Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweet Helen Grace Is Now On Etsy!


I've mentioned several times on this blog that one of my goals is to open up my own shop on Etsy. Well, I'm glad to announce that after all this time, it's finally up and running. I wanted to take this post as an opportunity to share with you some of the items that are in the shop. Right now I mostly have hair accessories and jewelry, but I have so many more ideas of things that I want to make. Hopefully, I'll be able to do so once the shop starts to get some more traffic. 

I also want to say that I am so grateful to all of my friends and people in the blog community that have been supportive of this venture. As a thank you for all of your encouragement, I'd like to offer you the promo code SWEETHELENGRACE, which you can use to receive free shipping when you spend at least $20 in my shop! This promo code is valid until the end of the month. 

You can click HERE to visit my shop. There is also a link to my shop in the menu bar for this blog. 

Again, thank you all for your support. It's really wonderful to have friends, both in and outside of the blog community, that have inspired me and encouraged me to start this new venture. 

xoxo,

Helen Grace

Follow my shop on Instagram @SHOP_SWEETHELENGRACE

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Surviving Los Angeles Without A Car


If you've been following along these past few weeks, you might remember that I was in a car accident, and I'm currently on vacation while my car is in the shop. Although many people might be bummed about not having a car while in Los Angeles, the idea was kind of exciting for me. Even though I didn't have a car for the first few months after I graduated from college, I still found a way to go out and explore and do things around Los Angeles. However, since I bought a car, I feel like I've been really lazy and don't make an effort to venture out of the bubble that is my neighborhood. I think part of that is because, despite popular belief, having a car can be more difficult at times, especially when you have to deal with parking fees and traffic in the L.A. area. That is why not having to rely on my car for a couple of days, actually seemed kind of a relief to me. 

My first day of vacation and life without a car, my sister Ale and I took the Metro gold line straight from Pasadena into Little Tokyo/The Los Angeles Arts District. On our little adventure, we had the opportunity to discover some new cool spots, and visit some old favorites. Keep on reading to check out some of the things that we did. 


Blacktop Coffee: After walking around the Arts District and appreciating all the wonderful street art, my sister and I made our first stop at Blacktop Coffee. This coffee shop opened up earlier this year, and serves delicious Sightglass Coffee. My sister Ale had a macchiato and I had the cold brew, and both were really delicious. The inside space of the coffee shop is pretty small and cozy, and doesn't have any seating space. However, the shop itself feels very open and welcoming since the doors to the shop are kept open, and it has a very nice outdoor seating area. 


Poketo: I always make sure to stop by Poketo every time that I'm in the Arts District. This store always has beautifully designed decor, clothes and accessories. I always love looking through all of their stationery and kitchenware. You can also usually find me browsing through all of their children's toys, which are so cool that I sometimes wonder if they're not actually meant for adults. 

Woo Souvenir Shop: This small boutique is tucked away in a little corner of the Arts District. The only reason that Ale and I found it was because there were a couple of signs pointing in its direction. Although most of the things inside of Woo Souvenir Shop were outside my price range, I'm glad that we decided to head over there. Many of the pieces in the shop were really beautiful to look at, and I would buy them if I had the money to spare. Even though I obviously didn't buy any  new clothes, I did end up leaving with a really cool greeting card for someone special. I also loved how cute and cozy the shop was; the designer/owner of Woo Souvenir Shop was also really nice, and she had a beautiful dog that greeted Ale and me as soon as we walked into the shop. 


Daily Dose Cafe: Ale and I headed over to the Daily Dose Cafe for lunch. I had been wanting to try out this place for quite some time, simply because I kept seeing pictures of it, and it looked like such a cute space to hang out at. Luckily for my sister, who was really hungry and couldn't care less what the place looked like, the food was delicious as well. We both had "The Daily Toast," which was a delicious piece of bread topped with spicy guacamole, grilled onions, peppers, and a fried egg. Another thing that I liked about the cafe was that the inside reminded me of my college coffee shop, The Motley--the interior of the cafe was really cozy and looked like a great place to go work or study. 


My sister Ale was my wonderful partner in crime for the day. She was the perfect person to go out exploring with, because she was down for doing anything. I'm also glad that she didn't mind all the walking that I made her do throughout the day. 


Cafe Dulce: Before Ale and I headed back to Little Tokyo Station in order to go back home to Pasadena, I had to stop at Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo--one of my old favorites. Cafe Dulce brews delicious coffee, and has an awesome selection of pastries. I'm a sucker for their green tea donuts, which have a delicious cream filling that is just sweet enough for me. They're so good that my best friend Laura and I once visited the shop about 6 times in one day.

