Outfit: Out of Place

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

When: Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Where: Somewhere between Lucia and Monterey

I knew I was ever so slightly over dressed in my faux fur jacket and mini dress when we walked into breakfast at the lodge's main cabin and everyone else was wearing hiking boots and beanies. I felt even more awkward when Alex asked a camo-clad woman to take our picture. Guess I don't really fit in with the Big Sur types.

 So, after taking in one last amazing view from the hill above our little cabin, we hit the road. I fit in much better on the streets of Carmel, where we made our first pit stop. Glamour! Shopping! Giant chocolate eclairs! I was right at home!

| Dress: Urban Outfitters |
| Jacket: Francesca's via Crossroads |
| Necklace: J Crew |
| Shoes: Kate Spade x Keds |
| Sunglasses: Kate Spade Saturday |
| Bag: MARC by Marc Jacobs via TJ Maxx |

Outfit: Chasing Waterfalls

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When: Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
Where: Beautiful Big Sur

Excuse the no makeup, but hello! I'm a rustic wood nymph, kay? Big Sur was so beautiful! As we left Pismo Beach, the highway 1 views opened up ahead of us, and we wound up the winding road into a misty, chilly, beachside wonderland. It weather was the closest thing to winter we felt the whole trip, and wearing layers was a welcome change.

We took a hike out to the Pfeiffer Falls, and the view was stunning! We took in the sights during our short winter daytime hours, before heading back to the honeymoon cabin at the Lucia Lodge to watch the sunset from our dinner table on a cliff over hanging the Pacific. The best part of Big Sur was the absence of TV or internet in our room. It was so nice to sit by our wood stove fire, drink wine, and read. It made me wish that Alex and I took more opportunities to unplug and enjoy being analog for a minute every now and again.

To stay warm in the winter ocean air, I bundled in cozy knit layers. This outfit wasn't as well planned as others were that I wore on our trip, but I was grateful Alex had encouraged me to pack extra leggings, and scarf and a wool sweater. Totally came in handy!

| Jacket: Urban Outfitters |
| Sweater: Gap |
| Dress: Free People via TJ Maxx |
| Leggings: American Apparel |
| Earrings and Scarf: J Crew |
| Boot: Hand Me Downs |
| Bag: MARC by Marc Jacobs via TJ Maxx |

Outfit: Airbourne

When: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Where: Breakfast in SB, heading out of Auto Camp, Santa Barbara Mission, and up the coast to Pismo Beach

For the first night of our minimoon, we stayed at Auto Camp in Santa Barbara. And it was super cool! Our authentic 60s airstream was completely spiffed out inside. A queen size bed, full kitchen, and even a soaking tub fit into this shiny wonder. I couldn't help but dress to match our one-night home the day we said good-bye to it.

When we woke up, we made use of these lovely bikes and rode to breakfast. I wore my sensible Kate Spade Keds, and put my hair up in a helmet-friendly 'do. I loved riding bikes with Alex so much that as we pedaled out of our driveway, I yelled ahead of him "Hey! We're being cute!!" Apparently, the locals thought that was funny.

After a giant latte (see above) and a stack of pancakes, we packed up and headed to the Mission before hitting highway 1. Of course, I had to give Alex a break from seafood restaurants, so we decided to go to Alex BBQ in Pismo Beach for dinner and indulge in ribs, wings, pulled pork, and one too many margaritas...

| Sweater: Urban Outfitters |
| Jeans: Gap |
| Necklace and Earrings: J Crew |
| Shoes: Kate Sapde x Keds |
| Sunglasses: Kate Spade Saturday |
| Bag: MARC by Marc Jacobs via TJ Maxx |

Rustic Neapolitan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Monday, January 27, 2014
In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day (yeah, that's a thing), I decided to try out a new recipe I'd been dreaming of. I love cake in all flavors, so I though a Neapolitan cake with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate flavors all in one would be perfect! By using one batter, dividing it into three, and flavoring it with cocoa and strawberry preserves, this recipe couldn't be simpler! 

