Monthly Archives: April 2014

Wasn’t Christmas just yesterday? (enter cliche statement about how quickly time passes) 

Really though, I don’t understand it. And it’s scary. It totally hit me this month that time only moves forward– never backwards. Yes, I know that sounds obvious but have you ever really thought about it? Unbelievable. And yet we continue to wish our days away. Note to self: stop doing that.

On a lighter note, April was filled with an abundance of friends, family, food, and fashion. The best.

Favorites: April 2014:

Fashion & Beauty:

soft shorts // kate spade // real techniques brushes // bralettes // lush // messy buns // converse

2-Snapshots31-DSC_03043-Build Your Bliss10

Food & Fitness:

smoothies // hiking // fresh fruit // toast with butter // circuit training // quest bars // juice // baking

5-Build Your Bliss10-002IMG_00926-Build Your Bliss10-003Life:

family // birthdays // budgeting // driving with the windows down // summery candles // blogging


Here’s to truly embracing the next 31 days…


Etiquette (noun)the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group (synonyms: protocol, manners, good behavior, rules of conduct, etc.)

If there was one thing our parents were right about, it would be the importance of good manners. Etiquette plays a vital role in the impressions you make, the level of respect and appreciation you show, and the way you’re perceived. We don’t often think about whether or not we’re following proper rules of conduct but we should. This series is going to address various areas of etiquette and provide tips and tricks to ensure that you’re portraying yourself in the best way possible.

Lessons In Etiquette #1: Tipping 

Leaving an appropriate tip is one of the most vital aspects of proper etiquette but, unfortunately, can be really confusing. Who are you supposed to tip? How much? How do you figure out the percentage? To help answer those questions, I’ve listed the minimum tip range for various scenarios and how to calculate them. Of course, you can always tip more for exceptional service.

Food Service


  • Full-Service Restaurant: 15-20%
  • Bar: 15-20% (of total bill) or $1-2 (per drink)
  • Buffet or Pick-Up Restaurant: 10%
  • Take-Out: 10%
  • Delivery: 10-20%
  • Cafe (tip jar): $1-3

Beauty Service:

1-Build Your Bliss8

  • Hair Cut/Color: 20% (or more)
  • Manicure/Pedicure: 15-20%
  • Massage: 15-20%
  • Waxing: 10-15%

Miscellaneous Service:


  • Valet Parking: $2-5
  • Cab Driver: 15%
  • Hotel Maid: $2-3 (per night)
  • Room Service: 15-20%
  • Movers: $15-20 (per mover)

How To Calculate Tip Percentage

Change the appropriate amount to decimal format and multiply by the bill amount (before tax).
For example, if my haircut cost $50 and I wanted to tip 20% the calculation would look like this:

.20 X 50 = 10
The tip amount would be $10 resulting in a total payment of $60

Still confused? Let one of the free tip-calculator apps for iPhone or Android do the math for you.
Be generous. What goes around, comes around.

Here’s to proper gratitude…


I have a confession– I’ve officially fallen into the cool, refreshing arms of the smoothie fan club.

I spent years convinced that I didn’t like them because they “weren’t satisfying” and had “too much sugar”. Um, why didn’t someone slap some sense into me? Smoothies. Are. Amazing.

After my smoothie cleanse, I found myself craving them non-stop and decided to take matters into my own hands. I bought a [cheap] blender, stocked up on ingredients, and started experimenting. My first few attempts were less-than-stellar simply because I didn’t use the right ratio of ingredients. Since then, I’ve started to discover what works best in terms of taste, texture, and satiety and I put together a little cheat-sheet for building the perfect smoothie. Start with a liquid base and then choose one item (or a combination) from each of the four categories. How easy is that?

smoothie 101These ingredients are my personal favorites but feel free to get creative and try new things! The options are endless. I try to use frozen fruits and vegetables whenever possible because they bring out a creamy, icy texture that I absolutely love. Also, I’ve heard that chia seeds are an amazing smoothie addition (and the health benefits are awesome), I just haven’t tried them myself.

IMG_0141This combination was 1 cup almond milk, 2 cups frozen spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop Perfect Fit vanilla protein powder, and 1 tbsp. of honey. Simple, delicious, and satisfying. Plus, isn’t it beautiful? Sure, it might be a little green, but looks can be very, very deceiving.

What are your go-to smoothie ingredients? Any favorite recipes?

Here’s to sipping our way to health…


Technically, my weekend was nothing special. It was filled with the usual suspects- work, nature, food, friends, adventure- and still a mere two days long. But everything was different because I finally opened my eyes and stopped taking my beautiful life for granted. I remembered to feel blessed. So while my weekend may have been nothing out-of-the-ordinary, it was extraordinary.

IMG_0117This week I challenge you to stop, breathe, and simply love your life. Accept that it’s never going to be perfect and embrace that it’s always going to be unpredictable, then go out and live it.

Here’s to our extraordinary lives…


Follow me on Twitter & Instagram // @missemmmysue

Here’s the thing…I don’t do cleanses.

I’m a huge fan of juices and drink them regularly, but the idea of following an all-liquid diet for multiple days sounds miserable. That isn’t to say I’ll never try one, they’ve just always seemed so extreme.

However, I recently discovered a company that is changing everything–

OMGBlends is an amazing alternative to traditional juice detoxing that results in the same benefits without deprivation. Their cleanse packages include 2 meal-replacement smoothies and 1 almond milk per day and customers are instructed to combine those with a healthy meal (for lunch or dinner). Their products are organic, vegan, gluten-free and absolutely delicious. What’s not to love?

My magazine editor and I decided to take on a 3-day cleanse together (to be featured in an upcoming issue) and the OMGBlends team did a fabulous job of creating programs for us. They were delivered on a Sunday evening with our schedule and instructions and we started the next morning.


