12 Days of Christmas | Day 9- Festive Treats | 2019

Day 9 is going to be super super SWEET! We’re back with 12 Days and today is three of my absolute favorite festive treats. During the holidays, I love spending evenings in the kitchen whipping up something sweet and festive either to give away as a gift, to serve at a holiday party or dinner or simply just to have on hand for those after dinner sweets. Today I’m sharing three new recipes that I’ve found and modified that have quickly become some of the most delicious things I’ve made during the holidays. So read on, enjoy and hope you have the sweetest of days (okay, I’ll stop with the puns now).

Santa’s Trash Cookies

Ingredients:

♣ 1/2 cup white sugar

♣ 1/2 cup brown sugar

♣ 3/4 cup baking margarine (or butter)

♣ 1 egg

♣ 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract

♣ 2 cups all-purpose flour

♣ 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

♣ 3/4 cup crushed potato chips

♣ 1/2 cup crushed Pocky

♣ 1/2 cup chopped colorful chocolates (like M&Ms)

♣ 1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 360º and line your baking sheets. Cream the sugar and margarine together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla/almond and continue to beat on medium for 1 minute.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and continue to mix until smooth and fully incorporated.

3. Add the potato chips, Pocky, chocolate pieces and butterscotch chips and fold into the dough.

4. Roll into small balls (will expand) and place on a lined baking sheet.

5. Bake for 8-9 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

 

Christmas Cookie Martini

Inspired by: Delish

Ingredients: For 2 servings

♣ 1/2 cup Baileys

♣ 1/4 cup Amaretto or other almond liquor

♣ 1/4 Vodka

♣ 1/3 cup milk

♣ Splash of whipping cream

Directions:

1. Run two martini glasses under water and stick in freezer to frost.

2. Fill a cocktail shaker with a glass-full of ice. Add all the ingredients and shake vigorously for 2 minutes (cream should make it a bit frothy).

3. Pour into frosted glasses and garnish with a spiced holiday cookie (recipe below). Serve immediately to make some people very happy.

Spiced Holiday Cookies

Ingredients:

♣ 3/4 cup baking margarine (or butter); softened

♣ 3/4 cup brown/dark sugar

♣ 3/4 cup molasses or dark agave

♣ 1 egg

♣ 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

♣ 3 cups all-purpose flour

♣ 1 teaspoon baking soda or baking powder

♣ 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

♣ 1 teaspoons ground nutmeg

♣ 1 teaspoons all-spice

♣ 1/2 teaspoons clove

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 360º and line your baking sheets. Cream the sugar and margarine together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and molasses and continue to beat on medium for 1 minute.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, all-spice and clove into the bowl and continue to mix until smooth and fully incorporated.

4. Form into large flattened circle and wrap in cling film. Leave to chill for up to 3 hours (between 2-3 hours will work).

5. Once firm, roll out until 1/4 inch in thickness. Use festive cookie cutters to cut into shapes and place on a lined baking tray.

6. Bake for 9 minutes and leave to cool on cooling rack before serving.

 

November Favorites 2019

If you couldn’t already tell by now, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. There is just so much joy around the holidays and so many opportunities to think, reflect, give thanks and spend time with people who are most important in your life. I have so many fun things to share with you for this months favorites, and I’m even more excited about this because it means we’re officially moving into December which means we’re that much closer to CHRISTMAS. But before I get ahead of myself, I’m gonna share all the things I’ve been obsessed with this month, including a bunch of stuff from my trip to North Carolina! Enjoy, and I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 1 of 12 Days of Christmas! xx

Skincare Product- Since it is winter and getting super dry out here in LA, I’ve found myself needing to moisturize even more than normal. I use Clinique moisturizers on a daily basis and use the Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Replenishing Hydrator when my skin really needs it. It’s a really good heavy moisturizer that leaves your skin super hydrated without feeling oily or tacky.

Makeup Product- I have been an extreme eyebrow nut for the last five years (in part because they burned off one summer from chlorine and I’ve had to draw them on everyday since), and this month I’ve found myself using the Thrive Causmetics Brilliant Eye Brightener in Champagne Shimmer. It’s an eyebrow highlighter that comes in a pencil/stick form making it super easy to apply. It’s also a beautiful shade that lifts your brow without overexposing it. I love love love this product and will be using it a ton over Christmas.

Nail Color- I told myself I’d wait to get Christmassy nails done until after Thanksgiving, but when I went to get a manicure the other day I just couldn’t wait. I love solid shades with one glitter color, and I found the most beautiful glittery blue at the store so I went with all pastel blue and the glitter on my ring fingers. They’re so fun and perfect for the winter. The pastels make it more classy and chic and the glitter adds a pop of fun. I’ve gotten so many compliments on them, especially with the holidays coming up.

Clothing Item- I did a Dainty Hooligan haul earlier this month and one of my favorite pieces from the order was the Grecian Print Jumpsuit in a deep red and I absolutely love it. I was never really a jumpsuit person but I started becoming obsessed with them this summer. Having a curvy body, it can be really hard to find one’s that are flattering, but this red one fits my body so well. It has an open back with a criss-cross tie string so it hugs your waist really nicely. I wore this for a nice birthday dinner out on a Friday night and was perfect for the occasion. It goes really well with black platform shoes or black heels and simple pieces of jewelry. I love this piece and can’t wait to wear it more this season.

