National Coffee Day

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Happy National Coffee Day!
I wanted to share my favorite coffee shops around the Bay Area

Philz Coffee
Mint Mojito might be my favorite dessert coffee drink on the planet. Philz used to only be located in the city, where parking was extremely limited. Now, these little coffee shops are popping up everywhere. You order with a barista, pay for your drink, and wait for your hand crafted drink to be made. What I love about this place the most, is that they always want o ensure that your coffee is made to your liking. When you order, they ask for the basics, cream, sugar etc and the level of sweetness. After the drink is made, they ask you to taste it and will remake it if it is not up to your standards. Talk about customer service!



Blue Bottle
Another Bay Area coffee shop that is easy to spot with its extremely long line. The beans can often be found in stores with strict guidelines that they must be sold within a month. After that, the beans are not up to Blue Bottles standard. Much like Philz, Blue Bottle has a cult following. Adorned with extremely expensive Italian espresso machines. In fact, you can buy them at the coffee shop, and even get them repaired! My favorite Blue Bottle is located near Oakland Tech High School, in an old building called W.C. Morse. This building couldn't be more Oakland and perfect for Blue Bottle, because there is no obnoxious Blue Bottle sign. You should really check out this location!



Cole's Coffee
Oh Cole's. This is my Dads favorite coffee place in the world. To someone who is not a coffee snob (a vanilla latte will do me just fine), this place smells like real coffee. My dad often gets this Ethiopian coffee bean, that is ground moments before its percolated. Honestly, it smells like tar, but my dad says that's how real coffee smells. Cole's brings an extremely diverse crowd to the Oakland/Berkeley boarder.

Peet's
I know Peet's is pretty much a chain, but did you know the original coffee shop was in Berkeley? With all of these popular coffee shops opening up around the Bay Area, are we able to steal the title of best coffee from Seattle? One of my favorite things about Peet's is that

Verve
Originally from Santa Cruz, Verve is making it's way all the way to SF and LA. Verve makes their own sweetener, and has a very beachy vibe. There aren't that many options but it sure is delicious.

Whats your favorite coffee place?

Topics to Avoid at Work

Monday, May 18, 2015

I think we have all had awkward conversations at work with a coworker. Moments when you wish you could walk away but don't want to come off as rude. Here are topics you should always avoid when talking with coworkers.

1. Wages - Don't ask people how much they make or how much they pay for rent. It's always awkward and will make you and the other person feel uncomfortable. This could potentially backlash on you, it could create a toxic work environment knowing someone makes more than you.

2. Personal Life - Don't sh!t where you eat. Keep personal things at home. Might be hard at first but if you wouldn't call and tell them on a Saturday afternoon, don't tell them at work.

3. Don't speak ill of coworkers - Someone frustrating you? Vent to a friend or someone who is removed from your work life. Feel the need to say something at work, handle it diplomatically. Contact HR, has a superior how to handle a tough situation. Go looking for resolutions instead of getting that person in trouble.

4. BBBB - In my sorority days we had the 4 B's that we did not discuss, this stood for Bible, Barack/Bush, Booze and Boys. We highly discouraged speaking about religion, politics, alcohol and boys so we can get to know who the girl was without preconceived notions of their background. Keeping conversations clear of the 4 B's creates a fail safe conversation and makes everyone feel at ease. There will be times when someone brings up a topic that just infuriates you to the point wehre you think it requires a response. Do your best to keep your composure and just let it go. You don't need to be right or prove yourself to a co-worker. Let them dig their own grave, hold true to your values by not sinking down to their level.

What other topics do you think you should avoid at work?

xColl

Tips to Pay off your Debt

While I am no financial expert, nor have I had to deal with extreme debt of loans. I have successfully managed to pay off a huge chunk of my student loans. I know the thought of graduation without a secure job seems scary; thankfully the 6 month grace period allows you to get settled before starting to chip away at the debt.

Here are some lessons I have learned while paying off my student loans.
 
1. Don't pay the minimum - I have increased my monthly student loan contributions by $50-100 depending on my current financial status. That is $25 more a week which equals out to roughly 5 trips to Starbucks, 1 dinner out with friend, 2 drinks at a bar (if you live in SF or LA). The first two months are a hard adjustment knowing you'll have to spend more, but if you calculate the long term interest on your full loans by increasing your minimum payment, you can probably save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand.

2. Find Alternates - Look at companies like SoFi that can lower your interest rate.

3. Eat In - Eating in and cooking at home can save you up to $300 a month!

4. Post Your Goals - Decorate a dry erase board and write your current Loans / Debt amount. Keep your goal somewhere easily accessible, and update it constantly. Reminding yourself you're making progress, and celebrating that progress makes paying off loans so much more fun!

