Monday, December 26, 2016

Room with a view

For our second anniversary, which falls just a few days after Christmas and a couple weeks before my birthday, we decided not to do presents. Instead, we gave our guest room a makeover!

We gave the room a fresh coat of yellow paint when we moved in and I bought furniture that met all my crafty needs, but the room has always been sort of a dumping ground for other random things. Mismatched lamps, an old dresser, childhood mementos. The desk (which was half a table we found in the trash), was unpractical and the room was really in need of a purge of stuff.

After a few quarrels over colors and possessions, we went with a grey/green color (which in some light looks exactly like the master bedroom, a very sad and too late realization) and rearranged the layout. We picked up a new table, lamps, three frames and a Buddha head. Oh, and we finally bought a grown up bed frame! But what I love most about this room is we were able to use a lot of pieces I have picked up - or received - over the years.

My sister-in-law found the newspaper printing plates (above) at a swap meet a few years ago. I resurrected them from our basement and we bought the center frame for the plate that was in the best condition. We purchased the two smaller frames when we first moved our house, but never used them, so we cut the other plates down to fit.

These are my beloved tapestries I bartered for when I was in Myanmar. The work is actually called a Kalaga, which is an appliqué of silk, flannel, felt and wool on cotton or velvet. This artform was very popular in the mid-19th century and worn by the royal court...who knew! I think I ended up paying the old ornery Burmese man $6 for both elephants and another one with horses (which I can't seem to find). While that sounds very inexpensive, for $6 I also could have bought lunch - for the week! Since the pieces are at least a half inch thick, we had to buy new frames with a raised mat. We found these at Michaels - and they were on sale.

The antique scales, letterpress drawer, trinkets and knick knacks have been collected over the years and all hold a special place in my heart. For less than $400 we were able to transform the room into a mature place we both can appreciate. Now we just need some guests to come and stay!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Self Portrait

This morning I was listening to my new favorite podcast. This week's topic: the value of reflection and finding one word to describe 2016. My mind started to wander. Not so much for a word to explain all of 2016 because this year has been such a whirlwind, but a word that describes November. Maybe this would be a way to come to terms with this month, the spectrum of emotions experienced, the events that have occurred and the overall shock I feel.

Dumbfounded. Embarrassed. Discouraged. Deeply sadden. Words to relate my feelings for (and with) my country. For my friends and family. For a sweet little girl fighting for her life.

The ultimate word is Numb. November has been numbing in a capacity I haven't experienced in a very long time - or maybe ever. And to wrap the month up with a red bow, I was involved in my first-ever car accident on the way to work. Everyone involved was okay, however, my car is not.

We have to look backward in order to move forward with any real clarity. I suppose I am still in the process of looking backward because at this time I just can't find any clarity.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Green Thumb

Hard at work keeping the succulents alive and well for the holiday season. I used to sell these in five or seven packs, but it seems selling them individually works out even better. Find them at Kitsch for just $3 a piece!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fall Veggie Soup

Tis the season of soups and crockpots. First new recipe, here we go.

What you need:1/2 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 large parsnip, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
thyme, salt and pepper to taste
4 cups water

What you do:
Place everything in the crockpot for 5 hours on low...or until all the veggies are soft.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October Self Portrait

For the last month I've been on what some call a "health kick." I've been waking up about a half hour earlier and going to the gym or working out from home, about five to seven days a week. I've been shopping weekly for fresh ingredients for my lunches and prepping them on Sundays (mostly variations of high protein salads with a pretty tasty homemade dressing, so nothing fancy). I'm drinking water - and I don't mean "more" water...I used to have about eight ounces of water a day to now about 70! I also pretty much cut out beer because the way it was making me feel and added more protein to my diet.

Mind you, I'm typically a pretty healthy eater and was working out about one to three times a week. Some feel that a 5' 2" girl who weighs 106 pounds doesn't need to be on a "health kick." And really, it's not. I'm tired of feeling blah about my body. About my clothes not fitting the way I'd prefer. I was tired of feeling like I was always making up for my terrible weekend bad eating and drinking habits.

