Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top 5 Cheapest Vacations Around The World

One of the things listed on my New Years Resolution list is to travel more... outside of California and also outside of the United States since I have yet to do that. 

There is so much of the world to see, so what better way to start than at a young age where you can experience the most. 

But when it comes to traveling, it's the money that always seems to be the biggest obstacle. With some research and the help of Momondo, the top 5 cheapest vacation sites will be listed at your fingertips.. I'm interested to check out some of these beautiful places.

1. Podgorica, Montenegro
"Undiscovered (for the time being), you'll find peace of mind amidst the country's Old Town district of Stara Varos, which boasts enchanting architecture, winding roads, cafe culture, and ancient mosques."
1 KM Taxi Ride: $0.40
Domestic Beer: $ 1.60
Meal for 1 at an inexpensive restaurant: $5.40
1 night in a 3 star hotel: $55.20

2. Granada, Nicaragua
"Year-round warm weather, anyone? Between the colonial architecture, activities at Lake Nicaragua, and the dormant Mombacho volcano, there's tons to see and do whether you're a history buff or water sport enthusiast."
1 KM Taxi Ride: $1.20
Domestic Beer: $1.00
Meal for 1 in an inexpensive restaurant: $6.00
1 night in a 3 star hotel: $69.00

3. Antigua, Guatemala
"Antigua is hot, hot, hot and not just because it's surrounded by volcanoes. Known for its Spanish colonial buildings, it also has its own Central Park, romantic cobblestone streets, working coffee farms, and regional restaurants."
1 KM Taxi Ride: $0.70
Domestic Beer: $2.00
Meal for 1 in an inexpensive restaurant: $5.80
1 night in a 3 star hotel: $61.99

4. Montevideo, Uruguay
"Historical neoclassical architecture, tango bars, water sports, and beachfront discos...you'll have your hands full in Montevideo. Not to mention, it boasts the longest Carnival celebration in the world, starting in late January and ending in early March."
1 KM Taxi Ride: $0.90
Domestic Beer: $2.40
Meal for 1 in an inexpensive restaurant: $10.10
1 night in a 3 star hotel: $67.50

5. Thessaloniki, Greece
"A mostly walkable port city, Thessaloniki is positively picturesque with its Byzantine walls, monuments, galleries, and museums. But make no mistake, it's also famous as a partying hub thanks to its waterfront bar scene."
1 KM Taxi Ride: $0.70
Domestic Beer: $3.80
Meal for 1 in an inexpensive restaurant: $10.90
1 night in a 3 star hotel: $49.60

After seeing these, I'm ready to get my plane tickets! Time to travel the world...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Caffeine with Christine (12/27)

It's been a little less than a week since my last post, and I took somewhat of  an unplanned "staycation" away from the computer.... I had a fabulous birthday on the 23rd and then got to spend a lot of time with friends and family the past couple of days.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrated. I did a lot of sleeping and way too much eating along with watching tons of Christmas movies. I had four days off of work so I took full advantage especially during the holidays to just relax and enjoy some time "doing nothing".

Here's my  top five reasons you should take a staycation too:
-Sleep more
-Spend time with the ones you love
-Take a digital detox
-Eat good home-cooked food
-Do something new

It felt really good to not have an agenda for once. I have a long to-do list every day and it seems like my day is always planned down to every minute... Next weekend we will celebrate the start of a new year, and I cannot wait. I love a new beginning.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Cocktails

Candy Cane Martini

- 1 shot vanilla rum
- 1 shot Godiva white chocolate liqueur
- 1 shot peppermint schnapps

Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a candy cane. 

Serves: 1 
  Santa's Sleigh Cocktail

- 2 cups chilled store bought eggnog
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1/2 cup amaretto liqueur 
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
- 4 cinnamon sticks

Dampen the rims and line the glass rims with sugar crystals. Combine eggnog, brandy, amaretto, nutmeg and ice cream into a blender; process until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 

Serves: 4 

Mexicocoa

- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder 
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of chilli powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup almond milk 
- Splash of agave nectar
- 1 oz. silver tequila
- Paprika 
- Cinnamon Stick 

In a saucepan over low heat add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, chilli powder, cayenne pepper. Toast until spices begin to release their aromas for a couple of minutes. Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the almond milk. Raise the temperature to medium-high and bring to a slow simmer. Stir in the agave nectar and remove from the heat. Rim a mug by dipping into a saucer of water, blotting and dipping into a saucer of paprika. Pour in tequila. Add hot cocoa mixture. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve. 

