Sunday, December 21, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Winter Solstice

Only 4 days left until Christmas, which means... today is Winter Solstice, or the first official day of winter. I love when we pass solstice because it means that the days begin to grow longer again. 
More sun = more time for me to play and enjoy the day! 


I don't know about you, but I am very excited for these holidays and the many plans I have with my family and friends over the next week, and then New Year's is coming! This is one of my favorite times of the year and I absolutely am looking forward to it all! There are so many traditions that my family and I choose to partake in that give this time of the year a certain structure and nostalgia that I just love.
I'm most looking forward to reading The Night Before Christmas and popping open our Christmas crackers on Christmas Eve. 

What are your favorite traditions?

p.s. I accidentally skipped one of the days of Christmas yesterday, so I will have lots to post tomorrow!

Friday, December 19, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Stocking Stuffers

Gift Guide 2014: Stocking Stuffers

Sip Back and Listen Flask // It's a Done Meal Kitchen Timer //Anchor the Call Mug // Home Sweet Houseboat Wall Hook // All Along the Watts Tower Flashlight // Sippin' in the Stars Flask Set
Refinements are Forever Cocktail Shaker

Christmas is coming - only 6 days away! 
I've compiled some of my favorite things from Modcloth for stocking stuffers - most of these gifts are under $20! 
As you can see, there are many coastal-theme (read: anchors and lighthouses, my favorites) items as well as flasks/drinking items, which I know my friends would love! 

What are you hoping to find in your stocking this Christmas?

ps. **This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.**

Thursday, December 18, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Books!

This book is absolutely beautiful - I know that I appreciate looking at it (possibly) more than my preschoolers. It's a fun one to sing and see if they can remember the words, too - not to mention, it's a Christmas classic. 
I'll definitely be adding this one to my Christmas collection.

Santa Is Coming to Santa Cruz by Steve Smallman
This one is great! The words are personalized to fit a certain location (in this case, Santa Cruz) but they have them for many locations all over! This one is long so I would recommend it for older children aged 5-8. 

Pete the Cat is always a preschool favorite, and this time of year, Pete saves Christmas! Santa is ill and cannot deliver gifts, so Pete takes care of the situation in a very silly and fun way. Very cute read.
by Clement C. Moore
This is a Christmas classic written almost 200 years ago! Crazy to think about, but I always remember curling up in my father's lap and listening to him read this every Christmas eve. It was one of my favorite traditions and I miss it terribly. This is probably my favorite Christmas poem/book ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas books?
Tell me in a comment!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Cheesy mashed potatoes right in the front
Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

I chose to pair these delicious cheesy mashed potatoes with turkey meatloaf (recipe) and baked asparagus spears. It was delicious!
Here's the recipe for the potatoes:

3 cups yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
10 oz (1 1/2 cups) sour cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cheese

  1. In a large stock pot, cover the potatoes with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until you can easily pierce with a fork (about 35 minutes or so).
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Drain potatoes and return to the pot.
  4. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes.
  5. Add the butter, half of the sour cream and half of the milk and start whipping them with a hand held mixer. Then add the remaining sour cream and milk, whip together until well blended.
  6. Add the salt and 1 cup of the cheese. Whip together until blended.
  7. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and spoon the potatoes into the dish evenly.
  8. Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of Sharp Cheddar cheese and cover with foil being careful not to touch the cheese.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  10. Remove from oven and keep covered untilb ready to serve.
*adapted from Cozy Country Living*
Hope you enjoy! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

  • Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup extra-crunchy Peanut Butter 
  • (*The original recipe uses creamy but I much prefer crunchy*)
  • 1/2 stick Crisco Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening 
    (Or 1/2 cup Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening)
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Combine peanut butter, shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat only until blended.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly in a crisscross pattern with a fork.
  3. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

*recipe adapted from Jif*

This is my absolute favorite cookie to make and to enjoy!
It is always a favorite at Christmas parties and my friends always ask me to make them these cookies. 
I hope you try them out this holiday season - and if you do, let me know how you like them in the comments!
Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Ornaments

'Staching through the snow; London Calling!