Day 1

Breakfast: BlendPress- cold-pressed coffee, raw cacao hazelnut, brown-rice protein


Lunch: BlendSense- peanut butter, cardamon, bananas, almond milk, brown-rice protein

Snack: Mocha Latte- almond milk, dates, coffee, raw cacao

Day 2

Breakfast: BlendPress- cold-pressed coffee, raw cacao hazelnut, brown-rice protein

Lunch: BlenErgy- kale, ginger, almond milk, brown-rice protein


Snack: Matcha Milk- almond milk, dates, matcha powder, chlorella

Day 3:

Breakfast: BlendTernal- greens, matcha green tea, coconut water, brown-rice protein

Lunch: BlendSpiration- strawberries, beets, almond milk, brown-rice protein


Snack: Vanilla Latte- almond milk, dates, coffee, vanilla bean powder

I was so worried about feeling hungry, weak, and deprived (a common “cleanse” complaint) but I never did. The combination of protein, healthy fats, and fruits/veggies makes each smoothie extremely satisfying and having an actual meal every night was the perfect addition. Of course, the best part was the taste. OMGBlends prides themselves on only using the highest-quality, organic ingredients and it definitely shows. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the unique flavors (BlendPress and BlendSpiration being my favorites!) and was already craving more the day after I finished.

I can honestly say that I loved this experience and I would highly, highly recommend OMGBlends to anyone that wants a light cleanse or easy meal options for crazy days. The smoothies are sold in select stores in Southern California but they also deliver (see their website for availability).

Here’s to a healthy and happy reboot…


Follow me on Twitter & Instagram // @missemmmysue

Disclaimer: OMGBlends provided my editor and I with a complimentary 3-day cleanse but I was in no way compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I’m pretty sure my mom had a heart attack. Can you blame her? I was a young girl in a big, scary city. She always wanted to know where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing and would sent text regular text messages to stay up-to-date. 4 years later, I’m more adapted to the city and she’s [slightly] more relaxed but it can still be dangerous.


To feel a little safer I always carry pepper-spray, try to avoid deserted areas, and rarely venture out at night alone. Unfortunately, sometimes situations still arise that make me nervous. Things as simple as walking to my car at night or meeting up with someone for a blind-date can be uncomfortable…

Guess what? There’s an app for that.


KiteString is a new website and mobile app that helps keep tabs on you– it’s basically your “virtual mom”. After creating a free account, you log-in, let them know when to check up on you (in 30 min., 2 hours, etc.), and then click “embark”. KiteString will send you a message after the allotted time and, if you don’t respond, will notify the emergency contacts that you’ve chosen. Pretty cool, right?

In my opinion, this is the type of app that we’ve desperately needed for decades and that everyone can benefit from. Is it something we’ll use every day? No, probably not. But it’s a nice comfort to have if you know you’re going to be in a vulnerable situation (and I guarantee your mom will love it!).

Here’s to safety-first…


Follow me on Twitter & Instagram // @missemmmysue

It was a year ago (almost exactly) that I chopped my hair off.

I was coming out of a very dark place, in the midst of watching my family crumble to pieces, and struggling to identify exactly who I was as a person. I was mentally and physically unhealthy and stress had taken over my life. I needed a change. So, I cut off my thin, dead hair and vowed to start fresh. I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My life has changed drastically since that day– It got worse before it got better, but it did get better. I decided to pursue my passion for writing, I made new friends, I found my internship, and I began to rediscovered the girl I had once been. Somehow, that haircut was my turning point. It solidified the change that I so desperately needed and forced me to face my fear of the unknown.

Now I’m on the road to growing my hair back out and I’m determined to keep it healthy and strong. I’ve been incorporating new products and tricks into my routine and they seem to be paying off.

The Products:


1. Batiste Dry Shampoo

The biggest change I’ve made is not washing my hair every day. If you do, stop. Over-washing strips hair of its natural oils and leaves it limp, dry, and thin. For off-days, I swear by Batiste Dry Shampoo. They sell tinted versions for every hair color and it leaves my hair feeling clean and voluminous.

2. RedKen Intra-Force System:

This is an intense treatment that my hairstylist recommended and I’m so thankful that she did. It’s a 3-part system (shampoo, conditioner, and root-spray) that stimulates your scalp and helps create new hair growth. I used this 2-3 days a week and I had new baby hairs growing in almost immediately. It’s a little pricey but worth the investment if your hair is thin or consistently falling out.

3. LUSH Retread Conditioner:

Surprisingly, this is the first Lush product I’ve tried and I can definitely see what all the hype is about. This intense conditioner completely changed the texture of my hair from course and dry, to soft and smooth. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and smells heavenly– what more could I ask for?

4. Organix Coconut Milk Serum

I’ve heard time and time again about the benefits of using coconut-oil on your hair but my hair stylist said it would probably be too heavy for my fine hair. Instead, she recommended a coconut-milk based serum and I found this one at Target for $8. I apply it after towel-drying my hair and then brush through it with a wide-toothed comb. It’s amazing and makes my head smell like a coconut. Love.

5. Fringe Shine Spray:

I went to an event at the Fringe Salon of Beverly Hills a few weeks ago and had the opportunity to try their new line of products. Everything was fabulous but the Shine Spray is [by far] my favorite. The directions say it can be applied to wet or dry hair but I typically use it as a finishing spray to give my hair a little extra shine. Fringe products are available exclusively at their salon or on their website.

So, there you have it. Those are the products I’ve been using and I can’t get over the results. If you’re struggling with unhealthy hair or simply want to grow it longer and fuller, I highly recommend them!

What products do you swear by?

Here’s to long, luscious locks…


Follow me on Twitter & Instagram // @missemmmysue