Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Home Accents

Fully decorating a home can be challenging for so many reasons: budget, lack of skills, or in my case for example, the fact that we move so often that we find it incredibly overwhelming to fully decorate it every time.

My tip in this case is to have some key accents around your home that make it cozy and inviting, and can multitask (thus not requiring much else). Some of my home accents include:

1. A gorgeous iron tree that we recently got as a wedding present doubles as a bed header and wall decor, giving our bedroom a lot of character. Just one statement-making piece makes all the difference in a room.

2. Scented candles. Scented candles everywhere! I have an (unhealthy) obsession with them: for me there are few pleasures like that of entering a lovely-smelling room. Spread them around your house and they will make sure it looks great too. 

3. Kids art: Kids make cute little works of art all the time, like this pretty tea light holder my 3-year-old made. Showing off their work in your home will also make them feel really proud.

4. Create some fun/ festive/ cute designs on little items around the house, such as napkin holders and coasters. They will brighten up the space. (This particular napkin holder was made by my mom using Christmas napkins, I am not nearly as talented!).

5.  For the kitchen, choose a couple of items to stand out, which will give it that chick and modern look. For mine, I chose the toaster and kettle and they really pop in my kitchen.

I have always believed that there is no need to splurge in thousands of items to make a home your own. Perhaps when I settle in one place for good (around 2015) I will, but for now all those little details really make a difference in the feel of our house.

Monday, December 16, 2013

10 DIY Holiday Gift Ideas For Kids

Kids can go crazy at Christmas. Some of them ask for a real pink pony, some ask for less specific stuff, such as something that can turn into anything at anytime (true story!). At this time of year, many parents find themselves in trouble trying to fulfill their kid's not-so-rational desires (and even less rational ideas of where to fund said desires from). To the rescue I come, with a list of links (because, let's face it, I'm not that creative) that will provide you with easy, affordable, and super awesome gift ideas for the littlies in your life:

1. DIY Art Easel: Remember the girl who wanted something that can turn into anything, her parents can get away with this! She wants it to be a pet? draw a little puppy! two minutes later she wants it to be the whole American Girl doll collection? erase and get drawing again. Solved!

2. DIY Heart Hair Clip: The ultimate stocking stuffer for little girls. We all love 'em.

3. Glitter Playdoh: You just can't go wrong with this.

4. DIY Train Table: This is a great way to upcycle some old furniture. My own son would adore this!

5. Buzz Lightyear Jetpack: Easy and cheap to make, and sure to be a hit!

6. Kitchen Set: What a great gift! And you get brownie points for upcycling instead of buying a plastic set!

7. Angry Bird Hooded Towels: Going for the win!

8. Kids Sleeping Bag: An outdoorsy kid will think this is the best present ever!

9. Glitter Flats: If you can only afford some basic, plain flats, make them an awesome gift by adding glitter to them, and make a girl's day!

10. Sock Monkey: Fisher Price toys are great and everything but they are so pricey and so much plastic! Nothing beats making the special kids in your life something from the heart, such as this adorable monkey!

So there you go. Kids are going to get a million toys from everyone, so why not be a little different and give them something more personal? I have already started making the easel for my son (photos to come), and will probably continue with the Buzz Lightyear Jetpack (the kid bloody loves it!). Not only will you probably save money, but those types of gifts are the most memorable ones.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Let He Cast The First Stone...

Everyone is talking about the dude who faked an interpretation for the hearing impaired at Nelson Mandela's memorial service:

Everyone's first reaction was WTF??? He actually pretended to be a sign language interpreter, staff believed him and subsequently hired him, and he went on to perform a charade of international proportions at a widely televised event. Seriously!? I mean, you just can't make this stuff up! Yes, it was offensive against the deaf community who were deprived of the very inspirational words said at the memorial, but we have to look at life with a little humor, no? I for one found him to be quite creative, because who in their right mind comes up with stuff like this!?


After my initial reaction shared by thousands upon thousands of people everywhere, I started thinking... it's not like I have never faked anything before (not what you are thinking, you filthy minds!)... Allow me to share some scenarios where I have pulled a "Thamsanqa" (that's the guy's name, and we shall keep calling this practice just that):

- When someone has said something for the third time and I still don't understand what they are saying, I just nod along and say "yeah... totally...". I just pray that they haven't said something like "You think you can lend me 500 bucks to invest in this totally legit new business my brother has just started?"

