What to Give...the Glamazon

Kate Moss via Pinterest 

Kate Moss via Pinterest 

What to Give...the Tech Obsessed

holiday 2016 gift guide tech

What to Give...the Beauty Maven

2016 holiday gift guide beauty

What to Give...the Adventurer

Jacket: Patagonia | Pants: Zella | Boots: North Face 

Jacket: Patagonia | Pants: Zella | Boots: North Face 

Black Friday Sales

Black Friday Sales 2016

NORDSTROM: Extra 20% Off Sale Items

SHOPBOP: Up to 25% Off Sitewide

LOFT: 50% Off Sitewide

ANN TAYLOR: 50% Off Sitewide

CHICWISH: 25% Off Sitewide

TORY BURCH: 30% Off Sitewide

POTTERY BARN: 20% Off w/Free Shipping

EXPRESS: 50% Off Sitewide

JCREW: 40% Off Sitewide

ASOS: 30% Off Sitewide (use code THANKFUL30 - otherwise you'll only get 20% off)     

Shop my Picks

#BeInspired with Sarah Lai Label

Sarah Lai Label Adriana Jumpsuit

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of shooting for Sarah Lai Label's #BeInspired Campaign. If you haven't heard of Sarah Lai yet, you're about to because she's one of Asia's most promising young designers and a pretty inspiring woman herself! 

After several years as a private wealth manager, Sarah decided to pursue her childhood love of fashion by enrolling at Central Saint Martins.  She designed her first collection while working full time in finance and launched her eponymous label in 2013. Known for her feminine and tailored aesthetic, Sarah quickly became a favorite choice for socialites and celebrities looking for innovative yet elegant clothing.  In her own words:

I design for the modern woman who stays true to herself-her style and values. A woman who’s confident, who recognizes her strengths and weaknesses, and desires to be attractive.

Shop my picks here

Follow Sarah's adventures  on IG @sarahlailabel !

7 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT VALENTINE'S DAY

Flower Market at Selfridges in London

Flower Market at Selfridges in London

  1. The word "lace" comes from the Latin word laques, meaning "to snare or net".  It is thought that lace is used as a decoration for Valentine's Day to indicate an intention to capture the heart!
  2. In the Medieval times, girls ate specific foods on Valentine's Day which were believed to give them dreams of their future spouse or lover.  No word on what those foods might be.
  3. Have a fur baby for your Valentine? You're not alone! 22% of consumers spend money on their pets for Valentine's Day.
  4. Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine's Day edition box of chocolates in 1868!
  5. If you're expecting a proposal, you're in good company.  According to CNN, 6 million people are either planning or expecting a proposal on Valentine's Day.
  6. Pop! Fizz! Clink!  Americans spend about $8.2 million USD on Champagne for Valentine's Day every year. 
  7. Nearly 200 million roses are sold for Valentine's Day each year in the U.S. alone, we hope you get your share!

Happy Valentine's Day to our friends from all over the world!

Red Velvet Brownies, A Galentine's Day Treat

Valentine's Day may be about love, but who says it has to be all about the boys? Our fabulous girlfriends deserve some appreciation too and these delicious red velvet brownies (and a bottle of rose') are the perfect way to show it!

Ingredients

4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

2 large egg whites

1/4 cup sugar

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

Red Velvet Swirl Brownie Ingredients

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Apply non stick to a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and butter then microwave for for 2 minutes, stopping at 30 second intervals to stir the contents of the bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth then add 2 cups of sugar. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, whisking until blended before each addition. Stir in the food coloring and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Gently add 1 1/2 cups of flour as well as the salt.  Stir until all ingredients are blended then poor the batter into the prepared pan. 

Using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining 2 eggs (whites only) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour, beat until smooth. Drop the cream cheese mixture onto the batter and spread with a knife.

Kitchen Aid Mixer Cream Cheese Brownies
Red velvet swirl brownies
red velvet swirl brownies

Place pan in the oven, bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool then cut brownies into squares, remove from pan, and enjoy!

Brownies in oven
Photos by Hailey Wilson of Verse and Venture Photography  

Photos by Hailey Wilson of Verse and Venture Photography

 



Vegetable Dumpling Recipe

If you're searching for a delicious recipe for your Lunar New Year celebrations, look no further than these delectable vegetarian dumplings.  They're quick to make and easy to serve, making them a great addition to your next dinner party!

