Real Talk: Like A Girl

I’m excited to introduce a new series on the blog today entitled “Real Talk”. Today’s centers on beauty but you can expect these to be on a variety of topics. One of the wonderful things about having a blog is having this platform to discuss things that I find interesting at the moment and sometimes they don’t always fit in the food or beauty category. So here’s some real talk from me to you! If there are any topics you’d like me to cover be sure and comment below!

In terms of commercials, so often these days we are fast-forwarding through them or if we’re on YouTube, waiting the requisite 5 seconds before we can skip them. Except lately, a few beauty brand commercials have caught my eye and enticed me to watch the entire thing. In the past, we have become accustomed to women’s empowerment type of commercials from Dove  (and I have previously written about them here and here) but it is so wonderful to see other female brands hopping on the positive self-esteem bandwagon.

Pantene Not Sorry| Shine Strong

I don’t know about you, but when I first watched this video, all I could think was “Omg, that’s me”. I am always saying I’m sorry whether it is when someone else bumps into me or for a myriad of other reasons. In fact, previous boyfriends have told me to stop saying I’m sorry so often. (And for the record, when someone tells me to stop saying ‘sorry’, it’s extremely difficult for me to not respond with ‘ok, sorry’.) Needless to say, it’s been a bit of a problem. Now I’m not really totally on board with the whole “sorry not sorry” thing, as I think sometimes people use that as an excuse to be rude but I do think that many women are constantly apologizing for things that we don’t need to be apologizing for! As a natural people-pleaser, it’s a difficult habit to change, but I do love the idea to “be strong and shine” and I feel inspired to live that out a little more and leave some of the unnecessary sorrys behind.

Covergirl #GirlsCan

In this commercial, I love how these amazingly talented female musicians, athletes, as well as TV and movie stars are all sharing how they were told that they “couldn’t do something.” And then they went ahead and did it. Women have been breaking barriers since the beginning of time and it’s so refreshing to see the media focus attention on challenging those walls. It’s also so interesting to see these huge stars whom we associate with their talents that made them famous and think that they were once held back from doing those very things. I feel so lucky to live in a country that doesn’t put barriers on what women are capable of and so many opportunities are now afforded to us. Reminds me of a pin I had in high school that said “A women’s place is in the House… and Senate” and maybe next the White House!

Always | #LikeAGirl

This post is similar to the Covergirl campaign but it focuses on the phrase “like a girl”. It’s one that has inundated our language for so long and yet, this is the first time I really thought about what it meant. I think it’s so eye-opening watching the adults do a variety of activities “like a girl” and then to see the young girls do the same activities to their full potential. It saddens me that as we grow up, many women lose confidence in their abilities and tend to give in to that gender stereotype. But what if “like a girl” meant strong and powerful and capable? How many more things and boundaries would we be able to push? Definitely food for thought in this one.

Clean & Clear | Confidence in Yourself: See the Real Me

I just stumbled upon this video tonight but I had to include because it’s one of my favorites. I’ll be honest, I love beauty and hair and style and think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with those things. But self-confidence is something that every woman has struggled with at some point in their life, if not on a regular basis. The statistic in the beginning shocked and saddened me that 75% of teen girls want to be seen but are afraid of being judged. Little personal story: when I was in middle school my mom had to have a little talk with me because I wasn’t raising my hand in class. I remember telling her that it wasn’t because I didn’t know the answer, in fact, I often did. Rather, it was that I felt uncomfortable giving the correct answer, afraid of how I would be perceived. I was never shy and have always loved speaking in front of crowds and yet, I was worried what people would think if I was correctly answering questions. Thankfully, with my mom’s wise words and growing self-confidence, that worry went away and I became much more engaged in answering questions from then on. But I think girls need to hear the message that it is wonderful to be smart and that it is something to be celebrated, not to be downplayed.

Questions:

-What campaign resonated with you the most?

-Any topics you’d like me to cover in the new series?