Oh, Christmas Tree...
My tree has been up since before Thanksgiving, but I finally finished putting on the lights and ornaments just this weekend! Every time I think I'm done, I find another box of ornaments! I'm sharing a few of my favorites.
Above is the moustache, which came in a "Gentleman-Theme" box, also containing a pipe and a pocketwatch. Next to it is my London ornament, which was, unfortunately, not purchased in London. Someday it will be replaced with a London ornament that is actually from London!

 This ornament is one of my favorites: it's Paris-theme, glittery, and has kraft paper and twine involved?! All of my favorite things! I made sure this one was front and center. 

This is the newest ornament added to my collection, bought over Thanksgiving on my trip to Yosemite. It was a gift purchased for me at the Ahwahnee Hotel and I love it! 
Owls and good memories. 

What are your favorite ornaments?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Decorations

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
I absolutely love decorating for Christmas. It's one of the best times of the year; the house has all of these trees, lights, shiny ornaments, stockings... There's so much to look at and decorate with! My living room is a light turquoise so I tend to go with a coastal Christmas theme in there, as pictured above. All of the ornaments are ocean-related or teal/blue/green. There's a starfish, jellyfish, whale, pufferfish, and dolphins!

Above that mini-tree, I hang my stockings on the wall (unfortunately, I lack a mantel) and my favorite Christmas sign! The stocking on the left was hand-made by my grandmother and the one on the right is my father's; he was born a week before Christmas and got to go home in a baby-sized stocking! These are two of my most-loved possessions. 

On top of my armoire is my father's toy car, which I paired with ornament-garland, tinsel garland, and two of my grandmother's vintage nutcrackers.

That's it for the living room!
 I'll have to share more of the house in another post soon!
Do you have any specific themes for your decorations?
Tell me in the comments!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

{12 Days of Christmas} Boat Parade 2014

This year, I attended the Santa Cruz Harbor's boat parade for the second year in a row. This time I went with a large group of friends (my Santa Cruz family!) and had a lot of fun. It was very chilly down at the harbor. There weren't as many boats this year, and many were the same as last year, so that was kind of disappointing, but going to a boat parade at Christmas has been a tradition for me my whole life. 
I really liked the jelly fish boat (pictured above) and my favorite from last year was back: Rudolph the Red-Nose Rein-boat! See this post for the picture. 

They even lit up the lighthouse! 
Overall, it was a lot of fun to enjoy the boat parade tradition with new and old friends, who have become my family.

Have you seen a boat parade this Christmas? If so, where was it? 
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Family Trip: {Yosemite, part one}

El Capitan

Over Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to stay with my grandfather in his house outside of Mariposa, a small town near the entrance of Yosemite. So, on Black Friday, I took my brand new camera, my family, and drove up the mountains into Yosemite National Park.
Our first stop was El Capitan, a beautiful granite rock formation. It was so tall! It was also quite chilly, seeing as it was late November. There was even a little bit of snow on the ground. 
Yosemite Chapel - frost on the ground!

It was a wonderful experience - I can't wait to go back and explore some more, when it's a little bit warmer. I think snow is gorgeous but I much prefer it when I'm curled up (wearing fuzzy socks) next to a warm fire with a good book.

I have some pictures of the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite to come!
Have you ever been in Yosemite?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giving Thanks {my home}

Sometimes, when you're running around to fifty thousand things and feeling completely stressed out, it is hard to remember what you are grateful for, but it is important to stop and take the time to be grateful and gracious. 
I am thankful for so many things, and people, and events in my life.
I am very blessed. 

My new home, Santa Cruz, has been a tough transition, but I am so, so glad to live here. The beach is so close to my house, so I get to go there all the time. I have the opportunity to see wildlife (like my favorite animals- otters!!!) and collect shells. Whenever I need a break, to calm down, to clear my head... The beach is where I go. It has become a tremendous part of my daily life, and I am so grateful to live where I do.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An extremely belated {Halloween Costume} post!

This year, I decided to dress up as my favorite Disney character - Minnie Mouse
It was a relatively cheap costume because I already had all of the accessories; I found the dress and knew I could throw together my costume in a snap. 

Where to buy:
Shoes, Modcloth - similar: Cube Your Enthusiasm Heel in Mustard - $69.99
Minnie Ears, Disneyland

Pearls, inherited

This was a simple but fun costume to put together that everyone loved! Especially me:

Hope everyone had a fun Halloween! 
Tell me what you dressed up as in the comments.

