Monthly Archive: January 2015

Reading More in 2014

One of my goals for 2014 was to read more books. I grew up an avid reader, but got lost along the way. It was hard in college with all the homework and reading needed for my coursework. Also, I found that I was gravitating toward the short-form reading that was trending from places like Twitter and Buzzfeed. In addition, I had an Amazon book-buying problem. My wish list was constantly growing as was my bookshelf, but I wasn’t reading the books I bought.

In the end, I found once I made time to read before going to bed, and brought my book with me everywhere, it got easier. Usually, by forcing myself to read the first half of the book, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down. I’m proud to say that I read 24 books in 2014. I honestly feel happier from it. I feel like I got back a part of me that I’d lost. Here are some of the highlights of the books I read:

Books Collage

1. A House in the Sky – Amazing story about a girl who loves to travel and gets captured in Somalia. I couldn’t put it down!

2. Me Before You – Cute love story about a quadriplegic boy and the bond he forms with his new female caretaker. It’s a tearjerker, but also explores a controversial topic. I hear a movie is being made about this one. Can’t wait!

3. This is Where I Leave You – Compelling and humorous story about a dysfunctional family forced to sit Shiva together when their father dies. Definitely be sure to read this one rather than see the film.

4. Coreyography – This one is a little random, but I saw Corey Feldman on the Today show talking about his book and thought it seemed interesting. I think I read it in about a week, it was so interesting to hear his story about being a young kid in Hollywood.

5. The Art of Racing in the Rain – Very cute yet powerful story from the perspective of a dog. There were parts in the book that went so wrong that it made me value what I have.

6. Knowing Your Value – While I also read Lean In as one of my books this year, Knowing Your Value hit on a lot of the same principals. It made me feel empowered to ask for more in the workplace.

7. Divergent – I love a good young adult novel and this one was just what I needed. I found myself wanting to come home and read this book every night.

Admittedly, there were two books I decided not to finish, just because I couldn’t get through them.

1. Franny & Zooey – I think Salinger is best kept for my high school English class.

2. Entwined in You – I loved the first books this series, but sadly this book was a miss. I don’t think I will continue to read any others that are published.

Overall, I was very happy to be able to fulfill one of my new years resolutions. I now bring my book with me everywhere and find pleasure in reading at coffee shops or random places. My favorite was reading a book at the top of Runyon Canyon one day. Although, note to self, I need to confirm the content of the book before bringing it on vacation. I ended up reading 2 books in a row on my China vacation about people losing spouses, definitely not the happiest! I still have many more books to get through in 2015 and I can’t wait!

Other books I read in 2014:

The Hundred-Foot Journey

Lean-In

Beautiful Ruins

Reconstructing Amelia

Where Did You Go Bernadette?

Killing Yourself to Live

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Love is a Mixtape

The Year of Magical Thinking

I Was Told There’d be Cake

Too Good to Be True (book club read, not my idea! I wouldn’t recommend!)

Orange is the New Black

Tuesdays with Morrie

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Not That Kind of Girl (My first Kindle purchase!)

The Light Between Oceans

Born Standing Up

Weekly Pins & Tweets

Some things that are inspiring me this week…

IMG_4209Random night with co-workers listening to Disney songs performed live

1. So True: 18 Things Everyone Who Peaked After High School Will Understand

2. These Bacon Wrapped Tater Tot Bombs look amazing

3. Definitely experiencing a vacation hangover: 14 Things Every Traveler Misses After an Epic Trip Abroad

4. Lovin the Dove #LoveYourCurls Campaign

5. I MUST make these Nutella Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

Watching: Transparent – I was super excited for the Amazon series’ Golden Globe wins and was excited to finally watch when episodes were free this weekend

Reading: Unbroken – This was my book club read this month and I find myself looking forward to reading it every night!

Listening: One Direction “Night Changes” – This song keeps getting stuck in my head!

DineLA with Connie & Ted’s

So I’m definitely a person with lots of list. One of the lists in my phone is a restaurant list. There’s so many places in LA to try, I want to make sure not to forget them all. Connie & Ted’s has been on my list for a very long time. In fact, I think it was one of the first restaurants on my list. I was so excited when two of my sorority sisters wanted to try it for DineLA week. If you haven’t heard of it, DineLA is twice a year when restaurants offer a special rate to try their place. It’s perfect for someone like me that is on a budget, yet wants to try all the delicious food that LA has to offer.

Connie & Ted’s is a West Hollywood seafood restaurant offering east coast fare. Normally, restaurants in LA are super small due to the lack of space we have, but Connie & Ted’s is a large eatery with a parking lot located off of Santa Monica and Crescent Heights. It almost looks like a diner similar to Denny’s from the outside.

