My Liquid Heaven: How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

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I know many people complain about the lack of seasons in LA, but as a native Angeleno, I’ll take clear skies and 80 degree temperatures over what our neighbors have been going through across the country any day. My thoughts are with you (as I nurse an iced latte in a sundress…on the beach). All jokes aside, it’s been an unusually warm winter here. Sure, LA might find itself with more sunshine than rain at this time of year in general – but it’s also typically much chillier than it has been.

It seems the weather gods got the memo and our version of “winter” is now upon us as of late.

As the temperature drops and I pull out leggings and scarves to cover up a bit more, what has to be one of the best parts about bundling up is switching that iced latte for a warm cup of tea. I discovered my all-time favorite tea at one of my favorite old LA spot, Jin Patisserie, years ago. It’s called Peche Mignon. It’s a Chinese green tea flavored with notes of vineyard peaches, passion fruit, melon, and wild strawberries. Add in a decadent raw sugar cube or two and I’m literally in liquid heaven.

What I’ve come to learn over the years is that it’s all about preparation, particularly when it comes to steeping times based on the type of tea you’re making. There’s nothing worse than a bitter cup of tea, and it took some trial and error before I learned what my taste buds liked. I was delighted to find this great video from Birchbox that succinctly explains how brew the perfect cup of tea with the hopes that if you struggle a bit, guidance is here.

Sadly, Jin Patisserie, the place I spent many afternoons with a cup of tea over good conversation with a girlfriend or alone with a book, closed its charming outdoor cafe last year. Fortunately, they still run their patisserie and boutique online, so a bag of my favorite tea is just a click away.

I hope you find your version of liquid heaven in a spot of tea. And hang in there, when we’re all melting 6 months from now in 105 degree weather, we’ll somehow miss these chillier days – if only for an LA moment.


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DIY: Simple Gold & Swarovski Bead Necklace

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About 4 years ago, I took up a new hobby in jewelry making and fell in love immediately. Once you pick up the basics, you’d be surprised at how often you find yourself eyeing a set of earrings in a department store, but saying to yourself that you could easily replicate them yourself for half the cost. I will admit that this can become an expensive hobby if you start working with high quality materials. This, combined with the amount of time it can take to make a single piece – I now have a much greater understanding of why jewelry is often so expensive.

Normally, my jewelry making projects are earring themed, though I have often used what I have learned to repair pieces that I would have otherwise gotten rid of. Recently, I’ve been wanting to add a delicate gold necklace to my collection and came across the perfect inspiration on Cupcakes and Cashmere.

I loved the design. The use of a short row of stones to add a bit of drama to such a simple necklace was a great idea and starting point for what I wanted to do. However, the design used on C&C was much longer in length and didn’t have a clasp because it was long enough to simply slip over your head. I wanted a necklace that was much shorter, had a clasp, and wanted to alter the design of the stones – opting for small Swarovski Elements Crystal Bicone beads in a unique pattern over the ombre effect used on Cupcakes and Cashmere.

I used very inexpensive materials, all purchased at Michael’s for crafting my piece. I loved how it turned out so much that I will eventually swap the chain that I used for something of higher quality that will last longer and maintain a better brilliance.

You can read the full “How To: Delicate Necklace” to get the details on the inspiration for my design.

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Nailed It

One of the luxuries that I used to give myself was a pretty consistent trip to my favorite nail salons around town for a relaxing pedicure that always made me feel recharged and happy afterward. Unfortunately, this was one of those luxuries that I put the kabosh on when I made the decision to move into my own place and needed to reallocate expenses. The beauty is, while it is nice to sit back, flip through a 3-week-old US Weekly while someone gives you a foot massage and soft toes – at home mani/pedis can be almost as relaxing. It’s one of those DIY’s that force you to zone out and simply focus on what you’re doing (though I fail at not being able to keep the polish off neighboring skin every. single. time.).

For the most part, I tend to stick to pretty neutral colors when it comes to nail polish, but lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different colors to keep things fresh and fun. Nails have become all about color. Nothing is off-limit. I have to say though, an amazing white french tip on the toes is still the epitome of classic fresh in my opinion and was my go-to look when I was a religious nail salon visitor.

Since these visits are no more, I’ve become that girl who does her own at home nail treatments. This simply means: remove the color, shower, and re-polish; not always taking the time to recreate that spa experience at home.

I don’t polish my fingernails too often because no matter what I do, they chip an hour later without fail. (Ugh.) So I’ve become a huge fan of changing it up frequently when it comes to toes in particular. One of the best things about this time of year are open toed sandals with a fresh pedicure.

