Black Bean and Green Chili Soup

It has been so cold here this week that I have been wanting to make some warm soups to take to work for lunch. Salad just doesn’t cut it in this cold weather! And when I say “cold,” I mean California-cold, which would be laughable to most people who don’t live in the Golden state, but I’ve lived here most of my life and am therefore a complete baby when it comes to harsh weather. So I’m sticking with my story, and saying it is “cold” in Northern California right now.

I wanted to make an easy soup with few ingredients that would be filling enough to have as an entire meal. So this is what I came up with and it was delicious! It may not look very pretty, but trust me, it tastes pretty.

What you need-

– 1 large onion, chopped

– 3 garlic cloves, chopped

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 tbsp. cumin

– salt and pepper to taste

– 3 large tomatoes, chopped (canned tomatoes would work too)

– 2 cans of black beans, drained

– 1 4-6oz can green chilies

– 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

– Cilantro and sour cream for garnish

This soup is so easy. Just saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions  start to turn clear. Add cumin and salt and pepper. Then add the broth, tomatoes, black beans and green chilies. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with sour cream and fresh cilantro. Enjoy!

The broth is kind of an ugly green color from the chilies but don’t let that trick you. It’s delicious and perfect for a cold day.

Another Boudoir Marathon is Coming Up!

Ladies- if you’re interested in getting some amazing boudoir photos taken by the talented Bre Thurston on September 18th (a great day for many reasons, including it being my wedding anniversary!) then please contact Bre at or check out her website at But hurry, there are only a few slots left!

This will be the third boudoir shoot that I have worked on with Bre as the makeup artist and the sessions just keep on getting better! They’re taken in a gorgeous hotel room in downtown Sacramento and we keep the champagne flowing and the girly clothes/accessories are all over the place! Bre’s photos always turn out amazing and you will not be disappointed!  Have them done as a gift for someone special (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, whoever) or just do them for yourself! Trust me, you will be happy you did!

To check out makeup I’ve done for past boudoir photos look at my portfolio page above. Hope to see you there!

(This photo was taken from Bre’s site)

I Heart Travel, Part VIII – England

Not much to say about my short trip to London. I loved London, but I usually love most European cities I visit. We stayed in a cute little bed and breakfast, did a lot of sight-seeing around the city, went up in the London Eye, ate fish and chips and English breakfasts, went to a few art museums, and saw an amazing performance of Wicked. I just wish I had my new camera back then so I could have really captured the city! Next time I guess.

I Heart Travel, Part I- Norway

I love to travel. If I could do one thing in this world I would travel around it and see every place I haven’t seen. My dream has always been to close my eyes, point to a spot on the map, and go there. If my time, money, and life in general allowed for that I would be one happy woman. I would go somewhere new every chance I could.

But, this is not my reality. I have to work through the week, so instead, I plan ahead. I often decide on a trip I want to take and start working on it a year in advance. It gives me something to plan (which I love) and something to look forward to (which I also love). It has been a few years since I have taken a really BIG trip and I can’t wait to do it again soon. Right now I have a trip to Norway and possibly Spain in the works. I am getting so excited I can barely take it. The trip would be in May, to go to a friend’s wedding in Norway, and then to stay at her parents beach house on the coast of Spain. Not too shabby.

Now you may be curious why I have a friend getting married in Norway when I am from Northern California… So here’s the story- In high school, my best friend had an exchange student from Norway and we’ve been bff’s ever since. I have visited her in Norway twice, one time staying for 3 months, we have met up in Italy when I was studying abroad, and she has come back to the states 4 or so times since she left. I love her, and will continue to visit her for the rest of my life. She was just here last month when we met in Hawaii for a week and then she stayed with us in Sacramento for a week. I usually use any excuse I can to go visit her and this one is just perfect!

For this travel blog post,  I was going to post some pictures and a little information about why I love each place I’ve been. But then I realized that would be the longest blog post in the world. So, I am going to do this in sections. One post per country or city that I think is worth blogging about. For the reasons above, and the fact that it really is one of my favorite countries to date, I am going to start with Norway.

For those of you who haven’t been, Norway is one of the most beautiful places in the world (okay, so I’m biased, but it’s still true). There are beautiful bright green fields, gorgeous, soft sand beaches, amazing, huge fjords, and so much more. The people are beautiful of course, and so friendly and welcoming– not to mention they speak perfect English even though it is their second language, which makes getting around a little easier if you don’t speak Norwegian.

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trips in Norway. Keep in mind they were in 2003 and 2008 so the photo quality is not what it would be today. I can’t wait to go back with a real camera and truly capture Norway’s beauty. (so far) This is on a hike in Norway called Kjeragbolten. Don’t mind the blurry, scanned photo circa 2003. This will always be the coolest hike I’ve ever done. (this is me and my best friend on ‘the rock’)

Who knew Norway had such beautiful, prestine beaches?

