TBDT: Top 10 Things I've Learned This Year

by Aja Dang


Hey strangers,

First: thank you to all of you who’ve kept up with me and what I know to be the most inconsistent blog in the world! I’m sad to say that this will be my last post. I’m revamping the site for new and exciting projects. Unfortunately that means Bye-Bye to The Big Dang Theory.

Many of you have been kind enough to share your support and respect for my thoughts and reflections, so I wanted to leave you with few things that I’ve learned over the past year.

2014 has been tough. I’ve had so many ups and downs that, at times, I couldn’t ever say which way is up. Luckily, I’ve learned a lot—if a bit too much all at the same time—but as with any difficulties we face, the most important part is what we get out of the journey.

Here are the Top 10 Lessons I’ve learned this year:

 

1. Forgive: Too many people let bitterness, anger and resentment sit with them for far too long. If you’ve been lied to, cheated on, betrayed or deceived, take a moment to feel the hurt. But know that the only way to move on is by making a conscious effort to forgive. Holding on to that anger will make progress and personal growth that much harder—and moving on almost impossible.

No one wants to be bitter. It’s bad for your soul—and your sexy (frown lines, no dice).

Forgiveness is something accomplished by the strong. I’m not necessarily saying forget (see: “Fool me once, shame on you… you know how it goes); I’m just saying that the ability to forgive is a strength. When you forgive you stop letting pain and resentment control your life.

 

2. Trust Again: Speaking of forgiveness, when forgiveness is required that usually means that trust has been broken. Whether it’s with a work relationship or a romantic/platonic one, once trust is broken it is very hard to gain it back. As hard as forgiving someone may be, allowing yourself to trust that someone again is harder. It takes time and effort to rebuild a healthy relationship—and both sides to work on it. Until you know that you’re working together to do that,  trust yourself enough to walk away from a situation that isn’t healthy for you. You know the signs, you know the feelings—trust THAT.  

 

3. Don’t be so hard on yourself:  We are all human, we all make mistakes, some on the smaller side, some large. Own up to your mistakes, apologize—sincerely—to those you’ve hurt, and move along. Ain’t no body got time to dwell on the negative.

A while back I wrote a blog post titled: “Know Your Worth, and Don’t Settle.” While the simple message in the title is positive, the post itself, well… was a mistake. While I am very happy that many of you found solace and strength in my story (something I am proud of), I know now that I could have handled the situation in a better way. With that post, I revealed a little too much, invited too much attention into my personal life.

Today, I am still faced with mention after mention of my relationship, my blog post and my post-blog post relationship, even though I’ve moved on from that moment. I’ve forgiven myself for not thinking these consequences through, but in the future will be more thoughtful and graceful about handling complicated, emotionally charges situations.

 

4. Just because you’re able to forgive yourself for your mistakes, it doesn’t mean other people will: To those who are set on holding a grudge, say: “BYE!” Surround yourself with people who will support you, no matter what. Anyone who is constantly trying to bring you down by reminding you of your mistakes needs to get out of your life and take a serious look at their own.

 

5. Find your "person":  The one you can always go to, no matter what time of the day, no matter what you’ve done. I’m lucky enough to have ‘people’: a handful of at least five people who I know I can always be 100% honest with and count on for help or advice. These people range from my best friends to my parents to mentors. They will always be there for me, to hold my hand and tell me it’s going to be OK. Find those people and hold on to them tight, because when your life seems to be in a downward spiral, they are the ones who will help lift you up.

 

6. Follow your heart:  With love, with work, with hobbies. Life is too short to not do what you love. The only time you will ever regret something is by not taking a chance on something you love. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to look back and celebrate all the risks that you took, even those that weren’t successful, because you followed your heart.

 

7. All that said, learn when to walk away: Yes, sometimes going for what you want means failing brilliantly—but you have to know when to stay the course and when to restructure the path. Admittedly, I’m not the best at this because I’ve always believed that when you do what you love or you’re with someone you love, everything will work out. Life has a way of teaching you that what you believe isn’t always the case.

In terms of career, I’m a dreamer—a big one. Sometimes that has helped me think of creative ways to further my career; other times it has lead me to disappointment. I will never be the person to tell someone to give up on their dreams, ever. But I myself know that it is also important to realize that maybe you were meant to do something other than what you anticipated, perhaps something even better.