To end this post, I have to say that although I really liked all the spots I visited on my day trip into Downtown L.A., I definitely don't want to call this a guide of the Arts District and Little Tokyo. The reason why I don't want to do that, is because this list in no way reflects all of the things that I like to do in those two places. However, If you want more suggestions of things to do in the Arts District, you can check out this post as well. I hoped you enjoyed reading, and let me know if there are any places that you think that I should check out on my next adventure. 


xoxo,

Helen Grace




Friday, October 17, 2014

Weekly Picks

(Photo from my Instagram)

I'm on a much-needed vacation right now, and I'm loving every minute of it. I love not having to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock, and being able to start off my day whenever I feel like it. I'm planning to use the next few days to relax, and really focus on self-care. I'm also looking forward to having tons of time to work on projects that I've been setting aside due to lack of time, and also having time to explore new places. I'm working on opening up my shop in the upcoming week, as well as putting together some "adventure" posts. But while you wait for me to put those together, you can check out some of these links:


If you want to make personalized vinyl decals for your laptop, you should check out this tutorial on the Skunkboy Blog. 

(Photo courtesy of Keiko Lynn)

One of my dreams is to visit Japan, and I really loved looking through blogger Keiko Lynn's photo diaries from her recent trip. You can check out Part I and Part II on her blog. I love all of her pictures, and really hope that there is a Part III!


(Photo courtesy of Hello Giggles)

I really loved this letter written by an anonymous writer, in which she apologizes to her body for mistreating it for so many years. I could really relate to this letter because unfortunately, like many women, I've dealt with my share of insecurities about my body since I was a very young girl. In the past few years I've learned to snap out of my negative mindset, and have had time to really focus on learning to love and take care of my body. 

(Photo courtesy of I Spy DIY)

If you want to get into the Halloween/Día de los Muertos spirit, you should check out Sugar Skull Napkins tutorial from I Spy DIY. 

(Photo courtesy of Popsugar Fitness)

I'm not a huge fan of the fall pumpkin trend, but this salad recipe looks and sounds really delicious. 

(Photo courtesy of The Clothes Horse)

Lately, I've been really in love with The Clothes Horse blog. I'm really impressed by the fact that blogger Rebecca takes her own photos, and I'm in love with all of her outfits and shooting locations. 


xoxo,

Helen Grace

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What's In My Makeup Bag

What's in My Makeup Bag

What's in My Makeup Bag by sweet-helen-grace featuring a cream blush


Today I'm sharing with you some of the products in my makeup bag! Even though I don't consider myself to be a beauty expert by any means, I do enjoy wearing makeup on a day-to-day basis. Over the years, I have developed an easy and quick makeup routine that complements my every day style. I like to keep things simple enough so that it only takes me a couple of minutes to get ready in the morning, especially on days when I'm in a rush to get to work. If you're interested to learn how I achieve my every day look, keep on reading to see what's in my bag:

Face: For my face, I use Loreal's True Match Foundation in W3 and Loreal's True Match Concealer in Light/Medium Warm. I've tried several foundations over the years, and this is the only shade that doesn't look too pink or gray/brown on my face. And since I don't like spending more than 10-15 minutes doing my makeup, I also like that I can easily blend both products unto my face by just using my fingers. To top it all off, I use NYX Cosmetics Cream Blush in Tea Rose, which is equally easy to apply. 

Eyes: I use Almay Liquid Eyeliner to create the perfect cat eye. The soft and pointed tip on the brush makes it really easy to apply and get the perfect shape. I also use Covergirl All-in-One Curved Brush Mascara in Very Black, and I love that the curved brush gives my lashes a lift and eliminates the need to use an eyelash curler. 

Lips: I recently purchased MAC Lipstick in Twig, and it has quickly become my favorite shade to use every day. This shade is a subtle brownish rose color, and is a great alternative to a nude lip. 

If you don't feel like you've already seen enough pictures of my face, this is what my makeup pretty much looks like every day. I really hope that this post was helpful to you, especially if you're not one for wearing makeup, and would like some sort of guidance on where to get started. As I said before, I wouldn't say that I know too much about makeup other than what I do every day, so I would love to hear about what are some of your favorite products. 

Have a great rest of the week!

xoxo,

Helen Grace

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What A Steal!

