Best of 2014 in Review...Welcome New Year 2015

I'm about to make a very cliche' statement: "I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by"! How did this happen though? Seriously!

 It has probably been the toughest year for me in many ways and the greatest possible in others. I'm truly proud of how far I've come with regards to blogging and my Youtube Channel over the year and I cannot wait to see where a new year will take it. I have to repeat myself for the millionth time because I just cannot express this enough- the most amazing part of blogging by far is you guys- my readers, my friends, my followers, my supporters. Reading the lovely comments and hearing the positivity from you all on a daily basis effects me so much. This blog wouldn't BE without all of you and so I want to take a moment here and tell you how grateful I am to each and every one of you who take the time to read what I have to say. You are awesome!

At the end of the year alot of people tend to choose some resolutions to stick to in making a greater, better year to come. I'm going to be a bit boring and pick organization. My goal in the coming year is to be more organized in life and in my blogging. With planning and getting things done, with getting rid of things I no longer need and bringing in new better things I do. Those are my goals and with them I hope to achieve alot and make the world around me a better place, one day at a time.

Today is the day to close one chapter and start a new one. Saying goodbye to year 2014 and welcoming year 2015 is what it's all about! Each year, I close with a round up to celebrate some of my favorite posts I've done on the blog and highlight some that were just extremely popular in general. This year is going to be no exception, so here we go! 

Leave me a comment letting me know which of these or any of my posts throughout this year is/has been your favorite. I absolutely love hearing your feedback!

Food:


Beauty:


There have also been so many great fashion related posts and home decor posts but I wanted to be selective and choose mainly food and beauty here. Feel free to check out my most popular posts column the right hand side of the blog in the side bar to see some of those!

Wishing you all a very happy new year! I certainly cannot wait to see what it will bring!

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XX. 
Gigi. 

A Massive Sephora Beauty Haul


Once a year I go on a crazy huge shopping spree for beauty products from Sephora, Ulta, drugstores and the like. I stock up on products for my makeup artists kit and personal makeup bag as well. Don't get me wrong, I shop for beauty products throughout the year as well, but this is a just a bit more major with regards to the amount of products and the cost of it all. I tend to do the majority of my big yearly shopping during the holiday season to get the most of the discounts. And this year was no exception, I saved myself a whole lot of money and even scored some free goodies. 


Some of these products were purchased during the big Sephora VIB sale and after that I returned a couple of products and purchased a few more of what you see here which were out of stock during that original order. All in all, I am so happy with what I came out with. As with most of my hauls, I of course made a video to go along with this post where I have gone into a bit a more detail on each item, so go and watch that here if you'd like or read till the end of the post where I will insert it as usual.


Here's what I chose to purchase this time:
And look out for in depth reviews on each of these products, coming soon!





Beauty Insider Makeup Forever Happy Birthday Celebrate Kit with the Smokey Extravagant Mascara Mini and Rouge Artist Natural N9 Lipstick Mini


     

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Have you tried any of these products? What do you think of them? What have you recently purchased from Sephora?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, I love hearing from you!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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XX. 
Gigi. 

Secret Restaurant Recipes Cookbook Review + Giveaway! (Closed)



I can't remember a time I was this excited over a cookbook release! The title itself has me squealing in delight. It even had my husband flipping through it at top speed when it first arrived. It's just that this is such unchartered territory! I have yet to see a cookbook that explores recipes from top kosher restaurants around the world before. After cooking my way through many of the recipes in this book over the last several weeks, I have just one thing to say- I want a part 2! This cookbook is great for the many restaurant owners featured, because obviously after successfully cooking up one of their dishes you will be very curious about what else they have to offer. It's also amazing for the home cook on a budget who doesn't frequent restaurants often but still wants to get a taste of the exquisite dishes prepared. Leah and Victoria are the two culinary masterminds behind the resourceful website cookkosher and a vast collection of cookbooks already but this one tops it for me Now that I am done raving about this book, let me give you a little insight as to what's inside!

Here is what I think of this cookbook:


How it Looks: The beautiful photos and exciting bold lettering on the cover really offer a sampling of what's to come on the inside. I was happy to see that it was printed in hard cover which is far more user friendly in my opinion.

What's Inside: Dozens of mouthwatering recipes for those versatile dinner dishes, perfect shabbos appetizers and delectable deserts for any occasion. With this book on hand you will be able to recreate dishes from some of the most elite restaurants who's names you will immediately recognize because of the grand reputations that exceed them. There is something in here to suit everyone from fish eaters, to pasta lovers and even the vegetarians.


Extras: At the start of the book, there is an entire page dedicated to some of the unique ingredients incorporated into many of the recipes inside. It gives great insight as to why they are used and what extra flavors they impart in each dish.  Culinary tips straight from the Chef are also included alongside many of the recipes which really gives the book a personal feel.

What I Love: I really appreciate the unique sauce recipes, garnishes and exotic ingredients included here because as a food blogger I find that it sparks my inspiration. I'm always looking for new ways to change up my dishes and give them that wow factor.

What I Don't Love: I can only think of one detail that irks me at all. Because these recipes come from restaurants, I've noticed that many of them are written out in the bulk form ingredients wise where you would be cooking for 20 people. For the home cook that is not going to translate well. I had an easy time converting them to a 2 person meal recipe, but for some it may be confusing.


My favorite recipes from this book: The Smoked Short Rib Tacos- it took a long time preparation wise but was worth every minute with it's finger licking sauce and meat that fell apart on contact. Another stand out was the tortelloni recipe which incorporated distinct fruity flavors which added so much dimension. It was unlike any other pasta dish I've ever tried. We also really enjoyed the Pizazza milkshakes which were a perfect weekend treat and also super easy to whip up.

