Blog Archives

The Column: Dating in the ER.

Hey, hot doctor.

Hey, hot doctor.

I was about two months into dating this guy I met through some friends, when he started acting distant toward me. He stopped answering my calls, it took him longer to respond to text messages, and instead of multiple dates a week, we barely saw each other.

I called him out on it, and he sent me a text message saying he was “Not in good health” and that he had to have surgery the next morning.

Being me, I freaked out wondering what was wrong — did his appendix rupture? Was there a previous health issue I didn’t know about?

I called him, and he answered the phone, whispering. He told me he didn’t want to discuss it while he was at work, because it was something “disgusting.”

I was confused, and quite pissed. It’s never a good idea to tell someone you’re having surgery and then not tell them why, or any details.

Later that night, he told me he was having some sort of surgery on his ass. His roommate was going to drive him to the hospital in the morning.

I was suddenly in this sort of gray area — I didn’t know how much attention he wanted from me during his recovery.

Everything he said about the surgery and recovery was that it was gross and he didn’t want me to be a part of it, so I really wasn’t, aside from just telling him I hoped he felt better soon.

About a week after surgery, he invited me over to his place to watch a movie. I accepted the invite, but our visit was distant. No real flirting, no cuddling, and only a few innocent kisses.

I noticed he had his hospital bracelet on his bathroom counter.

“Are you keeping this for your scrapbook?” I asked him.

“It’s just a reminder to me that I was in the hospital and I need to take it easy,” he said.

From what he told me, the surgery was very minor — no organs were involved. So, I was even more confused. Was there something more serious he wasn’t telling me?

He continued to be distant, and frankly, it was getting on my nerves. So, a few days later I told him I was confused and didn’t know what to do about his attitude toward me.

He called me and simply said, “You’re right. Now is not a good time for me to be seeing someone.”

We hung up, and that was it. Over.

I was upset for about 10 minutes when I realized something: I’m continually getting stuck in patterns that force me to throw pity parties for the men I’m dating.

I’m not a party planner, and I’m done pretending to be one. I wish he would’ve told me sooner that he wasn’t interested, because I could’ve saved myself a few months and some feelings.

I hope he has a blast, hanging out by himself, ignoring those who care, and mending his ass wounds.

Fresh Friday: Nirvana (black).

Hobo-chic rulers, Mary Kate and Ashley.

Hobo-chic rulers, Mary Kate and Ashley.

A few weeks ago, I told you all about Nirvana White by Elizabeth and James. Can’t have one without the other, right? In the perfume sampler pack I got for Christmas, there was also a bottle of Elizabeth and James’ Nirvana Black.

As described by Sephora, “Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black is an addictive blend of alluring violet, sensual sandalwood, and rich vanilla that strike the perfect balance between masculine and feminine.

Launched in 2007, Elizabeth and James embodies the duality of sophistication and feminine detail balanced with downtown edge and masculine tailoring. The fashion brand’s contemporary-yet-timeless aesthetic offers the modern girl clothing and accessories that make stylish everyday dressing effortless.

Ashley and Mary-Kate wanted the signature fragrance for Elizabeth and James to embody the same sense of duality inherent to their partnership and the brand. The result was not one, but two blends—distinctly different, but undeniably connected.”

From Teen Vogue:“This has been a labor of love,” said Ashley at an event for the launch. “We’ve been working on this for two years now. Black took about a year and a half to finalize, and to get to a place where we were happy.” White soon followed. The former is a woodsy blend that includes violet, sandalwood, and vanilla. The latter is a floral musk with sweet notes of peony. So you can pick which fragrance profile best matches your personality, or wear one for a day of classes and the other for a night on the town. 

While I like both scents, I definitely prefer White, though I’m surprised because you know I love a woodsy scent.

Pic of the Week.

Excuse my finger-printed iPad.

Excuse my finger-printed iPad.

I’ve got a TON on my mind this week, so grab a cup of coffee. For starters, this whole to-do list thing is really working out for me! For some reason (and this has always been the case for me), if it’s on a list, I will not rest until the list is completely checked off. So, I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in just a week!

