Christmas Monkey Bread

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a great holiday. I spent 3 straight days with family and while it was hectic, it was nice to enjoy everyone's company, and have good laughs and great food! Speaking of great food, we did something a little different on Christmas morning this year in terms of breakfast. My boyfriend and I volunteered to make a recipe I found on Pinterest (surprise!)
 I have seen Monkey Bread recipes floating around Pinterest for a while now, and they looked so simple and less time consuming than our normal 4 hour cinnamon roll recipe. This recipe couldn't be any easier. It took about an hour from prep and baking time. What I loved about it was the outside crunch combined with the warm, gooey and sugary inside. Since we had half the pan leftover, I had some the next morning. It was still amazing the next day. This is definitely being added to the 'ol recipe book. 
Recipe Here 

H&M to Start Recycling Program


I recently came across this article from one of my favorite fashion blogs, College Fashion. They stated that H&M is going to initiate an in store recycling program called iCollect starting February 2013. 

The program works as follows: for every bag of clothes you donate, you get a voucher for a discount on your next visit. It is not known what each bag will give you in terms of a discount at this time. 

The purpose of the program is to use the donated clothing and recycle it into new clothing. The retailer hopes to only use sustainable cotton by the year 2020. 

For someone like me who goes through her clothes once a month (or every other month) and just sells to consignment, I may use this only a few times a year. I would probably give the items that consignment wouldn't take. However, if you are a person who totally does a wardrobe re-vamp, this would be perfect. Depending on the voucher cap you can receive, you may be able to get a steep discount on your new wardrobe! 

Will you be donating your clothes to the iCollect program?    

Thoughts and Prayers...

I hate waking up to news so tragic as senseless death at the hands of terrible monsters. But what happened this morning in Newtown, CT was far more worse than I could have imagined. I feel like we are unfortunately getting so accustomed to seeing these acts of violence in the news so often it's becoming less shocking. It's been almost 15 years since the massacre at Columbine High School and I feel like only more acts similar to this have occurred, not less.

I can't bare to watch the news coverage about the story any more, because all I can think of is the young souls, the babies who were blindsided of their life, of becoming amazing individuals. It's an emotion of half immense sadness and extreme anger at the individual who committed this act. My greatest fear is losing the people I love, and imagining the pain these people are going through is heart breaking.

These selfish, inexcusable, senseless acts need to stop. And we as a country need to stop providing these monsters with the weapons for carrying out these acts. No regular Joe Schmo needs a semi automatic pistol. Period. If legislation can help save one life, it is worth changing. 

I am broken hearted over the acts from this morning, and pray for the families who were affected.

 

Would You Wear...A $55,000 Backpack?

Well, at first read, of course not! $55,000 for a purse is absurd. That's a car. A really nice one at that. It's also the price of a house in some states. And then you look at the above picture and think I'm joking. But sadly, I am not. 

The Row, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's high end fashion line created 12 "limited edition backpacks made of black crocodile patent leather" - and here's the kicker - "adorned with prescription pills and colorful circles". REALLY? Do they think we are fools? Well apparently 12 people will be! 

I hate how sometimes fashion, (and other industries included) feel like they have to out do each other and come out with the most over indulgent product (. Yet, people always fall for it. It's so sad. But, the best comment I saw was "there is so such thing as a $55,000 purse, just an idiot who is willing to pay that much for one".

So, money aside, would you wear this crocodile purse adorned with prescription pills? I can't even type it without cringing... 

Original Article   

Tortellini Tomato Soup

I have a confession, I owe a lot to Pinterest for the past few weeks of meals! They weren't my own recipes, passed down from generation, but I can tell you, after the reaction I received from them, they are definitely finding their way into my recipe book. This recipe is no different. In fact, this may be the best recipe I found on Pinterest to date. 

