While I was traveling through Belize I guest posted on The Hip Soiree about how to set up the perfect party bar. I'm currently trying to figure out how to replicate this at home, much more scaled down, of course. This party gave me a chance to figure this out. Take a look at the post here. I loved this project and Lizzie's blog is fantastic.
We are in Belize. Why did we pick this country to travel to, you may ask? For a few reason, we have good friends who live here and have asked us to come many times. Also we wanted to do a little volunteer work and put forth a few goals to a some young girls about moving where there is a greater need and helping out. So we are here in Belize. I'll share more of my adventures when I return, but see a few images from the variety of things we've already seen and done.
This year I feel like I've grown so much, I think the ALT Summit really kicked it off in January. What an inspiring 3 days with such supportive bloggers. I was inspired and it really pushed me this year. I'm excited to go back next month and see where it takes me in 2014. While I am certainly looking forward below are a few of my favorite projects this past year.
Meeting Kei & Molly. Their story and work was really inspiring to pursue what you love.
Hosting our Fall Tasting. This idea was spurred on by a class I took with Bing and AltSummit. It was an online class and well it gave me this idea, which Felicia and Deborah were on board with. I think we'll be doing this again soon.
Part of this was hosting a Coffee Tasting, this was super fun and great working with Stumptown Coffee, I can't wait till the next one.
I finally got to write about some of my Italian adventures from forever ago here.
I loved my weekly visits to the Santa Monica Farmers Market and was inspired to make new things just by what was in season.
Oh and this Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Cake....wow I love this cake.
I loved this trip this year to California Lake Country. I am so in for doing this again. Was a beautiful place to visit.
These Peanut Butter Chocolate Kiss Cookies got a lot of mileage on Pinterest this year.
I had a great time learning to make Candied Orange Peels, I can't wait to try this with a few other citrus fruits.
Seriously I am almost finished with the Cuba tale. This is one of my favorite posts, Cuba a Bittersweet Tale, on this trip, because it was all about my Dad. I still cry when I read it, so does he.
Those are a few of my favorite things from 2013. I'm looking forward to new adventures next year and hope to check off a few things from my goals list. Enjoy!
This past weekend two of my fellow bloggers and Alt Summit attendees planned a Fall tasting event called My Life Simply Sweet. This week we will be sharing all the festivities from the event, which included our first ever Coffee tasting with Stumptown Coffee Roasters as our sponsor mixed in with a few local roasters in the L.A. area that I gathered up. You'll also see a recipe for another easy appetizer, as seen below.
Now let me introduce you to these ladies, first up is Felicia, a wife and mom of one, from A Simply Raw Life. Felicia features wonderful raw food recipes from smoothies to desserts to just about anything you can think of in the raw food category, and let me tell you her food is delicious. This week she'll be sharing her recipe's made from the great sponsors and products of Artisana Foods, Manitoba Harvest and Navitas Naturals. Check out her blog this week for those post and make sure you click on the links for these goodies: Green Smoothies and Raw Chocolate Tartelettes.
Deborah from My Life at Playtime is a wife and mom of 3, who shares all her family adventures, art lessons, diy decor and handmade goodies. She lent her lovely home for this event and will be sharing a few posts sponsored by Minted and Bake It Pretty. You'll get to see the details on how to make the garland and body butter below. She might even share her first time making cream cheese frosting for her pumpkin muffins.
Together with It Sweet & Savory we hosted this lovely event we called My Life Simply Sweet, get it? It's perfect for us. Check out our hashtag on Instagram and just about every other social network this week as we share the details #mylifesimplysweet.
And doesn't that table garland below just scream Fall, look for that this week on Deborah's blog.
Image above courtesy of Deborah.
As mentioned a few Tech Tuesday's ago, traveling to Italy in the days before we all had a camera and computer in our pockets was a welcomed adventure.
Here's the story I was referring to for our arrival to Rome, maybe you can relate and laugh and share your own fun travel stories. When your traveling on a budget, off-season and backpacking you have to be ready for any adventure. This includes sometimes taking night trains to cut hotel costs. To get to Rome we took the night train from Venice.
We also had one baguette and one jar of Nutella for this overnight train ride. Miche and I called this concoction "chocolate bread." We ate that on our train ride while trying to get a few snaps that ended up turning int double exposures and a hot mess of images, but they make me laugh every time I see them.
Next up was getting to Rome and then calling, from a pay phone, our pre-planned meeting place (pre-planned as in "on the plane to Milan"). Why would this be easy, the Pensione, of course, was booked. In my broken Italian I proceed to call every hotel in our Let's Go Italy book and found one that had a room for three girls.
Then I ask directions, mind you I have no pen, pencil or any writing utensil. So I'm repeating everything this man says out loud and trying to map this in my brain, which has no reference to a city I've never visited, Rome. We could have taken a taxi, but remember we're on a budget, so we are determined to take the train. Oh youth.