As per my New Year’s resolutions, I wanted to do more for me this year, including hitting the gym and/or yoga studio simply for some mental clarity, and I also wanted to read more, and see more movies. So far, I went to the gym three times last week, saw a movie (a few weeks ago, The Gambler, if you’re wondering), and I cannot seem to go ANYWHERE without my iPad because I’m reading the digital version of Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” — and it is GOOD. So good.

One thing I never anticipated I’d have to deal with in 2015 is toxicity among my peers. This could be due to the fact that I’ve never been one to really stand up for myself, but nonetheless, I cannot deal with toxic people. I’ll explain.

Since I lost my job, it seems like some people have no idea what to say to me regarding this fact. And I completely understand that, it was a weird situation. The key word being was. That happened more than two months ago, and while yes, I wanted to share it with you on the blog, it doesn’t mean that I want to talk about it anymore, or at all.

I don’t appreciate getting messages from people saying it’s difficult for them not to see me in the office, that they’re going to counseling because they can’t let go of it, or asking me if I’m going to take legal action, if I need them to buy me essential items since I’m probably broke, or sending me frowning emojis when I tell them no, I haven’t gotten a “real” job yet. These are the same people that refuse to talk to me about anything else in my life.

While I understand that these statements are probably coming from a place of good, it brings up negativity for me. What happened was terrible and it sucked, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve got to focus on the work I DO have, and figure it out from there. And if you really want the truth, spare me the details on how bad it hurts YOU that I lost my job; how do you think it made me feel? And since I don’t have insurance, I had to give up my counselor, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

What I do know is that when someone is going through difficult times, positivity is always a good idea. Listen when they need to vent. Offer advice when they ask. And tell them that everything is going to be okay — because everything IS going to be okay.

The funny thing is, if these people dared to ask me what’s going on in my life, they’d find that there’s actually a lot of good going on! I was recently promoted at the shoe store, so now I am a key holder and get to lead the sales team. While it’s not my dream job, it feels really good that after working there for just six weeks, my managers have seen my hard work and they know they can count on me.

I’ve never gotten a promotion in my life (okay, maybe one, in college)! I worked at my old job for almost seven years and really never saw much appreciation for what I did, so this feels really nice.

I have also gotten to work on some great freelance projects these last few weeks. I do a lot of web writing and book editing for clients across the country, and I don’t know what’s in the air, but the work has been piling up. And more work = more bills that can be paid. To top it off, I turned in my first article for a very respected publication in the local area, and they loved it, so I’m really excited to make my publication debut this week (I bought myself this adorable purse to celebrate, got it for $40 at Ross).

I realized that I’m doing it — I’m surviving without my old job, my old life. And while that job provided a lot for me, it was also drowning at times. I’m seeing that I can thrive when things are not perfect, and that’s precisely what this blog has been about from day one: turning lemons into lemonade; making any situation yours for the taking.

Aside from these great things that have been happening, it’s also nice that the “normal” things in my former life that I loved are slowly coming back — my gym routine, books, catching up on reality TV, bargain shopping trips, meal planning, at-home manis and pedis, and I’m still getting together with my friend every week for Girl’s Night, to cook and drink bottles of wine.

It’s kind of like the pages of a gossip magazine — Stars, they’re just like us! Look at Holly, she goes to the grocery! She goes to the gym! She has brunch! My life is actually pretty normal; it’s very similar to what it used to be, I just have a slightly different schedule (and my checks come from about 20 different places).

I’m not saying any of this to be rude, or selfish, and I appreciate all of the kind words I’ve received from anyone. I understand that it’s difficult for most people to even think about what it’d be like if something like this happened to them — but always keep it positive. And if you’re in the thick of it, keep your head up, no matter what.

This morning, there’s a calm I can’t explain, the rock candy’s melted, only diamonds now remain.

— John Mayer, Clarity 

The Column: Love & Unemployment.

Little boxes, all the same.

Little boxes, all the same.

A few weeks after I’d met a guy named Justin, we’d already been on several dates, and I was really starting to like him. But one day at work, I was called into a meeting and told that my services were “no longer needed.”

It was the job I’d had for almost seven years; the only job (outside of freelance work) I’d had since graduating from college.

Because it was an at-will termination, they refused to give me answers as to why this was happening. I’d just received a raise, so why were they giving me the boot?

It was very similar to a breakup I’d had years before — one that left me blind-sighted and heartbroken. Read more…

Things I’ve learned from ‘Laguna Beach’

Trey is STILL fine.

