Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wine & Cakes

I'm a big fan of the daily indulgence that is wine. I love a good red syrah or cab. The holidays bring us together, and in seeking out spots to reunite with friends, I discovered Packing House Wine Merchants  in Claremont. It's the perfect place to have a sip, catch up, and pick up a bottle (the ideal holiday gift). This place has quiet tables and a tasting bar. There's a small menu and a great happy hour. I enjoyed the happy hour Cab and my bf had some bubbly. Christmas cheer(s) indeed!

Another suggestion for a place to quickly chat or pick up the perfect hostess gift: Georgetown Cupcake. If you watch DC Cupcakes on TLC, this is the same chain. I went to their beautiful Beverly Hills location while getting some work done on Friday. I was beyond impressed. They had a lot of holiday flavors that were unique. I loved the gingerbread (which came with an actual gingerbread man) and the peppermint dark chocolate was heaven. Their coffee offerings looked delightful as well. I highly recommend!

Happy Gathering!

Monday, December 24, 2012

My December

I have been a bad blogger lately. But my excuse is that it's December, otherwise known as the busiest month of the year. Now that I have a decent vacation, I am going to try to blog more.

When you are younger, December has such a different meaning. For me, it always meant my birthday, lots of cake, cards from my parents, and Christmas. Lovely, wonderful Christmas. A time when our home smelled like pine, my parents played Amy Grant Christmas music and my sister and I were actually nice to each other. On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one gift to whet our appetite. And a little secret I've never told anyone -- I used to stay up on Christmas Eve and just write. I remember doing that a lot. I would journal until midnight, until it was Christmas, because I wanted to be awake during Christmas day as long as possible, to really soak it all in.

But at 28, December feels so different. So rushed, so busy. I get angry over traffic, parking at the mall, not having any money and being unsure of what to buy and how much to spend. Something got lost in the years between.

Now that I have a minute to reflect and catch my breath, I see the sadness in that. But at the same time, I am glad that on Christmas Eve Day I have found my way back to this blog, to writing. And as I type I am listening to Amy Grant. And although I didn't have time to get a tree this year, I am still surrounded by decorations, by the love of those I am closest to. And I am so grateful, so thankful. It has been a year of blessings, and I am happy. When you're small you want nothing more than for it to always be Christmas at your family's house, and to live in that memory forever. While that is not possible, it is good to know that life, as unplanned (and often hectic as it is) can deliver those same happy, safe feelings in unexpected ways. Despite all the twists and turns, I have always found my way back to writing, to family and to those songs that remind me what everything in life is really all about.

The pictures above are from my December. It was full of surprises (an iPod Nano from my bf, a birthday office prank from my new co-workers), nights with friends at good restaurants (Brasserie Pascal in Newport), champagne all around, shopping (coats from Juicy Couture and shoes from Kate Spade), a trip to Crumbs (of course!), and lots of glitter (picture taken from my work trip to G the Body Art Professionals).

I wish you all the Merriest, most blessed of Christmases. I hope you take the time to cherish all you have and those around you <3 nbsp="nbsp" p="p">

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Introducing: Nail Art Gallery Magazine

My new job has taken me into the beauty industry, and I couldn't be happier! Nail art is not so different from the art I have dealt with previously. It's all about imagination, creativity, a steady hand, and executing a vision. I love that nail art is so popular right now. As someone who adores wearing color, sparkle, and personal style, this is all right up my alley.

That is why I am thrilled  to announce the new publication I have been working on. Enter: Nail Art Gallery Magazine . This digital publication is free to view on your tablet or computer. Simply click on the link and be inspired by these cool designs, including many for the holidays.

It was a lot of hard work putting this magazine together, but in the end, it was so well worth it. I am happy with the premier issue and am looking forward to producing these bi-monthly and exploring new media. I hope you'll join me!

Happy Nail Painting!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Favorite Things

This is my favorite time of year and with my birthday this past week, I am feeling truly blessed and happy. So much to be thankful for in this life and in this season in particular. I have been so swamped with work that I have not taken the time I would like to savor the fall-Christmas onslaught. Today it felt good to come up for air and write this post. So here are some of my favorite things, in addition to whiskers on kittens, of course:

1. Sketches. I have always been a huge fan, and have talked about my love of illustration here before, but a birthday card from my colleagues, a receipt from Ann Taylor, and a trip to a fabulous nail lounge that had these portraits, got me really loving those who have the gift to draw. I love how others capture the fashion and form of women.

2. My home, Laguna Beach. I have only lived here for five years, but it is such a part of me and who I am. I know I am meant to be here. I was asked recently if I was considering moving to Torrance, near my work. True, Torrance is near Redondo and Manhattan Beach, but it is not the same as Laguna. Where else can parrots greet you outside your favorite eatery? My feathered friends were out at Mozambique to meet me as I enjoyed a glass of wine while overlooking the ocean today.