Serves: 1 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gift Guide For Her : $50 and Under

Buying gifts for all the women in my life is my favorite part of gift giving. There are so many cute gifts that I would enjoy getting myself. Especially during this time of year, companies come out with gift sets one time of year and bring out tons of limited edition items.

I put together a list of twenty gift ideas under $50 that any woman would love to get. I have a lot of people that I purchase gifts for --- my family, Justins family, and my closest friends. It's always nice to be able to see what's available and see different gift ideas out there.

Also, sometimes a lot of families who have multiple people to buy for just do a "Secret Santa" and will pick names out of a hat. That way you only have to buy for one person and can get a lot more for the money which is a good idea. Whenever I've participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange I always like to create a big themed basket with a bunch of items that the person would want and use it makes it fun for that person to open as well.

Christmas is only a few days away, I feel like it came really fast this year. Usually I would put together a "Gift guide For Him" but I did not get around to it this year. However, I did make a gift guide for your dog for the first time which was really fun for me to do... So for all the pet lovers out there, check that post out too, and happy shopping.
1. Wildflower by Drew Barrymore $19.00
2. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer $29.00
3. Too Faced Love Flush Blush Wardrobe $36.00
4. Nike Women's Pro Elevate Training Gloves $28.42
5. Diptyque Noisetier Candle $32.00
6. NARS Fantascene Neutral Lip Set $49.00
7. Pandora "Birthstone" Ring $45.00
8. Starbucks Coffee and Tea Refill Tumbler $40.00
9. Bath and Body Works Hand Soaps (4 for $20 or 6 for $24)
10. Philosophy Twinkling Snowflakes Trio $27.00
11. Casetify Pastel Confetti Explosion iPhone 6 Case $40.00
12. Red Victorias Secret Tall Socks $ 22.99
13. Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Honey Bath $45.00
14. Kate Spade Business Card Holder $30.00
15. Primula Flowering Glass Tea Pot with Flowering Teas $39.95
16. Juicy Couture Perfume Rollerball Trio $38.00
17. LUSH Magic Wand Bubble Bar $9.95
18. Regal Cinemas Gift Card $25.00
19. OPI Mini All Stars 10 Pack Nail Polish $15.85
20. Victoria's Secret Cozy Long Robe $49.50

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Caffeine with Christine (12/20)

Good Morning Afternoon. Usually every Sunday I'll get up early and write this weekly series post, but this week drained me mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

My mother has been in the hospital for the past five days due to a serious skin infection that took over her body externally. She was released this morning and still has a lot of healing to do. 

It was a stressful and overwhelming week dealing with that and a party we were having for my birthday last night. We went back and forth debating on whether we should cancel, but my mom demanded that we have it anyways. It was nice having family and friends over to celebrate my birthday, but at the same time it felt really weird not having her there. 

I stayed up until 4am last night and slept in today. Justin and I went to the grocery store and stopped by Starbucks to get some much needed caffeine. It was suppose to rain today and tomorrow but I guess that's changed, because there is blue sky and sunshine with not one cloud in sight. 

I am going to take Reddick on a long walk to his favorite park before dinner. We are having Tri-Tip and twice baked potatoes.. one of my favorites! Then at 8 pm I am headed to the airport to pick my best friend up who is flying in from New York to spend Christmas and New Years here. I am so so excited to see her. 

My birthday is Wednesday but I honestly don't have anything planned now that we did something yesterday. This year just feels a lot different with everything going on. I just can't get into the Christmas spirit. 

Well, I  better get to work, the day is half over and I feel like I haven't done anything. But sometimes it's okay to do nothing. I have learned that life is not a race and to just step back and enjoy it. 
(My mother Debbie and I on our way to an event... And my Chestnut Praline Latte at Starbucks with my computer.)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Cookies

As Christmas starts to approach rather quickly, I enjoy doing fun activities to get me in the holiday spirit. It seems like decorating Christmas cookies is a tradition in a lot of households this time of year participate in. 

