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Unique LA Recap

15 May

What I love most about living in LA (besides the weather of course) is that there is always something to do. Downtown especially is filled with exciting events, restaurants, shops, and attractions. From tracking down the Coolhaus ice cream sandwich truck to watch both the Lakers and the Clippers in second round play off games on the same day, to admiring the architecture was beautiful enough to become the focus of 500 Days of Summer to visiting the monthly Art Walk, Los Angles always has something exciting to offer!

Even while sitting in a downtown parking outside The California Market Center over the weekend, I was lucky enough to simultaneously view Banksy’s “Park” street art and timeless Art Deco gems like the beautiful Eastern Columbia Building. Where else in the country is there such a breathtaking combination of perfect sunshine, poignant art, and historic architecture?! I really do love LA.

Back to the story…the reason that I was sitting in the parking lot is that on Sunday for Mother’s Day I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual Unique LA Spring Show Downtown with my mom and three sisters. We always love attending these fabulous craft fairs to find super talented local artists and designers. The Spring, Summer, and Holiday Unique LA shows are two of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles. If you live in San Francisco or New York, make sure to checkout the Unique SF Show on June 20 and July 1 or the Unique NYC show that they are hoping to start soon!

There was a $10 admission fee, but a dollar of every ticket goes towards supporting another local organization, CicLAvia, and upon entry each guest gets a canvas tote with art designed by a local artist specifically for the event. At each Unique LA event, the nonprofit organization changes, as does the artist who designs the bags. Unique LA also offers free snacks, a free  photo booth, and a free craft station.

As always, the tremendous creativity of the 325 designers who showcased their work at the event amazed me. This is both the perfect place to pick up a unique, handmade gift for even the pickiest people on your list and a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends. There are countless booths with beautiful jewelry, hilarious t-shirts, quirky home decor, awesome terrariums, intriguing sweets, upcycled vintage goods, and artsy prints. With so many talented artists in one place, you’re bound to find something that strikes your fancy. The artists are almost all incredibly friendly and they are often willing to negotiate prices with you or give you a better deal if you buy multiple items.

We ended up buying magic wallets made from old books, inventively flavored pickles, earrings, ghost pepper hot sauce, seed bombs, a necklace, and other fun goodies. There were so many great things for sale that it was hard to choose what to buy!

One of the coolest things at Unique LA this weekend (although I didn’t really appreciate it until after I got home), is that they got Caine Monroy, the 9-year-old inventor of Caine’s Arcade, to bring his homemade, cardboard arcade to the event. When we saw the elaborate cardboard set up, my sister was immediately stunned and told me how she cried during the video. Although I has heard of the arcade built by a young boy in the back of his dad’s auto parts shop, it wasn’t until I came home and cried as I watched the video myself that the magnitude of Caine’s creativity and hopefulness really hit me.

If you haven’t heard of the kid genius who became famous overnight, check out Nircan Mallick’s moving video, about Caine’s Arcade immediately….and have a box of tissues nearby.

Mother’s Day Loving From a True Momma’s Girl

12 May DSC_0450

For years I’ve been told by countless teachers, friends, and family members just haw much I look like my mom. Unlike most teens, I think that there is no greater compliment than being told of my resemblance to this incredible super woman. She has a speech pathology degree, a model-esque body, and endless charm, yet she chose to dedicate her life to raising my three sisters and me. If that kind of pure selflessness doesn’t count as a super power, I don’t know what does.

I owe much of my academic success to my mom’s tireless dedication to doing everything in her power to help me. From dropping me off and picking me up at Habitat for Humanity sights that are almost an hour’s car-ride away to running back and forth among all of the art and building supply stores in town to help get me all of the obscure materials that I needed for my architectural models, my mom has never once refused to help me in any way possible.

