12 Days of Christmas | Day 2- Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide | 2019

Welcome to Day 2 of 12 Days! This is my third year of Blogmas, and each year one of my favorite posts to share is my gift guide. One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is shopping for gifts and presents for my family and friends. There’s nothing that makes me more happy than starting my shopping list to find things that I hope everybody will love. I’ve already found a bunch of amazing gifts for my family (won’t share them all/too specifically because I don’t want to spoil any surprises) and have found so many other fun present ideas along the way. So if you’re still working on your list for this year, you’re in the right place! Enjoy, happy shopping and see you for Day 3 xx

For the beauty guru…

♥ The Carolina Herrera Good Girl Set ($122) will never disappoint as a gift. The set includes an 80mL bottle of the Good Girl perfume and a 100mL bottle of her scented leg shimmer oil. With a beautifully chic scent, the fragrance is perfect for a winter night out. The shimmer oil will add a sheer glow to any part of your body during the cold winter days or out int he sun during the summer.

♥ The Urban Decay Honey Naked Palette ($49) was released fairly recently and is a must-have for any makeup junkie’s collection. Filled with a combination of matte and glitter golds and yellows, it’s the perfect palette to pop into for a fun holiday look. You can also go for the Honey Pot Set ($59), which includes the mini honey palette, eyeshadow primer, their 24/7 eye pencil and a mini setting spray, or the Honey Drop Vault ($115) if you really want to spoil a loved one, which includes the full palette, eyeshadow primer, lip plumper, sparkling body powder and the all night setting spray.

♥ Another smaller, fun gift (and would also make a great stocking stuffer) is the InnisFree Lip Balm Party Trio ($24). It’s a set of three lightweight lip balms coming in small squeezy tubes. They come in the shades wild hibiscus, very berry tea and wedding peach tea, so will have you covered for any occasion or look.

♥ The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate ($75, $85 and $175 options) is one of my all-time favorite face cleansers/exfoliators. It’s been deemed Hollywood’s best two-minute facial, and I would vouch for that completely. But since it’s on the pricier side, it makes it hard to buy for yourself. Anyone who appreciates a good skincare routine would absolutely die to unwrap this on Christmas!

♥ Too Faced always makes the most adorable (and yummy smelling) products for the holidays. As a makeup lover myself (and someone who has received a few of these holiday products as a gift) these make the perfect Christmas present. This year, their Hot Buttered Rum mini palette ($25), the Christmas Cookie House Party set ($58) and the Let It Snow, Girl! set ($49) stood out as their best products this season, all of which would make a perfect gift or stocking stuffer. I also LOVE their Gingerbread Extra Spicy palette ($49), and all of their products smell heavenly.

For the fashion queen…

♥ Since it’s winter, and a fashion lover can never have too many scarves, the Kate Spade Manhattan Map scarf ($88) would made a darling gift. It has black ends with baby pink as the main color so can be worn day or night. The printed map of Manhattan would also make a beautiful hanging tapestry, it’s basically a 2-in-1. A beautiful gift that any lovely lady would be over the moon for on Christmas morning.

♥ For anyone who loves fashion and all that comes with it, a coffee table book to put all for all their guests to flip through. Vanity Fair 100 Years ($64.89), Louis Vuitton: The Birth of Modern Luxury ($47.81) and Chanel: The Vocabulary of Style ($90) are would all make for a really fun Christmas gift for the fashion guru you love so much.

♥ This would definitely constitute as a luxury gift, but anyone who loves fashion would be ecstatic to receive the Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Neverfull ($1,470). It’s an absolutely iconic bag and is such a beautiful piece to add to any outfit. There’s also something so special about getting your first Louis Vuitton or designer bag, it just makes you feel so grown up. So if you’re shopping for someone close to you who you’re really wanting to spoil, the class LV Neverfull will always be a showstopping gift.

Jet Set Candy is one of my absolute favorite jewelry brands. They take airport tags, travel quotes and the landmarks of cities/countries all around the world and turn them into bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings that are beyond beautiful. I’ve gotten a couple of their pieces as gifts and they’re always so meaningful. This would be a perfect gift for someone who loves wearing small statement pieces and has found passion and love in jetting off.

♥ Everything in the Becca Tilley x Bar III Macy’s collection is absolutely stunning and so much fun. Their pieces range from everyday to a night out and a NYE party. Any of those pieces would make such a great gift for someone who loves dressing up and playing with new, fun and unique pieces with pops of color. The Double-Breasted Duster Jacket ($129.50) is one of my favorite pieces from the line (definitely on my Christmas list) and would make such a fun gift. It’s a beautiful pink coat with a red lining that will make you stand out in the winter crowd.

For the chef…

♥ Food 52’s Marble Mortar & Pestle ($90, $135 and $170 options) will add a sophisticated pop to any chef’s kitchen. Made from white Italian marble and black granite, this mortar and pestle can be used to grind spices and herbs or to make sauces and butters. It’s a beautiful piece to add to the kitchen who will have your loved one feeling chic AF.

♥ This Gourmet Oil Dipping Spice Kit ($38) from Uncommon Goods would make a super fun gift for your foodie friend. Coming with 15 different herbs and spices, it’s a great way for the chef to play around with new and different flavors. It comes in a large tin storage container with 15 individual tins of flavor.

