Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pecan Bundt Cake to start the New Year

For Christmas I tried baking a spice cake and it just did not work out.

I followed the directions exactly on the box, but apparently it didn't matter. Though I managed to make some amazing cream cheese frosting to put on top, I couldn't save the cake.

I threw the whole thing away.

I think baking is something that takes practice and experimenting to see what works. I don't like the clean up that comes with baking and I lack self-control in the sweet department.

So I don't bake.

I decided I had to redeem myself because I made the spice cake for my mom's birthday and I was so bummed that I wasn't able to make her something she could enjoy.

A couple of years ago my mom bought me a Christmas tree bundt cake pan. Not sure why. Maybe it was a hint?

She's subtle like that.

I had some pecans in the pantry and brown sugar left over from a casserole I made recently so I wanted to use things I already had.

I also know that bundt cakes are the hardest to make, so the ENTIRE time I was making this my OCD kicked in. I must have checked on it in the oven a dozen times.

But you know what?!

It turned out PERFECT.

I couldn't believe it was something that I made.

I took it over to my mom's right away and she loved it.

My very picky step-dad also had some and liked it too!

Here's the recipe~

1 package of yellow cake mix (Duncan Hines preferably)
1 package of Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding (either the regular 3.4 oz box or the sugar free 1 oz box- I used the sugar free one)
4 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon (you can use more if need be)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.

Spray tube pan with cooking spray and sprinkle pan with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Put first 6 ingredients in large bowl and blend well. You can use a mixer for 3 minutes instead.

Add brown sugar and nuts and mix again.

Pour in pan and bake about an hour or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Mine was done at 54 minutes.

Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes (not on top of the stove).

Loosen cake from sides and place on a wire rack to cool completely before sprinkling (or dousing) with powdered sugar to serve.

Oh and just incase you were wondering why I posted a picture of my dog in this blog.

There isn't one.

He's just awesome.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Starbuck's Fix

I haven't been to Starbuck's in MONTHS.

That is completely unbelievable. I use to go everyday, sometimes twice, for 11 years. I am almost positive that what I must have spent is close to what I still owe in college tuition as of today.

This year I skipped out on the limited holiday drinks, the pastries and the repetitive holiday music.

I have been brewing my own coffee for about a year and half, but only in the last six months have I started to feel like it's a chore to get to Starbuck's.

I love the fresh coffee smell throughout the house, the instant gratification and the comfort of being in my pajamas in the mornings.

One of my Christmas presents this year was a coffee grinder so I can buy fresh beans!

I am not sure how much money I am saving by making everything at home since I buy lots of coffee, half & half and other creamers, but I think it's definitely a time saver.

I have been craving a cinnamon dolce latte so I went to get the grande size with 2.5 pumps of syrup (instead of 4) and easy whip cream.

Can you believe I still thought it was too sweet?? I don't put any sweetener in my coffee, just a splash of a flavored creamer with my half & half once in a while.

I do kind of miss seeing how they would spell my name on their cups and I was always so impressed when it was right very occasionally.

Today was actually the most creative way I have ever seen my name spelled..

And totally un-related to coffee- I picked up my fashionista mom to go to church Christmas morning and we were in matching colors and jackets..

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays! I am still in 'holiday mode' which means I am still eating as if it's Christmas everyday, but just until New Year's Eve and then I'll be starting a diet along with 29 million other people.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Tis the Season to be Nice

Or so at least I thought...

I never see grocery stores as crowded as I see them right before Christmastime.

Pretty sure that is one word.

I am surprised that my car and myself came home unscathed.

As I was driving, an SUV in front of me didn't turn left for several minutes- she had at least 10 chances to make a I waited, semi-patiently, thinking there must be a hesitant car in front of her I couldn't see.

Nope, she was just preoccupied with something.

Then as I was parking some lady hit my car with her ring walking by.

I didn't say anything. And what do you say in that situation? "Excuse me, do you mind not flailing your arms when walking by parked cars so that you don't do damage to the vehicles around you?"

Halfway through my shopping a lady ran right into my stomach with a shopping cart, almost spilling the coffee sample I just got. I looked at her and she said she's sorry and that she didn't see me.

At least she admitted it.