I only did this a couple of times when I was younger. Usually we would just make chocolate chip cookies (boring, I know) or we would just buy those sugar cookies already stamped with a Christmas Tree or Snowman at the grocery store (which were still good). 
Christmas Cookies
I found a bunch of super cute designs on Pinterest for some frosting ideas if you're planning on decorating any before Christmas. You can get regular sugar cookie dough that is already pre-made and then buy a bunch of different colored frosting at the grocery store to create endless amounts of designs. You'll probably need : red, green, white, black, brown, and blue which covers lots of designs of the Christmas theme.

It's suppose to rain for five straight days here in Fresno, which I'm not complaining about because we really really need it. They say "El Nino" is coming, and I'm ready for it. BRING IT ON! Enjoy your Saturday, maybe you can make some Christmas cookies like these, if you haven't already.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Starbucks Coffee and Tea Refill Tumbler

THIS IS SO COOL.
Starbucks is selling a tumbler in their new dot collection that offers free refills in the entire month of January. SAY WHAT?!

If you bring in the doubled-walled tumbler to any Starbucks location, you get a free freshly brewed coffee or tea every day in the month of January.

The design features the signature Starbucks logo with coffee cherries drawn in Winter White on a black stainless steel tumbler. Classic. 

This offer excludes espresso drinks, but if you are are coffee and tea lover like myself, this is a great deal.

The tumbler is only $40, but if you buy it at a Starbucks in any Target store then you can get 10% off by using the  Cartwheel app! That's incredible. This would be a perfect gift for yourself or someone else, and plus the tumbler is perfect for using all year round. 

Christmas Nails

I started "pinning" Christmas-themed nails on Pinterest last month and had the hardest time choosing what I wanted.

I had the day off yesterday (sorry for not posting) and pretty much had a full on pamper day. I had a nail appointment and a hair appointment and [almost] finished my Christmas shopping.

I chose red and white for my nails with a snowflake design. There were some super cute blue and white themed nails I liked, but I wanted the traditional Christmas red. They turned out a lot better than I thought, and I've already got a ton of compliments on them.

I'm picking up my best friend from the airport on Sunday, having a "party" at my house Saturday and getting the final touches done before Christmas. It's going to be a busy week and weekend, but I cannot be more happy. Tis the season!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Louis Vuitton To Show Spring 2017 Collection in Rio


It seems like far-flung destinations are becoming more regular for mid-season collection shows. Not your typical "New York City Fashion Week" type of occasion. In addition to Louis Vuitton, luxury brands are jet setting across the country to show their Spring 2017 collections.

Creative Director, Nicolas Ghesquiere is heading to Rio de Janeiro on May 28th. A long ways away from Palm Springs -- where last years Spring 2016 collection was shown.

But Louis Vuitton is not the only one that'll be traveling this season.... For example, Gucci plans to present its next collection in London, and Chanel will be sowing in Havana, Cuba on May 3rd.

The Brazilian seaside city of Rio will be hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics there which will predict some buzz in the fashion circles.

I was particularly excited when I found out this news, because I feel like instead of  playing it safe, more clothing and couture companies need to push themselves out of their comfort zone and show their collections around the world more often. It seems like when people travel to the destination, it brings the clothing to life and tells a story in a different way.
(Louis Vuitton Spring 2016 Collection Image via Getty)

Gift Guide For Dogs

This is Reddick. My (almost) two year old black lab mix. He is the sweetest most fun-loving and intelligent dog I know. Although you could say I'm a little biased on that one!

I worked as a front desk supervisor at a Pet Resort in Fresno for about five years while attending school, and throughout those years I learned so much about the pet care industry.

I discovered chewy.com a while back when I needed to order Reddick a food bowl that would slow down his eating. They have an unlimited amount of neat items for your pet that I would highly recommend for some pretty great prices.

Here are some of my top five recommendations of what you can get your dog for Christmas. Reddick is a large breed dog and weighs over 100 pounds, so I'd say this gift guide is more towards a bigger sized dog, but I definitely suggest you check out Chewy and see all the great products they have!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

I mentioned this Nutella recipe in my hot chocolate season post last month and promised to do a full article on it for you, so here it is. 

Thanks to Kandee Johnson (a blogger and YouTuber I follow) I found this recipe that she shared last year and have been obsessed with it ever since. 

