Skip to content

Where to Shop Small Biz in San Diego

2014 November 26


One of my favorite aspects of the Thanksgiving holiday is the relatively new (I mean, new compared to Thanksgiving itself…) concept of Small Business Saturday.

It’s an antidote of sorts to Black Friday, originally conceptualized by American Express, and encourages us to shop small, independently owned retailers whenever we can, and particularly on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. To cleanse ourselves, and the economy, from the mayhem of Black Friday.

I am not a big Black Friday person for many reasons, but always find a way to sneak out on Small Business Saturday to support my local economy and pick up some truly treasured finds for the holidays, so I thought I would share my favorite places to shop small in San Diego this year:

Pigment in North Park. One of the coolest independent retailers in the city, packed with fun finds for the home, beauty, gifts and more.

The Library Shop at the new(ish) San Diego Central Library. Erin and her team have curated the chicest little shopping space in a corner of the library’s main floor, perfect for book lovers and trend hunters alike.

Lone Flag in Del Mar. Injecting a little city vibe into Del Mar’s beach scene, Lone Flag is the brainchild of Sam Larson (whose wife Kelli I met earlier this year at a Madewell event and instantly adored) and stocks great local and non-local brands for men, women and the home.

Aura Candles. This lovely line of hand-poured, custom-blended soy candles is made by two amazing moms in North County who put so much amazing passion into their work. Their “Merry” scent is a true must-have for the holidays and you can find it (and all their other yummy scents) in various local boutiques or online here.

Aloha Sunday. I just like these guys. Their stores (in North Park and Leucadia) are cool and simple and well stocked with a thoughtful mix of must-haves for the man in your life.

Univ in Encinitas. Tim owns one of the most unique little shops in North County, filled flawlessly with a mix of cool, under the radar brands and local homegrown favorites like Brixton and Raen. They also have their own signature collection of stylish staples for men, including this new Encinitas hat that should be propped under every tree in the county this year.

Be sure to get out there and support your small business friends in your community this weekend – every purchase truly makes such a difference to the men and women who pour their souls into their work. And if that’s not a great way to kick off the holiday season, I don’t know what is :)

*image above via Shop Pigment

7 Rules of Life

2014 November 25


A great find as we go into the holiday weekend.

I hope you spend the time reflecting on all that is great in your world.

Forgetting all that is not.

And being truly grateful for the things that bring you happiness – big or small.

*image via here 


Must-Have: Quinn Popcorn

2014 November 23


Since this week is going to be a busy one with the Thanksgiving holiday, menu planning seemed silly. There will be turkey, there will be stuffing and there will probably be pizza at some point to ease the pressure a bit.

But I didn’t want to leave you craving-less on this beautiful Sunday, so in lieu of my usual menu planning post, I wanted to share one of my favorite new foodie finds of the moment: Quinn Popcorn.

I came across Quinn on a food blogger’s feed (sadly, I can’t remember whose…but it’s a good one) and was immediately intrigued by their taste bud catching flavors: parmesan and rosemary, Vermont maple and sea salt, hickory smoked cheddar, among others.

Parmesan rosemary anything is a winner with me.

Then I read more about the brand and its product: all organic, real ingredients, a farm-to-bag ethos and none of the nasty things found in standard microwave popcorn bags (see here for more on that, you will never offer up Orville Redenbacher again!) and it became clear that we had to give Quinn a try.

So we did, and we loved it. I mean, we really loved it. One bag went so quickly, we promptly made another and when that bowl emptied in a flash, we knew we had a new must-have snack on our hands…literally.

We buy ours on Amazon (this variety pack is a great place to start) and the best part about that is it’s available on Prime so you can have it on your doorstep – and in your hungry little hands – in no time.


Natural (ish) Hair

2014 November 22


For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of having straight, frizz-free, shiny Asian girl hair.

It always looked so stylish, so chic, so utterly effortless…and my thick, wavy, coarse-ish Romanian locks were anything but.

But I am happy to announce that 36 years into this little journey we call life, I have FINALLY learned to embrace my hair in all its natural glory.

Well, natural-ish (see list of products below).


It started with the bangs.

This isn’t the first time I have fallen for a thick fringe but this time it feels even better than in the past. It adds instant style to my every day look (which was getting a little yawn…) and more importantly, it goes really well with thick, wavy, almost FRIZZY hair!

Yes, frizzy is kind of my friend now. This is a happy day, indeed.

I love it when the bangs look a little choppy but still neat, and the rest of the hair looks texturized and real and the opposite of sleek.

It adds dimension and makes the bangs stand out more, injecting a cool, chic element to my look that I have been missing for a long while now.


And the best part? It’s almost effortless.

After I wash (I like Pantene Smooth and Sleek shampoo and conditioner for a little added control), I blow dry my bangs immediately just using my fingers for a tousled, natural look.

I use Living Proof satin serum on the rest of my hair and a little Moroccan Oil on the ends only for extra hydration.

Then I blow dry for maybe a minute, again just using my hands to actually build a little volume and bring out my natural wave.

