Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Spiritual Master

I've written about what a positive influence Gretchen Ruben's podcast, Happier, has had on me in the past. In one of her latest episodes, she talked about imitating your spiritual master.

Gretchen spoke about her own spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth went on to share her's - Barbara Walters. They each spoke about their master's personal characteristics that they were drawn to and inspired to imitate in their own lives. Without a second thought, I knew exactly who my spiritual master is... my Dad. 

Dad has always been the one to lead by example. He not only talks the talk, but he actually walks it as well. I'm not saying my Dad is perfect... ok, maybe I am... but don't we all want to believe that our parents are the best? There are several characteristics of my Dad that I have always admired and try to imitate myself.  It didn't occur to me until a bit later, that Father's Day had just passed... so what better time than now to reflect on my thoughts on this subject. I'm hoping that in doing so, it will remind me to practice these characteristics in my daily life more so than I have been. 

Be Accepting:

Dad is always accepting of people from all walks of life. I've never really seen him judge anyone and he always believes in giving people a second chance. Being that he is Hindu and practices a polytheistic religion, he is always educating himself about other religions as well. He has studied several different religions throughout his life and always try to show me that in the end they all have something in common. I really admire that about him.

For the most part, I believe that I'm a pretty accepting person. However, I can't say that I haven't slipped up once in a while and judged someone before giving them a chance. I could definitely do better.

Be Organize & Prepared:

I'm definitely my Dad's daughter in this sense. He is always very organized and prepared for almost anything. I remember when him and my mom were traveling together to India for the first time and my sister and I could not go. He told me that he had prepared his Will and what do you in case something terrible should happen to them... just in case! I was pretty scared when he told me about this since I was barely a teen at the time, but I do admire that Dad always thinks ahead. I think that is partly why I always want to make sure I have a plan B for any situation. Being organized and prepared gives me a sense of control over my life and makes me less anxious.

Be Patient & Understanding:

My Dad has been living with three women for about 20 something years now. One thing that I really admire and hope to imitate is his patience and understanding. With that much estrogen in the household you can imagine all the mood swings and "drama queen" moments he has endured. In fact the two dogs we have had in the past were both female as well! I have seen Dad really try to understand the female mind. He has actually read books and tries his best to understand why we get so crazy sometimes and tries his hardest to be patient with us. 
I'm a fairly understanding person, but I really have no patience... my husband is always testing me, but it's something that I try to be consciously aware of and it continues to be a work in progress.

Don't Stop Learning or Taking Risks:

There is always something new Dad wants to learn. He taught himself to swim in his early 40s, he has taken painting classes, learned to cook Indian food, taught himself to be tech savvy... the list goes on and he has also taken some big risks in his life. 
Seeing him always eager to learn something new and taking risks definitely inspires me. I do think that I try to imitate this behavior in my life, but I could do better.
Recently, my husband and I planned on taking a pretty big risk. Many people warned us about the challenges we would face, but my Dad encouraged us to proceed as long as it was calculated risk.
Photography has been something I've really been wanting to learn for a long time now. It's also something that I've been procrastinating about. Every time I think of singing up for a photography class something seems to happen and it just doesn't work out. Excuses... excuses.

Don't Be So Serious:

As my sister and I have grown older, I've also seen Dad grow and change along side us. He has loosened up a lot over the years and encouraged us to have fun and experience life to the fullest. As we get older, I love that I'm able to be fully honest with Dad and hang out with him just as friends.
Sometimes, I can get too serious and worry about what's next. I'm usually the one trying to plan everything and be the responsible one in the group. Dad is always reminding me to loosen up a bit and not take life so seriously. He's often saying "...just learn to enjoy the ride".

I believe we all have our own Spiritual Master... someone that inspires us to be a better person.... it's just that sometimes we may not consciously realize who it is yet. 

So, I'm curious.... who is your spiritual master?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Foodie Edition

This week we have been stuffing our faces with delicious home-made food since Chirag's mom was in town. It was mainly all Indian food because that's her speciality. However, we did go out a couple of times to some pretty cool places around the Dallas area that I thought it'd share with you today.

One: Old Time Creamery

My MIL is a huge fan of kulfi - a type of Indian ice cream. So when we discovered Old Time Creamery, we just knew we had to take her there.
They have tons of Indian flavors... a few that I can recall are: paan (bettle leaf), chikoo (sapodilla), sitafal (custard apple), and of course mango. They also have your American flavors like: red velvet, birthday cake, and amaretto... so it's really great for the whole family. What I liked most about this ice-cream shop was that even though they had these exotic flavors, none of them really tasted "artificial". Now, I'm not saying they are all natural... I'm not sure about that, but they sure did taste good!
In addition to the yummy ice-cream, they also have a super friendly staff that will let you try all the flavors and give you some great suggestions. They just seemed happy.... which is always a big plus in my book!
My in-laws loved this place! It took them back to their childhood in India. Our favorite flavors were kulfi (of course) and falooda. If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend it.
Currently, there is only one location in Plano, TX. If you or someone you know is a lover of Indian ice-creams then this place is a must!

