Tuesday, January 31, 2012

To Cheer Myself Up

I am guilty of occasionally dwelling on the bad things in my life. It doesn't happen often, but once I start, it's kind of hard to shake myself out of it.

You know what helps? Changing the wallpaper on my computer to something happy. So after my crappy day yesterday, I changed the background on my laptop to this:

Peonies never fail to make me smile.

How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling down? I'll take suggestions.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I've Always Wanted to Go to...

Reykjavik! I've wanted to visit Iceland for the longest time now, but for some reason, that hankering has been really strong this weekend.


Just so gorgeous! Granted, if I were actually in Iceland right now, I'd probably be complaining about the cold, but I sure am enjoying the photos!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.26}

I have not been very motivated to read lately, so I've been taking it easy book-wise. Last week, I re-read a favorite of mine, I Capture the Castle. A couple of random points: It was written by Dodie Smith, the author of One Hundred and One Dalmations. As in, the book that inspired the Disney movie? I Capture the Castle has also been made into a movie, and surprisingly, the movie is pretty good. I'm always wary of watching movies adapted from novels that I love...I almost always end up disappointed. In this case, the novel is better, of course, but the movie captured the essence of the book.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

 I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"—and the heart of the reader—in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

My Take: I've read this book several times, so I obviously love it. The narrator, Cassandra, is quirky, intelligent, brash, and slightly awkward (she's 17.) She's also incredibly loveable, as all of the characters are.  There is a great deal of humor in this book. Nearly all the characters have a dry, quick wit that English authors are often famous for. This is essentially a love story. Both Cassandra and her sister Rose fall in love by the end of the novel. But even more, it is a coming-of-age story. Over the course of the novel, Cassandra matures into an adult, although she's a very young, naive adult.

My Recommendation: Definitely read it! I've forced urged a number of people to read this book, and they have all enjoyed it. This includes my mom, my cousin, a friend, and even my brother. There's something for everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Want That Room! {1.25}

This is the second installment of my new "I Want That Room" series. This week, I am drooling over this stairwell:


I don't know if this is exactly a stairwell, but I don't know what else to call it. Whatever it is, I'm loving it. The curving staircase is so grand, especially with the glass globe finials. I love all the different greens from the carpet, wallpaper, ottoman, and even the trees outside. The pattern on the wallpaper and curtains is so pretty, and it goes perfectly with the damask ottoman. The ornate mirror is really impressive, although I'm not sure if I'm crazy about the eagles or whatever they are. And even though it doesn't stand out very much, I love the chevron wood floors. I can just imagine how gorgeous this place must look in real life, when the light shines through that enormous window.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rainbow Jello

I saw this picture on the blog Glorious Treats, and was inspired to try this myself.

<--- Amazing perfect rainbow jello
Here is my version:

<--- My inferior, but not terribly bad version
It took forever to make, but it turned out quite pretty, I think. It would have been better if I'd had those dessert glasses, but I had to make do with "crystal" plastic cups. I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I added 1/2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin to each layer in order to give it a little more firmness. I'm pretty pleased with the results, even though my layers aren't very even. Oh well, it still tasted good!

Here is the recipe if you want to give it a go.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Loosely translated, that means "Happy New Year." Literally, it means "Congratulations and have a prosperous and good year."

We celebrated Chinese New Year's Eve last night. Although my family is pretty Americanized, we do still celebrate the New Year.

So we ate noodles, which symbolize prosperity

and we bought narcissus, which symbolize prosperity

and we displayed tangerines and Chinese grapefruit, which symbolize prosperity

and we received red envelopes, which also symbolize prosperity.

Do you sense a theme here?

(Technically, I shouldn't be receiving red envelopes, since I'm married. But my parents still give them to me, because I apparently am their little girl forever. I'm definitely not complaining about that!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

I know this isn't exactly new, but I just found out about Tyree Callahan's Chromatic Typewriter. How awesome is this?

Callahan replaced the ink ribbon with pads of watercolor, and the keys with color keys. I love the idea of merging writing and art in this completely new way. I mean, you have typography art, which I love. And you have the amazingness that is Keira Rathbone's art.

