Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever...

rapid-red-strawberry-fields.jpg strawberry's field image by iFooled
Strawberry has always been one of my favorite flavors.  I became extremely familiar with all things strawberry when my sister was pregnant with my nephew.  Strawberry ice cream, thick shakes, gelato, anything and everything Strawberry I could get my hands was as good as Gold!

Living in California we are blessed with such a vast variety of fresh produce, Strawberries being some of my favorite in the Summertime. I never turn down punnets of fresh berries when I'm in the store and always end up freezing them and storing them in ziplocks for those winter months when they sky rocket in price.

Today I wasn't feeling well so I decided to indulge in some strawberry cupcakes and vampire tv....what a succulent combo! 

Here's where I got the recipe..however I do prefer this icing...

Here are a couple of tips that I like to use to make this my own.
  • When chopping fresh strawberries, be sure to create different sized pieces. Creating that variation allows you to not only see chunks of baked strawberry, but chopping them finer also allows better flavor coverage throughout the batter. 
  • Always use Vanilla Sugar as well as Vanilla Extract. It ups the anti on the depth of flavor. 
  • Once the cupcake is cooled, scoop out a small section in the middle and fill with your favorite Strawberry Jam then ice.

Bing, Bang, Sparkle!

This bright Summer Season's color palate is reflecting itself in clothing and cuisine... It's all about incorporating bright colors into your wardrobe and making use of the most deliciously vibrant produce. It's all screaming 'wear me and eat me'! Here's a collection of some fabulous examples of this I found!
Strawberry and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast
image via Closet Cooking
image via the satorialist

image via hither and thither
image via The Satorialist 

image via The Whisk Kid

Here's to enjoying the vibrance in fashion, food and life!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What do you see....?

Living in LA it's easy to feel as though you're surrounded by artists who spend their afternoons brooding in front of a canvas, channeling their inner Van Gough. 
this is one of my favorite pieces done on the back of a paper grocery bag (can you believe it?) by my boyfriends mom

However if you're like me, while this is inspiring it's also a little intimidating! What do you do if you want to create your own art yet feel challenged by a simple set of stick figures? Never fear, I have the DIY art project for you! Not only does it look edgy and cool, it costs almost zero $, takes no time at all and even better, I'm pretty sure a monkey could do it!

Good folding technique

Cut a piece of paper to fit your desired frame.  Place a medium amount of paint on the paper in different shapes and then fold in half. Make sure not to make too much of a crease down the middle, the idea is just to mirror image the paint on both sides of the paper. 
Spend an afternoon coming up with these fun images, wait for them to dry and put them in your frame of choice!

Feel free to play with color and create a blot that looks appealing to you. Some you'll love and some you'll hate, go with what feels good.

Voila! Customized art work that's a really great talking point!! Of course my friends like to poke fun and play psychiatrist after we unveil the images we see! It might be more fun than you think!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody!

Yesterday was another beautiful day in Venice filled with all the bohemian goodness that I crave after living in the red carpet, bulb flashing, sometimes superficial, Hills. I wandered with my girlfriend through Abbot Kinney and hit up some super cute boutiques and somehow resisted the urge to burn a massive hole in my pocket.
Mark and Estel Kimono long/short by Mark and Estel.
Mark and Estele Clothing
There's something about this super long Kimono in the softest t-shirt material that makes me want to justify its almost $300 price tag. Even though it looks like I pulled a "Jack and the Beanstalk" and traded the Goose in for one of the Giant's t-shirts, I love it! I'd wear it in slightly see through white, with a deeply vibrant floral bikini underneath (my fav bikinis are here), massive shades and the 'peace, love, dove' attitude to match... Fabulous!

Ethiopian friendship beads.
I've been wearing these hand hammered beads for years now and always collect more whenever I'm at the Rose Bowl Markets in Pasadena.  I love to stack them and then give them to girlfriends when they're sans accessories.
Winter Kate Gypsy Rose Vest
Winter Kate Fringe Vest $17
Nichole Richie's latest line, Winter Kate is to die. I'm loving the no fuss, Boho chic. Check it out here
Urban Outfitters Raw Crystal Ring $18
I love raw semi precious stones. Sometimes you just want something that's a little less refined and little more organic to pull off the Hippy 'everything is as it should be' sentiment. 
Camilla Franks' Kaftans
Dubbed the 'Kafan Queen' by some of the industry's finest, Australian designer Camilla Franks' easy breezy chiffon Kaftan's scream Bohemian Summer.  Although they don't have the Bohemian price tag to match, it's certainly fun to scour her website and dream of hot desert nights donned in barely there chiffon.

