Frugal Fridays – One Inexpensive Item With Many Different Uses

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Money — the subject matter that seems to be taboo most everywhere. I have lots of thoughts on money from saving to investing to debt to spending and so on. I think it’s a discussion that, much like depression and mental illness, should be ongoing and not shameful no matter what your situation is. While I’d like to touch on this subject further at a later time, I will say this for now, I’ve experienced economic lows and highs throughout my life and coming from an immigrant family, the value of a dollar is not lost on me. While I love to buy things, I also know the importance of saving — the recent recession has been a huge learning experience particularly.

On that note, how I spend my money and what I choose to spend it on can be as complicated as it is simple. There are times where I will spend time researching and times where I can be impulsive (hello Cake Batter Chapstick at the checkout counter that I had no intention on buying while I was at the store, but somehow found a need for despite the 100 tubes of lip balm I already have at home). Throughout the years, I’ve found items that have been real money-savers and I thought I would share one or a few now and then.

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Vinegar. This may not be new information to anyone, but you’d be surprised how often I sing the praises of vinegar and it’s multiple uses and people are like “Oh, I only use it for cooking. I had no idea.” So yes, besides using it in cooking, I use it to clean many different things and soften my laundry. I buy it in large jugs and a couple at a time because I use it so often. It is so economical and such a money-saver. You’re welcome. How about you? Are you a vinegar lover? Do you have any economical items that you use for multiple things? I’d love to know.

Lourdes Loves Lately

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{Beautifully lit building in my neighborhood}

TGIF! How has your week been? It’s been a good week (not without it’s drama, of course), but I am looking forward to the weekend! I have 2 movie passes I’d like to use (I loooove our movie theater —- the chairs are HUGE and super comfy and you can recline all the way. It’s like being in your own living room. You know, if you typically have 100 or so strangers also laying down around you. Awkward.). Can you believe it’s the end of February already?!? What are your weekend plans? Read any good books lately? I’m looking for some recos. What ever you do, hope you find some time for yourself. See you next month! Have a good one!

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{I had a flat white for the first time}

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{Super bright flowers at the supermarket}

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{There is this amazing BBQ joint in town and they bottle their sauces}

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{One of my neighbors left this by the elevator —- que What a Wonderful World song}

Fitness: My 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge – Week 2

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Today marks  14 days since I began my journey to complete 30 days of Bikram Yoga. I have to admit, it has not always been easy because Bikram is a real time commitment.

The class is 90 minutes long and I need to factor in time to walk to class (thank goodness it’s only a 5 minute walk), be sure I arrive at least 20 minutes before class starts so I have time to put my things away and secure a place that I am comfortable with (safe to say it’s not in front of the class right now), and allow 15 minutes after class to relax, pack up my things and walk home.  Then I have to shower when I am home and do laundry (my sweaty clothes and I bring my own towel). All in all, it is about a 2.5 hour daily commitment. Is it worth it?

Yes. I feel better and I sleep better. I have some aches and pains in certain areas, which I’m sure my body will adjust to in time. And, there are still poses I struggle with (one leg down with knee straight and other leg up extended with knee straight and forehead to the knee) and times where I struggle to “quiet” my mind or focus in the moment, but I am trying and I am committed. And, I am glad I am doing this. Namaste.

How to Live 12 Years in 166 Minutes

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I don’t know what took me so long (considering I had it on my list a long time ago), but I finally got around to seeing Boyhood and I loved it as much as I thought I would (if not more). I’m so glad I didn’t wait 12 years to see it. It is truly a moving masterpiece of a film by Richard Linklater.

I fell in love with the characters, especially Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke). The movie goes through the everyday life of this family in a span of twelve consecutive years and is centered around the younger child, Mason Jr. I am always up for a coming-of-age movie, but this was such a treat to actually see the characters come-of-age in the span of twelve real years. And, the entire family comes-of-age throughout the movie.

It can be deceiving because of it’s mundane actions (school drop-offs, sibling rivalry, homework), but there is so much depth to the film as well as the characters. From the moment you meet them, you are rooting for this family and go through their ups and downs as if they were your own (and, perhaps you have had similar experiences).

There is something about the way Rick (as the actors have referred to him in interviews) captures the moments and characters that want you to continue to care for them long after the movie has ended and keep you longing to want the relationship to go on. He’s found a formula to forge a very special bond between the audience and his characters. I would love if somehow they picked this up in a few years. Either way, you should pick up a copy or watch it online if you haven’t done so. There is so much truth and beauty to experience in this film. It’s pure magic.

Weekly Weblove | 8 Things to Read Right Now

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Happy hump day, friends! Hope your week is going smoothly! Here are some fun links if you care to go down the internet rabbit hole. Enjoy!

