356 : a new year

2010 was a hard year for me; both personally and professionally. Lots and lots of difficult decisions... some welcomed, some hard. Lots of tears, lots of laughs, lots of amazing clients.

Here's to 2011 and 365 days of happiness, success, love, family and laughter.

355 : making bread

A little burnt, but still soooo good!
Vasilopita is a traditional Greek bread that is eaten on New Year's Day. With a coin (wrapped in foil), baked somewhere inside, it is said that the person who receives this piece will get good luck in the New Year.

For me, it is a tradition that I look forward to. For the past several years,  I've helped my grandma and great grandma (the supervisor :) ) make the bread. In a huge bowl, with tons of ingredients, we stir and then hand mix the dough. After the dough has risen, one main loaf (with the coin) and several smaller, braided loaves are made.

We made it today...can't wait to eat it. Yum!

353 : happy hamster

I'm drawn to hamsters. They're cute and tiny... but the thing I really like about them... when they run around in a plastic ball.

When Monique and I were still a design duo, I tried to pursuade her to let me get an "office" hamster. But her having had them before said they smelled bad. Ugh.

Fast forward a little while later, and what did she get me as part of my Christmas present this year...
A battery operated hamster in a plastic ball. The fun of a real hamster without having to feed it or clean its poop. Super awesome.

AND Gizmo seems to think it's his new bff. He chases it and then runs away thinking it will chase him back. So cute <3

352 : -21.2

A little over 9 weeks ago, the bff and I decided to start our resolutions early and start eating better and hitting the gym on a more consistent basis. It's been hard work literally accounting for every single thing that is put in my mouth (LOVE the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone), and being on the elliptical for 4 hours a week.

But it's all been worth it. I am happy to say that my goal of dropping 20 pounds by the end of the year was achieved (and then some)! Now to just keep the momentum going to drop the rest.

351 : after xmas sales

I almost always go shopping the day after Christmas. Which is funny because I hate crowds. But sometimes you just can't resist the call of a good sale. This year, my first and only stop... Crate and Barrel? Yup. I seriously love that store. I arrived (by chance) 10 minutes after they opened, and the parking lot was PACKED. I guess other people heart the Barrel as much as I do. Luckily, with some interesting maneuvers and reaching around people's legs, I managed to snag up a bunch of the vintage inspired ornaments I had my eye on. I even managed to get the bff some more meese ornaments (dude, it's an inside joke. I know it's moose). Score!

350 : paris tea

A month ago, while browsing at the Torrance Antique Fair, the bff craved coffee. Luckily there was a little coffee spot, and he ran in while I continued to browse. I wanted some Earl Gray, but was pleasantly surprised when he got me a cup of some super yummy tea. Having no clue what "Paris" tea was (besides some sort of black tea blend) I tore off the little tag on the tea bag and made a mental note to get some.

The super amazing guy that Jeff is, also made a mental note, and bought me some for Christmas. Hooray!

349 : type calendar

Coolest calendar ever. A different font every day of 2011? I think I need to order me one of these. Although I have a strange suspicion that it'll cause my font "wish-list" to grow. Which may or may not be a bad thing :)

348 : koulourakia

When I was younger and before my grandma's Alzheimer's paid it's toll, every year at Christmas we'd get a tin full of greek cookies, called Koulourakia. These ring shaped, slightly sweet cookies are so synonymous with my yiayia and are my most consistent childhood memory of Christmas.

It has been quite a few years since the passing of my grandma, and even longer since she last baked a tin. But last year I had a craving for these little guys and decided to hunt down the recipe...my little attempt at keeping a tradition alive, and hopefully bringing back some happy memories.

This year, I hemmed and hawed over whether to bake my little heart out or not (diets and tons o' butter/sugar don't mix well). But in the end, I decided I needed to. As I get older, I realize the importance of traditions, culture and family memories... of keeping memories of loved ones alive, and never forgetting who you are, where you came from, and the people that have been there and helped you along the way.

So, yiayia, these are for you.

347 : seat warmers

I know it doesn't get that cold in sunny SoCal, but I can no longer imagine rainy days without the comfort of my car's seat warmer.

346 : holiday spirit

Today after dropping my car off to get its first maintenance, my dad and I saw this in Long Beach...

Yup, a homeless person's shopping cart decked-out in Christmas cheer.

We had to drive around the block so we could take some pictures. Seriously awesome. Seriously. The fact that it's chained it to the pole makes it that much cooler.

