CHAMPAGNE, COOKIES AND CAKE


Having my cake, eating and drinking it too? This year I had a small lunch with some friends before another party to celebrate turning 29 years old. As you may already know I have been drinking brut rosé a lot more in place of wine or a cocktail because it's delicious and basically has no sugar in comparison to other wines and most champagne or other sparkling wine varieties. It's also doesn't hurt that it's a perfect shade of pink. So when I found out the restaurant that I was having my birthday lunch at didn't have my favorite Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé on the wine list, I decided to just bring my own and pay the corkage fee. I haven't really done that before but most restaurants are totally fine with it as long as you bring something substantial and that is not on their menu. I'd always recommend calling ahead and letting them know what you are looking for and what the corkage fee is before bringing something. Since I was bringing the champs, I figured I would make it into a bit of a theme. I love having little place cards at the table people can take home so I figured I'd make them into a cookie. I found an amazing baker, Lauren Lowstan of A Sweet Savory, who had recently done some adorable cookies for my friend Brooke, and she brought my idea to life. She replicated the brut rosé bottles into these super cute and delicious sugar cookies and wrote all my friends' names on each one. It was a great little compliment to our sushi lunch and an easy take home goodie too. And as for the cake, I once again needed my usual marble cake from SusieCakes, with the Susie pink frosting and a Drake lyric. Obviously I had to choose the 24 hour champagne diet quote. Can you blame me? I added the roses and carnations myself by using a toothpick to hold up the flowers and stick upward into the top of cake. Enjoy!





-MGN

BIRTHDAY POST: TURNING 29!

Birthdays have always been pretty special to me, ever since I was a little girl who religiously had several back to back celebrations at a place rightfully called "Let's Dress Up" -I think you get the gist- and realized being born in August meant cookie dough ice cream cakes were more than appropriate when you live in the midwest. Every year so far has continued in the same vein. I've never really put too much pressure on how I celebrate and usually have a pretty easy time figuring out what I want to do, surprise, surprise, because I am constantly finding ways to celebrate year round let's face it. Celebrating to me doesn't always include a party, in fact the majority of my celebrations are by myself or with one or two other people; like going to the movies by myself on Friday afternoons, drinking brut rosé at the beach with Arthur just because or deciding to spend a whole weekend at home to reset and unwind. Don't get me wrong, lots of celebrations include dinner with a friend, a girls night out a cool restaurant or an elaborate cheese plate, but I guess my point is it doesn't have to. And this year is the quite the same; a nice lunch with friends, a nice lunch with Arthur, maybe a massage at some point and definitely seeing one of my favorite summer reads on the big screen, Crazy Rich Asians, which is coming out right around my birthday and I will most likely go see by myself! I do think a birthday is a good time to reflect, not in the New Year's resolution type of way, but more like just an acknowledgment of how life has evolved over the last year. Keep in mind that reflections don't have to be goal oriented or have some kind of measure to them. I think we get so wrapped up in the number of years we are turning and what it's supposed to mean in terms of where we are in our life. I think one of the things I have done successfully  over the years is my choice to focus being grateful and celebrating myself just because! I don't think birthdays need to be earned, we are entitled to them! So in terms of reflecting this year a lot of the themes are similar to the last time I wrote a post like this. Like looking for fulfillment from myself and being able to let go of the things that don't seem to serve me. I still feel the same way; my life has changed a bit considering I met Arthur and am starting a new life with him, and my new little pig son (Pierre a French bulldog, not a real pig, but super close). I have always viewed my relationship as a major addition, a beautiful, wonderful, amazing change in my life, but never the new foundation. Fulfillment for me comes from the choices I make, the opportunities I open myself up to and as a result, the rest has come. The great relationships I have with so many friends, family members and colleagues. The healthy relationship I choose to be in with Arthur. The way I get to feel most of the time because I am doing what I truly want. So looking back on this year I have certainly had some great highs and of course, some lows. Most notably getting engaged to Arthur and starting our next chapter will be a forever top life moment. Second to that, passing my LCSW exam and getting licensed was a major accomplishment that I am SO GLAD is done and last but not least, getting to spend another year with incredible friends who are supportive, kind, loyal and fun. I honestly don't know what I would do without my little LA family (aka friends) who make all the difference. I don't necessarily have set goals for being 29 since I feel like life is always a process, like the ocean, with ebbs and flows of successes and setbacks, but I do look forward to continuing to mentor graduate interns, marrying the love of my life next summer and putting all the extra creative energy I have into my wonderful slice of respite, Gisele Chic! Thank you for following my journey and talking time to read this, always looking forward to what's next. 

