12/31/13

Resolutions for 2014


I don't normally make New Year's resolutions lists. But, this is the exception. I'm graduating in March and looked at this list as an opportunity to challenge myself before I enter the working or graduate studies worlds. So, here goes:

1. Try Ethiopian food
I love Indian food, and a lot of my friends have told me that I would be equally obsessed with Ethiopian food. Have to try it.

2. Kayak beneath the Golden Gate Bridge
Anything on the water is my favorite form of exercise. Living so close to San Francisco, I need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

3. Style my hair (at least) once a week
I always blow dry my hair in the morning, and that's it. It hangs straight, and almost every photo of me on Facebook will back that up. In 2014, I want to challenge myself to style my hair (i.e. fancy ponytails, braids, curls, etc.) at least once a week to mix things up.

4. Take a sailing lesson
My dad and I have talked about doing this for a really long time. I would love to take a sailing lesson in the new year.

5. Be more decisive
In professional settings, I am extremely decisive. In my personal life? Not so much. When it comes to choosing restaurants to dine at, movies to see, etc. I am incredibly "go with the flow" to the point that it irks some of my friends. Next year, I want to try to improve that.

6. Visit Peru, Europe, Seattle, or the Grand Canyon
One of my friends is from Peru, others are studying abroad in Europe, and I have always wanted to go on a hardcore coffee tour in Seattle and visit the Grand Canyon just for kicks. One of these adventures is going down!

7. Try going gluten free for a month
My sister went gluten free for about a year due to health concerns. So, I know how hard it is to keep to that diet constriction. However, I want to try it for a month because of the positive health benefits I have been reading about lately. Stay tuned!

8. Read more
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I love reading, and want to do it more.

9. Make dinner for my family
For one of my good deeds of 2014, I want to make dinner for my family. My parents work so hard, and my sister appreciates good grub, so why not? They deserve it.

10. Go hiking more - specifically in national parks
I really like hiking, and want to do it more this year. It's never a bad idea to get outdoors more, especially in our national parks. Leggo!

Happy New Year!

12/30/13

Looking Back: 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, I thought I would take the time to take a look back at this lucky 13 year.






In April, my dad had a very serious health scare and was in the hospital for a month. I don't want to go into the details of it, but this photograph marked the turning point of my sister and my spirits being raised. My friend, Brittney (pictured left), spent the night at our house where we made chocolate-covered strawberries and pampered ourselves with face masks and chick flicks. It was just the sort of laughter and lightheartedness my sister and I needed, and was an important moment in my 2013.














My 21st birthday dinner! My mom took me to a fancy shmancy restaurant in Palo Alto, CA called The Sea. It my first grown-up girl dinner date with some serious wining and dining.  



















My first trip to Las Vegas! We stayed at our friend, Andre's, house and jointly celebrated Brittney and my 21st birthdays.
















This was definitely a bucket list moment. My favorite scene from the Disney movie Tangled was when Flynn and Rapunzel released illuminated paper lanterns into a star-speckeld sky. This was my version of that. My boyfriend, Daniel, and I released a heart paper lantern on Del Playa beach in Isla Vista, CA. Getting the lantern to fly was a bit of a challenge, but it was a moment I will never forget.

















My family and I are heavily involved in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Last spring, Sara, Annie, Ally, my parents, and I all raised over $5,000 in the fight against cancer!
















My baby sister graduated from high school! I could not be prouder of this spud nut as she is now earning her B.A. in Communication at The George Washington University in Washington D.C., and competing as a division 1 water polo athlete.



















Speaking of graduations, Daniel graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Economics and Accounting. Brittney and I (successfully) threw a surprise party for both of our graduating boyfriends at Eureka! restaurant in Santa Barbara, CA. 

















Fourth of July in Lake Tahoe, NV with great friends! We caught some awesome firework shows and enjoyed boating, kayaking, and paddle boarding on the lake.





















I worked as a Sales and Marketing Intern at a technology start-up in Palo Alto, CA called Causera. You can learn more about the company by clicking here. One of my favorite days while working at Causera was our first road trip to Facebook HQ. It was a Silicon Valley girls' geek dream come true. 



