If I have some time on a rainy, cold night I love to make some home made hot chocolate over the stove. It tastes so much better than a microwaved drink if you have the time to do it. 

Now lets get this straight... I had NEVER had Nutella before I made this recipe, so it pretty much changed my life! I promise you'll be just as obsessed as I am after drinking this for the first time.

Nutella Hot Chocolate Recipe

In a medium sauce pan on medium heat combine : 2 cups whole milk, 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup nutella, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Mix together using a whisk until the liquid becomes smooth. 

Turn the stove to low and add in 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar.

Mix all the ingredients together on low heat until smooth and it comes to a boil.

If you want to add whipped cream made from scratch - combine: 1 cup of very cold whipping cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla into a bowl and mix on medium to high speed with a hand mixer.

You can also add chocolate chips, caramel sauce, or sprinkles for an extra garnish.

ENJOY! This recipe is seriously so so delicious.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Caffeine with Christine (12/13)

 
Weekend Roundup : 
Hello sweet readers it's that time again... time to do some catching up. There is only a couple more weeks til Christmas which is crazy to even think about. 

I still have a lot of shopping to do which I really need to get a handle on. My birthday is in ten days and from then on it will be a cluster of events and festivities. 

Friday night after work, Justin and I went to visit his dad who had to stay in the hospital overnight from surgery. Afterwards we got some pizza at Me-N-Eds, stopped for coffee and then headed home to do some computer work. Saturday I was actually able to catch up on some sleep and didn't wake up until 11AM. Shocking. I can't even remember the last time I've slept in that long. I took Reddick on a 3 mile walk to the park and let his run around for a while. 

The weather here in Fresno has been perfect : sunshine with blue skies, big fluffy clouds, and a blissful 54 degrees. At some point before the weekend ends, we plan on visiting the new ice cream sandwich shop named "Cream" which we've been meaning to go to for a while now. I will take some photos and do a post on that soon! It's going to be a very busy week, getting ready for the holidays. I am particularly super excited to see my best friend Maureen who lives in New York very soon. She's coming home for the Christmas and I'll be picking her up from the airport next Sunday.

I have so so much to do before the week starts. Justin and I were going to try and get away for the day but I think that might have to wait until the New Year. I hope you have a fun and productive Sunday.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Top 10 Body Scrubs for Winter

I love a rich, moisturizing body scrub, especially for the colder Winter months when my skin is extra dry. An excellent scrub must have a great balance: the right ratio of skin-sloughing and moisturizing elements and an amazing fragrance that's not too strong.

Smooth, clear skin, shouldn't be reserved for your face alone. Here are my top 10 favorite body scrubs and polishes that have some pretty incredible reviews to back them up!
Top 10 Body Scrubs
Exfoliating crystals mingle with Pomegranate Oil, Cranberry Seed, and Shea Butter to gently polish and condition your skin. The sugar crystals slough off flaky skin and lock in moisture with a sweet fragrance. 

A butter-textured body exfoliator - rich in natural salts, oils and sugar, that transforms into a lotion with water. How cool is that. 

It's alluring scent of Soap & Glory's signature Original Pink Fragrance - combines fresh bergamot, mandarin, rose, jasmine, peach, strawberry, and soft musk & amber base notes. Skin is left delicately fragranced, hydrated, super soft, smooth and conditioned. 

It's like dessert for your skin. Organic coconut oil is mixed with a deep moisturizer that's also rich in breakout-fighting lauric acid, with coarse organic demerara sugar and organic coconut for gentle exfoliation.

For all the winos out there, this crushed cabernet scrub is deeply exfoliating and has anti-cellulite properties. The scrub provides strong exfoliation, drains, refines, softens, and nourishes the skin as it imparts intense hydration and a satiny finish.

Gently removes excess surface cells with specially-designed micro beads. Refines and smooths skin texture, softens, brightens, and evens skin tone while keeping skin moisturized. It's developed with the delicate Japanese scent KUROHO and an elegant cherry blossom fragrance.

This ultra-creamy, non-greasy body scrub is formulated with crushed Madagascar vanilla beans blended with whipped shea butter and five nourishing essential oils. It whisks away dry, dead skin cells - revealing soft, hydrated and glowing skin.