Room Spray- The Bath & Body Works ‘The Perfect Christmas’ room spray has been the most festive part of my evening routine this season. I don’t use room sprays too much (I’m typically much more of a candle and diffuser girl), but I found this one at the store the other day and am so glad I picked it up. I spray it around my bed and it smells like the most lovely fresh Christmas tree (balsam and pine scent) ever and it makes me so so happy.

Candle- But while I love to use the room spray at night, I have candles burning all the time when I’m in the room. I love all of the Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles, but I got the Vanilla Pumpkin Marshmallow one the other day and it’s possibly one of my favorite fragrances ever. I typically reach for the more fresh and floral scents than sweet ones, but this one is so cozy and festive with a really light vanilla scent which is so lovely.

Sweet Treat- It’s that time of year where all I want to do at night is bundle up on the couch or bed with a Christmas movie on while sipping on a mug full of hot cocoa. I know it’s basic, but I always find myself going for the boxed Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix with mini marshmallows (and I always HAVE to get the mini marshmallows) topped with Peppermint Whipped Cream from Target which is my absolute guilty pleasure during the holiday season (like I literally opened it and poured it in my mouth 10 seconds after I paid… no joke).

Drink- I’m not always a huge juice person, but I do love a good superfood juice every once in a while. I tried the Pressed Juicery Apple Beet Ginger Juice the other day and it is so so good. I was a bit scared to try it because sometimes ginger can be a bit overpowering sometimes, but it was such a good balance of sweet from the apples and sour from the ginger to balance out the spiciness.

Song- I’m sure I’ve talked about them before, but I’m in love with Jess and Gabriel. I’ve been watching their videos and vlogs for a couple years now and started listening to their covers about a year ago. They just released their I’ll Be Home Vol. II EP (on Spotify and Apple Music) a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been listening to it on repeat ever since. It’s a five song album of Christmas songs and it’s such a chill and Christmassy vibe. I absolutely love all the songs, but ‘The First Noel’ is probably my favorite of this album.

Movie- Since the Disney Plus streaming site released earlier this month, I’ve been rewatching all of the Disney Channel Original Movies. I had been waiting months for this to be released, and it has not disappointed. Every single Disney movie or TV show you could ever think of is on this platform, for only $6.99/month (or $69.99/year). Cow Belles, Read It and Weep, High School Musical(s), Camp Rock, Stuck in the Suburbs, I’ve seriously been watching everything you could think of and living my best 10-year old self. And as a bonus, it has all of the OG Christmas movies you could ever want.

LA Spot- At the beginning of the month I made it out to The Huntington Library for the first time since being in LA. My friends and I had been trying to find time to go, but just never made it. We went on a Friday and it wasn’t too crowded. Entrance fee is $22, which seems a bit pricey at first, but is 100% worth it. We spent nearly four full hours walking around before we had to leave, and we barely saw a quarter of the gardens. There are so many different areas to walk through; from the dessert to the Japanese and Chinese garden, and the lily ponds, everything was so beautiful and it’s a lovely place to spend a day. There are also a ton of open, grassy areas to bring a blanket and just sit out for a while. Highly suggest going if you’re ever in LA!

DENVER Travel Diary

Happy Thurdsay!! Unfortunately this is not a holiday post (don’t worry, lot’s of those to come), but it’s all about my trip to DENVER a couple weeks ago. My friend and I booked super cheap flights on Southwest and Spirit for a quick four-day trip to Denver, and it was such a great trip. It was never a place I had really thought much about, but I feel like those trips always end up being the best. So read on, enjoy and I’ll see you soon for lot’s more holiday content! xx

Where we stayed

We found a great little Airbnb for two on Garfield Street, just two miles away from the downtown area and right by City Park. It’s a pretty safe neighborhood but a little sketchy, but then again what cities aren’t. There were a ton of little restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and supermarkets right down the street from us, so it was a perfect location. On the first day we walked down Colfax Avenue down to the Lodo area and it was a really nice, easy walk (or an Uber was about $6 for a pool for two. Our place was also right across from City Park, which made for a perfect morning walk before heading into town for the day. I would highly recommend staying in this area if you’re ever in Denver.

Where we went 

Since we stayed so close to the downtown area, we spent quite a bit of time there, around 16th Street Mall and Larimer Square. Our first day was full of shopping. We wandered down to the LODO area and walked in and out of all the stores and boutiques, and making quite a few purchases (because #vacay right?) and stopping for a quick lunch along the way. Since Commons Park was at the end of the mall, we walked down there to look at the city and snap a few photos. In the afternoon, we Ubered down to the North Broadway/6th Ave area where there are a lot of thrift stores. Before going to Denver, almost all of our family and friends told us we had to check out the thrift stores (if you want to see what I bought, keep an eye out for my October Favorites post, going up tomorrow) where I found a ton of super cute things. We also stumbled upon an 80s costume store that had all the little toys and knick-knacks I used to have/play with when I was younger, so of course I had to pick out some of those goodies. By 5pm, we were deliriously tired (since we flew overnight and landed at 8am that morning), so we picked up food for dinner and headed home for the night, passing out for a solid 12 hours.

