Monday, May 18, 2015

Downtown Santa Barbara

Photos by Ale Veyna and Sarah Veyna

Outfit Details:
Forever 21 Wide-Brimmed Fedora Hat (Similar here and here)
Denim Jacket (Similar)
RVCA Shirt (Similar)
Madewell Jeans
Madewell Bag
Madewell Loafers (Similar here and here)


My sisters and I drove up to the Madonna Inn this weekend and decided to stop in Downtown Santa Barbara on our way there. I hadn't visited Santa Barbara since my friends and I drove up the week before our college graduation, which was 4 years ago, so it was nice to do some exploring and get reacquainted with the city. We walked around and explored some of the cute antique and consignment shops in the area. We also stopped by The French Press, a cute coffee shop that I also visited last time I was in town. I was surprised that I still remembered where it was after not being there for a couple of years. That must mean that my coffee radar is on point! 

I have to say that I feel so happy and relaxed after this weekend. I have such a habit of always feeling like I need to be working on something, but I need to remember that sometimes it's okay to take a break from it all and just focus on yourself. My sisters and I were quick to jump into the pool and jacuzzi after we checked into the Madonna Inn, where we were able to get in some much-needed rest and relaxation. We also had so much fun exploring the hotel, which is so cute. I'll get around to posting more photos from my trip in upcoming posts, but I'm taking some time to let the experience sink in a little before I do. 

xoxo,

Helen

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

4 Ways to Wear Hats This Spring And Summer

Photo by Ale Veyna

Lately, I've been trying really hard to incorporate hats into my everyday outfits as a way to shield my face from the sun and keep my skin as healthy as possible. I've also realized that hats can be very useful when you have a bad case of messy hair, like I often do, and just need something to hide it. Despite all the advantages, I have to admit that wearing hats has been very challenging for me because it can be hard to style an outfit around such an obvious accessory. That is why I thought it would be a fun idea to come up with a couple of ways to wear hats this spring and summer. 


Outfit Details:

I'm definitely on a mission to buy a cute boater hat to wear during these warmer months. I love that the brim of this hat is large and flat because it keeps the sun rays away without getting in your face. I also love that this style of hat immediately adds a very romantic and retro feel to any outfit. I can see myself wearing a boater hat with a cute summer dress and sandals. 



Outfit Details:

I've been seeing baseball caps everywhere these past few seasons, and have been really tempted to purchase one of my own. My problem is that I don't know if I could pull off wearing one without looking like I'm trying too hard. If I were to wear a baseball cap, I would incorporate into a simple black and white outfit for a minimalist and effortless look. 


Outfit Details:
Moorea Seal Hat ( A percentage of your purchase helps support Health and Wellness Charities) | Blue Chambray Dress | Urban Outfitters Ankle Boots | Madewell Necklace

I love floppy hats because they fit so well with my personal style. I just love how versatile this style of hat is--you can wear it with jeans and a t-shirt, a casual dress, or even style it with a maxi dress for a a fun and glamorous 70s-inspired look. In the summer, I would probably keep things simple and wear this style of hat with a shift dress, sandals or a pair of ankle boots, and a cute necklace. You don't need to put too much effort into the rest of your outfit when you have a fun statement piece like this. 


Outfit Details:

Wide brim hats, such as fedora and rancher style hats, are also a great option for spring and summer because they look great with a variety of casual outfits. I personally would wear this style of hat with a fun maxi dress and sandals. If you're going for a more rugged look, you can also pair it with a nice button down and denim shorts. 

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I hope you're all having a great week. I'm personally counting down the days until the weekend since I'm driving up to San Luis Obispo to visit the Madonna Inn. I've wanted to visit this place for so long and I'm glad to finally have the opportunity to do so before I leave California. I also can't wait to finally have some time to relax by the pool, and I'm just excited to explore the city since I've never been. 

xoxo,

Helen 

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Chocolate Cake with Honey Roasted Apricots


If there's one way that I know how to tell my friends and family that I love them, it's by baking them something delicious. That is why it was a no-brainer to bake my mom a cake in celebration of Mother's Day this weekend. This chocolate cake with honey roasted apricots definitely received my mother's approval and, if anything, the amount of effort I put into it definitely demonstrated to her how much I care.