1. I’d like to try this winged smoky eye tutorial by Corallista

2. This looks like a delicious recipe to try.

3. If you’re looking for interior inspiration and want to try out Pantone’s Color of the Year

4. No, really, these 2 women built a $100MM business they started in 2011.

5. One list you do not want to be at the top of.

6. And one you do.

7. This dress is so fun and flirty.

8. This is an interesting take on a movie.

10 Cottages to Inspire Your Winter Getaway

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While I prefer to take a beach vacation during cold-weather season (for the obvious reasons), there is something so charming and romantic about staying in a little cottage or cabin somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. I can imagine lighting a fire, lounging in cozy pajamas, cooking hearty meals, sipping hot cocoa, reading in a hot bath, dancing around the house and taking walks to think or just wander. What is your preferred vacation during the freezing temps? Are you all about the beach or more about the country? What are some favorite winter trips you’ve taken?

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{All photos via uniquehomestays.com}

Tuesday Treasures | 3 Awesome TEDx Teen Talks You Should Watch

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{“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” ~ Dr. Seuss}

I’m not really sure how I got interested in TED talks (most likely during one of the numerous times I’ve fallen into the internet rabbit hole), but I was hooked from my first one and listen to a few during the week. Because of TED talks, I also found TEDx talks and TEDx Teen talks. I don’t have any particular curriculum that I follow (not that you have to), it just depends on what I’m interested in that week. I’d like to share a few of my favorite TEDx talks by teens. I’m always up for good recommendations, so feel free to share if you have any favorites.

1. Tavi GevinsonStill figuring it out

I’ve been a fan of Tavi since her Style Rookie blog days. She has a very unique voice and has found much-deserved success in her recent endeavors. It’s always great to read Tavi’s writing and so refreshing to hear her give a speech.

Main takeaway: Be Stevie Nicks (watch it so you can see what she means;)

2.  Jacob Barnett Forget what you know

I’ve only come to know Jacob through his Ted talk.

Main takeaway: Be open to learning new things and in new ways.

3. Logan LaPlanteHackschooling makes me happy

As well, I’d never heard of Logan until I came across his Ted talk.

Main takeaway: There is a difference between what you want to do and what you want to be.

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

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{My favorite meal combo: sweet and savory. This was delicious, btw. The finishing touches to our lovely meal at Girl and the Goat.}

I started the year with some big goals in mind. As the first quarter of the year comes to a close (I know, right??), I started to look at my metrics. I’m not doing so well in the healthy eating department. I’m not going to beat myself up over it because, as I’ve said before, I’ve learned that I work best when I focus on 2 to 3 big things at one time. I’ve accomplished a lot in other areas, which I am proud and grateful for, but I have to keep in mind that being healthy has to be my top priority. After all, if we don’t have our health, what is the point of everything else?

So, guess what time it is? Yup! It’s list time! I thought I would share my list of “10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate” with you in case you are having a hard time in this area or just because. Oh, BTW, I was reading the darling DorkChops‘s blog and found it refreshing, yet surprising, that her favorite drink was water and favorite food was salad. Ahhh, to have such great habits at such a young age! But, like I’ve said before, it is never too late to begin anything.

Here is my list. Let me know if you already practice any of these things or what motivates you to stay healthy (besides the obvious — LOL).

10 Healthy Eating Habits to Cultivate

1. Meditate on it – Every morning and evening, I will hold a vision of my healthy self and concentrate on it for a few minutes.

2. Meal plan – Every Sunday, I will take a few minutes to plan my meals for the week.

3. Drink 3 liters of water daily – The Mayo Clinic advises women should drink at least 2.2 liters of water daily.

4. Keep a recipe book of rotating favorites – I pin tons of recipes, but I think that an old-fashioned binder will be more helpful for me and will prove useful when meal-planning.

5. Keep a daily schedule of cooking/take-out/eating-out – Right now, my husband does 99.9% of the cooking, but it’s a skill I want to master, so I’ll have to make time in my schedule. And, like everything else, it’s best that I make a schedule for our meals so we have something (in writing) to stick to.

6. Try one new meal recipe every week – Like I said before, I’ve pinned tons of recipes, but I’ve hardly tried any of them. I’m going to make a list of meals to make and attempt a new one every week.

7. Eat all meals before 6PM – This can be quite difficult due to work schedules and such, but I’ve read time and time again the importance of not eating after a certain time to keep the weight down and other health benefits. I will make an earnest attempt at this at least 5 times a week.

8. Make a list of other ways to reward myself – I don’t know when the habit was formed, but somehow, I find that I reward myself with food: *Insert any accomplishment here*? “Let’s go out to eat!” Or, “Treat yourself to ice cream/cake/chocolate/etc.” While I believe that treating yourself in moderation is not bad, I tend to usually have a mindset of ALL or NOTHING, and in the case of food, it’s usually ALL. There are other ways I can reward myself though, like getting a massage, buying a new accessory I’ve had my eye on, going on a new experience, and the like.

9. Practice moderation and portion control – It’s funny, but in the US, it seems the portions get bigger and bigger. When I’ve traveled to other countries, I always make note of portion sizes compared to the US. I mean, you order a dish here and it can feed 4 people! I have to make a conscious effort to know what portions are right for me and stick to them.