Not only has my mom been my biggest cheerleader over the years, she also has been my best friend. She is my closet confidant, my shopping buddy, my kitchen companion, and the person whom I can always rely on to try new things with me. While my mom always tries to encourage me to catch up on my zzz’s, when I end up staying up to the wee hours of teh morning, it’s usually because she’s by my side chit chatting with me all night over a shared orange and a few cups of green tea.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have this amazing woman to enstill a sense of endless possibility and to guide me throughout my life. Without her support and daily readership, this blog would not be possible, so thank you Mom!

If any of you lovely readers want to show your apprecaition for your mommas out there too, check out this quick and easy craft as a great last minute Mother’s Day gift or an idea to tuck away for the future. These sweet little tea cup candles are the perfect way to add a touch of vintage chic to any house or office. The great scents of these decorative gems are an extra bonus!

Teacup Candles

What You’ll Need:

  • small sauce pan or pot
  • teacup, with a saucer if you so desire
  • meltable wax (find this at craft stores like Michaels or melt down existing candle stubs)
  • candle wicks with holder, at leas an inch or two taller than your cup
  • dye and essential oil (skip these if you bought pre dyed and scented wax like me)
  • thermometer
Directions:
  1. First scour your local vintage shops, flea market, or grandmother’s china cabinet for a cute teacup.
  2. Generously measure out the amount of wax that you will need to fill your teacup.
  3. Melt the wax in your pot and place the thermoneter in it to monitor the temperature.
  4. While waiting for the wax to melt, tie the top of your wick around a pencil or popsicle stick.
  5. Once the wax reaches 185 degrees, gently dip the wick into the wax, then place the base of the wick into the teacup and let it set.
  6. Balance the pencil or stick on the teacup’s rim, and place the teacup in the sink.
  7. Gently pour the melted wax into the teacup, making sure to stop 1/2 inch below the rim of the cup.
  8. Let the wax cool for at least an hour, then untie the wick from the pencil or stick and cut it to 1/2 inch above the wax line.
  9. Wrap it up cutely and give it as a gift. Punny tea references encouraged.

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

28 Apr

I have a confession, I actually made this back in March. I know it’s unfair of me to withhold something so delicious from you for an entire month, but I knew that I should keep a trick or two up my sleeve for when real life interferes with the time that I ‘d ideally spend baking. This recipe is so easy however, that you can whip it up whenever you have just ten minutes of down time.

This is the perfect recipe to make as a cheap homemade gift, as an easy swap for heavily name brand fluff, as a delicious ice cream topping for when you’re craving a sundae but are running out of toppings, or as a delicious ingredient for other delicious recipes (hint hint…expect to see a recipe made with this soon).

I made just half of the recipe, and still had more fluff than I knew what to do with. You can, however, make the entire recipe and freeze it or refrigerate it for up to a week if you like. Good luck keeping the mouth watering fluff around for even that long though!

Fluffy Marshmallow Cream

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 quarts

From Food.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups light corn syrup (you may substitute honey or maple syrup, but you will be able to taste the difference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: Add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder or coffee granules to make flavored fluff.

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a mixmaster combine egg whites, corn syrup and salt. Beat it on high speed for 10 minutes, or until thick.
  2. Add in the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until blended.
  3. Beat in vanilla until blended.
  4. Use it on sandwiches, in hot cocoa, on top of berries, as a filling, or simply eat it with a spoon! Save the remaining fluff in glass jars.

To give it as a gift, follow the steps below:

Fill a glass jar with fluff, cut out a square of decorative fabric, pick out a pretty ribbon, and grab a rubber band

Place the square of fabric atop the jar lid

Place a rubber band around the mouth of the jar to hold the fabric in place

Tie a ribbon on top of the rubber band, and then remove or cut off the rubber band. Done!

Real Life Inspiration Board

25 Apr

By now almost everyone has discovered the outrageously addictive world of Pinterest. But who really has time to sift through all of his or her pins? The creators of Pinterest wanted to emulate the concept of inspiration boards, but it seems that now Pinterest has made them obsolete.