I went a bit out of my comfort zone with this recipe. Aside from the cake recipe, which I adapted from this Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe on the Free People Blog, I decided to experiment with making the frosting and roasted apricots. Whenever I try out this method, I usually end up having to make modifications and start all over again. Thankfully, I managed to get this recipe just right on the first try and saved myself multiple trips to the grocery store. My mom and family really enjoyed this recipe, and you know that you've baked something yummy when you immediately start receiving cake requests for upcoming birthdays. 


CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH HONEY ROASTED APRICOTS
(Serves 10-12 people)

CHOCOLATE CAKE
Adapted from Free People Blog
3 3/4 cups of flour
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 tbsp of baking soda
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
3 cups of warm water
1 tbsp of bourbon vanilla extract


WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 lb of cream cheese
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tbsp of bourbon vanilla extract

HONEY ROASTED APRICOTS
8-10 small apricots
1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tbsp of cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, warm water and bourbon vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture has a smooth texture. Transfer the mixture into a large circular baking pan and bake for approximately 60-70 minutes. Let the cake cool to room temperature. 

In a bowl combine the cream cheese, heavy whipping cream, sugar and bourbon vanilla extract. Use a handheld mixer to whip the ingredients until the mixture has a thick and creamy consistency. 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the apricots and place them in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the honey, olive oil and cinnamon. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the sliced apricots and mix the two together; you want the apricots to be completely covered in the wet ingredients. Spread the apricots evenly on a greased baking pan and bake them for 15-20 minutes. Let the roasted apricots cool to room temperature. 

Slice the chocolate cake into two halves and place the top layer aside. Spread half of the frosting mixture on top of the first cake layer and then spread half of the roasted apricot slices. Place the second layer on top of the first and decorate it with the remaining whipped cream cheese frosting and roasted apricots. 

Enjoy!

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I hope you all liked this recipe. Please let me know how you like it if you ever give it a try! 


xoxo,

Helen

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Monday, May 4, 2015

My 5 Favorite Lipsticks

Photos by Sarah Veyna

My everyday makeup routine stays pretty consistent except when it comes to the shade on my lips. I like the way a certain lipstick color can completely transform your entire look and reflect a certain mood. I love lipsticks so much that it's actually very rare to see me walk out of a cosmetics store without an armful of different lipstick swatches, and it takes a great amount of self-control to keep me from buying every shade of lipstick that catches my eye. Luckily, I've managed to find a few lipsticks that I truly love and and rotate depending on what type of style I want to achieve on any particular day. Keep on reading to learn more about my favorite shades of lipstick!


Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in "Redwood Forest": This reddish-brown lipstick glides on very easily and I love that the color is very buildable--you can apply one layer to add a subtle reddish sheen to your lips, like I did in the picture above, or you can also apply it to create a more deep mahogany color for a more edgy look. 



M.A.C Cosmetics Lipstick in "Rebel": Don't be scared by how dark this particular lipstick looks like inside the tube because it's actually a very beautiful shade of plum once you apply it. For everyday wear, I like to blot this lipstick and wear it as a pinkish-plum shade. However, every once in a while I also like to wear it as a deep plum color for a more "vampy" look. 


M.A.C Cosmetics Lipstick in "Russian Red": A nice red lipstick is definitely a great thing to have in your makeup bag, but it's also very difficult to find the perfect shade. After trying several shades of red from different cosmetic lines, I finally settled on this bluish-red color from M.A.C. I like that this shade is very vibrant but doesn't clash with my warm, but pale skin tone. I also like that this matte lipstick stays put without drying out my lips. 