4 Fashion and Beauty Trends to Try

It’s well documented that I love fashion and beauty and that’s where the Glitz and the Glam of this blog come from! But as much as I love putting outfits together and trying new beauty products, there are certain trends that I have yet to master. Here are some of my current favorite trends that I’m looking to incorporate into my style.

The Cat Eye

Subtle Cat Eye

The feline flick has always seemed so difficult to me. I am great with pencil liner, can do gel liner even on a moving train and can handle the liquid in felt tip pen. But the full-on liquid liner? It makes me a little scared! I absolutely love how liquid liner looks on the eyes and how it has such incredible staying power, so I recently purchased the Pixi Liquid Liner pen to give it a try. Lining my eyes wasn’t too difficult, but when it came time for the elusive flick, my hand practically started shaking! I have watched numerous tutorials on YouTube and read posts about it, but currently it is still out of reach. I’m determined to master it though and you can expect to see pictures when I do!

Soft Curly Waves

Perfect waves

It seems like everyone is a pro at wielding their curling irons these days and somehow I missed the memo! My hair is naturally curly but I’ve been straightening it since I was in 7th grade. But curling it? It’s another story. Much like the cat eye, I’ve watched a few tutorials on how to get that perfect soft curl, but have been unable to do it! It also doesn’t help that despite my hair having a curly texture, it does not want to hold a curl! I think the secret here might be in both the products and techniques so I’m going to start practicing!

Skinny Pant-Ankle Boot Combo

Miranda Kerr

I absolutely love the skinny jean and ankle boot combo that everyone is wearing these days, especially in the Bay Area. It’s a slight departure from my usual style but I think it looks so effortless and cool and perfect for anything from running errands to a night on the town. I think it all starts with the perfect pair of boots, so I’m currently on the hunt! And of course, Miranda Kerr (above) could make any trend look amazing!

Crop Top-High Waisted Skirt Combo

perfect crop top

At first it seemed like the crop top was going to be a fleeting trend and I’ll admit that I rejected it in the beginning because it reminded me of the 90s when we all wore belly baring shirts. But the crop top of the past few years is so chic and I love that just a sliver of skin shows due to the high waisted skirt! I especially love Reese Witherspoon’s look where it’s just a hint of skin through the cutouts and am hoping to try it before summer ends!

Questions:

-What fashion or beauty trends would you like to master?

-Have any tips for me for mastering the above?

Gluten-Free Spotlight: Mariposa Bakeshop

With Celiac and a host of food allergies, it can be really hard to go out to eat. But luckily I’ve found a few places that are safe to eat at and are delicious! So welcome to a new series on the blog where I’ll tell you about the best gluten-free restaurants, cafes and grocery stores! The first one I’ll be featuring is Mariposa, which is easily one of my favorites and one of the best GF bakeries in the Bay Area. I first visited their outpost in the Ferry Building in SF but then a few months ago was able to visit their restaurant/bakery location in Oakland.

Me at Mariposa

Mariposa1

It’s hard to describe, but when you are used to walking into restaurants and bakeries and not being able to eat anything, the experience of walking into one where everything is safe feels a little surreal and very exciting. In addition to snapping the pictures, I took my time examining each product and deciding what I was going to choose to eat. I may have wanted to get one of everything but I controlled myself. Also, not only does Mariposa offer amazing baked goods, but they also have a small section of grocery items as well! I always love when gluten-free places do this because it’s the best way to find out about new great gluten-free products on the market. As it was lunch time, I decided to split the empanada plate with my mom.

Two vegan potato curry empanadas made with organic peas and carrots baked in toasty hand pies and paired with our organic side salad (Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and vegan)

Mariposa2

Oh my goodness, I can’t even describe how delicious this was. The crust was hot and crunchy while also having a flakiness to it (which is uber hard for gluten-free goods) and filled with the most amazing curry filling. The salad also came complete with gluten-free croutons! I admit that at first I had a minor freakout thinking that I’d have to send the salad back because of the croutons but then I remembered that everything here was safe- what a wonderful feeling! I could have easily eaten the full portion of this but was saving room for dessert.