Flour, sugar, baking soda, eggs, oil, milk and flavorings... So easy!

 Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine.

Divide into three...

And then add one flavor to each bowl. 

Stir in that cocoa...

And the strawberry preserves...

 Prepare your pans with butter, flour, and parchment paper.

 Fill each tin and spread each batter evenly over the bottom of the pan so it bakes evenly.

Be sure to make the biggest mess you can!

While your cakes are baking, whip up that frosting.

 After 15-17 minutes in the oven, let them completely cool before you frost them.

 Stack them up with layers of yummy cream cheese frosting.

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2  eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 table spoons milk
 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your tins. Butter and flour them, and line with a round of parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Mix flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until combined.
3. Divide the batter into three parts. You'll have about 4 cups of batter, so you should get about 1 1/3 cups in each bowl. Add the cocoa to one bowl, the strawberry preserves to another, and leave one bowl just vanilla.
4. Pour each mixture into its own prepared tin. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes.
5. While your cakes are baking, prepare the frosting by whipping the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix well. Thin with milk, if necessary.
6. Remove your cakes from the oven and allow them to completely cool before you remove them from the pans and frost them.
7. Admire your handiwork and enjoy!

Outfit: Rose Colored Glasses

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When: Monday, January 6th, 2014

Where: Santa Barbara

Sigh... Married life. Three days after getting hitched, Alex and I took off on our blissful "mini-moon" -- a petite honeymoon up the California coast. First stop was Santa Barbara... You know, right after we stopped through the Camarillo Outlets and hit up Kate Spade for a new robins egg blue wallet. Despite the fact that it was early January, the weather was absolutely perfect and it felt so good to hang out by the water just us two, especially now that all the wedding madness was behind us.

To mark the occasion, I made sure to do a little post-wedding shopping before we hit the road. I love the rosy coral color this outfit embodies. I kind of feel like it could become my signature, you know? If the clothes make the man, maybe this rosy look will give me a rosy outlook. (See what I did there?) I centered my entire outfit around this amazing color. I just so happened to find this dreamy baby pink MARC by Marc Jacobs bag at TJ Maxx the night before we left. I was supposed to be looking for PJs when this blushing beauty caught my eye and I knew it was all over. Had to be mine. Period. Paired with this Cynthia Rowley dress, it's just enough pink to make me feel urber-girly without feeling like I'm going to start puking sparkles.

The watch and shoes and mementos from our wedding. Alex gave me this lovely Kate Spade bracelet watch for Christmas to wear on our wedding day to match my gold dotted keds. They might be a bit matchy-matchy, but I think they are perfectly me! To top the whole thing off, I added this bomb.com floral bomber which I found at my local Urban Outfitters Supply Store for suuuuuper cheap. More on that later...

| Dress: Cynthia Rowley via Marshall's |
| Jacket: Urban Outfitters |
| Bag: MARC by Marc Jacobs via TJ Maxx |
| Shoes and Watch and Sunglasses: Kate Spade |
| Earrings: J Crew |

A Year Without Shopping

I'm happy to say that, as of the first of this month, I have successfully completed my year without shopping. It was a very daunting undertaking, but I am proud report that I stayed the course, and I'm glad to share a few tips that kept me going.

1. Remember your purpose. 
Whatever your reason is for taking a hiatus from shopping is, hold fast to it.

Example: When I began my year without shopping, I had just started my business, I was a year away from my wedding, and my income had recently taken a big drop. Avoiding shopping was less about saving money than it was about not spending money I didn't have.

2. Avoid temptation. 
Old habits die hard. If you're used to going out and buying new items relatively often, cut yourself off from the things that encourage that habit.