But I feel like I have to explain all of this. Like there has to be some deeper reason or issue causing my shift in attitude and daily routine. There are a few personal reasons, all of which relate to me doing this for me.

As a 31 year old woman who may (or may not be) getting pregnant in the next year or so, I want to be in great shape so I can support a growing a baby. And bounce back to a healthy body.

My grandmother had, and now my mom is dealing with severe osteoporosis. Earlier this year my mom had to undergo hip surgery because of a fracture. Why not do anything in my power to make my body stronger to possibly prevent or defend against such diseases?

I've been listening to my body and doing what feels good! I'm feeling stronger, I'm feeling better about how I fit in my clothes. I'm also feeling pretty proud of waking up at damn 5:30 so many days a week and sticking to this! So I'm going to keep soaking up this motivation while I can and see where it takes me.

Monday, October 24, 2016

My new favorite snack

I'm currently obsessed with this tapenade recipe I altered from the Tone It Up recipe book. As a dip, sandwich spread, or just to eat by the spoonful - it's so delicious and good for you too!

What you need:
1 cup kalamata olives
1 cup green olives
1 cup artichokes
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes

What you do:
1. Mix everything in a blender until your desired consistency. If your sun-dried tomatoes are not in oil, add 2 teaspoons olive oil.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Pretty new products!

New flower crowns and unicorn headbands heading to Kitsch this week!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's been fun. 92 Days of Summer.

2. Dance
4. Ohio
7. Big Sur
12. airB&B
13. PCH
17. DT100 Chair
20. Cocktail Dress
26. Wedding Planning
29. Bike Rides
30. Volunteer
34. Fireworks
35. Family Photos
36. 8 Years
37. Slover Library
39. Crepes
40. Charlotte
41. Wine Party
44. Murals
48. Falafel
51. Coldbrew
52. Tzatzki
53. Watch a Movie
55. Thrifting
58. Thomas
59. Nathan
61. Living Room Pictures
62. Sparklers
64. Fire Pit
65. Host Guest(s)
69. Postcards
75. Slushy Pops
76. The Hood
78. Brunch
79. Hiking
82. Design Invite (and here, here)
86. Cheers!
88. Freebie: The Troll Hole
89. Freebie: Improv
90. Freebie: Sugaring
91. Freebie: Buti Yoga
92. Freebie: Honey

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Aunt Eileen

I've been lucky enough to have been surrounded by strong women my whole life. I know I have mentioned this through several blogs before, but when I was younger I wasn't sure I really realized it. Probably because those women were protecting me from what exactly they needed to be determined of....

Regardless, my Aunt Eileen was definitely one of those women. She is the only living sister of my grandfather (the only living Great relative I have left) and is a mere 95 years old. After a very unpleasant first marriage my Aunt and her friend packed up a convertible and headed out west. Santa Monica is stopped, renting an apartment and securing a job at Santa Monica High School as an Art Teacher. It was there she met the real love of her life, Tom. They bought a remodeled a house just eight blocks from the Pacific Ocean. They traveled the world together, as apparent through her home's decor - and photography she took that adorns several walls and photo albums (she was a photographer for the US Navy's WAVES).

It wasn't until I was in high school that my relationship with her had started to blossom. When she heard of my interest in journalism and photography, she insisted I come live with her and work for the L.A. Times. Because in her mind I was just that good to land a job working at one of the best newspapers in the country. She would send me sections of the newspapers, or clippings of their photo stories. She would help a little each semester with $50 check to put toward books and cards of inspiration.

I didn't make my first visit to her house until 2009, but I've been incredibly fortunate to experience her spark, her stories, her love of life and generous hospitality several times since. She is remarkable in so many ways. Some days she recognizes who we are, but others we're just a pretty face that she'll constantly remind you of over and over. Either way, she hasn't lost that flair and quick wit that has always made her Aunt Eileen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Baby Shower Invites

For the mom-to-be of a boy, but who very much loves pink.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Monterey in 36 Hours

Before we had made our way down to Santa Monica, my West Coast True Love, Mike and I had both decided we would prefer to live in Monterey out of all the cities we had visited. For me, it would take a little getting used to the chilly weather, but the location on the water, the quant shops, proximity to all the parks, hiking and beaches AND the cutest of cutest houses I may have ever seen stole my heart.