3. Champagne. The celebratory drink of choice, I had the perfect mimosa today while at the nail lounge and a pomegranate kir for my birthday at Brasserie Pascal on Fashion Island. Trying a new restaurant is something I always say I will do, and birthdays are the perfect opportunity. I came away really loving this gem of a restaurant, and the $5 champagne cocktails at Happy Hour even more. Something as simple as a sip can make any occasion seem grand. 

4.  Tulle ... in white packages wrapped up with grosgrain. I have been really into the look of tulle lately. While it can make many think of vintage petticoats, I love it on an overskirt more. Tulle flows from the waist, really nipping a high waistline. And who doesn't want to look smaller in the waist? I purchased a full, puffy white skirt from Anthropologie and a minty tiered tulle from one of my new favorite sites, BHLDN. I have never received anything packaged so beautifully as this BHLDN arrival. I am definitely keeping the box. It made opening the mail an event, and the skirt came in a garment bag for safe keeping.

5. Jewelry. My affair with handmade jewelry is something I think will be with me for life. I stumbled upon this booth in Laguna with gorgeous handmade designs reworked from vintage. I bought many gifts and soaked in the color and shine. I am a bit sad to think that I don't work with jewelry anymore, as I remember when I see new pieces and meet new artists why I fell in love. I love the passion behind this craft. The effects of it linger in my veins still. My roommate bought me this fabulous white statement piece off Etsy for my birthday. And every now and then, there's still a good store-bought piece at Nordstrom that is worth the money. This pink statement bib is only $29 and I have been wearing it non-stop. You can never have too much.

6. My job. I spent today at Cosi Fan Tutte Nail Lounge in Laguna and loved getting to know the owners, staff and learn about the nail industry in general. The passion people have for nails and nail art is made so apparent to me, and it reminds me of how walking down PCH, picking up some handmade jewelry and sipping a glass of wine makes me feel at home; comfortable; safe. Working has been something that I love to do and am good at, and I am so blessed to have found this new job, and am so thankful for the doors it's opening up for me. I love that going to get pampered is part of the job. My toes are sparkling in OPI polish, and it reminds me of the sand on the beach glistening.

There's nothing I would trade my time in Laguna for. Work is after all, why I moved out to Laguna in the first place. It's where me and my roommates have gone out and danced, celebrated, and dined. It's where I have spent a few birthdays, a few summers, taken visitors, and attended art events. It is the place that binds me to so many people, memories, and loves. The best date of my life was walking along Laguna Beach and stopping for coffee twice.  If you truly love where you live, you stay there and soak it in as long as you possibly can, so that you feel like you will never really leave it.  Sometimes it's the home you make -- whether it's a salon, store, restaurant, or at work, that becomes your favorite place. And that feeling of finally being at home is the best gift imaginable, and no box, no matter how pretty, can possibly contain it. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Come Early

I love reading books. Fortunately for us, blogs can often be as good as book or magazine reading. My friend Colleen  is a pretty good writer, and she happens to make jewelry too. One of her recent posts is called "All My Best Intentions." I love the title and I love the message. Sometimes our best intentions end up differing greatly from the outcome.

I never intended to fall so in love with jewelry, especially the handmade variety. And now that I no longer work with that jewelry, I feel a bit of a void. But I can fill that hole with jewelry blog reading ... and shopping. I think we never intend to fall in love with the things and people we end up loving. It is a mysterious force. When I met Colleen in Oregon, I didn't know we would become friends and about the connection jewelry and writing would establish between us. But I am happy to have found Colleen, her blog, and this post, featuring the necklace above. When I read her post, not only did it get me thinking, but it got me wanting that necklace.

I made my purchase and the package arrived last week along with this gift from Colleen: an old book titled, 'So You're Going to England.' It's really funny, as I never intended to collect old books or come so closely associated with my home away from home, but here I am, receiving these things as gifts and basking in them. The old book smells so delicious and it reminds me of Eliot's line "So you're going abroad and when do you return? Well, that's a useless question, you hardly know when you are coming back, you will find so much to learn." I never intended to quote Eliot for the rest of my life (maybe over-quoting) or memorizing verse, but I think now that is the direction in which I am most certainly headed. And now my best intentions are to return to the land of Eliot someday and hopefully write a book of my own ... and we will see what happens with that.

Colleen wrapped this gift in the perfect vintage paper, including an homage to Harvery Nicoll's. I'm sure her best intentions were to gift me with the most meaningful of presents in a beautiful way. And that she has. But I wanted to write this post so that Colleen would know that that gift was already given to me on the Oregon Coast and the first time I saw her jewelry. It was packaged in a different way, as the best presents are, without wrapping, and by completely falling into place at the right time. The blog posts she and others send out into the world are gifts on their own. It is an extension of the gift of her art. And I am just trying to make the best of being surrounded by such goodness, such truth, such talent, such beauty.

Thank you Colleen, for the gift of your friendship, and your words. They have had nothing but the best effect on me.