Monday, January 31, 2011

on my wishlist: emersonmade

I am positively drooling over some of the Spring collection pieces from indie label EmersonMade. Actually, truth be told, I've been ogling a couple of their pieces since last fall. Below are a few of my favorites...

The Trench and The Striped Shirt... these pieces have perpetually been on my wishlist. I think I may have found the perfect versions in EmersonMade.

Always a sucker for high-waisted, wide leg jeans. These bell bottoms feature a versatile medium blue wash.

Pretty, pretty spring blouse.

And oooh, a seersucker dress! What pretty little brass buttons this one has. Oh yeah, I can definitely use one of these.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

summer in january

This weekend brought us 80-degree summer weather right in the middle of January. Ah yes, another reason to love Southern California! The beach called out to us. So we (and by "we" I mean the two instigators above) decided to enjoy this unusually warm January day bike riding and picnicking on the beach. My sister and her kiddos joined us in the fun. As always, the more the merrier!

Miss Mia and her trusty Razor scooter. She's quite the little speedster on this thing. And the sunglasses? Old DKNY cat eyes from my college days. She found them while rummaging through the garage one day. She thought they were "really adorable." Those are her words, not mine. Only four years old and already hunting for vintage finds. I guess apples don't really fall far from the tree.

The beach playground was the perfect place to stop, play and picnic. Mia and her cousins were super duper excited. Can't say I blame them. I mean, we had the beach, our bikes, a playground and a picnic lunch! It seriously couldn't have been more perfect.

This kid cracks me up! I've never seen someone love the swings as much as she does. You shoulda heard her too. There were screams, giggles and outright laughter peppered in between shouts of "Higher Papa!!!"

Oh yeah. This kid looooves the swings!

Cydney, aka Mia's cousin and BFF, on the monkeybars.

I was amazed the kids were actually able to monkey bar across the whole play structure. As a kid, I was never able to do that. And as an adult, I still can't. I mean dude, those monkey bars give the meanest hand blisters!

My sister Jackie, her daughter Jade and I. Jade is 14 years old and already three inches taller than I am. For the record, this photo is actually a retake. The first one had me looking like a short little elf next to my tall niece. So I borrowed a booster seat from the Gelato shop behind us and had Evan take another photo. I'm kidding. But I did sit up a lot straighter the second time around.

Mia and Mama.

The teenager frolicking in the surf... graceful and flexible.

Looking for clams, getting adequately drenched and sandy for the car ride home.

Yes, I'd say this was a triumphantly wonderful summer-in-January day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

happy breakfast

Have you ever had greek yogurt with honey and almond cranberry granola? I had it for breakfast for the first time today, and it was absolutely delicious! You should have seen me -- heartily content and happily eating my cup of yogurt while reading my favorite blogs. I quite literally scraped my cup into oblivion trying to get the last few yummy bits. Hoping your Friday morning was as enjoyable as mine! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

macaron love

(photographs courtesy of Helene Dujardin from Tartelette, and

Oh delectable little French cookie, how I do love thee... I've been on a macaron kick since last November. After much research, I finally found the perfect foolproof recipe. It's courtesy of Helene Dujardin of Tartelette. If you haven't been to Helene's blog, I highly recommend you stop by. It's chock full of great recipes and beautiful food photography.

I have to say, that I was very intimidated at first. Every article I pulled up noted how tempermental macaron batter can be. But I studied Helene's tutorial and followed the instructions closely. And I was rewarded with the most delectable, wonderfully textured pistachio macarons I've ever sank my teeth into. The macarons had the delicate eggshell exterior, the coveted ruffled foot and yummy chewy interior. While my macaron rendition wasn't exactly perfect, they were absolutely delicious!

Since then I've adapted Helene's recipe to make Raspberry Marscapone macarons (also on Helene's blog) and Green Tea with Passionfruit filling macarons. While not every batch came out the same, I'm pleased that I was actually able to pull them off! I couldn't have done it without Helene's tutorial. Thanks, Helene for sharing!

I purchased blanched almonds and raw pistachios, grinded them myself in a food processor. Helene's tip to process them together with the powdered sugar prevented the nuts from turning into paste. And yes, I did invest in a little electronic digital scale. If I'm ever going to develop this pastry-making hobby into something bigger, I figured I'd better start investing in equipment now. Speaking of equipment, if you plan on making these wonderful little French confections, I would highly recommend getting a stand mixer. Otherwise, you will be one tired baker.

Piping the macaron batter was a challenge for me. It was my first time and I didn't have the proper Adecco tip. But it worked out well enough. I used fresh vanilla bean and sweet cream butter to make the vanilla buttercream. The buttercream was a nice compliment to the pistachio. It took my family barely two days to gobble them up!

For Helene's tutorial on macarons, please click HERE.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the dreamer finally gets her time

I decided that 2011 is going to be the year that I live a little more fearlessly. And I don't mean that in an Evil Kenevil kind of way. I'm not out to jump off a bridge with nothing but a bungee to keep me from splattering all over the concrete below. By fearless I mean, I'm going to finally muster the courage to heed the creative rumblings that have been percolating in my heart. I'm going to muffle my inner-naysayer and listen much more closely to my inner-optimist, the dreamer that's been lurking patiently inside me. This means finally ditching the 9-to-5 gig (though the past several years, it's been more of an every-waking-hour-subsist-on-caffeine kind of gig). Most importantly however, this means finally and very actively pursuing my passions -- pastry making, travel, spending quality time with little Miss Mia, entrepreneurship and writing this blog.

And so this past Monday, I resigned. While I've certainly resigned from other places before, this time was different. I resigned without having another full-time gig lined up. It was scary, exhilirating, nerve-wracking and liberating all at the same time. While I certainly worry about what this means for us financially (and trust me, I know it's going to be a HUGE lifestyle adjustment), somehow I'm confident that the benefits will outweigh the costs.

So first thing on my all of a sudden stress-less to-do list? Thailand! See, you knew I was going to tie in the above photo collage sooner or later. No more worrying about production timelines and strategy deadlines means I have an open schedule. I can take three weeks to wander southeast Asia. Or at the very least, go island hopping in the country with the cuisine I consider one of my favorites. Of course, right now I'm merely researching vacation package options on the internet; but in the process, I'm really coming to the realization that I really DO have all this free time now! I CAN explore Thailand! And I CAN volunteer to assist in Mia's field trips. And yes, I CAN sign up for that pastry program at the nearby culinary school. I can finally listen to those creative yearnings. I'm quite literally giddy with anticipation...

Friday, January 7, 2011

the visual life

As seen on The Sartorialist blog...

I'm fascinated by this documentary featuring Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist). I've been following his blog for quite some time now and I'm always inspired by his photos. The focus of the blog is definitely and most obviously on clothes and the people who wear them. But what I've been most impressed by is how Scott manages to notice even the most subtle details in the people walking along the streets of New York, or Milan, or Paris. Most of us, yours truly included, are so caught up in our own world that we often times fail to notice all the interesting beautiful little elements we encounter on a day to day basis. For me especially, my pace seems always hurried -- rushing from one place to another, thinking of the next thing on the list as I busy myself with other tasks. Many times, it does seem like I am busily buzzing along, hardly taking in my surroundings.

Scott talks about taking the time to "let yourself fall in love, be seduced everyday" by all the things and people we encounter, if even for only a brief moment. He speaks of really "being" in the world we're in, experiencing it, taking it in, relating to it and reacting to what we're seeing.

So never mind that this documentary is actually a marketing tool for Intel's new visual life campaign. Scott's message was one that resonated with me...