345 : open mic at cafe muse

Open mics can be a bit tricky. Sometimes you get lucky and listen to people that are legitimately talented. But other times, you're not so lucky, and spend a good chunk of your evening listening to people who sound like they're stepping on a cat. But tonight, my partner in crime was playing and I had to cross my finger, and suck it up and go.

Well, I was very pleasantly surprised. The open mic was at Cafe Muse, which is a cute little vegetarian cafe. No, I'm not a vegetarian, but I do heart the tofu. Shockingly, (almost) everyone was pretty freaking good. Surprisingly good. But best of all, my PIC and his buddy Adam (aka Fyrēbömb) were pure amazingness.

344 : getting "dolled up"

Sometimes it's really nice to ditch the everyday clothes and put on your party shoes. Tonight was one of those nights. My partner in crime and bff, getting dressed up, plus a long overdue cosmo and a glass of wine, made for one super happy evening.

343 : my nikon

My D80, plus the Macro lens my dad got me while at Otis, equals one photography happy lady (and lots of pretty photos on this very blog). Now if only I was the kinda girl who read the manuals. I may actually know how to use some of the millions of features this camera comes with.

Photo by André Banyai (Nikon D80) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

342 : kallie

Just about a year ago, as I was pulling into my usual parking spot at the studio, I thought I saw a cat by a storage unit. I got out of my car and went to check it out, and sure enough, a scared, skin and bones kitty ran to hide. A few minutes later Monique got to the studio, and we went to Petco to grab some food. The poor little thing was starving. As she was eating, I grabbed her and brought her into the office. She had been neglected for so long, I couldn't just leave her outside to die.

After tons and tons of calls to try and find someone that would take her, it was mentioned that a client/friend, Lenore, volunteered at an animal rescue, Much Love. She told us to take the cat to the closest shelter, and that she'd keep in contact with them to get updates on the cat. Three days later, the cat was red-listed to be put to sleep. She had chronic gingevitis and stomatitis – due to prolonged deprivation – and needed several teeth extracted. She also developed pneumonia because she had been outside for so long, and they believed that she was depressed. Luckily, Lenore and Much Love decided to step in and rescue the kitty, believing that she could be saved with some medical attention and TLC.

Today the cat, (which Much Love named Kallie (in honor of yours truly)) is now happy and healthy in a forever home. Knowing I helped save a little feline life makes me happy beyond words.

Oh, and If you're feeling a little generous this holiday season, Much Love is a great organization to help out.

341 : distressed signage

I love photography. Taking pictures soothes my soul. I've already talked about my love for photographing rust and spider webs in this blog, but I've also really gotten into photographing distressed signage (Big shocker, I know). There's something about paint chipping off letters, and (another shocker) rusty letters that makes my heart happy.

340 : ampersand finds

I've been good. For the past few months, I've curbed my ampersand addiction. But tonight while putting some finishing touches on my holiday shopping, I found this beauty. It's solid wood and about 4" wide x 6" high. It's amazing how happy one little hunk of wood made me tonight. <3

339 : it wasn't louie

Tonight Monique and I headed to the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa to see, of course, Ian Bagg (I can't even tell you how much I heart him). Upon getting to their parking lot we learned that a "celebrity comedian" would be dropping in on the show tonight. I prayed with all my might it wasn't going to be not-so-funny-man Louie Anderson. He was a "celebrity comedian" surprise guest before, was so terrible and got so few laughs, I actually felt sorry for him.

Thankfully Rob Schneider was the guest; who far outweighs Louie's funny-factor... (although I wonder how long it'll take for me to be able to look at him and not immediately envision Deuce Bigalow)

Is it so wrong that the highlight of my day (besides Ian's jokes) was that Louie WASN'T there?

338 : muse packaging

Sometimes I fall in love with packaging for products I'd never actually use, but that's not the case with Muse. I confessed earlier in this blog that I have a love affair with reed diffusers and candles, and these are no different. The super nice packaging, (which consists of letterpressed labels on wood bases) on Muse products makes them so hard to resist. I think I may need these.

337 : new jewelry

My visit last night to Mary's Open Studio was super fun...a long evening of talking, champagne drinking and trying on jewelry galore. Almost everyone decided to come Sunday night, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves, which allowed for a lot of catch up time. At the end of the night, I walked away with some beautiful earrings and two fab rings (score!).