The next day we decided to head up to Boulder for the day. So we made our way to Union Station, which was absolutely beautiful, to grab a pastry and some coffee before we left. We decided to take the bus, which was $10.50 for a round-trip to Boulder which took about 50 minutes each way. It was so easy and inexpensive, so I highly recommend doing that. That day was a Sunday, so we were hoping to find a farmers market or something, but what we found was even more special. It happened to be Indigenous People’s Day, so there was a market and a small celebration of Native people celebrating, which we were lucky enough to be a part of for a little bit. There were little stalls set up selling jewelry, home decor and clothing, so I picked up a few pairs of beautiful earrings. After that we stopped for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for anything and everything. The boutiques and stores lining Pearl Street Mall were stocked up with so much goodness, that by the end of the day we had our arms full of bags. At 5, we were ready to head back so we grabbed a coffee to go and jumped back on the bus back to Denver, where we stopped for dinner before going back for the night.

Our third day we didn’t really have much of a plan, but we started our morning by grabbing coffee at a neighborhood coffee shop and walking across the street to City Park, where we spent an hour soaking in the Denver sun and taking lot’s of photos. After that, we were hungry and ready for brunch so decided we had to try Snooze at least once during the trip, so we hopped in an Uber and went over. The line was about 40 minutes long, but it was SO worth the wait (check out the next section to see what we ate). By the time we were done with brunch we were absolutely stuffed and wanted to walk it off, so we wandered down Larimer Square before starting our walk over to the Botanic Gardens. To be honest, we got super lost on our way there and ended up walking for about two hours, but we finally made it to the area around the Gardens, so we looked around there a bit before deciding to walk over to Cherry Creek Shopping Center, a super cute, quaint mall. We spent a couple hours popping into some of my favorite stores and picking up a few things. For dinner we had plans to meet some friends, so we met up with them and spent a fun night together.

On our last day, we decided that we HAD to go back to Snooze, so after finishing up our last minute packing, we Ubered over for our last brunch. We tried different things than we had the morning before, and it only reaffirmed that it was one of the best brunch places I had ever been. After being stuffed, again, we walked around the downtown area once more before flying back to LA. We walked through Larimer Square again and past Coors Field. We popped back into a few stores that we had missed the last few days and picked up some smaller souvenirs to take home. Knowing we needed to get to the airport by later-afternoon to make our flight, we walked back down Colfax Ave while going back into the boutiques, bookstores and stores we had passed on the first day. Before getting back to our Airbnb, we grabbed some Greek food to go and hopped in an Uber to the airport.

What we ate

Voodoo Donut-After doing some research on the area we were staying in, I found a Voodoo right down the street from us and knew that we were going to have to try a few. We stumbled upon it while walking around on the first morning and Denver and stopped to get a little treat for the morning. I got two donut, a chocolate coconut and a big Oreo, peanut butter and caramel donut which was probably the best donut I’ve ever had in my life. Anyone who knows me knows I’m in love with donuts, especially big loaded ones, so I was so excited to finally try it. They are loaded with toppings but without being too sweet or oily, which made them even better. We went back on our last day to pick up a few more for the road, so I tried a pumpkin spice canolo (a half canoli, half donut type thing) and another coconut-y donut, both of which were amazing.

Snooze AM Eatery– We didn’t make a whole lot of plans for what to do in Denver, but Snooze was the one place I knew we had to try. It popped up on every Denver travel/food guide and looked incredible. On the third morning, we Ubered over to Snooze and waited around 40 minutes for a table before sitting down and getting our food ordered. I usually don’t like waiting (I’m the most impatient person I know), but this was 100% worth the wait. We both ordered Eggs Benedict (I got one with prosciutto, a balsamic glaze and white cheddar Hollandaise and another with avocado and tomato) and shared a plate of three pancakes (sweet potato, maple-pecan, and blueberry lemon) and we ate EVERYTHING. The Eggs Benedict were so different (in the best way possible) and the pancakes were hands down the best pancakes I’d ever had. It was so good that we ended up back there the next morning, this time ordering completely different stuff. I went for the breakfast pot pie with an egg on top, a bacon-infused Bloody Mary (the best I’ve ever had) and we also shared a plate of coconut, strawberry french toast (which was possibly also the best french toast I’d ever had). All of the hype around Snooze did not disappoint, it’s an absolute must if you’re ever un Denver!

Sherpa’s Restaurant– Our day in Boulder was made even better by stumbling upon the cutest Himalayan cuisine restaurant called Sherpa’s. We walked past the restaurant which had the most adorable patio dining area and knew we had to stop there for lunch. It was so different from the places we had seen in Denver and Boulder so far, so were excited to try something new. We ordered the Chicken Korma and the Tibetan pan-fried noodles with a side of garlic naan, and it was delicious. Everything was so flavorful and reminded me of true home-cooking, which was much appreciated while traveling. I also ordered a hot chai latte, which was their homemade recipe, to go with lunch. I’m such a chai lover, and this was hands-down the best chai I’d ever had. It was so spicy and just slightly sweetened and was perfect for a cool, fall day. The people at the restaurant were so sweet and friendly and put the meal over the top.