Two: Pizza Hut's Sweet Sriracha Dyamite

You may not have Old Time Creamery near you... but I'm sure there is a Pizza Hut right around the corner.
For a long time, I had given up on Pizza Hut.... I think I just got bored with it and just started to prefer other speciality pizza shops or even Papa John's over Pizza Hut. That was until I tired one of their new speciality pizza - the Sweet Siracaha Dynamite.
Now, if you don't like spicy, then this pizza is not for you. My in-laws couldn't handle the heat... but my mask (aunt) kept going back for more even though her mouth was a bit on fire!
The pizza comes with their honey Sriracha sauce, jalapeƱo peppers, Peruvian cherry peppers, pineapple and grilled chicken. I'm a veggie... so I get mine without the chicken. The combination of flavors truly is dyamite! ;)

Three: Bahama Bucks

I grew up in India until I was about 10 years old. Even though sometimes I complain that Dallas heat is worse... summers in India are really something else. It's almost unbearable! One thing I remember during those days is my grandparents taking me snow-cone street vendor (barf-no-gollo) to cool us off a bit on those days that we just couldn't take it anymore.
Nothing too fancy... the street vendor would shave up some ice and load it up with some sort of flavored syrup. I'm not sure which one was my favorite... I just remember it being red.
Well, this past weekend we stopped by a Bahama Bucks location that just opened up next to my SIL's house. I was immediately taken by to those hot summer days. I have to admit, I did start missing my grandparents a bit.

They have so many flavors it's really hard to decide... plus they save their ice super thin which makes it just melt in your mouth. We all tried a different flavor and let me tell you... they were all amazing! I tried the Tiger's Blood and Passion Fruit flavors together (both were red... go figure!) and they put a little bit of cream on top. O-M-G!!
There are a ton of locations around Texas, but they are also expanding several locations across the states. If there is one near you... I would highly recommend it!

It's always fun to share new types of food and places to eat whenever our parents are in town. They don't tend to venture out too much on their own and it makes us so happy when we find something they really enjoy.

Are you interested joining #3TT? Please visit the hosts: SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blog, for all the details on how to join the linkup. It's a great way to meet some incredible bloggers and share any three things you'd like... the rules are super simple, so be sure to join in!

I'd love to know... Do you have some new food/restaurant recommendations?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rock-a-bye Baby Shower

This past Saturday our family celebrated the newest addition to our family... he will be making his big debut very soon!

I really had such a great time working on this shower for my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. Us four are the only family living here in Dallas, so we had tons of people flying in from all over. We had family coming from California, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. Besides the two set of parents (soon to be grandparents) the rest of the family was coming for a very short weekend trip. I wanted to make sure majority of all the decorations and prep work was done way in advance so that we would be able to spend time with everyone and really enjoy a stress free weekend. I think the soon to be parents were really happy with how the entire shower turned out.  Here are a few highlights.

The theme of the shower was picked by my SIL. They knew they were having a baby boy, so she searched on pinterest and was immediately drawn to this "Rock-a-bye Baby" theme. Since my brother-in-law has a strong music interest and is a genius on the guitar, I think this was the perfect theme for their co-ed shower.

Once we knew the theme we just ran with it! We found a lot of inspiration from pinterest. The party was mainly being organized by myself and BIL's sister - Heena. Since she was all the way in California and I am in Dallas, so we formed a pinterest board to share ideas. We decided the best way to keep us both involved in the process was to divide up the tasks.  I was in charge of the decor and cake table and she was in charge of all the games and activities for the party. It worked out really well.

This was a pretty large baby shower with about 55 people. So, we hosted it at a small hall adjacent to an Indian restaurant. It was perfect because we didn't have to worry about catering the food over to another location and since the main courses were taken care of, we could concentrated our attention on the best part... the deserts and goodies for the cake table! :)

For the entry table we set up pictures from the baby announcement shoot and shower gifts on either side. SIL found this idea on pinterest... she pick uped blue mini shower items from Bath and Body Works, tied them up together with a blue ribbon and added a cute note that stated.. "From our shower to yours". In the middle we placed an old record with silver sharpies for the guest to sign. We had the invitation printed in a circular shape, cut it and stuck it on the center of the record. I love this idea because after the shower, I think this will perfect to place in a shadow box and add it to the baby's room as cute wall decor piece. 


These are the center pieces Chirag and I made for the shower. The inspiration for these came from this pinterest picture. I improvised quiet a bit. 

I had Chirag cut out these guitar from recycled cardboard boxes. I then spray painted them black, added some blue card stock paper for the insert of the guitar and painted the guitar string with white 3-D paint pens. I wasn't sure how to make them stand up in the middle of the tables. Chirag and I both put our heads together and we decided to use cake pop sticks. At first, I thought we would have to glue them and I didn't like that they would show in the back, but the cardboard was actually slightly thick and we were able to just slit a little hole and push them threw the middle. Next, we bought these black buckets and used regular canned food items and glue the cake pop sticks to the cans. We placed them in the buckets and just hid the canned items with some shred we bought at the dollar store. Next, we added some balloons and used these records we bought at Half Price Books for about 0.30 cents each and placed the buckets on them. Lastly, we sprinkled some confetti that says "It's a boy"... and the tables were all done! :)

This was the gift table. I wanted to share this because the guitars also looked super cute if you just placed them in a simple stemmed water glass with black napkins to hold the cake pop sticks. If I had only know it was this easy... I may have skipped the buckets all together. 

