Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Pre-Holidays!

This year, Mr. W and I didn't get it together this year as it relates to a homemade card, feels like so much has been going on! However, we did decorate (see below) with lights, a fantastic Norway Spruce tree and lots of little holiday knick and knacks.


But I'm loving all these holiday uploads on friend's profile pages and blogs:

Courtesy of my friend Anne Kelley.


Holiday tree in Brooklyn, courtesy of my friend Fern Shlauter.


A wonderful holiday-inspired inspiration board from Green Wedding Shoes.


A super cute photo card courtesy of my talented cousin Carolyn Ramos.


Delectable chocolate cookie balls courtesy of Sarah Yates.


The holiday card from Studio Number One.


Happy Holidays everyone! Hope the rest of 2009 is amazing and looking forward to an even more amazing 2010! XO

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blogging in Bed

Mr. W gave me a Mac Mini for my birthday last week so that my "blogging can become larger than life." (That, and my lap top kept dying on me, mid post).

Since last week, we connected the Mini to our bedroom TV (so his prediction of larger than life blogging came to fruition) and we purchased a wireless keyboard and the new Magic Mouse so I can blog from bed - how amazing is that? To complete the dream, he just picked up this bed tray so I have a stylish stable surface to work from (and have a cup of coffee lovingly brought by my Mr. W?).

Thank you lovey - you made my dreams come true! And now I don't have to go very far to blog about them. XO

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fortune and love (of shoes) favor the brave.

I haven't shopped in quite awhile and if I do, it's mostly to small boutiques and online. This weekend, I braved the shopping centers for last minute holiday gifts. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and my courage was rewarded with sales.

Imagine my giddyness when I saw these beautiful suede ankle strap peep toes in grey and blue violet, from Steve Madden! And I got a great in-store discount as well, after spinning a strange wheel-of-fortune type contraption in their store.




I splurged further, after all it was my birthday last week, and bought these beauties (below). It's a toss up as to which one I love better!



Confession: I bought yet another pair (I know, I know)! The last pair I bought was a more sensible shoe (an ankle boot) which I'll be able to wear everywhere - and I intend to. BTW, it was on sale as well! XO

Friday, December 18, 2009

Shades of Cream


The weather's been glorious in Los Angeles during the day - sunny with a sometimes slight crisp breeze! This is not winter weather. Well, maybe for LA, but not what we think of when we think winter.

And all this bright, is making me want to dress light, but not summery. So cream is a nice middle point - it's light, but luxurious and warm at the same time. Here are some things that I'm loving in cream tones right now.




I love the simplicity of this bag from Heritage Leather Company. The yellow leather bottom offsets and enhances nicely, don't you think? It was available here, but recently a stylish client of SNO's was carrying a Klein Tools canvas bag and it was pretty chic as well.




Okay, this is more on the oyster side, but there's cream in the pattern. A silk dress by Hayden Harnett that can easily be winter-fied with opaque tights and the essential layering. And it's on sale now!




The holidays are not the same without cheese for me. I remember one Christmas, my dad and his brothers once stood around a large wheel of Old Amsterdam, which they eventually cut into triangles to take home. Even if they didn't see each other during the holidays, we'd still have the cheese at home, and cut thin slices to have with hot pan de sal. This cheese isn't Old Amsterdam, it's La Tur, and it's delicious and would be a lovely addition to a holiday cheese plate.




You all probably know about my obsession for gramophones, now there's a Phonofone for the iPod and it uses no power! Sound is amplified through engineered horn acoustics. How neat is that?


Although our dogs like to tear them apart (why?) I love the way sheepskin feels. I remember the first one I had was from family in New Zealand, it was massive and so plush (once you get over that sheepskin smell). Of course and oh joy! Ikea has them, which means I can replenish somewhat conveniently when my dogs have been naughty.



With weather likes ours, hot chocolate isn't necessarily at the top of our drink list and I know it isn't cream either, but the marshmallows can be - especially when flecked with little vanilla bean specks! Here's a recipe for homemade. Dee-lish!




A cute little set that needs to be seen, whilst lounging and sipping hot cocoa maybe on that sheepskin rug (sans dogs in this quiet moment), while listening to music on the Phonofone? But if you're a little modest like me you probably want a cover up, like the one below!



I love robes. In fact, I have a sweater that fits like a robe and everytime I wear it, I feel guilty for looking like I just rolled out of bed. This jersey robe is strictly for home, but the hood means you can venture outside for the paper or to let the dogs out. But it's jersey, so I may be bending that robe-outside rule again.