- When my fiancé yells from the kitchen, demanding to ask who ate the last of the ice cream, I may or may not point at my poor toddler, who doesn't know any better. (Shame on me!!).

- When I find myself surrounded by this super smart people and they suddenly start talking about the Japanese stock market or whatever, and I am kind of expected to comment on the topic, I may just shyly say something like "At first I was surprised to see that happen, but I guess deep down we all saw it coming". (BTW, you are allowed to use this line for this type of situations. You are welcome!)

- At a couple of job interviews back in the day, I might have overemphasized one or two skills. (Like you haven't written "advanced Excel skills" in your resume more than once!).

- I'm in line at the café and suddenly realize I'm standing right behind that lady that I know from somewhere. I desperately start searching every last corner of my caffeine-deprived brain to find out where on Earth I know her from, but it's too late, she has turned around and is smiling at me! I smile back and come up with a quick: "Oh hi! So... long time no see, huh!?", while praying to God that the guy behind the counter yells out her name in the next five seconds.

Everyone is condemning this guy, I am too, but maybe we should stop judging and start focusing on our own behaviors. Wouldn't that be a better way to spend our time? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my son, my fiancé is about to find out that I ate the rest of the leftover pizza!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly About Blogging v.1


Blogging for just over two months doesn't exactly make me an expert on the subject. Far from it: almost every day I am left with more questions than answers. But it has definitely been a great learning experience, nonetheless, and I hope to keep learning much more about it in the future (2014 resolution right there!).
So, from someone who has no expertise whatsoever on the matter, here is the good, the bad and the ugly about blogging:

- You are putting yourself out there for the world (or at least your 10 loyal readers) to see, which is pretty brave if you ask me (which you didn't...)
- You learn a lot about photography, which is a crucial part of any blog (but you will most likely have to spend big bucks to get at least a semi-pro camera, though!).  
- You start interacting with other bloggers: some big, some starting out just like you. They are mostly incredibly friendly and helpful, and they can really help you grow your blog (by sponsoring them, for example), or at least give you moral support (which is super important too!).
- You start acquiring skills you never thought you would: such as baking delicious Mickey-Mouse-shaped chocolate chip cookies! All because you are constantly on the lookout for fun, interesting things to share on your blog.
- It's a better way to spend time than say, playing Plants vs. Zombies for hours, isn't it?
- You get to dream of being a big-time blogger, receiving gifts, samples and invitations as part of your full-time job, which is a pretty awesome dream to have!
- It is incredibly rewarding to write something that people admire and compliment you on. Even if no one comments, I feel really proud about some of my best posts. 
- To create something out of nowhere and see it starting to grow and people starting to respond to it is an incredible achievement and it brings me a great deal of pleasure. 

- For your first month or two, 99% of your posts aren't getting any comments (just me? oh, please tell me it's not just me!)
- Sometimes you have such a huge bloggers block, that all you can come up with is an article about "Why the chips I ate today tasted much better after a 7up instead of coke".
- You are forced to learn at least the basics of HTML and computer coding. This could be dead boring for some people. I for one, found it interesting, but also extremely frustrating most of the time!
- It can be quite cringe-worthy to realize that your fiancé's parents and grandparents are reading what you are publishing. Like this article, which was read by Sean's entire family! (yikes!).

I intend to make a sort of series of this post, documenting my experiences and what I have learned about blogging as I go along (say, at six months, a year, two years, etc). It will be very interesting in a few months to reflect on all the acquired knowledge that I don't have now, and be able to come back to see how my perceptions have changed since I begun this journey. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Whenever I see a fun post or tag I am immediately drawn to it, as I find it a nice (and hopefully not boring!) way of connecting and sharing with whoever is out there reading this. So a couple of weeks ago, while doing my usual blog scan, I stumbled upon this "Currently" post and I knew I had to do it too. Specially considering since "currently" is a pretty crazy time for me. Why, you ask? oh, nothing, just a little wedding LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY!! ... and about a zillion more things, too. But we'll get there:

READING: Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman; re-reading The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; and several blogs (Bubby and BeanLittle Chief HoneybeeThe Little Big BlogSprinkleOfGlitter, etc).