I thought I would share some of my favorite nail polish colors and these 2 helpful videos on how to recreate a little bit of that missing spa experience at home and on the cheap. I hope it inspires you to still keep things luxurious…even on a budget.

Nailed It_ Polish Colors

Happy painting! xx

|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||

Collage

As a gal who had a birthday recently, I was bummed that I didn’t come up with the awesome idea myself to incorporate my love of donuts into the celebration! Now that I think about it, I haven’t even had a big birthday cake, donut-inspired or otherwise, on my actual birthday since I was a kid. But don’t feel sorry for me, I make it a point to enjoy frosted covered carbs more often than I probably should – and this is a year-round phenomenon. When stumbling across this super cool concept, I looked up other donut cakes (oh, the joys of being unproductive on Pinterest) and made a collage of ideas before instantly experiencing the worst donut craving of my life. (It was a rough half hour!) Suffice to say, I’ve decided what I want to see next year on my birthday (candles and all) and it fits somewhere in the range above to give you a visual reference. Who says birthday cakes are just for kids? I’m going with the argument that if they are, I’m one at heart…and that counts. So there!


here’s what i’m lovin’ right now


|| Everything about this room…even though I tend to lean more toward dark, dramatic spaces.||

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||Looking ahead to better things c/o C.S. Lewis.|| cbdc5f2d0bad0e9bfe514e19424c0917


500944ea09c7dbd8be01060f8b21741e|| Essentials for a relaxing Saturday afternoon.||


||An awesome DIY storage solution for small bathrooms. All you need is a “shadow box” from a craft store, some paint, and nails. Full details here.||

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9c909be3d0525fdc601759f9a721cb90||Coralia Leets’ White Drusy Stone Post Earrings. Details here.||


||Maple Bacon Pancakes from blogger, Laicie, over at A Thousand Threads. Yummy details here.||

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Making Arrangements // Part 2

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Where: Moe’s Flowers

Location: 8101 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood

Floral arrangements make me happy. I’ve been doing well with keeping a pretty consistent presence of fresh flowers around my home to keep the goal of my Spring Project festive and alive. Admission: 99% of the flowers in my home are from Trader Joe’s (you can read about my success with TJ’s flower arrangements here) and I usually don’t spend more than $6.00 or $7.00 ($8.00 max if I’m feeling frisky) for a bouquet at any given time. I’m more than okay with this, especially when I recently learned just how expensive making a hand-picked bouquet of flowers can be. After all, while they do make me happy, they do just die.

One of the cool things that I’ve always wanted to do and that I actually got to do for my birthday last week was custom-design my own bouquet. It was a very sweet surprise from my boyfriend so that I could have them to enjoy during my stay-cation.

We headed over to Moe’s Flowers in West Hollywood and I was in heaven the moment we walked into the shop. The scent drew me in immediately as I saw basket after basket of roses, lilies, peonies, and everything else you could image in many colors for the choosing.

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{Interior – Moe’s.}

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{My pickings.}

There really is an art to making arrangements that in retrospect, I would do differently in the future. While I did think about how the final product would look once I placed everything in a vase, next time I would pay more attention to the art of hand-picking flowers that compliment each other a bit better. Placing a dahlia among some roses wasn’t terrible, but because of how a dahlia sits facing forward, it took some fussing around before I could get it how I liked (which meant splitting my bouquet into 2 different vases). Further, grouping extremely long stemmed larkspur with a full and bushy hydrangea flower is probably something I might also pass on doing in the future as well.

Two interesting things I learned when asking advice of the florist as she assembled my bouquet that I thought I would share with floral lovers alike that I never knew:

1. Flower food doesn’t extend the life of flowers. In fact, she assured me that many professional florists don’t use it! It’s a gimmick.

2. What IS more important to extending the life of flowers is changing the water and re-clipping the stems (at a slanted angle) DAILY, if possible.

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{One of the 2 vases of fresh flowers that I got to look at all week!}

Spring Cleaning 101

This past weekend was all about hardcore spring cleaning, a huge milestone to The Spring Project that I happily crossed-off on my list of things to do. I’m one of those strange people that actually likes to clean (my own messes only – sorry, I’m not for hire :)). It’s therapeutic for me. You put on some music, zone out, and get the job done.

By nature, I’m a total neat freak – everything is always in its place, I rarely leave dishes in the sink, or let my place get too rowdy in general; but one always needs a good scrub down in the bathroom, an intense dusting session all over, floors need to be mopped, and the fridge cleaned out.

