January 30, 2017

January Favorites

This fantastic company donates 50% of all proceeds from this to the Girl Up charity that supports women's needs around the world 
I stumbled across this lovely company and quickly fell in love with their projects and their message. Wear your campaign on your sleeves, literally, and tell the world what you care about through a colorful, and helpful, t-shirt.

This slow-jam from pastel-hair-beauty Bonnie McKee
Bonnie McKee is the songwriter behind many of your (probable) favorites including California Gurls, Roar, and Hold It Against Me. Bonnie has taken to the mic before, and now her Bombastic EP includes ultra jams Easy, Wasted Youth, and I Want It All.

The kickass service that emails you summaries of the latest news
Perfect for people constantly on-the-go who don't have time to search through thousands of news headlines. The Skimm sends you a morning email recapping the most important headlines for you. (They also have some sweet giveaways)

This super-cute embroidered baby pink bag
One of my favorite bloggers showcased this gorgeous little purse and I feel immediately in love! The best part? This blogger find is actually on the more reasonable end of her recommendations at €45, roughly $48. Maybe a birthday gift? Nudge nudge.

This super cute retro swimsuit
Perfect for spring break, I've been drooling over this gorgeous one piece for weeks now. I much prefer one pieces to bikinis at the moment and this one is the next to be added to my collection! One pieces can definitely be as sexy as bikinis! Pieces like this are proof.
January 20, 2017

How to be More Like a Rooster

How are those new year resolutions coming along? Let's be honest with each other, need to revise them a bit? You have a chance! We might be almost a month into 2017 but there is another New Year coming up....according to the Chinese calendar, the Lunar New Year is on January 28! Let's welcome the Year of the Rooster! The 10th of 12 total signs in the Chinese zodiac, the Rooster is an observant and hardworking sign symbolic of honesty, punctuality, and ambition. This makes 2017 the perfect year to take charge and not only recover from 2016 but start thriving!

Check yourself // We all are guilty of telling a little lie or two from time to time. To help yourself prepare to embrace your inner Rooster in 2017, try thinking about your phrasing. Instead of "my schedule changed" try "I changed my schedule, which means...." Even keeping yourself accountable to little things like that will have you reaping benefits in all of your relationships, as your friends and family will appreciate this (tiny) truth. This also can help keep you more accountable to your original New Years resolutions, and any goals you set for yourself. Be an honest Rooster.

Stop. hitting. snooze. // The snooze button is so enticing. I definitely understand this...but I also know the dangers of oversleeping or sacrificing important time for more sleep. Actually, when you hit the snooze button, your body is already beginning to wake itself up so delaying the process doesn't help you at all. Any sleep you gain by hitting the snooze actually makes you feel more tired and lethargic throughout the day. Also, Roosters are punctual! This doesn't just mean being on time for that important meeting or 8 am class--it means consciously waking up, preparing yourself, and presenting the best version of yourself. Just stop hitting snooze. 

Open your eyes // Roosters are observant. This doesn't mean you need to carry a Harriet the Spy type journal around everywhere you go, just start noticing things in your everyday environments. Maybe your neighbor planted roses that are starting to bloom and the smell brings a smile to your face when you leave your house. Maybe the dining hall got better coffee and you notice a difference in the flavor. You'll never know what you discover if you start actively noticing your environment instead of always being present somewhere else in your mind. Next time you find yourself waiting for a friend, put the phone down and soak in the environment. People-watch for a bit! It's a real blast I promise. 

Take care of yourself // Make yourself a priority in 2017! Stop sacrificing sleep for unimportant reasons, make sure your skincare regimen is on point every night, try to eat a balanced diet (the occasional Cheetos binge is perfectly fine, I won't tell if you won't), and generally start taking care of yourself. Health and fitness resolutions are always the most popular, for a good reason! Stop taking your body for granted in 2017, and believe me you will benefit endlessly both now and later.

Stop taking the easy way out // The Rooster is a hardworking sign so make 2017 the year you stop taking the easy way out. That test tomorrow? Don't slack on your studying. That presentation? Put everything you've got into it. Knowing you couldn't have worked harder on something is a reward in itself. Now, this doesn't mean stay up all night or rely on caffeine to get you through. No no. Take care of yourself while you stop taking the easy way out. I know when I've worked as hard as I possibly can during the day, there's nothing that feels better than going to bed! In this way I'm glad to have been inspired by the folks over at Leesa for this post. (Leesa is not only a great mattress company, they're a feel-good, give-back kind of all about them here)

Dream big // I'm a big fan of never giving up on your dreams. I know too many unhappy people who are going through the motions of life because they don't enjoy their job/career/internship. I think we get one chance at this life, so the risks are well worth it. Go after your dream this year! Write the novel you've always dreamt of, take that hiking trip you've been planning for ages, try that radically new hairstyle! You don't have to quit your job and completely start over right away! Make little changes--they could lead to bigger changes and before you know it? More happiness. We could all use a little more of that. 

