Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where did the weekend go?

Photos by Ale Veyna

Outfit Details:
Free People Scarf (Similar here, here and here)
Old Navy Chambray Shirt (Similar)
H&M Chunky Cardigan (Similar)
H&M Trouser Shorts 
Black Tights
Madewell Loafers (Similar here and here)

I've you haven't figured it out from the title of this post, lately I've been feeling like I don't have enough time to do everything that I want to do and have this feeling of being burnt out that I just can't shake off. I think part of it is that I've been trying to fit in all these things that I love into my schedule--such as running, reading, blogging, crafting, writing, meditation, etc.--but I haven't given myself enough time to rest. I need to work on being okay with not achieving everything on my to do list, realizing that I can't do everything at the same time, and giving myself a break every once in a while. Please excuse me if this sounds repetitive from previous posts, but this is something that I constantly need to remind myself to do, especially since I often find myself in a similar state of being. 

Something that really helped me somewhat shake off the feeling of being overwhelmed was getting out of the house most of the day Saturday. Doing that got me away from my laptop and gave me a break from working on this space; I also made an effort to not be glued to my phone while I was out and about. I really love social media and this blog, but sometimes I think focusing too much of my time on those things prevents me from living in the moment. Sometimes it's nice to disconnect and not feel the pressure to find some special highlight to share with the world through Instagram or Facebook. 

Other than me struggling to find time to recharge, it was a very good weekend, even if it was too short. As I mentioned before, I was out of the house most of Saturday and spent some time in Downtown L.A., attended an event at my old workplace, and then ended the night by going out for beers and pizza with my sister Ale. It also cooled down and drizzled a bit over the weekend, and the weather made it easier for me to take things slow; I kind of hope the rain sticks around for a few more days so that I can get the hang of this new, much slower pace. 

xoxo,

Helen

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bacon and Gouda Cheese Croquetas


I studied abroad in Madrid about 5 years ago during my junior year of college, and one of the things that I miss most about the experience is all the delicious Spanish food that I had during my short stay. I lived with a wonderful host mom named Pilar, and she was kind enough to cook up a variety of Spanish dishes for my roommate and me. Out of all the wonderful food that Pilar introduced me to, my favorite had to be her recipe for croquetas(croquettes). For those of you who haven't had croquetas before, I would describe them as delicious bites of fried dough mixed with anything from chicken, jamón serrano or cheese. They do take a bit longer to make than most recipes, but the extra work is definitely worth it. My biggest regret is not asking Pilar for her recipe before I left Spain. Fortunately, I found a recipe on Hungry Sofia that was easy enough for me to follow, and I adapted it this weekend to make delicious Bacon and Gouda Cheese Croquetas. Today I'm sharing this recipe with you so that you can learn how to make these delicious bites for yourself. 



Recipe adapted from Hungry Sofia Blog

Bacon and Gouda Cheese Croquetas

INGREDIENTS
(Makes 20-24 large croquetas)
12 oz of bacon (cooked and chopped)
3/4 cups of cubed Gouda cheese
2 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of flour
6 Tbsp of butter
Salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg
4 eggs (beaten)
2 cups of bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Mix the bacon and Gouda cheese in a food processor or a blender until they form a paste.

In a small pan, melt the butter on low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, begin to slowly stir in the flour until it forms a thick sauce. Only do this for a couple of minutes to keep the mixture from burning. 

Heat the the milk in another pan until its warm, but don't let it come to a boil. Pour the milk unto the butter and flour mixture and stir it until it begins to thicken and forms a doughy texture. Remove from heat and then fold in the bacon and Gouda cheese paste into the mixture. Make sure to add a pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg as you're mixing in all the ingredients. 

Leave the mixture in the pan and let it cool down to room temperature. Once it's cool, store it in the fridge for at least an hour. This will make it easier for you to work with the mixture once it comes down to making the croquetas.

Once you're ready to make the croquetas, you're going to take out the dough mixture out of the fridge and place the beaten eggs and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Use a large spoon to scoop out the mixture from the pan and roll it into a ball shape. Dip each croqueta into the egg mixture and then roll it in bread crumbs until its completely covered. Do this until you've used up all the dough. 

Pour about 1.5-2" of oil in a large frying pan and set to medium heat. Dip the croquetas and use a fork to turn them over until they are browned on all sides. Transfer the croquetas unto a paper towel and let the excess oil drain. And now you're ready to serve these delicious treats!

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I really hope that you all enjoyed this recipe post. I'm so happy that I now have more time to work on creating content like this for the blog. Although it's fun to dress up once a week and take pictures, there's something more satisfying for me about documenting a project from beginning to end. I started this blog as a way to improve my skills set, and so far I have learned so much. However, I'm really looking forward to improving my photography and finding new ways to be creative as I begin to add more DIY and recipe posts to my little corner of the internet. 