While I was completely exhausted after a day’s work, I’m already seeping the rewards (and the annoyances) of intense spring cleaning. Sure everything feels completely refreshed in my apartment right now, but it also upsets me how quickly the dust is settling back onto my furniture tops, and seeing small specks of dirt on my once immaculate hardwood floors…only hours later. 😦

I still have another phase to get to in my big project and that’s the purge portion. It’s time to delve into my closets, drawers, and shelves and say goodbye to what is no longer serving me. And I think this will feel even better than the “no germs” portion. Out with the old, and in with the new!

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When approaching my big cleaning session, I had five basic principles that I thought I would share:

1. Work on one space at a time. It’s best to focus on one room at a time. It keeps things streamlined and less overwhelming. For me, I liked starting with the bathroom. It’s my least favorite place to clean and I’m likely to give it my all because I’m pumped and have tons of energy at the onset.

2. The iPod must be ON, LOUD, and playing all your favorite tunes. Yes, I’m totally admitting that I sang and danced…basically had a private concert with a mop and sponge in my hand.

3. No distractions. I became a hermit for the day so that I could focus. Once I’m in the zone, I just want to keep going. My thought is if you stop to take a phone call for 45 minutes, you lose motivation and momentum. Just push through it!

4. Wear gloves. I don’t know about you, but I HATE the residual smell of chemicals on my hands even after you’ve vigorously washed them. We want to keep our hands soft and sexy at all times!

5. Treat yourself after a job well done. Spring cleaning takes a lot of time and energy. Once you’re done, you deserve something special. I bought myself a gorgeous bouquet of bright flowers that enhanced my newly cleaned home AND treated myself to some take-out. Admittedly, the take-out treat was two-fold. One, I didn’t have the energy to cook or even push buttons on the microwave after I finished the big scrub down; and two, there was no way in HELL, I was going to dirty even a spoon after the day I had and ruin my pristine kitchen.

Happy spring, happy cleaning, happy spring cleaning! xx

|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||

To be perfectly honest, I’m struggling a lot lately with the concept of perfect timing. There are three big things in my life that I know without a doubt that I want to do right this exact moment, but somehow keep putting off for the proverbial “right time.” As they say, “there’s never going to be a right time.” The conflict I have is also thinking about the proverbial saying “that everything is as it should be.” So I ask you: if there’s never going to be a right time to chase your dreams and goals, yet everything is as it should be, which philosophy do you subscribe to?

This does not imply that I think you should just sit back and let life happen because that’s how it should be. Nor does it imply that I think forging ahead and ignoring the pace of the universe is the answer either. I suppose the bigger philosophical understanding is knowing when to stop waiting for the perfect moment because that’s how it should be. Perhaps it’s as simple as when these two universal truths intersect that you have your answer. Aside from the realization that I believe my “intersection” has come and big changes are on the horizon for me, I’ve also been having other philosophical understandings… in many not so deep nor complicated ways.


here’s what i’m lovin’ right now


|| Wise words. ||

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|| The perfect casual LBD. // American Vintage Jacksonville Dress. ||

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|| 50 Shades Wall Art. // Christian Grey. // Anatasia Steele. ||

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|| Ice Cube Tray Sushi. // Homemade & no rolling required. // Recipe here. ||

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|| Urban Outfitters’ Gallery Coffee Table. // Deets here. ||

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|| 17 Apps You Can’t Live Without. // Deets here. ||

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|| Restoration Hardware iPhone Gramophone. // Deets here. ||

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Naturally Pampered

I’m a big fan of killing two birds with one stone. What I love about this particular D.I.Y. is combining two important passions of mine: fresh produce and flawless skin. Not too long ago, I stumbled across an article about how to make your own facial masks using natural ingredients. The best part when reading the simplicity of the lists, is that it contained items that I typically already have in stock in my kitchen. Thus came the “two birds.” I adored the concept that not only is it completely satisfying that I’m making my own facial masks, but what a great idea to do when you realize that avocado is ripening much faster than when you’ll actually get to around to eating it. With these simple homemade facial mask recipes – I’ll not only never throw out another wasted piece of fruit, my skin will appreciate being drenched in moisture, exfoliated, and refreshed through the undeniable blessings of being naturally pampered.


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Hydrating Mask

Ingredients:

– Mash half a ripe avocado

– Add ½ cup plain yogurt

– Add ¼ cup honey

Directions: Dab on lightly (with a sea sponge).