But this is different, and it is quite inspiring.

There's just one tiny detail.  The Chromatic Typewriter isn't actually functional. It was only meant to be a conceptual piece, although Callahan confesses to trying it out. The problem, Callahan says, is the typewriter's inability to efficiently reapply paint.  Basically, you could paint with the Chromatic Typewriter, but it would take forever.

Even if you can't actually paint a picture, the Chromatic Typewriter is the coolest conceptual art piece I've ever seen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.19}

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Cotton candy at the state fair. S'mores around the campfire. Hot dogs at a baseball game. Some foods are inextricably linked to events or places. Wizenberg has noted similar associations between food and her own life, and she shares them in this delightful treat of a book. Part recipe book, part memoir, Wizenberg takes us through the moments of her life and the memorable foods that helped mark those occasions. Time-tested and good tasting, her recipes range from the simple to the complex, the healthful to the decadent. Some are original and some are borrowed, but each one marks an event -- important or mundane -- with equal significance.

She candidly shares the heartbreak of losing her father (accompanied by a multitude of dishes dropped off by caring neighbors and friends), recalled in the memory of a comforting pie. And she recounts the memory of her young French love, Guillaume, in the description of a steamy dessert: "Dolloped with crème fraiche, tarte tatin doesn't dally with small talk. It reaches for your leg under the table." 

My Take: First of all, this book is written by a fellow blogger, Molly Wizenberg. If you haven't checked out her blog Orangette, you need to. Both her blog and her book revolve around cooking and food, and how those things have affected her life. She has a slightly self-deprecating and sarcastic voice that I love and share. I'm usually really skeptical when people my age write memoirs, because I doubt that they have had lives worth writing about so far. With A Homemade Life, I'm glad I gave it a chance. Wizenberg has had an eventful albeit fairly short life that I really enjoyed reading about. She has another book in the works, and I can't wait for that one. I'll definitely be reading it. 

My Recommendation: Absolutely a must-read. I don't think you even need to enjoy cooking to enjoy the book, as long as you enjoy food. Now go. Buy, borrow, or steal the book and read it right away. No, actually don't steal it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Want That Room!

I'm thinking of doing a new series of posts entitled, "I Want That Room!" Because there are just so many gorgeous rooms I see in magazines, Pinterest, and other blogs...but I can't seem to find a way to put them together cohesively into posts.

So without further ado, this is the room I want this week.

I mean, come on. There are so many ways this room is perfect. Not only are there enough shelves to accommodate most, if not all, of my books, but they are COLOR-CODED! Seeing this picture makes my organization-obsessed heart beat a little faster. Plus the couch looks really comfortable, and it's topped off by an adorable little dog. 

How perfect is that?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chic Desk Accessories

For some reason, I always feel compelled to buy a bunch of new desk accessories every January. It's part of the whole new year-fresh start thing, I guess. This year, I found a whole bunch of gorgeous goodies for my desk at See Jane Work. (Isn't that a cute name?) I was so proud of myself. I only bought a fraction of the stuff I wanted to. 

1 | Nest Magazine Holder - White
2 | Semikolon File Folders
3 | Jonathan Adler Magnetic Board
4 | Ace Pilot Stapler
5 | ANYTHING Scissors
6 | Susy Jack Pencil Cups
7 | Sticky Tab Dividers
8 | Page Flags

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chocolate Chip Meringues

My husband wasn't in the best mood this weekend, and I wanted to cheer him up. He's been talking about these meringue cookies that his mother made when he was a kid, so I decided to try to duplicate them as a surprise. Yay! It worked pretty well! Not only did the cookies turn out delicious, it also put my husband in a much better mood. I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, found here, but I used toasted hazelnuts instead of walnuts or pecans because that's what I had. I have a couple more changes in mind for the next time (I'm thinking less sugar and smaller pieces of chocolate) but these turned out really well for a first try. They are light and airy and crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. I've been eating these with my afternoon coffee or espresso. The sweetness of the cookies perfectly balances the bitterness of the coffee. Oh, and they only took about 10 minutes to make, not including the baking time.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I'm sure most people have heard about BHLDN by now. In case you haven't, it's basically Anthropologie's version of a wedding shop. They have the most gorgeous gowns and jewelry, all reasonably priced and mostly with a bohemian feel. But I didn't know until this week that they also sell amazing home decor and party supplies!

