Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I know what I like...

Isn't that what people always say about art? I have a particular weakness for certain forms of art (screen printing, lino & wood cuts and photography).

Buying art is not exactly easy when you're living on starter salaries, but we've managed to pick up some pieces we love, and many of them are from Self Help Graphics.

Monoprint by unknown artist
{my first art purchase ever, by an unknown artist}

SHG is a wonderful organization located in East Los Angeles, started over 30 years ago by an amazing nun. It has evolved into a community organization that offers classes and work space to the local community, with a strong emphasis on Chicano art. They've been sadly plagued with financial problems and for a while it looked like we might lose them altogether, but so far they've pulled through.

Chavez Ravine by Vincent Valdez
{one corner of last year's purchase - Chavez Ravine by Vincent Valdez}

Every year they hold a print show, where you have a chance to buy pieces from resident and visiting artists. There are lots of limited edition screenprints and lino cuts, which makes it affordable. Last Sunday was our fifth year to attend the show.

I fell in love. Madly in love. I am a very, very practical person and I can spend hours deciding whether or not to indulge in a $30 pair of shoes. But I found this giant piece of art and I knew I was buying it. There was no thought process, no evaluation of the cost, no consideration of where in our tiny apartment it would fit, just an instinctive reaction. And really, I think that's how it should be, with art. I mean, this is why I'm practical the rest of the time, right?

On Route to County by William Acedo

It is a large format serigraph called On Route to County by William Acedo and it depicts the beautiful bridge that leads into East Los Angeles. I am not doing it justice because it is so incredibly detailed that a picture just won't cut it. This is a teeny tiny sliver of it. When you see it in person you just about fall into it - it's intense. I'm going to have to get a custom frame for it because it's too large for any of the standard sizes. And I better do it soon, because right now it is taking up our entire dining room table.

D picked up two amazing (and more reasonably sized) pieces as well. I'll share once we've got them all framed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The weekend, briefly (out of town friend edition)

D and I got to play hosts last week! Our dear friend Beth was in town, so we had hours of talking, drinking, eating and active TV watching (you know, the kind where you all chime in to mock the dialogue) to participate in. We've known Beth for 11 years, almost to the day, and despite never living in the same state, we manage to get together at least once a year.

We celebrated our reunion with some bubbly. I love having champagne on hand for impromtu celebrations.

champagne toast
{bubbly & peonies}

We spent a lot of time cooking and then sitting on the patio.


summer drinks
{fresh parsley dips + pita}

summer drinks
{a moscow mule and some lovely early evening light}

The weather cooperated by being gorgeous.

Not pictured - a delicious dinner at Osteria Mozza, going to see The Hangover (amazing), vigorous debate as to which Golden Girl each of us would be (Beth = Dorothy, Dustin = Sophia, I am Rose), buying some art at our favorite annual show.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday flowers (+ a winner)

At some point, you guys are going to rebel and refuse to look at pictures of peonies.

Hopefully it won't be this week.

{pink peonies in a yellow glazed cup, made by D}

Oh, do I have other news I'm supposed to share with you? Like telling you the name of the very lucky person who won the Shoestring Home giveaway?


Oh, that's right.


Congratulations, Tammy!

For the rest of us, Mandi is kindly offering a little gift. All purchases of $30 or more will receive this beautiful petite handcreme by Lollia.

Lollia cream

Just head over to Shoestring Home and enter the code HEARTOFLIGHT when you check out - the offer is good until 7/3/09.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What to pack for Hawaii

I have a bizarre obsession with packing light. I get giddily excited when I go on a trip and I have less luggage than anyone else. It definitely backfires sometimes (exhibit A would be me in Costa Rica on a college ecology trip, washing my clothes in various rivers and shivering because I didn't pack enough layers, but still slightly triumphant because I had the smallest bag of my group).