I really only remember one thing from those directions, saying "Il Spagna," over and over. That was the train stop that we needed to get off at to walk to our Pensione. So the three of us make it to the underground train station. Out of no where, hundreds of people come flooding to the platform, train comes, WOW, seriously everyone shoves their way in. I'm so intimidated by large crowds, I resist. Then the train doors close and I am standing on the platform with my friend Ronda. We look at each other and realize Miche has been shoved into the train. I go running, with backpack on down the length of the train to find Miche. She is shoved in the middle of a crowd, ON THE TRAIN, with her backpack literally being pulled down by the mash of people. I bang on the window and just scream Il Spagna, Il Spagna. The train departs. I tell Ronda, "okay, we have to shove our way in, if we get separated, get off at the Spagna stop." So next wave of ants come, we shove our way into the train and pray that Miche heard us.
The Spagna stop comes, we run out, Miche is patiently sitting on a bench hoping we get off this train. Thank God, she heard all my mumbling directions. We all hugged, laughed and practically cried, very thankful we didn't get separated.
Once we gather ourselves, we proceed to walk many, many blocks looking for the street of our hotel. We come around the corner and we see the gypsy kids and immediately we all decide to put our backs against the wall so they can't steal anything or distract us. They are pissed and spit in our direction. Then they proceed to try and steal a well-dressed Italian man's wallet from his pocket. He proceeds to smack their hands and walks away. They eventually lose interest in us and walk away. Now we're slightly lost. So I ask anyone I can, in my broken Italian, where this address is. Someone kindly gives us directions and we continue on our way.
When we finally arrive, we find this giant door to a Palazzo. We open the doors, which leads to a courtyard. A sign tells us the Pensione is on the top floor.
So what do we do? LOOK FOR AN ELEVATOR. We are so kidding ourselves and resign to walking up SEVERAL flights of marble stairs. We get to the very top and knocked on this little door, completely out of breath and SPENT. The owners of the hotel quickly help us in, take our backpacks off and check us into our room. What a day! Trains, trains, separation, gypsy's, and stairs. Oh the joys of traveling, are you tired yet? We were, but after settling in and securing a reservation for our friends, we went on our non-tech adventure mentioned earlier. After that debacle we finally begin our Roman Holiday.
Today my mind is jumbled AGAIN. I have so much going on I can't focus at all. So I'm moving from one thing to another. I gave myself a computer break this weekend and I probably should have just sat down and hammered out what needed to be done. Today I am finally making me a list of what I need to do. I have a few friends that love LISTS and love to cross off what they accomplish, I'm more of check the box kind of girl. I find that writing things down is super helpful. For one it organizes my mind.
Sunday was National Coffee day and well I barely had time for a cup of coffee. I did manage to have some over the weekend, visiting my usual places Groundwork in Santa Monica for a Mocha and a Machiatto and then Emilia's for a Cappucino and that was all on Friday and Saturday.
Over the weekend I really took advantage of living on the Westside of L.A. county. Went to the local farmers market for some food inspiration, met the harpist above, who was such a happy soul. Produce right now is very transitional. I was on the hunt for figs, cause it sounded so good, but didn't find any. Apples are in and although I didn't get to apple picking with my friend Deborah at my.life.at.playtime, I hope to reap the bounty of what she picked and make something fantastic.
This is the third year for Glow in Santa Monica that showcases few art installations on the pier and beach. Some things were pretty cool. Like the beautiful light filled nets above which came with it's own audio, and mounds of sand to climb around. NYT wrote an interesting review on it. Other things were plain out weird and cosmic, not my thing. Great time for walking and biking as most of the downtown streets were closed. We choose to walk and boy my feet felt it.
After that we tried a new place called Bar Pinto, felt like a trip to Spain, followed up by watching Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown episode on Spain , which really made me visit Granada, Spain. On my list of things to do in this lifetime.
Last thing for the weekend was a quick jaunt to the Abbot Kinney festival. I went early, 10AM just to get myself a tote from Urbanic and buy a t-shirt for my friend in the UK. It was already hot and looked like it was going to be a fun day full of food, music and amazing locally created arts and crafts. I had, had enough of crowds so getting there early was key for me, get in and out and take a quick look. Plus all the road closures and parking were not ideal.
October starts tomorrow. I hope to have a few more Fall focused posts and can't wait for a busy fun month of activities. Enjoy your week!
In a few months my fellow bloggers and I are doing an event that will include a coffee tasting. The good folks at Stumptown Coffee Roasters have already agreed to submit there coffee for this tasting. This past Labor Day weekend we went camping a perfect place to try some new coffee. Thanks to Stumptown we had the opportunity to try some amazing coffees. I'm kicking myself for not purchasing the camping coffee mugs, they are perfect. They will be going in my camping kit for the next time.
