This year for my birthday I wanted to do something different then the usual brunch or dinner at a restaurant. I've always wanted to host something outside having lived in an apartment for the last several years and since I don't have a backyard I figured the nearby beach would suffice! Just like last year my inspiration was the beach, an all white decor, with cocktails, at sunset. I think I'm going to keep that formula forever! Here's how I did it, enjoy!

Paperless Post:

THE SETUP: I knew I wanted a pretty, yet relaxed space where people could sit, eat and chat easily with one another. So I started with two white, king size sheets, anchored by pineapples (yes, real pineapples) to weigh down the sheets from blowing away. I used about 10 but could have honestly used a few more for extra wind support! Then I used 3 vintage fruit crates (others here) to create a small, floor level table. I highly recommend using crates so you can double for storage to and from, as well as have a place to hide extra supplies or bags or items for setup/cleanup you don't want visible during the party. I brought another smaller white sheet to be used as a tablecloth over the table but everyone thought the crates looked so rustic chic without it! It also knew it would be cold and slightly uncomfortable sitting on just a sheet over the sand at night so I bought a bunch of inexpensive fleece blankets and pillows from Ikea that ended up being perfect for keeping everyone warm and comfy! And last but perhaps the prettiest detail were these battery operated light strings that I lined the table with and literally lit up the night, along with the sparklers everyone got for some lovely photos! 

THE FOOD/DRINK: This was perhaps the most stressful, yet rewarding part as I don't cook well enough to feed myself let alone other people. So I set a menu of cocktails, a cheese plate and cake. Sorry mom but I just can't do the entree! The Santa Monica beaches have rules against public alcohol consumption and so I decided to create a cocktail in popsicle format, in order to reduce the risk of violating the law. And so if an officer chose to come by to check on my popsicles, well at least I'd have two flavors from which to taste test, rosé and mojito. Fortunately, no policers came by and the popsicles were a hit! I used these easy plastic otter pop style bags to keep the popsicle from melting too quickly and tied them at the top with yarn. Since alcohol doesn't freeze well I highly recommend using the bags and keeping them on dry ice in a cooler. The mojito popsicles actually didn't fully freeze until put in with the dry ice about a few hours before the party! The dry ice was a lifesaver and can be found anywhere and in LA at Smart and Final stores. I used a smaller cooler for my cheese plate items, which I think I will talk about in another post. But the quick tip is to get a honeycomb, which is totally edible, delicious and takes the platter to another level! I also recommend using rosemary as garnish and focusing on a minimum of three cheese parings. More to come on that! The cake was perhaps the easiest part, marble cake from SusieCake, my absolute favorite bakery. I kept the design simple, just Susie pink frosting topped with gold number sparkler candlesI recommend using plastic plates/cups and I found this adorable rosé colored plastic cutlery set that went with the whole sunset theme quite well!
THEME, TIMING & LOCATION: All white party, at sunset, on the beach. Sounds so simple, huh? I made sure the invite said 6-9pm to give a good window of time for my guests to get there by sunset, knowing the sun sets around 7/7:30pm. I also did a site visit (call me crazy but it's so important) to make sure the logistics would work out for hauling stuff to the beach and making sure everyone would have a clear path to find me. I found a spot closest to a cement round-about so guests could easily get dropped off from their Uber and walk down a wooded path before taking off there shoes and sitting at my setup. I highly recommend very specific instructions included in an invite or even a little map to clear up any confusion! The all white theme is easy and of course I made a few exceptions to the rule, for example I let men wear jeans or khaki's with a white top since most guys don't own white pants.
It was such a great night, wish every night could be like this one! Happy rest of the summer and more to come on turning 27 and how to make a beautiful cheese plate. 

Much love, 



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One of my favorite parts of school was buying school supplies. Lisa Frank anyone? Some years I even took pictures of all my school supplies laid out (insert crying/laughing emoji here). Apparently not much has changed! So when September rolls around I have to compile a list of all the things I am obsessed with this school season and here it is! 

So when my dear friend Sabrina told me about how her years as a teacher in our hometown of Chicago lead her to start a very simple charity, with the simple goal of providing students more pencils, I was completely on board. Can you imagine not having something as small and integral as a pencil? Amongst all the barriers to public education, having enough pencils sounds simple enough a task. More info here & donate here if you feel the same way! 

Happy back to school/an excuse for cuter office supplies,



{ Pink Wall at Paul Smith, 8221 Melrose Ave }

As an avid Instagram-mer I am always on the lookout for great spots to shoot blog content or bring friends from out of town for some cool photos. I always keep running lists on my phone to remember all the spots I want to visit and I finally found an app called WannaGO that lets me keep them on organized lists and more importantly see them on a map! It's so helpful when I'm driving around trying to find somewhere to grab lunch or coffee. And I even made lists of places I already love so I don't forget the classics. Today I am adding another list name, LA's most Instagramable places! Here's the first round, more @wannaGo.



Freestanding Locations

Milk }

Gardens, Parks and Beaches

Streets and Houses



Like my other guides I will continue to update this list as time goes by, feel free to leave me a comment or email me with more great spots! Or just find me @MonicaGisele on the WannaGo app!

Happy Instagramming!




{ me & my friend samantha from what would kiki wear at the milk launch }

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of celebrating the MILK makeup launch with an old high school friend, former co-cheerleader and now stellar NYC blogger at Open Haus Co and creative at MILK. Aside from the gorgeous space at the MILK studio in Los Angeles, I got to sample all the new beauty goods, plus some stellar rosé and stickers. 

To be honest, I'm not super fluent in makeup use, but I will say a lot of the products were easy to use and looked non-threatening! Sometimes I get so confused about what goes first and how to blend one item into another. But what I liked the most about MILK was the individuality of each item, all with the purpose of just a little more glow and less to do! High on my list is the sunshine skin tint that just rolls on easy, literally it's a roller ball application, and gives me the uber natural look I go for. I also loved the holographic stick, it gives that summery glow I'll be holding onto year round!

Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

More at Milk Makeup,