Example: The first week of 2013, I cancelled all my email subscriptions to my favorite stores. I knew that hearing about a great sale or new arrivals would be just too much to handle! I also didn't step foot in my most favorite shops. Going into TJ Maxx and seeing a Kate Spade bag hanging in the clearance section or eying a new stunning dress in Anthro could have the power to totally throw me off track. Being the kind of person who can't walk into a store and leave empty-handed, steering clear of stores all together was my only option.

3. Work your closet.
Chance are, if you're as into shopping as I was, you already have a wardrobe full of wonderful items. Put them to good use!

Example: Besides the financial factor, one of the reasons I decided to swear off shopping for the year, was to make an effort to enjoy the stuff I already owned. I found myself wearing pieces I hadn't touched in years, and discovering what my true style is in the absence of newly-purchased trendy items.

4. Get some "new to you" clothing. 
Free clothes are your friend.

Example: Over the course of the year, I found myself just getting tired of what was hanging in my closet. Luckily, my close friend Jessica passed a few pre-loved pieces of clothing onto me when she cleaned out her closet mid-May. I also scored some amazing pieces from my sister when I went to visit her in October. Having some fresh new items for free really kept me going. If you have a friend who is a similar size to you and also on a shopping fast, why not shop each others' cloests?

5. Don't let it freak you out. 
This process should be a challenge, but it shouldn't stress you out!

Example: There were times when I really wanted something I happened to see on another blog or in an advert. At first, I felt frustrated, or ready to throw in the towel. I just had to calm down and say to myself, "You can't have it anyway. If you still want it in January, you can get it." Thankfully, most of those sartorial cravings subsided, but I did keep a list of the pieces I wanted. Now that I can shop again, it's nice having a list of the things that I felt were missing from my wardrobe to refer to.

Good luck to anyone who is starting their no-shop journey! Has anyone else completed their challenge? Please comment below with any tips that got you through it!

Outfit: Thanksgiving Throwback

Saturday, January 25, 2014

When: Thanksgiving, 2013

Where: Chaloff Family Dinner

Alright, so this might be something of an outfit throwback given the fact that this outfit is from last year, but I couldn't just let these photos sit around. And besides, I think this outfit is pretty okay.

I got this nice butternut squash colored dress during my year without shopping by using a handy dandy gift card on anthro.com and, dang, it was worth it! This was the perfect stretchy dress wear while bolting down four slices of pumpkin pie. And it didn't hurt that I looked like a pie either.

My mom got me this amazing crystal belt from anthro for my birthday and even though it might have been pretty over the top, I paired it with these huge j crew crystal dangle earrings. More sparkle, more better.

The boots were a hand-me-down from my sister, and boy, am I grateful for them! I've worn them so many times since picking them up from her over my bridal party/ birthday trip to Mass. I'm kind of digging my hair here, too. I miss that strawberry ombre at home dye job I gave myself, but I'm pretty sure my ends have completely had it and it's time for a major slice. I'll probably have to bid fair well to about 3 inches of straw-like locks, if I want to get my hair back in working order.

| Dress and Belt: Anthropologie |
| Sweater: Urban Outfitters |
| Earrings: j crew |
| Boots: Hand me down |
| Watch: Marc by Marc Jacobs |


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Holy crap. Is it possible that I really haven't blogged in two whole months?! Guess so.

I suppose between Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and oh, you know, getting married (!!), blogging hasn't really been a priority.

But I'd like to kick off my new blog, Married and Bright -- formerly annikadotbenitz, with some wonderfully fabulous shots that our wedding photographer, Heidi Ryder, captured of our little family in early December. It was hard to choose so few favorites, so forgive me if I post some more in the future! Millions of billions of huge enormous thanks to Heidi! Her work is stunning and I can't wait to see what she captured on the big day!

| Dress: Pins and Needles via Urban Outfitters |
| Sweater: Pas Un Ange, hand me down |
| Scarf: j crew |
| Belt: Anthropologie |
| Boots: Sam Edelman via TJ Maxx |

| Sweater: Banana Republic |
| Shirt and Pants: Gap |
| Shoes: Polo Ralph Lauren via TJ Maxx |

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