This is how I plan to be a bold, ambitious, hard working, big-dreaming Rooster this 2017. How are you going to do it?

January 12, 2017

Extra-Gooey Layered Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

We had a little impromptu gathering of friends for dinner and they absolutely loved these rich, gooey bars for dessert! Every bit as scrumptious as they sound, I decided to try this recipe from Lindsay over at Pinch of Yum

Use the palms of your hands to press the chocolate chip mixture into the bottom of your dish--it gives the mixture more even coverage over the bottom of the pan

This is how much batter I had left after pressing the mixture into the bottom of the dish; the amount leftover for the top of the dish

These bars came out really gooey--almost too gooey, like they're not done. However, I baked them so long they were in danger of being overdone so be ready for these to come out of the oven gooey and unable to be properly sliced. We all basically attacked the pan with a fork, although after the bars have properly cooled they're much easier to cut. These bars are very rich so make sure you have a glass of milk at the ready!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

Original Recipe from Pinch of Yum (I modified it a bit)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: Approximately 8-12 bars (we just ate it from the pan so this is a rough guess)


For the cookie:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

For the cheesecake:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (or around 162°C)
  2. Mix together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter in a bowl. I used a hand mixer to mix all the ingredients together--make sure to scrape the bowl down every once in a while.
  3. Add the egg to the mixture and blend well. 
  4. In a separate bowl mix together the flour and baking soda. Add this mixture to the wet mixture in increments (I added the dry mixture to the wet in 3 increments) and scrape down the bowl. 
  5. Add chocolate chips and mix well. Set bowl aside.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla. I again used the hand mixer for this. 
  7. Pat 1/2 or 2/3 of chocolate chip mixture into the bottom of a 8x8 or 9x9 pan. 
  8. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate chip in your pan. 
  9. Add the rest of the chocolate chip mixture--you can either crumble it over top or pat it out and add it to make it sort of a "swirl" mixture on top.
  10. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 325° for 20 minutes. 
  11. Uncover the dish and bake for 35-45 minutes more until the top is golden brown and the cheesecake mixture is set and not too wobbly.
  12. Enjoy!
If you try out this (or any) of my recipes, let me know! 

January 5, 2017

Rewind: 2016

Happy 2017 everyone! I hope this year brings a lot of blessings and good things to you and your loved ones. I like to review my past year at this time, so here we go!

Here are my most notable events of 2016:
Arguably the beginning (or second or third) of the notable birthdays! 18 is a big deal in the States ("you're finally an adult! But no drinking!") and though I spent the actual day alone, my friends and I made up for it a month later!

Thailand is one of my favorite places in the entire world (both Bangkok and Krabi) and Mom and I absolutely had to return for our final trip during our time overseas. It was just as magical as it always is, and I will continue to love Thailand.

Senior Prom
We may not have had a Homecoming dance at my high school, but we made up for it with the magic of our prom! The night before graduation, my friends and I had so much fun at the actual dance....and then let loose dancing the night away at our after-party.

I finally graduated High School! Gosh it seems so long ago now, being in high school. Our valedictorian's speech was so touching, a speech truly written for our graduating class, and we were all grateful for the box of tissues someone thoughtfully passed around.

Italy (with my best friend!)
A and I have been planning this trip to Italy since, literally, the sixth grade. It finally happened this year after we both graduated high school. We visited Venice, Florence, and Rome....and it was everything we've ever dreamed of! (This is also when we got our tattoos!)

Family Beach Week 2016
Family Beach Week is always one of the highlights of my year and this summer was no exception! Sure, you get a lot of chaos and noise and trips to the grocery store when your whole family moves into one house for a week.....but you also get a hell of a lot of fun!

I started college this year! With all the excitement and drama of moving back from the Philippines, traveling with Amrita and with family, preparing for college--I barely had time to get excited about being a college freshman! 

My friends helped me create one of my most popular posts ever!
Inspired by the folks over at Tommy John, my Autumn Lookbook post has become one of my most popular in the entire history of my blog! My friends all helped me out by modeling for me and taking photos with me! I have such talented friends and I'm so grateful to everyone for helping me out!

My favorite food of 2016:
Ginger Cookies
These yummy, delightfully-easy-to-make ginger cookies are crinkly and sugary and a bit spicy--all around a good cookie in my book.