Luckily, Hawaii requires little in the way of packing (and I avoided the $15 checked bag fee).

hawaii packing
{hawaii packing}

Packing list (6 day trip)

4 casual cotton sundresses + 1 pool cover up
1 nice dress for fancy dinners
1 cream colored pashmina (goes with everything)
2 bathing suits
1 pair shorts (for hiking) + 1 pair capri yoga pants
3 tank tops
1 sports bra + 2 regular bras (nude + black)
12 pairs of underwear (there are some things you just don't want to run out of, especially when you are getting in and out of the pool and hiking, which means showering a couple times a day)
2 pairs sandals (my Rainbows for poolside + my new ruffly sandals for dress up)
1 pair running shoes

Plane outfit - trouser cut dark wash jeans + a tank top + a thin striped cardigan from J. Crew. Long beaded necklace that can be worn either as intended or as a pretty headband. Thin gold bangle. Ruffly white sandals.

hawaii packing

The list looks quite long, but it's all very compact. Everything fit into a small gym bag, well under the size limit for carry on luggage, and I had a canvas tote to hold my books, wallet and toiletries.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What to read in Hawaii (or poolside anywhere)

What I read...


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
I loved this but it isn't really poolside reading. I don't think I did it justice, because I was putting it down and picking it up and splashing water all over it and getting distracted by waiters with pina coladas. It deserves better treatment, like a quiet afternoon on the couch with a cup of tea.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory
This is not fine literature but it's addictive, particularly if you are an avid historical fiction fan like I am. Start with The Other Boleyn Sister (I'd already read it).

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
I love the Dame. This was a re-read for me (I've read every single mystery she's ever written) but I found it for a buck at a used book store and I needed back up material. Perfect escapist fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The week, briefly

I was planning on doing a quick post yesterday, but we got in after a red eye flight and I collapsed in bed and slept all day. It seems to get harder and harder to sleep on airplanes.

On to the good stuff...

{the Grand Hyatt was amazing*}

{the salt water lagoon at the hotel}

{beautiful hula dancing}

{breakfast by the koi pond every morning}

{reading by the pool}

{dinner at a tiny restaurant in koloa town - the sound of a sudden rainstorm on the patio's tin roof was so perfect}

{D finally got to teach his little brother to surf}

{a breath taking hike through Waimea Canyon}

{plenty of relaxation}

*This was a family trip, and the Grand Hyatt is D's grandmother's absolute favorite hotel. D and I have been lucky enough to get to travel together a lot, but we tend to skimp on the hotels in order to maximize the traveling. At the low end, we've stayed in places where the bathroom is down the hall and you have a daily time limit on your showers (10 minutes per room per day, in case you were wondering). On the high(er) end, we've stayed in quirky, run down hotels with huge suites. But we've never stayed in anything that could be called a resort. It was a whole new experience. We'll probably continue to end up in our unique/cheap hotels for longer vacations, but we might need to branch out a bit for weekend trips.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday flowers, tropical edition

Hello, my dears! Greetings from Hawaii. I don't even know what to say. Our hotel is fabulous, my muscles are sore from all the swimming I've been doing, and I think they might have to pry me out of here with bodily force when check out time comes around.

I'll give you a better update on Monday, in the meantime....

{your standard orchid lei + a fabulously scented one made of stephanotis and plumeria}

{the most perfect plumeria}

Friday flowers, tropical edition.

P.S. You're almost out of time to vote for my sister's wedding over at Project Wedding. Go here and cast your vote (I'm the very first entry). I would be most appreciative. You can read all my tips for planning your own wedding on a budget - designing the invitations, baking the cake, assembling a dessert buffet, where to get the best deal on alcohol (you know, the important stuff).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shoestring Home giveaway!

Sweet Mandi over at Shoestring Home is sponsoring another fun giveaway!

Shoestring Home is such a wonderfully edited shop, with unique choices. If you haven't visited yet, you really should. I love browsing through the site, particularly the housewares section, because I always find new things to love. Two of my (many) current favorites are the wire bread basket and the large lidded bowl. Beautiful, aren't they?