M.A.C Cosmetics Lipstick in "Twig": This brownish-rose shade is my go-to everyday lipstick because it adds the right amount of color to my lips while still looking natural. I love how versatile the color is--I can wear it with mascara and a bit of eyeliner for a demure look, or I can play it up with a nice smokey eye.


NYX Cosmetics Soft Matte Lip Cream in "San Paulo": The first thing that I was reminded of when I laid eyes on this shade of lipstick was flamingos. Just like flamingos, this hot pink color is very fun and vibrant which makes it perfect for summer months. It's also just a great shade to wear when you want to add a nice pop of color to any outfit. 

Please let me know what you think of these picks and if you have any favorites from this list. I'd also love to hear if you all have any recommendations, since I'm always on the lookout for new exciting products.
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This weekend was very busy for me in a good way. I had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of friends on both Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, I invited my sisters out to brunch in celebration of my sister Alejandra's(Ale) birthday. Then we went back home where we enjoyed a delicious crepe cake that Ale made, which she will be sharing on this blog very soon. Ale takes many of my pictures and helps out with this blog in so many other ways, as you may already know, so I'm very excited to have her do a guest post. 

Before I end this post, I also want to mention that I'm always amazed at how supportive the blogging community can be. I was so excited when I found out that Emma from the blog Fan In Style featured me in her recent post "8 Lifestyle Bloggers You Should Know". Emma was also kind enough to interview me for her Blogger Spotlight series back in February. You should check out both posts and Emma's amazing blog!

xoxo,

Helen

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Leather and Skinny Jeans


Photos by Sarah Veyna

Outfit Details:

H&M Faux Leather Jacket (Similar SPLURGE and STEAL)
Madewell Skinny Skinny Crop Jeans (Available in regular length.)
Madewell Ames Boots (Also available in suede)

I was really looking forward to some rain and gray skies when I visited Portland, so that I could finally have the opportunity to get some use out of a few of my lightly worn sweaters and jackets that I packed in my carry-on. Unfortunately for me, it was nothing but blue skies while I was in town. We did, however, enjoy a few days of gloom in LA and I quickly jumped at the opportunity to practice dressing for slightly cooler weather. While I am very well aware that this ensemble will not cut it when freezing temperatures and rain hit Portland--my friends have already told me that it is necessary for me to invest in a good rain coat-- it is an outfit that I rarely get to wear in sunny Southern California. Although I'm not complaining about being able to enjoy good weather all year-round, I have to say that I am definitely looking forward to living somewhere where the changes in the weather are a little more noticeable. 

xoxo,

Helen 

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Portland Travel Diary

Photos of me taken by Candace Kita and Kelsey Yocum

Last week/weekend I had the opportunity to visit Portland for a couple of days. I mostly spent my time there learning more about my graduate program, but I did have some free time in the evenings and on the weekend to explore the city with my friends Kelsey and Candace.  My main goal during this trip was to get a better sense of the layout of the city so that I could begin exploring housing options. Kelsey and Candace were kind enough to give me a tour of the city and introduce me to new places (to me) in Portland, and I am now super excited about moving up there later this year! I thought I would use this post as an opportunity to share some photos from my trip and talk about a few of the places I visited. 


FOOD AND COFFEE

Just as always, I did my fair share of eating during this trip to Portland. While I didn't go crazy and drink all the coffee I possibly could like I have in the past, I did get to visit some cool new places that I really enjoyed. Here is a list of some restaurants and coffee shops I visited during this trip:

Prettyman's General: Brunch is probably my favorite meal, so I was really counting on my friends to to deliver an awesome brunch experience. They did just that when they took me to Prettyman's General, which has a variety of mouth-watering options all served on Tabor Bread toast. I had the Ace in the Hole from their menu, and it was very satisfying and delicious!