Bohol Fruit Smoothies
Mom and I took a weekend trip to Bohol and one of the definite highlights, besides the fact that you literally walk on the beach anywhere you go, were the banana and mango smoothies I enjoyed anytime we passed this smoothie shack displaying a beautiful display of fruit.

Foodfest 2016
My high school's annual International Food Festival was always a highlight of my year and my final Foodfest included, as always, some incredible food, fun games, and great talent! Oh, and don't forget the fireworks!

Buckeye Fudge
One of the treats I made for my teachers to put in their end-of-year gift baskets became an instant favorite of mine and I look forward to the next excuse I have to make it.

As always, Thailand is one of our favorite destinations and one of the biggest reasons is the food! Thai food is some of my favorite cuisine, Pad Thai Goong, Tod Mun Goong, papaya salad, it's all amazing and I'm making myself hungry. 

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies
This creamy, chocolatey, melt-in-your-mouth-y cookies have earned a permanent spot in my recipe book, and they should in yours too!

Lots and lots of Italian food. 'Nuff said.

Here are the best trips I took in 2016:
Hong Kong
My final APAC was an especially special one, as I was the captain of the girls' team! I was so proud of how all the girls did and my final APAC, complete with the most wonderful host family in Hong Kong, was a complete success.

If you're looking for a place you can walk literally everywhere barefoot, eat, drink, and snooze on the beach, and basically do nothing but eat and sit--look no further than the friendliest, sandiest beach town of Bohol.

I've said a lot about Thailand already so, to save being repetitive, I'll leave it at my favorite things about Thailand: food, people, scenery, culture, beach, everything.

Venice, Florence, Rome 
Again: food, culture, scenery, people, my best friend, no parents, tattoos, a young drinking age....everything the perfect trip needs!

My favorite things from 2016:
JFK Photo
I'm not sure why I love this photo so much but it's one of those works of art that just stays with you for some you have any of those?

Troye Sivan
I've been a fan of Troye since his Youtube days until now that he's touring and performing his own music! A very talented, and very kind, soul that is definitely worth exploring.

Forever 21 Swimsuit
I actually own this suit and I absolutely adore it! It's sexy without showing off (what I consider to be) my problem areas, and I get so many compliments on it!

Color Pop
Color Pop lipstick has often been cited as a much cheaper alternative to Kylie Jenner's expensive lip kits. Color Pop creations are highly pigmented, last all day, and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.

Mermaid Crown
Etsy is a treasure trove of handmade creations and I found several mermaid crowns that I'm currently coveting. I'm hoping mermaid crowns replace flower crowns as the next cute trend, honestly.

Grace and Frankie
Since I started watching this Netflix series, I became an ardent fan. Witty and really real at points, Grace and Frankie will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. Definitely worth the rollercoaster.

And favorite Instagrams of 2016!

January 1, 2017

Resolutions 2017

Happy New Year! Time has absolutely flown this past year...I can't believe we're already celebrating 2017. I graduated high school this year! I turned 18, went to Italy with my best friend, and started college this year! I have high hopes for 2016 and am so ready for a really fresh start and as such, here are my resolutions for 2017!

Read more books this year // I love reading! I really do....I just, like a lot of other people, find myself "too busy" to sit down and read a book. This is my resolution to carve out more time to read more this year (and maybe start a book club here on the blog?!).

Become more selfish this year // This one needs a little explanation. I love helping my friends and family and even strangers if they need it. I really enjoy the feeling of helping others, and I don't want that to change. What I do want to change is when I feel pressured into doing something for someone else that makes me uncomfortable. I need to put my mental health and wellbeing first before others--I can't help others if I'm breaking down myself! I need to put my comfort and wellbeing first, without sacrificing my commitments to others, of course.

Smile every morning // No matter if I'm anxious about something in one of my classes, if I'm not feeling well, whatever. My resolution is to wake up and smile every morning. I think starting every day being happy and grateful simply for being alive could change my whole worldview.

Learn more about vintage American pop culture // I'm talking most famous movies, music, and art. I want to know random facts about Andy Warhol's method and appreciate the cinematography of classic movies....also to finally understand all the classic movie references people I aspire to be make. Just generally learn to appreciate classic pop culture.

Spend a little bit of time everyday on my blog! // I want to make 2017 the best year ever for this blog! If I dedicate a bit of time, even a few minutes, everyday to my wonderful lovechild here I think I could make this space even better than it is now!

What are your resolutions for 2017? I hope this New Year brings you peace, happiness, and only good things!