Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from Prep Northwest

I love Christmas. I think it's safe to say that most of us who celebrate the holiday do, too! Even though I work in retail and deal with crazy holiday shoppers, I love the energy that December brings. It's cheery, full of love, and people seem to walk with a little more spring in their step. In honor of the holiday, I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos from this year and a few of my family traditions! 

Every year on Christmas Eve, my mom's side of the family gets together for the holiday. We always have a really great buffet-style dinner and open the presents we've gifted to each other. It's really great to be able to spend it with my mom's side of my family and my nephews (I have the cutest nephews around, not to brag). It's become a really special tradition! We don't do pjs or anything - when my mom moved here from the Philippines, I don't think they knew it was really a thing. But that's fine with me, I love how we do Christmas.

Christmas day is spent with my immediate family. This year, my brother wants to open our presents in the evening instead of in the morning, so we have something to look forward to (haha). I think we're gonna try! I'm also lucky enough to be invited over for dinner at Chris' with his parents and to stop by to visit with my best friend Paul's family. 

Family (and friend!) traditions are fun, unique, and interesting. Every family does Christmas differently, so it's fun to hear about and experience how another family celebrates. If you have special traditions, share them with me! That kind of sappy stuff makes my heart glow.

How fun is this "balloon" ornament?

Every year, the Sheraton hotel hosts a gingerbread house contest, and the "houses" are always amazing! This year, the theme was "Christmas Songs" - my two favorites were the Seattle and Hawaiian ones!

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recipe: Super Simple Fudge

What would the holiday season be without baking? Christmas is the perfect excuse to go on a baking spree and bake every delicious Pinterest recipe there is (trust me, there are plenty to last you the season). I love baking, but because I work, I don't have a lot of spare time to spend in the kitchen. I recently remembered a super easy fudge recipe that I used to make with my dad when I was younger and decided it was time to start making some again! I made a batch for my best friend's birthday and a couple of batches for Chris' parents. It's super easy, super delicious, and makes a great gift.

3 cups chocolate chips (I prefer milk)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk (about 1 can)
a splash of vanilla
a pinch of salt
a handful of nuts (optional, I used walnuts)
a foil-lined pan (I used a bread pan)
a spatula
a stovetop pot

Pour your chocolate chips in a pot on the stove, melting them. Make sure to keep the temperature between medium and medium low - burnt chocolate isn't very good.
Add the sweetened condensed milk, splash of vanilla, and pinch of salt.
Use your spatula to mix all the ingredients together, being consistent to avoid burning.
After all the chocolate is melted into the condensed milk, pour into a foil-lined pan.
Let sit for a couple of hours - I cool mine in the fridge overnight!
Remove from foil and use a sharp knife to cut.

See? It's really the simplest recipe ever, is absolutely delicious, and makes a great gift. Make sure to tweet at me or mention me in your Instagram pictures if you make this recipe - I'd love to see your adaptations!

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Living Space Inspiration with Modani

couch  ||  pink pillow  ||  coffee table  ||  pouf  ||  chair (similar)  ||  mirror  ||  bookshelf  ||  pillow  ||  vase
(similar)  ||  ottoman  ||  neon pillow

Isn't it exciting to picture yourself in your future home, decorating it however you'd like, and creating a really beautiful space? I know I'm excited. Lately I've been on the search for a house or apartment in north Seattle to rent (eek!) next fall. I really love Seattle, especially U District (where the University of Washington is), and want to find my own place in the city. That being said, I've really been in a decorating craze. I haven't even moved out yet, but I still find myself shopping for home goods... I blame Pinterest for all the home inspiration.

As a 19 going on 20 year old, I really can't be picky about big ticket items, like furniture. It's definitely possible to create a beautiful and trendy space on a budget, but that's not what this post is about. I'm sharing today my picks from Modani, an online furniture store! They offer a wide range of items, from lighting, to bed frames, to outdoor canopies (swoon). When I spotted this couch, I fell in love. I love the idea of having a chic, minimalistic living space with bright pops of color (like these pillows). Plus, a huge bookshelf is the perfect way to functionally display your fun decorations!