♥ There’s nothing that would make a chef feel more special than a Personalized Cutting Board ($44.99) from Etsy. It comes in a variety of sizes so you can pick the perfect size for your loved one. Whether they use it as an actual cutting board or just as a decorative piece in their kitchen or dining room, it’s such a fun representation of their love for cooking and the kitchen. No chef wouldn’t love this as a Christmas gift.

♥ David Chang’s Momofuku: A Cookbook ($27.99) is the perfect gift for someone who loves bringing the New York food scene right to their own home. Filled with some of Momofuku’s most popular and famous recipes, it gives the reader’s a little insight into the mind of chef David Chang. And if you’re shopping for someone who’s more of a baker, then the Momofuku Milk Bar: A Cookbook ($17.99) by Christina Tosi would also make a great gift, and make you drool uncontrollably.

♥ Any true chef knows the importance of having a good knife set. The Global 7 Piece Ikasu Knife Set ($299.95) would make a really meaningful gift. This Japanese-made set includes 6 knives and a bamboo knife block with acrylic sides for safety. These knives made of high carbon stainless steel are just what a chef needs for all of their prep needs.

For the active one…

♥ Anyone who works out or loves to be active NEEDS a good water bottle to keep with them. Hydroflasks are my absolute favorite water bottles, and I’ve really never met someone who doesn’t like it. All of their products would make great gifts, but their 21oz standard mouth ($35.99) models are so compact while holding a lot of liquids and is easy to take with you anywhere. The perfect, practical gift for the sporty one.

♥ If you’re shopping for someone who loves starting or ending their day with a run, then a cute pair of running shoes would make a perfect gift for them. The APL TechLoom Bliss sneakers ($200) in dusty rose are the most elegant pair of running shoes. These are lace-less sneakers with a satin elastic strap that makes these super easy to slip on and off. Any woman who loves looking fashionable while they run will love this as a gift.

♥ To help your friend stay warm and cozy on their morning trips to their gym or workout friend, the Adidas Half-Zip Sweatshirt ($70) in black will do just the trick. This classic piece can be worn during workouts or just on a day-to-day basis if your loved one is into that athleisure vibe. If you’re looking for more of a pop of color, this also comes in red, navy and a dusty rose.

♥ The TRX Home2 System ($165.95) is a great gift for someone who loves to stay active and fit but barely has any free time, or someone who loves to get in their quick workouts from home. The TRX can be suspended from any stable anchor in the house. This set comes with the suspension trainer, a door and suspension anchor, a mesh carry bag and a one-year subscription to the TRX app to make their workouts just that much easier.

♥ If your loved one loves making a smoothie or protein shake after their workouts, the NutriBullet ($59.99) would make for a great gift. It’s fairly small and portable so doesn’t take up much counter or storage space. It also comes with a 24oz and 18ox cup attachments that fit right on to the blender to make their life super easy.

For the entertainer…

♥ If you’re finding a gift for someone who loves to entertain, have people over or throw dinner parties, the Crosley Cruiser Record Player ($99) from West Elm would make an amazing gift. Coming in a tweed and navy color, it’s the perfect addition to any get together. It has a suitcase-like case that makes it portable and easy to move around and makes for a great conversation starter.

♥ What better way to impress your guests than concocting some funky cocktails for happy hour. The Kate Spade Nolita Cocktail set ($100) paired with the Nolita Cocktail Shaker ($50) will allow you to whip up a drink while looking as chic as ever. It’s a four piece set that comes with an acrylic stand and, in true Kate Spade fashion, has beautifully crafted dual-toned handles. It’s the perfect gift for the leading lady who wants to impress.

♥ To go along with the cocktail set (or just as its own gift), the Spade Clover Stemless Flute set ($100) is another darling gift to give someone. This set of four glasses is perfect for a casual champagne toast or to cheers your cocktail creations. Decorated with little spades, these flutes made with European crystal will add a classy little pop to your dinners, get-togethers and parties.

♥ If your shopping for someone who loves to go over-the-top for their guests, then the Crate and Barrel French Kitchen Marble 2-Tier Server ($59.95) would make a lovely present. This elevated, marble server will make your dinner table feel oh-so luxurious and will have guests oo-ing and ah-ing. So if your loved one loves going all in for their guests, this would be the perfect gift for them to serve their appetizers, canapés and desserts on.

♥ There’s no better way to end a dinner party than with a chocolate fountain. So why not gift this Koolatron 3 Tier Chocolate Fountain (now on sale for $62.99) to your favorite hostess (and hopefully you’ll reap some rewards from it as well). I don’t know about you, but if I had people over for dinner or a party, I would feel so incredibly cool pulling out a beautiful chocolate fountain at the end of the evening, and I’m sure any entertainer would too.

For the homebody…

♥ If you’re shopping for someone who loves a good face mask, or maybe a good variety of face masks, then the Peter Thomas Roth Mix, Mask & Hydrate 6-piece set ($75) will do just the trick. PTR’s face masks are amazing and this set has everything from hydrating to purifying and clarifying to cellular repair. This set gives you 6 50mL full-size containers of their best and most popular masks. Perfect for a night at home in the tub.

♥ One of my friends recently got the Google Home Mini ($49) and absolutely loves it. You can connect it to your phone and control so many things from your music to your lighting from your device. If you’re gifting for someone who loves their cozy home time, this would make for such a fun Christmas present. If you’re looking for a step up, the Google Home ($99) is their other range of smart devices that has even more features and will help your loved one stay organized throughout their day at home.