Personally, I’m giving myself one more year to accomplish my dream of becoming a travel host. If by this time next year I can’t see a path through those trees, then it will be time to deploy Aja Dang’s Life Plan B. Rest assured that over the next 12 months, I will do everything in my power to construct my travel-host empire before the age of 30—so that if I must eventually accept that universe has something else planned for me, I can at least say I tried my hardest before changing course.

In terms of relationships (platonic, romantic, professional), don’t let your loyalty keep you in an unhealthy situation. If they don’t appreciate what you offer, then it’s time to walk away. Holding on will only cause you more pain, because you are the only person fighting the good fight and that feeling is just devastating to the soul.  Don’t exhaust yourself when there are people out there who would readily appreciate and love you—every part of you.

 

8. Don’t apologize for doing what you need to do to further your life: I recently had to fire my agency, who I was with for four years. Our professional relationship was stalled, and I couldn’t see my career progressing with them. The whole situation made me very uncomfortable because I didn’t want to come off as ungrateful or rude. My best friend, who was in town at the time, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Beyonce fired her dad.”

*mic drop*

At that very moment, I saw the situation very clearly: you can certainly do whatever you need to do to make sure your life/career moves in a forward direction. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that. #EmpireBuilding

That being said; don’t step on people; don’t stab people in the back; don’t be ungrateful; and don’t put yourself in situations you will regret, situations that might give you a quick leg up but might make it hard for you to face yourself down the line.

PS. Firing my agency has been the best business decision I’ve made yet.

 

9. Speaking of Beyonce: Be Beyonce. 

If you don’t know what that means, well, I can’t help.

 

10. Choose to be happy: This might come as a shock—even to myself sometimes—YOU are in sole control of YOUR happiness.

(Pause for reaction)

It’s easy to complain and think that the people in your life should do more to make you happy. Um, what? The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts; in the end, it has little to do with anyone else.

People can go out of their way to belittle you; circumstances can be unkind. The only way to extract yourself from a negative situation is by changing your attitude and/or your environment. No one else can do that for you. If someone tells you that you are less than you are (dumb, or expendable, or whatever it is that gets under your skin), you can think: “Wow, if this person is telling me I’m these things then they must be right.” Or, “This fool is tripping, I’m the bomb. BYE!”

Please remember that their perception of you is actually a reflection of them; your reaction to it is an awareness of self. HI.

 

I hope that these thoughts might be gems to you when it matters! And again, thank you for all your love and support. I hope to continue to make you all proud.


 

The Big Dang Theory: ‘Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.’ - Brene Brown


June Outfit Lookbook

by Aja Dang


Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! I originally wanted to post a yummy 4th of July appetizer recipe for your weekend parties but frankly, it didn't turn out too well :/ Luckily, I just uploaded my June Outfit Lookbook to my Youtube channel. 

I hope you're able to get some cute and fun summer outfit ideas from last month's wardrobe. 

Outfit Details

1st outfit:
Pants - Joe's Jeans 
Crochet Top - Mila Bikinis - http://bit.ly/1odOnQg
Sunglasses - New York street vendor
Sandals - Target
Song: Marsbeing - Desire // https://soundcloud.com/chill/desire-1

2nd Outfit
Shoes - Steve Madden - http://bit.ly/1kjkX0B
Two Piece Outfit - The Style Club LA -  http://bit.ly/1rpw8MF
Song: The Sound of 2Morrow Guest Mix - http://bit.ly/1odRDeh

3rd Outfit
Shoes - Steve Madden
Dress - @QBDesigns 
Song - Johnny Stimson - So. Good.  

4th Outfit
Top - H&M - http://bit.ly/TFyXL1
Shorts - H&M - http://bit.ly/VIu3yL
Belt - J. Crew
Necklace - MAU-HOUSE - http://bit.ly/1jNUnfS
Shoes - Calvin Klein 
Song - Gudu - Etheren (Dugong Jr Remix) -https://soundcloud.com/dugongjr

the big dang theory: dress for your body, not the latest fashion. 