I haven't been feeling too good lately, I have a severe case of insomnia which led to a case of the flu from lack of sleep. Nothing sounds better than a batch of this Tortellini Tomato soup to warm my soul and fill my tummy. 
The picture is making me drool. Mmmmm. This soup took 15 minutes (if that) to make, and I highly recommend having all the ingredients measured and ready, because once you are ready, all systems are go! The original author of the recipe used sun dried tomato paste vs. actual sun dried tomatoes and I think she made a huge mistake. The diced sun dried tomatoes pack a real punch, and the flavor is amaze. :) You can really taste every ingredient, and I was so impressed, considering the base of the soup is Campbell's Tomato soup! It's quite the transformation.   

Recipe here

XMas Wishlist

I don't ever feel like I need anything come Christmas, and that's because if I do, I usually end up buying it myself. But just for fun, I put together a hypothetical wishlist of things that would be fun to unwrap on Christmas morning. 
iPhone 5
 I use my phone for everything, and right now I have the iPhone 4. It sounds so dated, doesn't it? Especially since I am blogging now and taking pictures of my culinary creations on the spot to immediately blog, the camera on the iPhone 5 is a big reason to upgrade. I also use so many apps and social media tools, my 4 is just slow now, and I am getting impatient! I am eligible for an upgrade too, so I just need to pay $200 for the phone. 
Fruit/Vegetable Juicer
When I worked at Jamba Juice way back when, my favorite thing to get was a freshly squeezed orange-carrot juice with ice. There was nothing better, and it tasted so fresh, and healthy! Now that juicing has become a "thing", there are so many home appliances available. I don't want anything fancy or expensive, just something under $100 where I can juice a glass every so often and not break after a week. :) 
Mane Message Hair Ties
 I have been seeing these hair ties in fashion magazines lately and hear they are great for your hair (no annoying creases!) and when they are on your wrist they look cute (bonus!) They usually come in sets and vary in styles, but with how often I put my hair up, these are definitely worth a shot. 
SF Giants Tickets
Alex and I love nothing more than a trip to the city for a Giants game. But we've been to regular season games plenty of times. I really want to go to the Giants season home opener at the beginning of April. Since the team won the World Series, the home opener (Friday, Saturday or Sunday) is especially exciting, since they present the team with the rings, and do fun pre-game festivities.
Olay Pro-X Cleansing System
The Clarisonic skin cleansing system is very popular and allegedly works wonders on your skin. I have very sensitive skin and would love to try this system out. But I would never spend $200 to "test it out", so Olay has a similar system for a mere $30. My friend has it and says it's wonderful!

What's on your list this year?

Target + Neiman Marcus: A Match Made in Fashion Heaven

Fashion mavens, the day has finally arrived! Target has teamed up with legendary department store Neiman Marcus and 24 designers to create over 50 "gifts" at more reasonable prices. Some of the items are available online or in store. The items range from housewares, items for your pet, beauty gifts, kids gifts, and of course..clothes! 

Target has had it's fair share of collaborations with designers in the past. You may remember the recent collaboration with Missoni which crashed the Target website and caused utter chaos in stores across the nation! Other collaborations include: William Rast, Luella Bartley and Rodarte (to name a few). 

Some of the designers in the collaboration (and my personal favorites) include:
  • alice + olivia
  • Brian Atwood
  • Derek Lam
  • Diane Von Furstenberg
  • Marchesa
  • Marc Jacobs
  • rag + bone
  • Tory Burch
I have previewed the collection and I am a little bummed to not see a pair of Brian Atwood pumps (his signature) for a killer price or a gorgeous Marchesa dress for women (there are two for girls).   

Here are a few of the pieces I have my eye on:
alice + olivia luggage

Proenza Schouler sweatshirt

Tracy Reese shirt
Lela Rose lace top

This collaboration had me thinking, what are your dream collaborations? 

Mine would have to be Michael Kors + Target, Victoria Beckham for Dorothy Perkins, Chanel for H&M, Marc Jacobs for H&M, Elie Saab for Nordstrom...wishful thinking. 

* Edit: I went to my local target on Dec 1 to look at the items in person and I added the Lela Rose lace top. It was gorgeous in person and was so light and the fabric was so gentle (if that makes sense). The sweatshirt was a hi-low type, and I would definitely buy it in a large/extra large so it would be oversize and comfy. However, the alice + olivia luggage was quite small for the $180 price tag, but still cute! 

