spring steals

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Spring is just around the cornerget ahead of the game with my beauty, fashion, and lifestyle picks for a stylish & sassy Spring feel

  1. fringe beach bags (above: yellow fringe beach bag by Regine Chevallier)– I’m beyond obsessed with anything fringe, especially when  in the form of an over-sized bag with bright colors. Perfect way to liven up your spring look.

    2. coconut water beauty products (above: Allafia Coconut Face Toner)This toner is made with coconut water to re-hydrate your skin, along with Papaya to tone and firm. (available online, but I picked mine up at Whole Foods). Also look out for coconut water Hair Spritz by OGX, to hydrate your locks (available at most drug stores). IMG_78343. playful platforms (above: Steve Madden Shannnon) so much easier to walk in than regular wedges! I’m also loving platforms and sandals with an espadrille heel. Wear with jeans and a t-shirt for an effortlessly chic look this Spring.

    4. Gypsy Gold Chokers (above: Gypsy Gold choker necklaces)-Love love love these beautiful chokers from my best friend’s bohemian-inspired jewelry line, Gypsy Gold. I’ve been on a choker streak for a while, and nothing I’ve seen compares to these unique beauties. African pendants, stone, and tusk details alongside colorful crystals and beads make these chokers a must have for an instant update to any outfit. They can easily be paired with a casual look or worn more up-scale alongside a night-out or date outfit.

    5. sexy beach towels (above: Mara Hoffman for Pendleton Towel) sass it up on the beach with a bright geometric pattern towel–also not a bad idea to lay one of these beauties out for a stylish Spring picnic. (below right-similar fun patterns also in a yoga mat).

    6. floppy hats (above by Kimchi Blue)floppy beach-wear hats have been a staple in my bag for a while, but this Spring I’m on the lookout for hats in different colors and patterns than the usual. 

    7. Good Vibe Reads You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I spotted this New York Times Best Seller amidst a minor anxiety attack in an airport one time. This blunt how to guide is a tale of life changing events and inspiring insights. If you are ever in a funk or feeling down, this is an awesome read.  IMG_7828.PNG8. passport holders (above from Ban D0 at Asos)I love how much classier a passport becomes when it gets tucked inside a chic little wanderlust case. For any of your upcoming travels this season, be sure to cop one of these little gems and fly in style.

    9.  pretty plates (above, Ikat Thistle plate from Anthro)Make your outside spring meals extra beautiful with gorgeous eatery. Spring brunch looks so much better when perfectly plated on a bed of metallic ikat or pretty paisley prints. 

interior love list

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  1. Bar carts: because who doesn’t love their entire alcohol selection available on wheels? Wheel it into entertaining areas and start mixing up the magic, or park it in the corner and jazz it up for a good looking display piece. For a more sophisticated bar cart look, sass it up with fresh flowers in a pretty vase, or small plate filled with limes, grapefruits, and oranges. You can even stack a few cocktail books (one of my favorites, seen below) and use them as a pedestel to display your glasses on.   [safavieh bar cart, pictured above]
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oscarine lucite bar cart, Anthropologie

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cart accent book, available at Anthropologie

  1. copper accents: I always love the perfect pop of metallic, so why not add some copper to the mix. Copper adds a more industrial feel, paired alongside wood and iron. It’s finding its way into a variety of kitchen items: hammered copper cups and mugs, cutlery sets, bowls, colanders, cooking spoons, as well as a variety of geometric light fixtures and vases. Copper is also becoming a hot commodity in the wedding scene, often utilized at table settings (think: rich shades of purple, seen in napkins and flowers, alongside soft copper napkin rings and votives).  [Agnes copper stool table above, from Keeki Australia]
  1. Terrariums: this is an obvious choice for me…I adore fresh flowers, I would put them in every room if I had money to blow. But then they die. So bring in a terrarium for that fresh green pop to a room, and just let it hang out. So low maintenance, and they give your space a clean, bright finish. Do-it yourself terrarium kits are available readily. (You can google terrarium DIY just as easily and get the supplies at Michaels or Hobby Lobby for half the price).  [Cube Terrarium holder above from West Elm]
  1. funky mirrors: a great way to add shape, texture, and color to a space. A funky mirror can double as a unique piece of wall art in a room [Avasa Scalloped Mirror, above, from World Market]