Little Man Ice Cream– After meeting up with some friends for dinner one night, they took us to Little Man Ice Cream. It was super packed (especially for a Monday night) so we stood in line for a while before ordering our ice cream. I went for the Salted Maple Pecan, and it was amazing. I like ice cream, but I’m much more of a donut-kinda girl, but this was ice cream I’d wait in a long line for. It was so creamy and the perfect balance of salty and sweet which I love in a treat. The location was also super cute with all the fall-vibes. There was a little slide and haystacks and pumpkins all over the place, making it a pseudo-pumpkin patch. It was such a great place to end a cozy fall evening with friends.

What I wore

One of the things I was most excited for in Denver was the fall weather. It had been super hot in LA all month, so I was excited to get some cooler sweater weather, and I knew I had to use to my advantage.

‘Vivienne’ Black Sunglasses from Quay– I got these black aviators in one of my FabFitFun boxes last year and they’ve been my go-to’s this fall. They’re super comfortable and go well with any outfit. They’re really easy to wear and fold up pretty thin making them really easy to pack and carry around as well.

Rose Gold Wildgo Sunglasses– My other favorite pair of sunglasses are these rose gold one’s from Wildgo that I found this summer in Barcelona. They are also super comfy and easy to wear, so I’ve been wearing them a ton, especially over the summer, and am so glad I had them to go with some fun outfits in Denver.

White Long Coat- I found this at a random thrift store so I don’t have a link for it, but it’s one of the pieces I’m most excited to wear this fall/winter season. It’s a great staple to have in your closet that can be worn over almost anything. I love throwing it on when I’m trying to be a little dressier, but it’s also easy to wear on a day-to-day basis.

White Denim Jacket– A white jean jacket is such a great staple for a fall wardrobe. It keeps you really worn and, again, can be thrown on over any outfit. I wore mine in Denver over mom jeans and a pink t-shirt and it kept me warm and looking cute all day long.

H&M Skinny Jeans– I have these in almost every color and wear them all the time during the fall. They’re super comfy and soft and also fold up really small so they’re easy to pack. I can wear them in the fall and winter without being too cold as well, so they’re a great piece to travel with.

Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack in Pink- I got this backpack last year for Christmas and it has been my go-to travel bag. I love using a backpack when traveling so that I don’t have to carry anything in my hands and this is the perfect one. Like all Longchamp bags, it folds up into a perfect little rectangle so is easy to pack, but it actually fits a lot (I’m able to fit my camera, wallet, phone, gloves/beenie and passport in it without an issue).

Louis Vuitton Monogram Neverfull– I, very luckily, got this as a hand-me-down from my mom and it’s one of my all-time favorite bags. It’s such a beautiful piece that can be worn during any season and is amazing to travel with. It’s so light to carry but really is never full. It’s definitely a piece that you would save up for and work towards, but if you ever are able to, it’s such a special bag to have and use.

Prada Black Bumbag– Bumbags are all the hype right now and for a good reason. It was so easy to throw this on before heading out for the day and not having to worry about carrying anything. I threw my credit cards, keys and phone into it and had it right in front of me the whole time with easy access.

Adidas Sleek Sneakers in Periwinkle– These have been my all-time favorite shoes since I got them at the end of the summer. They’re so comfortable to walk around in all day (like I would walk between 20,000 and 30,000 steps in these without any issue) and go so well with any outfit. They have them in quite a few colors, but I think the periwinkle is just so beautiful and adds a statement too your outfit without being too much.

Lele Sadoughi Silver Circle necklace– I’ve been in love with this piece of jewelry since I got it in one of my FabFitFun boxes, and it’s been one of my go-to necklaces that I rotate throughout the week. This is also the necklace that I always take with me when I travel because, again, it goes so well with any outfit so I don’t have to pack too many pieces. It’s such a beautiful piece that looks beautiful on anyone.

September Favorites 2019

IT’S SPOOKY SZN. Happy October! We’re one week into fall and SO many new things to add to my favorites for this month. Seriously I’m in full fall mode, pumpkin spiced everything, all the candles, sweaters and boots you could think of and already beyond excited for the holidays. But before we get too carried away let’s get into this months favorites!

Skincare Product- The end of summer means soaking up all those beach days and laying out in the sun, but not without sun protection! I started using the Hawaiian Tropic Island Tanning Coconut Oil (SPF 25) and I’m obsessed with it. It smells so so good (if you know me you know I love anything and everything coconut) and is in a spray bottle. Who doesn’t love a spray bottle. I was a little weary at first because it is an oil, but it’s so dry that it soaks up right away and doesn’t leave that weird oily film on your skin. But it’s never left me burnt, always just with a nice, even tan.

Beauty Product- I just went a did a little the other Friday night Ulta haul the other day and picked up the Ulta Hydrating Coconut Stick (can’t find it online, I found it in the store) which has saved my skin on those long days. I love grabbing it in the middle of the day when my skin just needs a little pick me up. It doesn’t leave m kin feeling claggy or sticky (like some sticks can do), but just cool and refreshed. I’ve even used this over a little bit of makeup when it’s been on for a while and it doesn’t mess with or move makeup (haven’t tried it on top of foundation though). It’s just an easy and inexpensive product to use quick and on the go!