{images from Shoestring Home}

One lucky reader is going to win these Modern Twist Cluster Doileez. They are multifunctional, reusable and completely adorable. I would love to see the pattern peeking out from under a tart.

{images from Shoestring Home}

You have one week to enter - simply leave a comment on this post. I'll be announcing the winner on Friday, June 26th.

P.S. There is still time to vote for my sister's wedding over at Project Wedding. Go here and cast your vote. I'm the very first entry, as most of you smart cookies have already figured out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Margarita cupcakes

I wasn't planning on making cupcakes last week. But as I was pulling out the tequila and limes to get ready for D's graduation celebration, I started wondering if a party without dessert would be much of a party. I'd seen recipes for margarita cupcakes floating around in the blogosphere, but I was feeling lazy and short on time and I happened to have a box of yellow cake mix (for emergencies! - you know, cupcake emergencies) in the back of the cupboard.

margarita cupcakes
{margarita cupcakes}

So, a basic yellow cake mix, prepared as directed + a healthy dash of tequila + a couple tablespoons of lime juice + lime zest and we had delicately flavored cupcakes. I whipped up a basic buttercream, again adding a bit of tequila and lime at the end.

For the edges, I used coarse sugar, mixed it with a healthy dose of sea salt (taste to make sure you have a good ratio) and added a couple drops of green food coloring. Once the cupcakes were frosted, I simply rolled the edges in it.

{sugar + salt}

Pretty, simple, and fun. I don't know if everyone would be a fan of salt on their cupcakes, but I loved it.

P.S. The empanada recipes were mostly from Smitten Kitchen. I made chicken with olives , beef with raisins (don't leave out the raisins - I know it sounds odd, but they make the recipe) and potato with chorizo and bell peppers. I also made my standby tomatillo salsa.

P.P.S. There is still time to vote for my sister's wedding over at Project Wedding. Go here and cast your vote. Hint - it features my homemade cake. Big surprise, right?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're off!

I have a secret to share...

I'm probably in the air as you read this. On my way to Hawaii (specifically, Kauai). For the first time ever.

These two beauties are waiting in my suitcase.

{J.Crew top & bottom, ModCloth retro suit}

The ruffly sandals I shared yesterday are tucked in my luggage as well. I wish I could give you a source for them, but I bought them from my favorite discount shoe store (Top Shoes in Westwood, for the locals) for $15 and I haven't found them online.

I've scheduled some good posts (a recipe + a giveaway!) so you guys will have plenty of fun without me. I'll think about you while I sip fruity drinks on the beach. In a cabana.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I rounded up all the information about my sister's wedding and compiled it into a guide for Project Wedding's Budget Savvy Bride contest.

My entry made it to the finals! Come on over and visit (and vote for your favorite) - I know lots of you readers are planning weddings (and many others are like me and just like to gawk over pretty things now and then). All the entries are lovely and I'm flattered to have mine chosen. Can you guess which one it is?

The weekend, briefly

Graduation celebrations galore.

empanada party

empanada party
{empanada party}

graduation lunch
{family lunch}

A family wedding.

champagne toast
{champagne toast}

disco ball
{disco ball}

New sandals.

new sandals
{yes, I know my toes are freakishly long}

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday flowers

Peonies again...

peonies + cupcake liners

I can't get enough of them. As long as they are in season, I'm buying.

The cupcake liners are there for a reason - margarita cupcakes. Tequila + lime + cupcakes = love. More info next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ruffly headband tutorial!

I finally managed to get some photos of the headband process. You need a lightweight fabric. I highly recommend thin china silk, which is what I used for Rena's birthday headband, but for the tutorial I used this very light cotton/linen blend and it was lovely as well.

finished product

The tutorial is all photos, so let me know if you have any questions.
UPDATES: Good questions have been asked & here are some answers - you need very little fabric, probably less than 1/8 of a yard. The squares shown here were about 2", but that's flexible. Any size will work and I wasn't particularly fussy about making them all the same size. Variation is nice. I think I made about 10 blooms for this particular headband, which means I needed 20 squares. The blooms are pretty tightly packed. You could use fewer blooms for a looser effect.


