A Few of My Favorite Things from 2016

With 2016 coming to a close, a wanted to take a moment and share some of my favorite discoveries from 2016. 

Book of the Month Club

This subscription might be my favorite find of 2016. Book of the Month Club invites guest judges like Ellie Kemper, Anthony Bourdain, and Allison Williams (to name a few) to select five books every month for members to choose from. Depending on your subscription, you can choose how many discounted books you receive each month - and you can always purchase an additional book at a lower rate if it sounds especially interesting! The site offers a ton of promo codes, so I'd recommend subscribing to their newsletter or following them on Instagram to ensure you join at the best price.


Glossier is my indie beauty find of 2016. Their Generation G matte lipstick, Super Pack face oils, and Stretch Concealer have earned permanent places in my beauty cabinet. Plus, their products ship quick and are pretty reasonably priced (especially considering their high quality). 

News Subscriptions

After the recent presidential election, I subscribed to digital subscriptions of The New York Times and The Washignton Post. I wanted to show my support for hard-hitting journalism, and ensure I always had a method of staying properly informed. With so much fake and click-bait news out there now, it's nice to open these news apps and get a rundown of that day's most up-to-date and noteworthy happenings.

Fitbit Charge 2
On Black Friday, my sister, Dad, and I purchased Fitbit Charge 2 devices. These fitness trackers start at $150 and track everything from your daily steps, heart rate, sleeping patterns, meditation sequences, GPS for running, reminders to move throughout the day, and more! Plus, the devices use bluetooth to silently buzz to notify you of incoming calls and texts. My family has been using ur Fitbit Charge 2s to compete in various step goal competitions, which has been a great motivator for us to go out exploring together as a family.

Three Corgmigos

My family has three corgis named Vixey, Easy, and Slick (from left to right). This year, my sister started an Instagram account called Three Corgmigos. If you love corgis and clever captions, then you should follow along. Her posts always make me laugh when they go live on Instagram.


I discovered Tasty's video recipes this year and am obsessed - so much so that I received their cookbook as a Christmas gift this year. I've always been more of a visual learner, so their simple, step-by-step recipes make it easy to follow along. It also doesn't hurt that the recipes are quick to make and always delicious.

Online Yoga Classes

Right now, YogaWorks is offering online yoga classes for $50 for an entire year with the promo code HOLIDAYS! I was a YogaWorks studio member for a year and loved their classes. Unfortunately, the new apartment I moved to was just far enough way from my old studio to make driving to my regular classes too inconvenient. Now, I'm a huge fan of their online classes! I purchased all my usual class props from Amazon at discounted prices, so it's been fun to experiment with new classes whenever I have down time. I also love that I can take the classes wherever I go if I'm traveling - great investment!

'Nasty Woman' Movement

Despite my girl not getting elected, I loved the lasting impact left by the 'Nasty Women' movement. If you haven't read up on it yet, you should! The stories shared on social media using this hashtag are incredibly powerful, and something everyone should expose themselves to - male or female. 

Tile Mate

I received a Tile Mate at a work event I attended this year, and I love it! The slim tile attaches to your keyring, purse, wallet, gym bag, etc. and you can track its location through the Tile app on your mobile phone. Conversely, you can also find your phone using a Tile Mate too. By pressing the center "Tile" logo on the device, your phone will start ringing so you can locate it. A four-pack of Tile Mates costs $70, and the units last you one year. They don't require charging or a battery change, and you can recycle them after one year to purchase new Tile Mates at a discounted price.


HBO's WestWorld was my binge-show of 2016. You can watch a trailer of the series here. The basic premise is a futuristic theme park where human visitors interact with robotic "hosts" to the extent that you can't tell who is who in this western-themed world. The show plays with themes of psychology, sci-fi, technology, and is definitely a must-watch.

Lush Face Masks

These all-natural face masks are my favorite, and I put one of these bad boys on my face every week. On average, each mask is about $10 and they address the full spectrum of skin care needs from acne, oily skin, moisturization, and brightening. Since getting into this routine, I've noticed a significant improvement in my skin's overall health and appearance. If you visit a Lush store, their employees can help you find the best mask for your skin type. Mask of Magnaminty is my go-to, but honestly, they're all great. Plus, once you've gone through five jars, you can bring them into a Lush store to recycle for a free mask - pretty cool!


Why I Voted for Her

I'm proud of my vote and involvement in this Presidential Election.

I didn't vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a democrat or a woman.

I voted for her because she had the most proven political, educational, and activist accomplishments under her belt.