5. Moroccan tiles: great accent in a kitchen or bathroom! the beautiful shapes, patterns, and colors liven up any room. Being that you may not be in the market for a tile update, do what I love to do with a few pieces of Moroccan tiles: use them as coasters. Order a couple of tiles online, or in store, and set them around your living or bedroom areas a lively addition. [Moroccan tiles, above]


6. catch-all dishes: perfect little stylish additions to a bathroom counter top, side table, or dresser top to hold all of those random do-dads that might otherwise end up in the vacuum cleaner (random stud earrings and toe rings, I’m talking to you). Practical and pretty. [Wooden Hexagon catch all dish, above]

7. cowhide: best for last? I’ve always loved cowhide rugs, but the recent addition of metallic splatters and streaks to cowhide finishes has created a entirely new trendy look.  Cowhide is also getting a face-lift through the use of geometric shapes and lines.   And cowhide isn’t just confined to the traditional rug-check out cowhide coasters, poufs, pillows, place mats, purses…[above pouf from West Elm]

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coco cabana

one thing was on my mind all week. Cuban food. Black beans, jerk-mojo spiced pork, Ropa Vieja, rice, fried plantains, croquettas.  I decided to create a probably-less-than-authentic-but-still-bomb version of some Cuban grub. So I got out my new *ombre-turquoise* Le Creuset pot and started a hearty black bean soup.

I have a soft spot for a warm, silky soup in the winter. I also have a soft spot for….toppings. Toppings can make or break a dish in my opinion.  I decided to make my version of a robust Cuban-spiced black bean soup, loaded with some of my favorite toppings: Monterrey Jack cheese, salsa, cilantro, avocado (because I put avocado on everything), and a mango-red onion salsa to amp up the Cuban-ness of this dish. It kind of steered off road, into the direction of a Mexican black bean soup.  If it was up to me, I would have put some jerk shredded pork or succulent mojo grilled shrimp on top of my soup mound to highlight some extra Cuban flavors. And some crispy plantains. Instead, I worked with what was available, and I loaded it right up with my toppings. I paired my soup alongside brown rice and some chicken fajita leftovers that I had.  I don’t ever use recipes (“what kind of food blog is this?”). Personally, I operate best by mixing, matching and playing around with my own ingredients and flavors. One day I will write my pairings down and create a recipe. For now, I will link some creative actual recipes for a mean black bean Cuban soup below.

My soup base consisted of black beans, fresh tomatoes, canned Rotel tomatoes, onions, garlic, shallot, chicken broth, 1/2 of a bell pepper, and lots of cumin, all simmered together and then blended into a thick soup. I chopped up a perfectly juicy mango, a handful of red onion, a few stalks of chopped cilantro and tossed it with lime juice to create a bright salsa for my meal.  In the end, my dish ate more like a burrito-bowl on steroids but it sure did hit the spot. (recipe links below)

Vegetarian Cuban black bean soup

Chicken & kale black bean soup w/ friend plantains

black bean soup with chipotle & chorizo

Pumpkin & coconut milk black bean soup

Sriracha, coconut black bean soup with sweet potatoes

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mango salsa prep

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AOE (Avocados On Everything)

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the land of smiles

August of 2015, 2 friends and I decided to quit our jobs and venture on a journey across the globe together. One area of the world that has always intrigued me: Southeast Asia. My initial interest was peaked, as it usually is, by food. My taste buds matured in middle school, and I’ve been obsessed with Thai food ever since.  On almost every birthday of mine, I’ve found myself celebrating with friends and family over a hot plate of asian fried noodles, or stir-fries spiked with ginger and lemongrass. As I grew older and became more interested in fashion and design, bohemian prints and styles alongside vivid pops of color began catching my eye. After reading countless travel magazines and watching episodes of Anthony Bourdain, I finally connected my likes with a certain vibrant area of the world.  Laced with street markets, colorful fabrics, and lush terrain dotted with orchids, Thailand easily made it’s way to the top of my wanderlust list. Lucky for me, 2 of my friends shared the same desire and we soon all had no job and a month-long round trip ticket booked.