WEARING: Basically everything from this list. Speaking on beauty terms, I can't leave the house without the Revlon Colorstay Foundation for Combination/Oily skin in 360 Golden Caramel and the Milani Baked Blush in Berry Amore:

WONDERING: if the act of getting officially married actually changes a relationship? I have been living with my fiancé for four years now, and have a son with him, so I am curious to see what aspects or our relationship will be changed and strengthened after the wedding.

FEELING THANKFUL: For all of the amazing family and friends who we get to share our wedding with. Specially thankful that people coming all the way from New Zealand and Oman (!) will get to spend that day with us.

EATING: All the wrong foods!  I can't stop myself from having frozen yoghurt 2-3 times a week, it's my current obsession and I can't seem to get over it. And lots and lots of chocolate, too, but that has always been that way.

WATCHING: If I'm being fully honest, what I watch the most is Cars 2. We got Tommy the DVD and I swear we know the whole script by now. That kid refuses to watch anything else! If we are talking about what I love watching at the moment, then that would have to be White Collar, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

WORKING ON: what feels like 100 things at once. Did I mention we still have a lot of wedding planning to do?

LOVING: Can I say frozen yoghurt again? no? ok, let's go with how funny Tommy is lately. He comes up with the funniest stuff all the time, specially when mixing two languages, and it's simply hysterical:

Loves making funny faces when someone is taking a picture!

ATTEMPTING: To lose two or three pounds before the wedding. But it's not looking too good, you guys, not too good at all!

WANTING: Next week to come faster!  I am starting to get really, really anxious about all the exciting times ahead: my in-laws coming from so far away, the wedding, Christmas with both families together for the very first time...  I am beyond myself with excitement!

I apologize for not talking about not much other than the wedding, but I literally lay awake at night thinking of everything I still have to sort out (read: the cupcakes! my bouquet! and still some legal documents, some beauty appointments...God help me!).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Two Decadent Chocolatey Treats In A Mug

Because (at least for me) some of the best things in life come in a mug...

A couple of years ago, I was just mindlessly scrolling down my facebook feed, and suddenly stumbled upon a mug chocolate cake recipe that rapidly became a huge hit at home. It was soooo good that even my fiancé asked me to make it for him (I mean, for him to ask me to make something for him, it must be darn good!).

There are plenty of recipes for mug cakes out on the Internet, but this one is the best one I have seen by far. The cake is spongy and rich and delicious, and you simply don't want to miss it!

I must add a warning at this point, and add that if you want to keep reading, I will not be held responsible for any weight gain, insatiable cravings or sugar overdose that might occur as a result. Yes, it is that good. After I made it the first time, I kept making it over and over again, until I had to stop myself from buying the ingredients because you know, the cake is lovely and all but not worth gaining five kilos... (two or three, sure! not four...)

To make one cake you will need:

- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar, as I like it better, but white is fine too)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tablespoons whisked egg (optional; not adding it makes the cake fudgier)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons oil
- As many or as little chocolate chips as your taste buds desire (or substitute for chunks of chocolate)
- The flavoring of your choice (for me, it's vanilla. But you can get creative here, and maybe add some cinnamon or peppermint, or whatever you'd like!)

(Ok, so now you see why you should only make this recipe 1-2 times a month? 3 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons flour? yea, not what you'd call light).

Add the flour, sugar and cocoa to the mug, and mix. Add the whisked egg and combine until you get a pasty texture, and then pour the milk and the oil. Add the chocolate chips or chunks and your flavoring.

Put in the microwave for around 2:30 minutes (but keep an eye on it, if it starts spilling out of the mug, stop the microwave). It will be super hot so make sure you wait for a few minutes before grabbing a spoon and digging in!

This recipe takes literally five minutes (including microwave time) and no cooking skills whatsoever (one of the main reasons I love it!). It also fits perfectly with this time of the year, don't you think? If you are not exactly a master of the kitchen, like me, then give this a try and impress more than one!

This recipe comes courtesy of MissGlamorazzi, a YouTuber whose videos I love watching. Last week she made this absolutely decadent S'mores Hot Chocolate, and I just had to make it. The only variation I did was to substitute the peanut butter for a caramel spread, since I don't really like PB (yes, yes, I know...!)