During the summer, my family and I reenacted our 90's jeans-on-jeans family portrait and updated it to this modern, bluesy version. I love this portrait because it reminds me of all the growth we have made as a family...especially my growing into my large head haha.
















I took this photograph of my parents kissing beneath a rainbow in our home's backyard. There aren't enough words to express how magical this moment was. I consider myself extremely lucky to have witnessed this, but more importantly, to have been raised by parents who are still so madly in love with each other.













In September, my family and I flew to Washington D.C. to visit Ally at The George Washington University. This was taken at Manassas, the site of the first battle of the Civil War. 

















Last fall, Daniel, his brother (David), and I drove up to Vandenberg, CA to check out this launch of a SpaceX rocket. This was my first space launch and certainly not my last.





















My mom, dad, and I went on a three day cruise to Ensenda, Mexico. The weekend was filled with colorful cocktails, hilarious entertainment, delicious food, and sightseeing. 











Last quarter, Kelly and I led a group of UCSB American Marketing Association members in submitting a comprehensive marketing plan for a national competition to relaunch the Hershey Take 5 candy bar. This is a photograph from the press release I wrote for the team. This experience taught me a lot about team building, time management, effective leadership, and how to create a professional marketing plan. Fingers crossed we make the top 10 and get flown out to New Orleans this spring!







Daniel and I went Christmas light strolling in SoCal where we found this slutty snowman. It gave both of us a good laugh, and was a great way to get into the Christmas sprit.


12/28/13

Looks for the Lake














These looks for the lake were modeled by my sister, Ally, and me. Ally is wearing Timberland boots, Billabong beanie, Lululemon leggings, Free People thermal, and an Anthropologie vest. I'm dressed in a Penfield coat, Victoria's Secret sweater, Anthropologie flannel, White House Black Market jeans, and Sorel boots. 

This bouldering spot is our favorite place in Lake Tahoe to hike, jump on the rocks, and catch a sweet sunset. 

Hope you enjoyed.

12/27/13

You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read

You are what you read. 

Besides being gateways to far off lands, novels' imaginative qualities possess more pull on our lives than we think. A new study suggests when a reader identifies with a character (like Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird) there is an increased chance that reader will become more like that character. The study's researchers add, "If you’ve got a deep connection with the characters, it can have a lasting impact. It can inspire you to re-read something so that impact is strengthened over time.”

In a sense, fictional characters can change us for the good.

Above, I have included some of my all-time favorite books. They represent an eclectic mix of classics and childhood favorites. For different reasons, I credit each of these books for helping make me the woman I am today. These novels include:

  1. Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story - Daphne Sheldrick 
  2. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed
  3. East of Eden - John Steinbeck
  4. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  5. 1776 - David McCullough
  6. Night - Elie Wiesel
  7. Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
  8. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn 
  9. Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt
  10. Harry Potter Series - J. K. Rowling
  11. The Light Between Oceans - M. L. Stedman
Just like you are what you eat and who you love, you are what you read. The next time you cozy up on the couch to start a new book, consider challenging your book selection in terms of intellectualism, imagination, character, adventure, and exposing yourself to new ideas. Even though my favorite reads list may not fully reflect this concept, I constantly dare myself to read books written by authors with different political and religious affiliations than my own, and genres that push the boundaries of my literary comfort zone. When reading, choose a combination of books that appeal to your personal favorites and that force you into out-of-the-box thinking. You might be surprised about what you learn, and more importantly, who you will become. 

12/26/13

Have Yourself a Merry (Belated) Christmas

Merry (Belated) Christmas everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I start rocking out to my holiday jams starting the Black Friday after Thanksgiving and don't stop until New Year's Eve. There is just something about the twinkling lights, ugly Christmas sweater parties, baking with my mom and sister, cheesy Christmas movies, and genuine feeling of hope and good will that makes me giddy during this holiday every year.

My Christmas was fantastic, and went a little something like this.