Trey is STILL fine.

Oh, Laguna, how I love (yes, still do) thee. In late 2004, MTV capitalized on the popularity of The OC, making a reality show based at Laguna Beach High School — claiming it was the story of the REAL OC.

And hell, I don’t know how much of it was real, fake, scripted, or whatever, all I know is I love the stuff — the drama between Stephen, LC, and KCav (still love her). Who says you can’t learn a few lessons while watching your favorite television shows? Here’s what I’ve gained:

  1. Everyone looked fit in high school. Sure, there’s a lot of shirtless dudes and chicks in bikinis on this show, and they all look great. And while I’m feeling like a fat slob, sitting on my couch, then I remember, oh right — they’re in high school. We were all skinny then, and yet we still thought we were fat.
  2. Trey Phillips is an artsy hottie. Trey, if you recall, is the one that’s into fashion, surfing, skateboarding, and human rights. And he looks good doing all of it. He’s got that unconventional hottie thing going on and I love it.
  3. California is gorgeous. While I’ve been to Cali a handful of times, shows like Laguna Beach provide a view of the beaches we really can’t get anywhere else.
  4. My prom dress was probably overkill. While I was wearing foofy tutus for prom, the kids at Laguna High were wearing modest, slim-fitting gowns. Because…money. Nevertheless, I loved my senior prom dress (didn’t love my date).
  5. Tank tops and jeans are underrated. I don’t care what anyone says, the simplest outfit — jeans and a tank — will always be in style.
  6. Ex boyfriends are just…weird. That whole weirdness between KCav and Stephen when they’re broken up but still talking is completely relatable. Despite the annoyance that comes from exes, there’s always that little thing.
  7. Spring break was uber cliquey. Why did we all go on spring break together, and then hate each other? I remember who did what, and yes, I still have you blocked on Facebook for it. #Bitter
  8. Even losers can wine and dine. Remember when Jason picks LC up in a hot rod and takes her out for a fancy dinner? Yeah, well, even lame ass mother f*cks can do that — don’t be fooled, ladies!

Pic of the Week.

I work while I ride.

I work while I ride.

Okay, so one thing I’m working on is maintaining SOME sort of schedule. My hours at my retail jobs are sometimes as early as 7am, or sometimes as late as 6pm (working until 10pm).

I have other things going on — like freelance work, blogging, being social — so I’m trying really hard to still get up by 7 every morning no matter what, and get things done. So, I started making a to-do list each week, and when I have a few hours before or after a shift, or even on my days off, I can cross a few things off my list.

The only way I feel productive is if I have a full week. So, last week my to-do list consisted of:

  • Go to the gym and/or yoga
  • Take down Christmas tree and decor
  • Go to the grocery store
  • Write & turn in column
  • Edit magazine
  • Apply for freelance jobs
  • Apply for at least 7 full-time jobs
  • Go to the tanning bed
  • Email Penny about freelance work

Having this list made it much easier for me to get out of bed on time, even on a day off. I am proud to say I got everything on my list done (I even applied for 9 full-time jobs), except for the whole gym or yoga thing.

Hitting the gym is something that’s been important for me for the last few years. It helps me sleep, and I feel better about myself when I’ve gotten a few good sweat sessions in.

So, I made a new to-do list Sunday night, and I knew I would have time to spare this week to hit the gym. And Monday, before lunch, I did! Since it was my first day back in about a month, I took it easy and rode the bike for 40 minutes, but I felt a little sore when I went into work that evening.

I am on-call for jury duty this week, but on each day that I don’t have to report to court, I’m totally planning on hitting the gym.

I know many of you are probably working on resolutions that involve getting healthy and fit. And to you, I say, keep at it! I know those goals are tough, but they really are worth it. Just taking an hour (or 30 minutes) out of your day for yourself, you’re really going to feel much better!

The Column: Sleeping W/Someone New.

New person, new bed.

New person, new bed.

A few days after a great first date, I joined a guy named Justin for a second date. We met through mutual friends, and bonded over weird relationship stories.

For our second date, he invited me to his house for a casual night in.