You will need:
- 2 Tablespoons of cocoa
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 tablespoon of sugar or sweetener (if you are using unsweetened cocoa)
- Peanut butter (or a caramel spread if preferred)
- 2 or 3 Graham crackers
- Marshmallows (as many as desired)
- Chocolate chips and/or chocolate sauce (optional - but highly recommended!)

First of all, put the milk in a saucepan and heat on medium. Mix the cocoa and the sugar in a bowl, and pour into the saucepan. Stir until the lumps of cocoa have dissolved, and turn the heat to low so the chocolate remains warm.

Cover the rim of your mug with the PB or your preferred spread, and crush the graham crackers (a great tip is to put them inside a Ziploc bag, seal it so the crumbs don't go everywhere, and start crushing!). The finer you crush them, the better. Put the crumbs on a plate, and put the mug upside down over the crumbs, so that they stick to the rim.

Pour the hot chocolate into the mug. Toast your marshmallows with the heat of the oven (carefully!) and drop them in the mug, along with as many chocolate chips as you want or some chocolate sauce, to make it even more decadent. Watch the marshmallows slowly melt, and enjoy!

Which recipe do you prefer? Which one can't you wait to try out?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Surviving The Aftermath Of The Holidays


Between the families of my dad, my mom and my step-dad, there are enough relatives to make even the sanest person lose their minds during the holiday season (and to begin with, I am not "the sanest person").

First of all, there is the logistics issue. How on Earth are you supposed to attend THREE (or more) celebrations!? And don't you even dare mention to one of them that you won't make it, because you will pay for it every day until the next Christmas (believe me!). So you devise a pretty clever plan, and know exactly how long you get to stay at each place. But then wonderful cousin Alfie arrived late, because he also happened to be with his girlfriend of one week's family, so celebration #1 goes on for longer. Now you are late for the second one! You quickly excuse yourself, even though your grandma is giving you that guilty look (I might not be here next Christmas, but fine, leave... I will be okay... hopefully... if this little mole turns out to be benign... but who knows...). Yes, these words are all there, in that one look. 

You finally arrive to celebration #2, which has started without you. They are already halfway through the gift pile. Suddenly, there is a gift for you. "Oh, auntie Muriel, I love this knitted sweater! I had always wanted a 3-sizes-bigger sweater with a weird-looking reindeer! How did you know!?". Oh, there is another present, this time from your "funny" cousin Gil. For some reason, he thought it would be hilarious to give you what you can only assume is something taken from Christian Grey's Red Room of Pain. Suddenly, your old aunty exclaims "oh, what an interesting spatula" and the whole room falls silent. You pray that the ground swallows you whole. But thankfully, now it's time to go to celebration #3. By now, you are exhausted and have answered a million times "I don't know, possibly next year" when asked when exactly is your next child going to be conceived (I was lucky I never got asked the "You are (insert age here) and still single!!!?). Of course you are forced to eat yet another meal, because the second you imply that you are actually full, they give you the death stare and exclaim, loud enough for everyone to hear: "We slaved in the kitchen since 5am for you to reject our food!?" and everyone just shakes their heads at you. You are forced to smile and say thank you for the 500th time when you receive a bag of candy from that great-uncle, who by the way, insists that your resolution for next year should definitely be to lose some weight. You nearly snap back: "SERIOUSLY!!?? I HAVE BEEN FORCED TO EAT AT LEAST THREE ADULT PIGS AND YOU EXPECT ME TO LOOK SKINNY!!!" but all you do is nod politely and smile. 

After all that, you get to go back home, and relish in the thought that you won't have to endure this again for another 364 days. You have survived three sets of relatives and came back in one piece (nearly) and that is something to be proud of! I am now a master at this art of family gatherings, as every single year since I was little I have divided my time amongst all three families, but it has taken years of experience. My best strategy? nod. Nod and smile as much as you can. People get confused as to why their comments aren't getting the expected reaction, and that way maybe they'll shift their focus away from you and towards that little cousin who (shock horror!) decided to dye her hair blue and magenta the other day. 

This year, however, I am at a complete loss. You see, my in-laws are coming from New Zealand and spending Christmas with my whole family, and I am pretty much sure that it will be an exact replica of "Meet The Fockers" (yep, my family are the Fockers for sure!). I can only pray that "funny" cousin Gil doesn't gift me "spatula" this year...
Any advice is extremely appreciated!