5. Don't deprive yourself - Paying off loans or debt shouldn't be a punishment or stop you from living your life. Find free and cheap events to preoccupy your time. Concert in the park, rent books from the library, take a hike, etc. These type of things have been taken for granted. No need to spend $80 on a concert, or $20 on a new book.

6. Get down to the necessities - Ditch the cable and settle for internet and Hulu/Netflix, be conscious about your energy/water bill, reuse/donate/sell any unwanted items.

How do you cut down costs to increase your loan payments? I'd love to know!

xColl

Workplace Struggles: Part 2

You know that person at work who is just a downer? Who needs to one up you, or is just a grump? Do you notice how it effects your work, happiness and the culture of your workplace?

I know that person, and it makes work absolutely dreadful. Sundays are now sad days because you have to see that person tomorrow. I, personally, don't want to keep to myself at work. I want to establish a relationship with the people I see for 40+ hours a day. I want to care about them, laugh with them, and see them be successful because I want the same in return.

Then there is that person who you don't want anything to do with. That person who is gossipy, vindictive, kiss ass or downright mean. Those are the people you want to keep at arms length. Stay on their good side, and have as little as possible interaction with them. Talking smack about them only makes you just as bad and is not very attractive or ideal for a promotion. Wish them good morning/ to have a good weekend, but don't take an interest in their life outside of work. Not asking about what they did, or what they plan on doing keeps you away but by saying hello and making small talk will keep things professional but minimize the BS.

If the person is being vindictive, rude or puts you in an uncomfortable position its best to be tactful with problem solving. Don't stoop to their level, rise above, stay professional, and don't take anything personally. If someone needs to make you feel bad about yourself; smile, nod and just walk away. Keep topics regarding business and then vent to friends (not coworkers!). If you see someone being put down, try and find a positive spin on it or praise them for something they do right. Being that person who helps uplift people is not only good for the soul but good for company morale.

For that coworker that one ups you, or feels the need to. Simply just congratulate them. No need to fuss over them, even though that is probably what they want. It's hard not to get sucked into the BS but its just work. You know what you did was great and don't forget that. At least you're not so self absorbed that you need constant acknowledgement from others. Your self praise is the only daily reminder you need.

The key to being a successful coworker are quite simple. Keep a smile on your face, have a great attitude, take an interest in (most) of your coworkers lives, find common bonds with coworkers, always be willing to help, be a team player, and do what is best for the company.

There is a line between having a good work place relationship and being best friends. I am not looking for my co-workers to become my best friends. When I was straight out of college, I expected that work was the place to make friends. While that is possible, it really depends on the person and the workplace environment. You're there to work and be successful. When times are hard or mistakes are made whatever happens at work (lay-offs, reprimands etc) should not be taken personally. It makes it harder to make tough business decision when you care about that person.

I certainly have a hard time not taking work things personally. I believe this is because I don't have a family of my own, so my number one priority is my job. I put my whole heart into it and make it a reflection of me.


How do you deal with difficult coworkers? What is your best tactic? How do you keep a good attitude at work?


xColl

Workplace Struggles: Part 1

Thursday, May 14, 2015


After reflecting on my new job, my level of happiness and the struggle I overcame at my last job I have decided to start writing about careers. I’ll post about a different topic each day or every other day. Today I wanted to start out writing about unhappiness at work and how to overcome it.

 
Maybe it’s my generation, but the feeling of having to be somewhere for 40+ hours a day when you absolutely hate it seems like a waste of talent and life. Now, there are temporary situations when work is tough, stressful, under resourced etc.  These are situations where you see the end in sight, where you are working toward a goal with an end result. Fully knowing the situation will change and for the better. If you know that you won't lose your sanity for that duration; I believe like it's best to stick with it and power through it. I feel this shows dedication, loyalty and a great worker.
 
Here are some ways in which I have found helpful to survive stressful work periods.
 
First, I evaluate the situation. See how long this stressful period might be, for those accountants out there that stressful period is usually January through May 15th. Five months of long nights, unreasonable requests from your superiors, lunches at your desk, not seeing the sun all day etc. I suggest you make a calendar and start planning out your Sundays for "me days". Start with easy Sunday activities and ramp up the "treats" as you get closer to your end date.
 
The most important key to surviving stressful times at work is exercising. You may feel at times that you don't need or have time to exercise but eventually it'll get to you. You'll become more stressed, more irritable, lack energy and focus. I highly suggest talking to your boss and letting her/him know that everyday between 12 and 12:30 you'll be on a walk. This will help you maintain focus and dedication at work. It will help break up the day and get your blood flowing. Convince a co-worker to tag along too, or download a book on Audible. Your work will still be there when you get back.
 