-MGN

A MINI GARDEN PARTY


This weekend I hosted some girlfriends for dinner and drinks. I know these girls from working as a therapist and we all happened to earn our professional licenses  this year and so of course we needed to celebrate! And as you know I love any excuse to get creative, so I decided to do a little garden party theme this time given it's summertime. Starting with the most adorable invitation from Paperless Post, I couldn't help myself, despite inviting only three people! Aside from the one I used, all of the options from Happy Menocal are so chic. The illustrations are perfect and I honestly want to use them all.  For the decor I just grabbed some pretty pink and purple flowers from Trader Joes to make an arrangement, add to the ice bucket and detail the cake with. The ice bucket was extremely easy to make but if you're not into DIY here is one you can purchase. To make mine I just took two glasses that fit into one another and added the water and flowers in the space between them. In order to make sure the flowers didn't all float to the top, I filled it up halfway with half the flowers and let it freeze, before doing a second round. It turned out beautiful but the ice melted within a few hours so it was pretty but not the best way to keep the wine chilled! For the punch, I poured in about two bottles of brut rosé, slices of grapefruit and grapefruit flavored Italian soda to taste. It was not only beautiful but also delicious! I love drinking brut rosé because its' got all the benefits of champs but it's pink and way less sweet. To garnish the punch cups I added a few peach colored raspberries I found at Trader Joes to a cocktail skewer. Another option would be to use blueberries or grapes depending on the fruit you put in the punch. I am not sure how well raspberries and grapefruit go together but the coloring on the raspberry I found was just too pretty to pass up! SusieCakes helped me out with my absolute favorite marble cake and as usual accepted my request to switch out the chocolate frosting for the pink buttercream. I  added the cute flowers myself to match the other florals and give the cake some dimension. The lady who took my order didn't seem too fazed by my request to write "Licensed AF" on it and it was as befitting a title for us as delicious. Since I left the meal up to Arthur, who made some delicious roasted veggies, a cucumber salad and chicken yakitori; I of course made a nice little cheese plate. I used my typical favorites like triple cream brie, manchego, raw honeycomb, candied nuts, water crackers and salami slices. It was delicious and so simple to put together. I also added some strawberries to keep with the garden theme! Enjoy!

-MGN
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LE WEEKEND


CELEBRATE: I have a birthday, a friend in town and will be throwing a small little party to celebrate myself and few work friends who recently got licensed as therapists. As you know I love to celebrate, whether it's just dinner with a friend I don't see often, a birthday or a full on party. For the little get together I am hosting, I'm going to try out a little garden party theme, so hopefully some florals, a fizzy punch and some fresh fruit. Past that I will need to consult with my private chef, aka Arthur to decide on what food. As usual, I am mainly focused on my decor. Wish me luck, can't wait to share! SEE: I'm excited for two movies opening this weekend, the sequel (or is it a prequel?) to Mamma Mia, which I actually just saw for the first time on Netflix recently. I remember having a desire to see it when it first came out, but for whatever reason never got around to it and now I am full on ready to buy a one way ticket to Greece or try to become a broadway singer. The jury is still out on which plan is more feasible, but in the meantime I am excited for the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again premiere. Additionally, I am eager to see McQueen, a documentary about the legendary high fashion designer, Alexander McQueen who unfortunately passed at a young age and in the prime of his career. I first saw the preview for this film when I went to see another fashion icon documentary that I am still obsessing over, The Gospel According to André, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! DO: For Arthur's birthday I got him a series of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and we just went to the first one, which was Seal! He is such a great performer and had an epic band playing with him. The Hollywood Bowl is just such a wonderful summer venue. I love that the venue allows you to bring your own wine and food, so in true Monica fashion I brought a bottle of brut rosé and grabbed some sub sandwiches, cheese and charcuterie from Bay Cities (aka the best Italian deli in Los Angeles). It was such a beautiful night and I am excited about the next two shows coming up in the series! Not a lot of time for rest this weekend, but sometimes that's what it takes to have fun! Enjoy!