Ingredients

1 package wonton wrappers

3 tablespoons oil, plus 1/4 Cup

1 large onion

1 1/2 cups cabbage, finely shredded

1 1/2 cups carrots, finely shredded

1 cup chives, finely chopped

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons dry sherry

2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

salt, to taste

chili paste, to taste

How To:

  1. Place a large skillet on the stove at medium high heat, add 3 tablespoons oil and all of the ginger.  Heat for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add the onions and stir-fry until translucent (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add the carrots and cabbage, stir fry for another 2 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  3. Transfer everything to a large mixing bowl and wait for it to cool.  You can place the bowl in the refrigerator to speed up the process.
  4. Once things have cooled, add the chopped chives, sesame oil, dry sherry, pepper, soy sauce, sugar, and salt to taste. 
  5. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup oil as well as the chili paste (skip this step if you don't enjoy spice)
  6. Clear a clean area to assemble the dumplings.  
  7. Pour a small bowl of water and set it to the side.  
  8. Lay the dumpling wrappers out one at a time, use your fingers to moisten the wraper than drop 1 1/2-2 spoonfuls of vegetables in the center.  
  9. Fold the wrap over on itself, wet your fingers in the bowl then use them to seal the dumplings by lightly pressing along the edges.
  10. Once the dumplings are assembled, you can cook them by heating a small amount of oil in the pan and lightly frying them.  You can also cook them in a bamboo steamer if you're looking for a healthier option, both ways produce delicious dumplings.

This post was created in collaboration with Hailey Wilson of Verse and Venture Photography, you can see more of her work here. 

 

Everything You Need To Know About Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Lion Dance

Kung hei fat choy! The Year of the Fire Monkey is officially upon us.  Chinese New  Year celebrates the year gone by and the fresh possibilities for the year ahead.  It is a time to be spent with loved ones and is the cause of great celebrations all over the world.  Traditions and superstitions abound during this auspicious time so keep reading for tips on how to have a prosperous new year!

  • Cleaning house, washing clothes, and cutting hair should all be done before the New Year in order to rid oneself of the evil spirits and bad luck from the previous year, then to prevent wiping/trimming away one's newly accumulated luck.
  • Decorate your home with red lanterns and "Fu", the character for luck
  • Look out monkeys! According to Chinese tradition, those born under the zodiac sign as the year's designated animal will have a particularly difficult year and should lay low to avoid trouble. 
  • Get ready to feast! Eating is a huge part of the Lunar New Year celebration and each dish is chosen for its auspicious properties, many of which are based on homophones.  For example, fish sounds like the word for "good luck". Mandarin oranges stand for success, pomelos bring wealth, celery wisdom, and plums a sharp mind.  Long noodles and peaches symbolize longevity. Dumplings, rice cakes, and sweets are also customary.
  • Wear new underwear.  Out with the old, in with the new! Chinese New Year is a time for fresh starts and new underwear (especially in Red) is considered to bring more luck.
  • Give Lai See.  Those who are married must stuff red envelopes with cash to hand out to their unmarried friends, family, and coworkers. 
  • Avoid using sharp objects, hard items are believed to bring hardship to the New Year. 
  • Light it up! Fireworks scare away evil spirits.  It is considered especially lucky to be the first person to light them.
  • Gather with friends and family, this is a holiday to be spent with those you love most.

10 Ways to Destress Right Now

1. Unplug- Did you know that the average person checks their phone more than 150 times per day?  This context stream of calls, texts, emails, and social media notifications makes it impossible to unwind, it decreases our ability to focus and can leave our brains in a constant state of anticipation and anxiety.  Making a conscious effort to unplug for at least one hour per day has been shown to decrease anxiety as well as increasing our ability to focus.

2. Draw a bath-A warm bath can ease muscle tensions, leave your skin more moisturized, and can also stimulate Melatonin production leading to a better nights sleep.

3. Take a nature walk-Studies have shown that people with limited access to green spaces have higher incidences of anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems.  People who spent time outdoors, whether in their own yards or a public park, were shown to have immediately decreased their levels of stress hormones compared to those who had not recently been outside.