Inside, though its guests might be dressed upscale, it feels like you are at a seaside eatery on the east coast. It’s picnic style seating reminded me of somewhere like Neptune’s Net in Malibu.

For the DineLA menu, we were given a choice for a starter, a main entree and dessert. I decided to go with the Grilled Calamari, famous Lobster Roll, and end with the Blondie!

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I’m not a huge fan of calamari, but since I was at a trendy seafood restaurant, I decided to give it a shot! It was a little spicy, but the breaded pieces were my favorite. I really don’t enjoy getting those little octopus looking guys, so I didn’t eat them. I though the amount of food in this appetizer was good value!

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For my main entree, I had to try the lobster roll. Everyone on Yelp was raving about it. I ate it so fast! The fries were very crisp and fresh. I didn’t even finish them all! Connie & Ted’s definitely didn’t skimp on the food for this one!

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Lastly, the blondie. I’ve been having dreams about this since I saw photos on Yelp. I saved room especially for this! The salted caramel was so delicious, I can’t say enough good things about it.

Overall, I thought Connie & Ted’s was a very good value for DineLA. When I visit again, I think I would be fine with just the lobster roll and maybe sharing the blondie with a friend. The DineLA menu was great value, but I don’t need that much food normally! Hoping to eat the lobster roll again sometime soon!

Spring Cleaning and Funfetti Cookies

So I’ve been trying to clean out my pantry. I often accumulate too much stuff from various recipes. I had this box of Funfetti cake mix from forever ago, I think some recipe required like 1/4 cup of it (who does that? What a waste!). Therefore, I did a quick Pinterest search to find out what I can make with it. Enter Funfetti Cookies. I’m such a big fan of soft cookies and these definitely didn’t disappoint!

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 These were so light and fluffy! I had trouble not eating them all!

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 So easy! You literally stir together the dough with a fork!

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Roll into balls and put on the baking sheet…done!

IMG_4192Done!

These were so colorful and fun, I definitely want to make these again sometimes. The only sad thing about making cookies from the cake mix is that it only yields about 2 dozen at the most. So, it’s good if you don’t want a lot of cookies, but bad if they are really good. I also recommend this recipe from cake mix that is equally delicious!

Brazil/Argentina Experience

I’m finally starting to get back into the swing of things since my trip! It honestly felt like I was in an alternate reality for 10 days. I had such an amazing time exploring the sites in Brazil and Argentina. I’m excited to share some of my favorite parts!

If you haven’t heard of Contiki, it’s a travel company for 18-35 year olds. The best part is that it’s perfect if you don’t have anyone to travel with. You get yourself to the destination where you meet up with your group and tour guide. While some people travel with a friend, I’ve come to enjoy doing Contiki’s solo. A lot of other people travel alone and you make friends really fast. Plus, it’s nice to have a travel company arranging everything along the way.

I’ve done Australia and China with Contiki in the past. I’m not sure what compelled me to take this trip. I think it was more that the timing worked out and I knew I had to take the plunge and do it. My trip was called the Argentina & Brazil Experience (start Rio). I was really excited to see Rio and drink a coconut on the beach. I knew I wanted to take a selfie with Christ the Redeemer and take a speedboat ride through Iguassu Falls. It’s funny how you always see all these things on TV and it’s amazing to get to experience them, but sometimes it’s the random stuff that’s included on the trip that makes it for you. You discover and learn new things you never thought you would like.

Here are some of my highlights:

IMG_3610Selfie with Christ the Redeemer on his birthday!

IMG_3599Visiting Escadaria Selarón

IMG_3642Walking along the beautiful beaches of Buzios

IMG_3681Acai Bowl with fresh mango

IMG_3730Visiting the colorful Favelas in Rio

IMG_3836Relaxing afternoon boat cruise through Copacabana

IMG_3922All the beautiful hikes through the rainforest

IMG_3965Speedboat ride through Iguassu Falls

IMG_4040Empanadas (the food in Argentina was amazing!)

10387226_832956833436213_3638225741933993222_nLearning to play Polo and riding a horse! (I’m on the right)

In the beginning I was super nervous about going to South America. I heard so many stories. I think the most terrifying part of these trips is getting on an airplane and not knowing what to expect on the other end. Though you definitely need to exercise caution, the world isn’t such a scary place. I was super jealous of my fellow travel buddies that had more vacation time and were continuing on to other areas of South America. I can’t wait to see more of South America in the future!