Overall: If you haven't noticed from my excessive gushes throughout this post, I am absolutely in love with this book. It is a real beauty from cover to cover. All I can say now, book me some tickets because I am in for a culinary adventure while traveling around the world. From California to Mexico and Israel I want to visit every restaurant in this book and taste these masterpieces for myself!

P.S. this would also make a great chanuka gift for that special lady in your life, purchase it here for $21.86

Now let's talk about the most exciting part, the giveaway!

One of you, my dear readers is going to win yourself a copy of this amazing cookbook and entering is really so simple! Simply use the Rafflecopter to enter. You only need to enter once and can do so by either 1) liking my facebook fan page 2) following me on twitter 3) following me on bloglovin' or 4) leaving me a comment below this post. Please don't forget to include you email adress somewhere so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway will end in one weeks time on Wednesday December 24th and the winner will then be contacted. Please keep in mind that this giveaway is only open to U.S. citizens. Thanks! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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XX. 
Gigi. 

My Blueberry Apple Kugel Recipe Video

This recipe is one I first posted back in January of 2012 and it has gotten a lot of love since! I know why too, it's one of our favorite recipes as well. I always prepare it for Shabbos and Yom Tov especially when I know I'll be having guests. I thought it was about time I dedicated a short video to it, showing you as I prepare it step by step and at last, here it is!



Blueberry Apple Kugel


Ingredients:

3 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Oil
1 Egg
1 Tsp Baking Powder
4 Green Macintosh Apples
1 Large Can Blueberry Pie Filling
1 Tsp Brown Sugar

Method:

1. Prepare crust/crumble topping: Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl and mix. Once the powder ingredients have come together add the oil and egg. 

2. Mix it up with your fingers a bit to create a crumble texture and then press about half of the mixture into a greased 9X13 pan. 

3. Peal the apples and then begin slicing them up into small/medium cubes and spread them over the crust in an even layer. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples which will give them a caramelized taste later.

4. Dollop out the blueberry pie filling with a spoon and then spread it over the apples as evenly as possible. 

5. Top everything with the rest of the crumble and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

6. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour or until the top is nicely browned and the apples are soft and cooked through. 

7. Allow to cool before serving and either serve cold from the fridge or warm from the oven. 



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Gigi. 

My December 2014 Wishlist

Considering the huge Sephora haul (look out for that video and post) I've done recently along with a big box that just arrived from Ulta, you'd think there would be nothing left on that good old wishlist of mine. The fact is, the whole shopping thing actually promotes my wishes even more. And with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just having passed, my shopping gears are in full grind! October and November both managed to slip by with no wishlist post, so this is going to be a big one! If you are busy working on gift shopping for the upcoming holidays, this may act as a good little gift guide for all those special women in your life as well. Here is what I am currently wishing for this month:



1. Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in 03 "Strawberry Kissed"- As you will see in my upcoming Sephora haul post/video, I purchased this Sephora lip stain in the shade always red and was literally blown away. Now I feel the need to get every single shade it comes in of course but this is certainly #1 on that list. 

2. Michael Kors Hamilton Saffiano Leather Medium Satchel in the color "Luggage"- I've been on the search for a nice every day designer bag for a while now. I've been looking for something not too pricey but well made and structured and that is what the Michael Kors bags are to me. 

3. Zadro Makeup Mirror 2 Sided and Lighted- Great news! I'm finally working on getting my makeup/filming room setup! I have already put in my carpet and will be picking up my desk and chair over the weekend. An essential is going to be a lighted mirror like this one for my makeup tutorials. Can't wait to show you some pictures of the room once it's finished!

4. HPI Faux Fur Cable Knit Hat- I've been obsessed with beanies and literally wear them every day when it's cold out. Since I don't have one this burgundy shade, it's a must have!

5. West Elm Scoop Table Lamp in "Copper"- Yet another item I am lusting after for my makeup/filming room. Alot of the color in the room will be white, so this will be a really nice addition to the decor. Plus, West Elm is having a 20% off sale on lighting, so what better time to purchase it? 

6. X-Base Vanity Set- As of October, I have been living in my house for a year. The process of decorating has been a long one and there are still many pieces I have yet to add. This is one I really would love to add to my bedroom in a corner for applying my makeup in the morning and getting ready etc. 

7. Giorgio Armani Code Pour Femme Perfume- This is a great example of how shopping for beauty products only leads to more shopping for beauty products. I love when companies send along little perfume spray samples to try and that has been my guide for purchase in the past. Ulta included this one along with my order and it wasn't one I had ever smelled before but am now completely in love with. 

8. Menbur Drust Platform Pump in Navy- DSW was having an awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale and I of course took the opportunity to get myself a few pairs of much needed shoes. I am kicking myself now for not adding these to my cart as well. They are beautiful! 

9. Nume Lustrum Curling Set- If you frequent Youtube at all, you will have heard of these Nume hair tools and seen them in action as well. I have decided that when I do purchase a hair tool, this is going to be the one. It looks use friendly and seems to give really great style as well.

10. Paderno World Cuisine Tri Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer- Zoodles are all the rage right now amongst food bloggers and home cooks alike and I am feeling left out. I just need this spiralizer in my life. 

Please let me know what's on your wishlist this month so please do leave it in the comments! I would love to hear from you and get some gift ideas as well! 

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Stay updated.

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You can also follow me with:
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XX. 
Gigi. 
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