♥ What better way to stay cozy at home than with a giant Arm Knitting Blanket (on sale for $69 right now) to snuggle up with on your couch. This big pink (also comes in other colors) throw comes in multiple sizes, ranging from 50×50 cm to 100×100 cm. There’s nothing more comforting than bundling up on the couch on a cold or snowy winter day under a big knit blanket with a Christmas movie on and a mug of hot chocolate. A homebody’s dream.

♥ If you’re looking for a gift for someone who works from home (we love that #girlboss life), the Sherpa Superstudy Lapdesk (now on sale for $55) would make such a cute and useful gift. It comes in light pink, baby blue and grey colors with a white wood top and a soft, plushy bottom. It’ll make working from the couch so much easier, cuter and comfier.

♥ The Herbivore Calm relaxing spa gift set ($120) is the perfect gift for someone who loves a good pamper session at home. It comes with a pink bkr water bottle, a bottle of bath salts, a pink clay cleansing bar, a body scrub, the cutest candle and a container of little matches. There’s nothing that this gift set doesn’t have that anyone would need for the perfect spa night (except for maybe a bottle of wine…).

TOKYO Travel Guide ~Winter Edition~

Good morning lovelies and happy Sunday. If you’re looking for some 2019 travel inspo, you’re in the right place! Today’s post is my second Tokyo Travel Guide, and this is going to be full of all the things to do in Tokyo in the winter. I wrote my first Tokyo Travel Guide in April, so be sure to check that post out if you haven’t already. But for now, happy reading and I hope you have lot’s of fun adventures lined up for the year!

What to eat:

Jojoen Yakiniku– Jojoen is our favorite yakiniku (translates to grilled meat) spot in Tokyo. With locations all over the city, their menu is full of various types of beef and pork, seafood, Korean side dishes and rice and noodle dishes. They also have super reasonable lunch sets that range from 1,500-3,000 yen that come with meat, rice, veggies/a salad, soup, a drink and dessert. With tons of locations, they each vary a little depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a more down-to-earth meal, I love the ones in Shibuya and Meguro. But if you’re looking for a nice locale, try the Jojoen on the 39th floor of Ebisu Garden Place.

Trattoria Mari e Monti in Roppongi- This has quickly become one of our favorite restaurants in Tokyo. Run by two Italian guys, the ambiance of the space makes you feel like you’re eating pasta and drinking wine on the streets of Italy. Their huge selection of produce, cheeses, meats, pastas and desserts are amazing and jaw-dropping. Some of my favorites are their truffle pasta, pappardelle with meat, grilled pork belly, literally all of their desserts and of course their homemade limoncello at the end of the meal.

Shibuya Parlor right by the Shibuya Crossing- My sister, mom and I stumbled across this place this past Christmas when I was on the hunt for a decadent fruit parfait. Located on the 7th floor of the Magnet building, the little cafe overlooks the famous Shibuya scramble crossing with the perfect birds eye view. To curb my craving, I ordered the strawberry brulee parfait which came with yoghurt, granola, vanilla ice cream, bruleed pudding and of course tons of strawberries.

Obica Mozzarella Bar in Roppongi Hills- We found this place this summer when we went out for lunch with some family friends and I’m actually obsessed with it now. The restaurants has a very modern vibe with shelves full of pastas and wine and huge floor to ceiling windows letting in so much natural light. I haven’t spent too much time looking at their dinner menu (every time I’ve been it’s been for lunch), but I can say that their lunch menu is incredibly reasonable and very extensive. For between 1500-2500 yen, you can get a lunch set with one main dish, one or two side dishes (depending on what you choose) and one drink. You can also add on a glass of red, white or bubbly for only 400 yen ($3.60USD). Some of my favorites are their pastas of the day, their grilled chicken salad and the lasagna.

Kushinobo in Roppongi Hills- Okay, I had heard my parents rave about this place forever and was always so skeptical until I went this Christmas and WOW. Kushinobo serves fried food on a skewer, but not greasy American fried food, elegant and refined Japanese fried food. It’s not too oily or heavy, it’s so light and delicious. My dad and I went for lunch and ordered the 10 piece set which came with 10 different kinds of skewers including salmon with roe, black pork, asparagus, and scallops, as well as a set of rice, an egg, miso soup, veggie sticks and dip and dessert. I don’t really know how to explain it, but PLEASE go try this place if you’re ever in Tokyo.

If you happen to be staying with a friend, at an Airbnb or anywhere with a kitchen, I highly recommend going to the store, getting some hot-pot soup (during the winter they have them everywhere in all kinds of delicious flavors), some shabu-shabu pork, tons of veggies and other fun treats and have a hot-pot night at home. It’s the epitome of winter meals in Japan and is so yum. And if you can’t do this, I would suggest going and walking around the supermarket anyway. Call me weird, but I think Japanese supermarkets are so fun.

How to get around:

Public transportation in Japan is absolutely the way to go. The trains and buses are everywhere and can get you anywhere you need. It can be a bit intimidating, but these days almost all signs for everything are in English as well. Don’t be afraid to go up to someone who works at the train station or bus stop and ask questions, most of them are able to have a conversation in English.

For the Shinkansen (bullet train), I would recommend getting the JR pass for either 7 or 14 days which allows you to get around the country on the bullet train conveniently and at a low cost. And seriously, riding on the bullet train is SO cool.

