December 27, 2011

Onion Pepper Relish

The Cookin'

A few days before Christmas, my mom and I made homemade Harry and David's Onion Pepper Relish from this recipe.  Its been a family favorite for years, but I never dreamed that you could make the VERY same thing.  I will say that it was a little labor intensive and time consuming.  Well worth it, though!  Best part is that we can now enjoy Onion Pepper Relish all year long (because its canned) and share it with family and friends! 

The Goods

The Peppers

 Best served over cream cheese with wheat crackers!

December 22, 2011

"Best fashion tips of all times."

I recently read an article on InStyle magazine website called "The 50 Best Fashion Tips of All Time".  This is good stuff, ladies.  Several of these tips popped into my mind while shopping this week and even prevented some unwise purchases- which is always good!  Some of my favorites include:

#14. Round Down in Denim

When in doubt, go with the smaller size in jeans. They always stretch, and nothing's more unflattering than the unintentionally baggy derrière.

#18. Open Your Mind

Always take one "it's cute but so not me" thing into the fitting room. You never know!

#23. Upgrade Your Buttons

Sometimes, the only giveaway that your cute jacket cost less than lunch money is its cheap hardware. Swap in nicer buttons, or have a tailor do it.

#24. Never Buy a Boring Coat

"Outerwear should never be an afterthought," says Holmes & Yang co-designer Jeanne Yang. "So many people only see you in your coat—if you're not wearing something great underneath your trench, they'll never even know!"

#41. Pair Loose With Tight
Few mortals can pull off head-to-toe baggy. So team your billowing pieces with something body-conscious. (Hint: This is what leggings were made for.)

Image credit: All Things Marie

December 21, 2011

The Greatest Story.

This video was played at my church on Sunday.  It is such a unique and interesting way to tell of Jesus' birth.  It is relates to modern culture, while still keeping the integrity of the story.
I really like the song too!

December 20, 2011

High Heels: Its a dilemma.

I wish I could wear high heels.  I really, really do.  I have tried.  I promise you I have...  I've bought them (even the kinds that women say are the comfortable kind) and loved them.  Or at least love looking at them each time I open my closet and see those pretty little gems staring up at me.  In theory high heels are wonderful!  But then I put them on... and my feet hurt- boy do they hurt!  All the blood rushes to my toes and my feet turn bright red like Rudolph's nose.  Is this normal?!  Its really quite a shame, as many outfits could be perfectly polished if they had the addition of a great pair of heels.  Like the icing on the cake!  I look at the bright side though.  My chiropractor dad says that heels give you bad posture and can really mess up your feet.  Glass half full kind of a perspective... ya know?!

December 19, 2011

Christmas Shopping.

Christmas Shopping


Christmas Shopping by hgustin

I mentioned in this post how my family is not formally exchanging Christmas presents this year.  However, I've come across some pretty sweet and thoughtful goodies that might just be the perfect gift for a loved one on your list.  These are just too good to not share!

1.  Beer Making Kit, Williams-Sonoma
2.  Design Sponge at Home, Anthropology
3.  The Edge Pan, Baker's Edge
4.  Decade Candy Box, Hometown Favorites

December 18, 2011

New Christmas Tradition: Gift Giving.

Merry Christmas from The Gustin Family! 

This Christmas my family is trying something new in regards to the whole gift giving tradition.  In the past, these few weeks before December 25th would have been a slightly stressful time of scurrying around town from store to store, hunting for the perfect gift for each other, and avoiding a run-in with other members of the family at our favorite gift buying stores: Sport Chalet, Walmart, and Kohl's.  (This has actually happened on several occasions.)  Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!  Then comes the daunting task of wrapping everything and making sure to sharpie out all those prices on tags.  Another important element of the family gift giving process is holding onto receipts because everyone knows that the day after Christmas is "return the presents that don't work for you day" but we really just call it "shopping."  Can you see the challenges we're talking about here?  So we decided to fix it!