And there is a beautiful, woodsy area by my friend’s cabin that is so nice in the summers.

Some of my other favorite photos around Norway

My First “Photo of The Week”

As part of my mission to learn how to use my new digital SLR camera, I am going to try to post a “photo of the week” every Monday. I know, I know…today is Wednesday, but I’m getting a head start for next week!

This is one of my favorite photos from my recent trip in Hawaii. There is nothing extra special about this one, except I love the colors of this flower. They’re so vibrant and beautiful! I wish I had a plumeria tree in my backyard!

Showin’ a Little Love

My fellow up-and-coming makeup artist friend is going to start up her website soon and I thought I’d show a little love and let you know that she’ll be “coming soon!”

Larissa was one of my co-workers for years at one of the many cosmetic stores I worked at in my youth (ya know, cause I’m SO old now..). She is an incredibly talented artist (and great friend) and I even asked her to do the makeup for my own wedding!

So keep an eye out, her website should be live sometime in September and I will be sure to post the link here! She rocks! She did my makeup, plus eight bridesmaids and my mom all by herself!!

Photos by the amazing photographer John Decker.

How to: Bring your shattered eyeshadow back to life!

So a friend of mine shared this little tip with me recently and I had to pass it along! This technique can be used for pressed powders and blushes too!

In the past, my eyeshadows, blush’s, and even pressed powders would break and I would end up throwing them away and wasting the $15-40 I spent on them. But not anymore! Ever since my friend sent me this tip I haven’t thrown any of these products away!  So, if you don’t like throwing your money in the trash then take a few minutes and try this technique!

Here is what you will need:

-butter knife

– rubbing alcohol

– tissue

– plastic sandwich bag

– a nickel, dime or quarter depending on size of eyeshadow

The process is actually super easy!

Step 1– Put the eyeshadow in the plastic baggie and use the butterknife to break up the rest of the eyeshadow into a fine powder. (This demonstration was done with a dual eyeshadow, which made it a little more difficult, but not impossible!)

Step 2– Take the eyeshadow out of the bag and pour a little rubbing alcohol over it.

Step 3– Cover the eyeshadow with the tissue, and then use the quarter (or dime- depending on the size of the product) to push down the loose powder until it is back to it’s compact state.

Step 4– Let the eyeshadow dry, and you’re all set!

I love this tip and have already done it to 4 eyeshadows that were just waiting to go in the trash! Who knew saving money could be this fun?

Water-Friendly Favorites

It’s almost the Fourth of July and if you want some advice on which water-friendly makeup products are the best, you’ve come to the right place!

I love being outdoors and in the water, especially in the heat of the Northern California summers but I hate when my mascara runs down my face after I jump in the pool!  So if you want to look your best while you’re lounging by the pool in Las Vegas, or out on a boat on the lake, here are some of my recommendations for water-proof products.

One of my all time favorite brands is Makeup Forever. Yes, it sounds scary, like you’re going to put it on and NEVER be able to take it off. But don’t be fooled by the name. Makeup Forever is a long-lasting, high quality line with products that often out-do their competitors. I love using this line for weddings because I know it will last all night and withstand even the most tearful brides. I use their regular products all the time and have recently fallen in love with their Aqua line. It stays on for hours, doesn’t rub off when you swim, or wear off when you sweat, and comes off easily with the right makeup remover.

Here are some of my favorite summer products from the Aqua line

All of these products can be found at Sephora! Have fun this 4th of July weekend! Don’t forget the sunscreen!

Color me Coral!

Summer is here (finally) and it’s time to switch up your hues. Pink is out and coral is in.

Here are a few of my favorite products, old and new, in this bright summer hue. Women with every skin tone can wear coral in different ways. Coral blush looks great on fair skin, coral gloss works for women with darker skin or olive tones and everyone should wear it on their nails! 

Sick of pink like me? Try some of these products below! They can be found at Sephora  or on Amazon!

NARS Blush- Torrid


OPI Nail Polish - A True Ab-Original


Dior Addict Lip Polish- Glow Expert

Professional Photos of Kira and Jordan’s Shoot!

Of course, as always, the photos by Bre Thurston turned out amazing. And I’m extremely biased about how gorgeous the couple is because they’re my best friends, but don’t they look amazing?

We did a very subtle, natural look on Kira for her engagement photos. We used light browns and creams for her eyes, peach blush on her cheeks with a little highlighter on her cheek bones, and nude lips. I didn’t want her makeup to stand out in the photos, so the light colors really helped accentuate her features without making her look overdone. I think she looks beautiful! …And the groom isn’t too bad either.   

If you’d like to see the rest of their engagement session, check out Bre’s website!

This is my favorite - You can't tell in black and white but Kira's drink is hot pink with purple sprinkles