Mariposa5

Mariposa4

Mariposa has a stocked dessert case, but when I spotted the chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting I was sold. I’ve had this cupcake in cake form before and it is absolutely delicious. The cake is moist and rich and the vanilla frosting is creamy and the perfect amount of sweet. It’s very reminiscent of the Sprinkles Black & White cupcake but in gluten-free/dairy-free form! The only problem? It was over too quickly! It was accompanied by a delicious new-to-me drink, SolidariTea Blueberry Rooibos Red Tea served over ice! All in all, it was such a wonderful experience and I cannot wait to visit again soon!

Mariposa3

Paleo Mexican Chicken Zucchini Boats

One thing about living with food allergies is that sometimes they can seem to cut off access to various types of cuisines. For example, since finding out I had a severe corn allergy over a year ago, Mexican food has pretty much been off the table. Living in CA, I’ve always had excellent Mexican food options and especially when I lived in LA. One of my favorite food memories is senior year of college when my best friend Krae and I would meet at our favorite place, La Sirena Grill in El Segundo for endless chips and salsa, margaritas, the perfect burrito and girl talk. (If you find yourself in LA, I seriously recommend that place… it’s pretty much amazing and I would love to live vicariously through all of you!) But between the celiac and the corn allergy, Mexican food has kind of felt off-limits. One day, I decided to change that. After all, who says you need corn or a tortilla to have a fabulous Mexican meal? These zucchini boats are full of Mexican flavor and are gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, paleo and totally delicious!

Mexican Zucchini Boats GGGF

Ingredients

  • 5 Small-Medium Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1/4 C. Chopped Green Onion
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/4 C. Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1/4 C. Salsa
  • 1 Package Frontera GF Key-Lime Cilantro Skillet Sauce*
  • 2 Chicken Breast Cutlets (About 1 Lb)
  • 1/2 t. Oregano
  • 1 t. Cumin
  • Olive Oil Spray

* 1 cup of any salsa will work, this skillet sauce is my favorite one though!

Directions

  1. Spray bottom of crockpot with any nonstick spray (helps immensely in the clean-up process) and put 1/4 of salsa on bottom of crockpot. Layer chicken cutlets in, adding salsa between them and on top. Don’t worry too much about the layering process here as all will combine when you shred. Place on High and cook for 3 hours.
  2. When chicken is cooked, shred with forks and set aside.
  3. Cut ends off zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Hollow out inside of zucchini. People commonly use a melon ball scoop for this, but I used an apple corer and it worked like a dream, was fast and easy and ensured smooth boats! Set aside insides of zucchini that have been scooped out.
  4. Heat 4 Cups of Water in a bowl and drop zucchini boats in for 1 minute. You could do this with a pot of boiling water on the stove, but I just poured hot water into a bowl and it was so easy. Remove boats and set aside.
  5. Chop zucchini, onion and green pepper into fairy small pieces and set aside.
  6. Chop fresh cilantro until you have about 1/4 cup.
  7. Heat a large saucepan on the stove and 1 T. of olive oil. Add chipped onion and stir for about 3 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.
  8. Next, add green pepper, chopped zucchini and cilantro along with cumin and oregano. (If you want to up the spice factor, you could also add chili powder but my salsa had enough heat.) Cook for about 5 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add shredded chicken to mixture and stir to combine, cook on low to let flavors combine for a few minutes.
  10. Now it’s time to stuff the zucchini boats! First, spread 1/4 of salsa on the bottom of 9×12 pan.
  11. Use a spoon to fill the boats with the mixture until they are smooth and flat. Then, overstuff them by using rounded spoonfuls to pack on mixture. Carefully set in pan.
  12. Cover pan with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes and garnish with chopped green onions.

Question:

What’s your favorite Mexican dish?

