Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twenty Thirteen Rewind

It's a little ridiculous how much I enjoy reading yearly recap posts. There's just something about seeing a relatively long amount of time in such a succinct post. And while in reality a year isn't that long, so many things can change in 12 short months. So before we kick off a new year, here's a look back at my last 12 months.

I kicked up the year by starting my 101 in 1001 list and my Project 365, one of which is complete as of today and the other which still has a long way to go.
I had a blogger meet-up with Melissa of Little Miss Married.

My BFF was in town for a wedding, and we were able to spend the day together in New Orleans.
In NOLA with My BFF
The boy and I celebrated Valentine's Day by heading out for sushi.
Valentine's Sushi

I opened up my blog for sponsorship.
Google reader shutdown and I started using Feedly instead of Bloglovin.

I hosted a Passover sedar in our home for the first time without my parents.
Passover Table
I gave my blog a make-over.

I read The Ward which was written by my college roommate.
My New Cannon Rebel
The boy bought me a Cannon Rebel, my first ever DSLR camera.

The new Backstreet Boys album was released.
In a World Like This

We spent 4th of July at the beach in Destin, Florida, where it rained almost every single day.
Last Day at the Beach

We celebrated our niece's 6th birthday.

I spend most of our first anniversary weekend in Houston at a Backstreet Boys concert.
Acoustic Set
But still made it home in time for dinner with my husband on our first anniversary.
1st Anniversary

I celebrated my 29th birthday.
Google Birthday

We attended our nephew's 4th birthday party.
We hosted Thanksgivikkah at our home.
Thanksgiving Plate

I celebrated my 5 year blogoversary with a giveaway, which you still have time to enter.
My Christmas necklace!
We spent Christmas with my in-laws. (This is the necklace the boy gifted me, as well as the Frozen soundtrack which you can see in the background.)

What were some of your high in 2013?

And if you want to see how this year compares to years past for me, here are my recaps from 2009, 2010, and 2012

Monday, December 30, 2013

MMRR in December

It's the end of the year! I'll have my full 2013 recap up tomorrow, but first here's a look back at December.

I feel like December was a little ordinary in the meals front, which seems a little unexpected with all the holidays. But the boy did make homemade gnocchi this month, which is always an awesome occasion.
Homemade Gnocchi & Bolognese
While it hasn't made the blog yet, but I promise eventually it will, we celebrated Christmas with my in-laws.
Christmas Presents
This is only about half of all the presents that were opened.

In December, I posted reviews of 4 books and 4 favorites.
The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Catching Fire
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Saving Mr. Banks
My favorite of them all would have to be Frozen, although out of just the books it's probably The Boleyn King.

Four years ago, in 2009, we took our then 2-years-old niece to the movies for the first time to see The Princess and the Frog.
Getting Read to the The Princess and the Frog
What are your meals, moments, reviews, and remembering from this past December?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday (59)

Welcome to my last Mailbox Monday for 2013. I'm linking up at Rose City Reader to share the recent books I've added to my bookshelves.
Mailbox Monday
Cooking from the Heart by John Besh
The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond
John Besh is my favorite celebrity chef, and who doesn't love The Pioneer Woman? I'm definitely excited to start diving into these cookbooks!

For Review from TLC Books Tours
Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson
I've already read this book and absolutely adored it! I'm already looking forward to when I have the time to reread it. My review will be up in January, but get ready, because it's one I think everyone will love!

What books did you find in your mailbox, or under your tree, this week?