On a different note, I hope you're all having a great week so far. I have the day off today and I'm going to spend part of it watching the series finale of my favorite show Parks and Recreation. The show is so funny and I love how much the characters have grown over the years. The current season has also been extremely touching and has brought me to tears so many times. I just really hope that the show has a good ending. Since I'll probably have watched the final episode once comments start rolling into this blog, I'd love to hear what you all thought of the finale if you happen to keep up with the show.

xoxo,

Helen

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Monochromatic Mod

Photos by Ale Veyna

Outfit Details:
Madewell Bag
Old Navy Turtleneck
H&M Mini Skirt (Similar)
Forever 21 Over-the-knee Socks (Similar)
Madewell Loafers (Similar steal and splurge)

When I was in high school I was obsessed with everything about 60s Mod style, especially the bold prints and simple A-line silhouettes. I would try to dress in clothes similar to that style even though vintage and Mod-inspired pieces were hard to afford on my budget. I even remember having a folder on my desktop filled with pictures of Twiggy and other girls in 60s fashion.

Although my current style is far from 60s Mod fashion, many times I do tend to gravitate towards pieces that are inspired by that era such as loafers, mini skirts and shift dresses. Putting together this outfit was so easy and fun because I had a clear vision of what I wanted to look like in my mind. I was even going to straighten my hair and and style it in a bouffant to complete the look, but opted not to since this was one of those rare days when my naturally wavy hair wasn't being rebellious. I'm actually glad that I wore my hair like this, even though it takes away from the Mod vibe of this look, because it makes my outfit seem like something that I can wear every day instead of a costume. However, I'm not saying that I won't go the extra mile next time I put together an outfit inspired another decade.





Life has been very slow lately, and I kind of like it that way. I have always been a perfectionist and felt the need to have as many things as possible on my plate, but am working towards abandoning that habit. I realize that it's not healthy to beat myself up for not doing enough--whatever that means--and I want to become better at living in the moment. I also realize that it is possible to be goal oriented without having to constantly worry about the future.

In my effort to learn to be more present, I have committed to a daily meditation and prayer practice during the 40 days of Lent, which I was inspired to do by my friend Janista as well as a mindfulness training that I'm taking part in at work. I actually grew up with the tradition of Lent, but in the past I've participated by giving up things such as sweets or social media, none of which have helped me become a better person in any way. I'm hoping that setting time apart to reflect on my day will enable me to become more aware of my feelings, my surroundings and the people around me. I've only been meditating daily for about a week, but I've already noticed how much more calm and centered I feel because of it.

xoxo

Helen

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back to Basics

Photos by Ale Veyna

Outfit Details:
Forever 21 Floppy Hat 
Everlane Tank in Brick
Madewell Skinny Skinny Crop Jeans (Available in Chilton Wash)
MAC Lipstick in Twig (Lips)

I originally wanted to photograph this outfit on my favorite bridge, but my sister and I were having too much trouble trying to find good lighting. To make things worse, we had a few people yell at us from their cars during the five minutes we spent trying to figure out what angle would work best. Not wanting to deal with more street harassment, my sister and I took a leisurely stroll and it wasn't long before we found this fence covered with beautiful vines. 

The beautiful green backdrop turned out to be the perfect place to photograph this simple outfit. I love this basic tank from Everlane because the material is thick and isn't clingy, and I really like the loose and relaxed fit. The highlight of this outfit, however, is my new pair of Seychelles heels that I bought as a birthday present to myself. I had been keeping my eye on them for almost a year and they finally went on sale for less than $35! Moments like this are why I'm a true believer that good things always come to those who wait. 


I've been feeling so creative lately, and it's a bit overwhelming because I wish that I had the time and money to bring to life all the ideas floating around in my head. It was nice to have an extra day off this weekend to focus on this blog and brainstorm ideas. However, it was really hard to put away everything that I was working on in order to go back to my regular weekly routine. Sometimes I wish I could just go on a very long vacation where all I do is make things and cook, but that doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon.

One of the things that puts me in a crafty mood is hanging around creative people, whether they be friends or family. On my day off on Monday, I spent most of the day with my sister Ale and my abuelita(grandma) Chela, who are both very artistic and creative women. I'm always inspired by the variety of things my grandma makes, and she is constantly encouraging me to learn new crafts. She even dragged me to Michael's while we were out and about, and I ended up buying a crochet needle so that I can finally start learning the craft. In order to follow through with that goal, I promised my grandma that I would visit her on Saturday afternoons so that she can teach me the basics. I'm excited about the things that I will make and, most importantly, I'm glad that I'm making an effort to spend time with one of my favorite people. 

xoxo,

Helen

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Home Workspace

Photos by Ale Veyna

Today I'm showing you a peek into my "workspace" at home and talking about what I love about it. I was inspired to write this post after looking into WeWork, a coworking company that offers members access to offices all over the world; looking through WeWork's website really got me thinking about my own workspace at home and why it works for me. If you haven't guessed it yet, most of the work that I do on my blog is done from my bed. No matter how much I try to create a traditional office space at home, I always tend to gravitate towards this area of my house because it's where I'm the most productive.