Don't make excuses that you don't have time, people will judge you etc. You and others will see the change in your productivity and will seriously help you keep your sanity. I also recommend working out in the am before work, or after work. Is it too late or too early to go to the gym? Youtube just became your best friend. Youtube has amazing workouts that you can do right from the comfort of your home. I personally love Tone It Up, Blogilates, and yoga videos.
 
The first two Sundays you spend your whole day doing outside activities. BYOB (Bring your own Brunch) to a park with friends, exploring a new hike, trying a new workout class (hello Classpass!), going on an Urban Hike with stops at random bars, reading outside etc. Get up and don't stay inside. While it is tempting to spend your Sunday being lazy on the couch, this will eventually make you feel like you're always inside. Plus the majority of your job is probably spent staring at a computer! This will help keep your sanity since some of you don't see daylight during the day.
 
Next, I would suggest booking a mini spa day for your next milestone. Get your nails done, get a massage (Massage Envy is inexpensive and worth the money, also Reflexology places are cheap and get the job done too), book a facial etc. 
 
Start planning and booking events that will give you things to look forward to.
Here are some ideas that have benefitted me, and activities I've loved.
  • Day trip to a new city
  • Dinner Party w/ friends (potluck style or takeout aka barely any cooking or clean up)
  • Wine Tasting (or create your own)
  • Be a tourist for the day
  • Run a 5k
  • Take a cooking class
  • Visit open houses
  • DIY Project (finally use that Pinterest board)
  • Plant and Garden
  • Go Kayaking or a new outdoor sport
  • Plan a weekend away (VBRO, AirBNB, HomeAway)
  • Go to a local book store and pick out a book (without recommendations)
  • Volunteer
  • Anything without your work phone!

What fun activities do you like to help you escape from work? How do you manage your work stress?

Next I'll talk about more ways to find happiness at work, how to create a positive workplace environment and when it's time to start looking for a new job.

xColl

I'm Back!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hello!

This past month or so has been a wild one. I left my stressful job for a new one in the healthcare industry. I've been adjusting pretty well to the new environment but the first few weeks are always awkward trying to find some work friends.

Today the boyfriend and I ventured to Monterey Bay Aquarium but not before we stopped for breakfast at The Buttery in Santa Cruz. The Aquarium was awesome and surprisingly really fun! they had some great exhibits about Tentacles and we even got to see Cuttlefish!

We finished off our day at Carmel-by-the-Sea which was absolutely gorgeous!


I'll be posting more this next coming week, but I'm excited to get back in the swing of posting.


xColl



Seattle, Washington

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I was pretty relieved when I found out that Valentines Day and Presidents day fell on the same weekend. My boyfriend and I took the opportunity to take an extra two days off and get the heck out of dodge! We went on whirlwind vacation to Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler.Today I'm focusing in on Seattle.

After an early wake up call for my first pilates class, the boyfriend and ventured over to Oakland to catch our flight. Luckily, the flight to Seattle was a quick one. We had a total of two nights in Seattle but those nights were bookends of our trip. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, which has 5 star service and gorgeous decor. Our floor was a beautiful Tiffany's blue, with some of the most beautifully detailed carpets.

When we visits cities, the boyfriend and I tend to avoid planning the touristy things and try and live like a local. Our first stop was to head to a local bar and get the city details from the bartender. This is very challenging for me because I like to plan, plan, plan. Once I finally let go of my comfort zone, I tend to feel a lot less stressed and have more fun. We headed to Sun Liquor, a bar recommended by Anthony Bourdain. Unfortunately, being in the vacation mindset, we didn't realize that the Bar opened at 5... It was 3, so we had to figure out something else to do. We stumbled upon the cutest coffee shop, chatted and ate donuts. We then wandered around Capitol Hill and stumbled upon the Starbucks Reserve.
{starbucks reserve}

This place was crazy cool! The roasters, the tasting tables, the details had me wandering around for 30 minutes! Being the architecture / interior design nut that I am, I was in absolute awe at the beautiful industrial design of the store. The fact that Starbucks had steel handrails covered in this beautiful coffee-ish tan leather had me squeal with excitement.