For the local trains, you can try and get a train pass/card which requires bringing your passport to a train station and going to an office to get it done, so I would only suggest doing that if you’re going to be in Tokyo for an extended period of time to save money and time. But if you’re only there for a bit, buying tickets at the machines are super simple and easy and, again, are in English as well.

If you’re trying to take the bus around, make sure you’re carrying coins on you to pay the buss fee (most are between 200-250 yen). Also look there are a couple of apps in English that will give you everything you need to know about the bus routes, including all the stops, their names and how to get from one place to another.

And while I always recommend using public transportation while traveling to really get to know the city you’re exploring, taxis are fairly easy to find and flag down. Simply look for the dark cars with a white sign on top and stick your hand out to flag it down. If the light in the bottom right hand corner is red, the taxi is available, and if it’s green it’s been taken or is on shift change.

Where to go:

This section could seriously drag on and on, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet with lot’s of links and photos.

1. Tokyo Disneyland– We decided to go this Christmas to see all the lights and since we hadn’t been in like a decade and it was amazing! Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland is a must (whole other post on this going up soon so keep an eye out for that).

2. Roppongi Hills Mid-Town lights- If you walk out around Roppongi Hills at night during Christmas, the streets and trees are all lit up with stunning lights (called イルミネーション or Illumination) that go on and off in beautiful patterns. It’s nothing tacky, just simple, elegant Christmas lights. And depending on where you are you can get a picture-perfect view of Tokyo Tower as well.

3. Takeshita Dori, Harajuku- Of course this is a must-do any time of the year, but I love walking down the crazy crowded streets right before Christmas to scavenge for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. I found so many fun little gifts for my family and friends (especially for all the beauty and skincare lovers) by just walking around and popping into a bunch of little stores.

4. Mega Don Quijote, Shibuya- I don’t know if you’ve heard of this store, but it’s actually heaven on earth. This huge one in Shibuya is 6 floors and has absolutely everything you could ever want or need. Literally from Louis Vuitton bags to Japanese junk food and cleaning supplies to makeup. It’s crazy busy and insanely packed.

5. Ginza- If you’re looking for some higher end shopping or some luxury, head out to the Ginza area and walk around the malls and streets that are filled with tons of high end brands and boutiques. Perfect if you’re looking for a nicer gift for a loved one or honestly even yourself (you deserve to get yourself a Christmas pressie too!). And if you’re as in love with Kate Spade as me, there’s a huge 3-story store right by the station that is beyond adorable.

6. Backstreets of Harajuku- Of course Takeshita Dori will always draw in the crowds, but during the winter months the backstreets are absolute stunning. Their often really empty and the trees all turn a beautiful golden color giving the whole space a very old and classy vibe. Just spend a few minutes walking down the streets, taking pictures and taking in the natural beauty.

7. Odaiba Spa World– Okay, I have to admit that I’ve never been BUT I’ve always wanted to go and have done so much research on it (and my sister has been so that counts, right?). This place is a completely indoor onsen and spa “world” full of different baths and other fun activities. It’s a bit tacky and touristy, but I honestly love that sometimes. And what’s better than going to the hot springs during a cold winter day.

8. The Westin Hotel in Ebisu and Ebisu Garden Place- During Christmas, The Westin and Ebisu Garden Place are decorated to beautifully. Ebisu Garden place is lined with Christmas trees, bright lights and a huge annual crystal chandelier. It’s the perfect place to have a coffee or a drink with your loved ones and take a few pictures. And after that you can walk underground to The Westin to see their traditionally decorated but absolutely breath-taking tree and decorations. Also, if it’s in your budget, The Westin is my favorite hotel in Tokyo to stay at.

9. Combini- Go to any convenient store in the city (you’ll find one every 10 steps) and relish in the magic of Combini in Japan. I really don’t know what else to say, just do it and you’ll thank me later. PS, convenient store coffee and donuts are the bomb!

How to dress:

It does get fairly cool during Christmas in Tokyo, and by fairly cool I mean an average of 38-50 (that’s freezing to me!), but it’s also usually really clear and sunny. You will for sure want to have at least one pair of good sunglasses and one solid coat. For me, jeans are for sure the way to go for pants, it’ll keep you warm but not too warm if you’re going to be walking around during the day.

If you do start to find yourself getting cold, find a Uniqlo (there’s seriously one on every corner) and get some heat-tech long underwear and that will keep you warm for the rest of your life (haha- not really but my family swears by it!).

Tokyo, generally, dresses quite conservatively so try not to dress to scandalous when you’re visiting. I think everyone should dress how they want to all the time, but I also think there’s something to be said about respecting the culture.

I hope you have all the wanderlust vibes now and are ready to go and explore!! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 12- The Perfect Christmas |2018

So here we are, Merry Christmas! Can’t believe how fast December has gone, actually can’t believe how fast the year has gone. It’s the last day of 12 Days and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than to share with you all how to have the perfect Christmas. And when I say perfect, I really mean imperfect because I believe perfection lies in the imperfections of everyday. I’ve put together all my recipes, tips and tricks to having the most magical day ever.

The Perfect Christmas Morning:

You know that quote, “I’m only a morning person on Christmas”, well that could not be more accurate. Ever since my sister and I were tiny humans, we would run into each others rooms early on Christmas morning and then run downstairs to see what Santa had left us in our stockings. Our excitement would eventually wake our parents and grandparents up and we would sit around the living room by the tree opening our stockings. After that, we all head into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast, pancakes, fruit, hot chocolate and egg nog. Once the dishes have been cleared and washed, we’ll go back to the tree and open all of our presents while sipping on more egg nog and listening to Christmas music. It’s always the most chill, relaxed but exciting morning of the year.