Crockpot Enchiladas & Shrimp Fried Rice

Last week before Thanksgiving, I managed to make two quick, but delicious meals for Alex and I. I clearly have lagged on the blogging portion of it, so I decided to combine them into one post, since I didn't want to not post one over the other.

Crockpot Enchiladas:
I found this recipe after I got my crockpot and I was Googling different dishes to make in it. I came across this Mexican dish and the combination of ease, quickness and high ratings made me bookmark it instantly. This is the second time I have made it but there are still a few kinks to smooth out (this is why taking notes is crucial!!)
My boyfriend also noted the cheese/beef mixture (basically everything but the tortillas) would be a great nacho topper. It really would! Even better, since our usual nacho recipe is pretty intense (but so worth it!)

Shrimp Fried Rice:
This recipe is my own, so I hope I can convey everything to you easily enough so you can duplicate it yourself! My mom loves making Asian cuisine, and she made fried rice for my brothers and I a few times. I made note of what she did so I could do it myself some day. Fast forward a few years and I finally got around to it. Below is the recipe and instructions, enjoy! Feel free to ask me any questions. :) 
Ingredients:
1. 2-day old white or brown rice (NOT fresh. Older rice is easier to brown)
2. Chicken, Shrimp or Tofu (cooked separately, in amount desired)
3. Mixed vegetables (your preference, cooked separately. I used a frozen medley of corn, carrots & peas and added mushrooms)
4. Oyster Sauce 
5. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
6. 2 Eggs 
7. Minced garlic (optional)
8. Butter or margarine 

Instructions:
1. Cook your desired meat of choice in a separate pan with garlic and set aside. If you cook chicken or tofu, dice in to small pieces.
2. Cook your vegetables separately as well. Frozen vegetables work fine. Set aside.
3. Get a large sauce pan (depending on the amount of rice, make sure the rice can evenly sit in pan) and dab 2 TBS of butter or margarine in pan and let melt. 
4. Place rice in pan and let it cook, until it browns, or gets a tad crispy
5. Add 2 eggs (only 1 if you are making a small portion) and scramble the eggs within the rice until it is almost cooked.
6. Combine rice with vegetables and meat and continue cooking
7. Add equal parts Oyster Sauce and Soy Sauce (about 1 TBS each for large portions) but taste test before adding more
8. Stir to combine all ingredients and to coat with sauces.    
9. Serve with sliced green onions on top and hot sauce if desired. :) 
 
 

Shopping Guide

In honor of Black Friday I created a new Tab for 415Bond, called "Shopping Guide" which shows all the websites and stores I get all my chic clothes, shoes and accessories. The secret is out! You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to look amazing. That's how I roll folks. I went out for 2 hours today and it was a nightmare. I did get Alex a gift but I think I'm going to wait another week before I go out shopping again. Did any of you score any killer deals? Or did you stay in the comfort of your home eating leftovers?

Lust List: Babies, Food & Reality TV Edition

Harper Beckham. I can't get enough of this baby. Every time I see a picture of Harper in US Weekly or People I get giddy with joy. I am so excited the Beckham's were finally blessed with a daughter. That girl is going to have one heck of a wardrobe (as she does already!) She is going to be a beautiful girl, but until then, I just want to kiss those chubby cheeks! 
Thanksgiving. Probably my favorite holiday. But I don't like to play favorites. If you know anything after reading my blog you know I love to cook, but even more, I love to eat. Nothing is better on a November day than turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberries. It's only two days away. I can't wait. Should I begin fasting now?
As I resident Anglophile and recently unemployed, I was happy to come across a new (new to America) reality series about the rich and famous in the borough of Chelsea (in London, England) called Made in Chelsea. Filmed in the exact same style as The Hills, it takes me back to that time when my girlfriends and I would have viewing parties every week. You can even pick out The Hills' counterparts from the series (Ollie-Justin Bobby, Gabriella-Audrina) Am I right? I was bummed to find out it was scripted, as I am sure all my favorite drama-filled reality series are, but I still can't get enough! For Comcast subscribers, it is On Demand, or watch it every Monday on the Style Network. :) Your welcome!   
  