While I’m a fan of a relaxing night at home, I was nervous. I’m noticing a pattern of men inviting me over to “hang out,” which results in me having to refuse sex.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sex, but I also want a serious relationship that’s based on more than physicality. Read more…

Pic of the Week.

Time to get clean.

Time to get clean.

I really thought I was going to have something cool for my first Pic of the Week for 2015, but truthfully, this is as exciting as it gets right now.

This is the first week that I actually have time to tend to other things aside from work — I’ve been averaging 50 hours a week between my three jobs, and I hate to admit it, but my apartment has been in a constant state of chaos for at least a month.

I go between those stages of wanting everything to be neat and tidy, and then thinking that spending my time off cleaning is SUCH a waste of my time (and really, a waste of my life). The result is that my bathroom and kitchen maintain cleanliness, because come on, I’m not completely disgusting, but most other places in my apartment are covered in clothes (some clean, some dirty), mail, or DVDs.

So, when my schedule went from 50 hours of work to 20 — I realized all of these things I wanted to do with my time: read, hit the gym (finally), apply for jobs, sleep, vlog, and yes, clean.

So, yesterday I didn’t have to be at work until 3pm, and while I really was hoping to workout, I decided that the cleaning must come first. And so, I sucked it up and did a ton of laundry (I even washed all of my bedding), and put it away (ta-dah!).

I swept, mopped, and vacuumed, put away any remaining Christmas gifts, cleaned all of the mirrors, did the dishes, caught up on bills and filed them away, and I even made a pot of red beans and rice. Success!

Part of my problem is that there’s just too much crap in my small apartment, and I started a giveaway box a few months ago, that I’ve been adding to — every time I come across something that I don’t like, into the box it goes.

Now that everything is neat, clean and fresh, I’m feeling good and a little less cluttered, but truthfully, even though I’ve been out of my usual work routine for two months now, I can’t get used to this new routine. Everything always seems out-of-order, and there’s always so many things on my to-do list — it seems like I can never catch up.

I know a ton of you guys have loads of work, and families, and long to-do lists, so if you’ve got any tips on helping me stay organized or at least keeping my apartment somewhat neat from day-to-day (I’ve already have to tell myself to ‘put that in its place’), I’d love to hear them!

And, just in case you’re wondering, my Christmas tree is still up, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

Paper Towns.

Great quote from Paper Towns by John Green.

Great quote from Paper Towns by John Green.

Shocker: another fantastic book by John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns is addicting. No, seriously, I read it in one day.

Set in Orlando, Florida, Paper Towns is the story of Quentin Jacobsen — a less-than-popular high school senior, who has spent a majority of his life being obsessed with his next-door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (the legend).

“Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose six-syllable name was often spoken in its entirety with a kind of quiet reverence. Margo Roth Spiegelman, whose stories of epic adventures would blow through school like a summer storm…”

Quentin has only admired her from afar, until she steps into his room one night in need of his help with a revenge mission. He’s as close to her as he’s ever been, but before his ultimate dreams come to fruition, she’s off on one of her adventures, leaving the town wondering where she went.

But just like before, she leaves clues behind. Quentin and his friends go in search of her clues, heading on a man hunt across the country to find their six-syllable, legendary classmate.

Favorite Quotes from Paper Towns:

And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.

Chuck Parson did not participate in organized sports, because to do so would distract from the larger goal of his life: to one day be convicted of homicide. ‘Hey, faggots,’ he called.

She had the kind of fingers you want to interlace with your own.

We bring the fucking rain, Q. Not the scattered showers.

Here, at night, it looked like a real place — but for the first time, a place I could see.

…The pleasure was in seeing our strings cross and separate and then come back together.

RHAPAW ran not on gasoline, but on the inexhaustible fuel of human hope.

It is so hard to leave — until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently misimagined.

The book is set to be released as a movie on June 5th of this year (let the countdown begin!), starring Nat Wolff as Quentin, and Cara Delevingne as Margo.

The funny thing is, I ran across an FAQ on John Green’s website, where he said he didn’t think the book would ever become a movie: “The people who worked at the studio that optioned Paper Towns and paid me to write the screenplay were not particularly pleased with my first draft, and they really hated my revision. They felt the first draft was ‘literary,’ which is an insult in the world of filmmaking, I guess, and my attempts to address their concern watered down everything they’d initially liked about the script, and after that, I was pretty pissed off at the head of the studio and it’s safe to say that he was very pissed off at me.”