This year, instead of surprising each other with gifts, we are having fun family outing days where we go shopping together and buy the things that we really want and need.  Everyone picks out their own things and there is no pressure or deadline to getting your gifts.  I'm holding out for the after Christmas sales!  Yesterday we had our first shopping spree together at Old Town Pasadena and it was so much fun!  My brother and dad, the hard ones to shop for, each found a great coat and my brother got some super trendy boots that I had completely approved of (I had even pinned the exact pair on my "menswear" board on Pinterest).  We took a refueling break at Cheesecake Factory where we dinned on mushroom swiss burgers and white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake.  Deeelish!  With the boys just about done with their shopping, I look forward to going out shopping with my mom later in the break.

It was so fun doing something together, instead of each going his or her own way to shop separately for each other.  This is our trial run year; but I must say that (so far) I am a huge fan of this new tradition!

December 16, 2011


When you are fairly certain that you failed your final and then you check your grade.... only to discover that you did just fine.

Image credit: Piccsy

December 15, 2011

Its haircut time.

Its getting to be that time again... when its been about 8 months since my last hair cut... and I start getting that urge... to chop it all off.  Does anyone else get in this mood too?  I really should learn from history and know that if I cut it any more than 3 inches I'm going to dreadfully miss having long hair.  But clearly I have yet to learn from my mistakes as I continue to seek the perfect "medium length" hairstyle....  I blame Pinterest.

25 Days of Giving.

This Christmas my church is challenging people to participate in something called 25 Days of Giving.  Basically there is a advent calender on their website and each day a box unlocks with a challenge for day.  For example today's challenge: "Send a letter to someone dear to you. Share how thankful you are that he or she is in your life.  Proverbs 16:24"  Such a great reminder of the true reason for the season!  There are only 9 more days till Christmas... make it count by being an example of Christ to others.

Photo credit: Thirty Handmade Days

December 14, 2011

Cookie Decorating Party.

I've talked about my love for these cake mix cookies here and marveled at how fantastic it is that you can use 3 basic ingredients (cake mix of your choice, 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus whatever extra goodies you'd like to add in), to make infinitely many different kinds of cookies.  BUT, who knew that you could make the perfect little Christmas sugar cookie using this same method?!  Last week I hosted a cookie decorating Christmas party at my apartment and did just that.  I used a funfetti cake mix as the base for my cookies and set up a little decorating station stocked with icing, crushed candy canes, mint chocolate chips, and tons of sprinkles for guests to transform their cookies into works of art!

Tips & Tricks:
  • With this particular dough, it is very difficult to transfer cut out cookies from the counter top to the baking sheet.  I suggest rolling out your dough right on the baking sheet and then using cookie cutters to cut directly on the pan.  Once you have made all your cutter impressions (make sure that cookies are at leas 3/4 inches apart from each other), all you have to do is remove the excess dough and you are ready to pop them in the oven.
  • If you're low on Christmas sprinkles, here's what you should do. Buy the holiday funfetti cake mix and use the sprinkles enclosed in the box to decorate freshly iced cookies.

December 10, 2011

Home for the holidays.

On Saturday I packed up my apartment and headed home, where I found my bedroom decorated for Christmas with all the best touches of the season.  Thanks mom!   This is by far one of my favorite times of the year.  My family's tangerine tree is loaded with ripe fruit, holiday songs by Nat King Cole and Julie Andrews are pipped throughout the house, and the pantry is stocked with all the ingredients for some serious baking.  Its a beautiful thing!  This year we are enjoying the Christmas season and keeping our focus on the main thing-Jesus.

December 7, 2011

Christmas Cheer Even During Finals...

Despite the fact that its finals week, there is no lack of Christmas cheer here in Westwood.  There have been multiple baking sessions, Christmas parties, and holiday traditions (like our nightly Christmas countdown ceremony).  We go all out!  My roommate's friend from Australia has been staying with us in the apartment for the last few weeks and it has been so fun introducing her to some American Christmas traditions.  Here are some pictures of holiday highlights thus far...

 Vanilla Peppermint Sprinkles Cupcakes

Window Shopping in the decorated streets of Rodeo Drive.

Christmas Party Fun.

Christmas Decorations.