GIFT GUIDE: MONOGRAMMED

Here we go again... Gift Guides for the holiday season are going live starting today! This year I will be dispersing them individually each week instead of one overwhelming guide all at once. I decided to start with my monogrammed guide as anything personalized tends to take some extra time to order. Which is honestly one of the reasons I love receiving monogrammed gifts, because the thoughtfulness behind them is always there. It also makes me feel extra special to have something made just for me. Enjoy! 


-MGN

MY HOLIDAY TO DO LIST

{ The Palace Hotel, San Francisco }
Oh it's coming! The time of the year I love most next to summer, the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays for me have progressively become more fun and more important over the years. The mix of familiarity and excitement each year keeps me in good spirits and it's something I tend to always look forward to. So I have compiled a bit of a list of things to fully indulge in the festivities! Does anyone else actually do this? Enjoy!

1. GO ICE SKATING

It's such an old and true winter tradition I grew up looking forward to each season. I have so many fond memories of the outdoor skate rinks in downtown Chicago and even more good memories of the yummy hot cocoa we got to drink afterwards. This year I have a skating rink within walking distance of my place and spending an afternoon there is a high priority on my list. Wish me luck!

2. FIND A DELICIOUS HOT CHOCOLATE AND DRINK IT

This is something I try to do every year and for some reason I just can't get around to it. It's either too hot or too sweet for my palette but I am going to find a chilly night in LA (aka below 70 degrees) and get it done! Ever since the Dominque Ansel bakery came to The Grove with their beautiful flower marshmallow hot chocolate drink I keep seeing all over social media, I have been eager to check out the hype. Will deliver a full report, likely on Instagram

3. BAKE AND DECORATE HOLIDAY COOKIES

I have been wanting to invite some friends over to do this for the last several years but for whatever reason never got around to it. I just bought a few new cookie shapes that I am excited to use, a champagne bottle and a poodle of course. Not exactly holiday related but festive enough for me. If only I had the same skills as Lauren when she created these fabulous birthday cookies

4. SEE THE LIGHTS ON RODEO DRIVE

Rodeo Drive is the perfect representation of opulence and so the center of Beverly Hills during the Holidays is just as you'd expect, decorated beautifully with lights and excitement. Two Rodeo has a menorah lighting each year and they of course display a big, beautiful Christmas tree. It's a wonderful place to visit at night and stroll with a warm drink. I plan on doing just that before a cozy dinner at Nate 'n Al or the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, aka, the best place on earth. 

5. SEE THE MENORAH LIGHTING

Every year the city of Beverly Hills does a menorah lighting and I try to go each time! There's also tons of trees lightings all over the city, one of the most popular is at The Grove

6. THE MONTANA AVENUE HOLIDAY WALK

I have been going to this pretty much every year since I first moved to Los Angeles. It's a fun little activity for a Friday night with friends to celebrate, shop and eat free cookies at each store. Usually I like to have a yummy dinner afterwards at Forma, but this year I won't be able to go unfortunately. I highly recommend it however, if you're looking for something mellow, family friendly and on the westside! 

7. HAVE A CANDLELIT HOLIDAY DINNER WITH FRIENDS

I love celebrating anything and so when the holidays roll around I'm eager to decorate a table and invite people over or find a pretty spot to have a nice night with my girlfriends. There are so many beautiful places to eat in Los Angeles but since my fiancé is quite the cook I might just have to have him whip us up something fabulous. My contribution will of course be the table and cheese plate. 

8. DECORATE THE APARTMENT

I have to admit, this won't be as fun as it was the last couple of years as my old roommate had the best little Chrismukkah decorations. Last year we took it to another level with the Elf on the Shelf who we loved hiding all over the apartment. This year I am going to do my best to get our place as cheery as possible, wish me luck!

9. WATCH ALL MY HOLIDAY FAVORITES

...How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Eloise at Christmastime, The Santa Clause, A Christmas Carol, The Holiday and all the cheesy Lifetime, Netflix and Hallmark movies possible, just to name a few! 