Are you as into home decorating as I am?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Over the Knee Boots for Under $150

Happy Saturday! I usually don't post on the weekends, but given my lack of posts the past two weeks, I figured it would be a good time to share my latest fashion need want: over the knee boots. Over the knee boots have been popping up all over the place. I used to be very hesitant, but after seeing so many bloggers and photos on Pinterest (I've pinned some here) featuring the tall beauties, I've fallen in love. Paired with an all black ensemble or with a blanket scarf, they create chic, easy, and comfortable looks. Tall boots are a favorite of mine - they are so easy to style and are the perfect fall and winter touch!

I've compiled a list of over the knee boots that are under $150. There are times I can't justify spending over $100 on shoes, but if they're high quality boots I know I'll wear, I know I'll get good use out of them. 

Have you styled over the knee boots? What colors are your favorite?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Absence + Links

It feels like it's been a long time since I've been able to really sit down and blog. Don't get me wrong - I love my blog and being a part of the blogging community - but I haven't been able to prioritize writing and reading posts the way I'd like. Working full time has it's perks: I'm making myself money, it's great experience, and my coworkers are awesome. The downside? Not feeling like I have all the time I need to do what I'd like (like blogging). It's crazy - I'm 19 and feel like I don't have enough time to be me. 

With the holiday season coming up, I only see myself having less time to "be me." Working retail in a popular mall in December is a crazy time (it's December already?!). There are constantly people who have questions, clothes to fold, and lines to stand in. Don't even mention mall parking... I'm hoping I'll have more time to shoot outfits, create recipe posts, and simply write more as my store gets more associates. 

Anyways, I'm here today to share some fun links I've found. A lot of bloggers do these on a weekly basis (I tried, couldn't do it - I don't really like having a blogging schedule) so I thought I would share one this week!

This Instagram is run by a woman living in Seattle - it's all about cute coffee shops, cafes, and shops that she likes! Her feed is too perfect. 

Okay, how cute is this sleeping mask? I can't stand wearing them but I might need this anyways... 

I'm dying to try this Pumpkin Soup recipe (featured on The Undeniable Report!). It sounds like the perfect way to warm up from all this cold winter weather.

Um, #brosbeingbasic - might be the funniest thing you see this week.

The best food bank donation list I've seen - especially with the holiday season in full swing, donating is so important. Spread that holiday cheer by helping your community (I know I will be!).

Forget Pinterest (just kidding, I love Pinterest). DwellingGawker is the way to go (but seriously, I love both). 

Two things I need in my closet right now: this fur snood and this fluffy scarf.

For the other public health lovers out there, a studded pill as a needle alternative. Crazy, or?

Have a great week, everyone! Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't Be a Jerk this Black Friday

Recently, I wrote a post from a sales associate's perspective of the retail world and what every shopper should know while browsing. With Black Friday right around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to bring that post back and add in a few Black Friday specific "words of advice." It's easy to get caught up with the excitement of Black Friday: the sales, the energy, the events. Some shopping centers, mall, and stores sometimes host fun games and attractions to welcome the holiday season! But, despite the positive energy, Black Friday is a day many retail workers dread, knowing that their family time is being cut short, people will be rude, and their stores will most likely be chaotic. Here's my friendly post on how to not be a jerk this Black Friday.

You can't be mad about waiting in lines. Shopping on Black Friday was most likely a decision you made for yourself. By choosing to go out shopping on the busiest shopping day of the entire year, you can't be mad at any sales associate if you find yourself waiting in a line that's "too long." Fitting room, register, food, store, and bathroom lines will be a part of this Black Friday (like every year), and you'll have to deal with it.

Some of us cut family time short to work and are working long hours. Don't be a jerk, no matter the situation. I'm working two ten hour shifts this year, starting 5:30 pm on Thanksgiving and ending at midnight on Friday night (Saturday morning). I won't get to spend as much time with my family as I would like (because of people's obsession with Black Friday shopping) and I'm going to be working a lot. I might be tired and a little sad, so give me a break. Plus, you shouldn't be a jerk to anyone, ever.

If you plan on buying a lot, don't bring a drink into the store. Seriously, don't do it. Last year we had a customer spill her venti coffee over an entire table of new sweaters, which means every sweater was damaged. No one could buy any of them, despite how cute and popular they were, and it took a lot of time to damaged out all 50 sweaters, clean up the spilled drink, and find something new to replace it with. It's extremely frustrating and pulls focus away from where it needs to be.