Then I was looking at some decorations when some lady walked right in front of me as I was touching things on the shelf and announced to her husband that she came back for these, practically knocking me over.

She did not acknowledge my presence.

Lastly, I lost count how many people actually ran into me at the store without apologizing. What is going on here?!

You would think that this is the one time of year people would actually be a little more watchful, courteous and friendly. Maybe go out of your way for someone?

I feel like in general many people have been getting less courteous, but it just seems so much more heightened around the holidays. It's like at airports when you see people who only travel on must be the those same people going to the store once a year.

I didn't say anything in any of those situations. Mostly because I was just shocked at what was happening, but also because it's not worth my energy.

Hopefully there are people out there who have resolutions in the new year to be a little bit more courteous..

Friday, December 2, 2011

Baby Fever

I was the neighborhood babysitter in high school, a nanny in college and a house manager for a couple of homes with kids in Los Angeles.

Obviously I loved being around kids and I found it effortless- for the most part.

Many of my friends have children, but not until recently did I start feeling this overwhelming desire to bring my child into this world.

In the past couple of years a handful of my friends had them and a few are pregnant right now. That's eight women in 24 months!

As an only child and taking care of children with siblings, it has made me realize how much I would prefer not having an only child.

Of course there are many advantages to being the only, but as I get older it would have been nice to have someone around that I share a bond with that time nor distance could ever change.

So how do I know if this is baby fever or just my environment?

I knew when..

Every child I see, I wonder what characteristics mine will have.

I started bookmarking websites of baby furniture (last year).

At stores, I slightly route myself to go by the baby aisles.

I think about how happy my family would be if I were to announce a pregnancy.

I think about names ALL THE TIME.

I can't get myself to get rid of clothes that are too big because I don't want to spend money on maternity clothes.

I think about how my dog Dexter loves children more then other dogs and how happy he would be with someone else to focus on in the house. Is that crazy?? Maybe, but that dog makes me so happy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Irish Cream Overboard

Everyone has their drink of choice.

Mine is really simple.

Almost too simple.

Vodka and soda.


For any occasion.

And it doesn't matter what kind of vodka it is.

Who am I?

During my late teen years (you know you started early too) it was all about the white russians, midori sours and pretty much anything with pineapple or a blended drink.

Those fun fruity blended drinks are now reserved for holidays only.

The last few weeks I've been craving some irish cream.

Yep, I didn't know I could actually crave a drink.

I decided to forego the Black Friday madness (really who am I??) in favor of having some irish cream in my coffee this morning.


a few on the rocks this afternoon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trader Joe's Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage

I'm pretty comfortable shopping at Trader Joe's for the same things every week.

It's easy, I don't have to make a list and I know where everything is. I can be in and out in 20 minutes for a week's worth of food.

I had some more time last week and decided to wander around.

This is very dangerous for me since my eyes seem to wander at every little item that contains sky high amounts of sugar and fat aka the chocolate aisle.

And then crazy things happen. These random little sweet things end up in my cart.

I always buy chicken breast, ground turkey and chicken sausage. I stick to familiar flavors and brands, but my dinner menu needed some spice - literally.

I picked up a new flavor of the spicy jalapeno chicken sausage and I have to say that it was absolutely amazing. I had it grilled, which I think is probably the best way to do it since I think it brings out the flavor.

They are only 3.99 for 5 links and they are minimally processed.

They don't contain gluten or MSG and are only a hundred calories each, so you can eat more than one. Or two.

These are now going to become a weekly staple.

...Until next time I have some extra time to wander.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Problem

There are two groups of people around this time of year.

People who love anything and everything pumpkin and people who just don't understand..

Every single year I have quite the pumpkin addiction.

I want everything pumpkin.

From oatmeal, smoothies, lattes, to pies, cookies, breads and cream cheese - did I miss anything?

I have something pumpkin pretty much every day. A little overboard perhaps?

Here's my favorite pumpkin smoothie recipe ~

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 frozen banana (I don't always have it)
1/4 cup of rolled oats (eliminate this option if you want it low-carb)
I scoop of vanilla protein powder
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg (you can use pumpkin pie spice instead)
2 or 3 handfuls of ice cubes

The trick for extra creaminess is making sure you blend it for about a minute and start with 2 handfuls of ice cubes and add more if you'd like. Protein powders that have xantham gum also make it more creamy.