The Price is Right Game

Name That Baby Food Game

These were the tables we set up for the two different games we played. In addition to these, we also played 4 other games. We played a "baby" word puzzle game (similar) and "Pregnancy - How Sweet" matching game, "Hurry... I gotta Pee Game", and "Who's Traits Should the Baby Inherit" Game. For the last two, I don't have a direct link so I can try my best to explain. 

"Hurry... I gotta Pee Game": We had 4 men place a balloon under their shirt, then they had to place a quarter in between their knees. The object of the game was to run from one end to the other and drop the quarter in a bucket... just like a pregnant women is hurrying to go pee. It was a lot of fun to watch the men do this. 

"Who's Trait Should the Baby Inherit": We had my SIL and BIL sit in chairs facing their backs to the guests. They were given the signs to see above that say "Mommy" one side and "Daddy" on the other. Then we would read out a certain trait or characteristic that the baby would inherit from their parents... i.e: Who's nose should the baby have? or Who's musical talent should the baby have? Then the parents would raise their sign and vote for either the Mommy or the Daddy. The winner would be based upon the majority voted by the guests. If the guests said Mommy's nose and if they both picked Mommy they both would get a point. 

Lastly, here is the close-up of the cake table. I ordered the black fringe curtain, musical note decals, mini-popcorn boxes and blue and white swirl lollipops from Oriental Trading. We placed the lollipops in two black bucket with Styrofoam to make them stand up. I made chocolate covered pretzel sticks with candy melts from Micahel's , placed them in Mason jars and added a cute sticker with an "S" for Baby Sudra. In the middle we added Oreos because they looked like little records to me and in the center of course was this incredible cake. My SIL had it especially designed and made from a local baker. It really turned out better than I could have ever imagined. 

After weeks of preparation, I'm so glad that Avani and Ashish loved all the little details of the shower. They really had a blast and that makes me so happy! And I hope this gave you some inspiration, in case you are expecting a new addition to your family soon too!

I'm so excited and happy to be a mami (aka aunt) and looking forward to meeting Baby Sudra very soon! :)

What is your favorite part of the decor?

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Weekend Recap

This weekend involved a lot of prep work for the influx of guests we will be having in town next week for the baby shower, as well as taking a little time to go on a celebratory anniversary dinner date.

On both Saturday and Sunday mornings/afternoon we spent a lot of time running errands and working on decor projects. The one thing that was so frustrating was running all around town looking for some blue cotton candy! Don't you just hate it when you see something in stores all the time... but when you actually need it, you can't find it anywhere?! We still haven't found it and I'm trying to come up with some alternatives to fill our glass jars for the cake table... we thought about gum balls as an alternative, but couldn't find blue anywhere either! :(

We did however finish making the all the guitars which are going to be part of the center pieces for the tables. These were actually super easy... says, the person that didn't have to cut the cardboard! I gave that hard task to the hubby. But basically,  we drew a guitar template and cut them out of cardboards, spray painted them on both sides, added some blue card stock, and used white 3D paint pens to draw the strings. We will be using cake pop sticks to help stand them up in black buckets that will be filled with decorative shred paper. I can't wait to share the finished results soon... but for now, here is a sneak peak. 

On Saturday night, we went to Nobu to celebrate our anniversary. I have to say, I was so impressed with this place! It's an upscale Japanese restaurant here in Dallas, but they actually have several locations across the States. If there is one near you, I would highly recommend it.

When I first looked at the menu online I was a little worried because I'm a vegetarian and usually I have a hard time finding something I really like besides a "fancy/tiny" salad for dinner. To my surprise there were several dishes that would be great options for me, but majority of them had tofu. Now as much as I love tofu... I'm not a huge fan of tofu in Japanese dishes. Mainly because most of the Japanese dishes use the soft tofu and I really don't like the silken texture. I still had some doubts about this place, but after reading the reviews we decided to take a gamble. 

We started out dinner of with some impressive drinks. I had the Pina Martini and Chirag ordered the Yamasaki. His was a little too strong for me, but tasted amazing!!! For our main course we went with what our waiter had suggested. My Broiled Japanese Eggplant with Miso was amazing and Chirag really loved his Broiled Alaskan Black Cod with Miso (sorry-no pics). It was the first time he ordered a fish dish and he was really impressed. I enjoyed having a great option besides the predictable fancy salad or tofu dish. We also had vegetarian sushi for starters that pretty good too and the bento box for desert, but the entrees really stole the show.

Although it's a pretty expensive place, I would highly recommend Nobu for a special occasion. 