Well before I change my dogs name to Rainbow and become a Yoga Instructor, I'm going to enjoy living out my alternate personality through fashion...sigh

Happily Ever After...

So by now most of you have met some of the most important people in my life...My boyfriend, my mum, my friends here, here and here, but you haven't met the most important fur person in my life. If you peg me for some crazy dog lady right off the bat, I can't say that you'd be completely inaccurate! This little muppet is smart, cute and further more she's all the way from South Korea! Ladies and Gents, may I present to you....drum roll please......Sydney!
her first day at the dog park
Although she doesn't have a stroller or a wardrobe larger than mine (I'm not that crazy....yet) there's not much I like to do without this ball of fluff and it's thanks to a LA based rescue organization Happy Ending Rescues, that we even met!
Sydney all grown up
Happy Ending Rescues is a pretty remarkable organization that finds homes for dogs from South Korean dog farms, where the animals are raised like cattle and slaughtered for their meat...I know, sickening to even think about. If you have the home and the heart to give these beautiful animals a family, then you won't regret it! I know it's a little cheesetastic, but sometimes when you think you're rescuing something, you end up being rescued yourself!

Let's give it up for the pooches!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Savor Life Slowly

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the SLS Ciel Spa. This place is NO joke... The stark white walls contrasted with dimly lit nooks and cranny's are the visual version of Salty and Sweet... who knew they could complement each other so well?

After taking a short elevator ride to the second floor, we arrived at what seemed like the Pearly Gates.  With stark white walls for days and a quirky homage to 'Charlie and The Chocolate Factory' (think hands coming out of the walls holding design accents like flowers, candles etc.) I was ready to surrender my fate to the Heavens. 

complimentary watermelon, pineapple cooler with chocolates, berry and melon skewers and hot teas to prepare you for your treatment.

It was in the bright white Eucalyptus fog filling the steam room where I felt as though I was about ready to meet my maker (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty). But OH how wrong I was! 
It was in the couples retreat therapy room where my therapist worked her magic that I 'saw the face of Jesus'! The pre massage foot bath with the movable massage tables were my version of a Divine intervention!
If you haven't been to Ciel Day Spa, not only do I recommend it, I strongly urge you to go, immediately! Don't walk, run, no doubt it will be a religious experience...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I ♡ date night

I've mentioned in the past my man and I love a good date night (who doesn't). Even though we've been living together for quite some time now, it's nice to make an effort to get out and about and enjoy each other the way we did when we first got together.
We made our way down to Venice to our favorite 'dirty' BBQ place, Baby Blues. We stuffed our faces with their C-RAZY ribs, spicy shrimp, cornbread and their "knock your socks off" mac and cheese, without thinking twice.

Upon entering this Southern styled eatery, you wouldn't be wrong for assuming that you had been transported to another State entirely... Surely there can't be this much butter and oil in health conscious LA?! With the sweetest smelling meat being BBQ'd to perfection and an array of beers both light and dark to compliment this stomach swelling meal, you can't go wrong. There's something about this family style low key dining that rings true to me. By now I'm sure you've all figured out that I love a good fancy feast but sometimes it's fun to eat off plastic plates and use your hands!
the combo plate that we demolished

After a walk along the beach contemplating life in Venice, we headed home to sleep off our bbq 'baby' and dream of our perfect beachside home...

The Untied Life...

P1040306 by cameron allen.
Sometimes it feels asthough we live in a world where we plan everything, everyone has pretty much every minute accounted for and we're all exhausted! Imagine throwing it all up in the air and making choices based on the moment that you find yourself in.  Two of my Australian friends Holly and Cameron, have spent the last 7 months in 7 different countries immersing themselves in local communities and culture.  They left behind any regiments of Western society in search of the rawest human experience.
_MG_6126a by cameron allen.
Teaching Buddhist Monks and Burmese Refugees English (no, I'm not kidding) and saving hitchhikers from a days walk while loaded with fruit and veg, led them to an orphanage specialized for children with HIV.  They loaded these enthusiastically vibrant children with film cameras and after teaching them the basics, set out to understand what the world looked like through their eyes.  What they discovered was nothing short of magic!
IMG_3932 by cameron allen.
Here's a couple of sneak peeks into the lives of two humanitarian free spirits...
_MG_6122 by cameron allen.
What made you want to travel?
Cam: There's a community of free spirited people out there who have very little in common apart from the thirst for an organic cultural experience... Even though I had no idea what I was in for, I had that desire. These are the people who ignite my thirst for life.