TBDT: Body Struggles and Self Acceptance

by Aja Dang


It’s a funny thing, ‘self acceptance’, because a lot of people preach it but not many can embrace it. I’ve always been on the curvier side, someone with strong thighs, a round butt and natural breasts - I’ve made a good living and gained quite a following from the natural curviness of my body. But at night, no matter how high the pile of fan mail, or how many positive messages I received from both men and women, I would still stand in the mirror wishing my stomach was flatter, my arms weren’t as flabby or my butt was just a little bit bigger. 

I’ve been in the entertainment industry for 16 years - more than half my life. Started out modeling for the Ala Moana Shopping Mall catalogue in 7th grade and now have three swimsuit calendars, a bathing suit campaign, six stints in Maxim Magazine, and a national car campaign under my belt and have hosted TV shows for Maxim Magazine, FX Networks, Clevver Movies, Xbox Live and Fox Sports.  

16 years in the industry, 27 years old and only last year did I accept my body as it was. I guess that’s not that bad, most people spend their entire lives in a state of self loathing. I don’t like to feel unhappy so I made a conscious effort to start appreciating and loving my body.

Like most people, I’ve struggled with my weight. At my lowest, which I currently am right now, I’ve been 110 lbs and my heaviest I was 130 lbs, which took me five years to get all that extra weight off my 5’4’’ frame.

I am currently in a battle with my body as my recent and unintentional weight loss has left me feeling like less of a woman. The curves that I have grown to love have disappeared with no explanation yet a lot of people have been telling me that I've never looked better (sigh), The cause of the weight loss is still unknown, three doctors have all said that maybe my weight loss is due to being overly stressed. Whatever the reason, I have never felt so uncomfortable with my body before, but I am still trying to actively accept my smaller frame.

One thing that makes me feel good is working out. The thing I miss most about my prior body is my booty so I make a conscious effort to focus on my butt and thighs. A lot of squats, lunges and up hill sprints definitely make me feel stronger and mightier. A lot of you have been asking me to post my workout routine so I decided to upload a workout video this week. I love to workout and run outside so this Full Body Bench Workout is something I do all the time around my neighborhood. Enjoy! 


All-in-all, my health and wellness philosophy is this: do, eat and say what makes you happy. Don’t workout for your boyfriend, don’t eat salad to keep up with your friends, everything you do should be done for yourself. That’s the mistake I made when I was younger. I worked out for the next photo shoot, drank a meal replacement drink for the agents, ate dry and flavorless fish to avoid eye rolls from the stylists - that’s not living. 

Once you accept your body so will everyone else. You can still have moments of insecurity, I do, but I combat those feelings by saying all the things I love about myself. It can be something small like perfectly manicured nails or something big like a flat stomach but more you start appreciating yourself the less insecure you’ll feel. Trust me, it works. We are our own worst critics, it’s time we start being nicer to ourselves. 


the big dang theory: Happiness should be the end goal, not the weight on the scale.  


TBDT: Strive For Growth, Not Perfection

by Aja Dang


Over the past couple weeks I feel like I’ve finally embraced my womanhood. 

I’ve always been mature in thought and I’ve always surrounded myself with people who help me grow as a person but it takes some intense life experiences to help guide you to become the person you were always meant to be. After all, it’s when you’re faced with adversity that people can either flourish or be defeated.

I know a lot of you reading my blog are much younger than I am and still have a lot of life experience left to go through before you’re able to fully understand the person you were destined to be. Heck, I still have a lot of growth myself but at 27, I can finally say that I am proud to be the person I am.

Think about that for a second - for someone to be genuinely happy and proud of themselves is a feat, especially in a society that measures self worth through ‘likes’ and retweets. When did we become the generation who aspires to be ‘instagram famous’ rather than aspire to obtain an education? Ugh, another topic for another time, but we can do better folks. 

My most recent heartbreak has helped me to appreciate and embrace my personality: independent, rational, sarcastic, driven, headstrong, sassy, brutally honest and occasionally naughty. I’m an introvert with extravert tendencies; I am not afraid to speak my mind; I believe that as women, we hold all the power; and I have no problem demanding respect. 

Because of this I’ve been called a ‘bitch’, ‘overly emotional’, and most recently ‘crazy’ and ‘psycho’. Since coming into my 27 year old ‘womanhood’, I find that being called these names don’t bother me. I know they are coming from a place of insecurity and frankly, a lioness doesn’t concern herself with the opinions of sheep. 