We moved on from the Reserve and started just walking around Seattle, where we stopped to enjoy a beautiful sunset behind the Space Needle. Luckily, we found another Sun Liquor and indulged in their hand crafted cocktails. Sun Liquor also distills their own rum, gin and vodka, so of course we chose our selection off of that. The people in Seattle are very kind, very hipster-ish but really awesome.
{the famous mai tai w/ distillery equipment in the background}

We of course had to hit up the touristy by beautiful Pike's Place. At night it's a little bit sketchier than  the pictures, but it's not that bad.
{pike's place}

After hopping around to a few different bars, we opted for a less fancy dinner and decided to grab appetizers and another drink at this little bar we walked passed call Bookstore Bar & Cafe.We ordered the house-made fettuccine and it was to die for. I would seriously fly back to Seattle just to have this dish. It IS that good. This bar is really intimate and kind of romantic. The drinks are hand crafted and really delicious. Lat

For breakfast we stopped at Toulouse Petit. This NOLA inspired breakfast bistro is rightfully claimed one of the best brunch spots in the USA. They have something here for everyone. He had a eggs benny and I had a scrambled hash. This is a meal I would come back for, but be sure to visit during the week. It gets pretty packed!













                   

Office Outfits

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I am very excited to share that I recently have accepted a new position at a different company. While I am very sad to leave my current co-workers I am looking forward to a new adventure and exploring other areas of construction.

With this new job, I'll need to step up my office attire. Being in the construction industry, the dress code is pretty relaxed. I tend to wear a nice blouse, jeans, boots or flats. My make up is simple and my hair is presentable.

I've started to look online to slacks and dressier outfits. Here are some great websites I've found so far. Where do you shop for work clothes?

The Limited  - The Scandal Collection is amazing! Plus, today everything except Scandal is 50% off!
Nordstrom - This one is obvious, they have everything!
Banana Republic - Preppy Chic and completely classic.
Gap - A little more relaxed look but great clothes
J. Crew - Preppy and Classic office attire
The Loft - Trendy and Conservative
Talbots - Geared towards the slightly older crowd, this store has wonderful office essentials

Please share your favorite stores!

xox
Coll

R&R

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I spent this past weekend in Arizona with my boyfriend watching the Giant's and A's during Spring Training. After two days of excessive drinking and junk food eating, we spent a lovely day and half detoxing at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch.

I first visited this glorious resort in the 4th grade with my best friend Danielle and her family. For about 15 years I wanted to go back, and I finally decided to make it work.

Upon arriving at the resort in the early afternoon, we were greeted with delicious pink margaritas and headed down to the "adults only" pool. The weather in Arizona couldn't have been more perfect. It was in the high 80's which made lounging by the pool with coconut mojitos complete paradise. I finally found the most gorgeous bathing suit that fits someone as "chesty" as I am. This one has no under-wires either! (Stay tuned for the post later this week) Needless to say, I felt great sporting this bikini at the pool.

The Hyatt is a perfect vacation for a couples trip or a family vacation. With over 5 pools, a hot tub and a water slide it is a sure fit for anyone. While the kids are at the pool, mom can go to the spa and day can play around of golf, or a couple can indulge in a couples massage. The Hyatt Camp has activities for the kids to keep them occupied and out of your hair all day!

For dinner we walked down the way to this little mall area with an Authentic Italian restaurant complete with Italian imported wines. We started off  with 3 different types of bruschetta (pronounced bru-sket-ta) that made me crave for more tomatoes.  The pizza was perfect and the pasta was fresh! It was a pleasant dining experience and kind of romantic too.

While I'm sad to not be laying by the pool today, I'm glad I got a little R&R with my main squeeze. Now I'm counting down the days until I turn 26.


{adults only}

{napping under some palms}

{paradise}




Tory Tory Tory

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

We all know how much I idolize and adore Tory Burch, so when I found out she came out with a new dinnerware I was delighted. I love that she is branching out into different areas of decor. When I saw this picture I was instantly reminded of spring but in a romantic sense. I love everything about the different shades of green with hits of white. The fog in the background reminds me of a Romantic Jane Austen novel.

What do you think?


Desert Chic

I'm off to the Desert this weekend for some baseball and R&R. I stumbled upon Piperlimes "Desert Chic" and found my ideal outfit. While I can't afford a whole new wardrobe many of these items are easily replaceable with ones in my closet. I currently can't resist the Rebecca Minkoff Bag or the skinny Giles and Brother bracelet. I feel like this outfit is perfect from day to night.


Classpass

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sorry for being MIA this past few weeks. I have a few posts I'll post this weekend.



So, these past two weeks I have been so busy working out! I recently joined this amazing thing called Classpass. For $99 a month you can any participating studio up to 3 times each billing period. I have found so many amazing classes and really have increased my strength and endurance. I first took a pilates class, and instantly fell in love with it. Holy cow did my thighs hurt from "jumpboard"! I've tried different yoga studios, cycling, bar and my most recent obsession 30/30. 30/30 is offered at Core Studio in Palo Alto, it is 30 minutes of stationary road biking, and 30 minutes of INTENSE core work on the mega reformer. I wasn't able to work out as hard as I could but I am not giving up, I'll eventually be able to slam through the whole class!