You just never know what’s going to happen!

Pic of the Week

The last issue of House & Home

The last issue of House & Home

Wow, it’s the LAST pic of the week for 2014! It’s hard to believe I actually have 52 pictures that represent my year — one full of nothing and something all at once. I really thought I was going to have something representative for this last one, but when this magazine came to my mailbox, I knew it had to be a part of my picture collection.

The magazine itself was no surprise, as it comes every month. The surprise was that on the cover, it said it was the “Farewell” issue. What?

Inside, sure enough, was a goodbye letter from it’s Founder and Editor, Nancy. I swear I’m not emotional about all publications (although print publication DOES hold a pretty big place in my heart), but this is one that I wrote for… for a few years.

I applied for a contributing writer position to House & Home several years ago when my then-job was doing lay-offs. I had no financial stability, a very tiny savings account, and I was scared to death. I was looking for any work that would help me save some money. Luckily, House & Home answered my call.

While I’ve always had an interest in homes and interior decor, I didn’t know much about it. So, when I had my first interview with homebuilders, I didn’t even know what to ask! I got humble and told them the truth: that I wasn’t sure what I was doing.

They were polite and helped me, and before I knew it, I could tell the difference between concrete slab flooring and tumbled travertine. I came to admire various veins in marble countertops, and learned to write 2,000-word stories out of bathroom designs.

It was the first time I’d ever seen my stories on the cover of a magazine, and it was a beautiful, glossy one. It was really a pleasure writing for House & Home, and I was lucky enough to do it for many years. It filled my portfolio with more stories, and the paychecks helped me save money during a time of financial stress. I am really grateful for that job.

While it’s saddening to see the publication go, I admire Nancy for making such a tough decision. I’m learning every day how to let things go as gracefully as possible. I feel like I’ve said a lot of goodbyes this year — ones I didn’t necessarily want to. But I’m hoping that 2015 will show me that saying goodbye isn’t always a bad thing.

Bubbly basics.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Ah bubbly, champs, champers, pop bottles, sparkling… whatever you call the stuff, it’s delicious. And while most people reserve the fizz for special occasions and New Year’s Eve, I’ve come to enjoy it all year ’round, just when I’m in the mood for something fantastic.

So, I’m taking it upon myself to share what I know, in hopes that you can find yourself a fabulous bottle of bubbly, whether it’s to celebrate 2015, or just to enjoy whenever — because this is a treat for the masses.

The titles: Champagne, Prosecco, & sparkling wine — what’s the difference? 

Champagne comes from grapes in the Champagne region of France — this is strict. It cannot be called Champagne if it didn’t come from Champagne! Because of the strict rules, Champagne is considered to be high brow, above all other sparkling wines.

Prosecco comes from the Northeast region of Italy (Venice, Verona). Prosecco is one of the main DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) wines in Italy, meaning their labels must state their zone of origins and those wines must meet a certain standard when it comes to planting, cultivation, fertilizing, and even production.

Everything else is usually called sparkling wine — doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty, it was just grown in a different region of the world.

The prices: Is all bubbly going to break the bank?

Heck no! Champagne tends to be expensive (at least $30 per bottle) just because of its high standards. But, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t have to be Champagne. You can absolutely find a fantastic bottle of sparkling wine for $12.

I wouldn’t recommend going much cheaper though. While it may taste great, or be good for mixing a cocktail, you (or your guests) are going to suffer the following day. Cheap bubbles (which usually equals more sugar) lead to killer hangovers.

The pairing: What should I enjoy with my champers? 

Perfect pairing.

Perfect pairing.

This part is kind of up to you. Many “experts” say bubbly should only be enjoyed with delicate foods, but hell with it — there’s way more food to be enjoyed next to a glass of fizz.

Modern wine enthusiasts say buttery, rich foods that are high in fat are really what we should be eating with our bubbly. Don’t mind if I do! Here are some ideas:

— Rich greens: avocado, asparagus, mint

— Seafood: scallops, clams, oysters, smoked salmon

— Berries: fresh, cakes, pies, tarts

— Nuts & cheese (includes fried mozzarella)

— Game: duck, rabbit

— Salty snacks: potato chips, fries, popcorn

The pop: What’s the right way to open a bottle? 