I have received many emails explaining that through my posts and videos some of you have come to view me as a role model. Believe me when I say this - I take that title very seriously and I am more than happy to be that person for you. I appreciate that you all view me as someone who embodies strength, courage and transparency. I’ve spent a lifetime growing into the person my parents raised my brother and I to be, someone of quality, and I’m grateful to inspire you all to be that way too.

There is no right way to be a person of quality and people can define ‘quality’ differently. We all have different paths, experiences and beliefs that shape the way we see the world and view ourselves. I’ve spent many nights reflecting on my life in order to become the best version of myself. This isn’t something that just happens, it takes a conscious effort every day to be someone you’d be proud of. 

Don't be one of those people who think they are too good for personal growth. I know people like this and it breaks my heart because their false sense of entitlement is getting in the way of their own happiness. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you did, you can always change to become a better version of yourself. I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am fearless because I’ve been afraid. I have no regrets because I’ve learned my lessons.  Appreciate the twists and turns that life will send your way because one day you'll be able to look back at it all and say 'Thank you'. #AjasArmy 

the big dang theory: strive for growth, not perfection


TBDT: Laughter Cures Everything - Day 2/100

by Aja Dang


Day 2/100 - It’s amazing when you make a conscious effort to be happy and that is what I’m doing with this #100HappyDays adventure. Normally the mornings are pretty sad for me because I’m so used to waking up next to someone I loved so today I made it a mission to start my day smiling.

Enter Krispy Kreme aka Froggy Fresh and Magic Mike. 

In my opinion, the most amazing Youtube rap sensations next to Turquoise Jeep. 

Man oh man, if you need a laugh you HAVE to watch this video. My good friend Goude told me that Froggy Fresh came out with a new Youtube video. The new one is cool but it has NOTHING on ‘Haters Wanna Be Me’. I just can’t handle all the epicness in this video. Forget the awesome lyrics for one second, this guy is rapping in a tree and doing ninja moves in a weight room. If this doesn’t make you laugh you have no soul.

Just as an extra Youtube bonus, Boom Goes the Dynamite gets me every. single. time. As a sports journalist, I WISH I could have a catch phrase as epic as "Boom Goes the Dynamite". 

These videos really helped me get through my morning and I hope they lift your spirits too. If you have any funny videos and pictures I'd love to see them! Life is better when you're laughing.

 

the big dang theory: Laughter cures everything 

 

 


TBDT: Be In Control Of Your Happiness - Day 1/100

by Aja Dang


Are you happy?

Seriously, at this very moment are you happy?

I’m not going to lie, today I had a moment when I was not happy. I was moping around, feeling bad about myself for about a good three hours. It’s an awful place to be in - you feel miserable, sad, nothing seems to be going right.

I read all your comments and emails and it seems like we ALL could use a little extra dose of happiness in our lives. Some of us have relationship problems, others school and work issues, but I think it’s important to understand that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. 

I’ve been seeing the #100HappyDays tag going around I decided to join in and I would love all of you to do it with me! I’ve signed up for the challenge HERE but feel free to just tag along with me. I’ll post something every day on my blog and Twitter with the occasional Instagram post. 

Every day, for the next 100 days, submit a picture of what made you happy that day using #100HappyDays. It can be ANYTHING! Today I got some really awesome pictures from one of my favorite photographers. Tonight I decided to cook - something that I love doing but stopped for the past couple weeks because it brought up too many memories. Tomorrow, I’m shooting for Fox Sports, which makes me happy so I’ll be posting about that. Whatever puts a smile on your face and lifts your spirits is exactly what you need to do every. single. day. 

One of my favorite new photos: A 40's inspired post card from the #SendLoveSeries. Photography by Kelly Masumiya

One of my favorite new photos: A 40's inspired post card from the #SendLoveSeries. Photography by Kelly Masumiya

I know we are all super busy, but to not take at least 5 minutes out of your day to do something that makes YOU happy seems kind of silly doesn’t it? 

Happiness definitely takes a lot of work. We all complain that we aren’t happy in our current situations but we don’t do anything to change the way we feel. That stops today! For the next 100 days we are going to make a conscious effort to make our happiness a priority.

Happiness starts with you - not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but with you. I hope you all join me on this happiness adventure. Once we start appreciating the little things in life, everything else will start falling into place - I promise. Tag me in your posts using #100HappyDays and #AjasArmy (a cute little hashtag some of you started) so I can check in on your progress! 

