The Empty Shelf Challenge

Friday, December 27, 2013

Earlier this week Jon Acuff issued a challenge to empty a shelf in your house and to fill it with the books you read from now until December 31st, 2014. Now, I love this for several reasons. One, I love the idea of not waiting for the new year. I get so caught up in setting arbitrary regulations on myself that I often forget that any given moment can be the start of a new adventure. Also, as someone with a penchant for purchasing (and checking out) new books faster than I can read them I'm hoping that the visual reminder of the empty shelf will encourage me to catch up.

That said, I didn't realize quite how much my bookshelf needed reorganizing until I knuckled down and went to clear off the top shelf this afternoon. I repainted my room earlier this year and my books never did get put away properly. There is still work to be done, but at least now they're in neat stacks. Being that one of my life list goals is to curate my book collection my fingers are crossed that this challenge is a solid jumping off point.

I've been wanting to start incorporating books into my posts here so you can definitely expect to hear more about this challenge throughout the year. Will you be participating? Link me below, I would love to follow along with your progress!

Easy Hazelnut Bread Pudding

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's funny how freeing yourself from the pressure to create actually frees up more time to be creative. Writing last night's post was therapeutic. To admit that I barely know where I'm going day-by-day, and that it's okay to still be figuring things out. After resolving to be more gentle with myself today I've already seen a turn around. After months of wrestling with an idea I've had for my soon to be opening web store I finally had the breakthrough I needed. I've had to keep a notepad document open to keep up with the ideas that have been flowing since this morning. What's that saying about needing to empty your cup in order to fill it again? It turns out I was holding on to more stress than I'd realized.

To capitalize on my ambitions I turned to the kitchen. In the aftermath of Christmas I had a leftover loaf of once glorious French bread from my favorite bakery sitting on my counter as hard as a rock. I couldn't bear to part with it, so I took to the internet. My cupboards in need of some serious restocking I was at a loss. I have a recipe for my all time favorite bread pudding, but that calls for some heavy duty amounts of cream and eggs. In a pinch, I stumbled on this recipe from Paula Deen. After some mild adapting I gave it a shot and it was just the thing for a chilly afternoon. While not as decadent as a typical bread pudding, this recipe is significantly faster to pull together and is a lot more flexible for what you may have on hand.

Easy Hazelnut Bread Pudding
(Adapted from this recipe from Paula Deen.)

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 loaf leftover crusty bread; cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar; lightly packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter; softened
1 cup hazelnuts; coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13" baking dish.

In a large bowl combine granulated sugar, beaten eggs, milk, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Add bread cubes and mix until evenly coated. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes. While the bread is soaking combine brown sugar, butter, and hazelnuts in a small bowl. This will be your crumble topping.

With the bread soaked, pour into your prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle crumble topping over the bread and place in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard has set and the top is a lovely golden brown. Serve either warm or chilled as desired and store covered leftovers in the fridge.

When gathering ingredients for this recipe substitute what you have on hand! The only milk I had left was 2% and that worked beautifully. Don't have any hazelnuts? Pecans, walnuts, or sliced almonds would also be delicious. I served this with some spiced whipped cream, but you could also add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the crumble topping.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Despite the relative silence over the past month I wanted to pop in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas before the day has slipped away entirely. It's been a low-key holiday, which suits me perfectly. A languid morning spent opening gifts and making chocolate chip bacon pancakes. Afternoon naps. A whirlwind cleaning marathon that has left me with a much more organized media cabinet. Bliss.

This has been a hard year, hard like nothing I have ever faced before. So much of that has hit home over the past month that I have been left reeling into survival mode. Getting through each day has become the sought victory. I'm trying. And it's by the grace of God that I am still so very blessed despite feeling so very broken. I didn't intend to be vulnerable tonight, but then it hit me that I not alone in my struggle. To put a shiny wrapped bow on things tonight would do a disservice to those of you that need to be reminded that even in hurt there is hope.