A majority of the sparkling wines you’ll encounter will have a cork, along with a wire cage and a foil cover. Start by removing the foil and carefully removing the wire.

Next, point the bottle away from everyone and any valuables (you never know!), and hold the cork in place while twisting the bottle. I’ve heard that it helps to have your other thumb under the bottle in the center’s groove.

Remove the cork with ease. Contrary to popular belief, there should be no pop — a pop sends a shock throughout the wine, and often ruins the bubbles! If possible, let the air out by tilting the cork to one side.

Serving & storing: How do I get the best out of my bottle(s)? 

Serve sparkling wine in a wine glass or a flute. If you don’t have a flute, go for the standard wine glass. Store it away from light, in a climate-controlled fridge, if possible, or just the fridge. Hold the glass from the stem as to not warm the wine with your hands.

Don’t purchase bottles that have been displayed near a window (even 30 minutes of sunlight can turn a sweet rose into a garlic buffet, seriously).

If, and this is a big IF, there is any wine leftover, store it using a spring-loaded cap to keep the bubbles in-tact.

Recommendations: What should I look for? 

Popular & delish!

Popular & delish!

Of course, we’re going to have differences in taste when it comes to wine and bubbly, but I’ll share some of my favorites. Perhaps my all time favorite is from Ponte Winery in Temecula, California (which I had the pleasure of visiting).

It’s their Moscato, which has very light bubbles and refreshing flavors of apple, and even a hint of lemon. A real treat!

I also love the Almond Sparkling Wine from Wilson Creek Winery (another one I’ve visited) — though it’s rich, and sweet, so it is meant to be enjoyed in small amounts.

Any Prosecco I usually love. Zardetto is actually one of the first companies to distribute Prosecco in Italy and has really smashed the market. You’ll probably recognize the bottle and would be able to find it in your local liquor store for under $15.

If you’ve got a good wine shop nearby, keep your eyes open for a bottle of Passione Brachetto d’Acqui — sounds fancy, runs for about $28/bottle. Completely delicious.

I was lucky enough to taste this in a wine class I took years ago, and it turned out to be one of the recommended wines of 2009 by the Washington Post. It is a red wine, but still features fizz, and although it has a berry flavor, it is spiced with nutmeg and clove. Yum!

If you’re looking for a bubbly that meets the expectation of any occasion, look for etoile Rose ($45/bottle). It’s basically a sparkling wine with a hint of pinot noir added in — hence the name. A very good, exclusive wine that’s definitely worth the extra cash.

And for my final recommendation, it’s got to be the Royal Cuvee by Gloria Ferrer ($27/bottle). It has a unique, crisp mix of berries and apple, which results in a long, delicious finish.

…Well, that does it for my Bubbly Basics! I know it was a long read, but I hope you learned something about one of my favorite varietals. May you have a year full of fizz and fun! Cheers!

Do you know what Dom Perignon said after inventing champagne? He called out to his fellow monks, ‘Come quickly: I am tasting the stars.’

—The Fault in Our Stars 

This Christmas: go glam.

Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you all are prepping for a fantastic day filled with love, kindness, and okay, a little bit of glamour. One of my favorite things about Christmastime is having the excuse to pull out my glitter eyeliner, shimmery shadows, and bold colors.

I’ve always loved experimenting with makeup, and opening a few gifts under the tree that assist in my hobby never hurt anyone. Sure, I know you’ve already hit up some holiday parties, but there’s still time to get a fabulous look in for Santa’s arrival, and for the days leading up to New Year’s!

This year, glitter and gold are completely IN when it comes to holiday makeup — hallelujah! NY Magazine has 4 cool ways to wear gold eye makeup, including dusting loose gold glitter on your freshly mascara’d eyelashes (Yes!). Get the look:

Now, I’ve always admired Emma Stone — her style, her movies — so, when she stepped out this winter wearing matte red lips and slightly stained cheeks, I loved her a little more and knew I HAD to steal this look (check out Vogue for the details). Get the look:

Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

I have always loved a smokey eye, and I found a great tutorial by Carli Bybel on a Grunge Glam Holiday look. I’ve never gotten into the whole makeup tutorial thing, but she does a really great job. To get the look (shown in the main picture above), Carli used:

 — Rimmel Scandal Eyes Shadow Stick — Makeup Geek Pigment in Nightlife — BH Cosmetics Forever Nude Palette — Katy Perry false lashes in Oh, Honey! — Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Mascara in Black — Maybelline New York Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black — MAC Fix — Bronze glitter powder — Nude lip pencil — Buttercup Lipstick by Gerard Cosmetics — NYX powder blush in Pinky — Bobbi Brown Party Shimmer Brick

To polish off your look, don’t forget a fabulous nail hue. Elle magazine has 30 cool nail colors for all of your holiday party nail-needs.