Christmas Traditions:

Each family always has their own Christmas traditions, and I think that carrying those for generations hold so much meaning. But I also think that coming up with new traditions to pass on to your kids and grandkids are so special. Every year for Christmas my grandma made her special ‘holiday nugget’ cookies (our family recipe), and as I got older I began to carry on that tradition as well. My family has all the little things we do on Christmas that we’ve pretty much done my whole life, and carrying on those traditions no matter where we are always makes the day extra special. Traditions are rooted in family, remember to be thankful to have been blessed with your family, Christmas is rooted in family.

Fun Things To Do On Christmas Day:

  1. Play a big board game with your family
  2. Watch a Christmas movie (Santa Clause and Love Actually are always SO GOOD on Christmas day) and cuddle up with Christmas cookies and peppermint hot chocolate
  3. Play with all your new presents. I know this sounds like something kids do, but I promise everyone wants to sit there and try/check out all their new goodies
  4. Go look at all the Christmas lights and decorations around your neighborhood (or wherever you are)
  5. Shop!! I know this sounds crazy, but post-Christmas sales are the real deal
  6. Cook dinner…and try out a new recipe while you’re at it (festive recipes down below:)
  7. Festive crafts and DIYS- make paper snowflakes, homemade ornaments or DIY decorations… and you’ll be getting a start for next year
  8. Build a gingerbread house, bake some Christmas cookies, get your sweet tooth ready
  9. Lounge around all day in your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters… you deserve it!

Festive Recipes:

The Perfect Cheese Platter: 

Is there any other way to start a Christmas meal than with an over-the-top cheese platter?! To start off, grab a large board. Pick out 3-4 cheese of your choosing. My motto when it comes to cheese is the stinkier the better, but to each their own. Get different kinds of crackers or slices of a baguette and lay out on the board. Now arrange the blocks of cheese in the center. Fill up the open spaces with slices of fruit, bunches of grapes, jams or honeys and nuts. Always have a sweet and salty element on your board. And of course… serve with wine:)

Tapas Varieties:

One thing my family has started doing over the past few years is different kinds of tapas during festive meals. Tapas is the Spanish word for small plate/appetizer. Usually, we do these on slices of baguette or simply on crackers. Our go-to is a thin slice of baguette, garlic yoghurt, caramelized onions, grilled red peppers, prosciutto, a slice of camembert with sugar and bruleed with a blow torch (absolutely to die for). Others we have done are a slice of chorizo with asparagus and aioli, crab salad with avocado and caviar, as well as prosciutto, blue cheese, pear, honey and black pepper. These are so easy to make ahead of time and in bulk and are always the first to go at any dinner or gathering.

Grilled Garlic Prawns:

Ingredients:

Large/tiger prawns

6 cloves garlic

Flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully split the prawns in half, you can leave the head on or you can remove it and use it to make a prawn head oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and any other desired herbs.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and garlic on high heat until butter bubbles. Put prawns in the hot pan (meat side down). Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook another two minutes.
  4. Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.

Roasts:

Roasts are always the perfect center piece for a festive meal. Whether it’s turkey, chicken, pork belly or ribs, theres always a way to make it a little more Christmassy. Try spices like clove, all-spice, ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon as your dry rub. If you have access to it, using fresh spices (like whole cinnamon sticks) can do wonders. Adding a little bit of sweetness using oranges or cranberries is another way to amp up your roast.

Easiest-Ever Tiramisu:

One of the desserts I made this year was a tiramisu. I always thought that it was a technical and difficult dessert to make, but it couldn’t be easier. This boozy, creamy dessert will be a hit!

Ingredients:

Lady fingers or pound cake

1 1/2 cups strong coffee

1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liquer)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup marscapone

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Start by whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla essence. Once soft peaks are formed, fold in the marscapone. Set aside.
  2. Mix coffee and Kahlua in a shallow tin. If you’re using pound cake, cut into strips the size of your container.
  3. To assemble: Start with a thin layer of the cream at the bottom of a clear class container.
  4. Dip your cake or lady fingers in the coffee mixture and form one layer.
  5. Add cream on top and spread evenly. Repeat this process until you’re done.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours or over night. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Brandy Snap Canoli (A take on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Hennessy (brandy)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup marscapone

1/4 cup dark chocolate

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup candied nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)

Orange, to zest

Directions:

  1. To make the shells of the canoli, bring the brown sugar, butter and syrup to boil in a pan (until it becomes a silky caramel).
  2. Pour the caramel into a mixture of flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add brandy and mix it in.
  3. Scoop spoon full of the mixture onto a baking sheet (with lot’s of space in between) and bake at 375 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once baked, leaved to cool for exactly 90 seconds, then shape around a wooden spoon or rolling pin until set.
  5. Set the shells aside until ready to fill and eat.
  6. For the filling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Then add marscapone and gently fold in.
  7. Add chopped chocolate, cranberries and nuts to the mixture and grate in half of the orange zest. Gently mixed.
  8. Right before eating, put the filling in a piping bag and fill the shells.
  9. Serve topped with powdered sugar and orange zest.

And with that I’m signing off for 2018. Thank you for an amazing year, can’t wait to see all the next has to offer.