As I pray and ponder over what the future holds for 2014 I am struck with a simple word. Gentleness. The past few years I've enjoyed choosing a word to embody the coming year. It helps me to find my focus. What does gentleness mean for 2014? Being kinder to myself. Being more mindful of those dear to me. More letters and spontaneous gifts. More words of affirmation. Taking better care of myself and taking the time I need to recharge. As with each of the years passed, I'm looking forward to seeing how this word comes to evolve and sharing that with you. Because we could all use a little gentleness, I think.

I hope that your holiday has been filled with joy and merriment. I know this has been a tough year for many, and I pray that the light of hope pierces through even the darkest of your circumstances. Merry Christmas and here's to a brighter 2014!

Simple Autumn Favorites

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cafe Latte

Pumpkin spice oatmeal.
I'm particularly smitten with the one from Archer Farms. It was an impulse purchase made while wandering through the newly renovated Target by my condo, but it's quickly become one of my favorite breakfasts. I serve mine with sliced bananas, a dollop of cream, and a light drizzle of maple syrup.

Languid afternoons at my favorite cafe with a stack of magazines.
This speaks for itself. I've been trying to sort my way through my magazine backlog and what better place to do it than at a cafe? My personal favorite has a penchant for French jazz and is blissfully quiet in the afternoons.

Slow mornings curled up on the sofa.
Particularly with a cup of coffee and light filtering in through the window. These moments are a rarity and are something to be savored.

Early evening sunsets.
There's something decidedly cozy about evenings. Once the sun has set, there is no lingering guilt to be productive so evenings are spent with good books and even better company.

Warm scarves and my favorite cap.
If you follow me on Instagram you probably have an idea which hat is my favorite. Thankfully the crisp weather has been giving it a workout lately. Las Vegas can be so unpredictable in the fall, but this year has been perfect sweater weather. Bliss.

What are your simple autumn favorites right now?

On Community

Friday, November 15, 2013

Farewell Dinner

As I wrap up this two week series on Palm Springs and Camp Mighty I am left with a thought from Jon Acuff, "Fear hates community." That, I think, is the lasting takeaway from the weekend. That community is everywhere, sometimes you just need to take a step out of your comfort zone to find it. Not only is it wonderful to cultivate a community of your own, but it's even more amazing to be a part of someone else's. To cheer them on, to be a sounding board, to realize that you do have something to offer.

Goals change. People change. Your community is going to grow and shift. You are going to grow and shift. I say that to remind myself that inevitable change is not a reason to isolate or to stagnate. Change is the fuel, not the enemy. If I come away from Camp Mighty with nothing else, I want to never stop reaching out. Or reaching out to others. That's the reason we do this blogging thing, isn't it? Community is necessary, we aren't islands as much as we sometimes pretend to be (or wish we were).

Life Lists Tag It

Palm Springs: Foodie Favorites

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Billy Reed

Vintage Lighting

I don't think it's possible for me to visit a new city and not check out the local restaurant scene. Palm Springs certainly did not disappoint. On the way to the hotel we had some time to kill before hotel check-in and after seeing some positive reviews of Billy Reed's online we decided to stop in for a late lunch. Instead, the shining star of the meal was their pumpkin pie. A huge slice of house-made pie with perfectly tender pumpkin filling and a generous scoop of fresh whipped cream? Amazing. Definitely the right way to start a vacation.

Garlic Bread

Upper Crust

Next up is the product of a late afternoon food run on the second day. My mom came with me to Palm Springs to hang out and make it a girl's weekend and while I was in the conference she was exploring the city. On one of her runs she stopped by Upper Crust Pizza and decided to share her spoils with me. The pizza was fine, but the real gem was the garlic cheese bread. So ridiculously delicious with just the right amount of cheese. Also a must? The ranch dressing.

Beef Stroganoff

Miro's Restaurant

Easily my favorite stop of the weekend was Miro's Restaurant. Tucked in a shopping and business complex it's easy to miss as you're driving by. We saw the ivy from the road and decided to check it out. An upscale restaurant with a European flair Miro's is worth the stop for the atmosphere alone. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, which lead to trying the beef stroganoff with spaetzle. I am rarely left speechless by a meal, but this did the trick. Warm and filling there was something addictive about that cream sauce. You can get the dish over noodles instead, but you don't want to miss out on their spaetzle. Sautéed after cooking it gave the meal some added texture in addition to being the perfect vessel for that sauce. A stop at Miro's is a must.