**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

{Give, Laugh, Love}: Modcloth Holidays

**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

'Tis the season for gifting! And ModCloth wants to help you find the perfect presents for everyone on your list with their 2014 Holiday Gift Gift. Shop using their handy categories, or check out presents inspired by trendsetting bloggers, including A Beautiful Mess, Oh Joy!, Girl with Curves. Utterly unique and endlessly fab. 

Their vast collection of utterly unique gifts is the perfect place to find something to wow your favorite gal (or guy)! Plus there is always something fun on sale, be sure to check back often -

Be sure to check it out! 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Caramel Apples and {Butterbeer} - Recipe!

Ever since reading Harry Potter, and then watching the movies, and then enviously looking at all those wonderful Instagram photos of Butterbeer from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I have wanted to try a butterbeer. I love butterscotch, foamy drinks, and wishing I was a wizard (alas, I am only a muggle). It has been my dream to either go to Florida and try it for myself, or to make it at home. Since Florida is currently out of the budget, I looked for lots of recipes on Pinterest, and I'm sure to try others in the future, but this one was the easiest!

Butterbeer Recipe 

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon Butterscotch-flavored Jell-O Instant Pudding Mix
*The original recipe also calls for 1/4 cup powdered sugar but I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake so I didn't include it and it still tasted wonderful!
Directions: With an electric mixer (or whisk), mix all the ingredients until it resembles whipped cream, then set aside.
Cold Butterbeer:
cream soda (chilled)
1-2 teaspoons butterscotch-flavored sundae syrup (per mug)
prepared Froth (recipe above)
Directions: Pour the chilled cream soda into your glass, leaving an inch or so at the top for froth. 
Add in 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the butterscotch syrup and stir well. 
Top off your glass with the prepared froth and give it a few minutes to settle.
*adapted from The Disney Diner

We also decided to make caramel apples that day, and it was a very autumnal.
We had so much fun!
We bought some Granny Smith Apples and Kraft caramel bits, popped the caramel bits onto the stove for a little while and then dipped our cut apples into it - delicious!

How have you been enjoying these autumn days?
Tell me in a comment below!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nautical {Pumpkins}

My anchor pumpkin and my housemate's lighthouse pumpkin
We went to the pumpkin patch the other day, and then carved them and it was so much fun! I will warn you all though, carving pumpkins with an extremely food-motivated dog becomes a very difficult task. There was a dog in my face, my arms were elbow-deep in pumpkin guts, and the Nightmare Before Christmas was playing loudly in the background. 
It was hectic but wonderful. 

I really love how my pumpkin turned out! I wanted to carve nautical pumpkins last year when I moved to Santa Cruz, but I ended up with a super cute white fairy tale pumpkin that I just didn't have it in me to carve. Now, I am so excited to say that I have had my nautical pumpkin carving experience! 
 I love love love my anchor pumpkin!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

{Pumpkin Patch}

I am sitting in a giant pumpkin, 
and I am so freakin' excited about it! 
I was fortunate enough to head back to the same pumpkin patch I fell in love with last year. This year I went with my new housemate, who loves Halloween just as much as I do, and my old housemate, who went along so she could have an Autumnal experience with us. It was such a beautiful day and there were so many types and sizes of pumpkins to choose from!

This pumpkin patch is just so darn cute, I had to come back this year!
I will be continuing to return here because I think it's about time I start establishing some traditions in my new town. (Is it still okay to call my town new after living here for a year and a half?) There's more posts to come: 
We just carved the pumpkins into an anchor and a lighthouse! 
I can't wait to share!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oh, {Happy} Day!

Last month, I had the privilege of standing next to my best friend as she said, "I do." It was really a fun and beautiful wedding in the heart of the Santa Cruz mountains. Surrounded by redwood trees, some that are over 1,700 years old, we were able to celebrate love and happiness and a new beginning. It was magical and I am absolutely happy for them both!

My job that morning was to grab the most important meal of the day: breakfast! We had to do the whole bride-to-be Starbucks cup thing, of course! Then everyone else wanted theirs to say what their importance was today - my personal favorite was my mom's "Mother of the Maid of Honor" cup - those poor baristas spent as much time writing as they did making our drinks!

