Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Chic ‘n Cheap Living Guest Post: Guinness Chocolate Cake Recipe

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have recently seen my photo of the Guinness chocolate cake Stephen and I made for St. Patrick’s Day. Of course, the results were delicious, and since this is one of our go-to dessert recipes any time of year, I've decided to share it in a guest post for Chic ‘n Cheap Living

The post is running today, so feel free to stop by, check it out, and also take a look at the many other fun and inspiring pieces featured there. Happy eats! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Favorite Spring Bath & Beauty Finds -- $15 or Less

Now that it seems as if spring is finally here to stay, I’m excited to bust out a few new and old bath and beauty favorites, including these five, which all cost less than $15.

Bath & Body Works Say Aloha to Hawaii Hand Sanitizer Set  $5

I picked up this set up over the weekend and immediately loved every one of the Hawaiian-themed scents, especially Island White Pineapple. Mini sanitizers are a must-have in my purse all year long, and this collection is just perfect for carrying me right through spring and into summer.

Bath & Body Works Maui Hibiscus Beach Pink Sand Body Scrub – $14.50

Another great Bath & Body Works find, this exfoliating scrub refreshes the skin and has the most amazing scent.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque – $3.99

The warmer days of spring can often mean the start of occasional breakouts on my face, but this fantastic yet inexpensive mask, available at Ulta, always helps keep them at bay.

Milani Baked Blush in Dolce Pink – $7.99

I recently decided to try out Milani’s blush, and I’m very glad I did! The quality is great, the color lasts, and the Dolce Pink shade seems just right for spring.

Revlon Eclectic Nail Polish – $4.99 at Ulta

Springtime calls for pastels, and I absolutely love the dark minty hue of Revlon’s Eclectic nail polish.

Have you tried any of these products? Which bath and beauty treats are you particularly loving this spring?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Happies & Crappies: March 28, 2014

As part of my effort to start revitalizing and breathing some new life into this little blog of mine, I’m planning to participate in more linkups throughout the coming weeks. Connecting with other bloggers and making new friends has truly been the best part of this experience so far, from way back when I was a bride blogging about my upcoming wedding to today, as I’m continuing to live and love life both here in DC and in my home state of California while visiting family and friends.

Today, I'm joining Stephanie, Amber and some other lovely ladies for their weekly Happies and Crappies linkup, where bloggers can come together to share the highs and lows of the previous week. Check out my happies and crappies below, and feel free to join in the fun yourself! 


1. OK, so this "happy" technically took place last week, but since I didn’t link up then, I’ve decided to mention it here anyway. Stephen and I headed to the Kennedy Center last Thursday night to see Washington National Opera’s production of The Elixir of Love, which we both really enjoyed. Husband and wife duo Ailyn PĂ©rez and Stephen Costello were spectacular, and this was quite possibly my favorite opera I've seen thus far. If you've never been to the opera or don't think you would like it, I definitely recommend giving it a try. The themes and stories are timeless, the music and singing are beautiful, and you just might find yourself being pleasantly swept away as you watch the action unfold! 

2. Speaking of the Kennedy Center, we’ll be heading back there again tonight for One Mic: NSO Pops: Nas with the 20th Anniversary Celebration of ILLMATIC, which I recently won free tickets to! I don’t usually listen to a lot of hip-hop music, but since I enjoyed another similar performance we saw a few weeks ago through the Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage program, I'm excited to check this one out, too! 

3. As if winning tickets to the Kennedy Center Pops show wasn’t already awesome enough, I was also thrilled to win a Kindle Paperwhite and Mac lipstick thanks to a fun blog giveaway hosted in conjunction with Ayesha at The Other Side of Paradise and Faith at Life.Love&Marriage. Woo hoo!


1. Despite the fact that it is now officially spring, we got hit with yet another blast of snow on Tuesday. Luckily, things are starting to warm up again now, and will hopefully continue on that way throughout the rest of the season!

2. Even with all of the progress that has been made in terms of cancer research and treatment options, there are still far too many people of all ages being impacted by this horrible disease, including those who don't have access to affordable insurance or treatment plans, or access to educational resources providing information about the risks and signs to watch out for. 

Of course, every little bit of funding and raising of awareness helps, and I try to support those who are working to make a difference. If you'd like to help, too, and donate on behalf of a good cause, please consider supporting my friend Diana at The World Around Her in her effort to raise $250 for the Philadelphia Race for the Cure. Certainly, making a donation to one of the many other reputable organizations working to fight cancer, or signing up for a walk or fundraising event yourself,  is always a positive thing, too. I know I definitely need to be more active and involved, and I'm grateful to people like Diana for their inspiration. 

Have a safe, fun and healthy weekend, everyone! See you next week!  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Indian Cooking Class: Part Two

After having an awesome time at our first Whole Foods-sponsored Indian cooking class, Stephen and I couldn’t wait to head back for the second session last week, where we learned how to whip up yet another batch of tasty eats!

Just like last time, I’ve listed the names of the dishes below, along with photos and links to online recipes that are similar to those we were given as part of a written packet during the class. Check them out, and if you missed last week’s post, featuring such delicious dishes as sambar, masala dosa and gulab jamum, feel free to give it a read.

Chicken Masala with Vegetable Pulao & Onion Cucumber Raita  

Back before I became a pescetarian, chicken masala was one of my favorite Indian dishes. I’d love to try this recipe at home using shrimp. I'm also excited to try making vegetable pulao rice and yogurt-based onion cucumber raita, which were both good. 

Mango Lassi

If you’ve never tried a mango lassi before, you’ve definitely been missing out. This yogurt and mango smoothie is so flavorful and refreshing, I could drink one every day! 

What’s your favorite Indian dish?  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Indian Cooking Class: Part One

As longtime lovers of Indian food, Stephen and I were thrilled to discover that our local Whole Foods was offering a series of two cooking classes this month featuring popular Indian dishes, including sambar and gulab jamun. When we also found out that all proceeds from the classes would go toward supporting the company’s Whole Planet Foundation, which works to alleviate global poverty, we knew we absolutely had to sign up.

And now, thanks to the awesome instructors who shared flavorful recipes from the country’s southern region, we’re certainly happy we did! In fact, we liked this first class so much that we even headed back a couple nights ago for the second session, which I’ll recap next week.

Do you like Indian food, too? Here’s a quick overview of the dishes we learned to make during the first meeting, along with links to online versions that are similar to the Whole Foods recipes, which we were given as part of a printed packet. 


Sambar is an Indian soup that can be made with lentils and a variety of vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots, eggplant and even an okra-like moringa fruit drumstick that I had never before tasted. Served hot and spicy, this dish perfectly complemented the masala dosa described below.

Masala Dosa

Along with our sambar, we also feasted upon Indian crepes filled with a tasty masala made from potatoes, onions, jalapeno and plenty of delectable spices. These were so good that I even ate two of them before the class was over, both topped with the spicy coconut chutney we also learned how to make. 

Gulab Jamun

Saving perhaps the best for last, our meal ended with a taste of sweet and syrupy gulab jamun, a fried dough dessert. I was so excited to taste mine that I completely forgot to take a picture, but if you click on the link above, you’ll see exactly what they look like.

Have you ever taken a cooking class before? What types of cuisine would you love to learn how to make?