Corned Beef Hash Stack

French Toast

On the way back to the highway, downtown warranted one last stop before hitting the road. Ruby's Diner beckoned with both its convenience and cute, vintage-themed interior. The food didn't disappoint. Mom had their french toast which tasted as yummy as it looks. I was drawn to their specials. A corned beef hash stack layered with potatoes, fried eggs, and cheese? What could be better? This was comfort food at it's finest. I wouldn't have thought to mix corned beef for guacamole and fresh salsa, but it was a surprisingly refreshing combination that lightened up the meal. This is something I'm going to figure out how to make at home.

Visiting Palm Springs is worth it for the food alone. I'm looking forward to my next trip, both to revisit these new favorites and to check out a few more places that I just ran out of time for.

Ace Hotel: Palm Springs

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ace Hotel

Wrist Band

It is impossible to talk about Camp Mighty without giving at least a passing mention to the Ace Hotel. I believe the phrase "glamping" was thrown around at least once. Low, gloriously soft beds with fluffy down comforters. A large pool area boasting not only a lovely pool, but also a delicious menu and plenty of chairs for afternoon (or late night) lounging. Perhaps my favorite feature were the outdoor fireplace nooks complete with comfy chairs and trellises covered in vines and bistro lights. Now that I've fallen in love with Palm Springs, the Ace will certainly be staying on my list.

At the ACE



Palm Springs

Thursday, November 7, 2013

On the Streets

Koi Pond

I have fallen in love with Palm Springs. Which surprised me, quite honestly. I am not a desert lover, and living in Las Vegas has made that all the more evident. When I started planning my trip for Camp Mighty I was ready to shrug my shoulders and just focus on thoroughly enjoying the conference. Instead, somewhere between early morning garage sale adventures and too many food runs to count I was charmed. Winding, palm lined streets (that were shockingly easy to navigate). Adorable shops. A fantastic downtown district. Amazing food (a post in of itself). It was love at first sight.



Plaza Theatre

Camp Takeaways

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mighty Panels

Camp Mighty was hands down an amazing experience. I've had a few weeks to contemplate and unpack everything that went down and I have come to the conclusion that there will be new conclusions to be drawn for the foreseeable future. Along those lines, these were my some of my favorite takeaways from the weekend:

• "Fearlessness is the mother of reinvention." - A. Huffington
• Know your phase. Don't punish yourself for being in transition.
• Get to work on your strengths.
• "The nicest thing in the world you can do for anybody is to let them help you." - John Steinbeck
• "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." - Chuck Close
• Leave yourself open for opportunities that you never would have thought of on your own.
• "Be nice. Be genuine. Be generous." - Jihan Zencirli
• Make stuff for other people just to delight them.
• Think hard about the "why" of what you do. What motivates you? Would you still be doing what you're doing if you removed the negative motivations.
• Passion is just the start.
• If what you're selling isn't desirable without the story, don't bother.
• Take your fist out of the air and put it to work.

I feel inspired, but more than that I"m ready to get to work. I've been busy behind the scenes working on some new adventures that will be unfolding soon. More than anything though I'm excited to truly be alive again. The accident robbed me of that for a while, but that spark is back and I couldn't be more grateful.

Vintage Kitchen: Frankfurter Pilaf

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Frankfurter Pilaf

Today would have been my grandma's birthday. When I sat down to start working on the Vintage Kitchen series the pop-up alert from my gmail account both startled me with its timing and gave me a happy reminder. My grandma spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She had a recipe box of trusted favorites, but she also had scraps all over the house of something she saw that morning on television and a bookshelf full of her QVC favorites. She didn't welcome very much hands-on help, but many of my favorite childhood memories revolved around sitting at the kitchen table while she tinkered at the counter. Her heart was in the food she prepared for us.