I'm a sales associate - I can't change store policy to please you. I mentioned this in my other post, but it's still important. 99% of the time, there's nothing I can do about store policy. I don't make the rules, I simply follow and enforce them. At the store I work at, we have a five item limit for fitting rooms. That won't change because you really want to try on seven dresses, three pairs of jeans, three sweaters, and four tank tops. 

If you have an issue, be respectful and polite when addressing it. This regards the previous point: if you have an issue with the way a store might handle a policy, don't be rude about it. That only makes me as an associate less willing to work with you to find a solution (why would I want to help someone who's mean to me? I'm human too!). There are too many parents who throw tantrums and embarrass themselves and their teenage daughters in front of a crowd of guests. Let me know if you have a problem, be polite, and express to me why you have this issue. I'm more than happy to do what I can to ensure you have a positive experience (that's the truth).

Ask questions and for help when you need it. There's nothing more frustrating and painful than a customer who denies help when they obviously need it. There's no shame in not knowing where to find your size, have questions about a price, or need assistance grabbing an item. We are here to help you and make your shopping experience easier. Watching you struggle while denying help makes my job harder (denying help when needing it often leads to big messes, items out of order, etc.). 

If you couldn't tell, Black Friday isn't my favorite day of the year. I used to be a big Black Friday shopper, but I still knew to be polite, kind, and accept whatever waiting lines I would be in. If you're ever questioning yourself and your actions this Black Friday (and literally any other day of the year), just remember it comes down to one thing: be a decent human being.

Do you have Black Friday plans, or are you waiting for Cyber Monday?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Navy + Plaid, the usual

These photos are so delayed (I have not been on my blogging game lately, oops!). A couple of weeks ago, a Seattle photographer Michelle Dorman and I met up on Capitol Hill at Volunteer Park to shoot some photos! Michelle is honestly one of those people who just makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. We shared a bunch of laughs and got along so easily, and I'm sure we'll spend more time together in the future!

Capitol Hill is one of many Seattle neighborhoods. It's full of a vibrant and loving community, big and beautiful homes (it's where I hope to settle down someday), fun cafes, and good energy. Volunteer Park is a nice area where people bring lunch, walk their pets, visit the Asian Art Museum, plus everything else that attracts people to parks! I've been their plenty of times, being it's where the Seattle Aids Walk is hosted each year. 

Anyways, Michelle and I met up on a beautiful, sunny, and freezing Tuesday this month. My fingers were so cold (I don't know how she was able to keep snapping pics with her fingers exposed!) that I sat in the car for about 15 minutes just to warm back up. 

Check out Michelle's site and her other work. She's extremely talented and takes amazing shots. Her Instagram is full of her photos, too! Give her a follow - and if you're based in Seattle and ever need portraits, you know who I'm recommending. 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Affordable Gift Guide: BFFs + Sisters

The holiday season is officially upon us. Working at the mall has reminded me that people don't wait a day after Halloween to start Christmas shopping, putting up decorations, and creating wish lists. I'm a sucker for putting together gifts for my loved ones and decorating their presents (I absolutely love wrapping gifts!), but it can be both frustrating and discouraging when your budget is far lower than you'd like. As a 19 year old, I don't have a lot of extra money to spend on presents (though I wish!). I've been seeing a lot of gift guides that are "under $300" and such, but truthfully, that's still way out of my budget. Spending $300 on one gift for one person is impossible for me, so I've assembled an affordable gift guide - the bff + sisters edition. 

Everything is crazy affordable, yet still so cute and fun! My best friend and I love giving each other tea and a mug (I have so many from her!), which is an easy gift for any tea-loving girl. Add a cute hand written note, and your gift will be full of love.

sunnies  ||  mug  ||  nail polish  ||  notebook  ||  fur snood  ||  socks  ||  head bands  ||  coin bank  ||  lotion

Let me know - what's on your gift guide?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rainy Day Link Up + GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday everyone! I'm so excited to share with you the Rainy Day Link Up - a link up hosted by myself and Michael from The Monogrammed Midwesterner! Michaela has become one of my good blogging friends and I knew asking her to help host would be a great idea. Seattle has experienced some crazy cold and sunny days, but we also experienced some crazy downpours. The rainy season is here and won't leave well into April and May. So, we are bringing you our go-to rainy day outfits, tips, and tricks. If you're interested in joining, upload a post featuring your outfit and join the link up! We are inviting every blogger around (and use the hashtag #rainydaylinkup).