Our plan was to go watch Jurassic World after dinner, but unfortunately we were so tired from our busy morning, plus we had to wait almost an hour until the next show time. Maybe wenext weekend! 

On Sunday night we had a low key Taco Night at home with the SIL and BIL, plus the season finale of Game of Thrones! I won't ruin it for you if you're not caught up yet... but you need to hurry up and watch the finale ASAP! This picture sums up exactly how I feel about this show. 

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Summer Romper - 3 Ways

As you guys know, I added this cute romper from Target to my closet last month. It's a really good quality, light weight romper that is going to be perfect to take on our upcoming beach vacation.

I don't normally gravitate towards black during summer months, but I really liked the pattern and the fit of this one. Plus, the price was on point for me. So here are three ways I'm planning on wearing this item.

Summer Romper

J Crew denim vest / Xhilaration romper / Mossimo black sandals / Vince Camuto black shoes / Sam & Libby sandals / Rebecca Minkoff leather handbag / Tory Burch shoulder bag / Merona floppy hat / Ray Ban ray ban aviator / Tory Burch reversible belt

One: The Date Night Look

This look is my favorite. I had been eyeing this belt for a while. I never paid much attention to belts before, but I've come to realize that a good statement belt can really elevate a simple piece of clothing.
So, I was super excited when hubby gifted me this yesterday for our anniversary! :) Man, he has been racking up some major points lately. My favorite part about this belt is that it's reversible! Say, what?! It's black and camel colored. Two colors that I know will go with pretty much everything in my closet. The leather is good quality and the width of the belt is just right for me. I really like the bucket too. Since the belt is a bit pricey, it's nice to know that I'm technically get two great belts for the price of one.
Add some cute heels and a nice clutch and I'm ready to go! I didn't realize until now that I had forgotten to add any jewelry with this look, but besides my daily studs and watch... I really don't think it needs much.

Two: The Tourist Look

This look was a bit challenging for me. I really love black and brown together. I actually consider them neutrals in my closet, but I think the pattern of this romper was throwing it off a bit for me. I'm not sure I love this look 100%, but something about it tells me this might work.
One item I've really been on the look out for is that perfect floppy hat. It's a perfect way to stay cool and shield yourself from the blazing hot sun when you are strolling the street of the beach (or Jamaica). I really liked the one when I saw it online, but it didn't quiet work out. I think I have an abnormally small head.

Three: The Chic Casual Look

This is probably my second favorite look for two reasons. I love these blue Ray Ban shades, but I've been know to loose and break sunglasses like a little kid! I only own one pair of designer shades and I guard them with my life. I've had them for over 6 years! I love them, but I'm always super duper careful anytime I wear them and so I probably won't be taking them on our trip. That's why I love these babies! They are the perfect dupes and I can be carefree with them on my vacation.
The second reason being these gladiator sandals. I recently went to Target looking for some black sandals. The ones I first gravitated towards were something like these. They were a safe bet for me since I had recently retired a similar pair in a brown shade. But then I saw the gladiator sandals and thought... "I wish I could pull these off". I'm not 100% on board with the gladiator trend... I can't do the whole knee high look, but these seemed super cute and fun. I debated for several minutes before finally deciding to go out of my comfort zone and purchase them.
The vest is from my Feb/March budget post. The one I ordered online was a little big for me and they didn't have my size in the store. So I ended up returning it and keep forgetting to purchase the smaller size online. I think its a cute layering piece for the spring/summer months.

After having so much fun putting these looks together for this romper, I been tempted by several cute options online.  Like this colorful option and this palm printed one. I'm kinda wanting all three now! :D

I'm linking up with Rachelle from PinkSole for #HowISpring linkup... here in Dallas it's already feeling more like summer! :)

Which look is your favorite?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Three Things Thursday: It's Our Anniversary!

Today's three things Thursday post is a little special and personal because today marks our 4 year wedding anniversary!

My husband and I were friends for about a year before we started dating. And we dated for 2 & 1/2 years and were engaged for about a year before we got married. No matter how long you have been in a relationship with someone, marriage is definitely a whole different ball game!

All of a sudden you are sharing ALL of your space with someone 24/7. You are sharing future plans, bank accounts, design ideas (or lack therefore), grocery lists, laundry, etc. Even though Chirag and I are both Indian (Gujarati) and come from similar backgrounds, I didn't start to notice the little differences in the way we were raised until we go married.  Even though his family has been in the States for a lot longer than mine, my in-laws are slightly more traditional than my parents. It's nice because they really withhold a lot of Indian traditions that my parents don't (as much). But it can also be a little harder to relate to them and understand where Chirag is coming from sometimes having been brought up slightly differently. I'm sure he feels the same way about me sometimes. But I guess this is probably true for most marriages.

Even though Chirag was born and raised in the States, he has a very traditional side to him as well. I think that's really what attracted me to him at first. To me, he somehow encompasses the perfect balance of the "traditional Desi" and the modern husband.