-MGN

{ garden party inspo image source 1 | 2 }
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HOW I ASKED MY SISTER TO BE MY MAID OF HONOR


Having a sister guaranteed many things in life; lots of copying, toy sharing and fighting over who got to play Mary-Kate Olsen first. For the record it was always me but seeing how things turned out I am more than happy to give you the privilege now Becky. But the other fairly common tradition of sisterhood often assures you a spot as maid of honor and of course for me there was no question that my only sister Becky would get the job. Given that she’s had years of practice being my schlepper, therapist, voice of reason (although I’m still the big sister and 99% right), lady in waiting, defuser, stabilizer, reality checker and biggest cheerleader always; I am fairly confident in her abilities. I know she’ll make the perfect candidate to manage multiple Monica meltdowns and tell me I look like Kate Middleton. She’s going to do a great job of keeping me humble and making sure I have a great time because that’s who she is!

So to make it a bit more special, I decided to give her a cute little box full of fun things, as many brides often do to ask their maids of honor and bridesmaids to be a part of the big day. I found the box at Tuesday Morning, which is a similar store to HomeGoods and T.J. Maxx  They had a lot of options for cute decorative boxes and I would highly recommend looking for one there or a craft store like Micheals or Hobby Lobby. So I filled it with a lot of the usual things like brut rosè, candy and a nice card. I chose brut rosè for a few reasons, the primary being that I love it, but also because right after Arthur proposed, I said "yes" and then immediately heard a champagne bottle pop and when I turned around it was my sister Becky, holding a bottle of brut rosè. The other perfect coincidence is that this particular brand is called Graham Beck, which I swiftly crossed out and made "John Beck," as that was Becky's undercover name in Arthur's phone to coordinate the proposal. I also added a ridiculous vegan kale gourmet candy bar (yes they make it and yes it cost $10 welcome to LA), every season of The Nanny in DVD format (which my sister and I grew up watching religiously and taught us more than any teacher or cheerleading coach could have) and a live butterfly. Yes, you read that right. I went v extra and put a live butterfly in her box - inspired by the movie Bridesmaids when Kristen Wig’s character is invited to her friend's wedding shower in the most over the top way possible. Now before anybody gets concerned, there was no harm done to the butterfly. It was shipped on ice and hibernated until we released it. The butterfly slowly woke up with the warmth and then flew into the beautiful Chicago skyline! The company I worked with was great, and I would highly recommend if you’re interested! It made the whole experience extra fun and very special. 

