I remember being a little girl and going with my mom to the Estée Lauder counter, watching her try on lipsticks, perfume and buying compacts of powder. I always acquainted it to my mama looking so pretty and majestic. That’s why even now, Estée has always been one of the go-tos (their Advanced Night Repair Serum is something I’ve worn for like 5 years straight—I love it!).
I was super pumped when I got the opportunity to create three cocktails inspired by their classic fragrance, Modern Muse.
The smell is so fresh and clean and lightly floral. I know a lot of women are loving more musky smells nowadays but I always and forever want to smell like I just showered and then ran through a field of flowers.
When I smelled Modern Muse for the first time, I immediately loved the freshness with hints of jasmine and honeysuckle in the scent. I wanted to create cocktails that were inspired by the smells but still tasting super delicious.
Here are the smells and feelings from the scent that inspired the cocktails:
1. Hints of jasmine.
2. Light floral notes like honey suckle.
3. A refreshing aroma that felt like a warm day (but not too warm!).
We’ve lived in our beloved lil’ Echo Park apartment for a long time but we’ve been kinda outgrowing it and looking for a new place for a while so when Josh’s dad moved out of state (for a new job) and asked us to move in to takeover his house for the next 5 years or so, the timing was perfect.
Before we officially move in, we’re renovating the kitchen. And by renovating I mean tearing every single thing out, knocking down a few walls and starting from scratch. I have never done a renovation before so it say it is a bit of a dream is an understatement. It’s also a bit overwhelming because there are SO many choices and decisions and I fully understand why people hire a designer to help them.
Initially we were gonna start the renovation back in June but I’m so happy that we waited because it really gave me time to understand what would look best in the space. I really believe that kitchens, and frankly any renovation, should complement the house itself.
The house is a bit like an English cottage. It’s cute with red brick, built in the 1920s. There are beautiful green vines growing on the outside and SO many roses in the front yard and in the backyard. It’s quite adorable and it’s the perfect size (not too big, not too small). It has charm like no other but it does need a bit of love in the kitchen department.
At the beginning of this whole venture, I thought a lot about what I wanted from a kitchen and I kept coming back to super modern, clean style cabinets with cozy, sweet colors.
This is what I had in mind:
I was really into completely flat cabinets with little leather handles (we all know those can’t be durable, I was picturing myself with frosting on my hands ruining those things).
But this felt too sterile and new for the house. I’m so happy I came across Devol Kitchens, a kitchen designing duo in England, because they create the perfect kitchens for this house.
I’m absolutely obsessed with the inset cabinets (spoiler alert: custom cabinets were way too expensive so we’re going a cheaper route) with calcutta marble, sage green, warm tones.
All my Scandinavian kitchen dreams flew out the window when I came across their kitchen designs. Every single one of them made me want to bake and cook in these spaces. None of them looked too fancy or fussy.
They looked durable and sturdy. They have a bit of an old feel while still feeling relevant and new.
The layout of the kitchen has been formatted. Demo starts today!! WOOHOO!!
And of course here are the before photos. Two walls are coming down. The original windows are going to be peeled and restored with new hardware. The old 50s tile is going to be scraped off the walls and ceiling and the laminate floors are going to be ripped up and trashed.
1. Pineapple Glasses – These pineapple glasses are so beautiful to me. They’re so tropical and fun. I don’t like to buy these that are too seasonal but I think these would look beautiful for fall, too. (Yes, fall is coming soon. I am not ready.)
2. 3-Piece Marbled Mixing Bowls – You’ll notice a lot of my favorite things come from CB2. That’s because they make SUCH pretty and affordable things. I love this set of mixing bowls. I’m pretty firm on having just simple glass ones but they’re not super photogenic. And sometimes it’s nice to go from mixing bowl in the kitchen to just straight to the table.
3. Pink Farren Tumblers – Sale alert! These are on sale right now and I just scooped up a few because I think they’re gorgeous and perfect for a big, tall glass of lemonade or iced tea.
4. Colorblocked Cotton Napkin – I love this color green. I’m going through a green phase right now where everything in my life either needs to be green or pink or mauve or brown.
5. Pink Powder Jug – Is there anything prettier to put cream in? I think not. I still swoon at all of these glaze colors. They’re just gorgeous.
6. Jupiter Pink Marble Board – I love this thing. I love pink marble—it’s so beautiful and kinda hard to find. I wanna put all the cheese and snacks on this.
7. Rose Leaf Nip Cup – Don’t ask me what a “nip cup” means. I dunno. But all I know is this glaze on this mug is gorgeous and I wanna hold that mug while I drink coffee every morning.
8. Waffle Weave Multi-Color Kitchen Towels – I have a lot of ugly kitchen towels. Mainly just plain white ones that have been stained into oblivion. I need a new set that’s photogenic and honestly just looks nice IRL, too. I have my eyes on this set.
9. Wood Handle Flatware Set – I love wood on flatware because it really warms up the space a bit. I’m drawn to a lot of modern plates and modern shapes so sometimes if my flatware is too modern, everything can feel cold. Obviously I’m the opposite of cold, I WANT IT TO FEEL COZY U KNO.