Every Christmas Eve, the Bakos Bunch wines and dines to a dinner of swiss fondue and dungeness crab. On Christmas morning, we made my Babki's swiss baked eggs (recipe below). Don't let the combination of swiss cheese, eggs, milk, and wine fool you. These eggs are darn delicious.


After breakfast, we opened presents. Lo and behold I got a Big Bang Theory "Soft Kitty Song" t-shirt and an authentic Dumbledore Harry Potter wand. I am embarrassed to admit I started crying per opening the Harry Potter wand. Could I be any more of a geek? Probably not. 


Below is the SnapChat of my dad that my sister sent to our friends on Christmas day. The Santa does look rather skeptical now, doesn't he? Lesson learned: we have a future artist in the family.


Have yourself a Merry (Belated) Christmas, friends!

Life Lately: Winter Break at the Lake

My dad and sister put Sally (aka my blue Toyota RAV4) into the holiday spirit by Santa-ing out my Transformers Optimus Prime bumper sticker! See the Santa hat and "Ho, Ho, Ho"? Two little boys at the first gas station stop couldn't stop smiling.

Lake Tahoe! We made it!











The men building (and defending) their snow fort.  
 Skiing at Diamond Peak. It was the boys' first time skiing (ever)!

 Lexy and I on the chair lift. Lexy attends college at St. Andrew's in Scotland. Winter break up in Lake Tahoe is the time we get to catch up with each other. You can check out Lexy's blog, Living Tri-Continental, here.







Lexy and I found these "Rein BEERs" and Christmas tree hats at the Hyatt Resort in Incline Village, NV while the boys were gambling at the casino. They really got us stoked for Christmas!








On Sunday morning, the gang drove to Reno, NV to check out Doughboy's Donuts. The shops are owned by my boyfriend's aunt and uncle. These donuts are delicious. You can never have just one (not like anyone would want to). 
















The whole family was up in Lake Tahoe by Christmas Eve. We celebrated with a lunch picnic at the beach where we took these silly pictures. 




















That's Life Lately.

12/23/13

A Review: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR


I just finished reading Crosby Noricks' Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR. The author is an experienced fashion marketing strategist, and founder of the award-winning industry resource, PR Couture. PR Couture is one of my favorite websites for marketing and PR how-to's with a fashion industry twist. Crosby's book complimented her website's aesthetic, but its tips and tricks were applicable to any career path.

The book started with this opening quote from Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

From there, Crosby describes her own start in the fashion PR world. Here, I really connected with the author. Like Crosby, I myself am not a fashion, communications, or business major in college. I am a history and cultural anthropology double-major trying to make my splash in the marketing or PR industry. Crosby pursued a Master's in communications to legitimize her foothold in the PR industry. This is exactly what I intend to do after college. So, I was pleasantly surprised to read about Crosby's like-minded success.

So, what is public relations? In PR, you are your reputation, pure and simple. According to Crosby, PR is a part of business strategy and management, focused on the relationship between the company and the people out there who are connected to that company, with the purpose of making good things happen for all. My favorite example Crosby supplied had to do with a Diane Von Furstenburg dress. In differentiating PR from advertising, Crosby showed how the implied third-party endorsement by an editor could carry more credibility among potential customers than advertising. For example, a full-page advertisement from Diane Von Furstenburg featuring a wine-colored wrap dress may have less impact than if a fashion editor listed the dress as her "fall must-have," noting the flattering shape. The idea here is the editor is a fashion industry expert, and therefore wields greater consumer influence. Thus, emphasizing the need for PR specialists to cultivate relationships with media.

My hands-down favorite discussion in Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR dealt with PR internships. Crosby outlined intern responsibilities, resources for finding available positions, fashion PR agencies to watch via social media platforms, how to submit a stand-out application, PR professionals' testimonials, interview tips, and how to turn an internship into a job.

The interview tips were fairly straightforward, but Crosby's recommendation to bring a portfolio was new to me. I have always been taught creative industries (i.e. graphic design, photography, etc.) required a portfolio during a job interview; not PR. However, Crosby suggests bringing a portfolio consisting of published pieces in student newspapers, a mock company newsletter for your current job, a seasonal promotions plan for a local boutique, a press kit for your friend who is a jewelry designer, or press release assignments for a class. I have a lot of similar projects floating around on my computer, so I will definitely be implementing this strategy in future interviews.