Holly: I wanted to contribute and give back to humanity.  The only way I felt that I could determine how to truly achieve that was to immerse myself in their culture. I needed to understand what it was like to live the life of these people in order to determine what I could do. 
_MG_6092a by cameron allen.
Advice for people who are wanting the same experience?
Holly: Go to a travel agency and write down all of the tours that are available in the areas that you'd like to see. Then definitely don't do any of those! Ask travelers and locals the places in their area where there are no westerners. Then go!

Cam: If someone had nothing more than $2000 saved, I'd say go and buy a one way ticket. Learn to listen to yourself, follow your instincts and let go of any compulsion to plan!
_MG_5230 by cameron allen.
_MG_6097 by cameron allen.
Best Memory?
Cam: Just one? In general, the genuine joy for life that was on the most impoverished children's faces and the gratitude of locals for the smallest gestures.  

Holly: Riding on the back of a Motorbike in a boarder village between Cambodia and Thailand and 30 children chasing after us screaming in English, "HELLO!"
_MG_6447 by cameron allen.
_MG_6185 by cameron allen.
How have these experiences changed you?
C: It has opened my heart and mind in ways I never knew possible. Realizing that everyone has an innate desire to get by. Everyone's trying to do their best to live, whether that's a 9-5, a 20 hour work day at the market or selling a cow. I have now learned to be grateful for every moment that I find myself in. Whether it's good or bad I accept it for what it is and just keep moving forward. Control is an illusion and acceptance is key. 

H: While discovering what these peoples truths were, I also discovered the truths within myself. I remember taking the wrong bus and ending up somewhere in Northern Thailand by myself. I was frightened, scared and melancholy just to name a few! Because of the multitude of heightened emotions experienced in such a short amount of time, it was one of the most powerfully beautiful experiences I've had to date. Through all of these challenges I have found my bliss. Something I never could've anticipated.
_MG_4547 by cameron allen.
_MG_5000 by cameron allen.
One thing they both agreed upon was openness. Be open, stay open and life will be open to you...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

girls, girls, girls!

This weekend was all about girl time. DIY facials, the perfect red lip, late night hot tub rants, mimosa brunches and hitting up some low key LA hot spots. Our destination of choice was newly established neighborhood pub, The Surly Goat.  With 27 beers on tap, a hot dog stand and some fabulous in house games to keep you saying "just one more round", it's safe to say we had a blast! 

When we returned home in the wee hours of the morning, it was time for a couple of rounds of slurred charades and some late night noshing!  What better way to feed a few tipsy girls than some delicious warm banana bread smothered in Nutella.

If you haven't met Nutella allow me to introduce you.... {insert name}, this is Nutella. This hazelnut chocolate spread will be your culinary equivalent to a soul mate. I suggest that you invent your own ways to spend as much time with your new life partner as possible! with all this girl time under my belt, it's time to spend some time with that boyfriend of mine for a much needed date night!

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm going bananas...

Sometimes I buy a few extra bananas that I know won't get eaten in an effort to have a plausible excuse to make banana bread!  It's just one of those things that I find so comforting to wake up to and that doughy banana flavor just seems to get better with age... Toast it, warm it, spread it with butter or honey and enjoy it with your chosen form of morning caffeine!


Banana Bread
Preheat oven to 325F 
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 extra large eggs
3 really ripe bananas
1 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon of cinnamon 
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda

beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy

add eggs one at a time until completely incorporated and mixture is thick and fluffy

In a small bowl, mash together banana and add cinnamon and milk
add banana mixture to butter and sugar and combine until thoroughly incorporated 
slowly add flour mixture to banana mixture and fold until all the flour is completely gone. If you're feeling a little crazy, this is where you could add 3/4 cup of chocolate chips!
fill regular buttered loaf pan and bake for approximately 1 hour or if baking muffins, line with parchment or muffin cups and bake for approximately 20 mins until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean

Enjoy and let me know how it works out for you!



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