10. La Fourmi Steak Knives – Admittedly, I have a ton of dishes and stuff but one big thing I don’t have is a nice set of steak knives. These are just beautiful.
11. Pitch Dinnerware – These are Japanese-inspired plates that are simple and modern and minimalistic in the best way. I love the dark color and while I normally don’t shoot on black plates, I want to start injecting a bit darker colors into my work. I think these are an affordable way to start.
12. Vivienne Side Plate Set – I think this set of side plates is so beautiful. I dream of having colorful foods on them like melon wrapped with prosciutto, a variety of fruits and sautéed veggies. I think the neutral color is perfect for summer and fall.
13. Petrified Wood Serving Board – The edges of this serving board are SO beautiful. I love the rustic look of this board and I think everything from cupcakes to your favorite cheese would look gorgeous on it.
14. Floral napkin – I feel like the old me never would’ve liked something this classic but the new 2017 me is VERY into these rose napkins. They’re romantic and dark. I love ‘em.
I always feel blessed that I have a career where I get to make things every single day (basically any creative person’s ultimate goal). Sometimes it doesn’t always feel all that romantic, particularly when I’m wiping grease off my kitchens’ walls or washing an absurd amount of dishes, but even in those moments, if I think kinda hard, I’m pretty happy.
Another plus about this creative world called blogging, I get to meet other creative people, too. Last week, I drove like five minutes away to hang out with Alana and make this cake.
She makes the most unreal cakes. A lot of them are just total pieces of art that I would be shy to eat. A bonus, her cakes taste SO good. I was at a friend’s bbq and she brought some corgi cupcakes and they were so fluffy and so soft. I was in love.
SO, we thought it would be fun to make side-by-side dog cakes. I did the corgi, inspired by that feral beast I own, Amelia. And she made a pug cake, inspired by her two baby pugs.
It was also nice to have some emotional guidance and support from her because I had never made a corgi cake before and it definitely required some planning and sketching.
It was also nice to have some emotional guidance and support from her because I had never made a corgi cake before and it definitely required some planning and sketching.
Two days after Josh and I got engaged, we started wedding planning. AND THEN, we got stressed out and overwhelmed with all of the details and quit. We decided, together, that we’d take a bit of a break and just enjoy being engaged before we started up again. I’m actually glad we took a bit of a breather because now we’re super close to booking a location and venue! YAY! I have to say, I’ve enjoyed just simply being engaged. It’s been a nice, lovely and happy place to just be.
So, now that I’m ready to jump back into planning, I partnered with Macy’s to talk all things wedding registry. We made a special curated registry highlighting some of my favorite items (check it out here!), plus five super quick videos that I’ll be posting across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’ve broken everything down into a few categories:
1. Getting Ready for Guests: Believe it or not, I don’t really have nice spa-like towels or sheets. I don’t even have towels for other people besides Josh and me. So I took this opportunity to register for a few things that would make people’s stay with us more relaxing and comfortable.
2. Drank Time: We currently don’t really have room for a bar cart, but we’re moving soon (more on that later!) so I wanted to get a proper bar set and nice glasses — most of my glasses are mismatched and not cohesive. I also wanted a few stands for appetizers and entertaining.
It’s almost summer, which means it’s beer ice cream float time!
Last weekend, I invited Billy and Steve over and we made some copycat Shake Shack burgers (recipe coming tomorrow!) and served them with beer ice cream floats using some delicious ice cream from Coolhaus.
The first time I had a beer ice cream float was a few years ago, and I’ll admit that before I tried it, I thought it might be a little gross. But, umm, it was the exact opposite.
Beer and ice cream go SO well together, especially when paired properly. And of course, if you have a little kid around or someone who doesn’t drink, you can substitute the beer with cream soda. Cream soda universally will go with all of these flavors of ice cream.
For this post, I teamed up with Coolhaus. I first had Coolhaus back in the day when food trucks were new and cool. I’d go to these food truck parties and I always finished my grazing with some ice cream or an ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck.
Now you’re able to find Coolhaus in nearly every grocery store—it’s so amazing to have watched them grow from small ice cream truck to what they are now. Coolhaus is a woman-owned, LA born business, straight out of the recession—YAS!
I figured I’d do the very difficult job of paring a handful of their ice creams with different types of beers.
Here’s what I paired and loved:
1. Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip with a stout – I accidentally and unknowingly bought a coffee stout. It was surprisingly SO amazing with the Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip, which uses real spearmint and little delicious bits of chocolate.
2. Bananas Foster with a hefeweizen – The bananas foster might be my favorite flavor because I love bananas and the dulce de leche swirl is bomb. It pairs well with a hefeweizen because a lot of hefes have banana-like-tasting notes and the tartness works well with the sweetness of the dulce de leche.
3. Chocolate Molten Cake with a cream ale – At first I thought that the chocolate molten cake would go well with a stout and I tried it that way but it was a bit too rich for me. I liked it better with a cream ale that has some oat-y, malt-y notes that pair well, but isn’t too overpowering, with the rich chocolate molten cake flavor.