-MGN

CHIC EATS: AN AUTUMN CHEESE PLATE

There's a cheese plate for every season... And this is mine for this fall! My new obsession this time? Figs! As you might remember from my fall cocktail post, figs have been the most perfect accent to any autumn dish or drink. Obviously I am not the first one to figure this out but I am glad I finally got with it. And for a cheese plate it's a wonderful addition due to it's natural sweetness. I have always seen lots of fig based spreads in the cheese section of the market and so adding some figs made sense. As for the cheeses, a good cheese plate always has about three or more different cheeses that vary in firmness, taste and texture. I usually tend to always do a manchego and brie since those are my favorites, and then pick something new each time for the third cheese. At the store I found a very vibrant, orange colored, crumbly hard cheese called mimolette that was so perfectly fall. The mimolette cheese worked wonderfully with the brie and manchego and looked beautifully when placed with everything else on the plate. In addition to the cheese I added raw honeycomb as always, red grapes for the color and sweetness, and the figs of course to just nail the fall theme exactly. I used little French bread slices that I found pre-sliced at the grocery store and added the cranberry crackers, perfectly in sync with the autumn theme. I've made a little list with some links below to clarify everything I used! Enjoy!

AUTUMN CHEESE PLATE ESSENTIALS:
SOFT CHEESE: TRIPLE CREAM BRIE
HARD CHEESE: MANCHEGO
FESTIVE CHEESE: MIMOLETTE
RED GRAPES
FIG FRUIT SLICED TO GARNISH
SLICED FRENCH BREAD
CINNAMON STICK TO GARNISH







-MGN

TEDDY COATS

Oh so cozy, was how I felt in my yummy new teddy coat on the red-eye to New York. It was the only favorable part of the whole flight experience given I just cannot sleep on planes unfortunately. Like everyone else I have been seeing these coats everywhere, on everyone, and I finally decided I needed to be snugged up too, even in Los Angeles. And I honestly struck the jackpot with mine; it's super soft, very light, a beautiful shade of blush and was extremely low priced. So I have linked mine, as well as my other perfectly fluffy and plush options for all those chilly days ahead. I wore mine with a cozy turtleneck and jeans but it could be just as stylish over a dress or with a cute suede skirt and high boots. I haven't exactly worn mine out yet in Los Angeles but trust me, there will be plenty of moments to do so once the colder weather rolls in! Especially at night and after daylight savings makes 5pm feel like midnight! Stay warm folks, enjoy!
{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 }




-MGN

CHIC PLACES: MY TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY

{ trench | jeans | heels similar | pearl handbag similar }

I think New York City is now my favorite place in America to visit, Miami comes in as a close second. I would love to have an extended stay at some point, perhaps a month to fully feel like I have lived a little life as a pseudo New Yorker. Hopefully at some point I will get the chance to do this and perhaps replicate it in a few other destinations too; most importantly in London/Surrey so I can basically repeat the plot of the beloved seasonal classic, The Holiday. But for my time here in NYC, it was about living out the opposite life I have in Los Angeles, the excitement of a more fast paced vibe and lots of people being around each other doing things nonstop. It's the best of the best, delivered quickly and sharply. To me, living in New York seems like living in the center of the world. So many decisions and important people are here, creating and managing things that effect our daily lives, all over the world. I guess to me, everything in New York just feels so important. Perhaps that's just the perceptive of someone who has never actually lived there before and who just sees it glamorously portrayed in movies, television and reality shows. But it's the reason I have always wanted to experience the weight of such a big city and the reason I can't wait to head back again soon. And here's how I spent my time! Enjoy!