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Strawberry Lemon Peel 

Ingredients:

– 1 buff puff
– 6 wild strawberries
– 1 liter sparkling water
– 1 6 oz. serving of plain yogurt
– ¼ of a lemon

Directions: Stand in a sunny window for 30 seconds to warm the skin. Gently crush strawberries onto buff puff and, after testing on a small area of your arm, massage into the face for 30 seconds (microdermabrasion). Rinse liberally with sparkling water. Mix the yogurt and lemon juice and slap a thick layer onto face for five minutes (fruit acid peel). Rinse with warm tap water and apply a gentle moisturizer.


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Lemon and Honey Blossom Glow

Ingredients:

–  2 tsp. lemon juice

– 2 tsp. honey

Directions: Steam face to open pores (or take a hot shower) and place mixture on skin for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water, then cold water to close pores.


**please click images or links for sources.**

Finishing Touches

It’s been nearly a year since I moved into my own place. I can’t tell you how much I’ve relished this time in my life. No roommates to think about. No coordinating of schedules for kitchen and bathroom time. No worrying about other people’s guests, cleanliness issues, people stealing/eating your food, or bringing personal drama into our shared home. Move over, L.C. – my sophomore year of college should have been a MTV reality show with all the drama we had in our on-campus apartment!

Don’t get me wrong, as with everything in life there’s a time for certain experiences and I’m glad I had those periods in my life living with roommates. It was fun to have someone to hang out with, to chat to, or watch a movie with on an otherwise ordinary weekday night. But boy was I ready to step out on my own years before I could actually afford to do it.

Everything in my home represents me: dramatic dark wood furniture, lilac colored painted walls – with a large heather (purple) accent wall, lots of DVDs, books, candles, a little salute to Marilyn Monroe (after delving into her biography), vases of fresh flowers, and I’m a huge fan of wall quotes.

I’m just about finished with my apartment. While it’s not huge or expensively decorated – I love walking in the front door every single day. It’s cozy, it’s comfortable, it’s tranquil, it’s modern, it’s timeless, it’s me. There are a few finishing touches that I need (or things that I want to replace) to finally bring it all together. Here are just a few visual ideas that I’m playing with. Some are the actual item on my must-have list, while other’s are just examples that I love but intend to find something comparable.

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Blend

1. Nate Berkus Herringbone Black Lampshade // finishing touch: for my desk // $29.99

2. Threshold Mosaic Lamp Base // finishing touch: for my desk  // $27.99

3. “Angel City” 5 piece Gallery-wrapped Canvas Art Set // finishing touch: for the large accent wall // $127.00

4. Jonathan Adler Universal Phone Dock // finishing touch: for my desk // $48.00

5. West Elm Espresso Wood Tray (rectangular – small) // finishing touch: for the coffee table // $32.00

6. Ethan Allen Corner Batik Area Rug (black & ivory) // finishing touch: for the living room area // $1,044.00

|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||

As I have gotten older, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for natural things and natural beauty. Be it in the simplicity of a bright red fresh sweet strawberry; to the breathtaking colors and fragrance of a vase of stargazer lilies – life somehow feels more connecting and beautiful when you make it a point to take in and surround yourself with its natural resources.

Of course, when working with fresh produce in your meals or placing a vase of flowers on your desk to brighten your space, there comes a time when all good things must come to an end. As such, I find myself scrambling to not be wasteful by trying to eat all of the produce I bought at the farmers’ market and feeling a twinge of sadness when that vibrant vase of flowers begins to wilt and die. Such is the consequence of Earth’s natural beauty.

Suffice to say that when I can find ways to enjoy produce in bulk (i.e. fresh strawberry smoothies in the morning and in frozen yogurt for dessert) so as to not have to throw things out, I get excited. And when coming across Flores Del Sol’s dried flower shop on Etsy, it also sparked my interest. I hate fake flowers, but was inspired by this approach of using real flowers to create lovely dried arrangements. While this will never replace fresh cut flowers or a blooming bright orchid in my book – it is longer-lasting and more cost effective. Perhaps they’re worth a try. Here’s to celebrating natural beauty and natural resources as much as possible. This, among other things is….


what i’m lovin’ right now


|| Fruit and Oat Smoothies // source here. ||

Ingredientshearty-fruit-oat-007-comp-med109451_vert

  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

|| Dried flower arrangements from Flores Del Sol // Etsy shop here. ||

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|| Words to live by // My new motto. ||

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|| Gold sugar rimmed champagne flutes // Source here. ||

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|| Everything about this photo…with no neighbors of course. ||

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|| Cozy off-the-shoulder sweaters over shorts. ||

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|| Get in my closet…please! ||

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|| Picture framed wall collages // Source here. ||

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