Photos by Ale Veyna

Outfit Details:
H&M Dress (Old)
Forever 21 Clutch (Old)
Seychelles Pumps (Old)

This dress from H&M is one of the purchases that I'm most proud of. I bought it while I was studying abroad in Spain for about 5 euros, which is about $7. Black was very trendy during the winter months that I was in Spain, and I'm sure that the reason that this dress was on sale was because most people were turned off by the bold and colorful floral print. I, however, fell in love with this dress for that very reason, and was more than thrilled to get it for such a steal. Brown and black are great colors for fall and winter, but I also think that there's no reason to be afraid to experiment with a little bit of color during these seasons. Even though I'm kind of saddened by the fact that not everybody shares my love for wearing colorful floral prints during the cooler months, I'm really glad that it led to me getting a great deal on this dress


I wanted to take this post as an opportunity to share a couple of facts about myself, since I realize that those who don't know me in person only get tiny bits and pieces about my life on this blog. Another reason why I'm sharing these facts is because Katherine, from the lovely blog Wander Hour, nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. In order to accept the award, I'm required to list 7 facts about myself.  Doing this activity was very fun, and I'm so honored that Katherine nominated me for the award. If you haven't checked out Katherine's blog, you definitely should. She has a great sense of style, and is also an amazing photographer. 

7 Facts About Myself

1. I didn't really learn how to speak and read in English until I was 6-years-old, and in the first grade. I don't remember having any trouble learning the language, and it's probably because I had always watched English-language television and listened to family members speak to each other in English. But until this point in my life, I only knew how to speak and read in Spanish. 

2. I attended Scripps College, a small women's college in Claremont, CA, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I've always had very feminist ideals, but I always felt that I was never in an environment where I felt safe and comfortable enough to express them. Scripps really changed that for me, because it finally gave me the opportunity to be in a space where female empowerment was really encouraged. I met some of my best friends and learned so much about myself while I was there.

3. I was named after a small chocolate company called Helen Grace Chocolates. My mother couldn't decide whether to name me Helen-the Greek form of her middle name Elena-or Grace, after my Grandma Graciela. She got the idea to combine the names after looking at a Helen Grace chocolate bar.  I, of course, did not realize this until I was about 5 and somebody was selling Helen Grace chocolate bars to fundraise money for a family member's little league team. I was initially really excited to see my name printed on a chocolate bar, since I don't think I completely understood what was going on at that time. However, it did lead to me slightly getting made fun of in high school. 

4. I started running about 3 years ago, and it quickly became one of my favorite activities. I used to hate running because I expected myself to immediately be able to run 6 miles, and felt weak and defeated when I wasn't able to do so. When I graduated from college, I had a couple of coworkers who were really into running, and they encouraged me to pick up the sport. This time around, I went in with a different attitude, and decided to take it slow. My patience and hard work paid off, and I was able to run my first half-marathon 8 months later. Running has become one of my favorite activities because it has taught me to appreciate and really care for my body, and also serves as a way for me to relieve stress at the end of the day.

5. I would describe myself as an introvert with an outgoing personality. I get anxious whenever I have too much alone time. Oddly enough, even though I crave being around people, I'm also really shy and don't always have the energy to be sociable. I think the reason that I really love hanging around coffee shops is because it gives me an opportunity to hang out around other people, without having to actually interact with them. If you want to learn more about what it's like to be introverted and have an outgoing personality at the same time, you can check out this article here

6. Coffee is my favorite beverage. I don't really know much about coffee, but I really enjoy the taste of it. One of my favorite pastimes is exploring new coffee shops with friends, and there have been days when I've only had coffee and pastries for every meal of the day. I can't say that is the healthiest diet, but it sure is yummy!

7.  I love traveling and, although I have been fortunate enough to do my fair share of it, I wish I could do more. While I was studying abroad in Spain, I was able to travel to 6 countries, and more than 10 cities. I definitely want to make my way over back to Europe, so that I can visit more countries there. I also want to explore South America and, in the near future, I want to make a trip to Mexico so that I can visit my Dad's side of the family. 

I hope you enjoyed learning a couple of things about me. I'm not completely following the rules of the One Lovely Blog Award, and tagging other bloggers. That's only because it's too hard for me to just pick out a couple of bloggers whose blogs I really enjoy. However, if you want to go ahead and tag yourself, you can check out the complete set of rules on Katherine's blog. Definitely let me know if you do decide to share a couple of facts about yourself on your blog. I'd love to learn more about you!

xoxo,

Helen Grace


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekly Picks

(Photo from my Instagram)

I know that every week I say that I'm glad it's the end of the week, but I don't think I've ever meant it as much as I do now. It's special events season at my workplace and, since I work in the department in charge of putting them together, I'm super exhausted from working my butt off. I've been consuming coffee like crazy in order to stay awake. The good thing is that the big event that my department is working on will be over in less than 24 hours, and I'll finally be able to get some rest! I really can't wait until tomorrow, when I'll be spending all day in my pajamas, either sleeping or watching TV. Even though this week has been super busy, I still found time to procrastinate online. Keep reading to check out some of some of the links that I picked out this week. 