See what I mean? I can't wait to throw my next party, just so I can buy some of these adorable goodies.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.12}

Kitchen Essays by Agnes Jekyll

The author of Kitchen Essays (1922) was sister-in-law to the great Gertrude Jekyll, whose biographer wrote that if she 'was an artist-gardener, then Agnes was an artist-housekeeper.' Agnes was a famous hostess (the guests at her first dinner party included Browning, Ruskin and Burne-Jones) and her home, Munstead House, 'was the apogee of opulent comfort and order without grandeur, smelling of pot-pourri, furniture polish and wood smoke'.

During 1921-2, Lady Jekyll wrote unsigned essays for The Times with titles such as 'Tray Food' and 'Sunday Supper'. ...India Knight in The Shops called it 'beautifully written, sparkling, witty and knowing, an absolute delight to read', while the BBC Food Magazine praised 'this exquisitely reprinted period piece'. 

My Take: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is chock-full of recipes, menus, cooking tips, and entertaining advice....for the 1920s hostess, that is. It's another title by Persephone Books, which reprints popular but forgotten books from the early 20th century. It's amusing to read about things like the perfect menu for luncheon after a shooting party. Jekyll takes for granted that her readers have a cook, or at least a servant girl. Because I love to cook, I enjoyed reading Jekyll's recipes, which often include inexact measurements (like a walnut-sized piece of butter) and a whole lot of aspic.  

My Recommendation: I thought this was a fantastic book, but it's probably not for everyone. I think it would interest anyone who enjoys cooking, or who is interested by daily life in the early 1900s. 

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

Mr. Joyboy, an embalmer, and Aimee Thanatogenos, crematorium cosmetician, find their romance complicated by the appearance of a young English poet. The novel concerns the experiences of a young Englishman living in southern California. It attacks the snobbery of Englishmen and the stupidity, vulgarity, and intellectual sterility of Americans.

My Take: I have to say, it took me quite a while to get into the swing of this book. I started getting into it about 1/3 of the way through. After that, I really enjoyed it. It's pretty classic Waugh. Satire, wit, humor, and shameless mockery all in one little novel.

My Recommendation: Again, I don't think this book is for everyone. If you've read Waugh before and liked him, I'd recommend this book. If not, I'd encourage you to read Brideshead Revisited first.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ombre Cakes

Does anyone else wish that Pinterest had been around when they were wedding planning? My good friend is getting married next year, and I am in awe of all the amazing ideas she has found via Pinterest.

Case in point...Ombre Cakes. These are too pretty for words.

What do you think? Would you use an ombre cake for a wedding?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Eyes Have It

One of the best gifts I received this Christmas from my mom (who is completely awesome, btw) She gave me a ton of goodies from Armani Beauty, which is my favorite makeup brand ever. I'm obsessed with eye makeup, but also very picky about it. I love Armani because they have a great selection of matte, shimmer, and glitter shadows. A lot of companies don't have any matte shadows, and that drives me nuts. My mom did a great job, because I love every single thing she picked out.

Check out these gorgeous picks, courtesy of my lovely mother:

And because she didn't forget about my lips:

1 | Eyes to Kill Mascara | Steel Black
An awesome mascara for everyday. Doesn't clump, volumizes, and not too heavy.
2 | Smooth Silk Eye Pencil | Black
Goes on smooth and doesn't smudge more than it should.
3 | Eyes to Kill Excess Mascara | Black
Mascara for going out. Super volume, super dark, but definitely not for everyday.
4 | Eyes to Kill Intense Eyeshadow | Rock Sand
Intense is right! Super pigmented, and it looks amazing on.
5 | Eyes to Kill Palette | Gun Metal Grey
A little too bright and shimmery for day, but it was perfect for going out!
6 | Maestro Eye Shadow Quad | Desert
I've been using this practically every day! I love the combination of colors.
7 | Lip Wax | Raspberry
The texture is in between a tinted lip balm and a lipstick. It looks kind of bright, but it ended up looking great on my lips.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tea Time