So if you are planning to do something similar for whatever occasion, my best advice is to make it personal! Obviously mine was full of funny things unique to Becky and I's relationship and that made it mean more for us both. For example, she always chose mint chocolate chip ice cream as a kid, hence the mint chip candies. She also is constantly rolling her eyes at the Los Angeles stereotypes, hence the vegan kale chocolate. And Compartés has amazing chocolates, but vegan kale, really? Oh and did I mention they also make an avocado toast chocolate bar too?? That one I might actually try though. Anyway, Becky's Box Included the following:







-MGN
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MY BRENTWOOD APARTMENT TOUR: THE LIVING ROOM


I just said goodbye to the apartment I have been living in for 7 years. My entire time so far in Los Angeles has been here, in the only place I have ever called home in the city of angels. And now, I am moving in with my fiance in not so far away Santa Monica and I must say, it's been quite the send off. Obviously there are many good things about this move. The most important is starting a new chapter with Arthur and his adorable little frenchie, Pierre. Second, Santa Monica is not far from Brentwood and super close to the beach so this move isn't too much of a shock, seeing as living in Brentwood is practically living in Santa Monica anyway. And third, it's the next part of my life here in Los Angeles, my adult home really since I left Chicago right after finishing college about two hours away. As excited as I am to start this new chapter, I must give this place I called home some credit. It was where my California dreams got to come true. As cheesy as that might sound, it was home base for everything after I got off the plane at LAX and attempted to create a future in this new city. It was the first step in becoming truly independent and #adulting. The safe haven after tough days at graduate school, extra long work weeks, unfortunate car accidents, time spent with awfully "Hollywood" people and hours on the 405 freeway. It was where my best friend from high school and I debriefed from celebrity sightings, boozy brunches and bad dates. Where we hosted all our friends from Chicago, family and new LA friends. The place we'd order pizza at 3am, pregame off my bar cart, spend hours deciding what to wear out and debate whether or not a gluten free diet was actually better than eating real carbs. The jury is still out on that one, please write in an answer if you have one. The place where I'd bring home cheese and rosé for friends to come chat and where I created this wonderful outlet you are reading from right now. The place I'd retreat to after bad breakups and to call my mom and sister. Where I'd eat ice cream in bed and overwhelm my Pinterest account. The place I'd eventually welcome a new roommate, Leila, to after Emma moved to the Southbay and I desperately needed some hope after tough breakup. It served as home base for so many beginnings and endings, and so I wanted to make sure I got an opportunity to truly honor it. Hope this tour does it justice. Enjoy!

This small space in my apartment is where I would entertain a few friends in, as well as sit with my roommate Leila, eat dinner, gossip and watch The Real Housewives of basically anywhere. I always loved coming home and relaxing on the couch, doing some work, drinking coffee and decompressing from my day. Of course my favorite thing to do was entertain, whether it was for cocktails before going out at night, Galentine's Day or just another night better spent at home with friends rather than some lame bar. My version of entertaining always tends to fall short on a main course, since I am a terrible cook. So instead I always do pretty cocktails, a yummy cheese plate and a dessert imported from one of my favorite bakeries; similar to my 27th birthday party. For my last hoorah in this apartment, I again stayed within my range and average entertaining skill. Rosè, some fabulous triple cream brie with honeycomb and pretty macarons. Ever since my friend Melissa gave me this adorable gold pineapple dish (old from Anthropologie - another version here) I have been trying to keep it full with some variation of a Sugarfina candy. Full disclosure, we quickly had to stop refilling it because I couldn't stop eating them all day and so now it's just for company. Same with cheese. But when I shopped for this shoot I found these ADORABLE blue caramel eggs and was OBSESSED! It's a great treat for anyone as obsessed with blue as me and they happen to be delicious too. 

For the decor my color scheme was lots of gold accents and blue and white. Starting with Raj, our colorful elephant I actually sketched out myself from a Lilly Pulitzer image I found on Pinterest and painted with Leila, was a complete DIY project that actually turned out well. It was quite simple after an inexpensive trip to Micheals and a steady pencil sketch. We used three blank white canvases, variations of blue paint and a pencil. We put in a little pineapple decal and both our initials to make him extra special. Unfortunately none of my friends could take him since he was customized but perhaps someone with the ML initials will get lucky at the Salvation Army! Hope you enjoyed my living room tour; up next is my bar cart and bedroom. 