Happy new year and I’ll see you in 2019!! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 11- Winter Favorites |2018

Hi lovelies! Can you believe we’re already at day 11 and that it’s almost Christmas…CRAZY! For the second to last day of 12 Days, I thought I’d put together my winter favorites, everything I’ve been loving this season. These are all things that have gotten me through this crazy (but super fun!!) holiday season. Enjoy!! xx

 

Favorite NEW product- Jade Roller from Sherrie Matthews

Favorite clothing item- Reindeer Ugly Christmas Sweater from Amazon

Favorite store- Cotton On, H&M and Forever 21 have been my go-to’s for all my winter clothes

Favorite nail polish color- Glittery gold!

Favorite accessory- Kate Spade ‘Glitter Is My Favorite Color’ bracelet

Favorite beauty product- Doucce Beauty Luscious Lip Stain in Dark Lust

Favorite haircare product- Marrakesh Oil from Marrakesh

Favorite skincare product- Tarte’s Maracuja Oil has been my skin’s saving grace

Favorite scent- Daisy by Marc Jacobs

Favorite movie- Love Actually

Favorite TV show- Fuller House (season 5!)

Favorite song- ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’ by Pentatonix

Favorite app- Head Space and Recovery Record

Favorite drink- White peppermint hot chocolate or Matcha latte from Starbucks

Favorite food- Christmas cookies!!

 

See you on Day 12 (how crazy is that…)!!

12 Days of Christmas|Day 9- Cozy Winter Recipes |2018

Hi everyone and happy day 9! I can’t believe we’re only a week out from Christmas, it’s going by so fast. I hope you’re all enjoying (or looking forward to enjoying) the holiday season with all of your loved ones. Today’s post is going to be two of my favorite cozy recipes for a cold winter evening. First is going to be an updated version of my smoky-ranch meatballs, and second will be my fresh pappardelle pasta with meat sauce. Hope you enjoy these and see you for day 10!

Smokey-Ranch Meatballs:

Ingredients:

Minced beef and pork mix

1 or 2 (depending on amount of meat) packet of ranch seasoning

3 tablespoons liquid smoke

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Good squeeze of ketchup

1/4 cup of spring onions, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

1 jar tomato sauce

Basil and other desired spices.

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Form meat into balls, about 2 tablespoons per meatball, and set aside.
  2. In a pot, heat up the tomato sauce over medium heat and mix with spices.
  3. Get another pan and heat it up with olive oil on high heat. When hot, begin cooking meatballs. Cook until browned, then set aside.
  4. Put meatballs into the pot of tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Right before serving, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover to melt.
  6. Serve hot.

 

Fresh Beetroot Pappardelle with Meat Sauce:

Ingredients:

For the pasta-

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 beetroot

For the sauce-

1 pack of minced beef

3/4 jar of tomato sauce

2 zucchinis, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Basil, chopped

Chilli powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Pecorino cheese

 

Directions:

For the pasta-

  1. Chop the beetroot and put it in a small pan over high heat with a little bit of olive oil and water. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour out liquid into a small bowl and set aside. Use muslin cloth or an old dish towel to squeeze all the liquid (and coloring) out of the beets.
  3. While cooking the beets, put the flour in a large bowl and form a small well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and begin to knead the dough while slowly adding the beed juice. Knead for about 5 minutes.
  4. Once well knead, flour well and pass through a pasta machine (roll it out as thin as it will go).
  5. It’s meant to be a rustic pappardelle, so hand-cut it as thick or thin as you want.
  6. When ready to cook, cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.

For the sauce-

  1. Start by sautéing the meat, onions, zucchini and garlic with a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Once cooked, add the tomato sauce and half of the basil (and any other desired herbs and spices) and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Once pasta is cooked slowly fold it into the sauce.
  4. Serve hot and topped with fresh basil and pecorino cheese.

Happy cooking! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 8- The Ultimate Christmas Cocktail|2018

Happy Saturday lovelies!! I’m sitting here writing this from Tokyo, back with my family to celebrate the holidays. Since I’m now back home, I tried making a new Christmassy cocktail last night that I’ve been dying to try for a while. So for day 8 I thought I’d share the recipe with you all. I’ll link the recipe I used for inspo down below as well.

Ingredients:

1 cup silver Jose Cuervo (or any other silver tequila)

2/3 cup Malibu (coconut rum)

1/3 cup Cointreau

1 cup lime juice

1 cup+ coconut water

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

Mint leaves

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients well in a large punch bowl or pitcher with lots of large ice cubes.

Add extra coconut water or lime juice if it’s too strong.

Right before serving, add some sprigs of mint leaves.

Serve chilled with adorable Christmas glasses (the one’s in the photo are from Target).

 

https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/12/white-christmas-margarita-punch/

Cheers!!

12 Days of Christmas|Day 7- Holiday Travel Tips|2018

I can’t believe we’re already at Day 7 and less than two weeks away from Christmas! As this post is going up, I’m in an Uber on the way to LAX ready to hop on a plane and head back to see my family for the holidays. Since traveling is something that almost everyone does during the holidays in one way or another, I thought I would share my holiday travel guide/tips for today’s post. I’ve done some other “travel tips” posts in the past (be sure to check those out!), but this one will be my updated one specifically for the holidays. Enjoy and happy traveling! xx

 

Preparation/planning:

– As we all know flights during the holiday season book up SO early and quickly, so be sure to get those tickets booked far in advance (or as soon as you are able to nail down dates).