Thursday | We hoped off a red eye and of course our hotel wasn't ready to check into yet given the fact it was 7am so I changed into my workout clothes and went for a run in Central Park while Arthur got some work done. Running in Central Park was great, fortunately the weather was a perfect temperature and the park is massive. My only true disappointment was how green all the leaves still were, I was really hoping for some beautiful fall foliage given that Los Angeles is completely lacking compared to the east coast! But I still had a great time and despite being really jet lagged after failing to sleep at all on the plane I was energized by the workout. I think this is probably my best tip for traveling and fighting jet lag, a workout to reset your body, especially if you're used to going to the gym in the AM like myself. After that I perused around the Upper East Side and met Arthur for lunch at my favorite Sant Ambroeus, where I happen to be obsessed with their pasta dishes. I always envision it as one of the perfect spots for the ladies who lunch, but maybe it's just the spot where I want to lunch? After that we headed back to the hotel for a quick nap before getting ready for drinks and dinner. We met my friend Mary at The Marlton Hotel, which was a great spot for grabbing a drink with a group. The lobby has lot's of great open seating at night with waiter service and a relaxed, cool ambiance. After catching up with my friend we headed to Il Mulino to meet some more friends for dinner. I can not say enough great things about Il Mulino! It's a small, old school Italian spot with the nicest staff and a really fun environment. I love restaurants where you feel like you're at one big dinner party and that is exactly what it was like. In addition to having delicious pasta, they also serve you tons of yummy things before you even place an order like various seasoned breads, cheese cut straight from the wheel at the table and other yummy appetizers. You truly feel loved with all the delicious food and excellent service. I would highly recommend! We went to the original location downtown but I heard there's another one in midtown Manhattan, the Hamptons, South Florida and Las Vegas. 

Friday | I started the day off with a fun photoshoot with a fabulous New York photographer, Wini Lao. We went to a bunch of my favorite spots to shoot on the Upper East Side and unfortunately didn't have enough time or enough fall colors to venture to Central Park. It was a really fun morning however and the pictures made me look like could potentially pass for a real city dweller. After that I hopped in cab back to the hotel, picked up Arthur and headed to Soho for brunch at La Mercerie. I can't say enough wonderful things about this adorable French cafe inside the Roman and Williams Guild store. First off, it was the most beautifully decorated restaurant I have seen in a long time, which says a lot considering how many amazing places I have been in Los Angeles. The colors were muted, grayish blues and I almost died. My favorite combination of monochromatic lacquer paint and velvet in a palish blue sent my heart through the roof. Then to top it all off with the most beautiful pink velvet drape and I AM DEAD! My poor fiancé probably re-considered his proposal several times after I couldn't stop taking pictures and drooling over how perfect the decor was. After a yummy brunch we headed into the beautiful store area to browse some of the goods. The style is not exactly my taste but everything appeared pristinely made and very unique. After that we strolled through the streets of Soho, popped into a few shops and admired the famous architecture that defines the neighborhood. We then decided to hop into a cab and venture around the Met before dinner. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of my favorite Museums ever, I wish we had more time to explore every exhibit but I was able to catch the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination presentation at the Anna Wintour Costume Center, which was set to close following our stay. The pieces were extremely ornate, I can't imagine the amount of work that must go into so many beautiful details. We checked out the American Wing and Egyptian Art before having to head back to our hotel and get ready for the evening. We had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Polo Bar which if you didn't already assume is a beautiful restaurant designed and run of course by the classic American lifestyle brand, Ralph Lauren. I love this place for so many reasons, but most of all because it's an experience. As someone who truly appreciates all the small details, I love to feel completely transported by my environment. As you might imagine, the vibe at the Polo Bar is that of a old school men's club or hunt lodge. In many ways it leans a bit more masculine but it's also classic American decor and I completely appreciate the entire ambiance of the place! I would highly recommend going in New York and if you are in Chicago they have the RL Restaurant at their Michigan Avenue Ralph Lauren store. After dinner we grabbed a drink at the champagne bar at The Plaza Hotel, which to be honest, is a fabulous hotel but I expected more from the actual bar. The Plaza is a New York staple and as a woman who grew up following Eloise's adventures, I think both the adult version of her and myself would expect greater things from the champagne bar! Afterwards we had a cocktail party to attend at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which I actually stayed at before and would recommend if your really into the gothic design! 

Saturday | I woke up excited for another run in Central Park and fortunately was given the gift of good weather again. Afterwards I grabbed a latte at the coffee bar at Sant Ambroeus and took a short walk around the Upper East Side, admiring all the spectacular townhomes and beautiful shops on Madison Avenue. I couldn't help but stop at the townhome that served as a the opening shot in The Nannya beloved show I watched as a child religiously. All the homes on the Upper East Side are so gorgeous and if I lived in NYC I imagine walking around the neighborhood with my coffee, post Central Park run, would be a solid routine for me. After getting back to the hotel we showered and headed out to meet some friends for lunch before the wedding. We went to this wonderful little spot in Greenwich Village called Claudette, which I will be honest, was sold on after seeing the adorable blue awning out front. But it was a yummy brunch spot and I'm eager to try the dinner menu out next time. Afterwards we grabbed a glass of champagne at yet another adorable little French place, Petite Boucherie. After that we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a spectacular wedding at the New York Public Library and it was truly a dream event! See what I wore here. Can't wait to get back to NYC again! 