Monogrammed Jacket  ||  Jeggings  ||  Socks (Steve Madden, similar)  ||  Boots  ||  Scarf (Hollister Co., similar)

What’s your favorite way to keep warm on a rainy day?
Rainy days are just asking to be spent in bed with a cup of tea and Netflix!

Are you a hood, umbrella, or both kind of girl?
We don't use umbrellas in Seattle ;)

What is your best hair tip for a rainy day?
I usually wear mine in a pony! If it's especially rainy (think: pouring), I might try to do a cute bun. I like to keep my hair tucked away under my hood so it isn't soaked by the time I get to class or work!

What's your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Snuggle up with Chris, make something delicious, and binge watch Modern Family.

We've also teamed up with Ace & Ivy, a shop that Michaela reps for! They've been so generous to help us host a giveaway! We are giving away one monogrammed rain jacket (swoon) to one very lucky winner. Who could pass up a monogrammed rain jacket?

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Best Hot Drinks for the Non-Coffee Drinkers

It's true. I don't drink coffee. I'm not a big fan of the taste (that aftertaste.... yuck) and it always seems to upset my stomach, so I stay away. I may spend most of my time in Seattle, the coffee capital, but I can't bring myself to like coffee. But that's okay! By not drinking coffee, I've found other really delicious alternatives that I'm more than happy drinking! There's nothing like a chai tea latte on a cold fall day! Below are my favorite non-coffee drinks - go ahead, order one next time!

Chai tea lattes  ||  Chai tea lattes are my go-to. If I'm not really sure what I want or what a particular coffee shop or stand has to offer, I know I'll be happy with a chai tea latte. Though delicious on their own, I always add a flavor, to sweeten it up and change it up! Adding the full flavor can be a little overwhelming and overly-sweet, so I normally ask for 3ish pumps, versus 5 or 6.

Best Chai Tea Latte additions
- Hazelnut chai tea latte
- Vanilla chai tea latte
- Vanilla chai tea latte + soymilk
- Pumpkin chai tea latte
- Almond chai tea latte
- Chocolate chai tea latte
- Peppermint chai tea latte
- Chai tea latte + almond milk

Hot chocolate  ||  Hot chocolate will always be a favorite drink of mine. Though it can easily be made at home (my favorite non-instant mix recipe coming soon!), many shops and stands have more options than typically found at home. A white hot chocolate (white chocolate) is what I've been getting a lot recently. It's a nice change from the typical hot chocolate, but just as delicious. When I was in Scotland, I discovered adding honey to my hot chocolate and it might have been the greatest discovery I've ever made. Adding raspberry or blueberry in is nice, too!

Hot apple cider  ||  Ok, really. Who doesn't love hot cider? Especially with a little bit of caramel, hot cider is one of the best fall and winter drinks around. It's perfect when I'm feeling something sweeter, without spending $6 on one drink. A classic choice.

Hot tea  ||  My family is a tea drinking family. We always have hot water on the stove ready because someone is always drinking some! Tea is a great drink, hot or iced, because it's so easy to fit your needs. Adding or avoiding sugar, using cream, blending teas together. It all works (as long as your know your teas). These are my favorite teas:

Hot Tea
- Green tea + honey
- Lemongrass tea + honey (if you're ever in the UK, pick up some lemongrass tea from TeaPigs - best lemongrass tea I've ever had!)
- Orange spice black tea + half and half + sugar or honey
- Chai spice black tea + half and half + sugar or honey
- Lemon ginger tea + honey (perfect for a sore throat or sick days!)
- Peppermint tea + sugar (Trader Joe's has a great peppermint green tea during the holidays!)

Steamed milk  ||  Before I got into chai tea lattes, I drank a lot of steamed milk. It was sometimes embarrassing to order, but I realized that it was too delicious to even care! It's literally a cup full of hot milk with other flavors added. I have a few favorite combos:

Steamed Milk
- Steamed milk + hazelnut
- Steamed milk + almond (the best)
- Steamed milk + cinnamon + vanilla extract + pinch of sugar (best for sick days or when you can't fall asleep!)

Those are my favorite hot drinks! 
Are you a big coffee drinker? What's your go-to hot drink?

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