If you're looking to step up your fitness routine, I highly suggest trying out Claspass. Exploring new classes can be scary but Classpass makes it fun, you get to switch up your routine so your body is always being challenged.

Check it out! I know you'll love it!
http://www.classpass.com/buynow?utm_content=11426146831
Click this link and you'll receive $25 off your first month!

xo
Coll

The Countdown

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My 26th birthday is a month away; to say this year flew by is a gross understatement. Looking back on this year its easy to be discouraged by not meeting my fitness goals or new years resolutions. I need to stop focusing on the negatives and realize the positives. For the first time in my life, I am surround by amazing people. I (knock on wood) have little to no contact with toxic people bringing me down or causing drama in my personal life. I have created a group of friendships that uplift and support me each day. I'm really happy that I have found such amazing friends and that they teach me each and every day to be a better friend, to keep loving and being myself.

To all of my supporters who put up with my antics and whining, you make me truly happy and that is the best gift I could receive... Well that, and an mint chocolate chip ice cream cake from Baskin Robins or anything from Tory Burch. (HINT HINT) :P


Sunday Reflections

Monday, February 9, 2015

{Sundays are for cleaning brushes}

{My 3 favorite recent purchases}


Two Nights in Montauk

Friday, February 6, 2015


I've always wanted to go to the Hampton's; to me, it seems ooze with elegance and glamour - a playground for the rich and famous. When it came time to plan my BFF's bachelorette party (she lives in Hoboken), the Hampton's seemed like an obvious choice for this California girl. Unfortunately, this idea of spending a weekend with the rich and famous really requires you to at least be rich or famous. With the Hampton's out of the question, we began venturing a little North to this quaint little beach town called Montauk. With great reviews from NY transplants, we decided to book our trip.

The drive from Hoboken, through New York City, Times Squares, and the Hamptons (swoon) is one of the most diverse road trips I have ever taken. I found out that The Hampton's are called the Hampton's because there are multiple cities with the word "Hamptons" in it, i.e. Southhampton, East Hampton and Bridgehampton. This is possibly, one of the most romantic and dreamy drives, surrounded by beautiful landscaping, gorgeous homes, small little towns with the chicest shops. Pedestrians dressed in Vineyard Vines, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren; each looking like they stepped out of a magazine.

Once we arrived in Montauk, we settled into our little hotel which sat across the street from the beach. Even though the sky was slightly overcast, the weather was warm as was the water. This was a little confusing to a Californian who is used to 70 degree beaches with 40 degree waters (I'm exaggerating). While we were pleasantly surprised the lack of people out for dinner on a Friday night, the nights out at the bar did not disappoint. There is generally an older crowd of folks unlike the recently-turned-21 groups that I encounter in SF. The people were extremely nice, but liked to party hard. We were in Montauk the weekend someone spread a rumor around NY that there was a Rose shortage (OH NO!). Needless to say, Rose was being poured every where. I was even a victim in a Rose-water fight, and so say there was a shortage of Rose was a gross understatment. Bartenders at the Surf Lodge were more interested in dancing and throwing drinks on people to serve us drinks, but hey, it was part of the experience.

We hit up bars like Sloppy Tuna - fun but things got sloppy, The Point - a bust but fun with my girls, and Memory Motel - incredibly dive-y/ a shit-hole but try it out (I would only drink the canned beer). Memory Motel was the inspiration for the Rolling Stones song, when they spent time in Montauk.

During the day we played Kubb (the ultimate beach game), lounged on the porch, explored the light house, saw fellas fishing, and ventured around Lake Montauk (not an actual lake).  What is great about Gosmans/Lake Montauk is the fishing community is absolutely thriving there. It's so interesting and fun to see the boats sail in and out, plus the little touristy shops are just adorable. You can't help but peak inside for some tacky magnet (I am a collector!), or a t-shirt.You can't leave Montauk without a lobster roll!

Montauk is an amazing beach town, and I can't wait to visit again. The people are wonderful, the beaches are gorgeous, food is delightful and fully packed with great activities for all ages. Montauk left me wanting more summers here and more trips to light houses.

On our way back to Hoboken, we stopped at this very cute roadside winery and downtown Amagansett. These towns are filled with upstate charm and elegance. You sure won't be disappointed!