Kramer vs Kramer (1979)

I have been wanting to see this multi-Oscar winning film for EVER, and figured it was on my Yahoo movie list. I neglected to consult my list before I ordered it on Netflix. I was surprised to see it wasn't on the list but had to watch it anyway. I am a big fan of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep so I knew it was going to be a winner. It was more than that, I fell in love with this film! The plot is so timeless, so even though it was from 1979 (a very young Meryl and Dustin indeed) the story can transgress through many decades. The actor who played the little boy in the film, Justin Henry, stole the show for me, and he was fantastic! (Where was his Oscar nod?)

I watched the "Making Of" special feature, and learned that Dustin Hoffman was going through his own divorce at the time the director and producer approached him to play the part of Ted Kramer. It took a lot of convincing but obviously he succumbed to the pressure! :) I highly highly recommend watching this film if you haven't. Let me know your thoughts!   

Day Trip to Apple Hill

Since Alex had Veteran's Day off from work, we decided to make a day trip up to Apple Hill since he has never been! We went to 3 separate ranches but they were within 5 miles of each other (if that) so it was super easy to get to all of them. My favorite part of the trip was the famous apple cider donuts from Rainbow Orchards Ranch. They are made constantly throughout the day so you get a hot, fresh donut on the spot. It was crispy and sugary on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. I highly recommend grabbing a few! Jack Russell Brewery was a nice end to the day, and I sampled their Pumpkin Ale and we got to take home the pint glass as a memento! Don't forget to take home an apple pie for your Thanksgiving meal, available at almost all of the ranches. :) Here are some pictures from each of the ranches.

Apple Ridge:

Rainbow Orchards:


Jack Russell Brewery:



What is so nice about living an hour away from Apple Hill was that we made a half day out of the trip and had enough time to see James Bond later that day! A successful day indeed. :)

Fab Finds of the Week

I don't wear a lot of makeup to begin with, but I have been flirting with the idea of getting on the BB Cream train. However, I tried this Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse the other day from my friend and I loved it! It evens out your skin tone without feeling cakey (the main reason why I hate wearing face makeup). I am very pale :( so I bought this in the second-to-lightest shade (Classic Ivory Light 2) What a good find! At Ulta it was under $9. 

I got this great brown and gold belt at a trip to Nordstrom Rack today. I needed a neutral one that I could belt my anorak (pictured) or chunky knit sweaters. It gives a nice fitted shape even when you are wearing bulky layers. :) For $15, it was a super find at my favorite store.

I have a lot of rings (thanks Forever 21!) that end of in a dusty pile under my earring rack. When I was browsing Marshall's the other day for something else, I decided to check out their homegoods section for a storage container for my ring collection. I found this $3 decorative bowl that easily fits all my rings, and looks cute with all my jewelry displayed on my dresser. Marshall's strikes again.


What were your fab finds of the week?

Crockpot Chili

Brrrrrr. It finally decided to cool down a lot here, and Alex made a request a while back to make chili for us when it well, becomes chilly. :) My step-mom made the BEST chili on Sunday, and I had to get the recipe and make it myself. 

This recipe is very similar to one my mom makes a lot, but this was the first time I made chili on my own! I added (from the advice of my step-mom) celery, green pepper and jalapenos.  My own additions were half a can of corn for a tad of sweetness and minced garlic which no recipe can do without. I used all ground turkey vs. beef to make it a tad healthier. I also made delicious honey cornbread muffins on the side. Sprinkle shredded cheese, onions, sour cream on top or whatever tickles your fancy. For my 4 quart crockpot we had so much leftovers we were easily able to freeze another meal or two more.