Then I air dry. I just let it be.

If I need a hint of extra definition, I use a small amount of Bumble and Bumble Defrizz all over and maybe a hit of Oribe dry texturizing spray to finish it off.

And throughout the day, I actually find myself trying to make it bigger, wavier and full of extra volume, plumping it up with my fingers to add lift and body.

Smiling at all the sleek, shiny heads of hair that walk on by.

Finally embracing my own natural texture and shape.

Finally figuring out my coarse, Romanian waves.

Finally loving it.

It took 36 years to get here, but it’s a really nice place to be.

*photo credits: 1 | 2 | 3 


Are Bad Guys in Real Life?

2014 November 21


Kai has been all-consumed with talk of bad guys and good guys and superheroes lately.

He is three, after all, right?

He asks me all the time, in his sweet, innocent voice:

“Are bad guys in real life, mama?”

“Do superheroes get the bad guys in real life, mama?”

“Can I be a superhero when I grow up so I can get the bad guys, mama?”

These questions became especially poignant over the past few days. You see, there is some drama on the preschool play yard at his school. Apparently, there is a “gang” of three year old boys who are taking their pretend play to another level, frightening some of the other children, bullying some of the kindergarten kids two years older than them, and making bad guys seem awfully realistic…in a three year old kind of way.

So the response from the school has been to cut out all pretend play related to superheroes, ninjas, bad guys and the like. The boys are also restricted from wearing clothing featuring their favorite superhero.

It all feels very Footloose-ish to me. Without the dancing. Or Kevin Bacon.

I am certainly not an advocate of bullying or violent play (my son plays toy “fire hoses” instead of guns, because we force it down his throat) but I am also not comfortable with his experience with play, physical and dramatic, being stifled and controlled because of the actions of another group of kids. Shouldn’t those actions be dealt with directly, between those kids, their parents, their teachers and the school?

Should my little “good guy” pay for the mistakes of the bad guys?

We consciously teach our children about boundaries and respect – both on the playground and not – and reprimand them when their behavior doesn’t meet our personal interpretation of right and wrong. We expect other families do the same, within their own parameters, and certainly expect our school to enforce similar boundaries. But at what point does an interpretation of “bad guy” or bad behavior, in this case, become so subjective you can’t define it? And how does it translate to the real life concept of bad guys and bullying and the true dangers that are out there in the world…just far enough beyond these sheltered little preschoolers’ grasp?

So the lesson of the week for my son was this: yes, there are bad guys in real life, Kai. There are apparently bad guys on your sweet little sun-drenched play yard. And on your pajamas. And on your favorite hoodie. And you will keep meeting bad guys – some far worse than the ones you know now – for many years to come. And sometimes they will stifle and control your life, even when they shouldn’t. And some people won’t think they are so bad. And some people will. And some of them will eventually stop being bad guys. And some of them won’t.

I just hope that amongst them all, you remain a good guy. And that you dance like Kevin Bacon.

A Gift Guide PSA

2014 November 19


Gift guides.

Sigh. Is it just me? There are too many. So, so many of them. Some good, some boring, some riddled with advertising.

While I consider gift giving a little too personal to fully rely on someone else’s perfect picks, I do love the ones that really unearth something new and cool that I didn’t know about and I appreciate the time and effort that goes into those…especially since it appears they are all way ahead of me.

So this year, I am going to let the other guy’s gift guides take center stage on your shopping list.

Instead, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to my wish and giving list for the season which you can see (and shop) here. I will be updating it regularly so feel free to check in when you want to and if you find anything you love there, let me know!

And when I come across someone else’s gift guide that I think is particularly awesome, I will share it on Facebook.

Hope that’s helpful in some way and don’t forget…in the end, the inspiration is great but the best gift is the one that you choose yourself for your loved one, with no guide at all but your heart.

*these cute Anthro soap dishes would make a perfect stocking stuffer for the new home owner in your life…

Thanksgiving Table Inspiration

2014 November 17


I think I lucked out for Thanksgiving this year.

My parents have decided to host the dinner and cook all (most) of the food and I get to do the table setting…at their house.

Which is decidedly more spacious and luxe than mine.

Thanksgiving is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays and creating a chic, inviting table scape is one of the very best parts. You can infuse the holiday with a little style, warmth and the perfect personal touches to make the meal memorable far beyond the pumpkin pie. It’s such an important tradition and one I look forward to carrying on for many years to come.

Here are some bits of inspiration that I am loving for this year’s look.

(above) A hint of glitter should really be incorporated into every holiday and this is a subtle, stylish way to do it.


I incorporated fresh herbs into our Thanksgiving table last year and it was such a nice touch. I love the idea of doing it again and these little rosemary wreaths are a perfect option.

ThanksgivingTable-WhatWouldGwynethDoThese calligraphy menus are definitely a little too luxe for our small family celebration but I love the elegance of a personal menu and these are stunning. Some day…


A simple and sweet rustic table. This one is a little too rustic for my family’s taste but if I were ever to host a Friendsgiving, in the woods, under a blanket of November stars…it would look a lot like this.