Fresh knows sugar. That's kind of their deal.The gentle moisturizing scrub treatment for the body is made with pure brown sugar blended with the world's finest oils to ensure one of the sweetest bath experiences around.

The Coco Rose Body Polish is a highly moisturizing and gently exfoliating blend of virgin coconut oil and delicately floral Moroccan Rose. Leaves your skin soft and hydrated with a light scent of coconut and rose petals.

This luxurious body scrub gently sloughs away dead skin cells, leaving smooth, radiant, polished skin.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 2015

The sexiest show on earth made it's annual debut on November 10th and finally aired on CBS last night (December 9th). 

From Kendall Jenner's epic jet set down the catwalk to Gigi Hadid's newcomer debut, the 2015 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was one sexy moment after another. 

Behati Prinsloo opened the show to the sounds of "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar wearing a rainbow ensemble with the word "love" written on her wings. 

Ellie Goulding performed, who accompanied a series of butterfly-inspired looks led by Adriana Lima and Gigi Hadid. 

The Weekend performed while models walked wearing looks featuring ballooning puff sleeves, cropped jackets and sweeping robes. Taylor Hill, a newly named Angel, had the honor of portraying 

America itself with American flags in lieu of angel wings. Selena Gomez took the stage which led a VS Pink themed parade of surfers, astronauts, police, and firemen down the catwalk. 

Lily Aldridge and Behati Prinsolo led the finale hand in hand while Aldridge wore the new gem-encrusted Fantasy Bra. This years Fantasy Bra was a fireworks theme which costs $2 million. Each year one model is chosen to wear the bejeweled bra which is especially created for the show. For example, In 2000 the bra was worn bu Gisele Bundchen worth $15 million and earned a place in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive item of lingerie ever created. It's major!

If you missed the show.. good news for you, it will re-air on CBS on December 15th!








Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

There are hundreds of different ways that you can decorate your Christmas tree(s). As child, my family and I always used colored lights on a fake tree. 

As I got older and got to make my own tree decorating decisions, I prefer white lights on a real tree. We put small, medium, and large round colored balls on as ornaments, and whatever special Christmas projects I made in Elementary school we hung up as well.

Eventually, I'd like to have multiple trees in different rooms of the house. I would like a food themed tree in the kitchen decked out with utensils, foods, and drinks as ornaments. I would also like to have an all-white Christmas tree with pink and red accents or even a blue themed tree. 

There are endless options on what you could do. I have picked out 12 different ideas that others have decorated their homes with. 

You can incorporate books and Christmas cards to add a festive look to your home. In a non-traditional way, there are ways you can get a hundred books and stack them into a circle to build a tree shape. You can also hang Christmas cards that you get from friends and family, in order to build a tree shape. 
Spray paint your tree with a non-toxic paint and add peacock feathers and add bright round bulbs with colored ribbon. Fill your tree with red ribbon and a black belt to make it look like Santa Clause.
If you buy an all-white tree you can use gold, pink, and red ornaments with white lights. You can also get a traditional tree and infuse red roses and peonies to make a flowered garland. 
The color pink is a great way to add color in a bold way. Also, you can let the tree skirt do all the talking by balancing the bold colored ornaments with a bold skirt to bring it all together. Whether your home is traditional or contemporary, you should choose a tree color and theme that fit's the overall rooms design. 
Christmas is the one time of year when you can go overboard. Embrace color, and be creative to use all of your home as a decorating canvas. What is your favorite theme that you like to decorate your tree with during the holidays? I'd love to know! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Moschino Teams Up With Super Mario Bros

"It's-a-me, Mario! And Jeremy Scott!"

Moschino teamed up with Nintendo for it's latest nostalgic capsule collection.
Since designer Jeremy Scott has taken the creative lead at Moschino, he's incorporated classic characters like Barbie, Spongebob Square Pants, Powerpuff Girls, and most recently: Super Mario Bros. 

In honor of celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mario, the Italian label unveiled the special collaboration, just in time for the holiday season.

According to Fashionista, "video game lovers can expect to see the likes of Luigi, Peach, Toad, Bowser, and other printed characters on T-shirts, handbags, and accessories as well as knit sweaters in crayola bright colors.

The collection has been available since December 5th and you can purchase items on the Moschino website and in select stores around the globe.