That's it for now! I'm looking forward to the weekend. Hope you have a lovely one too! XO

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"A Room With A View" Revisited



As a teenager, E.M. Forster's novels were the start of my love for British Literature.

So when I first read "A Room With A View" and then watched the Merchant Ivory film, it actually inspired the things I chose to do and seek out, at the time - such as practicing my penmanship, classical music, spending more time playing my piano and learning more about Victorian and Edwardian culture, even how I interacted with my friends. Oh my, how impressionable I was!

It was on television this past weekend so of course I had to stop and watch! I was delighted to find that I still had the same affinity for the movie, although, now I can view it as a moment in time, versus a map for how life plays itself out. Although the costumes and niceties really do make me wish I could at least visit be a visitor. XO




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Birthday Post


Yes, today is my birthday. I don't always look forward to them, not because I'm getting older, but because I don't like big to-dos, especially when I know everyone's schedules are already filled with holidays.

This year, I'm actually pretty happy about my birthday, not for any particular reason, except that life is dandy. Of course there are things that could be better and who knows what will happen tomorrow, but on the whole, I'm content.

Things that I'm going to do to celebrate:
  • Dress up a little fancier.
  • Smile more.
  • Read my horoscope (if it's not-so-good for my sun sign, I'll look at my rising sign).
  • Look at jewelry with my birthstone in it.
  • Don a party hat. Maybe some dancing shoes.
  • Have a nice meal with loved ones.
  • Laugh a lot.
  • Make a wish and eat birthday cake!
  • Stay up a little later (for a school night).

And wish you an equally happy day!

XO

Image via Happy Lady Eats

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter White Elephant Brunch

This past weekend my good friends Flo and Stephanie Zavala hosted a beautiful brunch for a small group of friends.

They prepared an elaborate and delicious feast of Baked Eggs with Short Rib Sugo, Baked Banana Brioche French Toast, a refreshing Citrus Salad with Frisee and Fennel, Rosemary Cornmeal Scones (I'm a scone lover), Gruyere Mac and Cheese and Muesli studded with almonds and dried fruit and sweetened with condensed milk. My small contribution was a loaf of crustry bread from a local Swedish bakery and a Buche de Noel, an homage to Stephanie's French roots.

Seeing the photos below, makes me want to fill my plate all again and again.


What holiday spread is complete without Candy Canes?

The table laden with all the lovingly prepared deliciousness!

Banana Brioche French Toast with Creme Anglaise - like dessert, but for breakfast!


Muesli - I've never had a proper bowl until this party and I understand why it is a European staple.

Le Bar: The Best Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
(Not featured: a yet to be opened bottle of heart warming bourbon that was opened during, and consumed soon after, the gift exchange.)



A Buche de Noel with sugar mushrooms and poinsettias, inside: chocolate cake with chocolate mousse.



Stephanie, our stylish and tireless host.
Thank you for your hospitality and unforgettable dishes -XO.


Marissa donning her white elephant gift: de riguer moustached mittens!
(At first I thought they were little whales.)


A dead ringer for Louise Brooks - Ms. Jeanette Watson, who was also part of the blogger dinner Sunday night! We were both rollie pollies after not one, but two delicious meals. Oh well - non, je ne regrette rien!


Girl talk ensued inside, which meant the men had to find refuge in the cold, outside. They used natural means to warm themselves, with coats, hats and bamboo plants, oh! and eachother.


I felt like I won the gift lotto! This handmade character by Nancy (one in a set of two) was my white elephant pick.

A lovely time had by all - Flo and Steph, thank you for opening your home, kitchen and hearts to us! XO

We Are Magic!


Last night, was a lot drier than the rest of the weekend. After a beautiful holiday brunch at Flo and Steph's in Echo Park, I ventured downtown for a fantastic dinner at Bottega Louie, with Carrie, Jeanette, Sarah and Jean.

There was something really magical for me at last night's dinner.

Maybe it was Bottega Louie, a much needed cosmopolitan dining gem in DTLA. Or it could have been the glistening-with-water streets viewable from our dinner table, which seemed to perfectly reflect the city lights. Or it might have been the delicious Stone Fence cocktails which warmed five ladies (who blog about what they love) and were meeting (most of them) for the first time. Or maybe it was the chocolate souffle with the dramatic pouring of creme anglaise (the second dish of the day to feature creme anglaise, but more on that later).