Crosby's advice for turning an interview into a job was universally applicable. To do so, Crosby advised:

  • Fake it till you make it
  • Know what you don't know
  • Become a strategic, critical thinker
  • Upgrade your communication skills
  • Have an opinion
  • Give (and get) feedback
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Stay in touch
Ultimately, this was a fast, informative, and enjoyable read. Crosby offered great insights that came from her (and other professionals') own experiences in the fashion PR industry. Crosby's work provided invaluable resources (i.e. open job pages, testimonials, companies to follow, reading list, glossary) that made the book pay for itself. On that note, Crosby offered herself as a resource too. I thought it was awesome how the author included her e-mail, with the open invitation for readers to contact her with questions concerning the fashion PR world. From this, you know Crosby genuinely cares about helping her readers establish themselves in the industry. As a reader, I really appreciate the lengths Crosby went to to design this informative how-to guide, and will definitely be upping my career ante based on her professional guidance.

12/18/13

Holiday Mail for Heroes

The holidays are all about showing thanks. This year, I wanted to spread some joy to the brave men and women serving our country through the American Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes program.
Each year the American Red Cross provides assistance to more than 2 million service members and many of our nation’s 24 million veterans. The American Red Cross supports military families, military and veterans hospitals, and provides emergency communications across the globe. Once a year, the American Red Cross delivers holiday greetings to veterans, military families, and active-duty service members at hospitals and installations around the world.
The personal messages, sent by tens of thousands of Americans, provide a welcome “touch of home” for troops during the holiday season.
This year, the American Red Cross is encouraging Vine and Instagram users to tag photos or video messages with the #HolidayMail hashtag so the organization can display these photos and videos on their blog for service members around the world to see this holiday season. Sending an image or video saves trees, reduces the amount of mail that needs sorting, brings cheer to countless service members, and has a much faster delivery time than mailed cards. Ultimately, it's some crazy good holiday karma. 
Below is the Instagram I made with the help of my corgi, Santa Stuz. I hope you feel inspired to send some love to our troops this holiday season, and that you have a happy holiday season with your loved ones. 

12/1/13

25 for $25 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

It's December 1st! You know what that means...just 24 days until Christmas! In other words, time to get started on your holiday shopping. 

For most people, gift giving is a daunting challenge. Finding the perfect balance between your piggy bank, show of thoughtfulness, and getting that "wow" factor is tricky for even the most seasoned of gift givers. But, have no fear. Your 25 for $25 Holiday Gift Guide is here! Below are 25 great gifts under $25 for the gals in your life. From a ninjabread cooking decorating kit to constellation necklace, you are sure to find the perfect, budget-friendly present this holiday season.


1. Ninjabread Cookie Kit
Spice up your girl's gingerbread cookies this year with some butt-kicking ninjabread hiiiii-yeahhhs!

2. Williams-Sonoma Monogram Cheese Board & Spreader
A practical present for that woman vying to become the next Top Chef, or at least, Top Hostess.

3. I Am Malala
I watched an interview with Malala on Good Morning America and I have been dying to read her book ever since. When she was just 15 years old, Malala was shot in the head point-blank by the Taliban. I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. The best gift for that woman who is going to change the world.

4. Limited Edition Golden Monogram Mug
These mugs are surprisingly chic and badass. My friends and I are obsessed with them. Stock up before they are gone!

5. Aerie Lace Detail Bralette
The lace on this bralette is the perfect peek-a-boo for any v-neck tee or sweater sported this holiday season.

6. J. Crew Snowflake Fair Isle Trouser Socks
Every girl is secretly addicted to a good pair of cozy socks. Seriously, every girl.

7. Chill in the Air Circle Scarf in Red
Universal truth: red looks good on every woman. So, it's no surprise that this bright red, snuggly scarf should be a staple to every woman's winter wardrobe.