Summer Reading: The Rosie Project

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a book review, but after my recent post on binge-worthy tv shows, I thought books deserved some love too! I’ve always been an avid reader and devour books in a few days, often staying up late or reading during random times just so I can get a few pages in. I think I get that quality from my Grandpa- I always remember him being enraptured in a book and so often he’d be sitting there reading and you’d start talking to him, and he’d almost be surprised because he was so into his novel. As a kid I don’t think I understood it, though as an adult, I definitely do. However, one problem with reading books quickly is that I have the tendency to forget them. I’ll generally remember a few plot points, but sometimes I’ll hear about a book and forget if I read it entirely. In an effort to change my ways, this year I started a journal devoted to books. Now it might sound silly, but after I read a book, I write about it in the journal with a short recap and my thoughts on it. It actually extends my enjoyment of the book and I figured would be fun to look back on how many books I read in 2014.

Since books by the pool is the perfect Summer combination, this will be the first installment of my Summer Reading series! I’ve also decided to write my own description in addition to my review, taken from the pages of my book journal, because anyone can read the Amazon ones!

The Rosie Project

Description: 

The Rosie Project is written from the perspective of Don, a genetics professor in Australia who is brilliant but his social skills are severely lacking. He is very odd, lives by a religious schedule and only has 2 friends. One day he decides that he should have a female partner so he creates “The Wife Project”, which is essentially a survey of some very specific questions. Don believes that in order to be a suitable match for him, a woman must answer all of the questions exactly how he would answer them. And then he meets Rosie, who he disqualifies from the project almost instantly but decides to help her with what they call “The Father Project” and what happens next takes them both by surprise.

Review:

I loved this book because it’s very unusual to read something from an autistic character’s perspective, but that’s what makes it so interesting. It also has an extraordinary realness to it and so many twists and turns. I read that the book started as a screenplay which makes sense because each scene is so vivid and aptly described. This is actually being turned into a movie and I can’t wait to see what happens on-screen as well as read the sequel that comes out in the Fall. It is a fantastic book and one of my favorites that I’ve read this year.

The BEST Paleo Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Let’s face it. Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t like a good chocolate chip cookie? It’s a classic for a reason and the scent alone makes them instantly crave-able. There are a lot of amazing chocolate chip cookies out there, including in the gluten-free world. Unfortunately, a lot of them have sugar and shortening or vegan butter and those are ingredients I’d prefer not to put in my body. Enter- the paleo cookie. I can’t actually take credit for this recipe, as I got it from my amazing sister-in-law Julia, who started making this when she and my brother went paleo. Enter the night before Easter this year, when my brother had a craving for some delicious chocolate chip cookies and he and I whipped these up (ok, so he was mostly my sous chef, but an excellent one). ;) I’ve since made these cookies for various occasions and everyone loves them! I’m talking my Grandma (who’s weary of gluten-free things) as well as friends who had never even heard of paleo. They are a true winner and you’ll feel like one too when you make a batch of these!

Paleo Cookies & Milk GGGF

Paleo Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 C. Almond Meal
  • 1 C. Enjoy Life Mini Chips*
  • 1 C. Chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 t. Salt
  • 1/2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1/3 C. Honey
  • 2 T. Melted Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg

*Any chocolate chips will work, but I love these dairy-free/soy-free mini chips. Also, although tempting, don’t add the whole bag, as it will become difficult to get them to stick together.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients (almond meal, salt, baking soda) together.

3. Add the chocolate chips and chopped pecans to the dry mixture and stir evenly.

4. In a separate bowl, heat oil and honey together to liquify in microwave for 30 seconds.

5. Whisk the wet ingredients together (honey, oil, vanilla extract and egg).

6. Make a crater in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the whisked wet ingredients.

7. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until thoroughly mixed.

Paleo Cookies Close-up

5 Binge Worthy TV Shows

I consider myself somewheat of a pop culture aficianado, but somehow I missed these 5 great shows in the beginning. Thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime though, I was able to hop on board and thought I would share some of my favorites. Plus, who doesn’t love watching a full season of a show minus commercials and waiting week-to-week for new episodes? Instead of inserting pictures, I put the first season trailer (some of these are older shows so I promise the trailer doesn’t do them justice) but thought it would give you a better sneak peek into the shows. If you’ve overlooked these shows in the past, plan a little staycation, grab some snacks and get ready for some seriously good tv.