Makeup Product- I always find myself wanting to use more lip colors and products in the fall/winter months and I’ve been loving the Urban Decay VICE Special Effects lip topper in Seether. It’s supposed to be used on top of a matte lipstick, but I’ve just been scrubbing my lips, putting on lip balm and then going in with the color on top. It’s a really glittery and shimmery shade but isn’t too chunky. It’s a pretty bright red/orange-y color but doesn’t ever look too much. I’ve used it for both casual and more dramatic looks and it always looks good!

Haircare Product- During my Ulta haul I also stocked up on a few of the Not Your Mother’s haircare products, which are my absolute favs. I started using their stuff when I found the Beach Babe Texturizing hairspray and I’ve been obsessed every since. I got the Clean Freak and Beach Babe dry shampoos, one more Beach Babe Texturizing hairspray and the Plump for Joy hair thickening spray (which I tried for the first time the other day and love). Their products work so well in my hair and always do exactly what they’re supposed to. And plus they smell incredible so what’s not to love.

Clothing Item- Not anything specific, and no links or photos but I’ve been LIVING in large, oversized sweaters as the weather has cooled down a bit.

Swimsuit- I know it’s fall but I’m out here in LA still pretending it’s summer (even though I’m obsessed with everything and anything fall right now). I’ve gotten a lot of new bikinis over the last few months, but one of my favorites has been an olive green top and white cheeky bottoms for Forever 21. It’s a really easy suit to wear and stays in place so is perfect for playing around in the water at the beach. It’s also just so cute and looks good in the summer and the fall.

Food- I tried the Trader Joe’s apricot, cherry and cranberry goat’s cheese the other night during a casual cheese night a couple of weeks ago and it was SO yummy. It’s super creamy but the fruit all around really cuts through the fattiness. We got a bunch of different kinds of crackers and a baguette and spread it all over that and it was delicious. It’s definitely one of my favorite cheeses I’ve ever tried from Trader Joe’s (and I’ve tried a lot) and I can’t wait to get get myself another one (or two or three…).

Drink- Move over PSL, Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cold brew is my obsession right now. I tried it super randomly without having read anything about it when it first came out and it’s soooo good. I love my pumpkin spice lattes, but I find them too sweet sometimes to drink too much of. The pumpkin spice cold brew is literally just cold brew with a sweet, pumpkin flavored foamy cream on top, and it’s the perfect blend of summer and fall. I’ve been drinking them all day everyday and am sure I won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Fall Treat- Continuing on the trend of pumpkin spiced treats, I found pumpkin spiced yoghurt covered pretzels and Sprouts a couple of week ago and have been loving those. They’re super sweet so it’s hard to eat a lot of them but the pumpkin spice flavor is SO strong that it’s the yummiest thing ever. Also because it’s Sprouts you just scoop however much you want in a bag and it’s super inexpensive so we love that too.

Movie- Not really a movie, but I finally watched the Fenty Fashion Show on Amazon the other night and it was incredible. I had been reading all about it and seeing all the hype and it did not miss a beat. It was super fun and the performers were great but more than that the message it sent was so clear. I had goosebumps the whole time watching and seeing how all of these girls at all ages, races, sexualities and SIZES were being praised. They all looked incredible in Rihanna’s lingerie and I honestly think this has set a new precedent for all fashion shows to come. It was just a reminder that everyone is beautiful, regardless of size.

TV Show- Season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy is back and that makes me SO happy. That also means that I’ve started re-watching some of my favorite older episodes because who doesn’t do that before a season premier. I haven’t been with the show since the beginning but I caught all the way up and have been watching live for the last 6 years so I’ll take that and call me a fan. The first episode was so good and I’m excited for the rest of the season but I’m also just loving watching all these older episodes right now.

Song- Don’t know why, but I’ve been listening to Lorde’s Supercut on repeat the last few weeks. It had been a minute since I listened to it but after hearing it in the movie Someone Great, I’ve been obsessed with it again. It really just gets me in my feeeelz if you know what I mean.

April & May Favorites 2019

Hello lovely friends! Hope you all had a FAB weekend. These last couple months have absolute FLOWN BY… so much so that I totally dropped the ball on monthly favorites. But we are back here today doing a little catch up on all my favorites from the last few months. Enjoy and I will talk to you again very soon! xx

Skincare Product- Now that its summer and a little more humid (especially now that I’m back in Asia), I’ve been living more lightweight moisturizers. My go-to is typically the Clinique moisturizer, but during these summer months I’ve been loving the Curél Moisturizing Milk. It’s so lightweight but still very hydrating.

Makeup Product- I’m not usually a blush person, but lately I’ve been using the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush pretty much everyday. I love that it gives me a little rosy glow without being too much. It’s such a great addition to a neutral and natural makeup look.

Haircare Product- I think I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve been using the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum a lot lately, and I’ve been loving it. It does such a good job at keeping your hair healthy and hydrating while still leaving it so radiant. And it’s such an incredible product and SO affordable.

Clothing Item- I found this really cute romper from Top Shop (can’t find the link:() at Saks Off Fifth on Black Friday and I’m so glad it’s finally summer and I can wear it now. It’s such a fun outfit that can be dressed up or down and can be worn for seriously any occasion. It’s just so fun and flirty.