8. Monogrammed Clutch Purse
Because every woman needs a good clutch. Bonus points for personalization.

9. Monogrammed Bobby Pin Set
Give her the gift of elegance with these simple, personalized bobby pins. The perfect touch to any girls' up-do.

10. Hand-Knit Grey Headband/ Ear Warmer
Comfy, cozy, and a must-need for winter adventuring.

11. Handmade Gold Constellation Necklace
This necklace goes with everything, and appeals to any woman's stargazing side.

12. Aerie Silky Boxer
Silky boxers....SILKY BOXERS! Need I say more?

13. Capri Blue Mercury Glass Candle
Mercury glass decor adds a unique sheen to any home decor. Did I mention this candle also smells and looks magical when lit?

14. Sephora Favorites Fragrance Rollerball Sample for Her
Rollerball perfumes are great for that girl who is always on the go. They can be stored in purses, cars, desk drawers, etc. to add a quick "Ahhh" moment to any non-stop day.

15. LUSH Snowman Invasion Set of 2 Limited-Edition Bath Bombs
LUSH bath bombs are my hands-down favorite bath time treat. This gift cannot disappoint.

16. Nails Inc. Autumn Winter Collection
Really elegant colors which will compliment any woman's nail polish collection.

17. BITE BEAUTY Best Bite Set
The beauty world is all abuzz about bold, red lips. Even better? They scream confidence and sexiness, and so will this gift.

18. Kate Spade Lined "Penny for your Thoughts" Journal
Kate Spade is the classic combination of minimalism and prep, and this journal is no exception. Sure to be a crowd pleaser.

19. Pendleton Notebook- Set of 3
Perfect for the daydreamer. I own these notebooks and use them to brainstorm everything from American Marketing Association meeting notes to upcoming blog post topics. Love them.

20. You're Such a Super Lady Pencils (Set of 9)
Because what girl doesn't want to look down at her pencil-in-hand and think, "Yeah, you go Glen Coco!"

21. 2014 Moon Calendar
An unexpected touch of whimsy to any woman's wall space.

22. Let it Snow- Hand Stamped Vintage Holiday Coffee Spoon
I love the playful phrases on these vintage spoons. If you are a coffee addict (like me), then you can appreciate the value in a stir spoon that puts a smile on your face before your morning jolt of caffeine.

23. Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Have a chocoholic on your gifting list? Well, this hot chocolate is mindblowingly delicious. Buy it. You won't regret it.

24. Teavana Holiday Favorites Tea Gift Set
A great addition to any tea lovers' arsenal of home brews.

25. The Sriracha Cookbook
Sriracha is the spice of the 2013 life. Give the gift of sampling scrumptious, new Sriracha favorites with this quirky cookbook.

11/28/13

Giving Thanks the Bakos Way

Sending everyone the warmest of Thanksgiving wishes! Thanksgiving is an important day to sit down, relax, and remember what we are all thankful for. I could rattle on and on about who and what I am most thankful for this year, but ultimately, it would all come down to my family. My hilarious, stubborn, fun-loving, supportive, cheerleading family has always, and will always, be my anchor. On a personal note, this Thanksgiving marked the first without my Dziadzi, but also the over-the-moon celebration of my dad's latest cancer scan showing his tumors have decreased. These sort of up's and down's are what family is all about. So, what better day to appreciate my loved ones than Thanksgiving? Below are some snapshots of how the Bakos Bunch gave thanks. We cooked together, spoiled Stutz with our turkey scraps, and sported food-baby-friendly sweatpants to take part in our annual watching of the post-Thanksgiving James Bond-a-Thon on T.V. I hope you all had amazing Thanksgivings, and that you took the time to appreciate the ones you love; especially how blessed you are to have them in your life. Gratitude really and truly changes everything. 

What happens when dad fixes the Thanksgiving decorations...

Dad carving the turkey, Babki de-shelling crab, mom rolling out the pie dough, and Ally whisking up the pumpkin pie.

 Making the pie crusts after Babki and mom showed me how.


The Thanksgiving tablescape.


The before (left) and after (right) of Stutz's Thanksgiving dinner. Needless to say, he ate better than the Queen of England's corgis tonight.