I voted for her because she was a champion for all minorities. I love and respect my friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members and the spectrum of different medical, racial, sexual, and religious beliefs they represent. With my vote, I wanted to be able to look them in the eye and say my vote stood up for them - not just myself and the privileges I was lucky enough to be afforded growing up.

I voted for her because she believed in innovative scientific research - especially cancer. My dad has stage IV PMP cancer - an orphan disease. An orphan disease is a form of illness that affects less than 200,000 individuals nationwide and whose root cause is unknown. I voted for her because she would continue to safeguard my family through health insurance coverage today, and actively seek new medical advances for tomorrow. Today, I fear any government spending going toward researching my dad's rare form of cancer might be extinguished based on the beliefs and priorities of our new, majority government.

I voted for her because she respected my right to make decisions about my body - and all the other women in my life, regardless of their political or religious beliefs. Every woman should have a choice just like I have mine.

I voted for her because she believed in supporting new technologies - particularly since I work for a company that beta tests the latest in technological advancements.

I voted for her because she would have supported my academic achievements in my undergraduate and Master's programs, and not make me doubt my self worth by doing a double take of my reflection in the mirror.

I voted for her because I could picture her going overseas and building bridges with world leaders abroad, as well as with opposing political leaders at home.

I voted for her because she was passionate about protecting our environment. Being awestruck from trips to our country's National Parks are some of my most cherished memories, and an experience I want continuously preserved for future generations to come. I wanted environmental conservation to be a priority, and to not have it get swindled to turn quick profits today.

I voted for her because I felt she was the best role model to children. She was the candidate whose eyes lit up talking about our nation's history, and her potential role in helping shape its future as President. She was the candidate who would have inspired the next generation to do anything and be anything so long as they worked hard.

I voted for her because she was imperfect, but willing to fall on her sword.

I voted for her because she was the most decent human being. When I'm 80 years old, I can justify my vote for her when my grandchild interviews me for their paper on, "Who did you vote for in the 2016 presidential election and why?" He or she will be wide-eyed looking up at me - with all the facts - and enough time will have passed for the dust to settle on this moment in our nation's history. When that moment comes, I'll be proud to stand by my decision.

I'm proud of who I voted for despite her losing. Social media has already taught me I have many friends who said they were voting Hillary, only to endorse pro-Trump posts. All I ask of Trump supporters is to be proud of their candidate and their support of him. If you ever felt like you had to hide your support from a known Clinton supporter, then maybe you missed an opportunity to engage them in a meaningful conversation that could have lessened the divide currently felt within our country. And if you still feel you have to hide your true self and beliefs after a win, then maybe you didn't really win at all.

Regardless of your party, I hope we're all weary of how a one party system in this country jeopardizes our democracy. Ours is a system of lively debate - checks and balances - so concessions are reached and opposing voices are heard. Today's one party system is an eerie repeat of a dark chapter in our world history, and an unbalanced system we should all be concerned about. Yes, the people have spoken - but that doesn't mean there won't be serious repercussions within the political discourse of this country with the adoption of a basically blank check system for the next two years.

As of January 20, 2017, he'll be our Commander in Chief, and I value the respect, honor, and history that office holds. I think myself, and other Clinton supporters, can humbly accept defeat alongside Trump supporters' gracious respect of our loss in this race. Please understand where we're coming from - we saw through the media and made our own character assessments of your candidate. Yes, we know you're excited and feel heard as a political body. Please alter your perspective and acknowledge we are bewildered, heartbroken, and scared for the security of ourselves and loved ones - particularly minorities.

We can't come together without patience, time, and empathy. It isn't going to happen overnight, but it will happen. Until then, Democrats need to be assured that the best interests of the whole country were at the heart of this vote, and Republicans need to empathize as we regroup as a party - and ultimately a nation.

As a kid, I remember watching my first Presidential Election in 2000 on TV and asking my parents (of two daughters), "Why are there never women?" and they replied, "Maybe someday during your lifetime." I hope we continue to share stories of how Presidential candidates' platform positions personally affect and inspire our families and friends, so everyone can understand the full weight of their political voice in the future. I voted and volunteered for the losing candidate, and that's OK because this is my story. Regardless of party lines, I hope you can respectfully share your story too in an effort to come together for the greater good.