And voila...

finished product

P.S. The edges are left unfinished, which means you can't just toss it in the washer without the risk of serious unraveling. But it's a headband, after all, so hopefully it won't need heavy duty cleaning.

P.P.S. The reason the tutorial tells you to start in the center of the length of ribbon and work in one direction is because you want to wear it over to one side. Trust me. Putting the pouf directly on the top of you head makes you look like you are sprouting a very unlikely growth. Don't do it.

P.P.S. Just for fun I tried holding it up to my waist and I fell in love. Next time, I'm making a skinny belt. Stay tuned.

*This tutorial is provided for personal use only. Please do not sell this tutorial or create items for re-sale using this tutorial. Tutorial may be re-published only with my permission.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Congratulations to my master of architecture!

Dustin, you amaze me. I don't know how you survived these last three years, but you did and you're officially a graduate. I am bursting with excitement and pride.

squirrel linocut

I wanted to make you an architecture themed card, but instead I made you a linocut of a squirrel. Because I'm weird like that. And because you have an unholy and wholly unaccountable love of squirrels.

Inside the box - an uber hip watch just for you. To keep track of all that extra free time you'll have now.

By the way, buying a Void watch is a wonderful experience. The designer, David Ericsson, is so responsive and enthusiastic. They ship internationally and I was concerned about whether it would get here in time so I dropped him an email. My watch arrived two days later! Amazing.

And because some of you have wondered what exactly it is that takes up so much time and effort, here are some photos I took of D's study model from this quarter.


{in real life, the reflection would be in the water}


I am fascinated by the little people they put in models. I love taking pictures of them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Want to see embarrassingly honest pictures of my apartment and hear about my clutter control strategies? Pop over to Kelly + Olive's wonderful blog to take a peek.

Jam pockets

These are based on one of my all time favorite bakery cookies from my all time favorite no frills, no-fancy-cupcakes bakery. (Poul's* in Orange, for my SoCal readers). Sadly, I no longer live near said bakery, and I decided to buckle down and figure out how to make them myself.

The dough is only slightly sweet, with a delicate crumb and a soft texture. It's more like pie crust dough than sugar cookie dough, so I started with cold butter and cut it into the flour rather than creaming it with the sugar (FYI - creaming butter gives you a fluffy texture, whereas keeping it cold and cutting it in gives you a flakier texture). You could easily make these as thumbprint cookies, instead of pockets.

new cookies
Jam pockets (makes almost 2 dozen cookies, recipe from me)

2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold & cut into cubes
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

*In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt until mixed. Toss in the butter and give it a few long buzzes, until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Toss in the egg and vanilla and buzz a couple more times, until a very soft dough forms. Wrap in Saran and refrigerate for a couple hours.

*Roll the dough out (about 1/8" thick, if you're fussy) and cut circles. I don't have a circle cookie cutter, so I just used a drinking glass. Add a dollop of jam to the middle of each circle and gently fold the edges inward, overlapping in the middle. Or you could just fold it into a half circle and completely close the pocket, but then you can't see what kind of jam you're getting before you bite into it.

*Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. The bottoms should be just faintly brown, the tops will not be. Cool and devour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or superfine baker's sugar if desired.
I think I nailed it. These are soft and not too sweet, and the jam is the real star.

*I am completely in shock that Poul's even has a website. It is teeny tiny, located in a random strip mall, and appears to be most popular with blue haired people that drink endless cups of (incredibly cheap) coffee. But they have the best cookie selection ever. As much as I love cupcakes and french macarons, it makes me a little sad that the humble cookie is so underrated these days. Luckily, Poul's hasn't changed their options in 30 years, so we're safe there.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The weekend, briefly

{baking (& then living on cookies for the rest of the weekend)}


{organizing - it might not look like much but you should have seen it before}

{cleaning (& taking breaks to snap photos instead)}

{sleeping, sleeping & sleeping}