Whether you’re going out and about for the holiday, looking fabulous, or you’re cozied up at home (experimenting with your new makeup from Santa), I hope your Christmas is fantastic! I’m looking forward to sharing even more with you in the New Year.

Merry Christmas to all!

Pic of the Week.

Pretty sure they weren't supposed to be THIS ugly.

Pretty sure they weren’t supposed to be THIS ugly.

Late last week, I decided to bake some holiday cookies from a kit I bought a few months ago — an Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit. It was just too cute to pass up.

The kit had nearly everything I needed: dry ingredients for the cookie dough, a sweater cookie cutter, food coloring for red and green icing, piping bags, and various bags of festive sprinkles. All I had to add were the eggs, butter, milk, and powdered sugar.

If you’re one of my long-time readers, you’ll know that I always try to cut calories when I can, even when it comes to Christmas cookies. So, when I stopped at my local market that morning, I quickly snatched up sticks of coconut oil.

It said on the package that it could be subbed for butter, one-for-one. Sweet! But once I got home and started mixing all of my ingredients, I don’t think the coconut oil was my brightest idea.

It made the dough very sticky, so I kept having to add flour to it in order for it to even roll onto my counter. It took me nearly an hour to cut a mere seven sweater cookies and get them onto a baking sheet. Once they got into the oven I started mixing my icing — coconut oil, milk, food coloring, and powdered sugar.

Please note that I didn’t even have butter in my fridge or else I wouldn’t have continued using the coconut oil. Naturally, the coconut oil made the icing a tad runny, and when I put it into the piping bags, it was separating under the warmth of my hands. Drats!

Runny icing resulted in sweater cookies: the Dexter edition, because it looked like they were smeared with blood. By the time I got icing on all of the cookies, I barely felt like messing with the sprinkles, and basically tossed random candies on all of the cookies.

Well, they ARE supposed to be ugly/tacky sweaters, I thought, and it felt justified for a few minutes. The ones on the box looked way cuter.

I’ve mentioned before that baking cookies with my dad is one of my fondest childhood memories when it comes to Christmas. But of course, he made the dough, and all I did was add icing and red hots. And I’m sure it was about the company we had, not about the activity.

Each year, I try to recreate those memories by vowing to bake dozens and dozens of cookies that I ice and decorate. And every year, I get really excited as I unpack all of my ingredients from the store… but I quickly get frustrated once the dough isn’t right or the cookie cutter sucks.

Then I wonder, WHY did I decide to do this, again?

But nevertheless, it felt really nice to be doing something festive — I’ve been so busy with work and job hunting that it’s been difficult getting into the Christmas season.

Later that night, I took my festive little sweater cookies over to a friend’s house. Like true friends, they were excited, saying how intricate and cute my hideous creations were. After we feasted on fried turkey (okay, so I’m not always tight on calories), we all sampled the cookies, and to my absolute delight, they were some of the best sugar cookies I’ve had.

They tasted like my childhood Christmas cookies — and I’ll never forget it.

All Blanche wants for Christmas…

There's a clear favorite here...

There’s a clear favorite here…

When you are a cat lady, said cat (or cats) is a large part of the holidays (well, and every day). That is no different in my home, where one Miss Blanche E. Devereaux pretty much runs the plantation. This was made pretty obvious last year, for Blanche’s first Christmas, when her stocking was overflowing, while mine had a few cookie crumbs and a half-eaten candy cane in the bottom.