The Big Dang Theory: You are in soul (pun intended) control of your happiness


The Big Dang Theory: One Day At A Time

by Aja Dang


Wow - where to even begin.

THANK YOU. The support after last week’s blog post has been overwhelming. Most of you understood my message, some of you didn’t and others showed their true colors. 

It has been eight days since I wrote that post. Eights days, dozens of emails, countless comments, a couple of intense Instagram fights and thousands of very passionate people all standing up for what they believe in - love. I’m realizing now how my words, my story, have become something much bigger than I had expected.

The truth is, I don’t know why I wrote the post. I needed to get something off my chest and a simple diary entry ended up becoming a post that has affected some of you in unbelievable ways. 

Writing is my outlet. Some people dance, others draw, some go running, I write. That being said, I’ve never been one for fiction. Nothing I ever do or say is anything but the truth. That’s what made me such a good journalist - I sought the truth and spoke with reason. Like I said in my previous post, if there is one thing that can bring people together it is heartbreak. I think that’s why it resonated with so many people - it wasn’t because of the players involved, it was because of the experience being told.

It breaks my heart hearing that most of you have been through or are going through what I’m going through. Are these really the times that we live in? When it’s easier for someone to cheat than be faithful? I’m so unbelievably sorry for what most of you have been through, but it is your courage and honesty that makes me see the light at the end of this very dark tunnel. 

It also breaks my heart hearing that some of you really looked up to my relationship. You watched the videos, read the descriptions, liked the pictures, met us in person and now what’s left of a seemingly special relationship is a blog post and a series of slanderous remarks. People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. Believe me, sometimes I wish I could have looked the other way and kept our (yours and mine) illusion alive, but that’s not happiness, nor is it healthy and I can’t live like that. Please, still believe in love. I do. I have to. 

The past two weeks have been hard for me. I have my okay days, then I have my disastrous days but I keep on reflecting and learning and one day all of this will just be one big lesson. 

So what do I want the most right at this very moment?

  • I want to be able to sleep through an entire night without waking up in a sweat because my reality ruined my dreams
  • I want to be able to make it through the day without crying
  • I want to be able to move on from this experience without being tagged in photos,       comments and tweets that don’t help me move on. 
  • I want my vulnerability and honesty to inspire some of you to walk away from an unhealthy situation with your head held high.
  • I want korean bbq (totally unrelated but whatever)
  • I want to be able to listen to ‘All of Me’ without wondering if that video was not actually for me.
  • I want people to understand that you don’t have to have sex to cheat
  • I want people to know that dignity is priceless
  • And I want to believe that good things happen to good people

I am a strong person but every now and again I need people to hold my hand, make me smile and tell me everything will be ok. Thank you, each and every one of you, for being my strength. 

The Big Dang Theory: One day at a time. 


TMI TAG! I Youtube

by Aja Dang


1: What are you wearing?
2: Ever been in love?
3: Ever had a terrible breakup?
4: How tall are you?
5: How much do you weigh?
6: Any tattoos?
7: Any piercings?
8: OTP?
9: Favorite show?
10: Favorite bands?
11: Something you miss? .
12: Favorite song?
13: How old are you?
14: Zodiac sign?
15: Quality you look for in a partner?
16: Favorite Quote?
17: Favorite actor?
18: Favorite color?
19: Loud music or soft?
20: Where do you go when you’re sad?
21: How long does it take you to shower?
22: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
23: Ever been in a physical fight?
24: Turn on?
25: Turn off?
26: The reason I joined Youtube?
27: Fears?
28: Last thing that made you cry?
29: Last time you said you loved someone?
30: Meaning behind your YouTube Name?
31: Last book you read?
32: The book you’re currently reading?
33: Last show you watched?
34: Last person you talked to?
35: The relationship between you and the person you last texted?
36: Favorite food?
37: Place you want to visit?
38: Last place you were?
39: Do you have a crush?
40: Last time you kissed someone?
41: Last time you were insulted?
42: Favorite flavor of sweet?
43: What instruments do you play??
44: Favorite piece of jewelery?
45: Last sport you played?
46: Last song you sang?
47: Favorite chat up line?
48: Have you ever used it?
49: Last time you hung out with anyone?
50: Who should answer these questions next?