The two we tried were Ethiopia Mordecofe (I kept calling this one Mordecai, as in the bible character) and Holler Mountain.
Incidentally my fellow coffee aficionado, Gita, also gifted Ethiopia Mordecofe to me on our last visit to San Jose. She's up in Seattle and has been bragging about Stumptown for a few months. We have our own little coffee exchange, I sent her a bag of Handsome Coffee Roaster beans she brought me Stumptown.
Ethiopia Mordecofe definitely has a fruity taste. Can I say, seriously, tasting coffee out in the woods, before everyone is awake, just opens all the senses. Aaron, as in the other half of Deborah at my.life.at.playtime loved this one. He's a tea snob and after I read the flavor notes, which include black tea, orange blossom and bergamot which converge (their word) with flavors of lime, peach and hops. I told him you like it cause it has flavors of black tea. This is a good cup of coffee that everyone enjoyed. I think Gita mixed it with some Handsome Coffee and said it was mind blowingly good.
The second bag we tried was Holler Mountain, I really liked this blend. It went perfect with french toast and bacon. The flavor notes are syrupy, with notes of blackberry, hazelnut and toffee. We brewed these coffees two different ways. We used a French Press above from Target (only $12) and brewed the other in old fashion percolator.
I can't wait till the official coffee tasting where we all can take notes on each coffee and pick our favorites. I figure it's like wine or art, it's subjective and really your taste. Thanks to Stumptown for letting me try these coffee's before the big event. I might be slightly biased now to Stumptown, which isn't a bad thing, since they'll be opening in LA very soon.
For this months Tech Tuesday, or maybe you'll call it a non-tech Tuesday, I want to highlight what we did before we all had a computer in our hands when we travel.
About 20 years ago I went to Italy with 4 friends. I traveled with two girlfriends and we made plans to meet up with our guy friends in Rome. Back then, maybe people had pagers, certainly cell phones were not prevalent in the US. I do remember seeing a few very Chic Italians with cell phones, but only a few.
We were young, traveling off-season (March) and flying by the seat of our pants so we made NO hotel reservations anywhere. Instead we decided to look thru our Let's Go Italy book and decide what hotel we'd meet at when we arrived in Rome. You see we flew into Milan, went our separate ways and agreed that mid-way thru our trip, we'd meet in Rome at "such and such" hotel, with NO reservation.
Of course when we got to Rome and called the hotel there were NO rooms left. Are you getting the idea, with all the NO's. So I went down the list of hotels in our travel guide, and in my broken Italian found one that had a room for us three girls. I'll tell you about the adventure getting there in another post. When we arrived we asked if there was a room for our friends, and yes there was, so we asked them to hold it for them.
Now, how to tell our friends that we changed hotels and have a room for them. What would you have done? No cell phone, no contact number for where they were staying, no idea when they were arriving, we only agreed on the day and place, not the time.
We decided to go to the hotel where we said we'd meet and try to speak to the owner and let them know to tell our friends where we are. Once we got to the hotel, we couldn't find a door or entrance, we saw a buzzer and buzzed several times. No one answered. Across the street was a cafe, we ate, drank cappuccino and waited and waited. After being fully caffeinated, we devised a new plan.
Remember no cell phones. "Let's write a note." We laughed at ourselves, because there was no alternative and we thought this was really silly and probably wouldn't work. However, we found a place on the building near the buzzer and left it. This was a busy street, mopeds zooming by, people walking up and down, cafes, tourist, you name it. Our thought, "hope the note stays put." It looked something like this (original note is long gone):
Then, well...we went on tour thru Rome. Walked to the Colosseum, that's me above, with my manual camera, some 20 years ago. I still have and love that camera. We left the boys fate to the Note and had ourselves a grand time. Saw a Vogue fashion shoot, wandered around the Colosseum, dodged the crazy Italian drivers and enjoyed our first day in Rome.
Later that day, when we arrived back to the Hotel the owners were so excited, "the boys are here!" they yelled. We were really surprised, we went running to their room and had to know how they found us. "We saw the NOTE!" We shared our travel tales and rejoiced that all had worked out well. Without the technology we have today we still found a way to make sure we communicated, even if it was the old-fashioned way.
How did we ever get by without our phones? We rely on them so much, I call my husband when we get separated at Costco, "where are you"? Do you remember what you use to do? I have to say these adventures make me smile as we didn't have any alternatives back then. Not every outcome turns out well, but you can always chalk it up to a tale you will have to tell.
Today when I travel in-country it's easy with my phone service in most areas. But only 3 years ago when I went to the UK and France, I didn't have an iPhone, only a Blackberry and my texting was non-existent, email and phone calls were limited, it was only for work. Today it's so expensive to get your phone to work internationally I'm not sure I'd even try. I really like to be disconnected from it all. Though I know I'd be all over Instagram, so I'd probably have to work something out or go into serious withdrawals.