Election 2012

In honor of the election tomorrow, I wanted to post something with some humor. I am sure a bunch of you have seen this clip already when it aired on SNL a few weeks ago, but I loved it. There was a lot of talk about the "undecided" voters this election, and how they would decide the election. I don't like to discuss politics that much because it can start an argument at the drop of a hat, but these "undecided voters" are a joke. Truly. If you can't decide between apples and oranges then don't even bother voting. 

Don't be an undecided voter. 

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Life gave me some lemons yesterday. I didn't order them. But I was kind of craving them at the same time. Weird, I know. The past 6 months has been a unique experience for me, one I hope I never run into again. Life is a series of experiences and lessons, and I can tell you I have learned my fair share this year. 

So about those lemons. I'm going to take them and make some lemonade. But not any lemonade. I want an Arnold Palmer. I've always liked those. 

Trends That Need To Die

In honor of Halloween I have a delightfully frightening post today. Fashion failures. I have witnessed some fashion fads lately that have outlasted their 15 minutes of fame. I outline the scary trends below.  
Crop Tops
Unless it's a beach cover up or you plan on spending all day at the Santa Monica Pier, I don't really care to see your toned abdominals, or the lack thereof.
Flatforms
I admit I almost fell victim to this fad. But not to this picture's extent. These seem like the most damaging shoes to walk in. To make a long story short, to quote my boyfriend: "they look like bricks." Touche. 
Circle Glasses
I've got nothing wrong with aviators, wayfarers or cat-eye glasses. Different style glasses look good on different people. But these plastic, bulky things? They don't look good on anyone. Save the circle lenses for The Boy Who Lived please.
Boxy Jackets
 Every woman likes a structured jacket. It says, "I'm polished." "I'm powerful." A boxy jacket says, "I am trying to hide a baby bump." "I don't know how to dress for my shape." "I think this is what they call fashion." Don't spend "X" amount of dollars on something you saw on the runway that makes you look frumpy. On purpose.
Printed Leggings



 This looks like something Nikki Minaj would wear. The fact that emulating Nikki Minaj's "style" is trendy makes me hurl. I hate Nikki Minaj. That's all I have to say about this. 
Heel-less Heels
 I saved the best for last. Can anyone explain what these are? Because I've seen these online a million times but I have yet to see a person on the street dare to wear them. If I do, I want to follow you, because there is no way you can make it two blocks without face planting. These are dangerous. Wear with caution.


So, do you disagree with any of my choices? What else needs to be added to my list?



Lust List: Movie Trailers

This weekend I was preoccupied by Halloween festivities so I didn't have a chance to watch a film off my "100 Movies" list. However, I wanted this post to be movie related. Luckily, two trailers were released recently that got me lusting over the upcoming movie season.

The first was Iron Man 3. I am not one to watch many super hero movies, but when it comes to Batman or Iron Man, I pay my $10 and enjoy the thrill ride. I loved the first Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr was perfectly comical and heroic. The second Iron Man was somewhat forgettable, so I hope this one amps it up a bit.


Secondly, and most excitedly, was the release of Kathryn Bigelow's trailer for the December release of Zero Dark Thirty. She is the Oscar winning director of The Hurt Locker, an incredible and intense modern war film. I read that this film, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, was already in production when SEAL Team 6 successfully killed him in May 2011. Fiction becomes non-fiction. The most hair-raising part of the trailer is the last sequence, when it shows the team at night ambushing what we know as the spot where bin Laden is kept. Even though we know the ending, Kathryn Bigelow will make sure to make this a very bumpy ride.


Will you be seeing Iron Man 3 and/or Zero Dark Thirty? Any other movies you can't wait to see?

Russian Tortellini

My boyfriend is Russian and I have been lucky enough to try different Russian dishes when we go to his parents house. But tonight, we made it ourselves. There is a large International Market down the road from us and they have so many interesting things from different cultures. Alex bought these pelmeny, which I still have trouble pronouncing in Russian, so I just call them "Russian Tortellini". 

Unlike traditional Italian tortellini filled with cheese, these are filled with chicken, veal, pork or beef (with spices). You top the pelmeny with butter and/or sour cream, which I thought was interesting, but tasted just fine. Definitely not on the healthier side of the scale, but tasty! 

