the lake until my fingers were pruney and my hair would have streaks of blonde from hours spent in the sun. I wanted to put together a collage that captures a little bit of that summer-ery feeling. I can almost smell the sunscreen.



1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

7.15.2015

WHAT TO BUY: NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE


I always remember when the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is because it's right around my birthday. It makes it extra handy to pick up a few presents for myself and get stocked up for fall. There are so many good finds on the sale from basics like bras and workout clothes to pretty accessories like shoes and purses. Right now it's pre-sale only for card holders, but on July 17th (two days from now!!) it's open to everyone. Here are my favorite picks from the sale, below. I've already bought a few things, trying not to scoop up more stuff!


7.13.2015

ELLIE TRAVELS: WHISTLER, CANADA


I think it's hi-larious that people don't think I'm outdoorsey. I mean you can hike with hot pink nails, right? I grew up in Seattle and getting outside is just what people do there. You go on hikes, you ski, you enjoy the fresh air and the pine trees. So heading up to Canada for a little bit of that mountain air was just what the doctor ordered over the 4th of July weekend. We had an absolute blast despite the fact that it was over 90 degrees most days! I wanted to share a few of my travel tips if you are heading up north.

STAY

We stayed at the Westin Whistler. It was a great hotel because it was centrally located within Whistler village. The rooms were nicely done and even featured a little kitchenette. The only drawback was that the pool was very small which was challenging with the hot temps. In the past, we have stayed at the Fairmont, which is also very nice and located close to the Blackcomb lifts. This trip we visited Nita Lake Lodge for dinner (more on that later) and really loved the place. It is definitely more out of the way but the general feeling of the place was very relaxing.


High above everything on the Peak-to-Peak.


ACTIVITIES

There are so many fun activities to do in Whistler during the summer. The first day we rented bikes downtown in the village and went around all of the little lakes at the base of the mountain. The loop is about 25 miles but is the perfect easy going path to take. Then, in the afternoon, we took the chairlifts from Blackcomb up to the top of the mountain. We went on the Peak-to-Peak gondola which launched in 2008. The harrowing journey from the top of one mountain to another is pretty breathtaking. Once we were over to Whistler, we took one more chairlift to the tipy-top of the mountain. The views were spectacular and it's not often that you can walk around a mountain in your shorts and sandals. Before we left, we went on a peaceful hike next to the Cheakamus River. You hike along the side of the river and then cross over a very high up suspension bridge to loop back on the other side. There were not very many hikers and quite a few bikes on the trail but we had a great time!




On the way up to the very top of the mtn.



A brief snack at the top.


Views from Nita Lake Lodge. 




EAT

After working up quite an appetite biking and hiking. We had an amazing meal at the Nita Lake Lodge restaurant. The portions were quite light but everything was prepared with such careful attention to local ingredients. They even had a small garden on the roof of the hotel. The cocktail I had was infused with lavender from their garden. It was beautiful to sit outside and watch the sunset on the little idyllic lake.





So those are a few of my tips, if you ever go and visit Whistler during the summer. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th.