Admittedly, I won’t be cooking but I will be with my mama. I’m headed to Florida this weekend with a pit-stop in Maryland for a trip to the farm of Organic Valley! I’m incredibly excited to hang out with cows and milk and goats and bees. It’s a quick trip but I’m super excited about that farm-life.
I have one more recipe up my sleeve for Mother’s Day but I wanted to give you this round-up so you could start your planning.
Chai Tiramisu. This literally takes like 30 minutes to throw together and doesn’t require an oven at all. Buy your lady fingers. Do not let anyone make you feel shameful about that!
Homemade Cream Cheese. You will think you have had cream cheese until you make it at home and then you will be like WHY DID I EVER BUY IT. It’s SO good on any sort of carb vehicle that you choose, i.e., a bagel, piece of toast, challah, etc.
6. Ice Cream & Friends – Fun ice cream recipes from Food52 and friends aka some of my blogger friends!
7. The Book of Greens – I cannot wait to cook/bake from this book. The recipes look doable, delicious and incorporate greens of all kinds. By Chef Jenn Louis.
8. On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen – Rustic Canyon is one of my favorite restaurants in LA so it’s no surprise that this book looks so delicious. I haven’t had a chance to cook from it yet but I have my eye on the carrot cavatelli.
10. Cluse Watch – I’ve been seeing these watches everywhere and this grey color looks so beautiful. And it doesn’t break the bank. A+.
11. Slip Silk Pillowcase – I’ve been meaning to buy a silk pillowcase (for wrinkles!) so I figured my mom would like it. Plus, it feels nice and cool.
12. Google Home – True story: my mom has a tough time “cutting and pasting” but she can use Snapchat like a 14 year-old. I have no idea how. I feel like my sort-of-technologically-advanced mom would love a Google Home.
For a long time, I exclusively listened to music while cooking. And if I’m testing a hardcore recipe that takes a lot of concentration, I’ll most likely turn the music down so I can focus. And sometimes Billy and I will be cooking and testing and instead of listening to anything we just gossip and talk about the latest episode of Real Housewives (the upcoming New York season looks GOOD) so we listen to, well, each other.
But lately, when I’m by myself, I’ve been listening to LOTS of podcasts. I also blame a bit of it on my Sweat with Kayla app where I go on four (40-minute) walks a week with Amelia. I’ve really come to enjoy that time and I cherish it so much. Here are a few podcasts that I’ve been into lately:
1. You Must Remember This. Narrated and written by Karina Longworth. A film critic/writer (I used to read her work in LA Weekly) tells stories about old Hollywood; her most recent season is all about “Dead Blondes.” All of her episodes are told from an interesting point of view. The three-part episode on Marilyn Monroe made me really sad. They’re beautifully narrated, filled with tons of facts and research. And it makes me empathize with all of them in ways I hadn’t before. I’m currently on Jayne Mansfield and man, do I wish I could go back in time and help her. Lol.
2. S-Town. You’ve probably heard but Serial/This American Life has a new podcast and it is GOOD. I’m only like three episodes in but the main character, John Macklebee, is fascinating. A lot of people compare it to a Southern Gothic novel and I would agree.
3. Call Your Girlfriend. I listen to it almost religiously on Fridays when I go on morning walks with Amelia. I love it because it’s topical, and yes, it talks about politics but in a sort of funny, dealing-with-it kinda way (I sorta/kinda gave up on Pod Save America bc it bummed me out). And then they talk about other things like Beyonce and bras and dudes. It really feels like a range of topics I speak to my very best friends about.
4. My Favorite Murder. Ok, don’t listen to this while you’re driving all by yourself from Palm Springs to Los Angeles at 11pm at night all hopped up on coffee. It will creep you the eff out! That’s what happened to me so it took me a week or so to dive back in and it’s so fascinating but also SUPER CREEPY!
5. Terribly Funny with Steve Basilone – The idea is simple: a podcast where funny people talk about terrible things. Sounds a bit like a downer but actually it’s really funny and interesting and makes me feel oddly comforted.
What did you end up doing for Valentine’s Day?! Josh and I ended up having a chill night in, made double-decker tacos, drank some beer and watched TABOO. He’s more into that show than I am; I usually fall asleep like 20 minutes in but I do think the time it takes place sort of fascinating.
I’ve had a crazy slow start to the week because on Monday I woke up with a pinch in my throat. It’s so annoying because I haven’t been doing anything that would bring on me getting sick. But I’m feeling better so woohoo!
This recipe and photos are from last month when we took a 3 day trip to Big Bear Lake. We got caught in a huge snow storm, which I sort of didn’t take that seriously until the snow just didn’t stop falling from the sky. I think we got 3 or 4 feet in a few hours.
Luckily it meant that we were holed up with no where to go for a full 2 days which meant plenty of baking and going on walks. Amelia was in heaven because for some reason she thinks snow is the most fun thing in the world.
So fluffy!! So fun!!
The little AIRBNB we rented was perfect for a few days because it had an old 80s oven and it came with the right amount of plastic sleds that were perfect for going down this hill that we found down the street from where we were staying.
Apparently this weekend is supposed to be another snow-heavy weekend and wish I was back there!