When I rediscovered her recipe box nestled away in my cabinet I knew I needed to do something with it. I needed to find a way to reconnect with those memories. And thus, Vintage Kitchen was born. In this series I will be cooking my way through her recipes, updating them to suit my tastes (I'm not so fond of oleo…) and sharing them here with you. At the end I'm going to take my favorites and self publish a mini-cookbook in celebration of her memory.

Finished Frankfurter Pilaf

Today's recipe? One of my favorite comfort foods, Frankfurter Pilaf. There is very little in this recipe that is particularly healthy, but then again what comfort food is? This rich, buttery dish is reminiscent of fall nights. The weather getting just crisp enough to turn on the fireplace in the family room. It also makes the best leftovers.

2 1/4 cups uncooked rice
1 TBS chicken bouillon concentrate
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 hotdogs (1/2 lb) sliced

Cook rice combining the bouillon concentrate with the water used to simmer said rice. I did this in my trusty rice cooker. While that's simmering, melt the butter and olive oil together in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, stirring occasionally. When the onion has just started to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes, add the garlic. Lower the heat and stir occasionally for another 3-5 minutes. Add the hotdog slices to the pan and cook until heated through. Fold in the cooked rice and remove from the heat.

For a more complete meal, balance the richness with some roasted or steamed broccoli.

Finding My Focus

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Fives

If there's one key thing that I came away from Camp Mighty with, it's focus. The past year has been life-altering and challenging on both a physical and emotional level. I've been in survival mode, just trying to make it through each day. It feels good to admit that, to realize that it's okay. But now I'm ready to refocus, to start building momentum again. With that, the team workshop time at Camp Mighty was golden. What do I want to focus on for the coming year? What do I have to offer? While there is still so much to think about, just those questions started to sharpen my focus.

That brings me to "my fives". The five goals I've chosen to specifically focus on for the coming year. Narrowing my focus was a difficult thing. It meant having to put things in motion, to stop dreaming and start doing. As I sat and wrote I saw a theme emerge. After a year of drastic change, I want to reconnect with my roots. I want to rekindle family relationships and celebrate some of my favorite memories. I want to share what I have to offer, even if that's just a kind word.

1. Send 50 uplifting postcards to strangers.
I am a firm believer that an uplifting and encouraging word can change someone's day. I know I've been on the receiving end of that. Now I want to pay it forward.

2. Dust off my French.
I studied French for eight years and then I fell out of practice. Now's it's time to dust that off and do some serious studying.

3. Cook through my grandma's recipe box.
My grandma passed away four years ago and I've had her recipes nestled in a box and stored away for far too long. Food is one of the ways I connect with people, and I want to reconnect with those happy memories. As I cook through them and update them into my traditions I want to self publish a mini-cookbook to send to my cousins so they can enjoy that connection too.

4. Paint on canvas again.
I took some oil painting classes when I was younger and I loved everything about it. In college I turned that love into studying art history for a few years, but I want to reconnect with the hands-on aspect. And not worry about how it looks, but to do it just for the sheer joy of it.

5. Take a class.
I love to learn. I used to take classes just for fun at the community college ranging from cooking and dance to history and english lectures. Beside the fact that many of those random skills have come in handy, I really miss engaging my mind in that way. Thanks to you I've gathered some awesome resources and I can't wait to dig in.

If you were someone who left a tag on one of my goals, thank you! I will be in touch soon, but know that your enthusiastic response made an impact.

Do you have any goals that you're focusing on right now? Link me to them! I would love to help where I am able, but I also want to cheer you on.

Things You Should Know: I Love to Sketch...

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sketch Book

The lovely Christine from Avenger of Sexiness shared a prompt this morning that's been tumbling around in my mind all day. 'Things You Should Know Thursdays.' The idea is to share a fact about yourself that someone should know if they are going to be your BFF. I have so much love for this idea. For getting to know each other on a deeper level and fostering that wonderful sense of community. In general, I'm pretty open here. My online presence is reflective of who you would meet if we were to be face-to-face. At the same time, this prompt has made me realize just how much of our little quirks that we don't know about each other in lacking that in person interaction. Kicking off this journey to Camp Mighty this seemed like the perfect time to start being a little more vulnerable.