So for today's three things Thursday, I wanted to share three reasons as to why I'm so lucky to be married to my wonderful husband. (Stay tuned for some cheesiness!)

One: He is practical.

I tend to live on cloud nine and think a lot with my heart versus my brain. Chirag is the total opposite. He really thinks things through before acting on them. Sometimes when I ask him for advice, I almost get so annoyed because it will be something so practical and easy, but something that would have never crossed my mind in the first place. When I'm ready to buy a super extravagant teal colored sofa for our living room, he sways me towards practical, yet stylish grey version instead. He definitely keeps me grounded!

I have learned a lot from him over the years and I think he has learned to be more spontaneous and live a little on the edge with me once in a while as well. ;)

Two: He is very helpful.

Traditional Indian husbands are seldom very helpful to women. I really can't blame them entirely because it is in the way that they were raised and what is "norm" to them. They are raised to be the breadwinners and the woman is in charge of the house the kids.

However, in this day and age that is no longer the case. Lucky for me, even though my MIL is quiet traditional in some ways, she has raised her son to be super helpful around the house.

I have never really had to ask my husband for any help. He just automatically does it. He will help with all different types of chores in the house and is especially understanding when I have long hours at work. He also spoils by making breakfast on some weekends with his delicious omelette. He has even been a positive influence on my Dad and my Mom is always thanking him of that! :)

Three: He is understanding and caring.

Chirag and I are total opposites and it all became even more apparent after we got married. So, it wasn't always easy for either of us to truly understand where the other person was coming from.

Over the years, I have really seen my husband put in the effort to better understand me. He has come to realize that just because my thoughts and feeling don't make sense to him, doesn't mean that they aren't important in our marriage. It's not always easy for him, but I do see him trying and to me that's what love is all about.

We have both had to learn to adapt to the needs and wants of the other person.... learn to agree to disagree... and pick our battles. Marriage is a journey together and with each passing day we come to understand each other slightly better than we did yesterday.

Let's be real... I haven't been on cloud nine for all four years, but I truly have enjoyed our journey thus far. I believe that a marriage  does take a lot of work... whether you are consciously putting in the effort or whether the effort just comes to you naturally. It takes two people to be fully involved in building a loving, happy, and lasting relationship together.

For all these reasons and many more, I feel very blessed and happy to be celebrating four years with this wonderful man today. We both try to be a positive influence in each other's lives and like a good challenge... so I'm looking forward to celebrating today by running our very first 5K together!

Here is to many more healthy and happy years together.

Are you interested joining #3TT? Please visit the hosts: SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blog, for all the details on how to join the linkup. It's a great way to meet some incredible bloggers and share any three things you'd like... the rules are super simple, so be sure to join in!

Are you celebrating something special this week?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Inspired Style on a Budget - April/May

This weekend was full of crafts and diy projects for the upcoming baby shower for my SIL. It was really exciting to see all the projects coming together slowly. Chirag was super helpful, which really helped me enjoy the process versus stressing out on how I was going to get everything done on time. I can't wait to share all the details soon.

I've also been getting excited about our trip and with that I've been making a "vacation wish list". But before I start spending money on things I need to look cute on the beach, I thought it was time to reflect the new additions to my closet and how good (or bad) I've been on sticking with my goals.

The month of April was suppose to be a "shopping fast" for me. I will give myself an A- this month because besides these super soft tees from Cotton On, I didn't spend any additional money in the month of April.

The tees were 2 for $20 and they are both super soft and perfect basics. Surprisingly, they aren't made from cotton at all, but rather viscose. Either way, they are super soft and easy to wash and wear. I think it was worth breaking the rules slightly for these because I don't have anything like it in my closet right now and they go with pretty much everything.

April/May Purchases

Tildon shift dress / Shift dress / Old Navy a line dress / V neck t shirt / V neck t shirt / Banana Republic black skirt / Jolt white skirt / Lush crochet shorts / Xhilaration romper / Sam & Libby sandals

I can't say I was as good in May, but I wasn't entirely bad either. I added some great items, which I think are going to be perfect to take our trip as well. 

I bought the coral dress from Lulu's Memorial Day sale and I absolutely love it! It's the perfect color for my skin tone and I can dress it up or down. Plus it's a perfect dress to wear while pigging out on amazing food and drinks on a vacation and not worry about being self-conscious. 

I also picked up a few items I've seen some of my favorite bloggers rave about lately. Case in point is this dress from Nordstrom. Unfortunately, it wasn't part of their 40% sale this past month, but Cassie from Hi, Sugarplum! has me sold on it. She has a ton of different way to style this dress. I probably wouldn't have given this dress a second thought if I had seen it in stores or online, but it's really great quality and again really versatile.  

One of the reasons I love following "real women" fashion bloggers is that they are always sharing some amazing finds with you. This helps make shopping so much easier for someone like me, who is totally lost in the store or online. I only came to know this pretty lace pencil skirt through Audrey at Putting Me Together. I really like the lace detail of the skirt and I was surprised that the shape is actually pretty flattering on me.  As per my three question checklist, I'm still trying to come up with three unique ways in which I can utilize this skirt.