– Check different airlines and airports for the best deals and times. This is something that’s good to do any time you’re planning a trip, but especially during a time when everyone is trying to go everywhere. You might find better deals at a smaller airport or with an airline you don’t normally fly with.

– Leave early enough so you give yourself PLENTY of time at the airport. While traffic may not be your biggest concern, driving into the airport and getting checked-in, through immigration and security can be an absolute nightmare during the holidays.

– If you have the means to do so, get TSA pre-check. It will save you so much hassle and time at the airport. You don’t have to worry about taking off your boots and sweaters and taking out your laptops and tablets, which can make a really stressful situation just a little less stressful.

– Get all of your travel documents together and organized using a travel organizer. I always have a passport case/cover (I’m obsessed with the Kate Spade ones), which I keep my passport and boarding pass in, but I’ve also started using a travel organizer to keep my flight confirmation, check-in documents and all those other things. I’m not naturally a very organized/neat person, so having a case where I know all of my important things are prevents me from having to desperately rifle through my bag looking for my boarding pass.

 

Airport chaos:

– Have a portable phone charger and extra cords. Chances are you’ll be spending a lot of time in waiting around in lines and you’ll most likely whip out your phone to pass the time. There’s nothing worse than traveling or being on a flight and realizing your phones about to die. Be prepared, have portables and chargers with adapters so you can charge your phone wherever and whenever you need to.

– Don’t waste time or money on airport food. I know this is common knowledge, but seriously. The number of times I’ve dropped insane amounts of money inside the airport on food is crazy. Try to be prepared and have food/snacks with you so you don’t end up waiting in long lines or spending $15 on a small sandwich. Also try to have some healthy snacks for the flight as well (veggie sticks in a little baggie is so easy).

– Check in online and get a digital copy of your boarding pass, if possible. These days a lot of airlines allow you to not only check-in, but check your bags in and get your boarding pass on your phone. If you’re given the option to do this, do it! It’s going to save you so much time at the airport, especially during the holidays when everybody is going somewhere.

– Give yourself enough time. I’ve always been one of those people who wants/needs a lot of time at the airport. I’d much rather sit there and be bored than end up missing my flight. Especially during the busiest travel time of the year, you never know what’s going to get you held up. So be prepared and get there with plenty of time.

 

On the flight:

– Have a change of clothes (top, pants, undies and all). You really never know what’s going to happen when you’re traveling but I would hate to be in a situation where something spills on you or maybe you leak a little (ladies…) and you having nothing to change into. I also just like having a extra clothes on longer flights/trips to change into half way so I don’t feel so gross.

– Have all your favorite shows, music and movies downloaded on your computer, iPad or iPhone. The night before a flight I always make sure that everything I’m going to want on the plane is downloaded so I don’t have to worry about it the next day. I forgot to do that the night before once and tried doing it at the airport, but the s****y airport wifi was not having it. Do it ahead of time and you’ll be glad you did.

– Have a pillow or blanket and a neck pillow and eye mask. Seriously, it’s the best thing ever. I love having my own pillow or blanket with me on the plane (as annoying as it may be to carry around) because it helps me feel comfy and safe. And as far as the neck pillow and eye mask go, it’s just a must-have. You don’t want to fall asleep on a flight only to wake up unable to move your neck, it’s awful. And since you can’t control the lights on the flight an eye mask will help you sleep at any time.

– This is one of my golden rules of traveling, but HYDRATE. I can’t emphasize this enough, when you’re up in the sky with the air circulating throughout the cabin you get so dehydrated. Not only do you want to be drinking a ton of water (but seriously though, like a ton), you also want to make sure you have moisturizer and face lotion easily accessible.

 

Happy traveling, see you for Day 8! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 6- Holiday Pamper Routine |2018

Hello lovelies and happy Day 6! The holiday chaos getting to your head, finals driving you crazy or just in need of a Tuesday night recharge sesh by yourself, I’ve got you covered! Today’s post is my current pamper routine. I’ve done quite I few pamper routines in the past (I honestly just love writing these and reading other people’s, and who doesn’t love a little self-care), but this one is my official 2018 Holiday Pamper Routine, full of products I’m loving that will get you in the true holiday spirit.

 

I always start off by changing into some cozy Christmas PJs or a nice fluffy robe, really anything as long as I’m comfy. Before I start anything else I’ll try to set the mood in my room. I love scents so I’ll either use my diffuser with lavender and citrus essential oils or I’ll burn one of my favorite candles which is Champagne Toast from Bath and Body Works. And of course I’ll turn off the main lights and throw on some fairy lights. After my room’s feeling nice and relaxed, I’ll go use my MakeUp Eraser (I’m so obsessed with this right now) to take all my makeup off and then hop in the shower. I talked about these in my last pamper routine too, but I’ve been loving the Herbal Essence Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner for my hair, especially during the drier winter months. If I’m feeling like I really need it, I’ll also do a treatment using either the Briogeo deep conditioning mask or the Moroccan Gold Series treatment mask. I’ll then go ahead and use a good body scrub everywhere (it’s winter, we all have dead skin cells) and shave using the Eos shaving cream. After I shave I make sure to moisturize right away. I bought the C. Booth coconut fig body lotion over Thanksgiving and have been living for it.