This is a likely scenario this year...  help!!!   ***cringe***

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gosh-How-I-Love-This-Season Tag


A while ago I did a Sweater Weather Tag, even though it is never sweater weather where I live. Now the holiday season has started in full force, and I effing love it! I love the way everything seems happier, people are hopeful and become generous, compassionate and supportive of each other, and don't even get me started about the food....!!! Oooh the food... you basically have license to overeat without any judgement... now I'm hungry... *I may or may not be drooling*... yummm...  wait.. what was I talking about? oh yeah, the tag. Ok, so here it goes:

1. What is the best gift Santa has ever brought you?
When I was around seven, Santa brought me these super amazing, super cool Barbie rollerblades. About three days later, I broke my right wrist riding them... but that didn't stop me from loving those things!

2. What is your favorite Christmas memory?
I loved spending Christmas in Germany in 2005, going to the Weihnachtsmärkte and drinking delicious mulled wine.

3. All time favorite christmas/holiday movie
It just doesn't feel like Christmas without watching Jingle All The Way.

4. Favorite Christmas/holiday song
Soooo so many! The list includes, but is not limited to: Deck The Halls; Silent Night; Winter Wonderland; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Jingle Bell Rock, Joy To The World.... carols have this way of making me giddy with glee!

5. Favorite holiday food/treat?
Lots and lots of Christmas cookies and a big fat Christmas ham.

6. What is your favorite Christmas decoration this year?
This vintage Mickey and Minnie ball I bought for Tommy:

7. What's at the top of your Christmas list?
Since I am going to Cancun on my honeymoon, I guess some spending money would be great! A good old-fashioned post-holiday shopping session in Mexico can't hurt!

8. What are your plans for the holidays this year?
I am getting married four days before Christmas (!!). Since my fiancé's family is coming all the way from New Zealand for the wedding, both families will get to spend Christmas together at my mom's place, which is an extremely rare occurrence and I am beyond excited about it!

9. What is your resolution for the next year?
I would love to go back to vegetarianism. I would also love to grow my blog so much more!

10.  Tropical Christmas or white Christmas?
Tough one! I am not a fan of full-on winter, but I think there is something very magical about a white Christmas. Moreover, I have had a tropical Christmas most of my life, so a white Christmas is all the more special.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Week In GIFs

You may have heard of those little moving graphics used oh, pretty much EVERYWHERE! Yes, I am talking about the GIFs. They have invaded basically all of our social media and have been clogging our feeds for months now... so you didn't think this blog would be the exception, did you? I have found a pattern in my weekly routine, and I thought of sharing it with you, but then it occurred to me that I could just let these fun little pics do all the talking for me...
So this is pretty much how my week develops, day by day:

Oh, ya know... I wake up with tons of energy and do 20 of these:



Actually, this is me:

I am going about my Tuesday, things are running smoothly, and then, all of a sudden, it strikes me like lightning that... there are still FOUR more days until Friday!


It's the middle of the week, and by now I definitely need a pick-me-up. Without copious amounts of coffee, I am just unable to function:


You just know Friday is around the corner... Suddenly my day just got significantly better:


I would love to tell you that on Friday nights I do this:


But if I am being completely, 100% honest, I have to admit it looks a lot more like this, while I try to decide which spoon to use for my ice cream:


Did someone say party!???  I'm there!!!  (hmmm...  or so I like to believe...)


(Or... should I say "Friday" again? get it?)......  God, my jokes suck!
But yes, this is pretty much how I feel the morning after a night out:


Am I like, the most boring person on the face of the Earth? please tell me you can relate to at least one of these!

***I am also announcing the winner of my very first giveaway today!***

Your prize is on its way, hopefully you will enjoy your new notebook!  :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Mickey Mouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

'Tis the season to eat yummy!

Baking cookies is one of those things that I hardly ever do, but when I do do it I love it, and end up wondering why I don't do it a lot more often. Of course, help from my fiancé is pretty much required, as God knows how they would turn out if he didn't (oh look at that, I know too: not too good!).