Buffalo Chipotle Chile

by Aja Dang


Buffalo Chipotle Chile

DON'T LET THE INGREDIENTS LIST FOOL YOU! Chile is super easy to make - once you put all the ingredients together you just... wait. Buffalo is a lean, flavorful meat but you are more than welcome to use turkey or beef with this recipe too. Buffalo Chipotle Chile is really easy to make and is great to make ahead for a party because the longer it cooks, the more flavorful the chile gets! 

Ingredients:

2 chipoltes in adobo

1 dried Passila, Ancho, or Arbol Chiles, torn

1 28 oz, can tomatoes, chopped

1 cup chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp. canola oil

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

3/4 tsp. hot or smoked paprika

1 lb. ground buffalo

1 lb. buffalo stew meat

1 19oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 19oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 oz dark chocolate

salt

fresh cilantro, chopped

shredded cheese

lime wedges 

How to's

In a small bowl, combine the hot chicken stock and dried chiles and bay leaf and allow to soak until chiles are soft, about 20 minutes. Once soft, remove the chiles from the stock (reserving the stock for later) and puree the dries chiles and chipotles together until it makes a paste. 

In a Dutch oven, heath the oil over medium low and cook the onions and garlic until golden soft, about six minutes. Add the cumin, paprika and oregano and cook for one minute.

Add the ground buffalo and stir, incorporating the meat into the onions, garlic and spices. Add the buffalo cubes and stir until brown. Add the tomatoes, and chipotle paste. Pour the saved chicken stock into the pot.

Simmer everything together, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. If possible, cook the chili for longer so the flavors will intensify. Add additional water as necessary to keep the buffalo cubs barely covered during the cooking process. 

When the chili is done, add the canned beans and stir through to combine. Add the chocolate square and stir until melted. Season with salt.

Serve into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro, cheese and lime wedges. 

the big dang theory: lemon and lime are an easy and cheap way to add flavor to your dishes. 


Bacon Wrapped Dates

by Aja Dang


If you are ever in Chicago, the one restaurant you MUST eat at is Avec. My girlfriend Joanna gave me the heads up last year when I was in Chicago for a shoot and I've been thanking her ever since. 

The video I did in Chicago with Brian 

It was originally conceived as a wine bar but when you bring on top chefs like Koren Grieves and Perry Hendrix, wine can quickly become an afterthought.  Avec showcases a Midwestern interpretation of Mediterranean classics. You can share small and large plates to get a little taste of everything and it was probably one of the best meals I've ever had. 

I tell you about Avec because the other night my boyfriend was randomly craving one of the plates we had, Bacon Wrapped Dates - and yes, it is as delicious as it sounds. Luckily for me I found the recipe for Avec's Bacon Wrapped Dates online so I tested it out and it was a hit!

A couple tips: 

   1. I couldn't find piquillo peppers so I used roasted red peppers instead. 

   2. Because of the substitution, the sauce wasn't as spicy as it was at the restaurant but it      was still good!

   3. Chorizo makes all the difference. 

Bacon Wrapped Dates 

Bacon Wrapped Dates 

Ingredients:

2 lbs Medjool dates

1 lbs Spanish-style chorizo sausage

1 pkg good-quality bacon. (I tested it out with turkey bacon and it's definitely not the same)

2 jars of piquillo peppers or roasted red peppers

1 14.5-oz canned tomatoes 

How to's:

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Cut the dates in half, making sure you don't slice all the way through. Take out the pit.

Fill each date with chorizo

Wrap each date with one slice of bacon. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Once the chorizo has cooked through, put the broiler on and transfer the tray to the broiler for a couple minutes to crisp up the baking. Make sure not to burn the bacon. 

While the dates are baking, add the peppers and tomatoes together in a saucepan and cook slowly over medium-low for the entire time the dates bake. Season with salt to taste, then puree the sauce until almost smooth. 

Once the bacon is crispy, pour sauce over the dates and enjoy! 


the big dang theory: Google is your friend. 


Carry-on Packing Tips

by Aja Dang


Mannnn -  a lot has happened over the past couple days. 