 {Tourist Trap at Lake Montauk}

 {Morning Beach Walk}

 {Daily Catch}

 {Secret Fishing Spot around the Lighthouse}

{Lighthouse and the Moon}

 {Sloppy Tuna - perfect name for a abr}

{Obligatory pic of a Lobster Roll}

 {Wine Tasting in the Hamptons - great whites!}

Places to Stay
Oceanside Resort
Surf Lodge
Rushmeyers

Places to Eat
South Edison
St. Stevens Green
The Coast
Gosman's
Lunch

Nightlife
The Surf Lodge
Sloppy Tuna
The Point
Navy Beach
Rushmeyers
Memory Motel

Best Beaches
Ditch Plains
Main Town Beach

Tourist Attractions
Montauk Point Lighthouse
Ronjo
The Village


Have you been to Montauk? Any places you can reccomend?
xColl

Topshop Snow Bunny

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I'm almost a week away from my vacation! I'm starting to think about what to pack. I haven't seen the snow in about 12 years, and the fact that California hasn't had a real winter in a few years; I need to update my closet. Here are my favorite winter wardrobes from Topshop! What are you winter necessities? 



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Stop to Smell the Roses


Have you noticed that the prices of flowers spike around Valentines Day? Here are some ideas where you can give her Roses but without the bouquet! She'll be sure to love these amazing indulgences.


{image via}




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Valentines Day Gift: For Her Edition

Tuesday, January 27, 2015




1.Your Highness Container from Lulu and Georgia - Very versatile piece, can store little trinkets or turn it into a vase! $90
2. The Juice Vinous Vertias by Jay McInerney - Gifting a book to help broaden her exposure to the great wines, maybe follow the book with a wine tasting class! $14
3. Classic Wine Decanter from William Sonoma - Start exploring your wine palate by playing with wines in this decanter. $70
4.  Mini Railroad Spike by Giles and Brother - I've longed for this bracelet for months, there is something about the balance of masculinity and femininity that catches my eye. $60
5. Two of a Kind, His and Her Highball Glasses by Kate Spade - Ideal for the bar cart! $50
6. Posy Heart Jewelry Dish by Kate Spade  - Perfect for her bedside table or next to her sink! $20
7. Renewing Rose Massage and Body Oil by Aromatherapy Associates  - Help your partner destress with a romantic rose massage. $66
8.  Rose Candle from Henri Bendel - Whenever I am looking to buy reasonably priced candles, I am never satisfied with the scent, it's either too pungent or doesn't smell like the description. This candle smells pretty spot on to a rose and fills the room with a romantic scent. $30
9. Estelle Teddie by Eberjay - Perfect for a romantic night. $88

Valentines Day for Her: Monogrammed Edition

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Recently married, engaged, or soon to be engaged? Skip the flowers, chocolates and hearts. Surprise her with her new (or soon to be new) monogram! Here are 8 of my favorite monogrammed items that would be perfect for valentines day




1. Gisele Short PJ Set by Eberyjey - monogramming is separate but this pj's are worth it. $97
2. Monogrammed Flatware at Neiman Marcus - While this may seem a little odd, but ever since I saw monogrammed flatware at Hearst Castle, I have been dreaming of a set that I can call my own. $200
3. Sarah Chloe Leigh Personalized ID Necklace at Bauble Bar - Type up to 17 characteristics for a special date, time, place or name. $129
4. Modern Tote by Mark and Graham - This bag is perfect for any weekend day trip, whether you are going to the beach, to the park for a picnic or to the farmers market. This bag is durable and very fashionable. $129
5. Monogrammed Iphone Case by Pretty Smitten $45
6. Stationary by Paper Source - Who ever said Thank you notes were out of style? Every girl (and boy) needs to have some empty cards ready at a moments notice.100 for $94
7. Clutch w/ Gold Monogram from GiGi New York - I have been eyeing this bag for sometime now, and I believe it can be paired with almost any outfit because of its versatility. $165
8. Towels from Pottery Barn - I was 9 when I recieved my first monogrammed towel, it was so my mom could track who left their towel on the ground. Despite having to be responsibile for my towel on the floor, I find the monogrammed towel gives those who share a bathroom some personal space. $10-29.

Engagement Season

Engagement Season is still holding out strong. As fewer and fewer engagements are trickling in on Facebook and Instagram, it's hard not to imagine your own engagement and lust after gorgeous rings.
I recently stumbled upon this website called Trumpet and Horn, which sells rings that fall into the 7 major time periods. Albeit the prices can be pretty steep, its fun to "oh and awe" the different trends from past decades even centuries. While some of them aren't really my style, I can't help but fall in love with the beauty and characteristics of each unique ring. I admire that this company provides great pictures of rings, educates you about diamonds, and even sorts the rings out by era.