He is a second grade teacher, and last week we were discussing what he wanted to give his students as a little treat for the beginning of the holidays. I mentioned that baking some cookies would be nice, and that is exactly what we set out to do. I started researching recipes, and was finally inspired by these from Bakerella. They include pecans (which I hate) and sprinkles (which we didn't have at the time), so we didn't add those. We also substituted the chocolate wafers she used in that recipe for regular chocolate chips.

We made enough for his class and of course for us, and even though they didn't look particularly stunning, they tasted pretty darn good, so I was satisfied.

The ingredients you will need to make 24 of these are:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • Whatever additions you want to add (license to get creative here!). I only used m&m's and chocolate chips. You can use whatever you have handy.

First of all, mix the flour with the baking soda and the salt. Take the butter and the sugars and cream them together:

When the texture is fluffy, add the eggs and the vanilla, and combine. Take the flour, baking soda and salt mixture and add it. When combined, add your toppings:

Let it chill for about half an hour. Preheat your oven to 350 ºF (or 180 ºC). Scoop the cookies onto baking paper, and let them bake for around 15 minutes (but be careful! some ovens take shorter, like mine... I got a little distracted and almost burned them, so just make sure you are keeping an eye on them!).

After making the first batch, we realized we have a Mickey-shaped cookie cutter lying around (goes to show how often I bake cookies!) that we got when we went to Disneyland last year. Tommy was so excited to eat the "Mickey cookies"! They could have tasted awful and they still would have been a hit with him. Oh, and Sean informed me that his students loved them too, so I am definitely calling them a success!

***The reason there weren't too many m&m's may or may not be because I had a mouthful or two before baking***

All in all it was quite the nice Sunday afternoon activity. I was left with the desire to keep baking fun little treats during the Christmas time. It just feels like that is what super moms do, you know? I have the impression that all the great moms out there are great at baking (just me?) and I really want to incorporate that into our lives. Who knows? maybe I'll become the kind of mom that when my kid brings a friend over I just come out with baked goodies for them... I think that makes for great memories. And, well, if the cookies don't turn out that good, it makes for great stories, so what's there to lose, right?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Body Shop Body Butter Reviews

If I was stranded on an island and could only have one beauty product with me, it would definitely be a body butter. And within the body butter universe, The Body Shop ones top the list, because of their texture, their moisturizing properties and their yummy yummy scents. The Body Shop has an endless selection to choose from, ranging from subtle and floral scents to the most intoxicatingly scrumptious ones, appealing to all tastes.

I have been known to hoard body products of all shapes and sizes, and of course body butters aren't the exception, which is why today I am sharing my thoughts on the ones I have at the moment:

1. Mango Body Butter
This body butter smells so strongly in the pot, that I feared I would smell like a walking fruit salad when putting it on. However, the smell was so tropical and irresistible that I had to get it, and when I put it on, I found that it leaves me with a fresh, summery scent but not overpowering at all, which was nice to find out. This would be one of the best ones for the summer.

2. Chocomania Body Butter
By far the thickest body butter I own. I love using it when my skin is in need of some serious, deep moisture. The scent is also a lot stronger than the other ones and lingers on your skin, which I like because it smells like a delicious dark chocolate. If you like lighter body lotions though, this one is probably not for you, as it is on the greasier side.

3. Moringa Body Butter
The smell of this body butter is nothing short of divine: it is floral and delicate, and in my opinion, the most feminine one I own. I use it whenever I feel like putting a nice perfume on, as it is so subtle that it complements them perfectly. It's texture is nice and creamy and light, but equally as moisturizing. The funny thing with this one is that I always walked past it at the store, it just never caught my attention. But when I got it given for my birthday this year I was instantly hooked, I wore it all the time and was bummed when I ran out. I think it has become my favorite of all as far as scents go.

4. Strawberry Body Butter
As sweet as Chocomania and as feminine as Moringa, this is one I have to get over and over again. I love all things strawberry, and this body butter does not disappoint. It is also one of the scents that lingers on your skin the most, so I hardly ever wear perfume when I put this on. I'm not gonna lie, I love the compliments I get when I wear it. And the texture isn't too thick or too light, just right.

5. Shea Body Butter
There are two things I love about this body butter: it is the most deliciously moisturizing one of all, leaving my skin baby soft; and the fact that its light, nutty scent doesn't compete with my perfume, so I can put it underneath anything I want to wear and it doesn't overpower it. Definitely a must have for the winter to avoid dry, rough skin.