This weekend we'll be camping and I already know we'll have no phone service and I'm kind of looking forward to that. What do you do during travel, especially internationally, do you take your phones or unplug? Would love to hear.
Before I get into my technology post, I wanted to let my small amount of readers know I have to take a bit of a break from this space. My husband and I have been involved in some volunteer work the past couple of weeks that requires our full attention. I'll be back to a more regular schedule in a few weeks.
In the meantime, my tech Tuesday is about Podcasts. I have to say I'm slightly addicted to these. When I walk to do my errands or just go for a bit of real exercise I drown out the noises of the street and dive into one of my favorite podcasts. If you listen to podcasts on your iPhone, you'll have to download the Podcast app from the App store (looks like the image to the right) and download that to your phone. It's free as are all the podcasts I feature below. If you have an Android phone you'll need to download a podcast app to listen or subscribe to them, Mashable has 5 they recommend, a few are free the rest you have to pay for. You can either listen to individual podcasts you like or subscribe to one you know you'll listen to often. It should automatically download the new ones when you click on the app. However, I had subscribe to one podcast, but find I'm not listening to it that often so it doesn't download the news until you start catching up. When I'm at home I listen to the podcasts on my computer thru my MacBook on iTunes. Whatever works for you, just give them a chance.
Here are a few of my favorites:
As every hipster in LA and probably NY already knows This American Life is a great way to start listening in podcasts. Ira Glass is a great story teller and brings to the plate amazing fictional and true life tales. They are usually told in three acts. Sometimes these are first person stories. David Sedaris is a regular guest, and well he makes me literally laugh out loud, his story about music lessons brought me to laughter tears. Occasionally, This American Life host a live Radio Show, I have yet to get to one, but listening to them is the next best thing. My favorite one was the story about Tig Notora running into Taylor Dayne, you'll laugh your head off as did the audience and Ira always narrates what we can see so you feel like your still there.
I am an avid History fan, always loved it and still do. This is a great podcast hosted by Holly Frey and Tracy Wilson called Stuff You Missed in History Class. They take a historical subject, do the research and present the facts. Sometimes blowing the doors wide open on the myths. My favorite history lesson so far was the two part series Loving vs. Virginia, a fascinating true story about the laws on interracial marriage in the United States, this case went all the way up to the Supreme Court and forever changed the laws in the United States, though some states have taken longer to get these antiquated laws off their books.
RadioLab is new to me, but so many of my friends really love this show. They take a subject and patch together people, music, culture, stories and experiences around that subject. I've enjoyed the podcasts so far, still trying to pick out a favorite.
As everyone who reads this blogs knows, food is a topic I chat about frequently. Over the past year I've found myself working from home and closer to a farmers market that I can walk to every Wednesday. I frequently listen to this podcast, Last Chance Foods on my iPhone while I walk to the market. It contains information on seasonal produce that's at your local farmers market, what's about to go out of along with some great stories from local farmers on their produce.
So far my favorite episode has been Last Chance Food: Chicken to Eggs. Everyone I follow in the blogasphere have chickens. Small houses to large acres, chickens are cool. I laugh because 17 years ago when I first got married all my husband wanted was chickens. Seriously, chickens in our 3x9 patio was not going to happen, I chalked it up to his Latin roots and my lack of appreciation, plus a few close calls with chickens in New Mexico didn't make me a believer. Now that I eat eggs pretty much everyday, this so wouldn't be a bad thing to have, plus Martha has great Araucana Chickens that hatch the amazing blue eggs, who wouldn't want one of those for breakfast. We still have a 3x9 patio, but maybe one day we'll have a bigger space for chickens.
This podcast, Stuff You Should Know, can be on just about any subject from the duckbill platypuses to how marriage works, how coffins work and how fair trade works. Josh and Chuck host this and it's a similar format as Stuff You Missed in History Class. This podcast reminds me we can never be bored of learning there is so much stuff out there to try to understand if you even care. The key is balance, sometimes we can get information overload and have no idea what to do with it. Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy...maybe.
My friend Deborah of My Life at Playtime recently introduced me to this podcast, called The Moth. Thse are first person stories told in front of a live audience, that range from 15 - 20 minutes. In fact in Santa Monica at Zanzibar tonight they are recording a live broadcast, I think it's not to late to buy tickets. Writers and story tellers alike tell true life tales that are fascinating and fun to listen to especially with a live audience reaction. It becomes a shared experience with strangers and the story teller. I think I'd like to add this to my bucket list of things I would like to do, once in my life.
Studio 360 is hosted by Kurt Anderson. Each week he focuses on pop culture and the arts. Sometimes it's a book, movie or music or all three. So far my favorites have been about the American Icons: The Great Gatsby. There are great story/interviews with different actors, it's a much more relaxed setting, which brings some good insights into the art crafts.