Recently I have found myself eyeing colored stones for engagements rings. There is something about Kate Middleton's ring that breaks the traditional diamond but instead carries on the family stone and history. Diamond engagement rings didn't become popular until the 1930's and about 80% of the engagement rings were diamonds by the 1990's thanks to De Beers! Ever heard of the slogan "Diamonds are Forever"? That's that tag line that changed the engagement game after the Depression and wars.


I have to say that I am loving these emerald engagement rings! Which one do you like the best?


These days I feel like there is a tremendous amount of pressure via Facebook and Instagram to have the "best ring" or "mine will be better than hers" attitude. I believe while some competition is healthy, this kind of attitude takes away from the reason if this proposal which is a commitment to a life together. Do you get that feeling too?

What do you look for in an engagement ring? Has your style changed over the years?
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MLK Day

Monday, January 19, 2015

"If you can't fly, then run,
If you can't run, then walk,
If you can't walk, then crawl,
but whatever you do, 
you have to keep moving forward."
~Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day is always held on the third Monday of January which is usually around his birthday, January 15th. President Reagan declared this day a holiday in 1983, yet all of the 50 states didn't observe the holiday until 2000. While Martin Luther King is one of the forefathers in the Civil Rights movement, we can't forget others who have helped lead America onto a path of equal rights.

Since I am working today, I decided that tonight I will celebrate MLK Day by reading more about him and some other Civil Rights Activists. I plan to read about Rosa Parks, Betty Friedan, Harry Hay, John Peters Humphrey and Eleanor Roosevelt. Now, I picked some of these people at random, from names that seemed interesting, or had names I've never heard of. For Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt, these two women I have studied about in school. However, I think it'll be much more interesting and possibly have a larger impact reading about them again but years later.

What are you doing for MLK day?

                            "The time is always right to do what is right" ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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Hearst Castle

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


The boyfriend and I kicked off the new year with a trip to Hearst Castle. This is our second time visiting the castle together and so far, each visit is better than the next.

The boyfriend, (here on out referred to as C), opted out of our midway cocktail break at Nepenthe  along Big Sur because everyone driving Hwy 1 had the same idea. We decided to grab lunch at the local restaurant adjacent to Hearst Castle. Since the last time we visited, the place changed quite a bit. They took out the funky random candy, sodas, and beer fridge and added a pretty nice mahogany wine bar. I know, I know, doesn't sound too appeasing. At first glance, I felt like Hearst will slap their  name on anything. However, I was completely wrong. We bought a bottle of the Hearst Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, and the only thing I regret, was not buying more bottles!

C & I settled on the kitchen and cottage tour, that also included a trip to the amazing and very secure, wine cellar. Fun fact: there are still full  bottles of wine in there today! However, since this is a government owned property; the Government owns the bottles but the Hearst Family owns the content inside because the Government cannot own alcohol. Pretty neat!

When touring the kitchen, we both were overcome with serious kitchen envy. This place had a rotisserie chicken section, tons of flat tops and gas ranges. I can't forget to mention the hood over their culinary cooking stations. I've never seen a range hood so amazing and huge before!

Along the cottage part, we were weaving in and out of guest bedrooms and bathrooms where in each room was getting better than the next. What I really liked about these cottages is that they have a communal living room, so when you would walk out of your bedroom to sit and chat with some amazing minds like Winston Churchill, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo and many more!

Since it's winter and the sun sets earlier, be sure to take a later tour. After your guided tour, you are allowed to roam around the outside property and check out the pools. Be sure to stick around for the sunset!



 
Kick off your adventure with some Cab Sauv.

Loving these old bottles.

One of the guest cottages.

  View of Hearst's Property from inside the sitting room of a cottage.

 
Kitchen Appliances

Julia's "Office Trailer"

Sunset Over San Simeon

Exploring the Grounds and Loving the Light Fixtures

Moon and Sunset over the Mountains and Envious Tennis Court.


The reason why I am so enchanted by Hearst Castle is because my personal hero and favorite Architect Julia Morgan was the mastermind behind this great architectural creation. Growing up in Oakland, being the only women in her school classes and having a passion for architecture is why I've admired her so much. I forgot to mention, she was also a sorority girl!

Start planning your trip!
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Alternative Milkshake

Friday, January 9, 2015

This year I am consciously trying to make better eating choices and being more active. We've all heard the phrase "abs are made in the kitchen", well so is pizza and cake. For me, my taste buds and frankly, laziness overpowers me in the kitchen. One of my new years resolutions is to master 3 signature meals and getting creative in the kitchen.