Shoes- I just finished a month-long internship and was living for these SODA black espadrille platform sandals. They are SO cute and comfy while still looking put together and progressional. They’re so comfortable and could literally walk around in them all day without anything blisters. And best of all, gives you height!

Accessory- Since I was working this past month, I was wearing jewelry every day. My Return to Tiffany bracelet with the little blue heart has been my go-to every single day. It’s a very minimal piece that still makes a statement with the pop of blue.

Restaurant- Since I was able to spend the month of May back at home in Singapore, I was able to go back to all of my favorite SG spots. Lantern at the Fullerton Bay Hotel has always been one of my favorites. They have such cool and different drinks with the most s t u n n i n g view of the most beautiful part of Singapore.

Sweet Treat- When my sister and my mom came and visited LA a couple months ago, we went on a food tour around LA (not actually, but kinda haha) and of course HAD to visit Bumsan Milk Bar in Koreatown. They have amazing soft serve in a cereal cone and it’s the most decadent and delicious thing ever.

App- I love games and apps that can give me something mindless to do since I get distracted and bored really easily, and I found the game 1010! Color the other day (FREE!) and I’ve been pretty much playing it every free second I have.

Movie- This is definitely an older one, but for some reason I’ve watched Friends With Benefits four times in the last two weeks. It’s just such a fun and easy movie to watch on a lazy afternoon. But I also watched the new Always Be My Maybe on Netflix the other day and it was so good! Definitely did not disappoint.

TV Show- I love David Chang and all of his shows, and I’ve found myself rewatching all of his Ugly Delicious episodes lately. I’ve seriously seen them all at least three times and can’t wait for the second season to be out.

Song- I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but absolutely LOVE country music. It’s pretty much all I listen to. Jake Owen sang one of his new songs, Made For You, on last weeks episode of The Bachelorette and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

NEW YORK CITY Travel Diary

I can’t believe I’m actually writing this, seriously a dream come true. Just like almost every other hopeless romantic in America who in indulges in the rom coms of NYC, this city has been at the top of my bucket list for years and I’m so lucky to have gotten to go on this trip. I fell in love the second I landed in this gorgeous city and can’t wait to share everything from my whirlwind of a trip here in New York City!

DAY 1

I landed at 8:55am after flying all night and barely sleeping an hour, but the buzz and electricity of the city woke me up instantly. It was everything I expected. I dropped my stuff off at my cousins house as quickly as possible and headed into Manhattan from Queens. The metro dropped me off right in between Central Park and The Plaza Hotel, and I was seriously just taken aback by the surrealness of it all as I walked up the stairs of the station. I spent the first couples hours walking up and down Fifth Avenue, walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, grabbed a couple cookies from Insomnia and of course browsed through Saks Fifth Avenue. Lunch was at Sarabeth’s with a friend at Central Park South and we indulged in the most amazing Eggs Benedict’s. To walk it off, we snooped around Time Warner Center and then strolled through Central Park to get to the Upper West Side. And since I was in the neighborhood, I had to make my first visit to Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar (I’m so in awe of her, it’s crazy) to get a little afternoon treat. I tried the much anticipated Cereal Milk Ice Cream (the fruity one) and her famous Corn Cookie…AMAZING. Finally I hopped back on the metro and headed back to Queens in the late afternoon. After 8 hours and 12 miles of walking I was dead but so in love. I stopped by the tiniest Greek place on the way home and picked up a Falafel Schwarma and Spanakopita to take home, put on Gossip Girl and crashed. It was perfect.

DAY 2

My plan was to be up around 8, maybe 8:30, to be out the door early and explore the city. But I guess I was really knocked out because I woke up frantically at 11 and got ready in about 7 minutes to be out the door. I was meeting a few family friends for lunch so hopped on the metro and headed towards Greenwich Village. I walked around a little and was so in-awe of the charm and class of the neighborhood. Although I was headed to lunch, I found the hippest little donut shop, The Donut Pub, and stopped to get a birthday cake donut as a treat for later in the day. I then headed over to Cafe Cluny on a corner in the West Village where we sat and ate pork belly and scrambled eggs, a Thai grain bowl and a seared tuna burger (all amazing!), over the course of a few hours. After lunch, I ventured out towards the Highline and Chelsea. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and made for some beautiful photos. I was slowly falling more and more in love with this city. I didn’t have much time there, but I continued to walk north towards Times Square and Bryant Park. I hit Times Square just as the sun had tucked away behind the buildings and had an out-of-body experience while taking in the (what I consider) magic. That moment had been imagined for so long and I couldn’t believe I was finally there, right in the middle of it. I spent a bit of time walking around and taking pictures and then headed across the street to Bryant Park, another form of beauty in itself, where I met up with my cousin. We had decided on Italian for dinner so took the train back down to Little Italy to Paesanos to have a huge bowl of Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce. It was the cutest little restaurant designed to look like an Italian villa and definitely hit the spot after another full day of exploring. Then it was back on the metro to head home and crash again for the night.