The source of the magic was, simply, the company. It is so inspiring and exhilarating to meet with women who are talented, multi-faceted and want to share their world with the world. Yes, the blogosphere and well, all media really, seem to be full of those perspectives, but to face and interact with, in real life, the genuine articles is a rarity these days. And something I truly appreciate.

Thank you for a lovely dinner ladies! I look forward to another soon. XO

P.S. more about Flo and Steph's perfect winter brunch later

Photo of Bottega Louie by Gnaw the Paw

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Weekend!


I know I've been talking all sorts of glum this week - but I'm really going to pick up the holiday pace - starting with tonight: Nicky and I are going to put on our Snuggies, sit with our neglected dogs and toast overflowing mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows, while watching holiday movies.

This weekend will be full of Buche de Noel, more slow food adventures (delicious!), friends and a few fun meetings believe it or not. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! XO

PS. Above is the holiday card template I customized for SNO's holiday e-card debuting next week. Each of us were asked to create our own versions of joy. There are usually so many things that make me happy, I had to try and cram them into one little card! Hope you like it.

"Portraits of Power" by Platon

In the December 7 issue of The New Yorker, there's a feature of portraits taken of heads of state - by staff photographer Platon.

The photos are pretty spectacular. Although it's funny, how just a little bit of knowledge of the person, can change the way we look at the portrait at first glance. If you're able to take that lens away and see the photo for what it is, humanity and even hints of warmth, personality and struggle come through.




Coffee With Strangers


Today started out not so good. I woke up with an open mind and then a few things happened that closed it for a bit. As I drove to work, trying to reframe my day - I decided to stop and get a cup of coffee (perhaps my grogginess is clouding my judgment).

While there, the woman behind the counter recognized me from being from around the neighborhood and our conversation grew from there. After a good 5 minute conversation, I was on my way - with a renewed sense of spirit. And I owe it to that little conversation.

It's amazing how, if you're just a little open, you can let a whole new world in. Happy Friday! XO

Photo from Flickr

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Need of Space and Time.


If you find any laying around please let me know! I know December is a busy month, but this year feels exceptionally busy.

So when I happened upon this photo, it was like a visual breath of fresh air. The little mass of land in the water captivates me. I want to be that island, figuratively and probably just today. But since that's improbable, I'll take being that person sitting on that deck - and probably longer than just today.

XO

photo from Style Files

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Definitely a fan of: John Derian



I know that John Derian has been a purveyor of home furnishings and accessories for some time now, but I still love the decoupage and old-timey graphics used on items such as platters, coasters, trays and paperweights.

Paperweights and desk items are one of those things that are not really emphasized these days. With all the telecommuting and digital transactions these days, I suppose it's not very important to possess a proper ink well and card tray, but I kind of like them.

If I could resolve to keep my desk clutter free, than perhaps I will treat myself to one of the paperweights from John Derian! XO



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Cooking Weekend Lives

I thought I swore off making big dinners after Thanksgiving, but with the weekend's grey skies and all of our holiday decorating I was really in the motivated to cook - somethings were simple, others were slow and somewhat adventurous.

Starting Friday night: grilled cheese with bacon sandwiches on sourdough and Broccoli cheddar soup, after dinner drinks for me and Mr. W: very old 2-buck chuck, rendered quite delicious by mulling with fruits and spices and alcohol reconstituted with Dewar's! Saturday: potato croquettes and chicken Andouille sausage, pulled pork adobo (the Filipino kind) - slow cooked for hours, with freshly steamed rice and braised brussels sprouts (I won't mention the too indulgent chocolate pie my mom brought over) - after dinner we treated ourselves to quiet lounging with the dogs in our rarely used living room. Sunday, I made a breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with brown sugar, scalded milk and sauteed pears with bourbon vanilla and cinnamon, a bonus treat of sour cream pear coffee cake (too many pears in the house), a quick lunch of pressed pulled pork adobo sandwiches with provolone and grain mustard and finally, for dinner a roast chicken, asparagus with balsamic vinegar and garlic and potatoes.

Phew!

I don't know why, but I find cooking extremely cathartic and re-energizing. That is, after I take a nap from all that meal making. I recall feeling incredibly tired while conversing with my mom over Saturday's dinner and can't remember much else after night caps with Mr. W. But all in all, a lovely weekend - it took til Tuesday to really sink in. XO

Monday, December 7, 2009

Definitely have a crush on: Bernadette Peters



I never watched The Jerk until this past Saturday morning. Mr. W and I were being lazy with the overcast weather and it was a great start to a very productive weekend.

The movie stars Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters - and is very silly humor.