(Photo c/o NPR)

If you already haven't heard the news yet, Malala Yousafzai has become the youngest winner in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is a courageous woman, amazing activist and incredible role model to women everywhere, and is more than deserving of this honor. You can read more about this story by clicking here

(Photo c/o M Loves M)

I can't wait until it cools down in Southern California, so that I can finally turn on my oven! This recipe for an Apple Galette from M Loves M looks really delicious and easy to make!

(Photo c/o A Beautiful Mess)

I've always thought that the French twist is such an elegant hairstyle, and I really love this tutorial that Katie from Skunkboy Blog put together for A Beautiful Mess. Katie just makes this hairstyle look so easy!

(Photo c/o A Pair & A Spare)

I've been trying to think of ways to store my (very small) collection of hats, and I really love this simple DIY tutorial for a Wood and Leather Hat Rack from A Pair & A Spare. What I love the most about this project is that it doesn't require power tools, since I'm not yet very familiar on how to use them. And I wouldn't be too quick to throw this project out the window, if you're against using leather as a material-- there are plenty of other alternatives to leather cord that you can find at your local craft store, such as twine or floral wire. 


(Photo c/o Honey And The Hive)

If you're looking for ways to liven up your home, Honey And The Hive has some great 8x10 prints on sale for under $10. There are also some watercolor original prints for under $15! I also have to say that I love that owner Kelsey DeLange uses watercolor as her medium, mostly because painting in watercolor is a skill that I've never been able to master. 

(Photo c/o Not Your Standard)

I love the texture and taste of polenta, and I can't wait to make this Orange Almond Polenta Cake recipe from Not Your Standard.


That's it for this week's links! I hope you all have an amazing weekend.

xoxo,

Helen Grace

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Chocolate and Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

Photos by Sarah Veyna

I've been having extreme sugar cravings lately, and have been eating tons and tons of chocolate. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, that is mostly what I have been eating, and I realize that all the candy bars that I have been devouring are not necessarily rich in nutrients. That is why I've been looking for dessert ideas that are both healthy and delicious. This past weekend I made chia seed pudding for the first time, by adapting a recipe that I found on the back of the Trader Joe's Chia Seeds packet. I was really surprised at how delicious it tasted, as well as how easy it was to make. Another great thing about this dessert is that it is a great way for you to get your daily dose of fiber and Omega 3s. And, did I mention that it's also vegan? Keep on reading if you want to learn how to make this delicious recipe. 



INGREDIENTS:
1/2 a cup of chia seeds
2 cups of vanilla coconut milk
1/3 of a cup of agave syrup
1/4 of a cup of cocoa powder
Shredded coconut (Optional)


Combine 1/2 cup of chia seeds, 1/3 of a cup of agave syrup, and 1/4 of a cup of cocoa powder in a large bowl. Pour 2 cups of vanilla coconut milk and stir. Make sure to mix all the ingredients well enough, so that there aren't any chunks of cocoa powder left in the mixture.  Put the mixture in the fridge for 2-3 hours, and stir occasionally. Before you go ahead and serve the pudding, wait until the chia seeds expand and the mixture thickens. Once the pudding is good to go, you can add shredded coconut or chocolate flakes, and then enjoy! It's that easy!

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If you're wondering why I've been craving so much dessert, it's probably because these past few weeks have been very busy for me. This week, in particular, has been pretty intense for me in terms of work, since we have a big event coming up on Saturday. I can't wait until it's over and I finally have time to breathe. The good thing is that I'm taking some time off from work next week, so I'll have time to rest. I was kind of bummed at first, because the main reason that I'm taking time off is because I need to get my car fixed. But since I always talk about  how much I hate driving, I'm hoping that being without a car for a couple of days will enable me to rediscover my love for public transportation. I'm really committed to getting out of the house during that time, and discovering new and cool places. If any of you have any suggestions of cool places in L.A. that you can get to taking either the metro or bus, please let me know! I'd love to hear all of your suggestions.

xoxo,

Helen Grace