 GET THE LOOK


-MGN

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CHIC EATS: FROSÈ HOLIDAY


We all need to beat the heat it's summertime and now the 4th of July! So I figured it's only right to debut my first "chic eats' series post with a new warm weather classic, the basics' beloved frosè. It's extremely easy to make, thanks to this amazing recipe I found from Abby Capalbo for Style Me Pretty. The only thing I changed from the original recipe is use of a grapefruit garnish, in addition to the a sprig of lavender. Another option would be to use a strawberry, which would make it a tad sweeter and keep it pretty too. I also doubled the original amount of Belvoir Elderflower to make it a tad sweeter but I recommend playing around a bit to find what level of sweetness you like most. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:
BOTTLE OF ROSÈ
ICE CUBES
SLICE OF GRAPEFRUIT

RECIPE:
1. POUR ROSÈ INTO ICE CUBE TRAYS AND FREEZE OVERNIGHT.
2. BLEND THE FROZEN ROSÈ, BELVOIR ELDERFLOWER ROSE LEMONADE AND ICE CUBES UNTIL IT FORMS INTO A SLUSHY CONSISTENCY. 
3. GARNISH WITH A GRAPEFRUIT SLICE. 
4. SERVE IN A CHAMPAGNE COUPE OR WIDE MOUTH WINE GLASS.







-MGN

*please drink responsibly

BYE BYE BRENTWOOD

Brentwood, my love! I am going to miss you oh so much! Okay, so don't stress, I am only moving next door to Santa Monica, but still, I am going to miss so many things about living in this quiet little enclave, tucked discreetly into the expansive city of Los Angeles. First and foremost, this has been my home for seven years, the first place I lived after moving to Los Angeles. I came right after graduating college with my best friend from high school, Emma, who wanted to work in television (which spoiler alert- she did and continues to do) and since I knew I'd be choosing a graduate school to attend, I figured I'd apply in Southern California too. Once I was accepted into a program here, it was pretty much decided that Los Angeles would become our new home! Our first encounter with Brentwood was back when we visited about a year prior to moving. Emma's family friend moved here from the East coast when she was about our age too and hasn't left Brentwood since. She took us to Katsuya, which at the time was one of the most trendy restaurants in Los Angeles and I was excited because an episode of The Hills was filmed there. Aside from that, it's actually a great restaurant and remains my favorite place for crispy rice! Since our first taste of LA sushi, so many more things have happened and coming home to this wonderful place has always made me feel safe and happy. It's no shock that pretty much all my close friends live within a mile radius as well and that is perhaps the hardest part about saying goodbye. As sad as I am to say goodbye, I'm still extremely close by and have since been back almost 3-4 times per week so perhaps I am making too big a deal of this but I figured it deserved a nice little send off! So today I am sharing the things I have loved most about my seven years here. Enjoy!

1. Brentwood is small -nothing is really "happening" in Brentwood. No noisy bars or restaurants, no historical sites or venues (the Getty center is technically in Brentwood but it's tucked into the hills on side of the 405 with it's own freeway exit). Brentwood has always felt really safe and easy for those reasons. I have never seen tourists, although the site seeing buses do pass through every now and again since a lot of celebrities live here, but there aren't massive crowds of people on the streets taking selfies or looking for a bakery with a reality show on E! Although, I do highly recommend the original Susie Cakes if you're in the area, they have a million other locations now too and the marble cake is to die for. But in general, Brentwood is a very family friendly place where a lot of young adults choose to live because of it's proximity to all the other areas with more going on like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Venice. Brentwood maintains a more relaxed, peaceful atmosphere for day to day living and I just can't think of a better place to call home. 