1. My shirt launched yesterday! I'm really excited about it and I've been getting good feedback. Buy it HERE!  

2. Brian and I have been having some travel problems, so I haven't been able to blog because of the lack of consistent and continuous wi-fi. The Big Dang pre-Tip: Make sure to check the date of your flight before you head to the airport - you never know when someone might accidentally book your flight for the wrong month. 

3. WE GO HOME TOMORROW! 10 days away from home, traveling to four countries and 9 cities in 240 hours is very exhausting. Don't get me wrong, I love to travel, but I need a place to call home, even when I'm away from home. I really don't know how Brian used to do this for work all the time - at least we were together.

4. My clothes are stinky. Packing for 10 days is hard but no matter how hard you plan; wearing, reworking and still enjoying the same old clothes for 10 days is even harder. These are the items I brought with me to Europe:

Coat: Burberry                                  White Pants: J. Brand                       

Faux Fur Vest: Zara                          Black faux leather jacket: 

Leggings: H&M                                 Cream sweater: Old Navy 

Denim shirt(s): J. Crew                      Stripped shirt: J. Crew

Brown pants: Zara                             Belt: J. Crew

Boots: Steve Madden                        Pumps: Jessica Simpson

Sweater: RD Style                             Bag: Remi & Reid  

Scarf/Gloves: Banana Republic           

This is how I reworked them for the days we were out and about:  

picstitch.jpg

PS, you might be thinking - 'Aja, you were there for 10 days, why are there only six outfits?!?!?!?!?!'. Four of those were travel days and I won't subject you to what that looks like... 

use my packing tips & you'll be as happy as us when you start packing! (i promise) 

use my packing tips & you'll be as happy as us when you start packing! (i promise) 

Carry-on Packing Tips:

  1. Choose dual-purpose items: Most important tip - you must plan your outfits if you want to pack wisely. Pick a couple shirts, sweaters & pants that can be mixed and matched to make totally different outfits during your trip. For example: cardigans can be worn alone or over a shirt, skirts can easily be taken from day to night by simply changing your shoes and denim shirts can be turned into crop tops for night. 
  2. Wear bulky items on the plane: Jeans, boots, jackets, thick scarfs - wear them all on the plane and save precious carry-on space. It gets cold on planes anyways.. 
  3. Don't bother with jewelry: Granted, I don't wear too much jewelry anyways but for me, accessorizing on trips is silly. Spend your days exploring the world instead of worrying about whether you want to wear a rope or princess necklace. Plus, there's less of a chance of losing your precious hoop earrings if you leave them at home. Butttt, if you MUST bring accessories, only bring one or two items that match with everything. 
  4. Choose your shoes wisely: I'm sorry for all my shoe obsessed ladies out there, but you DO NOT need to bring more than two shoes on any trip. Nice walking shoes and a pair of heals. My 'walking shoes' are my Steve Madden boots worn on this trip and I brought a pair of black closed-toe shoes, which I honestly could have left at home because we never end up going out. 
  5. Stop, drop & roll: Roll your clothes when you pack them, don't fold them. Trust me, there is a difference. With pants, lay them on the bottom of your suitcase with the bottoms hanging over the side, then fold them over all your clothes when you're done packing. 
  6. Stuff the crap out of our suitcase: If you prefer to pack your boots instead of wearing them on the plane, I better see belts, panties, and shirts stuffed in those boots to save space in your luggage! I do this with workout shoes and even pumps. 
  7. 2-for-1 your makeup bag: Find a makeup back that can double as a clutch. 
  8. Pack leggings: Just do it. Not only do they take up zero room in the suitcase, they are comfy and the best thing in the world when you just want to be comfortable. You can also wear them under skirts and dresses to change up a look and even under pants to keep you warmer during the winter time. 
  9. Utilize your personal item: You can add a lot of little extras in your personal item. Ballet flats, an extra sweater, even another bag! Along with the essentials you'll need for a flight, put whatever you can't fit into your personal item. 
  10. If you're getting bored with outfits, borrow clothes! Going on a trip with someone? Share clothes and double the size of your attire! This even works with your boyfriends' clothes. Shirts can be tucked in, large sweaters can be cinched with a waist belt and pants can be cuffed. 

the big dang theory: You can't always predict what happens in life, but you can try to plan for it - this is especially true with traveling. With all the unexpected delays, lost reservations and forgotten passports, you can at least take charge of your wardrobe.