DAY 3

Wednesday might have been the fullest day in NYC, but it was so great. I was up and out the door by 10 and headed down to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was, again, a beautiful day with clear blue skies and the sun beating down which made everything just that much more beautiful. I walked across the bridge, taking in the moment and looking back at the city, and explored Dumbo and Downtown Brooklyn on the other side. With 99 cent pizza being on my food bucket list, I grabbed a couple of slices at a hole-in-the-wall of a store and continued to walk around the funky neighborhood. After a couple of hours of exploring I began back towards the bridge, but had to grab a bagel (another one of my must-haves) at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company. Not knowing what to get, I ordered a poppy seed bagel with blueberry cream cheese and it was the biggest but best bagel I’d ever had in my life hands down. Since I had the whole afternoon and evening to myself, which was the greatest thing ever, I walked up through Tribeca, Soho and Greenwich back to the Highline area, wanting to spend more time there. I also found the BEST ice cream store, Ample Hills Creamery, to get a scoop of gooey butter cake ice cream before moving on. I decided to spend a couple of hours at The Whitney, which was full of modern American art, including a huge Andy Warhol exhibit which was super cool. The museum also has stunning balcony views of the city and overlooking the water. Since Chelsea Market was right next door, and I was starving, I popped in there to look for something to eat. A ton of my friends had recommended the Very Fresh Noodles, so of course that’s what I had to try. The little stall with a few counter seats was packed, but I waited and was served a huge bowl of thick, silky noodles with braised spicy beef, it was amazing. The last couple of things I wanted to do that day was to see Radio City and Rockefeller Center. So I walked back up, through Koreatown, to see the famous Radio City. I had gotten there right as the sun was beginning to hide away, making the large red marquee lights stand out even more. And finally I walked around the corner to Rockefeller Center, another out-of-body experience as I stood there forever realizing how special that moment was. The perfect way to end another long but incredible day in the city. And then it was back home to rest up for the last day of the trip.

DAY 4

I woke up on the last morning feeling so happy and grateful, but also really not wanting to leave the next day. I was up at 8 and out the door not too long after to get the day going. I took the metro into Manhattan and got off around 59th Street and walked down Madison Avenue to the Met. I’d heard so much about how beautiful and grand the Met is and seen so many pictures, but there are seriously no words to explain it until you’re standing right in front of it. It’s honestly just so breathtaking. I spent about 3 hours in the museum and still feel like I only saw 5% of everything, but it was just super cool. By the time I was done there it was about 12:45 and I had the rest of the day to shop! Since I was in New York, I had to visit the Kate Spade flagship store on Madison. It was the most stunning store I’ve ever walked into and I may have picked up a lil NYC themed treat for myself. I then headed over to Fifth Avenue and wandered around, walked into Saks and walked over to both Bloomies and Macy’s to get a few goodies for myself to remember the trip. Another thing on my NYC food bucket list was a pretzel, of course, so I had to grab one from a street vendor. After a full afternoon of shopping, I headed back to Bryan Park to meet my cousin. Once again, the sun was tucked behind the buildings giving the perfect afternoon glow. I was a little bit early so I sat at a table behind the NY Public Library taking in the beauty of the city. It was busy yet oddly calming and I was just so grateful to be there. My cousin and I then headed down to Pizza Beach in the Lower East Side for some good old New York pizza. I had a (large, hehe) pizza with pink vodka sauce, burrata and basil, and it was hands down the best pizza I’d ever had in my life. Since it was my last night, we decided to take the train back up to Times Square to see it all lit up a night. As beautiful as it was during the day, it was even more incredible at night. It was everything and more I ever imagined, in that moment my heart was just to full of gratitude and joy. I then took one last metro ride back home and crashed for an early flight the next morning, dreaming of how magical this city had been.

 

It doesn’t phase me for a second that this life full of traveling and adventures is not something that everyone has. I’m extremely grateful to be able to live this life and I hope that I’m able to give back in some way. New York was incredible and I hope to be back very very soon. I wanted to end this post by sharing a journal entry I wrote on my last evening in the city, it captures everything that this trip meant to me.

“It’s Thursday evening, 6:20pm and the sun hasn’t quite set but is nestled behind the array of buildings. I’m sitting at a table in Bryan Park, the public library behind me, the table full of bags from a day of shopping. I’m exhausted but so in love with this new city. Deciding to come on this trip was the best decision ever. As much anxiety as traveling causes me, I’m so glad I made the journey out to this side of the country and am so glad I was able to spend this week in NYC. This moment helps me remember that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of travel and there’s nothing that brings me more joy and excitement than moments like this.”

See you soon! xx

Food Adventures #12- Traveling Tokyo

A little late (actually a lot late), but finally some new Tokyo #foodinspo to brighten up your day!