Speaking of my three question checklist... I originally bought these shorts with pompom detail when I saw it on Jean from Extra Petite. I thought it would be perfect for Jamaica. They fit well and are very affordable, but I'm really wondering how much use I'm really going to get out of them apart from our trip. Plus, it's not like I will be wearing them every day on the beach. So even though they are super cute, and Jean looks fabulous in the outfit she styled with them... I'm still trying to decide if they are right for me.

Two favorites from Target this month is this cute romper and these great sandals! I can always depend on Target for good quality shoes. I had these camel sandals for over three years and wore them to death. Before our Memorial Day trip, I figured it was time to replace them and I love these Sam & Libby options. I just happened to come across this romper on a recent Target run. It's light weight and I really like the pattern. It's great casual with some sandals, but I'm also planning on dressing it up with a nice black belt and heels.

The last 2 items are both technically gifts from Chirag. On a recent trip to Old Navy, he recently picked up this dress as a little surprise for me. He usually never does anything like this.... he said he thought it would be nice for our trip. I actually had seen it online a few days before and even put it in my cart, but never pulled the trigger. It was definitely a sweet surprise and I pretty wore it out the same day he gave it to me. I want to make sure to encourage this type of behavior! ;)

Lastly, I counted the black lace skirt as a gift in my budget because I was able to use Chirag's BR Embark points to get it. I'm a little torn because it very similar to the lace skirt from Nordstrom. What do you guys think? Too much a like? Should I only keep one? I've really been trying to be good about not buying/keeping something just because it was on sale or because I got it for a good deal... but something tells me that they are both different enough to keep. Or maybe I'm just trying to justify it to myself?

Even though I have a few doubts about the shorts and the black lace skit, I'm pretty happy with the items I've added to my closet. Building a wardrobe that truly makes me look forward to getting dressed in the morning is definitely a challenge for me and takes a lot of work and strategic thinking. However, I'm also trying to remember that at the end of the day they are just clothes and part of the process is to just have fun with it!

What new items did you add to your closet this month?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Exciting Summer Events

Better late, than never... am I right?! Where has the time been going lately? The weeks are just flying by. Yesterday, I was so exhausted that I took a nap after getting off work and didn't wake up 'til midnight! It was just one of those days. Before you judge me for sleeping half the day away... let me just say that I didn't quiet hit the bed til 4am the previous night and I had to wake up at 6am to make it to work on time. Anyways... on to my top 3 this week. I've been getting ready for some exciting events coming up very soon!

One: Baby Shower

I'm in charge of the decorating for my SIL, Avani's baby shower coming up in two weeks! I've been trying to get a head start on several DIY projects I have in mind to make sure I'm not panicking at the last minute. Plus, I wanted to make sure majority of all the work is done before all of our family comes into town. Then I'll just be putting them to work for some finishing touches. 

I might have gone a bit over board

The theme is "Rock-a-bye Baby" and I have to say it's a super cute idea! Plus, there are tons of ideas on pinterest, so I didn't have to re-invent the wheel too much. The colors are going to be baby blue, black, and white. I'm still decided on whether I'll be adding hits of silver. This past weekend, we went on a little shopping spree. I went to several different craft stores and Walmart and let me tell you... Walmart won all the way!! They had a whole section with everything I needed. I was surprised because I thought the craft stores would have better products and selections, but Walmart really surprised me. 

The banner is complete

Two: Katy Trail 5K

June 11th is actually our wedding anniversary and we will be spending it this year by running the Katy Trail 5K.  When we use to live in uptown, we ran (or Chirag ran and I jogged/walked) on Katy Trail all the time. It was easy to hop on since it was walking distance from our apartment. We are both super excited because we've been wanting to do a 5K for a really long time and this will be a great one to start with. 

I've really been "running" a lot since December and it's really something I've come to enjoy. You can read more about it in this post. Unfortunately, with the all the traveling and our hectic schedule this past month, I haven't been running as much in the month of May. I finally started back up this past week, so I hope I can get back to my previous time. I'm really wanting to finish it in 30 minutes, but so far it's taking me about 35 minutes. In any case, I think it will be great to do something fun and different for our anniversary this year, plus we will be joined by some of our friends as well AND... there some amazing local foods at the end of the 5K! 

Three: Jamaica Vacay

Chirag and I haven't taken a trip since we went to Chicago as summer. We had a blast in Cancun a few years ago for our 2nd year anniversary. We love all-inclusive resorts and so we finally went ahead and booked our trip this past weekend... We are going to Jamaica! 

We were trying to decided between Negril and Montego Bay area... in the end it just came down to selecting the better resort and we ended up going with Monetgo Bay. I'm looking forward to beautiful weather and relaxing beaches. We may do a few excursions too, but mostly it will be a relaxing trip. If you have been to Jamaica before and have any tips or suggestion, please do share!