For a more recommendations check out my New York City Guide!
















-MGN

GRAY MALIN AT THE BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL

What happens when two of your favorite things come together? Well obviously magic, like when the fabulous lifestyle photographer Gray Malin shoots at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel! This series got me quite excited and eager to splurge on some beautiful new art. Gray really channelled the timeless glamour of an era in which we all love to revisit upon stepping onto the Hollywood inspired red carpet when you pull up. Surely Gray caught all the most picture perfect moments the BHH offers, starting with the landmark sign on the facade of the building that fills everyone with joy at first site and has become a staple visit for tourists, and residents alike. And this series is incredibly spot on. I am so ready to hop into that baby blue convertible with this pristine vintage luggage and drive to the sock hop. Pulling up to the beautiful lobby with those classic green and white stripes above me is truly a top  Los Angeles experience. But by far the best scene captured is at my favorite place of all, the 50's style dinner in the basement of the hotel. It's the most wonderful place, serving up all the classic American favorites like a tuna melt, milkshake and fries. It's the best spot if you've never been and the cherry on top for Gray's lovely series at the pink palace! Here are my favorites from the collection, enjoy! 








-MGN

COZY FALL NIGHT IN ESSENTIALS


A nice night in, is something to be cherished. The older I get, the wiser I become about my precious time at home. Anyone else prefer happy hour at home or brunch and dinner in your own kitchen? Don't get me wrong, I love to get social and frequent all the fun spots for food and cocktails, but my drive for running to all the new hotspots or going out for just the sake of it has deteriorated. Perhaps it's age or just a personal preference, but one thing is true for us all, we need a little rest and relaxation every now and again and it's worth enjoying the special time. The holidays are coming and so is the cold weather for most people. So considering this time of year, it's quite appropriate to spend more time indoors, under the covers, with a good book, a restorative face mask and some hot tea. Call me old but there is just no replacement for a comfortable night in. Here are some of my favorites for doing just that, enjoy! 

{ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 }

-MGN

CHIC PLACES: THE NEW PALISADES VILLAGE

I love the Pacific Palisades for many reasons, most of them being the same reasons I love Brentwood. It's a beautiful neighborhood right at the upper edge of Los Angeles, on the water but not quite as much a beach town as Santa Monica, Venice or the Marina, mostly because it's perched up high into the Santa Monica mountains. The area is very quaint and reminiscent of any upscale suburb across the country. That is one of things I love most about Los Angeles, you can live in a relatively suburban area while also being in the center of a world class city. For most of my time in Los Angeles, the Palisades was relatively slow in having much to do beyond meeting your average needs. Of course they had a few good restaurants, shops and fitness classes, but for the most part there wasn't necessarily a reason to visit, which similar to Brentwood was why I found it such an appealing place to live. So when I first heard about the plan to build a large shopping area I was a bit surprised and even a tad worried it would change the beautiful mellow-ness of the area. But after having seen the Palisades Village fully executed I think they hit the mark perfectly. It's beautiful and new, yet also tasteful and small enough to feel like a truly neighborhood spot. The Palisades will never be West Hollywood or Venice in terms of attracting tourists and visitors but it will be a beautiful place to spend a relaxing afternoon and I think this new area really represents that!

Some of the spots at Palisades Village I am most excited about,  

1. The Draycott | If your were also a huge fan of the Bravo show Ladies of London than you probably remember Marissa Hermer, who along with her husband were successful restauranteurs, in addition to having exquisite taste. I loved Marissa's style and hostessing skills so much on the show and since she and her family moved to Los Angeles I had been wondering if and when they would open a chic new restaurant. And of course they did, right here in the Palisade Village, perfectly titled The Draycott with plenty of British inspired food and decor. The design alone is drool worthy and I can't wait to get myself a fancy drink at that bar! 