So, what's something you need to know about me if we're going to be BFFs? I love to sketch. I have dozens of half filled sketchbooks dating back to sixth grade. I drew before then, but my interest in art really took off in middle school. Friends and I would swap notes and binders back and forth filled with our favorite cartoon characters. I started taking art classes and those sketchbooks started to be filled more and more with class assignments and techniques (shading in circles was my all time favorite). Now my drawings tend to be little snippets from my day. The pastry I picked up at the coffee shop. The interesting planter on the patio of my favorite cafe. The podium from the conference. None of this is done with skill, but sketching keeps me present and often cheers me up.

One of these days I'd love to start being more intentional about art again and maybe sharing some of my drawings with you. Filling up a sketchbook from start to finish is on my life list after all. I'm still trying to hunt down some of my sketchbooks from my school days because that nostalgia is always fun (and sometimes cringe-inducing). I'll be sure to share if I find where they're stashed away.

What about you? What's something I would know about you if we were BFFs?

DISH Las Vegas 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

DISH Las Vegas

On Thursday I had the chance to attend the 5th annual DISH Las Vegas benefitting Three Square. Three Square is a local food bank who's mission is, "to provide wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community." If you want to learn more, check out their website. They are doing some seriously amazing work.

Bite Sized

The event itself featured 35 local restaurants as well as entertainment from The Million Dollar Quartet and Everclear. It's no secret that these sort of events are a favorite of mine (I love getting to try such a wide range of flavors in a single space), and this one was particularly well put together. Each restaurant had a distinctive booth space with plenty of room to walk between stalls and a number of easily accessible trash bins. With restaurants ranging from N9NE Steakhouse to Tao the food itself was incredibly diverse showcasing some pretty spectacular offerings.

Sesame Salmon

Those aforementioned flavors are easily my favorite part of events like these. Foods ranged from a seafood bar on ice to freshly made cotton candy and just about everything in between. Within that, shellfish was definitely the theme of the night. Mini-bread bowls filled with chowder, lobster kimchi fried rice, crab ravioli, oysters on the half shell... Delicious! Other personal favorites of mine included a spoon of braised beef nestled on a bed of polenta and the BEST salmon sashimi tossed in sesame seeds. True foodie bliss. With shellfish seemingly on trend, I'm looking forward to seeing what dishes come out of that in the coming year.

Braised Beef and Polenta

Good food for an even better cause? This is certainly going on my calendar for next year and is an event I would recommend looking into if you're in Las Vegas come next September.

Million Dollar Quartet

Autumn Manifesto

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Corn Chowder

Seasons pass with the blink of an eye. Summer fades into autumn before you realize the community pool has even closed for the year. Halloween comes and quickly gives way to Christmas and the chill of winter. This year I want that to be different. Time may ebb and flow, but savoring every moment of its passage is a choice. I want this autumn to be filled with tasty eats, cozy evenings spent curled up with a good book, and new craft projects that celebrate the season.

Thusly, in these next few months I would like to…

• Bake an apple pie from scratch.
• Sip a pumpkin latte at my favorite cafe.
• Decorate a pumpkin.
• Make my bed a cozy retreat.
• Finish a knitting project.
• Bring baked goods to the office.
• Unearth my autumn wardrobe.
• Read twelve new books.
• Craft my own Halloween costume.
• Try three new soup recipes.

Just thinking about it makes me want to put on my favorite fuzzy socks and cozy up. Autumn is by far my favorite season and I’m excited to see the added layer of enjoyment that being more intentional brings. I can't wait to share more about the corn chowder pictured above either. I need to actually note down the specifics the next time I make it so I can share the recipe. Between the smoky bacon, sweet corn, and creamy chowder base it's quickly becoming an autumn favorite of mine.

That said, I'm curious... Do you have a list of what you would like to accomplish this season? A favorite autumn recipe or craft? Link them in the comments, I would love to see them!