Thailand truly is one of the most exquisite countries I’ve ever experienced. Not only because of it’s natural beauty, but the culture and people are so lively and exhilarating. Thailand is also known as the “Land of Smiles”, because of the friendly spirit of the natives, along with their genuine desire to learn and engage with new people. This area of the world is exactly how I expected it, and more. Street vendors selling bright orange mangos and freshly cracked open coconuts, plates filled with random parts of unidentifiable birds and fried bugs, strange, often gag-worthy smells, fresh orchids everywhere, monkeys crawling up the sides of buildings, no traffic laws and motorbikes stacked high with 7 + people, and rich coconut soups and robust, aromatic curries around every turn. We spent a week in the capital city of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai. We then ventured on an island-hopping expedition, which included the breath-taking islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phangan, and Railay (Ao Nang).  We ended the trip by going out with a bang in the capital, Bangkok (pun most certainly intended).   If you are seeking an eye opening travel experience and a look into a tantalizing part of the world, I cannot recommend Thailand enough. Here are some of the highlights of our colorful wanderlust journey, complete with a few of my personal must-dos. (look out for later blog posts on the food and inspirations I gathered from Thailand)

1 //  Chiang MaiThe largest city in Northern Thailand.  We spent a week here and fell in love.  (The culture in the North of the country is different than other areas of Thailand, so in my opinion this city is a must see).  We spent a good 5 hours at the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market, on Rachadamnoen Rd. A taxi driver recommended this to us and it did not disappoint.  It’s the largest market in Thailand (and only happens on Sundays!). Super authentic, with far less touristy items than other markets we went to. If you are looking for handmade jewelry, tie-dye blankets, hand painted pottery, fresh spices, bohemian clothing, fried tarantulas on a stick, or anything in between, this is your place.  We also took a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai, at Sammy’s Organic Cooking School. Hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, considering I am a food fanatic. This is a day long course led by a hilarious Thai man.  The day begins with a tour of a food market, where you will learn about local ingredients and how they are used.  You then get piled into the back of a truck and driven into the countryside (not as sketchy as it sounds-I promise) to Sammy’s farm.  It is an absolutely beautiful setting, complete with banana trees, orchid vines everywhere, and hammocks set up in the middle of a lush tropical garden.  Here, Sammy and his wife teach you and help to prepare a 5 course Thai meal. I absolutely cannot recommend this enough if you want an authentic Thai experience.  Lastly, we did a day long trip to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.  Here you get to play with, feed, and bathe rescued elephants. The sanctuary focuses on No Riding and only promotes the safe care of the rescued elephants–another must do for a unique Thai experience. (Note: you will get completely covered in mud from head to toe when bathing the elephants. RIP to my favorite bathing suit). Also, Stay at the Diva Guesthouse in Chiang Mai–amazing hostel with delicious food and a beyond helpful staff.

2 // Koh Tao Island– My favorite island, with a laid back vibe that is far less touristy than others. Boasts a cool, relaxed beach bar scene where you can walk along the beach and experience different music and party atmospheres. Go to the Sunset Beach Bar, complete with a 2 story high dive.  Maybe a safety hazard after a few drinks but promises to be an awesome night out.  If you are looking for more upscale accommodations complete with resort style, curtain veiled beds and cabins in the jungle, stay at the Charm-Churee Village. While on Koh Tao, be sure to venture down to the beach for a thai massage while the sun goes down.