2. The Little Market | If you haven't already been following the amazing non-profit started by Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla you now have an even easier way to support their work. They have had a fair trade online shop for years that allows female artisans to sell their products from around the world and improve their economical stability. They now have a brick and mortar store and I am already a huge fan. I recently went to pick up a birthday gift for a friend and was extremely impressed at the quality and concept they have brought to life. I really want to encourage anyone to support this kind of commerce and I really hope we start to see more fair trade shops like it in the next couple years. 

3. Chanel Beauté | So I am not a huge beauty product connoisseur but I recently started using this wonderful concealer they make and was so impressed I am actually considering checking out their foundation. What can I say, I am a sucker for good marketing and so anything branded with Chanel will get my attention, but I also really loved their stuff. And of course the new store is perfectly setup to answer all your beauty dreams. 

4. Sweet Laurel Bakery | I had been really excited to try this completely gluten and dairy free bakery out for quite some time. I always saw it Erewhon Market and admired the beautiful goods on their instagram page but I had never actually tried any of their treats. Full disclosure, I didn't really like the snickerdoodle cookie, but I am eager to try another treat soon! I loved the pumpkin latte though and the store design was SPECTACULAR. All my pink dreams came true and can we talk about that velvet?? It makes me want a custom pink velvet sofa immediately but for now at least I have the perfect spot for an afternoon pick me up!

5. The Bay Theater | I will forever be a movie goer, will you? I love a small theater and I can't wait to find the perfect lazy afternoon to go see a movie by myself (yes, I love seeing movies solo). My only hope is they have almond milk so I can grab a vanilla latte with my popcorn (again, I am an interesting one right?). The five screening room theater is meant to have luxury services like on demand waiter service and a delicious full scope in theater menu. So hopefully that's a yes on the almond milk. 

6. Bonjour Fête | A beautiful party supply is coming and I can't wait to have another spot for finding chic party decor. As you know I love all the small details when entertaining and it can be hard on the westside to find unique items beyond the basics at most party stores. They also create beautiful balloon arrangements for events and can assist in planning events too. Anyone else live for cute party supplies? 

7. Towne by Elyse Walker | As most people in Los Angeles know, Elyse Walker is a luxury boutique with a well curated selection of all the best designer goods. It's been a staple in the Palisades since it's inception in 1999 and has grown into an online shop and additional retail store in Newport Beach. Now they have created a more relaxed version for this location for all the in between, more causal moments we tend to embrace in Los Angeles. Considering all the high end workout gear we see most people in, wearing well cut denim and a nice cashmere sweater is glamorous enough for me (and also how I love to dress)







-MGN

BEING A MENTOR/MENTEE, SOME THOUGHTS

{ outfit is vintage but similar: navy velvet blazer, striped sweater, jeans, cap toe pumps }

I have spent the last couple years formally mentoring graduate interns as they complete their Master degree in Social Work, the same degree I earned before my career as a mental health therapist. However, the older I get and the more I delve deeper into my practice of Social Work, psychotherapy and blogging, the more comfortable I become being in the position of learner. I used to think that with time and experience comes expertise, but now after much time and much experience I don't think I would ever identify myself as an expert. Even in the topics that interest me most, that I am most familiar with, I will always be in practice and thus, will continue to remain open, curious, humbled by the fact that no amount of experience will ever make me an expert. And it's with this mindset that I have truly evolved in my personal experience providing feedback and support to others. Here are a few thoughts from my experiences of being both mentor and mentee, hopefully they serve some relevance for you too. 

Openess to feedbackI think this is one of the most important things I have found in terms of both being a mentor and being mentored. We often think of leaders as having most of the answers, making most of the decisions and taking the primary role in giving constructive feedback. But I think encouraging these things to be a bit more of mutual process is extremely beneficial for everyone. Even when I feel very strongly about a particular decision, I always try my best to get an idea of how the person I am mentoring feels about it and why. Even if it's dealing with something of the upmost importance, a clear agency policy or straight risk averse, I still encourage those I mentor to walk me through the ideas or solutions they have because it's an opportunity to learn for us both. It's helpful for a mentee to actually think through a problem and demonstrate their reasoning skills to build confidence and show us what they are capable of. It's also helpful to understand what someone knows and how they can continue to grow. I often encourage feedback from those I mentor about my own decisions or comments to demonstrate this point. The key for both parties is learning how to best give and receive feedback and to get comfforbtale doing both respectfully. If you can learn this early on, it's one of the most beneficial skills for any position; intern or CEO. 