While these are my current favorites, don't be limited to these, they are just suggestions. One of my friends loves podcasts on cars and another on photography. There are so plenty of options out there, just enjoy!
Last Friday this is what the sunset at the beach looked like. As destructive as fires are, the smoke does produce some pretty amazing sunsets. And Friday it was 80 at the beaches. Today it's raining and now humid. Either by a food allergy, or the season or the smoke I have developed a crazy red face with puffy eyes over the last three days. I'd call this NOT sweet, more in the lines of bittersweet.
Is your month of May booked, mine is. First weekend out funeral and 50th wedding anniversary, followed by the next couple of weeks a baby shower, tea party and bbq. Oh the joys of spring. I'm doing some baking and experimenting with a few seasonal items. Not to mention there are so many movies coming out this month that I want to see, I'll have to pace myself. Hope your month is filled with bright, fun and inspirational activities.
I had one day to enjoy San Francisco. I flew in the morning, had a meeting at 12noon and then rushed off to my hotel, freshened up and taxi'd to Bar Agricole. I had great foodie friend give me some recommends. Read Dylan's amazing suggestions at Eat Drink +Be Merry, here's his San Francisco post.
Bar Agricole was unfortunately closed and we wanted a cocktail so we taxi'd to the area by our restaurant and ended up at West of Pecos. I had to go here, I hiked through the Peco's wilderness my whole childhood. Most cocktails on the list had mescal and tequila, not my type of liquor, though I'm thinking I might need to venture out. I settled for the bourbon drink called the Devils Tooth and I'm kind of obsessed with the big ice cube these days (see above).
Next up was a walk across the street to Bar Tartine. Several recommends and write-ups on this restaurant. This place is not to be missed and has been nominated for a James Beard award this year. I hope they get it. Another thing I like, but can annoy most people, is the no sign on the door anywhere, it's like you have to be in the know to know this is even here. Annoying or cool?
Please note all images are with my iPhone, I couldn't fit my camera in suitcase so it's was the phone only on this trip.
Below is the menu, it's one of those menus you look at and really not sure what it is or if you'll like it, that's the great thing about places like this, you are forced out of your comfort zone to try new combinations and inventive cooking. Also if your vegetarian our whole meal was all that. And we went home full.
Suggestion was to order about 2 items per person, it was a lot of food, but glad we did, as it gave us the option of trying a variety of items.
Some of the most inventive flavors I've ever tried. The kale below was so good, nutty with tart yogurt and a surprise sesame seed tahini, plus they used yogurt dust. No idea what that is, but it was GOOD.
Next up was the goat cheese with peas and edible flowers. This was served with sesame seed crackers. Creamy, tasty and beautiful presentation.
The potato flat bread below was rich and filling I remember a slight smokey taste to this dish. These are definitely items to share as eating the whole thing would be too much.
Smoked potatoes were crazy good. Smokey, crunchy and soft inside, these were amazing (in the back of the image below). Farmer cheese with beet was a great combo and a fun try.
Finished off with a cheesecake that was bursting with flavors, ripe and under ripe strawberries, and crunchy popping cookie crumbs. It's indescribable.
The next morning we got up early and drove to Tartine Bakery & Cafe. I've seen so many Instagrams of this place and it's owned by the same people as Bar Tartine. Our waiter told us to get there early. So we were there before 8AM, short line inside. I bought the biggest Almond Croissant ever and a Frangipane tart. Wow both of these items and my coffee were wonderful, if only we had enough time to linger and munch.
This Fangipane tart was filled with light almond cream in a flaky pastry shell and wild blueberries. It's a seasonal fruit tar so it could be filled with anything depending on what's ripe. I really loved this and savored it for the next day with my Philz Coffee in San Jose. I found Philz on Yelp and there was a location around the corner from my hotel. When did coffee get so complicated, it's not small, medium or large or a tall, grande soy, non-fat latte world anymore. Philz is inventive in the coffee category, and who wouldn't like to order a coffee called "So Good" every morning. Next up is a coffee tasting day, it's all the rage these days and we all know how much I love coffee. Enjoy these suggestions the next time your up in San Francisco.
West of Pecos
550 Valencia Street
San Francisco, California 94110
561 Valencia Street
San Francisco, California 94110
Tartine Bakery & Cafe
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, California 94103
Philz Coffee (San Francisco, San Jose, Menlo Park areas)
I am starting to be the minority among my friends. I have no kids, but dearly love them, just a personal decision not to have any. However, I embrace my friends with kids, and well embrace their kids. Plus SB is a serious kid magnet. They just gravitate to him. Watching my friends I see it's such a joy AND a lot of work, really they are truly SUPER MOMS, I have no idea how they work, blog, shower, or keep their sanity.