I'm always trying to "get back in shape" anytime we decide on going to a beach vacation. Why wasn't I born with an extremely high metabolism or zero taste buds?! So again, I'm trying to be better about my diet and fitness. So more salads, more running, and more shopping!!! ;)

Are you interested joining #3TT? Please visit the hosts: SalmaRaj, or Nisha's blog, for all the details on how to join the linkup.

What upcoming events or trips are you excited about this summer?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Tostada Pizza

Last week when I was in D.C., we went to California Pizza Kitchen for some lunch. I hadn't been to CPK in a really long time and forgot how much I love their Tostada Pizza. First of all, I always get a Tostada whenever I'm at taco bell (which was a lot during the college days) and secondly, I love pizza! No surprise that it was just as delicious as I remembered it. In fact, it was so good that I have been craving it again ever since!

So, I decided to make my own semi-home made version yesterday. It's pretty much just assembling all the ingredients on a pre-made pizza crust and simply popping it in the oven.

The only real "cooking" involved was opening up a can of black beans (I used the re-fried version since that's what I had on hand) and cooking it on the stove top a bit with some seasonings. I used cumin, garlic powder, and paprika to liven up the beans. I just eyeballed everything, but I'd say about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each seasoning depending on your liking. I then brushed some olive oil on the pre-made pizza crust, and spread the cooked beans across the top. I topped it all off with some cheese and cooked it in the oven for about 10 minutes per the instructions on the pre-made pizza crust. I suggest maybe cooking the beans and pizza crust for about 5-7 minutes and then taking it out, adding the cheese and placing it back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes... just to make sure you don't over cook the cheese and still get a nice crispy crust.

While that was baking in the oven, I quickly whipped up the cilantro-lime crema. It's very similar to the avocado-lime crema I've written about before. Just blend together some greek yogurt with a handful of cilantro, add lime juice and salt and pepper to your taste. You may need just a teaspoon of water to get it all going in the blender at first.  The CPK version has ranch instead, but I liked the cilantro flavor. I was pretty much done... just needed to add some important finishing touches.

Once out of the oven, I added some shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and drizzled on my cilantro-lime-crema. I topped it off with a little more cheese, my new favorite - La Victoria taco sauce (or hot sauce), and Frito chips for the crunch! 

I think this pizza is great for us, vegetarians since it give us some protein with the black beans, and helps cut down on the cheese with more fresh flavors and ingredients. It's a super easy dupe to the CPK version. I'll definitely be making this again and again!

What your favorite type of pizza?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Counting My Blessings

On Friday morning, I was running late for work as usual. As I got into my car, I started to calculate a faster route. Luckily, all the traffic lights were being really nice to me and I was doing pretty good on time. That was until I hit Loop 12!

The night before that weather had gotten pretty bad. It was thundering louder than I had ever heard before and the winds seems so strong that I almost feared that one of our windows were going to break. As loud and scary as it got, Chirag and I still felt pretty safe in the house and didn't have much problem falling asleep. We are both pretty easy sleepers. Needless to say, the next morning I noticed that my hydrangea plant and mini rose bush didn't make it out alive. :( I guess I should have known better and turned on the radio or t.v. before leaving the house, but apparently many people just like me didn't either. 

Right about 6:40 a.m., I found myself pretty much in stand still traffic all of a sudden on Loop 12. I had also just past a sign that said Loop 12 under water. But now I was on a bridge and the only option was to take the next exit and find an alternative route. Or so I thought... 

I remember checking my phone a little before 7:00 a.m. and google maps informed me that I should be able to make it to work in 1 hr and 29 mins!! So, I texted my boss and let her know about the situation. She was very understanding and I figured there was not much else I could do. So, I just tried to stay calm and used my phone to kill some time. I was using facebook, instagram, watching you tube videos, pinteresting... you know the usual stuff. So I was killing time pretty well and just like a little kid, since I was occupied with my phone, I really wasn't all that cranky (yet!). 

We had barely moved at all! I finally called Chirag around 8:15 a.m. and told him about what was going on. He also started to look up some alternate routes for me. At that time, we still thought that the previous exit was open and that would be my best shot out. My iphone battery was starting to run low and now I was starting to panic because I didn't have my car charger! 

You know when you put off doing something super simple until the very last minute and then realize that it's a little too late? That's exactly what I had done... I had been meaning to buy an iphone charger for my car for months and I just kept putting it off!! Luckily though, I sometimes grab my regular charger to use it while at work, so I had that in my bag. But where was going to charge my phone with that? I dimmed the light on my phone, kept in airplane mode for some time, and turned off my car tried to conserve some gas.

Now it was about 9-ish. Still, pretty much in the same spot.  I called my boss again because at this point, it seemed like I may not get to work until closer to 12 and it didn't make sense for me to go in for 3 and 1/2 hours. When I called her, she was stuck in the same traffic but further than me. Lucky for her, she was able to turn around and get on a different interstate to still get to work. I however, was right up front and on this bridge, so there was no out for me. She was very understanding and just told me to make home safely. 