Over the years the ones I have tried that haven't impressed me (which is why I don't own them anymore) are:
- Satsuma: way too overpowering. I smelled like I had smeared a mandarin all over, and I didn't particularly enjoy that.
- Olive: this one has a lot of fans out there, but for me it wasn't bad, it wasn't good, just... meh.

If you have tried The Body Shop body butters, which are your favorite?

Monday, December 2, 2013

DIY Advent Calendar

December has officially started, and with it the holiday season has now begun in full force. I love seeing the streets fill with lights, seeing Christmas trees everywhere I go, and even listening to carols. Ever since I was little, the holidays have filled me with such joy, and I get all giddy with the excitement and the good energy this time of the year brings. 25 years old and I still enjoy Christmas like the next kid. My 3-year-old is now a lot more aware of the festivities, too, and therefore excited about what's to come, so I set out to find something special and meaningful, something to start creating magical memories for him about this time of the year.

That's when I suddenly started seeing hundreds of DIY advent calendars popping up on my social media feeds, such as herehere and here. Even though I am not very crafty, I was adamant that I wanted to recreate them and make my own calendar for him. It is definitely not as pretty as the ones you'd find at the store, but there was something so special about sitting one afternoon with Sean and making this for our kid. It made me really proud when it was finished, and I couldn't wait for Tommy to start opening the little pockets (most of them are little chocolates or candy, some are other small surprises).

Making it was easier than I had envisioned, and it only required some wrapping paper, some sort of cord (twine is great, but if like me, you only have wool available, that works too!), and somewhere to hang the pockets from (we just went downstairs and grabbed a branch!). From there, it was only a matter of wrapping the little presents and hanging them from the branch. It doesn't get any simpler than that (although it could get a little prettier haha). I'm certain Tommy will enjoy it as much as I am, and hopefully this can be something that we do every year.

Here's to hoping that your holidays are filled with laughter, love, compassion, smiles and lots of yummy yummy food!
Do you have any special plans for the holidays?  what is the most meaningful holiday tradition you have?

Friday, November 29, 2013

How To Recover From Shopaholism

My name is Veronica and I am a shopaholic. More than a shopaholic, I am a window-shopaholic. Few things feel better than browsing stores for hours (both online and at the mall), and marveling at shiny new products, perfect tops, gorgeous bikinis... and then I remember that I have bills to pay and I hesitate for a second... perhaps I can live without power for a week?  No, no, I have a toddler, I can't. And the cycle repeats itself countless times.

It all starts when I go online just to take a peak, only for two minutes, at say, the new Bath & Body Works candles. Next thing I know, I am re-planning my whole budget in my head trying to accommodate not only five different candles, but also two body lotions, three hand soaps, one room spray and one body wash. I add them to my cart, but I already know I will never checkout. I stare at them for embarrassing (and creepy!) periods of time, like a zombie. My fiancé has tried and failed to do an intervention. I have carts on several different sites including, but not limited to: DailylookAmazonTargetLushBath & Body WorksLuvocracy, you name it...

**This may or may not have happened to me before**

I started thinking about that thanks to Black Friday. If you don't know what this is, it is the day after Thanksgiving (aka today) when all the stores go on crazy, ridiculous, irresistible specials. Today is the day when us, the shopaholics, suffer the most: either by looking at our credit card statements after we have spent way way way too much, or by having the irresistible urge to spend but not being able to. That is why today I decided I would come up with my very own ways to overcome this addiction, and help fellow shopaholics along the way:

1. First and foremost, NEVER EVER watch "Confessions Of A Shopaholic" again. This movie is extremely counterproductive: I for one, trick myself into thinking that I can buy whatever I want because one day in the future I will just get my act together, easily get rid of all my debt and marry Hugh Dancy.

2. Pull that credit card statement out. It is scarier than watching The Shining on your own, but you gotta do it. Go over each and every item, and start making a plan on how to repay it. You will probably be so exhausted afterwards that you won't feel like going out shopping.

3. Enroll in a program to get rid of said debt, like this one from LearnVest. They will be more than happy to lecture you on your spending habits until you don't feel like doing it anymore.