4. Read a book-Reading a book for as little as 6 minutes can reduce stress hormones by up to 68%.  Psychologists believe the focus required to immerse yourself in a story creates an active distraction from tensions in your muscles and heart, it has also been shown to increase empathy. 

5. Declutter-Clutter breeds anxiety.  If you're feeling overwhelmed by stuff, start by focusing on a single space, eliminating any objects that are unnecessary or don't bring you joy then organize the rest. Read Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" to help get you started. 

6. Cuddle with a pet-The act of petting a furry friend release Endorphins, creating an overall feeling of well being and satisfaction.

7. Cut the caffeine- The buzz generated by the caffeine in your favorite drink can create symptoms that mimic panic and anxiety disorders. Swapping your favorite drink with a non caffeinated substitute can help to stabilize your mood.

8. Try coloring- If you think coloring is for kids, think again. Similar to art therapy, the act of coloring has been shown to induce a state of calm, leads to greater focus and can even increase memory retention when done during lectures.

9. Smell the flowers-Smells can have powerful affects on the brain; they can conjure up memories, impact productivity at work, and even make people friendlier to strangers. Scents like Lavender, Bergamot, Mandarin, and Vanilla have been used for centuries to promote a state of relaxation. 

10. Give your brain a workout Brain games like crossword puzzles require lots of concentration which can help us to take our minds off of whatever is bothering us.

The Ultimate Guide to Online Shopping

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1. Get Inspired-The beauty of online shopping is that you aren't limited to the offerings at your local boutique, the world's best stores are only a few clicks away! The endless options are enticing but can also be overwhelming, flipping through magazines, reading blogs, and browsing Pinterest and Instagram are great ways to collect ideas and narrow your focus.

2. Check it out in person-If the item you're interested in happens to be available locally, take the time to try it on, even if you aren't yet looking to buy.  This will give you an idea as to the quality, sizing, and whether or not the style truly suits you.  

3. Visit Shopstyle-Shopstyle is an amazing site that aggregates fashions from major retailers all over the internet.  If you already know the exact item you're looking for, their search functions enables you to see every store that's carrying it, along with all available sizes and colors, to instantly compare prices across retailers and to set alerts for when items go on sale.  If you have a general idea of what you're looking for but haven't found the exact piece, you can always search by key words, like "red dress", and filters such as price, retailers, size and more. The app is great to have when you're shopping offline as well because it can tell you whether you'll get a better price online or you should just make the purchase in store.

4. Register for emails-Most retailers offer promo codes for first time customers, ranging from 10-25% off. The emails are a great way to stay informed on new products as well as upcoming sales. Additionally, if you leave items in your cart for a few days some retailers will send you additional promo codes to incentivize you to make the purchase.

5. Stick to well known stores and brands- Read reviews, and look for well known sites with flexible return policies.  Shopbop, Net-A-Porter, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, Matches Fashion, Luisa Via Roma, Lulu's, NastyGal, Asos, and Revolve Clothing are trustworthy sites that offer a wide range of brands.

6. Do your research-When online shopping, if something looks too good to be true it usually is.  This is particularly true when purchasing luxury or vintage goods. It is insanely easy for unethical retailers to poach photos of real products and use them to advertise their own counterfeit goods. Additionally, fake handbags and jewelry are looking more authentic than ever (some even come with "authenticity cards" and fake receipts) so it is important to only ever purchase from sites which guarantee authenticity.

7. Consider sizing-Be realistic about your size and purchase clothing for the body you have now, not the one you aspire to.  Sizing can vary widely across brands (especially those from other countries) so it is important to take your measurements regularly and refer to the size charts provided online.  If you're still in doubt as to what size to purchase, you can either buy the same item in multiple sizes and return what doesn't work or order the larger size and have a tailor fit it to you if there are any gaps or unflattering areas. 

8. Utilize reshipping companies-If you're shopping from outside of the US its likely you'll be paying significantly more for the same items, in many case the difference is as much as 50%! One way to get around this is by using reputable reshipping companies such as ComGateway and MyAmericanShopper.  These companies allow you to purchase goods ranging from fashion to home items at US prices, then pay a small fee for them to be shipped to your international address.