Finally, I love the idea of adding something personal to the party. These printable placemats let you inspire your guests to really think about the holiday and all of its significance and to share their feelings of gratitude and joy. And that is much easier than having to share the last piece of pumpkin pie…

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Morning Muffins – Bran, No Raisins

2014 November 16


This morning’s muffins were much-needed in more ways than one.

I am working on this stressful project for work right now. I had a feeling it was going to be stressful when I signed up and it has delivered on that promise. It has dampened my Friday morning, crept into my Saturday night and it was there again at dawn this morning. On a Sunday. Poisoning me with its promises of worry and frustration. I hate those kinds of projects. I try my hardest to avoid them because at this age, at this stage in life, I prefer to focus my energy – both personal and professional – on things that feed me and nurture me and don’t ruin my Saturday night.

So this morning, I chose to feed my soul instead. And when my husband randomly mentioned that he was craving bran muffins, it became a clear sign that I needed to make my Sunday morning much better than my Saturday night. So here is the recipe for a batch of simple, delicious bran muffins – sans raisins, because I can’t deal with a raisin in my muffin – that were stress-free and fed us all.

Bran Muffins 


1 cup wheat bran

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup milk

1/2 cup molasses or honey

3/4 cup applesauce

2 tbsp. oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Optional accessories (we opted to keep ours plain and simple this time):

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped nuts

chocolate chips to taste

1/2 cup shredded coconut


Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Combine wheat bran, flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In another bowl, combine milk, applesauce, oil, eggs and molasses (or honey).

Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until just combined.

Bake in prepared muffin tin for 15-17 minutes.

My husband enjoyed his hot from the oven, slathered with butter and a little maple syrup (Canadian boy syndrome) but mine was perfect all on its own.

Happy Sunday. xx


tags: ,

A Loss for Words

2014 November 13


I am at a loss for words these days.

Call it writer’s block. Call it a creative stump. Call it the longest week ever.

But I don’t have anything particularly witty or interesting or inspiring to write about right now.

I do, however, have this picture.

And it makes my heart smile.

Hope it does the same for you.

Have a great night. xx



Anatomy of a Good Business Card

2014 November 11


I recently redesigned my new business cards (well, I art directed – my husband actually designed them) and they seem to get a lot of compliments everywhere they go. Thought I would share some of my tips for a business card that stands out from the bunch:

1) Keep it simple and subtle. Prints, patterns, colors and cute details can be more distracting than you think and often come across as pretty, but not all that professional. If you’re in a creative field, choose one distinct element that conveys your style. But just one. And think really long and hard about what that element is and how you can simplify it. If your business, like mine, is not driven by your personal style or creativity, stick to a very simple logo (or none at all), a neutral color palette and a one-sided card with the backside left blank. If you think you need to use both sides to share your info, you’re sharing too much.

2) Logos aren’t law. My business is me. I am a consultant and all I am really trying to sell to potential new clients is me and my expertise. So I decided to forego a traditional “logo” and simply used my name instead, designed in a strong, simple font with some detail work. A logo can be beneficial if it truly helps to summarize your work in one image; if not, re-think it altogether. You’d be surprised how impactful a logo-less business can be.

3) Titles are. Whether or not you choose to use a creative logo, make sure you have a title on the card that spells out what it is that you do. Mine is simply: Public Relations Consultant. Nothing fancy or complicated, just enough to remind people of who they were speaking with and why when they dig my card out of a pile on their desk. Yours might be “floral designer” or “graphic designer” or “private chef”. Skip the hierarchical titles unless they are given to you by a company – in an age where CEOs sit alongside account executives in open-air cubicles, it’s not your position that matters, it’s your expertise.

4) Contact info is key. But don’t put it all on there. The days of listing your office number, mobile number, address and email are long gone. If people want to get a hold of you these days, they will use email first. Nine times out of 10. If your email is related to your professional web site (i.e. then no need to list that, either. Just the email is fine. If not, include a web site and post the rest of your contact info, social media handles, etc. there. And no mailing address, please. That’s by request only.

5) It’s all in the details. Once you have a clean, simple design in mind, shift focus to the quality of your cards. Because that is what leaves a true impression. I order mine from Moo* and opt for their luxe offering which is a thicker, sturdier paper that feels weighty and substantial in your hands. It’s a slightly higher investment, but in my opinion, well worth every penny. I also get their border color option (I chose black to keep it super simple) which adds a nice thin frame around the edge of the card that makes it stand out. I opted for sharp square corners (as opposed to trendy round ones) to keep the look classic. Finally, I opted for Moo because they don’t have any of their own personal PR on the back of the card. That is the number one business card blunder out there. Pick a printer who doesn’t put their name or logo (even if it’s in tiny print on the back of the card) anywhere on your card. It’s your business, after all. And your job isn’t to promote them.

Hope this helps! Would love to hear any additional tips you may have – leave them in the comments below. 

*not sponsored, I truly use them and love them.