Breakfast at NOBU

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Breakfast in Bed

It's no secret that a good breakfast ranks as one of my favorite things. Breakfast in bed? Even better. While my stay at NOBU Hotel is a story for another day I had to take a moment to reflect on what was one of the most amazing meals I've ever had. Available only through room service, the breakfast menu from NOBU boasts a varied array of familiar breakfast fare with an updated twist. Choosing was difficult, but in the end their Vanilla Scented Waffle, Pork Belly Bacon, and Black Sesame & Sakura Pastries won out.

Vanilla Waffles

Best. Waffle. Ever. Nice and crisp out the outside without losing any of the necessary fluffy interior. The vanilla was a lovely accent flavor, leaving room for the yuzu whipped cream and fresh fruit to shine. The stand out from this dish was absolutely the whipped cream. Denser than average, the cream played the role of both butter and sauce to perfection. Lightly sweet and perfectly tart it paired particularly well with the banana.

Try this at home by cutting back on the sweet. The surprising standout flavor of this waffle was the fact that it wasn't the typical dessert-like affair dripping with syrup and powdered sugar. The light sprinkle of sugar was just enough to pair with the whipped cream. For the cream itself, again lay low on the sugar, a light sprinkle will help you capture that flavor. Whip for a few minutes longer than you normally would and if you can't find yuzu try some grapefruit zest to capture that tart flavor.

Pork Belly Bacon

Bacon is already pretty fantastic, but pork belly takes it over the top. The thick cut and crisp texture were a bacon lovers dream. I was also impressed with the generous portion.

Try this at home by roasting up some thick slices of bacon or pork belly in the oven. Set your oven to 400°F and cook for about 15-20 minutes on a sheet pan. Having trouble finding pork belly? Check out your local Korean market. The butcher section often offers several different varieties and cuts for less than the price of normal supermarket bacon.

Nobu Pastries

Saving the best for last, these pastries were crazy delicious. Both had the flaky lightness of a typical danish or croissant, it was the filling that took the flavors over the top. The black sesame was filled with black sesame paste that was nutty, rich, and very nearly savory. The sakura danish was boasted a beautiful custard and soaked cherries with that lovely spiciness that is characteristic of the sakura flavor.

Unless you're feeling adventurous in the kitchen you can try this at home by exploring your local Japanese bakery. While you may not find these exact flavors, you're sure to find some yummy treats that capture that balance between sweet and savory.

Want to recreate a luxurious breakfast in bed experience at home? Open the blinds and let in the natural light if you can! Bring in a portable table (card table, folding table, even a tv tray) and cover with white linen. Even an inexpensive white cloth will dress up the occasion. Keep the table top simple. Clean, white dishes and a simple flower arrangement are all you need to let the food shine as the focal point.

The Colors of Summer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Purple Daisies

Color has been a huge inspiration for me lately. It's no secret that color has an impact on mood. The right color can calm you down, perk you up, or even make you hungry. Take one look at my wardrobe though and you'll see that my heart normally belongs to neutrals. That's why I was surprised when a recent visit to the gardens at the Bellagio swept me off of my feet with their bold use of color. From vibrant, cheery purples to the soft contrast of white and green the conservatory was awash with the colors of summer.


Being there has reminded me of a few things. I need to have more fresh flowers in my life. Even with my black thumb I can keep a vase of flowers going for a week and their presence automatically shifts the atmosphere to a more positive one. I also need to be more adventurous in my color choices. I'm currently rocking a hot pink manicure, but I would love some more color in my wardrobe too. Finally, I was reminded (yet again) of the importance of slowing down. Walking around a garden you naturally gravitate towards taking time to stop and smell the roses, but taking that time is important during the day-to-day as well.

Summer Morning

Pushing the Reset Button

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sandy Toes

California is my reset button. I grew up within walking distance of the beach in Santa Barbara and even though we moved away when I was young going home to visit was always a top priority. Twenty years later and this still rings true. Whenever I'm felling confused and stressed out all it takes is a day at the beach to clear my head. And that is something I've been very much in need of lately.

I've been essentially radio silent for a few months now. The silence here has been a stark contrast to the chaos of my mind. Thankfully with a vacation earlier this month, a day at the beach last week, and a whole lot of prayer I'm feeling centered again. Ready to get back to the things I love. Ready to feel that spark of passion again. Ready to find my voice. It's time. There's just something about that salty air and warm sand that reminds me of who I am.