Her dress was absolutely gorgeous, and she looked stunning. I'm so proud of the woman that she is and so happy that she found someone to share her life with - he is so sweet to her! 
Oh, so happy!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Miss {Bee}

Just "Bee"-in' Me.
Lately, I've been feeling very cared for and special - it's a great feeling and I'm savoring it because it has been a while. It's certainly a good way to end the summer. I start my fall classes online next week, and the one class I'm taking at a campus starts the first week of September. I'm ready for Autumn but also quite sad to see the Summer go. 
These last few weeks of Summer, I hope to be able to spend lots of time with my friends, my new love, and my family. The second weekend in September, I will be a maid of honor in a wedding.
It's all quite exciting, but hard to keep anxiety to a minimum! 
So I will just continue to "bee" me and enjoy the summer while it lasts, because there's a whole lot headed my way this Fall!

Oh, and in other news: I was totally spoiled by my mother, who bought me this Heidi Daus ring:
It's a bit gaudy for my usual taste, but it's a bumble bee so I'm totally into it. 

What are you up to these last few weeks of Summer?


Friday, August 1, 2014

Bridal Shower {part 2}

He stole her heart. So she stole his last name

Yesterday, I made this post about the bridal shower I threw for my friend, Kimberly. Seeing as I had a certain vision in mind, but also having a budget, I had to improvise. 
Instead of buying certain things, especially things I saw on Etsy, I made them myself. Firstly, the sign above! I saw a similar sign in San Francisco on a trip and kicked myself for not purchasing it when I was there. It would be perfect for the bridal shower and eventually, the wedding. My mother was particularly sad that we didn't buy it, so I ran to the local art supply store and decided to make it myself! 
It ended up being a big hit during the shower, and a bunch of people want one now.

I also wanted a candy bar with the theme of "Something Blue."
It ended up being fairly small since most of the women coming were older and don't really enjoy candy anymore. However, the younger women all loved the Something Blue bar!

We had blue rock candy, two shades of blue M&M's, blue Lindt truffles, some blue mints, blueberry cheesecake, and lastly, blue rock candy pops.
I loved searching for the candy and putting this part of the shower together.
It was a blast!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

{Bridal Shower} Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I threw a bridal shower for one of my best friends, who is getting married in early September. It was a little bit stressful, but I also had a lot of fun figuring out all the little details to make this bridal shower as special as the bride in whose honor it was being thrown. 

We played a few games, like the typical "Don't Say Bride" game, as well as the toilet-paper-wedding-dress design competition. I also made a personalized "Write Her Vows" mad libs, which ended up being cute and sometimes pretty hilarious! The games were all hits. 

We had a few drink options and a ton of food! I was going to have a mimosa bar, since it was going to be a brunch, but we ended up with more lunch-time foods, so we had fewer drink options. We had cucumber-and-lemon infused water, lemonade, mimosas, and cranberry juice. For food, it was mainly quiches, hash-brown casserole, bagels, salads, fruit, and sandwiches. 
We also had dessert but it will be mentioned in the second bridal shower post!
More to come!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

{Dog Days} of Summer

Oh, Summer...
The sun beating down, the waves crashing on the sand, barbecues, bonfires, pool parties, water balloon fights... Summer is here, and I don't want to waste what small amount of Summer we have left. 
I've been spending an hour or so every day lounging on the beach, reading, playing in the water, and relaxing. I've been making sure to find a small part of every day to relish in happiness. 
I've found love recently, and I honestly think it's because I've started to take the time to appreciate a small part of every day. When I take the time to appreciate the beauty around me, I'm reminded that I'm beautiful and worthy of love, and so are the many people around me.
If you aren't taking the time to appreciate your life every day, I highly suggest it. It's very much worth it.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Quote of the Week: {July 28, 2014)

"Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability." 
-Sam Keen

It's summertime and it's easy to find things to do, but sometimes, when the weather's so warm, all you want to do is walk on the beach or lay out in the warm sun. I have definitely been indulging in both of those things, and enjoying it profoundly. Being lazy in the middle of Summer is not something to be ashamed of, it's expected. Relax a bit, find somewhere that you like and enjoy just being there. 

What are you doing this Summer?