Sigh. Last week was so beautiful. 80+ degrees in the middle of winter was too good to be true. Now it's January again, and I'm craving some WARMTH! My favorite thing to do when the weather gets cold is curl up with a good book by the fireplace, sipping some Earl Grey tea. I love coffee, but there's something really soothing about tea.

 I love all the little accessories that come with tea, too! Sugar and creamer sets, pretty little spoons, and of course, all types of interesting tea.

1 | Mixed Berries Teaspoon Set | Leif
2 | La Perruche Rough Cut White Sugar Cubes | Amazon
3 | Fortnum & Mason Earl Grey Tea | Williams-Sonoma
4 | Florian Imperial Earl Grey Tea | Harrods
5 | ASSAM Tea Press | Bodum
6 | Hibiscus Peach Tea | The Octavia Tea Company
7 | Bird Sugar and Creamer Set | Whitney Smith
8 | Vera Bradley Tea For One Set | Distinctive Decor

Friday, January 6, 2012

Icy Wonder

It's been super warm in San Diego the past few days. As I write this, it is 85 degrees outside. So of course, I was browsing pictures of ice caves and such on Pinterest. I was awestruck by some of these gorgeous photos. I'm sure some of these are Photoshopped, but I hope I get to see at least some of these one day! The world is such an amazing, crazy, wonderful place.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What I Read Last Week...{1.05}

A Country Doctor by Sarah Orne Jewett

I have this weird thing where I have to read this book every time I go to the beach. Over 10 years ago, I first read this book while on summer vacation with my family. I had such pleasant memories of being on that beach and reading this fantastic book, that I've done it on every beach vacation since. In fact, I eventually used this book in my thesis years later.

"...a semi-autobiographical work about a young girl's struggle to choose between a medical career and marriage. Like most of Jewett's work, the novel gives a striking, realistic depiction of the world, but also illustrates her more transcendental worldview. Jewett portrays an independent woman whose talents and desires drive her away from the traditional role of wife, and the novels exploration of gender, society, and human nature are as prevalent today as they were upon its publication in 1884."

My Take: I just love this book because it portrays a world that is completely unfamiliar to me, yet with characteristics that I can identify. The novel is set in rural Maine, with characters who are well-developed, flawed, and  genuine. The plot itself might be a little outmoded, because it deals with a woman who is strongly discouraged from becoming a doctor. However, some of Nan's struggles still ring true today. A lot of women have difficulty finding a balance between work and home, career and family. Most of us don't have to choose one or the other, but we all make sacrifices for the sake of our jobs or our children.

My Recommendation: Definitely, definitely a must-read! I've read this book no less than 15 times, and I still love it! This author is not very well known, but she is an amazing writer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Calendar For a New Year

One of my favorite things about starting a new year is getting to buy a new calendar. That sounds really pathetic, but I'm such an organization freak, I literally get excited by the prospect of choosing a calendar. And I can never have too many calendars. I mean, one at my desk, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, one at work, one for my purse, etc.

Etsy is a great source for calendars. I always try to buy from other small business owners, and you are almost guaranteed to get a truly original product.

Here are a few calendars I'm loving at the moment, all from Etsy storefronts. I love them all...do you think I could justify buying 5 calendars?

Landmark Architecture Calendar by dezigndaze

A Year of Dreams Calendar by bomobob

Patterned Desktop Calendar by MielleDesigns

San Francisco Desk Calendar by urbandreamphotos

Pink Lily Press Signature #2 Desk Calendar by pinklilypress

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Vacation Full of Food

My family is a family of foodies. We love to cook and eat. (Thank goodness we also have fast metabolisms!)

This vacation was a typical one for us, meaning we ate a lot and documented most of it!

So. Darn. Good.