Do you have a reset button? Somewhere that you go to clear your mind and be reminded of what's really important? I think we all need a place like that. It's far to easy to get swept up in life and look back and wonder where the year has gone.

At the Beach

Springtime in Las Vegas

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pink Blossoms

Spring in Las Vegas is one of my favorite things about living in this city. Our winter may lack the harsh weather that plagues much of the country, but there is a certain somberness the hangs in the air that begins to lift in March. It's that brief, brief window before summer hits full force to explore. Hotels reveal their seasonal installations of flowers and butterflies. New, lighter menus make their way into restaurants across the valley. It's a fresh start.

Now that I work unconventional hours I have the opportunity to explore while much of downtown is still quiet. Tuesday mornings are particularly perfect for this. The location of interest this time around? The Venetian. In my quest to try 50 new restaurants I had set my sights on breakfast at Bouchon, and making the trek down there necessitated a stroll around one of my favorite spots in Las Vegas.

Bouchon French Toast

Breakfast being the first order of the day I made my way through the hotel lobby to Bouchon. Tucked away by the pool stepping into the restaurant is like stepping back in time into old Hollywood. Patterned tile, brass accents, beautiful palms. Truly a wonderful experience. Menu fare ranges from French favorites to breakfast staples with a twist. Being a french toast fanatic the choice was easy. Thinly sliced, cinnamon soaked apple layered with a bread pudding style base topped with a lightly sprinkling of powdered sugar and just the right amount of whipped cream. Delicious and definitely somewhere I would like to explore further.

At the Venetian

Making my way back to the shops I was struck by how beautiful it was without the usual chaos of crowds. Though none of the shops were open, it was the perfect chance to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. Long corridors give way to gas lamps, an unexpected surprise, and soon-to-be on duty gondoliers practicing their opera. The sort of moment I'm hoping to have more of as I become more intentional about exploring this city.

Hanging Flowers

The cherry on top of the morning? The spring installation at the Palazzo. Hanging flowers and pink blossoms against the shiny fountain backdrop. One of those sights that just made me smile.

Hanging Flowers Closeup

Coins in the Fountain

Here's to exploring. Here's to searching out new experiences in this city that's been my backdrop for so many years now. In a meeting this week we were told that one of the keys to success is to be successful with where you're at. I think that applies to happiness too. It's so easy to grasp at happiness "if only". A different house, a different city, a different set of circumstances. We daydream about the lives we want to lead and the people we want to be. At the end of the day that's the fast track to discontent. We are where we are for a purpose and that's something I want to start embracing more.

Oh, Hello Friend

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh, Hello Friend

On a trip to Los Angeles a few weeks ago I had the chance to stop by the new storefront for Oh, Hello Friend. I have been a huge fan of her blog for a few years now, and her online store is one of my go-to spots, so as soon as I heard she was opening a retail location I knew I had to check it out. As it turns out, the shop was only ten minutes away from where I was staying! An opportunity that couldn't be passed up.

As expected, the shop is everything charming and inviting. Beautiful vignettes line the shelves featuring beautiful pieces from her own line as well as a selection of curated items from other artists and craftsmen. Gorgeous. The difficult part was narrowing it down!

Kitty Tape Dispenser

As I look back at my purchases, I see a theme emerging. Office supplies! I'm trying to make my cubicle feel more like home so I've been working on collecting more natural materials to contrast the metal/plastic I've currently got going on. This translated nicely to pretty wooden magnets and a charming cat tape dispenser (that I've actually been eyeing online for ages). I am kind of smitten with that pencil too.

New Washi Tape

One thing I don't think I could have left the store without was some new washi tape. The shop boasts a whimsical collection of prints and a deal for purchasing three. You know I couldn't resist those polka dots.

In the Los Angeles/Fullerton area? Check it out! From housewares to stationary to a beautiful selection of jewelry, Oh, Hello Friend has something for everyone. An aptly named shop, you couldn't ask for a friendlier atmosphere. Danni and her husband have created a wonderful space, definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

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