I've loved Bernadette Peters from the first time I watched Annie. To me she had a classic beauty and her voice, although very childlike, seemed to possess persuasive powers. Now as an adult, I fully comprehend her allure!

In The Jerk her costumes were fantastic! And her hair trademark ringlets, make me wish my hair was full and soft like hers. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it - in the mean time, this clip gives a taste for what awaits in the film. XO


Friday, December 4, 2009

TGIF!


Is it just me, or has this week been difficult?

I love checking my horoscope at the beginning of each month - sometimes I just skim it because I want to be informed rather than create expectations/predictions for myself.

If you follow astrology, this week can probably be explained by Mercury in retrograde - even though it doesn't actually turn until December 9 - we're already feeling the difficulty in communications, relationships, perception, etc! Good to know.

I think I'll try and react less now and just keep quiet (yesterday I did not heed this advice. Oops!). Needless to say, thank goodness it's Friday - I hope to have lots of quiet moments and regenerative laughter. XO

image from Ffffound

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SNO Love: UNIQUE LA

UNIQUE LA is happening this weekend - December 5 & 6, downtown. It's a great event that showcases local talent, lines, art, boutique brands and celebrates LA's independent talent.

Studio Number One embraces this event wholeheartedly, as "buy local" is one of our tenets.

Plus proceeds go to 826LA, which is just down the street from us, and provides a fantastic writing workshop for inner city kids in San Francisco, Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston and now DC.

Check out the tote giveaway we designed (below) for UNIQUE LA and buy tickets now!


More Meals on Wheels!

I recently posted about this traveling treasure, but now there's another...



Uh-oh! Buttermilk is a new food experience that will likely ruin any semblance of a pre-wedding diet I may have.

In my heart of hearts, I'm a breakfast lady (okay, breakfast and dessert lady, and if pressed further a breakfast, dessert and hot bread with butter lady). As Mr. W can attest, I will almost always order breakfast, if it's my first meal of the day, even if that first meal coincides with lunch time. Buttermilk serves Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Buttermilk Biscuit Sandwiches, Housemade Cake Donuts - I think I'm in sugar/carb purgatory and may stay awhile (follow that purgatory with an inevitable nap, and I guess that would be heaven).

And how cute is the owner Gigi Pascual? Maybe I'm biased because I see she went to LMU (go Lions!), or maybe I'm biased because she's a breakfast lady as well. XO

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Speaking of Holiday...

Detangle, one of my favorite sites for daily inspiration, which happens to be steered by my good friend Carrie Ford Hilliker, just featured its first installation for holiday gift picks!


I love seeing what creative people and bloggers are finding for the holidays. It's a great time for inspiration, so many great ideas and wonderful work to share!

PS. Design*Sponge and NOTCOT have some great holiday features as well.

XO


Holiday Blues?

Years ago when Mr. W and I first dated, he found an old radio cabinet with an oriental inlay design. It was sitting on the curb and must have been at least 100lbs, but he picked it up and somehow walked it all the way home. Alone!

At the time, a local radio station played holiday music after immediately after Thanksgiving and through the December holidays. At night, we'd fall asleep listening to holiday songs on that radio.



This morning as I was driving to work and flipping through stations, I landed on the song "Please Come Home for Christmas." It's one of those songs, melancholy - yes, but it sums up the holidays for me.

Maybe it's because I'm an only child? Or maybe the song reminds me of heartbreak over the holidays (a-hem, Mr. W!). Or maybe it's melancholy caused from the annual introspection in preparation for a new year, but even if I'm surrounded by loved ones, I still feel a little bit lonely. Do you?

Regardless of any blues, I LOVE the holidays. I am looking forward to spending time with friends and family, making lists, decorating and more cooking (and eating)!

Yay, December! XO

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Mitford Sisters



These beautiful photos reminded me of Thanksgiving two years ago. I borrowed a book from the library of the home at which some friends and I stayed. It was the biography of The Mitford Sisters. I was half way through the book when we had to leave and I had to go out and buy a copy when I was home.

It's the true life account of six daughters of a Duke in rural England and spans their lives growing up an idyllic farm life in the 20s to their adult lives in the midst of society, political turmoil, scandal and World War II. Today's celebrity scandals seem trivial by comparison. As an only child I could never understand the power of sibling connection, so it was even more amazing, for me, to learn how these women got entangled, persevered and inspired, at times notorious men, other times the hatred of their country, but were always able to reconnect with one another and make amends.

Photos from Nadinoo