*200 Posts* Looking Back

Wow, here we are, 4 years and 200 posts later. I’m going to try not to make this too mushy, but I’m truly amazed, proud, in-awe, and every other positive adjective of myself, this blog and all the places it’s gone. When I first started I was a bored high school student sitting in a class I really didn’t care about. I didn’t know who I was and I was desperately looking for answers. Swimming, school, friends, family, I didn’t know what my true life’s purpose was. And it surely wasn’t to just float through life doing whatever, I needed a purpose. The driving force to get me going. I started writing about things I enjoyed: food, fitness, travel, body image. I wrote for myself. But suddenly I realized the power that I had with my words, the power this platform I created had. People started coming up to me at school, “hey, I read your blog post the other day on body image and it was so inspiring”, “you’re blog post on those Singapore brunch spots was awesome and I tried a bunch out”. I was reaching people, people were reading my blogs. That’s when writing about things I enjoyed or cared about became my passion. It wasn’t about putting on this front that everyone would like, it was about sharing my story, my journey and my experiences while promoting what I cared about, kindness, self love and positivity. No matter what I’m writing about, how old I get or where I am in the world, those three things will always be where I’m rooted, and those three things will always be where SwimEatLove is rooted. I’m beyond grateful everything this blog has given me. It’s connected me to some of the most incredible and inspiring people, allowed me a creative outlet to express myself without any limits, and it’s given me purpose. So while I’ve now hit this milestone of 200 posts, there’s no slowing down. I want to share my story, be open, honest and vulnerable as long as I possibly can.

So to celebrate, I thought my 200th post would be a look back on the last 4 years, the posts I’ve loved, the ones you’ve loved and a bunch of others in between.

It all started with me sharing my love for swimming, the good, the bad and the ugly. Butterfly or Butterdie “When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head.”

I’ve shared photos through Life Through A Lens to give you all a little peak into my life. I’ve shared my love for food through my Food Adventures from around the world and many recipes I’ve come up with myself (some heart healthy, some healthy for your soul).

I began to share my journey to self-love, although a hard one. The ‘Perfect’ Self. “It blows my mind that I can pick up a magazine with the header “The New Plus-Sized Model”, flip it open and see a gorgeous woman wearing size 8 clothes. As a society, we have painted a picture of what the ‘perfect’ woman looks like; long skinny legs, a flat stomach, thin arms, and narrow hips.”

When I traveled, you traveled. You came with me around the world; Thailand, Paris, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Cambodia, California and so many more. My adventures became your adventures and I loved that. I shared my journeys in those places and also what it took to get there. Holiday Travel Tips. “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”

I found myself becoming interested in new and different things, and I shared that with you. Never thought I’d be a little fashion guru. Natural Glam- “No Makeup” Look. “Good morning lovelies! Now that it’s back to school and work, there’s a lot of 5 minute, easy makeup looks going on. Today I thought I’d share my natural, go-to no-makeup look with you all. I wasn’t always a ‘wear makeup to school’ kind of gal, but lately I’ve found that it helps me feel put together and ready for the day. Having basic makeup done makes me feel like I’ve made an effort for not only people around me, but myself as well. For me, natural looks are all about keeping your skin healthy and glowy while still covering up all the imperfections.”

And along with fashion, I’ve become obsessed with beauty, as well as all things summer and the beach but we already knew that. Summer Beauty. “It’s finally that time of the year where we’re all whipping out our bikinis/suits and headed to spend time at the beach, the lake or even just by the pool, soaking in every ounce of sunlight in hopes to get that perfectly sun-kissed skin. Today’s post is going to be all of my summer beauty tips and go-to’s to get you looking fresh, relaxed and glowing. Under each section I have linked some of the products I have been loving this summer.”

I shared by true and lasting love of my beautiful island of Singapore with you. Mega Guide to Singapore. “Planning on visiting Singapore or always wanting to visit? These are my top 10 things to do in Singapore. It may only be 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, but the beautiful island is PACKED with fun things to do!”

For two years now, I’ve brought you into my life during the holidays. Trying to share my profound love for Christmas and the season, 12 Days of Christmas has allowed me to do so. Christmas Tag. “Red or green – which color occupies your life during Christmas? Red, and red glitter. What’s your favorite Christmas accessory? Gold hoops. Do you buy presents or try DIYs? Buy presents, but I love putting together gift baskets/sets. Chocolate, Strawberry, or Vanilla – what do you prefer the most during Christmas? None of them… everything PEPPERMINT! What is your favorite Christmas slogan? Be naughty, save Santa the trip;)”

And what I’m most proud of is how open I’ve been about the hardest parts of my life. Sharing about my struggle with an eating disorder with you all was the hardest decision, but the best decision I ever made. As scary as it was, the number of people who reached out thanking me for trying to break the stigma was life-changing, and I don’t say that lightly. It was become a big part of my life and will stay with me forever, even way after recovery. That’s what this blog has been about, helping others feel less alone. Mental Health Moments are a way to make sure that this important conversation is being had. If no one else will talk about it, I sure as hell will. To My Eating Disorder… “Today is National Love Your Body Day, and while I try to preach and live by the idea of self-love, I’ve been struggling with this by a battling with an eating disorder. It’s not something a lot of people talk about, and it’s not something a lot of people talk about publicly. But I’m ready to break that mold. The scariest thing about this whole battle has been feeling alone in my fight. But I know I’m not the only one. I’m here telling my story with hopes that it can help others out there feel a little less alone. I’m not posting this looking for pity or attention, I’m posting this because reading other peoples stories was such a big part of the start of my recovery. If this can help even just one person feel a little less alone, then it’s worth it.”

How crazy is that, 200 posts. And guess what, I already see 400 on the horizon.

Much love always, Aime.

 

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