4. Ask your boyfriend (or any guy, for that matter) to stay with you on a day you are particularly tempted to go shopping. They dread shopping so much that they will do anything in their power to prevent you from going.

5. If you are into alternative therapies, it couldn't hurt to try tapping. Yes, it's exactly what it sounds like: you tap your forehead. This therapy claims that by tapping on specific stress-reducing acupuncture points, you become more analytical and thus less likely to make impulse buys. Just, try and not do it at the mall or inside a store, you don't want to freak people out by going all jedi on them.

6. This one is not for the faint-hearted, and it requires you to be fully honest with yourself: take the 107 retail cards you carry. Study each one and decide which are actually useful (in terms of the rewards you get and how often you use them) and which ones only trick you into buying more unnecessary crap, only to get 20 cents off that unicorn horn powder that you "absolutely must have". Once you have identified them, take them, and snap away... you can do it!

7. Finally, repeat after me: I don't need yet another pair of boots; I don't need yet another pair of boots; I don't need yet another pair of boots... and breathe...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

10 Ideas For Wedding Favors

I wrote here about what to give a couple for their wedding, when they already have all their basics. Today, I want to write from the opposite perspective: if you are the one getting married, what are you going to give your guests? The best favors are the ones that represent you as a couple, but which the guests will actually enjoy: If you or your fiancé are great at cooking or baking, giving out something made by you will mean a lot and you know it will be delicious. If you are the crafty type, a DIY favor is a great idea!

Brides have a million things in mind when planning for a wedding, so favors might not be their top priority, and then suddenly the guests end up with a pair of craft store feathered birds with the couple's initials (true story!). Planning a wedding is crazy, and little things that you hand't even thought of just keep popping out of nowhere, but it is a lovely gesture to spend just a little time (and by time I don't mean money) showing the guests just how much they mean to you. However, the internet is full of innumerable ideas that can easily overwhelm any bride (such as yours truly!), so I compiled here a neat little list of 10 wedding favors for you to choose from, all in one place. That way you can spend less time researching the favors and more time perfecting your dress/vows/cake.

(By the way, I also think this post is quite fitting with the American Thanksgiving, which is today, as favors are a way to say thanks and show your appreciation to the people that mean the most to you and your new hubby!).

1. DIY Honey Favors from Bubby And Bean
There is something so romantic and nostalgic about these mini jars of honey, tied with ribbon, and complete with a personalized message. Plus, they are pretty easy to make (go have a look at the instructions!). It basically ticks all the boxes.

2. A bottle opener will always be useful. No one can ever have too many at home, can they? These, for instance, would go perfectly with a more romantic or vintage type of wedding:
Vintage key bottle opener from ebay

3. These beer cozies just scream "fun couple!". Also, you get to personalize the color and message so it fits your personality (and wedding!).

4. A lot of people are doing it these days, but a mix CD is definitely a great favor! Just make sure the music is varied, you don't want your elderly grandparents to have to sit through 12 Iron Maiden songs. Even better, if you are up for it, customize your favors according to age groups! Now that's a winner favor right there!

5. If you two are known for your witty sense of humor, and don't exactly have a ton of money to spend on the favors, something that will make your guests smile is a creative match box. Why with a clever line, of course!

6. I am totally in love with the idea of seed paper hearts! Not only are they ridiculously cute, they are also environmentally friendly, so it's a win-win!

7. Also for all the nature-loving brides out there, these succulents (or any small plant) in a vintage cup is also adorable:

8. Who doesn't love a good fortune cookie? Plus, they also give you a little room to get creative, and they won't be too expensive either.

9. If your wedding is taking place somewhere tropical or during the warmer months, a favor that is sure to be extremely appreciated by all the guests is a nice fan. You can get them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, easily adapting them to your budget and wedding style.

10. Finally, a nice shot glass is also an excellent favor.The great thing with these is that you get to be as creative / fun / romantic and personalized as you wish, and your guests still take a useful memento home.

***Last but not least***, for all of you my American readers celebrating today (and anyone else, for that matter!) I have compiled an awesome (modest, huh!?) list of Thanksgiving-themed cocktails for WhatTheFlicka, which you can find here. Go check it out, there is a cocktail for basically every taste and style! The best part? almost all of them are super easy to make!

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