336 : client events

I love getting together with clients turned friends; especially when it's for something other than business. So tonight I'm super excited to see, Los Angeles jewelry designer, Mary Donald's Open Studio. I love her work (I have a few pieces of it myself) and she's one of the sweetest people I know.

Check out her website (designed by yours truly) to see some amazing pieces and maybe even get some of that holiday shopping done.

335 : christmas tree smell

This year the holidays are a little strange for me....it's the first time in 6 years that Christmas won't be spent with my ex. Not that that is a bad thing... it's actually an incredibly good thing. It's just a bit of an adjustment.

While I hemmed and hawed about whether to actually get a tree this year, once I caught a whiff from the tree lot, I knew I'd be sorry if I didn't. I'm proud to say that I have a cute little 5' Charlie Brown of a Christmas tree in my living room.

Afterall, fresh Christmas tree smell = happiness.

Photo from http://www.urbanphantom.com/2009_12_01_archive.html

334 : wrapping presents

I'm sure by now you may have touched on the fact that I can be a little neurotic in my quest for perfection during the holidays. What's funny, is as much as I like shopping for loved loves, I like wrapping presents even more.

My mom doesn't understand why I'd buy wrapping paper when she has tons of rolls in her garage (snowmen and Santa printed, no doubt) and I'm sure Jeff thought I was nuts when I took forever picking out the perfect paper. But in the end, my neurosis paid off... super cute presents now fill the living room.

333 : letter ornaments

Last year the type lover in me wanted a typography themed tree. So being the resource girl that I am, I grabbed my white chip board letters and went to town. The result was cute, but the letters, not being ornaments, didn't cooperate quite as I was hoping, and would constantly fall off.

This year, I found some amazing metal letters from Restoration Hardware to adorn my tree. Who knew little metal letters could make a girl so happy. If only they had ampersands...

332 : lunch posts

I came across this blog and was completely captivated by its content. The concept is pretty simple (and very creative): everyday since Kindergarten, a father sticks a sticky note to his son's lunch box with a half-completed drawing and a half-written story. These drawings just prove how seriously awesome children and their imaginations can be.

You can check out all the post-its at wandermonster.com

331 : crunching leaves

I love fall weather... the smells, the crispness in the air and all the amazing colors the leaves start to turn. Ever since I was little I could never resist stepping (and occasionally jumping) on all the dried up, crunchy leaves on the ground... the bigger and drier the better. There's nothing that quite screams childhood like jumping in puddles and leaf piles. Some people never grow up (and wouldn't have it any other way).

Photo from http://flickriver.com/photos/tags/andgreen/interesting/

330 : mary

I debated blogging about this (hence the reason I'm a day behind), death isn't something that makes me happy, not even close. But it seems fitting to give some mention, in my tiny corner of the world, to such a remarkably strong woman.

There are so many happy memories I have of Mary throughout the years. Her love and encouragement, and her bold and energetic personality will stay with me for a lifetime.

329 : san diego

An impromptu trip lead us to San Diego today. The sky and clouds were amazing and  it was smooth sailing the whole way down (score!). Almost 14 hours and three malls later, we were back home, completely exhausted.

328 : button magnets

These button magnets are super cute. They're so much better than plain old magnets, plus I could make use some of my great grandma's vintage buttons.

Find out how to make them at bigboxdetox.com

327 : new blinds

 When I moved into the new office, only the left side of the windows had blinds; mini blinds to be exact. So after complaining, they found a lovely old rusted and broken set (you couldn't open or close them) to put up on the right. Um... no. So more complaining later and I was promised new blinds. I was shocked... new? As in straight out of Home Depot? Yup. So I left the door unlocked and went to lunch while the guys worked. Arrived back at the office to this...
Yup, mini blinds on the left, venetian blinds on the right. They're seriously so ridiculous in thinking this is acceptable, that it's actually funny.

326 : holiday shopping

I've always been the kind of person who skimps of myself, but won't blink twice to spend on others. So I love the holidays when I get to shop for presents for the ones I love. Admittedly, I'm kind of a crazy shopper when it comes to gift giving. No, I won't run down an old lady for the last knitted Christmas sweater, or get up in the middle of the night on Black Friday. But I will scour the stores for hours looking for the perfect thing for everyone on my list. I really give it a ton of thought, which depending on who my shopping bud is, can make some people crazy. With a few perfect gifts already purchased, I'm feeling pretty good right about now.

Photo from sheknows.com