I know that when I’m in need of inspiration, but am running low on time, that I only glimpse at a fraction of my pins. Having a real life pinterest board on my wall, however enables me to sneak a peek at the things that bring a smile to my face multiple times a day.

Months ago I decided that I wantd to put up an inspiration  board in my room, soI began searching through my mom’s Glamour magazine, my copies of Dwell, the monthly Free People catalogues, and whatever magazine I could get my hands on. After finally acculating a massive pile of images, I decided to go for it and transform my drab closet door into a colorful collection of inspiration. So I pulled out my mod podge and a paint brush, and went to work. While I was doing it, I was half afraid that my mom would be upset at my defiling of the house, but when I showed her the finished project she was impressively supportive of my project.

What have you got to lose? Go ahead and pick a place in your house or office where you want to display images that make you happy. You can of course do this on a piece of paper, wood, or worst comes to wort, you can always paint over it or put new images on top.

Here are some other inspirations boards from around the web to get your creative juices flowing:

Inspiration board from The Decorista

Inspiration board from Styleseeking Zurich

Chartreuse’s inspiration board from The Glitter Guide

Hanna’s inspiration board from iHanna’s Blog

Tanya’s inspiration board from HeyDoYou

Lighten Up with Spring Cleaning

20 Mar

Now that Spring has officially sprung, it’s time to beat those dust bunnies and reclaim the sense of satisfaction that comes from having a clean home. Instead of approaching this annual chore, look at it as a chance to regain balance and control over your own life. There are countless reasons to embrace the tradition of spring cleaning including:

  1. Satisfaction of seeing the clearly apparent toils of your labor. What other task that requires just a few hours of your time gives you benefits that you can see immediately and that you can appreciate everyday?
  2. Release of endorphins from dusting, vacuuming, and making trips back and forth from the dumpster. The physical work of moving is not only a great work out, but also a way to boost your happiness.
  3. Calming effect of walking into a clean house. If seeing toys strewn across the floor and piles of paper filling every surface of the house causes you stress, simply eliminate this unnecessary tension by taking a few minutes to put everything in its right place.
  4. Put your past behind you . Instead of getting stuck in a rut by perpetually reminiscing over memories of past relationships and previous times in your life, chose a few pictures or souvenirs worth displaying, and either donate, throw away, or put into storage the rest of your excess baggage. Instead of allowing these objects to make you dwell on whatever past happiness you’ve lost, focus on the present and creating new memories and experiences.
  5. Allow yourself the time for change. Use this opportunity to repaint your room, refinish your furniture, or finally do whatever home improvement project you’ve been putting off.
  6. Encourage yourself to adopt better habits. Prominently place the materials for whatever aspect of your lift you want to spend more time on, because by seeing them, you will start using them. By forcing yourself to see something daily, you will have many more opportunities to embrace whatever habit you are hoping to establish. This could mean putting your camera by your hand bag, leaving a bowl of fruits and vegetables out on the counter, leaving your journal on your nightstand, or leaving your crafting materials on the top of your desk.

 

Here’s an organizational idea that came to me while I was cleaning up my room. Instead of leaving my art supplies shoved in carious drawers throughout my room, I decided to store all of them in a suitcase near the entrance to my room. By having these materials neatly organized and highly visible, it makes it easier for me to set aside time to get in touch with my creativity.

Portable Art Station 

  1. Round up all of your pens, decorative papers, clay, tape, glue, scissors, and other art supplies from around the house.
  2. Store any materials that you plan to use immediately or on a daily basis in glass or plastic containers so that every time you see them you have to consciously choose whether or not to postpone your latest art idea.
  3. Store you other supplies in an old suitcase. This will not only keeps them neatly organized and compact, but also makes your supplies easily portable in case you feel like getting crafty outside or on the go.
  4. Finally, tie any ribbons you have around the outside of your suitcase, so that they will stay untangled and help to decorate your artsy suitcase. Voila!