We stayed at a small hotel in Pacific Grove, called Lover's Point Inn. Spacious rooms and views of The Point made it a great stopping point for a few days. We were in Big Sur within an hour, and (a surprise to Mike) at Pebble Beach Golf Course within 20 minutes. We stumbled upon the 17-mile drive, a gorgeous - and pretty - drive through Del Monte Forest.

For eats we hit up Hula's in Monterey, which I was convinced was too gimmicky for my taste. However, it ended up Happy Hour all night and we scored big with strong drinks and lots of appetizers to share.

Even though it was just by chance I picked this charming sea town to stop at, I will definitely be putting it back on the must-stop places in the future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

July Self Portrait

There was a birthday card my sister sent me more than a decade ago. On it was a photograph she had taken from one of her excursions out west, with these adorable yet bizarre-looking seals. The message inside said:

Have a wonderful day of your celebration of birth in your 19th year! Leave all your worries behind and eat lots of pie, but do not set any fires! ... Do not fret any longer, fretting only uses up time and produces only doubt. That is unproductive, and you are the most productive person I know. I want you to know that you are the sweetest, most beautiful person in my life. You've kept me going ofr 19 years! Keep confident and stay honest to yourself and you will always be brilliant, I can promise you that.

Obviously, my sister is pretty awesome. And of course the photo and message stuck with me. I immediately added Elephant Seal Rookery and Big Sur to my Bucket List and tucked the card away.

Now, twelve years later, I am checking those boxes and realizing the card couldn't be more true. For starters, we ran into an impressive forest fire that shut down several of the hikes and view points. I was, of course, bummed as the overlooks were covered with a dusty-orange plum of smoke and the entrance path to infamous McWay Waterfall was draped in closed caution tape.

But what could we do? Not fret. We powered through the thick haze and made our way to a gorgeous hike in Lime Kiln where we met several larger-than-life Redwood trees. We took in these eerie, once-in-a-lifetime views of the Pacific Coast Highway sprinkled with firefighters. Mike confidently drove us up, down and around, pausing at every chance to get just one more photo. And yes, we finally met our Elephant Seals, just like the ones on my sister's card.

The whole trip was nothing short of brilliant. We didn't over plan or exhaust ourselves trying to see every site. We embraced every moment, even the ones in a gum-filled alley.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tomato Tart

A delicious summertime side dish.

What you'll need:
1 pizza crust
5 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp seasonings (I used a mixture of thyme, rosemary and Sel Magique salts)
3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4"
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix the pizza crust according to the package. Roll flat and place in a pie dish or tart pan and prick the dough with a fork.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust starts to get a little fluffy.
4. While the crust is baking, slice your tomatoes about 1/4" thick. 
5. In a bowl mix the goat cheese and seasonings. Coat the pie crust with the mixture.

6. Next, layer the tomatoes, alternating colors. Drizzle with the olive oil and top with Parmesan. 
7. Bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Farm Wayfinding

One of many things I enjoy about working at a Zoo is designing exhibit signage. My first task was creating a comprehensive signage package for the Animal Wellness Campus, which included several large-scaled signs, infographics and wayfinding signals. In May, I was tasked with the ZooFarm which just received a major facelift in the Spring. All of the barns were repainted in bright child-friendly colors, several new animals were added and all of signage needed to be replaced. 

I had about two weeks to create the look, research the animals and photos, determine size, placement and get approval! Needless-to-say, it was quite the test. But, don't we really all work best under pressure (and crazy tight deadlines)? The ZooFarm looks brighter and prettier than ever (mainly thanks to our amazing Horticulture Department), so stop in and say hello– and meet our newest arrivals!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Vowchella: Summer of Love

The icing on the cake of designing the Fall/Winter issue of Vow Bride is creating the Launch Party Invitation. This issue I'm so extremely proud of the beautiful images, unique stories, elegant design and stunning collaboration of so many wonderful LOCAL businesses.