Don't forget to enter my 5 Year Blogoversary Giveaway while you're here!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Project 365: Days 355 Through 361

It's my last full week of photos for the year! I'll be back later this week with my final photos of the year, and thoughts on my Project 365. But till then...
Frozen Yogurt from Menchies
December 21, 2013 - 355/365: I realize this looks like a blurry mess in a bowl, but it's actually a bowl of frozen yogurt from Menchies, filled with delicious-ness like gingerbread yogurt and cinnamon.
Black Russian Cake
December 22, 2013 - 356/365: I made the boy a Black Russian Cake for his birthday.
The Boy's Birthday Present
December 23, 2013 - 357/365: My birthday present to the boy.
Step 4
December 24, 2013 - 358/365: Mixing up a dessert for Christmas. (More to come in this in the next week!)
Christmas Presents
December 25, 2013 - 359/365: Playing with their new Christmas presents.
Playing King of Tokyo
December 26, 2013 - 360/365: Playing King of Tokyo, which one of of the Christmas presents I gifted to the boy.
December 27, 2013 - 361/365: Camellias in bloom.

I'm linking this post up with Random-osity & Kleinworth & Co. for Project 52!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Let's Get Evolved

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
: March 1, 2012
Series: Mara Dyer #2
I was so excited to read the first in this series, and yet while I enjoyed it, it did let me down. Unfortunately, with this second one I almost want to say it disappointed me. Don't get me wrong I still enjoyed it, but not as much as the first.

There is just so much going on in this book, and at times I almost thought Mara really was crazy. While she didn't necessarily think she was, and there was evidence she wasn't, I couldn't help but wonder how reliable of a narrator she was. Things did finally come together at the end, but it was a long road to get there.

One aspect I loved about the first, the way Mara's family interacted and each member's personality, was almost absent from this. Don't get me wrong, they were still there, but they weren't nearly as big of an impact on the story as I would have liked.

Then of course the ending, which almost made everything else about this book work. There's so much that happens in the last few pages you find yourself rereading sections just to make sure you're not missing pieces. It's such a cliffhanger too that you feel the need to start reading the third book RIGHT NOW, except you can't because it's not out yet.

There's still a lot of positives about this series, and I'm glad I finally picked it up. But yet, I really hope the third book reaches its full potential, and makes it all really worth reading.


Don't forget to enter my 5 Year Blogoversary Giveaway while you're here!

Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top 10 Books of 2013

As much as I loved coming up with my list of my favorite books of the year, I also hated it. Each one if a favorite for a different reason, and there's a few others that came close that I can't believe I'm not including. Also I think that your feelings change on books after you read it, so if I were to write this post a year from now my favorites could be completely different based on how they still resonate with me. But here are my favorites from 2013, at least based on how I feel at this exact moment.

1. The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
This book still brings up emotion thinking about it. It's a really thought provoking post, but the center of it all is a love story. Plus one of the characters was an astronaut which I think is one of the coolest jobs ever.

2. Paris was the Place by Susan Conley
I know I said this in my review, but I really do feel like this book was written specifically for me. It really spoke to the period of my life I'm currently in, and while I think I would have loved it if I read it for years ago (or 5 years from now) it's just the book I needed right now.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Do I really need to explain why this one is here? I'm sure it's on everyone's top 10 list the year they read it. I recently saw the movie poster, and just that gets me excited for the idea that they might be able to do it justice.

4. Together Tea by Marjan Kamali
Another book that's perfect for the period of life that I'm currently in. Like a lot of the others on my list it does focus on a mother/daughter relationship, which is one of the reason I loved it and why it made me cry.

5. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Like every other book I've posted so far, this one again made me cry. I do have my complaints about Cassandra Clare, but I do think this was a perfect end to the trilogy.

6. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Eppstein
I've actually yet to post my review of this book since it's not scheduled till January. But get ready, because I loved it. Part of it was because it's related to my own family's history. But even without that link, I still think I would have fallen in love with it.

7. The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
Finally, I think I'm posting a book that didn't bring me to tears! Although there were moments that could have, so don't go in expecting a happy book. One aspect I enjoyed about this one was that it was so different from most anything else I've read. But still had the same type of feel I look for in a book.

8. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
In some ways I'm not sure why I have this book here, but for whatever reason it is one I really enjoyed. I feel like in some way it's a modern day To Kill a Mockingbird, and know there' certain scenes in it I'm not going to be able to forget.