Blanche Devereaux

Blanche Devereaux

This year, the tiny beast has taken it upon herself to not only skip rent payments (her share is $10/month) to buy gifts for others, but she figured out my computer password and TYPED a wish list. Cats these days. And so, I present to you, All Blanche Wants for Christmas:

For starters, Blanche would like a tipi. Because the floor, Holly’s bed, nor the couch are good enough places for a Southern Belle to rest her tired paws. In with the Aztec, out with everything Holly has already purchased.

Blanche dreams of sleeping in her tipi, day or night, perhaps looking out of its flap-door and gazing up and the stars (add: glow-in-the-dark stars to list).

Blanche would also like endless amounts of metallic pipe cleaners — seriously, she goes nuts over those things.

Blanche D. on the ones and twos.

Blanche D. on the ones and twos.

Add to the list, a scratching pad for Blanche to sharpen her claws (which in-turn shred all of my furniture and any important documents), but not just ANY scratching pad, why not a cat DJ scratching pad?

Truth-be-told, I was scared to get Blanche a scratching pad because it would promote the whole scratching thing. But actually, purchasing one (a boring, square one) kept her from scratching my furniture, and she takes to the scratching post! So, if you’re on the fence about purchasing one, do it, for the sake of your furniture.

And finally, Blanche would like a water fountain to replace her standard (read: boring) water bowl. If you’ve never been to my apartment, you need to know that it is a common occurrence for Blanche to hang out on my bathroom sink and meow until someone (me) comes to turn on the faucet for her to drink from. No, seriously.

This concludes Blanche’s Christmas wish list. Perhaps it gave you a few gift ideas for the feline friend in your life… or maybe it just solidified my place in this world as a cat lady.

The Column: Single Bells.

All by myyyyself...

All by myyyyself…

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or is it? The holidays are often associated with cheer, get-togethers, and gifts, but for singletons, the holidays can be a lonely reminder of what we’re missing.

Blame it on the chilly weather or the party invitations, but it often seems like the holidays are made for couples. And hey, good for the couples. But where does that leave the rest of us? Out in the cold, hanging with Frosty?

If there’s vodka and candy canes, it actually doesn’t sound half-bad.

Think about it: there’s Thanksgiving, followed by Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s. If that midnight kiss doesn’t send you over the edge, don’t worry, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

But these next few weeks don’t have to be couples-only — it’s time we take December by the reins. Move over, Santa!

My very first boyfriend and I broke up right before Christmas (many years ago), so I returned his gift and bought myself some nice makeup instead.

Side note: his last name was Garland, and I used to wonder what it’d be like if we got married (Holly Garland).

Anyway, this started a personal tradition: spoil yourself a little this time of year. When you’re out shopping for everyone else, pickup a little something for yourself.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t purchase a few gifts for myself each year, wrap them, and write “From John Mayer” on the tag (excuse me while I hide now).

A few years ago, I suffered from a much more devastating breakup in November. I was not in the mood for Christmas cheer.

But instead of pouting, I told myself I would say “yes” to every holiday event I was invited to. In return, I went to several parties, a brunch, and baked dozens of cookies. I was too busy to be sad, plus I met new people and had fun.

It was also the same year I discovered alcoholic whipped cream. Put that in your cocoa and let me know how it turns out for you.

If nothing else, think of it this way: you’ve only got to buy gifts for family and friends. No need to stress over finding the perfect gift for that special someone. And to top it off, no judgment from a significant other when you get too drunk on New Year’s Eve.

One tradition I always look forward to is baking on Christmas Eve. It’s something I started doing several years ago as a way to get into the spirit; plus, it looks like I’ve really got it together when I show up to the next gathering with a festive, homemade something.

It also doesn’t hurt if you want to eat the entire thing yourself — no one around to witness it, yet another perk of the single life.

So, cheers to being single this holiday season. May you have an electric blanket for warmth, a stocking big enough for Santa’s visit (or John Mayer, in my case), and one of those wine glasses big enough for an entire bottle.

Solo Survival: Enjoying the Holidays as a Singleton

  1. Better Not Pout — Don’t feel sorry for yourself; it’ll just make it worse.
  2. Get Festive — Peppermint cocktails, ugly sweaters, whatever you love, enjoy the perks of the holiday season on your own (or with friends, of course).
  3. Rule It- If you’re miserable at the Christmas party, then leave. Want more pie? Eat it! The perk of being single is getting to do whatever you want, so do it.
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