Ok, so enough of that. My dear friend Darlene who already has a 2 year old little girl is pregnant with Twins!! Big surprise, she has twins on her side of the family, and she found out that they are identical girls. I wanted to throw her a nice little shower, so we invited a little over 40 people and a friend hosted it in her backyard.
To start of the creativity, the color palate was inspired by the invitation from Tiny Prints below.
I have to say I went a bit crazy with the colors, but it was outside and beautiful and well I wanted it to be happy and colorful. You've already seen my tissue paper pompoms here, well they were for this occasion and there were lots of them.
I also bought crepe paper and hung it as a back drop for pictures. Initially I wanted to take polaroids, but the film was way too expensive for 8 instant images, so I used my Nikon D80 and between myself and a 13 year old we managed to take photos of all the guests.
Darlene with Twin Identical Baby Girls and her Mom.
I also made a tissue paper board and used the initials of the two baby girls. Darlene was brave to wait and reveal the names at the baby shower to all her friends. Her family already knew. She texted me the week of the shower and asked if I wanted to to know, I said no, I've waited this long I wanted to guess with everyone else. Also, I SO didn't want the pressure of knowing and accidentally revealing them. Everyone had to put the P guesses with their name on the back and the S guesses with their name on the back in the appropriate container. At the end of the shower we read all the names off and let Darlene reveal the names. Names are at the bottom of the post.
Now for the food. We had a Sweet and Savory table. Go figure. We made fried wontons, chicken satay with peanut sauce, bruschetta, bacon wrapped mushrooms and salmon herb butter open face sandwiches. We had MORE then enough food.
For drinks we made a soda station with colorful vintage and new sodas along with water flavored with oranges. I love this table, it was my favorite.
For Sweets we had colorful meringues, mini cookie dough cheesecakes with chocolate ganache, madeleines, cupcakes, cream puffs and candy.
One of many things I loved about this shower was the range of guests from very young to much older, its a testament to Darlene's friends and made the day enjoyable.
For each guest I packaged up the Chocolate Bark I had made here. My friends girls all made the boxes in colorful paper for each guest to take home and enjoy.
And finally the Twin identical baby girl names. Their first girl's name is Charlotte and she revealed that they named their girls after cities. So P = Paige (as in Texas) and S = Sydney (as in Australia). So there you have it Paige and Sydney. What did you guess?
I had too many images for one post and the details on the Griffith Observatory actually made me excited about shooting images. Made me update my Flickr account too, It's been a long time that I felt that way. Maybe because I work at home and don't get out as much, but I was truly excited.
I watched this day a father with his teenage son. He had his camera or iPhone and was taking pictures of the details too, his son said to him, "Really dad it's just ridges, how can that be interesting. Ugh." I had to laugh because I was drawn to the same details of the building. You have to open your eyes and really look at what's around you. Look close at things from different angles and you'll start to see the inanimate objects from a whole new perspective. Makes life so much more enjoyable. I think I kind of keep that philosophy in life in general, always trying to see things from the other point of view, helps to understand where people are coming from and why they say or do or choose a course of life.
A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to spend a day with new friends who happen to be missionaries in Jamaica. They were here for a week and while they had lots of errands to do this day we wanted to make sure they got to see something Iconic in LA. So we choose the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory.
Admittedly, I haven't been up here in a long time. And, I fear this post will be photo overload. There are so many details on this building that I had a hard time editing down my photos.
My initial memories of this place are coming up here in my early 20's with my cousin. He'd come to LA and wanted to visit all the top tourist, iconic spots. Being from the Westside, ashamedly I hadn't ventured out to far past Hollywood and Vine to the Palace dance club. I had never seen the footprints at Hollywood's Grauman theater and hadn't been to the Observatory as an adult. So we ventured up at night and stood in line to see the planetarium show. Pink Floyd and lasers, doesn't get much better than that. Though I do remember the chairs being uncomfortable, wood school chairs with iron stands that attached to the chair and concave wood headrests weren't really my idea of comfort. Since that first time the observatory has gone under renovation. Starting in 2002 they remodel the observatory, it's all done now, I will need to make a trip out again and test out the planetarium seats, I'm sure they promise to be more comfortable.
On this day we spent more time outside then inside, it's beautiful and the view on a less smoggy, marine layer day can be sensational.
History of this place includes a Welshman who wanted Los Angeles to have a great park like so many other cities in the world. He donated this land to Los Angeles and said this, "It must be made a place of rest and relaxation for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people." I love these intentions, and indeed there are many trails through out Griffith Park and it truly is a place to just hang out and relax.
The Observatory was also part of Mr. Griffith's wishes, when he first peered into a telescope and saw the wonders of the stars up close he knew the rest of us needed that same opportunity.