Right around that time, I turned off my car and got out. Many people had been walking on the highway, trying to figure out what was going on. I was able to learn that the next exit was closed as well!! Now, what?! Apparently just 1 & 1/2 mile up it was all flooded and there was no way to go back with all the traffic and unable to cross the median. A little bit of panic was setting in now. 

In order to calm myself down a bit, I started to make a plan in my head and count my blessings. Here's my list:

  • Phone - I still had a little less than 50% of battery left! I also found a portable charger in my glove compartment, plus the regular charger. So at least no matter where I was, I would be able to get in touch with my family.
  • Food - As I was running late this morning, I still made it a point to quickly grab some coffee, a waffle for breakfast, plus a frozen meal, yogurt, and apple for lunch. That's a lot of food to hold me over for today.
  • Umbrella - I had also remembered to grab my umbrella this morning. So at least if the weather got bad or I had to walk to shelter I would be covered.
  • Clothes - I had pretty comfortable clothes, plus a cardigan cause I'm always cold. I was going to wear flats to work, but I ended up wearing my kitten heels, which weren't as bad as wearing high heels for sure. 
  • I'm not alone - At least I wasn't stuck in this crazy situation by myself. There were hundreds of people stuck on this freeway and so I knew that the city would be trying to do whatever it can to help us. 
  • Positive thinking - The weather was still behaving... it was gloomy, but hadn't started to pour yet. That would have just made the situation worse. Plus, this was an excuse out of work. Who doesn't love a day off? Granted, I much rather be relaxing at home or out shopping... but I was just trying think positively. 
As soon as I started to count my blessings, things actually slowly started to turn around for me.

I made friends with Krystal, who was a school teacher trying to make it to work that day. I also met another Asian lady, who was trying to walk her way to the nearest gas station to use the restroom after being in her car for 4 hours. All three of us found a way to get our car off to the shoulder and grabbed the essentials from our car and walked to the nearest gas station. 

As we walked down the ramp of the exit to the gas station, I saw people who had just abandoned their cars or were sitting on top of their cars or walking around trying to figure a way out. As I looked onto the other side of the exit, it was completely flooded!! I saw a police car 3/4 of the way under water. It was crazy to be so close to all the flooding everyone had been talking about. The gas station was packed with people trying to buy food and use the restrooms. I was able to find an outlet and charged my phone up again. I called Chirag and there was really no way he could come get me. All the roads leading up to this area were jammed packed with cars. So, I started to think that at least I have shelter here and all my essentials. 

After some time, I walked back to my car. I was Krystal standing outside just looking at other SUVs trying to cross the muddy median across to the other side. A few cars did escape, but there were also a few that got stuck in the mud. I was too scared to try this in my car and so was Krystal. So we decided to just watch and wait it out with many others. 

A few minutes later, one of Krystal's co-worker's had slowly made her way up to the area were some of these SUVs were able to escape. She had a big white F-150 and she gave it go! Within a few seconds we saw her cross over to the other side! Krystal quickly gave her a call to see if she could hitch a ride to work with her. I was a little hesitant at first, but asked if she would be willing to take me as far as she could and maybe Chirag would be able to pick me up from there. I was very scared to leave my car, but after almost 4 and 1/2 hours and no resolution in site... this was my best bet. 

A quick selfie

Both these ladies were really sweet! They dropped me off at a store fairly close to uptown. Chirag was suppose to pick me up, but luckily my friend, Vivek, was working from home and lived only 10 minutes away. He picked me and I chilled with him at his place until the evening. 

I felt so relieved!!! I thought I was going to be on Loop 12 all day and all night, the way things were looking. We watched the news at V's place and it was crazy to see that I was right upfront near all the water. Around noon, the city was able to bring a crane and remove the median between the interstate and many people were able to escape. But the traffic was still very bad and we weren't able to get my car until 10 p.m.

We actually had to find a way to get as close to my car as possible and then had to walk to it on the interstate. At this point, majority of people had already gotten their cars and the highway was quiet empty. It was hard to believe that just a few hours ago people had abandoned their cars in the middle of the interstate and feared that they would be stuck here all day! 

When we finally got to my car I was so happy!! Luckily, it hadn't rained otherwise the flooding may have gotten high enough to get my car. The only way out was to drive in the opposite direction on the road to get to the next exit. They have shut down parts of the freeway for 7 days. One of the construction workers helped escort us there and we finally got home around 11 p.m.

What a day, I tell you?! Fifteen crazy hours... but I did learn a lot from my experience. 
  • Don't put off something you can get done today. I finally have a car charger for my phone now.
  • Even if you are running late for work, be sure to grab some breakfast! You never know where your day will take you.
  • Stick in a group with some people you feel comfortable with. I'm so glad I met Krystal.
  • Count your blessing when you find yourself in a difficult situation. It could be a LOT worse.

What I went through was nothing compared to hundreds of people that lost their homes and are in a lot worse situation that me. It's so sad to hear terrible reports of people still missing! This has really been a devastating week for so many people in Texas. Everyone and their families affected by these flash floods in my thoughts and prayers. I truly can not complain about my day, but rather continue to count my blessings.

Have you counted your blessings today?