If I’m at home and have my beloved bath tub I’ll take a bath after I’m done showering. I’m ridiculously obsessed with bath bombs, so of course I’ll use one of those. I absolutely love all the Lush Christmas bath bombs, so those are always a good go-to, but I also found these really cute Christmas ones from The Body Shop (so freaking affordable!) which I really want to try when I’m home for Christmas. When I’m in the bath, which I could literally sit in for hours, I’ll make sure the lights are off and have some chill show or vlog playing. If I’m really wanting to treat myself, I’ll also light a bunch of candles to really set the mood. And if you’re really really wanting to treat yourself, pour yourself a nice lil glass of wine (if your of age of course), because you deserve it;)

After I’m done in the shower (or out of the bath), I’ll dry my hair super quick with a towel and put my PJs or robe back on. During the winter my hair gets brittle and dry really easily, so I use both the Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine leave-in conditioner and the argan oil from Marrakesh Oil. If I have something to get dressed up for the next day, I’ll straighten my hair. But more often than not I just let it air dry.

Now it’s facial time! I’ll start by washing my face with either the Grown Alchemist polishing facial exfoliant or the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate. During the winter my skin can get really dry and flaky (as it does for a lot of people), so it’s really important to use a good exfoliator to get rid of all the dead skin cells and prep your skin for a face mask. On a real pamper night I’ll usually use two face masks, one purifying and one hydrating just to make sure I’m not drying out my skin too much. For the first mask I love the Indian Healing Clay with apple cider vinegar or the CVS dead sea mineral face mask. If you’re looking for a more luxurious mask, the Boscia Charcoal mask or the Glam Glow Bubblesheet are also amazing. I’ll leave that mask on for about 12-15 minutes and then wash it off/take it off. For the hydrating mask I have a ton of different Korean sheet masks that I’ll usually choose from, but I also found these really cute Christmas hydrating sheet masks at CVS which I think are perfect for a holiday pamper night. I typically leave sheet masks on for about 20 minutes so while I have that on I’ll put on either a Christmas movie (check my last 12 Days post for my fav holiday movies) or some vlogmas. Since it wouldn’t be Christmas without peppermint hot chocolate, I’ll make myself a cup of that, and maybe even top it off with some peppermint whipped cream if I’m feeling extra special.  And of course I’d make sure it’s in a cute Christmas mug.

After I take off the second mask I’ll go in with the rest of my evening skincare routine. During the winter I use heavier moisturizers, especially in the evening. I start with the Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizing lotion and go over that with the Tarte Maracuja Oil. If my skin is super dry, it usually soaks that all up within a few minutes, so in cases like that I’ll go in with another layer of the oil. I personally am not a huge fan of sleep masks, but I do love the Ahava Sleep Cream for an overnight facial. Another thing I’ve started using lately are under-eye masks because let’s be honest life can be super stressful and cause bags and circles under your eyes (I’ve started getting them and I feel like a Grandma now). But they honestly just feel so good and refreshing too.

Now that I’m feeling all clean and relaxed I’ll usually end the night in cuddled up in bed finishing off a Christmas movie or watching more vlogmas. I love spending nights out with friends, but sometimes a quiet night in taking care of yourself is just what you need (and trust me, everyone needs this once in a while).

Happy pampering! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 5- Holiday Entertainment |2018

Hello lovelies and happy Sunday! Hope the week has treated you well. Today’s post is going to be all the things I’m watching and  listening to this holiday season. I’ve pulled together all my favorite holiday movies, songs and vlogs that I’ve been loving this season to share with you all. Grab a blanket and a peppermint hot chocolate and spend your Sunday night chilling and getting in the Christmas spirit. What are you watching and listening to this Christmas?

Movies: These aren’t movies that are new or have come out recently, they’re just my all-time favorite go-to holiday movies to watch on a Christmassy evening.

The Holiday

Home Alone (1 and 2)

Christmas with the Kranks

Serendipity (I don’t know if this is actually considered a Christmas movie but it makes me feel Christmassy so…)

Deck the Halls (Cheesy but I love it!)

Four Christmases

The Santa Clause (1, 2, and 3, DUH)

Bad Mom’s Christmas (don’t judge me)

All I Want for Christmas

Love Actually

 

Music: These are all the songs I’ve discovered recently/this year that I’ve been obsessed over. Also just some of my absolute favorite Christmas classics.

‘What Christmas Means to Me’, by Stevie Wonder

‘This Christmas’, by Donny Hathaway

‘Home’, by Blake Shelton ft. Michael Bublé

‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’, by Mariah Carey

‘The Man With the Bag’, by Vonda Shepard

‘You Make It Feel Like Christmas’, by Gwen Stefani ft. Blake Shelton

‘4 Carats’ by Kelly Clarkson

‘The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)’, by Martina McBride

‘One Child’, by Mariah Carey

‘Cool Yule’, by Louis Armstrong

‘Candy Cane Christmas’, by Darius Rucker

‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, by Michael Bublé

‘Glow’, by Brett Eldredge

‘Have a Holly Jolly Christmas’, by Harry Connick Jr.

‘Last Christmas’, by Wham!

 

Vlogs: I’m such a nerd for vlogs and vloggers, and Vlogmas might be one of my favorite things. These are some of the YouTubers I watch who are doing Vlogmas or are doing super Christmassy videos.

Zoella/Zoe Sugg

Kelly Strack

Aspyn and Parker

Antonnette

Renee Amberg

Aspyn and Parker

 

See you on Day 6! xx