So many movies have been filmed up here from Rebel Without A Cause, (there is a James Dean statue dedicated to him on the grounds), to Charlies Angels Full Throttle and Transformers. It's truly an Iconic LA place. Also Huell Howser and native from Tennessee who moved to California and TRULY loved California, did a show called California Gold where he featured the Observatory after the renovation. As much as Huell's accent annoyed me, he LOVED California and showed all the great things about this place that the average person would have no idea about had he not shared them with us. If it comes on PBS you'll have to catch it. He loved this place so much when he died this year they had his memorial at the Observatory.
I took most of these pictures with my Nikon D80 but couldn't help but snap a few photos with my iPhone and Hipstamic App.
Arches and view so amazing to see around every corner.
In 2002 they put new copper sheets on the dome, right now they are black or dark brown in a few years they will turn out to be the patina green color we have come to know and love.
Spring has sprung, this is probably my favorite time of year, next to fall. I love all the flowers and brightness of the sky, that is when it's not clouded over by the beach marine layer. Here are a few of my iPhone shots that I took while on my walks. See all the fun little flowers that make us smile each day. Enjoy.
Next up are how to make Pom Poms. You take 10-12 pieces of tissue paper. In any combo of colors you want. Please note that you need rectangle sheets of paper to make these work. I tried with perfect squares and it didn't fluff up correctly. The 99cent store sold perfect squares, so I had to cut some in half to add on to the squares to make them rectangle. Seems complicated but it worked. If you get them already rectangle then bonus, no extra work.
Here's how I made mine:
Lay 10 - 12 sheets out. Need a rectangle. Notice I had one square and added 1/2 a sheet to complete my rectangle. Nice to have them line up evening, if you have a long tissue just trim to match the shape.
My color choice for this one was orange, marigold, soft pink, hot pink and burgundy.
Just like we did with the tissue paper flowers you start folding the paper accordian style about 1 inch wide. Goal is to end up with same color on both sides (i.e. first fold has the orange top, last fold should have the orange on top)
In order to have these hang down you'll need to tie them in the middle. I use colorful curling ribbon, but if you want to have them look like their floating use fishing line or jewelry line.
Next up, cut both ends in desired shape, I'm partial to the rounded corners.
Start pulling apart the tissue carefully, alternating sides.
Here's half the Pom Pom done. Finish up the other side and you get what's at the top of the page.
Here is my coral reef of Pom Poms. In April you'll see some images of them hanging in their environment. Use your creativity and enjoy the process, it's fun and messy, but the outcome is always nice.
I never thought I'd get this crafty. But I've done a few small parties and wanted to not have to buy premade decorations, so I had my friend Mia come over and show me how to make the Hanging Pom Poms. Then I got inspired by this Pinterest post, which led me to this blog post at Rust & Sunshine. I pretty much followed her directions, but modified the colors to match a baby shower invitation. Here are a few of my steps, but please check out Michelle DuPuis blog post above on Rust & Sunshine for all the lovely flower shapes and color choices.
The great thing about tissue paper is it's cheap, try the 99cents store. I was able to afford a nice bundle from there along with the pipe cleaners, so much cheaper then the craft stores and tissue paper and pipe cleaners are all the same. I cut the stems off my flowers as I glued them to a foam core board above to use as a backdrop. Seriously I love this these flowers and all the colors.
Supplies: Tissue paper. Fuzzy pipe cleaners and scissors.
Cut Medium size flowers into 10x10 squares. Generally 6 tissue papers work fine. Use any combination of colors. I found that I liked 4 lighter color tissues on the bottom and 2 dark colors on top to be my favorite. I also made smaller flowers so I cut the paper down to 5x5 squares and only used 5 pieces of tissue paper and this worked out well.
Once you've stacked up your piles start folding the paper accordion style. About 1 inch for each fold.
Next take your piping and wrap it around the middle of the folded paper, as shown above.
Next comes the cutting of the edges. This is where you decide what kind of flower you want. Rose, Dahlia, Daisy, Chrysathemum, etc... cut the edges accordingly. I like rounded edges best, but it was fun to play with a few different cuts.
Fan out the paper and then start slowing pulling it towards the middle. Remember it's tissue paper so be gentle, it tears easily. I have to say this is my favorite part.
Final Flower. It's up to you how you want to display them. Some people put them in vases and display them like real flowers. I chose to lop of the piping as I was gluing all the flowers to a foam core board for a special project above. My color inspiration was based on a baby shower invitation, which has lots of coral reef colors in it. Also the Madewell board below spurred on this whole idea.
What to do with all the scraps, I saved them and glued them to the foam core to fill in the holes where I didn't have enough flowers. Whatever you do, enjoy the process and the creativity.