 After dinner I decided to finally put all my loose recipes together. I rip recipes out of magazines or print them out online so much that I have accumulated a huge pile. So I took a leftover binder from school, clear tabs with labels and hole punched all those suckers! It's nothing fancy, but it beats the chaos I had before. Also, as shown on the picture on the right, I have a tip. :) My parents always taught me to write on my recipes. A lot of the time your appliances need to be adjusted or a few ingredients or amounts need to be tweaked (like the chicken taquito recipe from earlier this month!) Writing it down will help for the future, so you'll get it right every time. :) 

World Series 2012

In honor of the San Francisco Giants making the World Series, (and Game 1 is on as I type!) I must dedicate a post to my excitement for this team, and for our fans. What a crazy year it has been, rather torturous to put it in Giants' terms. I was lucky enough to go to 3 games this year, but I can't tell you how much I wish I was there now! I leave you with a Brian Wilson meme. Because, why not? He can't play, but he will be seen and heard.


My Style: 10.24.12

Today was a typical fall weather outfit day for me: sweater, skinny jeans and boots. (And anorak jacket - not pictured)

Sweater: Nordstrom Rack, Skinny Jeans: Blank NYC, Boots: Steve Madden (OLD), Ring: Forever 21





I bought the sweater a few weeks ago from Nordstrom Rack (hurry up, if you go now they may still have it!) and I LOVE it. It has a hi-low hem and fits like a glove. Before this season, I didn't really own too much fall/winter clothes. Reason being, I would wear sweatshirts over everything to school and had a job that required a uniform. Now that I'm graduated (yay!) and work in a casual work environment (flip flops in the summer? Yep!) I can actually wear what's in my closet outside of the weekends.




Gee, now that I think about it. These boots have been through a lot. I bought them in 2009 before I went on a road trip with my friends. Since then, I've worn them in all seasons. They have their wear and tear, but they've held up pretty well for being $40 at Marshalls. 

 Two guesses where this ring is from? Ol' reliable Forever 21! I have been buying "statement rings" lately. Nothing gigantic, or sharp that could be confused for a weapon. Just stylish, different, and adds a pop. Like this one. For $3, it's a good find.

Crockpot Chicken & Rice

Sunday was the first sign of Fall, so I wanted to make our Sunday dinner be hearty, warm and comforting. So I busted out my crock pot and found this Cheesy Chicken & Rice recipe on Pinterest. It was super easy and only took 3 hours. 

The recipe called for 4 chicken breasts, but mine were pretty hefty, so I could have probably gotten away with using 3. It also says it should take 3-4 hours on high, yet my crock pot managed to cook the chicken within 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 hrs. You are better off checking your own crock pot as to not under or over cook the chicken! 

The chicken was super tender, juicy and shredded easily. It was so delicious. It reminded me of a dish my mom made when I was younger; probably another reason why I liked it so much!



 

Fab Finds of the Week: Fall Fashion

I had to return something at Forever 21 this weekend, and search for some accessories for my Halloween costume. So naturally, that was my chance to search for items on my Forever 21 wish list. But come Sunday they were having a 21% off sale online, so I didn't do too much damage in-store. Here are some of my recent fabulous finds from my weekend:


 I found this polka-dot sweater and fell in love. I got to buy it in-store and see how thick, soft and comfy it is, I got so excited I added the other color to my shopping cart for Sunday's sale. I don't own anything polka-dot so this was a nice change for my wardrobe.

I was so excited when I found out Forever 21 carried the new trendy color for fall, Oxblood in a zippered skinny denim. And wait for it... at a price of under $13 during the sale. I snagged these in Oxblood, Olive and Black.

2 People + 1 Umbrella = Someone's getting soaked! That's how it is in our house. So I took the liberty and purchased this cute umbrella on Forever 21's Sunday Sale. At under $5, staying dry never looked so thrifty. And cute!

What were your Fab Finds of the week?