Currently Crushing

1. Having both heard about contouring being the latest and greatest beauty trend, my Mom and I both said yolo during our most recent visit to Sephora and each bought beginner's contouring kits. My Mom bought Smashbox's Step-by-Step Counter Kit and I bought Sephora brand's Contouring 101 Face Palette. If you're at all curious about the basics of contouring then give this video a watch. Use your favorite contouring/bronzing product (mine is Benefit Cosmetic's Hoola), invest in a beauty blender (Marshall's and TJ Maxx sell this brand for cheap) and give it a go! After a couple of tries, I actually noticed a difference in the definition of my [best] facial features.

2. I love these face masks from Sephora ($6 each). Once every couple of weeks, I leave one of these bad boys on my face for 20 minutes and voila- calmed, luminous skin (without all the messy goop of typical face masks).

3. Lately, I've gotten into the habit of rolling out of bed and going to the gym at 6 am in the morning. At 6 am, I have very little patience for my standard pump-up workout playlist. Instead, I've been getting into podcasts. Lauren Conrad curated a great list of podcasts on her blog, with TED Radio Hour and The Ricky Gervais Show being some of my favorites. Whether you're gearing up for a morning workout or are on a long road trip, these podcasts are bound to keep you entertained.

4. I bought this sweater in bright ivory from Madewell during their recent 40% off everything sale. If you're in the market for a casual, comfy sweater, then this is for you. The sweater fits a little boyfriend-ish but is made flattering by its side slits, rolled up sleeves, and V-neck. It's perfect for dressing up or snuggling up for a Netflix marathon.

5. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I tried an avocado smoothie at the pho restaurant down the street from my apartment. The end result was us both fighting over the smoothie's straw because the smoothie (which we quickly renamed the California Milkshake) was that good. After asking the waitress what magical unicorn powers were in the smoothie, we were both pleasantly surprised to learn the avocado smoothie (which tastes like a rich vanilla milkshake by the way) is surprisingly healthy. Try one for yourself with this recipe.

6. This Y-necklace (which sells for $44) has been one of my favorite jewelry buys. This minimalist necklace catches light in a very elegant way, is well-made, adjusts to three different lengths, and is great for wearing to work, going out, or spicing up your favorite v-neck tee. 


Celebrating Earth Day

Happy Earth Day everyone! For those of you who don't know, Earth Day started as a grassroots movement and is now an annual event celebrating the planet's environment in an effort to raise public awareness about man-made pollution. The first Earth Day happened in 1970 after it was proposed by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Nelson, after seeing the catastrophic damage done by the massive 1969 Santa Barbara, CA oil spill, was inspired to organize a national "teach-in" focused on educating the public about the environment. Since then, April 22 is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities, and service projects in an effort to get people outdoors and reconnect with the world around them. Below, are some easy ways you can celebrate Earth Day 2015.

Watch environmentally-minded TED Talks.
Check out this list of 12 TED Talks to watch this Earth Day. The topics range from climate crisis, ocean research, green tech, plastic pollution, sustainability, and many more (all for free).

Ditch your microbead cleanser.
If you use any of these skin cleansers, you're using a cleanser with microbeads. In theory, microbeads act as exfoliates to help you remove dead skin cells during your daily beauty routine. However, these plastic microbeads (also known as polyethylene) create small tears in your skin that actually leave your skin more prone to bacteria and breakouts. Also, one bottle of cleanser has roughly 350,000 microbeads. That, combined with the fact that microbeads absorb pollutants (like DDT and other cancer-causing chemicals), is the reason microbeads are awful for the environment. Once your cleanser goes down the drain, these thousands of pollutant-attracting bits of plastic are consumed by marine life who become increasingly poisoned thanks to biomagnification. Instead of microbeads, opt for these skin cleansers with all-natural exfoliates like sugar, jojoba, coffee grounds, or charcoal. 

Plan a trip to a National Park.
The National Park Service turns 100 years old on August 25, 2016! In celebration, The National Park Service and National Park Foundation are teaming up for the Find Your Park campaign. The Find Your Park website makes it easier than ever to visit, share, and support the National Parks. Celebrate Earth Day by planning a summer trip to a National Park that catches your eye (I sure did!).

Purchase (and use) a canvas bag.
Did you know the average length of time a plastic bag will exist on earth is 1,000 years? You would accumulate 1,000 fewer bags this year if you switched to reusable bags when shopping (especially grocery shopping). Purchase canvas bags with cool graphics, witty sayings, or that benefit causes you care about so that you'll want to take them shopping. If you're looking to purchase bags, Etsy has some great canvas bag options (this one is my personal favorite if you're forgetful like me).