The Sudra: My friends and I went to dinner at the Sudra, which  seems to be quite popular and was packed for dinner. I had the Poori Plate which was really good. This place was also had an amazing playlist (they played Geographer!), and I liked that they projected Bollywood movies on one of the walls. 

Blue Star Donuts: When I posted that I was planning a trip to Portland, Tina from Just A Tina Bit recommended in the comments that I try Blue Star; since I love dessert, especially donuts, it obviously didn't take much to convince me that I had to visit this local donut shop while I was in town. I had a carrot cake donut and it was the best donut that I've ever had. I have to say that I'm really looking forward to frequenting this place once I'm settled in Portland. It's my goal to try out all of their donut options. Haha!

Courier Coffee: This small and cozy coffee shop was my first stop during this trip to Portland. Kelsey and I got there bright and early so we didn't have to wait too long for our drinks. However, Kelsey informed me that this tends to be a popular spot and is packed with people later in the day. 

Either/Or: This place has coffee soda and it's as good as it sounds! I actually didn't have the coffee soda, but my friend let me try hers and I immediately regretted purchasing an iced latte (even as delicious as it was). This shop is located around some cute antique shops, so it's a good place to grab a snack or something to drink if you're spending a day antiquing. Also, I just have to mention that the baristas working here are extremely friendly. 

Palio Dessert and Espresso House: This coffee shop was discretely hidden inside a very cute house on a very large roundabout. My friends and I made our way over here for a late night cup of coffee after dinner on Friday night. If you can believe it, I was asleep by 11:00 PM despite enjoying a delicious latte around 9:30 PM; if that's not a sign that I'm a true coffee addict lover, I don't know what is! This place looks like it would make a great study spot, so you'll probably see me camping out here next fall. 


While Kelsey, Candace and I were exploring the Sellwood Neighborhood of Portland, we happened to walk into a cute home goods shop that had chickens and goats in the back. I wish I could say more about this magical moment, but I think the pictures pretty much some up how awesome it was to make new animal friends. 


THE OUTDOORS

One of the things that I'm most excited about taking advantage of when I move to Portland is all the wonderful outdoor spaces around the city. As much as I love living in the LA area, our parks do not compare to those in Portland. During this trip I visited Laurelhurst Park (also seen here), which was a great place to spend the afternoon lounging. During one of the days I was in town, my friend Kelsey and I also made our way to Council Crest Park for a picnic dinner; it was such a gorgeous place, especially during this time of the year when all the magnolia trees surrounding the park are blooming. 




Since I had to leave early Sunday morning and didn't have time to do much more exploring, Kelsey and I decided to take a walk around her neighborhood. I actually love exploring places on foot because it gives me time to appreciate my surroundings, unlike when I'm driving around, and I'm glad that Portland has a great public transit system so that I can have the opportunity to do more of that when I move there next fall. I hope you enjoyed these photos from my trip. Until next time!

xoxo,

Helen

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Black Maxi Dress

Photos by Sarah Veyna

Outfit Details:
Turtle Pendant Necklace (Gift from my dad)
Hoops (Gift from my sister)



Since I'm going to be attending grad school in the fall and will be on a tight budget, I am making a very serious effort to be more mindful about my purchases. I recently bought this black jersey maxi dress because it is a piece that I can combine with many things I already own. I also love that it is a dress that I can wear all year long; I know that I will be wearing this dress often during spring and summer, and I can also see myself wearing it with boots and a belted sweater in the fall and winter. However, what I love most about this dress is that it looks elegant but is extremely comfortable at the same time. I'm a firm believer that you should never have to sacrifice comfort over style. 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. I only really had Sunday off since I worked Saturday evening, but I was able to make the most of the free time that I did have. It was also my mom's birthday this weekend, so I made time to celebrate it with her and shower her with tons of love and gifts; it's the least I could do for the most caring and loving woman in my life. Now, I just need to get through the next three days of work and then I'm off to Portland on Wednesday. I'm so excited to further explore my future home!

xoxo,

Helen

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