The main reason that I always end up working on my bed is because it provides me with some sense of balance in my life; keeping my blog feeling like it's a creative outlet and not additional work is a constant challenge for me. In a typical work week I spend 20-30 hours working on this blog, and that's on top of the 40 hours I already spend sitting at a desk at my full time job. I've come to realize that in order to stay motivated and be able to work an additional 2-4 hours when I come home from work, it's necessary for me to feel like there's a change of pace in my workday. Working from my bed makes a task like editing photos feel like a relaxing activity, and it makes writing a blog post become a fun creative writing exercise.

However, I hope to eventually have the opportunity to transition from working on my bed to a more structured work environment. My career goals are something that I constantly talk about on this blog, and along with the idea of my dream job also comes that of the perfect workplace. When I envision that space, I want an environment that is comfortable and inspires me to be creative. I also want to work somewhere that enables me to interact with other creative individuals. I have to say, though, that starting this blog has definitely helped me connect with other people with similar goals, which is something that I'm very grateful for.

I'm curious to learn more about your workspace? What do you like about it and why does it work for you?
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I hope your week is off to a great start and that you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day! I spent Saturday acting as my own Valentine and buying myself treats like macarons and coffee. However, I stopped short of buying myself expensive flowers and going on a massive shopping spree. All joking aside, it was a good day. The best thing about it is that I had several friends text me throughout the day to wish me a Happy Valentine's Day. Even though many of my friends are living in other states and we don't see each other often, I love that we always find the time to show each other we care.

xoxo,

Helen

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Berry, Almond and Chocolate Overnight Oats


My goal this year is to get back on track with my health and develop/relearn better habits.  I used to be the type of person that woke up at 6 A.M. in the morning to workout and I always made time to eat a healthy breakfast. I'm not quite sure what triggered me to change that routine last year, but at some point in time I did. This change eventually took a toll on my body and, last year, I was sick more often than I had ever been before. Although I hope to eventually be able to wake up early enough to workout and eat breakfast at home, I know that I don't have that discipline to do that right now.  One of the changes that has helped me get back on track--at least when it comes to eating breakfast in the morning--is preparing breakfast that I can take with me to work. Overnight oats have been a great addition to my diet because they make for an easy and delicious on-the-go breakfast, and I like that it's easy to experiment with different ingredients and proportions. Today I'm sharing one of my favorite overnight oats combinations:


Berry, Almond and Chocolate Overnight Oats
Ingredients
3/4 cup of dried oats
1/2-3/4 cup of mixed berries (I used blueberries, blackberries and raspberries) 
A handful of sliced almonds 
A handful of chocolate chips 
1/2 cup to 3/4 cups of almond milk
1 Tbsp of agave syrup (optional)

To prepare this overnight oats recipe, simply pour all the dry ingredients into a half-pint mason jar, top off the jar with almond milk and agave syrup, and then store the mixture in the fridge overnight. Then simply grab the mason jar from the fridge on your way out the door in the morning. I really wasn't kidding when I said this is an easy breakfast to prepare! You can enjoy overnight oats warm or at room temperature, but I like to eat this particular recipe when it's cold. You don't want the berries to get too pruny by popping them in the microwave. 

I hope that you enjoy this recipe. Now that I have a bit more time, I'm going really make an effort to include more recipe and DIY posts. Please let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to see on the blog. As always, thank you for reading and have an amazing rest of the week!

xoxo,

Helen


Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Trench Coat

Photos by Ale Veyna

Outfit Details:
Madewell Leather Bag
 H&M Red Trench Coat (Similar
H&M Striped T-shirt (Similar
H&M Trouser Shorts (Similar)
Black Tights
It was rainy this weekend and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to photograph this red trench coat; I wanted to do a Valentine's Day themed post and this is the only thing I own in red. Believe it or not, this is the first time I've ever worn this trench even though it's been in my closet for almost 3 years. It was a gift from my mom and, although I love it, it remained hidden in my closet because of the color. To me, red is very bright and noticeable and, as an introvert, the last thing I want to do is draw attention to myself. Yet, looking back at these pictures, this outfit doesn't look too flashy; I really love the way that the red color contrasts with my dark hair, and this trench is very much my style. I guess that is a signal that I need to venture out of my comfort zone every once in a while. Only time will tell if I can actually keep true to that last statement.

xoxo,

Helen

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