Acceptance of each others individualityWhat works for me won't always work for someone else. Of course there are certain elements of any profession where the answer is clear, for example in my profession, managing risk follows a more specific protocol. But in general I believe we can truly benefit from embracing our differences. Aside from basic elements of professionalism and company protocol, we all have varying perspectives on how to solve a problem. It's important to remember that everyone has lived different experiences and that can often be channeled into something positive.  And as a mentor we can support a mentee in navigating how they develop those skills. So encouraging each other to share ideas is always helpful and builds a broader range of opportunities for success. But before you can actually put this into practice, you must first acknowledge the value of listening to another person's opinion. 

Giving more than just answersI noticed this immediately when I started helping others at work complete complicated paperwork that was new to them. I would be very directive about what worked for me and tended to speak mostly from my own experiences. Of course it's helpful to provide feedback based on accumulated knowledge, but it's about more than just answering the question. What has helped me is being clear with others about what the end goal is and allowing a little room for us each to arrive there independently. One way of encouraging this is simply by asking good questions. Doing this has always lead to great conversations between myself and those who have mentored me and vice versa. It demonstrates a willingness to learn, which in any profession is what helps us evolve. 

Leading by example In my practice I do this many ways, mostly by having strong boundaries for even the simplest of things, setting clear expectations and being consistent. Boundaries are extremely important because they essentially dictate the relationship you have with that person from the beginning. For example, if you choose to share about your personal life, that is fine but it's also demonstrating to the other party that it's an okay topic converse about not only with you, but also amongst other professionals. Same goes for expectations you have about deadlines, how to submit work, requesting feedback, and communicating with others. These are important things that need to be clear and consistent for everyone and how we do this ourselves is essentially modeling for others around us. So it's important that if you make a mistake, that you acknowledge it, no matter which position you are in, so that the expectation remains clear. 

General professionalism | This might seem obvious and I truly WISH it was. However, given much of the generational differences and more relaxed nature I suppose of communication in year 2018, we have seriously lost some of our good sense. I hate saying this but I myself have also failed some of these extremely basic rules, so here goes. Spellcheck and proofread your work! I can't believe some of the emails, text messages and documentation I have seen and also written myself. For some reason people think it's okay  to be more causal or just not care enough to review your work. This has got to stop, especially when in a professional setting. Nowadays many people, including myself, use text messaging to communicate with other staff, but even though texting is often informal, it's important to formalize them for professional use. I wish I could say this hasn't happened with the people I have mentored but it has and often leaves me wondering, are you taking this seriously? That is how it comes off when you accidentally text a random sentence, quickly followed by a "sorry, wrong text" (and typically there is no comma, just saying). You might as well send a "you up" text if that doesn't completely freak you out to make a mistake like that. And of course, we all make mistakes but you should really, really be making a conscious effort to not make such mistakes, and if you do, make sure it doesn't happen again! Back to the basics everyone! 

-MGN

Photography by Wini Lao

PINK SATIN TASSEL POM POM SLIDES


These are the details I live for... I was recently in New York and we quickly stopped for a glass of champagne at the cutest little French spot, Petite Boucherie. When we sat down at the bar and the waiter handed us a few menus I noticed the most adorable yellow tassel dangling from the menu. For most people, including the ones I was with, this is an easily overlooked and even seemingly unnecessary decorative detail. But for me, it's just another beautiful reminder of how the small things make all the difference. And the same goes for these adorable little pink tassel/pom pom satin slides I found recently! The pom pom detail just makes me melt it's so pretty and as much as I wasn't on board with the slide trend before, I have definitely come around over the last year. I remember how popular the pom pom and tassel trend was a few years back, but it's become one of my staples. I will always live for a small feminine detail, be that a bow, tassel, ribbon,  pearl, brooch or pom pom! Get them while they last, enjoy!



-MGN