9. The Ward by Jordana Frankel
Maybe it's somewhat cheating to have this here since the author was my college roommate and one of my bridesmaids, but I still really loved this book. I can't wait to read the sequel, if only she'd actually finish writing it, but once she does I will again be running out to buy it.

10. Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman
This is the second book I've read by Alice Hoffman and the second year in a row she's made my top 10 list. This isn't the type of book I normally read, but with such a beautiful message it's hard to pass up.

What books would make up your top 10 reads of 2012? And have you read any of the books on my list?

If you're curious, these are my top 10 books from 2012.

I'm linking this post with The Broke and the Bookish for Top 10 Tuesday

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It's a Jolly Holiday

Saving Mr. Banks
I almost don't know where to start with this one because there's so many aspects of it I loved. I loved the flashbacks to P.L. Travers' life growing up in Australia. I loved Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. I loved the scenes at Disneyland because you could tell it was filmed today since certain sections of the park really haven't changed. I loved the clips of Mary Poppins and now am wanting to buy it on dvd to watch it in its entirety. Even the boy enjoyed himself and found himself humming along.

It probably goes without saying that parts of this movie brought me to tears, but that happens with most movies lately. I'm really happy we managed to fit this one in with all the movies that come out in December, and definitely would recommend you to do the same.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 in Numbers

I always love looking at all the stats behind my blog. It's one of the first things I look at every single day. I find it a bit fascinating to see how people are getting to my blog, what posts they're reading, and where they're from. So to help spread the joy, I wanted to give everyone else a small snapshot to the numbers behind in blog in 2013.

As of December 22, I currently have 271 followers through GFC and 130 followers through Bloglovin. (The rest of the stats are as of December 22, as well.)

I've had almost 18,000 unique page views in 2013 according to Google Analytics, which is where the rest of the stats are from as well.

The top 10 most viewed blog posts in 2013 were:
1. Roast in the Pot
2. Behind the Labels
3. Winner Winner
4. From Miss to Mrs: Remembrance to Kiddush
5. Why I'm Using Feedly Over Bloglovin
6. Brulee-ing In the New Year
7. The Final Invitation Post
8. Dressing Up the Tables
9. The Drive Home
10. Roasted Polenta with Swiss Chard

The top 10 most viewed blog posts written in 2013 were:
1. Winner Winner
2. From Miss to Mrs: Remembrance to Kiddush
3. Why I'm Using Feedly Over Bloglovin
4. Brulee-ing In the New Year
5. Apple-icious {Giveaway}
6. Nobody Better Lay a Finger
7. Mailbox Monday (27)
8. From Miss to Mrs: Behind From Where We Came
9. Sesame Noodlicious
10. Good Morning Vietnam

The top 10 blogs that referred visitors were:
1. Kelly's Korner
2. Little Miss Married
3. New Girl on the Post
4. Stacey Snacks
5. Blonde... Undercover Blonde
6. Newlyweds Next Doors
7. Random-osity
8. Beyond the Aisle
9. The Java Mama
10. Dolce Bellezza

The top 10 search terms that brought people to the blog (excluding the expected "From L.A. to LA blog") were:
1. Joni Mitchell Daughter Death
2. Freeway vs Interstate
3. The Tea Rose Movie
4. Adrienne Maloof Wedding Dress Display
5. Googliness
6. It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium Meaning
7. Bloglovin vs Feedly
8. Ella Rosa be118
9. Amy's Polenta
10. Fresh Market Cupcakes

In 2013 I had blog visitors from 84 different countries
The top 10 visitor countries were:
1. United States
2. Canada
3. United Kingdom
4. Australia
5. Poland
6. Germany
7. Finland
8. Sweden
9. India
10. Philippians

In 2013 I had visitors from all 50 states as well as Washington D.C..
The top 10 visitor states were:
1. California
2. Louisiana
3. Texas
4. New York
5. Virginia
6. Florida
7. Pennsylvania
8. Massachusetts
9. North Carolina
10. Kansas

If you want to compare, here are my blog stats from 2012.