I'm usually not this late to the game, but this time I am. I just rented and watched Searching for Sugarman. I saw that it won an Academy Award for best documentary and was sure I'd heard about it last year when Sundance was in full swing. It made me recall that I'd seen this tweet on twitter: "Searching for Sugar Man' lets u realize, unknowingly, something u did
that didn't work for u might be the biggest inspiration for others." [Bonnie Tsang]
I quickly put the movie in my Netflix queue. I watched this tonight, while I crafted away. What a moving story. This touched my heart and brought to life the quote tweeted above. What stood out to me was the lack of bitterness from Rodriguez or his family. This is a man that was into the music for the craft and love. He is a hard working Mexican immigrant and he instilled values and work ethic into his children. If you haven't seen this you should. Not to mention the way it's shot in Detroit. I loved all the images from this movie. I predict Detroit will be the next big filming capital. It's raw, needs a lift and stories like Sixto Rodriguez story inspire us all.
Is Instagram stalking or just an amazing community. I say both. Here is why:
Currently I follow about 194 people that range from friends, family, photographer's, athletes, bloggers, models, and designers. I am sure I am missing a category or two.
Besides Twitter I haven't been a big adopter on social media. Maybe because I grew up where privacy was valued. Having a blog has taken me out of my comfort zone and I found Twitter a great way to post a quick snippet about my blog or just a cool article that I'd like my friends to read. What about Facebook you may ask, well I've had a test account for several years and may be finally turning it around to represent my blog. Still debating, we'll see what happens.
Back to Instagram. I can't remember how I found this app, might have been Mashable.com. In my social naivete I had no idea the images I was taking on my iPhone and posting were viewable to the public. Then a few friends started commenting..."hey you sure like those plates" and then all of a sudden BAM I realized what I was doing. I was in it for the filters and fun way to look at my photography. Now this is part of my daily routine. Every morning and everything evening I check my feed. I'm still not a big commenter on this app, and personally get annoyed at the private conversations. "Pick up the phone peeps or text your friend privately, we don't need to hear it all."
Why you ask stalking? This seems to be a theme over the last couple of months on my blog. Sometimes I feel like I'm stalking, but really I am truly inspired by the photographers, bloggers and small business owners out there. I'm shy about introducing myself when I run into them in person. What do you say, "hey I'm itsweetsavory and I follow you on Instagram?" That's really how it goes. Do you say anything? One person I follow, but didn't know, posted an image and comment that told her viewers she'd lost someone dear in death. I was moved by her pain so I wrote her a letter and sent it to her business. I just thought she should know that strangers sometimes can care too. So I ask is that stalking?
Why I say community? Somebody I follow posted an amazing picture for a book opening and tagged a rental company. So I started following that rental company. They rent vintage china, silverware, and glass for parties. Right up my alley. Now the rental company promotes a pop-up-shop to clear some of their inventory. I booked my calendar and made my way there in the middle of the day. I had to meet the person who posts on IG and tell her how I found her and how excited I was. I walked out of this pop-up-shop with the items shown above. That next week I was able to meet the person who originally posted those amazing photos and thank her and chat with her about her business and her images.
See the photo above. Well I found this similar photo (much better than mine) on IG. I commented on it and asked where was this place? The landscape in the image looked exactly like my road trip surroundings at that very moment. The photographer was gracious and gave me exact directions to find that sign. I took my photo and tagged and thanked him. He cheered me on and now I'm a regular follower of his.
The best community story is here, it's not mine, but someone I use to work with and lives locally. He's a British import, avid Spurs fan (Tottenham, not San Antonio) and recently posted a drawing of the bunny that his son lost nearby. He tweeted and IG'd the image. A few days later he posted the image to the left. Max had his bunny back. How? Instagram. Huffington Post and Today have picked this story up. Max and his bunny are famous. All because of the amazing Instagram community.
So what does Instagram mean to me? It's opened my eyes to see the world a little differently, to find the bright spots in your day all by a little 4x4 square image. I'm inspired by these images, even if it's just a cup of coffee on a lovely marble table with a lone poppy and navy blue wall.
A few of my favorites to follow:
Who do you like to follow? You can follow me by clicking on the button to the left or find me on IG: itsweetsavory is my user name.
This could be more of a brain dump rather than mindless thoughts. But here are my thoughts. I'm working on a new logo, fonts, and style, coming soon. Have you ever made an editorial calendar? This is really hard, what to focus on for the year. Make content in advance of major events. Not an easy task, but I'm determined to do it. I'm giving myself one year to turn this site around and be consistent with my readers. Is there anything your looking to hear about, other than Cuba, which I'm working on?
Random thoughts, yes I made more lemon bars, it's a request these days and again it's that season so I have lots of lemons. What was Julian Fellowe's thinking last night on Downton. SPOILER ALERT: All my favorite characters are dying. I know actors have other obligations, but when your such a major part of the cast, really, why leave now, there probably is only one more season, and yes, viewers want "and they lived happily ever after."
I entertained pre-teen and teenagers this week. Love em, but WOW lots of work, was fun and exhausting at the same time. Hats off to mom's with teenagers.