10. Incorporate a green smoothie daily – Remember when I talked about my Vitamix? Yeah, the revolution has not begun yet, but it’s about to. I’m going to make an effort to have one green smoothie a day.

So, there you have it. I hope you found this useful and I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

Monday Musings | You Are F*ckin’ Awesome and Don’t You Ever Forget It

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One of the best things I read last week was this:

“As women, we feel insecure for the things we don’t do or cannot do, but we need to start feeling secure about the things we’re really good at.” ~ Joy Cho of Oh Joy!

Well said, Joy! I couldn’t agree more. I admit, I’m guilty and have been plagued from time to time with insecurities. And, it’s been crippling and not fun. Are there things I could do better? Sure. Are there things I’m f*ckin’ awesome at? Absolutely. And the point is, to focus on the latter.

As Joy pointed out, we make time for the things that matter. And, whatever that may be to you is your choice. Don’t live life according to someone else’s standards and don’t judge someone else for the way they live their lives. One thing I want to be really conscious of is to live life by my standards. I’ve had so many moments of doubts and insecurities (which, let’s be real, in this age of Instagram/Pinterest/Facebook “lives”, it can make it really easy to have those feelings), but I know what I want. I may not know the exact route to get there, but I’m confident in myself that I can keep trying and picking myself up no matter how difficult the road is or if someone is trying to steer me in another direction. I’m a late bloomer, but the positive in that is that I’ve had so many trials and tribulations and failures and I’m still here. I’m still standing and I’ve learned so much!

So, all of that to say, if you don’t know what you want in life, take time to figure it out and while you’re at it, keep reminding yourself of everything that you’re good at. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you. Tell yourself — your voice is validation enough! And, if you find you are lacking, know that you can learn just about anything. We are living in the information age! Don’t get bogged down by life (problems with money, relationships, etc.) because that stuff will always be there anyway. Wouldn’t it be better to have those problems when you know you’re living the life you want for yourself?

Lastly, there have been people in my life who may mean well and have tried to steer me in other directions, but time has taught me that this is my life to live and not theirs. So, if you have anyone in your life like this, cut them loose and if you can’t cut them loose make it very clear that you are going to live your life the way you intend to. And then go keep finding ways to grow and be awesome!

The 7 Best Red Carpet Styles from the 2015 Oscars

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Another year. Another wrap-up of Hollywood’s golden moment – The Oscars. I think Neil Patrick Harris did really well with the opening song. I loved Lady Gaga’s tribute to The Sound of Music and it was really great to see Julie Andrews. I LOVE The Sound of Music and watched it a gazillion times when I was a kid (and even as an adult).

There were definite hits and misses with the red carpet styles. And, it’s no surprise Elie Saab made my list twice this year —- he is just on point with the glamour and glitz. Some trends to note:

Statement Necklaces

Black

White / Cream

Black and White

Red

Nude

What did you think of last night’s looks? What were your favorites? Here are my favorite looks from last night.

Jennifer Lopez, in Elie Saab Haute Couture

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab Haute Couture – An Elie Saab creation always gets my attention.  They are so stunning and glamorous. And, is it just me, or does JLo get better every year? I loved her entire look.

Lupita Nyong'o, in custom Calvin Klein Collection

Lupita Nyong’o in Calvin Klein Collection – Lupita looked stunning in this artfully-crafted pearls gown in the color-of-the-moment white.

Cate Blanchett, in Maison Margiela

Cate Blanchett in Maison Margiela – I loved this rock-n-roll-meets-glamour-girl-meets-hippy-chick look Cate sported last night. And I especially love the bold turquoise necklace.

Emma Stone, in Elie Saab Haute Couture

Emma Stone in Elie Saab Haute Couture – Another gorgeous Elie Saab creation on the radiant Emma Stone. Chartreuse works so well on her and makes her eyes really pop. The dress is a nice balance of sexy and classy with large doses of glamour.

Gwyneth Paltrow, in Ralph & Russo

Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph & Russo – Gwyneth’s dress spoke volumes without saying a word – from the sophisticated silhouette to the edgy one arm sleeve to the strategically placed gigantic fabric floral concoction and down to the pale pink color.

Meryl Streep, in Lanvin

Meryl Streep in Lanvin – Meryl’s look is simply classy and glamorous without being over-done or under-dressed. I think the tuxedo jacket gives her look an extra oomph (not that the 3-times Oscar winner and bazillion-times Oscar nominated Meryl needed it).

Scarlett Johansson, in Atelier Versace

Scarlett Johansson in Atelier Versace – I liked that Scarlet went with an unexpected color. The cut of the dress really works well on her frame and the color looks amazing on her. Her hair is refreshing and so is the mis-matched earrings combo. Of course, the statement necklace was absolutely gorgeous.

{All photos from Style.com}