2. The Country Mart -which you should know by now is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles! It's the best spot for many reasons, the biggest one perhaps is that I love how small and quaint it is. So many adorable shops like sugar paper, diesel bookstore and sweet rose creamery. I love sitting outside after grabbing an almond latte at Caffe Luxxe and the peanut butter cookies from the Farmshop bakery counter with a friend. It's also a great spot to grab a causal lunch or pickup a last minute gift. Farmshop's market has lots of good bottles of wine, delicious cheeses and specialty items any foodie would appreciate. For lunch I love the tacos counter or Reddi Chick, the only place I'm willing to eat fried chicken at. There's also a shoe repair, barber shop and post office for your regular errands and the place is very family friendly! Brentwood also has way more good places to venture to, but this is hands down my favorite. More Brentwood places on my LA Guide here


3. My Running Path -which for the most part was an on and off again way to exercise for me. I usually would get into patterns of loving or hating running but about two summers ago it really crystalized for me. And what a beautiful path it is, starting from Brentwood, going west on San Vicente either all the way to the beach at back or my more usual turn at the Brentwood Country Mart down to Montana Avenue, around the country club and then back up to Brentwood. I also used to go to 14th street and back depending on the time of day or my genuine stamina for the day. It's a pretty easy path, scenic and with plenty of other runners around to motivate. It was for so many afternoons my saving grace after a long day, the perfect way to clear my mind and rejuvenate; more in this post


4. My Girlfriends -who mostly all started with Lauren Conrad's (and every other twenty something's) idea that the world revolves around West Hollywood, have all since migrated west to this small neighborhood. It's been so convenient to walk to each others apartments for a glass of wine, grab dinner at Pizzana or start an efficient Uber train to some cooler restaurant or bar in West Hollywood. Between having SoulCycle, Whole Foods and Caffè Luxxe within walking distance it was basically a utopian society for basic young women and there were many weekends I didn't even get into my car. Avocado toast and Pressed Juice Freeze (which if you haven't tried I highly recommend) were all within reach and every Sunday a walkable farmers market was setup nearby. Fortunately, Santa Monica isn't too far but I will miss the ease of walking over in yoga pants to watch The Bachelor! 


5. Bagel Breakfasts -on Sunday at New York Bagel. I have been going to this place ever since I first moved in seven years ago, almost religiously, every Sunday morning. Emma's family friend has been going for the last twenty years and obviously introduced us to this gem of a breakfast/deli spot that I am now forever obsessed with. Sometimes I will even pick up take out if a friend can't join me or I am working from home that day. It's probably not the best bagel spot in Los Angeles, but it's sort of become a little home to me. It was the place where I would often come the morning after, shall we say, "a big night out" and spill all the fun details of my life to friends. It was the closest we got to the deli Carrie would regularly meet up with all her girlfriends at on Sex and The City. I love that I always order the same thing every time (although I recently started getting egg whites) and haven't opened the menu since the first day there. It's a great, easy, cheap and convenient spot for anyone who find themselves in Brentwood in the morning. 



And perhaps I am being dramatic here, but I still have a beautiful path to connect me from my first LA home to my next. The one that took me too the beach, on beautiful afternoon runs, and then eventually to and from Arthur's place and now, into my next chapter. 

-MGN
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SUMMER STUFF I LOVE

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 }

My favorite season and therefore also the inspiration for the majority of everything I love. Anything that gives an idea of summer is what I try to surround myself with all year round. I love the blue tones and bright splashes of color people wear on the beach and I try to decorate and dress that way as much as possible. Some stand outs this year is definitely everything Rebecca de Ravenel creates. I was desperately sad to learn her sea shell monogrammed straw basket was not only backordered until September, but also now sold out! I hope they come back soon but in the meantime this sea shell basket stands out on it's own, excuding the perfect amount of balmy beach vacation vibes we need even if we aren't on the water all summer long. I also just got these beautiful barstools in my apartment and have never been more obsessed! It's my favorite place to sit while Arthur cooks and reminds me of the South of France, despite the fact I'm in Santa Monica. Hope you enjoy my picks for the season and it's started off well for you. Enjoy! 

-MGN