3// Koh Pha-Ngan– More touristy island but a must visit if you are looking to party at the world-famous Full Moon Party, which happens once a month. Just as it sounds: A 24 hour party on the beach, featuring glow in the dark body paint, minimal clothing, a plethora of illegal substances, non stop dancing and complete chaos. Stay at the ShiraLee Backpackers Resort for the full on travelers experience, where you are guaranteed to meet fellow adventure-seekers from around the world.

4// Koh Phi Phi The most beautiful of the islands we visited.  If you are looking for brochure-worthy views and stunning turquoise-emerald green waters with jagged cliff scenery, this is the spot.  Take a day trip on a long boat to Maya Bay, the location of the movie The Beach. No cars or taxis are allowed on this island, so it has a very relaxed feel.

5// Railay Beacha hidden, tiny beach village that can only be accessed by a small boat from the larger neighboring town of Ao-Nang.  It is worth the venture to isolated Railay Beach just to eat at the Mangrove Restaurant.  This is where I experienced hands down my best meal in all of Thailand, and probably one of the tastiest and most memorable meals of my entire life. After our first dinner here, we went back for every single meal for the rest of our stay on Railay. Be sure and order the huge portion of red curry coconut soup-this dish was literally life changing.  I still daydream about it.  

5// BangkokDon’t save all of your shopping for here! We were only in the capital city for 2.5 days, but found it to be entirely too touristy and focused heavily on the sex industry (can be a good thing or bad thing depending on what you are looking for here *wide eyed face emoji*, *dancing girl in red dress emoji*) The markets were tourist focused and so-so, nothing to that compared to Chiang Mai, in my opinion. Do visit the Red Light District (Soi Cowboy) for a fun, truly unique, and “eye-opening” night out (ladyboys, enough said). And be sure to take in the vibrant skyscrapers and expansive light network of Bangkok at night from one of the many luxurious rooftop bars and lounges.  [All photos below taken by me]

food // fruits 

scenery // culture 

“I measure life by countries, not years”

This post is inspired by one of my favorite quotes, seen below.  These beautiful words sum up my idea of carefree, uninhibited happiness, while grasping the essence of my everlasting love for travel…

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Upon reading this one stormy afternoon, I felt inspired & excited for future adventures abroad, laced with a refreshing fear of the unknown & all of the endless possibilities that await. So I drew upon my own experiences to come up with my take on what Travel Is….

 Travel is the taste of fresh pastries in a hidden alley coffee shop. It’s a $5 picnic for two on the back of a train. Travel is getting lost on purpose and wandering the streets with no map. It’s meeting a complete stranger on the subway and spending the next 12 hours exploring with them. It’s the lively urban buzz that surrounds you at all times. Travel is a random Wednesday turning into one of the best nights of your life. Travel is the smell of street foods filling the smokey air. And Coca Cola cans printed in different languages. Travel is smiling and nodding and pretending to understand when someone’s accent is too thick. Travel is meeting your soulmate on a random street on a random night at a random concert in a random pub. Travel is flirting with foreign boys and getting them to buy you sandwiches. Travel is taking a nap in the sunshine on a park bench. It’s people watching all day. It’s chip flavors and candy bars you never knew existed. Travel is the taste of the unknown somehow mixed with a faint hint of familiarity of home. Travel is the sharing of stories in a hostel. Travel is jumping into the ocean with new friends in the middle of a storm. It’s blisters on your feet from walking, but not caring. Travel is a burst of energy every morning. It’s being at a music festival and as the sun goes down, in that very moment, realizing how beautiful life is. Travel is being in the countryside and looking up at the same night stars that you’ve seen all your life. Travel is getting lost and finding yourself. It’s crying from laughing so hard with someone who was born on a different continent than you. Travel is learning to appreciate how relaxing a hot shower really is. Travel is listening to a special song on your iPod while gazing out of the train at the green countryside passing by. It’s hiding out in the back of a Starbucks for hours to use the free WiFi.  Travel is learning to not take sh*t for granted. It’s is realizing that it’s okay to not know your path in life yet. It’s realizing that your 20s are your years to explore and figure things out. Travel is beaming with happiness and feeling alive every day.

A few of my favorites…