Wanna know what's really sad? I won't even be able to attend my own party! Flowy, showy and flower crowns is totally my jam!! But, I'll be happily jamming with one of my besties at her Portland wedding and road tripping down the West Coast so I can't be sad for too long.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Publishing books

We finally did it! Our Honeymoon book is written, designed and on it's way.

Just in time for our next big West Coast trip. Note to self, take better notes this time...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bachelorette Party Invites

New to the design portfolio - Bachelorette Party Invites. Unfortunately I can't take credit for this adorable theme, but the designs are all mine! Best of all? I actually get to attend the party as well. Can't wait to celebrate this very special bride-to-be and see what other fun surprises the hostesses have in store.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Pimento Cheese

So far this has been the Summer of delicious homemade meals. From chicken caesar salads to Mediterranean mash up, I'm glad I added so many food items to this year's 92 Days of Summer list. My next foodie check mark was pimento cheese. I combined several different recipes I found online and am pretty stoked to add this to our dip lineup.

What you need:
8 oz. low fat cream cheese
8 oz. (one bag) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tbsp. mayo
1 jar (4 oz.) diced pimentos, drained well
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp paprika
fresh cracked pepper to taste

What you do:
Mix everything in a bowl by hand and serve. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June Self Portrait

It was brought to my attention almost 10 years ago that I assume a lot of guilt for no reason. It took me a little by surprise at the time, but after giving a bit of thought I actually agreed. 200 percent. But what could I do? It was an emotion that I did not know its origination or how to curve.

Over the years, the level of guilt on certain topics ebbed and flowed. I have managed to get over the guilt of saying no to work projects or plans, I don't feel bad for indulging in myself, for not checking emails on the weekends (occasionally) or responding to texts immediately. Others - leaving home, leaving family and things undone, not keeping in touch with people I've known for more than half my life (and longer) - are harder to swallow. Some days I have an overwhelmingly amount of guilt for overcommitting, not doing or knowing enough, or even for feeling tired and going to bed early.

I'm not sure how I made those strides exactly. Maybe I made myself too busy to embrace that feeling. Maybe my overactive conscience took the backseat to enjoy this new no-second guessing, less self-critical person and found it wasn't so bad. I know my confidence has grown immensely, so perhaps I was just growing out of it. On a recent trip home I was sorely reminded of that nagging sensation by someone I should really care less about. But why? For what reason?

I heard some good advice recently. Do something small consistently. Be 100 percent when you're being something - or someone - you believe is good. And that is enough.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mediterranean Night

I'm a big dip person. It's a serious weakness, but a delicious one. With this said, naturally I have two 92 Days of Summer list items that are dips. For this Wednesday night, I tried an original tzatziki recipe that I'm so excited to add to my dip routine. And a falafel recipe that is simple and tasty as well. So, let's go!

What you need:
for the tzatziki (it's ideal to make this first)
1 cup greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cucumber
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill
for dipping: cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, banana peppers, name it.

for the falafel
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup cilantro
1 cup almonds, peanuts and carrots (almonds are ideal, but I didn't have enough - or of peanuts either so I improvised)
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp olive oil, more for the pan
optional: sun-dried tomatoes and/or sesame seeds

What you do:
for the tzatziki 
1. Grate the cucumber and place into a mesh strainer. Lots of recipes suggest letting it strain overnight, even through a cheesecloth...but I did not. I used a mesh colander and was able to reduce enough liquid to my satisfaction.
2. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, garlic and olive oil. Mix well.
3. Chill in the fridge and add the dill right before serving.

for the falafel
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray your baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro and almonds/peanuts/carrots (if you are using carrots, be sure to chop first or even run them through the processor first).
3. Add in the chickpeas and chop until smooth.
4. Pulse in the oil, flour, soda and garlic. Here is where you could add the sun-dried tomatoes or sesame seeds.
5. Roll into 1.5-2" balls and place on the baking sheet. You can either leave as balls or pat them down into patties. Either way, top with a little oil.