Host a Netflix marathon.
Some of the best environmental movies and documentaries available on Netflix right now are Chasing Ice, The Blue Planet, More Than Honey, Tapped, Food Inc., Born Free, Blackfish, The Whale, and Virunga

Go outside!
Go for a walk outside today at your local park, beach, or neighborhood, and earn bonus points by throwing away ten pieces of litter.

Give up bottled water.
Watch this video called The Story of Bottled Water. Did you know the production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year, and it takes three times the water to make the bottle as it does to fill it (Business Insider)? Instead of buying cases of plastic water bottles, purchase a single, reusable water bottle. My favorite brands are Klean Kanteen and Nalgene, both of which you can purchase on Amazon for as low as $10. My water bottles have my college emblems on them and are decorated with stickers I've collected from my favorite causes and travels. If you personalize your water bottle, you 'll want to carry it around town. Plus, apps like WeTap make finding nearby public drinking fountains a breeze when looking to fill-up your water bottle.

Visit your local farmer's market.
Locally grown food is easier on the environment. Find farmer's markets near you, and help support local farmers!

Go paperless.
Bills come in many forms- typically on paper. Many bill-paying services offer an option to pay your bills online. This Earth Day, check the "paperless bill pay" box and go green.

Support a cause.
Support an environmental cause you care about. You can support a cause by donating money, liking/following the organization on social media to get in on the conversation, attending the organization's upcoming events, or messaging the organization's leadership asking how you can best get involved. Some of my favorite causes are Flow Hive, Save the Mermaids, Keep Tahoe Blue, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and Environmental Volunteers.


Life Lately

Life has been crazy lately...to say the least.

The last time I posted here was last December, aka 2014. That's crazy! So much has happened since then, so here are your SparkNotes:

  • I moved to Orange County (I'm in my 20's...#yolo).
  • I started a job at a technology company called Centercode. I'm a Marketing Coordinator and create/manage marketing and lead generation campaigns for both Centercode and their beta tester community, Betabound. In other words, I fly drones and shoot nerf guns all day!
  • My [rockstar, amazing, hero, brave, role model, badass] dad had surgery in San Diego for his ongoing battle with cancer. After 3+ months of continued recovery, I'm happy to say he's back home in the Bay and healing like a champ! 
  • The Bakos Bunch visited me in OC and we cheered on Ally at her SoCal water polo tournaments (pictured above).
  • I turned 23! 
  • Daniel took me to SoCal Corgi Beach Day for my birthday (if you know me or read this blog at all, you know how big of a deal this was to me).

This has easily been the most stressful six months of my life. I've had to adjust to a new city, balancing graduate school with the working world, homesickness, evolving (and new!) friendships, and overall figuring out who I am as an adult. As challenging as these past months have been, they've also been immensely eye-opening (in a good way). I've figured out what makes me happy, who I want versus need in my life, and when I need to take time for myself. I've learned how to be patient, assertive, graceful, and appreciative of the little things in ways I've never experienced before. This has been a whirlwind adventure in finding my footing as an adult, and I'm excited to discover what the next six months bring!

That's life lately.


Southwest Road Trip (Part Two)

This is Part Two of Daniel's and my Southwest Road Trip! If you missed Part One, you can click here to check it out. 

Getting my Titanic on at Mesa Verde! Hold me, Jack! 

 Daniel and I at Mesa Verde! The archaeologist in me loved this stop on our trip. We climbed crazy 30 ft ladders, crawled through tunnels, and got to explore all over the archaeological sites. It was definitely a unique opportunity to get up close to these ancient ruins, and I would recommend it to anyone venturing to the Southwest! 

"Look Ma! We're about to go spelunking!" 

Daniel mid-cave crawl

Too much testosterone in this picture to handle! 

Reinventing the Fireside Chat

Daniel pancaking on four states at once!

High five in four different states at the same time! 

The Navigator

Cheesin' at Petrified Forest! We arrived there just before sunset and purchased a drive-along CD tour at the main entrance gift shop (narrated by the ever-enthusiastic "Blake"). We had a lot of fun driving through the park at sunset, and stopping along the way whenever a location sounded particularly interesting from the CD. Oh yeah, and the entire park was insanely gorgeous!

Walking off into the sunset

Touching the petrified wood butt!

We ghosted the car...and it was awesome. 

At the historic Route 66 stop in Winslow, AZ

 Meteor Crater! Boom?

Sunset Crater Volcano

The grandest of all the canyons! 

We hiked the 12 mile roundtrip hike to Plateau Point at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Booyah!

Grand Canyon at sunset