Marc by Marc Jacobs 'Bianca Pouchette' Crossbody Bag

That is quite the lengthy title for a little bag, but nonetheless, a great bag it is.

Cross-body bags have been around for many years, but I didn't start getting into them until a couple of years ago.

I have always favored totes and hobo style bags that fit on the shoulder.

As my style (slowly) evolved, I now really love these bags.

They come in so many styles, colors, and fabrics that is so hard to choose just one! And it's great that you can be hands-free with them for any occasion.

As some of you may have noticed, I am very much into neutrals and STILL cannot move away from this. I love the way that color looks...just not on me.

I think this bag can be taken from day to night and this grey isn't as strong as a black bag would be. The strap is adjustable, it comes in several colors and retails for $328. It is available at Nordstrom and

Did you know that Zappos now carries more high-end brands and shipping is free on purchases and returns? They also have great customer service just incase you are reluctant to shop online.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Body Lotion

Donna Karan's deodorant, which I posted on my blog, has been getting rave reviews for years and I hadn't realized there's a lotion in the same scent as well.

I've read some reviews that people have been using this for decades and won't use anything else!

It's always difficult for me to find a lotion that is perfect and something I wouldn't mind putting on every single day.

I honestly think this one is the best I have ever tried. It feels amazing, never sticky, and a little goes a long way.

It also smells great, not too over powering, and the moisture lasts all day.

I wear perfume very sparingly, if ever, and I feel like the cost is (a bit) justified since perfume is always pricey.

This retails at Sephora, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus- 6.7 oz. for $42, 32 oz. for $98.

Monday, November 14, 2011

30 Is The New 20

Or at least I am going to keep telling myself that.

I had a milestone birthday this year and it was hard.

Very hard.

Am I a little wiser? Probably not.

Am I a little stronger? Maybe.

Am I more comfortable in my skin? Yes.

Most of my twenties felt like I was still trying to find my ground. From the things I believed in, to the things I wore, ate and did - I just didn't quite know exactly where I stood and what I stood for. The influence of teachers, friends, parents, and relationships are quite strong and can leave quite the impression on how you move through the world. I know that I've made countless mistakes, learned from my relationships and friendships, and was terrified of failure.

While I recognize that I have been pretty comfortable with who I was for most of my life; whether it was countless hours of acting classes, performing in front of others at a young age, or learning to be confident from my mother; there was just this new heightened feeling, my sense of self, that happened this past year that I've never experienced. It's how you feel about yourself, what you need in your life and accepting of all the things (mind & body) that make you- you.

I can tell you what I believe in spiritually and politically.

I can tell you how I feel about marriage and marriage equality.

I can tell you that the people in my life right now are here because I love them all.

I can tell you that even though I have disliked some of my career choices, they've made me realize how grateful I am to have experienced them and the friendships I've made along the way.

I can tell you that having a dog has made me a more compassionate person.

I can tell you that I have made poor decisions and won't make them again.

I can tell you that friends are more important as you get older.

I can tell you that sometimes I am too set in my ways- like when I get up in the morning I need a glass of water first, then 2 cups of coffee..wait 30 minutes and then have breakfast.

I can tell you that even though I love my routine, I thrive on challenges and new experiences.

I can tell you that living in a city with cultural diversity, good weather and good food is very important.

I can tell you that I am willing to help anyone at anytime.

I can tell you that I should have studied journalism or communications in college.

I can tell you that I want children. Soon.

I can tell you that I am looking forward to next year.

I can tell you that three of my favorite things are dessert, sparkly dresses and Paris.

I can tell you that if you want something in life you need passion and hard work.

I can tell you that taking pictures is important - you never know when that might be the last time you are with that person or in that place.

I can tell you that life can be hard, but a good attitude and good people around will help.

And lastly I can tell you that I have never been one to celebrate my birthday.

I can't even recall the last time there was a party in my honor because I was one year older.

And I don't like gifts, even though I like giving them very much.

And there's no pity party of one here. I promise.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life...don't let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice, and most importantly - have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow truly know what you want to become." - Steve Jobs