Last night I was craving something sweet, I scoured my apartment for some sort of chocolate or candy only to come up short. I decided to make a smoothie but tried something different. I blended frozen strawberries and almond milk to create this glorious slushy. With a splash of vanilla extract, it became the healthiest alternative milkshake I have ever eaten. 

To make this delightful dessert, use 1 cup of almond milk, throw in 4 frozen strawberries, and a splash of vanilla extract. Voila! You have a perfect dessert under 100 calories! Make more and save it for tomorrows treat or even freeze it for a popsicle. 

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iMessage Takeover

Currently, I'm attempting to detox from my texting addiction. I admitted I had a problem when I tried ending a work e-mails by double tapping the space bar and became confused when a period didn't populate.  Here are some things I plan on doing to minimize the time on my phone.

1. Check my e-mail at a computer - I send e-mails ALL day for my job, but when it comes to personal e-mails I prefer my phone. Sending e-mails through a computer,  not only helps my e-mail etiquette but will allow me to not get "text neck" as I am so worried about posture.

2. Check social media at a computer - Consciously checking social media only at a computer will most likely result in less social media. Sounds a little odd, but I often find myself  reaching for my phone if I have a free minute to see what is going on on Instagram or Facebook and then realize I have been on my phone for 10 minutes. I think I am missing out on a lot by burying my face into my phone any free moment I get when I should really be enjoying the world.

3. Bathroom with no phone - I know this is gross and kind of taboo to talk about but A LOT of people, including myself brings their phone into the bathroom. There are ladies at my office building who sit in the bathroom for 15 minutes (not joking) scrolling on their phone.

4. Don't Text and Drive - Everyone says it, not everyone does it. The PSA for "It Can Wait" is true, things can wait. While the PSA is heavily focused on the safety of yourself and others, it brings up the point that if it was an emergency or something that "can't wait" - freaking call them already! I can chat on the phone while driving and fully have my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. I pledge to CALL people when driving (I'm looking to you, Siri, for help) instead of texting. I may be hypocritical but I really am going to try and break the habit.

Those were 4 steps to try and stop my phone from becoming an appendage of my body. I'll keep you posted how it goes. Do you have any great ideas or tips I can adopt?

xColl

Hello Twenty Fifteen!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

After debating for a week, I have decided to share my New Years Resolutions on my Blog. Last year I did not achieve ANY of my new years resolutions. I set goals for myself that were not easily attainable, and frankly not fair. Losing a set amount of pounds doesn't resolute to being healthy. Additionally, the resolution of "read more" doesn't motivate, what I should have said is "Read Two Classic Novels", that would have been easier attainable and more specific to what I really wanted to come out of the resolution, which was to open myself. Last year I challanged myself to "eat more fruits and veggies", which is wonderful, and I think I did a pretty good job, but how do I show that? Here is what I resolute to doing in 2015

1. Pay Off $4,000 of Student Loans
2. Be Active at least 3 Times a Week (Challenge me on Fitbit!)
3. Start Investing
4. Learn some French
5. Limit/Eliminate Alcohol Consumption during the Weekdays
6. Master 3 New Meals in the Kitchen
7. Spend More Time Catching up with Family and Friends Far Away
8. Practice Yoga
9. Practice Patience
10. Clean one thing in my apartment every day (i.e. table, sink, toilet, tub, sheets, rug, etc)
11. Find ways to help others in any way possible (and journal about it)


Rounding out 2014

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Looking Back at 2014

New Apartment, New Furniture {January}
 New Orleans Oldest Bar {February}
 Street Signs in NOLA {February}
 Project Starting at Apple {February}
New Bedroom Furniture {February}
Cooking Lobster for Valentines Day {February}
 Oyster Shucking at Hogs Island {March}
Baseball has started {April}
 Celebrating 1 year with Him with some Yurman {May}
 Best Anniversary Cake from Gary Danko {May}
Mary Graduated College {May}
 Summer is upon San Jose - note the 80+ temp {May}
Memorial Weekend in Aptos {May}
 Urban Hiking in SF {June}

Typical Day on the Job {June}
 Exploring  the Beauty of new and old SF with Allie {June}

Wine Tasting for Independence Day {July}
Exploring little California Beach Towns {August}

Bachelorette in Montauk {September}
 Wine Tasting in the Hamptons {September}
 Cheryl's Wedding {October}
 Most Beautiful Wedding Weekend at Leonard Lake Reserve {October}
 Beating my Previous PR for a Half Marathon {October}

4th Row Seats watching the Sharks {November}
 Crabby Christmas Eve {December}
 Walking the Bridge with the Family {December}
End of the year Lunch with Dad at Clove and Hoof {December}

 Happy 2015! Warm wishes to you and your loved ones. Here's to an even better year!
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