1. Friday Night Lights

I don’t know how, but somehow I completely missed Friday Night Lights when it was on tv (truth? I was probably too busy watching the CW). My brother and his wife were completely into watching it a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn’t understand the draw. I thought it was some football show, and not being much of a sports girl, decided I wasn’t really interested. Well, was I missing out. Friday Night Lights is one of the best tv series out there and I can’t tell you how sad I was when the 5th season was over. It is a show where you really fall in love with the characters and of course idolize the marriage between Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler. It also doesn’t hurt that there are a number of very cute guys on the show! There’s always drama, but what keeps you coming back is the heart, it feels like quality television that I just couldn’t get enough of. No judgment here if your new mantra becomes, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose”.

2. Suits

When Friday Night Lights was over, I was on the hunt for a new show. Luckily, my bestie Krae came to the rescue and suggested I watch Suits. I haven’t really watched much on the USA Channel but found that I was missing out on this great legal drama. I have always loved legal dramas and this one is up there with the best. Similar to The Good Wife (another fave if you haven’t seen it), most episodes feature a case of the week, but they are far from boring. They have a unique ability to capture your interest while progressing the characters storyline, not to mention some relationships as well. Come for the legal drama, but stay for the dynamics between Harvey and Mike, they are the dynamic duo that you never want to be broken. Also, the female characters on this show, like Donna, Jessica and Rachel rock and are strong women that you don’t get to see on many shows. An added bonus is that Suits is currently airing Season 4 right now, so once you finish your binge watch, you can continue your obsession in real time.

3. Veronica Mars

I remember catching an episode or two of Veronica Mars years ago, but never really started watching it. Then, when the kickstarter campaign for a movie started and was a smashing success, I thought that maybe I was missing something. This is a show that is really best to watch from Season 1 because you would miss a lot of the character’s arcs without it. Veronica is a high school student (and later college) that happens to be a private eye on the side. I’ll admit that it sounds a little cheesy, but somehow, the show just nails it. Kristen Bell does a phenomenal job and is totally snarky and loveable at the same time. It definitely is a little on the younger side but such a fun show to watch. Plus, it has the added bonus of catching up with Veronica in the movie when she’s 30 which if you’re like me, you’ll start streaming the second after you finish the final episodes of Season 3!

4. Parenthood

Parenthood was another show like Friday Night Lights that I just never found myself getting into for no real reason. When Krae suggested that I get on board (yep, she suggested another of my favorites) I knew I had to start watching because we have such similar tv taste. Parenthood feels like Friday Night Lights in the wholesome sense mixed with Brothers & Sisters in the family sense. It revolves around the Bravermans which includes the grandparents, their four children (including Dax Shepard, Lauren Graham and Erika Christensen) plus their significant others and their children. Needless to say it’s a big group. But the more you watch, the more you fall in love with the Bravermans and they will make you laugh and will make you cry. In fact, Vulture does a great “cry-cap” after each episode rating scenes on how many tears were shed. Season 5 just wrapped and the 6th and final season premiers in the Fall, so be sure to check it out before then!

5. House of Cards

Yes, the Netflix show that everyone talks about really does live up to it’s hype. My brother urged me to start watching this series, so just before the second season was set to drop, I binge watched the first season. And wow, what a season it was! HOC is set in DC and revolves around Frank Underwood, the Democratic Majority Whip Leader who is extremely ambitious and ready to do anything to rise up in the ranks. It stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright Penn as the power couple that you do not want to cross. Episodes are shocking and exciting and if you like Scandal this show is for you!

Other shows that would be great to binge watch: The Good Wife, Scandal, Revenge and Pretty Little Liars! (Can you tell I love a good drama?) In the comedy department I only really watch one: The Mindy Project and it’s amazing. So much so, in fact, that I might have to do a full focused post on it soon!

Questions:

-What are your favorite tv shows?

-Any shows that I need to binge watch? I’m always looking for new recommendations!