Do you pay attention to your blog's stats? Or let me know how you found yourself at From L.A. to LA and where you're reading from.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Let's Celebrate {Giveaway}

Saturday was my 5 year blogoversary! Don't be fooled by the fact that my archives show posts back in 2007, because on December 21, 2008 I wrote this post where I decided I wanted to start blogging regularly. That's also the point where I decided to change my blog name from the catchy Shoshanah's Blog, to what you now know as From L.A. to LA.

In celebration of the fact that I'm still here blogging 5 years later, I got together with some of my favorite bloggers for a giveaway. One lucky blogger will win the following:

$35 Starbucks Gift Card
courtesy of
From L.A. to LA
Finding My Virginity
Not in Jersey

60 Days of Ad space
at From L.A. to LA
(200x200 sidebar spot)

2 Months of Ad space
at Beyond the Aisle
(200x200 sidebar spot)

6 Months of Ad space
at Crazy Shenanigans
(200x200 sidebar spot)

30 Days of Ad space
at Organized Chaos
(600x100 "You're a Star" in-post spot)

Thanks to everyone for reading and your continued support. Good luck to all who enter. And finally, here's to the next 5 years of blogging! Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Social (17)

With Christmas only 3 days away, I decided to join in the holiday spirit and link up with Sunday Social at A Complete Waste of MakeUp for a few holiday questions.
1. What is your favorite holiday season tradition?
Three years ago I wrote this post about the Christmas traditions I remember from growing up. Basically, when I was little we would drive out my grandparents and spent Christmas with them. But now that I'm officially "a grown-up" we're still establishing our traditions, although this year we're spending the day with my husband's family.

2. Do you have a certain holiday movie you watch more than others?
Growing up it was It's a Wonderful Life, but now it would have to be Love Actually.

3. Show us your favorite decoration or pinterest decoration you wish you could have.
I would love a nice big wreath on our front door. But out of the ones we have, I love this ornament my husband bought me at Disney World two years ago.
4. What is your favorite holiday song?
I always really liked "Light One Candle," which I learned as I wrote this post was done by Peter, Paul, and Mary. But as for actual Christmas songs, it would be "All I Want For Christmas is You," but specifically the version from Love Actually.
5. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I'm not sure I have an official favorite holiday dessert. But that's probably because I'm more than willing to eat anything when there's sugar involved.

6. What is on your wish list this year?
I wrote this post earlier this year with a full list, but new to that list would be the Frozen Soundtrack which I've been wanting since I saw the movie.

If you haven't answered these questions yet, let me know what some of yours answers would be. And it you're stopping by from Sunday Social, be sure to say hi and let me know you were here!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Project 365: Days 344 Through 354

Only days left of 2013, and my Project 365 is still going strong!
My Deskspace
December 10, 2013 - 344/365: My blogging space, with my print from Around the World in 80 Frames.
Praline & a Book
December 11, 2013 - 345/365: A praline for dessert.
Homemade Gnocchi & Bolognese
December 12, 2013 - 346/365: Homemade gnocchi, compliments of the boy.
All Wrapped
December 13, 2013 - 347/365: All our presents wrapped under the tree.
December 14, 2013 - 348/365: Sausage crispies, scrambled egg, biscuit, and cheese for breakfast, with coffee of course!
Winter Village
December 15, 2013 - 349/365: The boy has pieces of a winter village from growing up, and this is the first year we've taken all the pieces out to display them.
The Last Peppermint Oreos
December 16, 2013 - 350/365: The last of the peppermint Oreos.
Lunch at Whole Foods
December 17, 2013 - 351/365: Yet another lunch at Whole Foods.
December 18, 2013 - 352/365: Gingersnaps for dessert.
Attempting to balance out my peppermint milkshake with a salad
December 19, 2013 - 353/365: Lunch at Chick-fil-a with a peppermint milkshake.
Drinks at Walk-Ons
December 20, 2013 - 354/365: Drinks at Walk-ons.

I'm linking this post up with Random-osity & Kleinworth & Co. for Project 52!