Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Solstice Shopping

Last Friday was summer solstice, officially the first day of summer! After work I made a beeline to the promenade for some shopping; I've really been loving the long hours of daylight lately, those few extra hours of precious sunlight after work are much adored. To make things sweeter, summer sales were in full swing!

Oh the rush of finding something you love on sale! Almost every store I set foot in had a sale sign glistening in the window and red tags dangling from the displays: Zara, Mango, Anthropologie, Madewell... some sales are still ongoing (so there's still time to snag a great deal!)

Sunglasses, a rosy pink open knit sweater, and pastel silk scarf are just few of my new summer sale finds. Cheers to treasure hunting success!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Foodventures: Man Sun Uni Bowls

Sea urchins aren't the friendliest looking critters. I wonder who was the first person to make the magnificent discovery that there is in fact heavenly deliciousness hidden inside their spiny, fortified, exterior. Uni has a subtle sweetness, lusciously creamy texture, and very little brininess when served fresh. I've had uni in several different preparations including sushi, hand roll, and pasta (one of my favorites!), so when I heard about the fresh uni bowls served on the half-shell from Man Sun Japanese, I was intrigued!

One Saturday afternoon I finally managed to convince Will to make the long drive east to satisfy my curiosity (and our stomachs!). We ordered the sushi boat dinner, which quite literally included a boat-load of food: miso soup, salad, rolls, nigiri, chicken teriyaki, tempura, green tea ice cream, all served alongside an assortment of Korean banchan. But of course the highlight of the meal was the fresh uni bowl, an "off menu" item.

The uni shells were much larger than I expected and it's daunting spikes were actually quite brittle and not nearly as sharp as I would have imagined (though I still wouldn't recommend playing catch with it). The half-shell bowl was filled with rice and uni, topped with masago, pickled vegetables, seaweed salad, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Yum.

After we devoured our bowls with our plastic spoons (I found the plastic utensils hm, interesting... I normally think of uni as rather luxurious fare) and scraped every last delicious morsel out of the spiny exoskeletons, we raced over to the next door Diamond Fresh Farmer's Market right before their closing time and snagged two whole bags of fresh produce for under $5! Icing on the cake!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

For the Love of Fonts

I've come across a few great resources on fonts and typography on Pinterest recently that I wanted to share because I've been gradually learning the importance of arranging and styling type in design. As a person who loves words (spoken yes, but particularly in this case the written) I find it actually quite fascinating that the same word, if displayed in a different fashion, size, or color, can take on completely different flavors and tones. Reading, after all, is a primarily visual activity so in order to effectively get your message across, the way you display words becomes just as important as the words themselves.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Travel Planning: Copenhagen's Modern Aesthetic

Copenhagen is a very hip and modern city. Paris is timelessly romantic and Venice is a world heritage site with history etched into every stone laid along its century old canals; but Copenhagen in the last half-century has melded the old with the new, Renaissance castles and neoclassical churches share the cityscape with modern housing complexes and contemporary urban design.

Copenhagen will be the second destination on our summer Europe trip and it is also the city I was the least familiar with at the onset of travel planning. I learned that in the last decade, thanks to tremendous investments into city infrastructural and culture, Copenhagen has become home to a fresh wave of extremely successful architects, designers, and chefs. Perhaps this is why Denmark has been topping the charts for the U.N.'s  "World's Happiest Country" in recent years (I mean, great food and great design has always made me pretty happy). Scandinavian design (popularized by Ikea; simple, functional,  affordable) has been integrated into many aspects of the Danish urban lifestyle. 

We will be staying at the Bella Sky Comwell and I am super excited about this unique, modish hotel! Bella Sky is the largest hotel in northern Europe with 812 rooms and one entire floor designed exclusively for women (the Bella Donna floor, no boys allowed!). Bella Sky's double curving towers, geometric facade, clean lines, pops of colors, and stylish furnishings are all reminiscent of Copenhagen's modern aesthetic. Will's research conference will be held at the adjacent Bella Convention Center so this leg of our trip will be a work-cation but I am so glad it has landed us at such a landmark venue!

This hotel definitely wants to be the cool kid on the block, and I dare say from the pictures it looks pretty fabulous, but I will substantiate in person come August! I love that so much of the building is made from glass; the floor-to-ceiling windows let in so much wonderful natural light and a fantastic view of the city! When traveling, I think it is such a treat to find accommodations that have a touch of uniqueness reflecting the local culture and lifestyle; Bella Sky certainly embodies the stylish and modern aesthetic of Denmark! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

DIY Photo booth for World Impact

This past weekend Will and I volunteered with our church at the World Impact Teen Center in downtown to help put on a carnival to connect with the local community in preparation for a church plant. Every time we've had the opportunity to partner with World Impact, I've been humbled by the amazing people I meet who have such compassionate, servant hearts dedicated to sharing God's redeeming love. Supporting the local inner city missions has been such an eye-opening experience that has challenged me to reevaluate my values and my attitude towards God and life... but it has definitely been such a blessing!

For the community outreach carnival Will and I helped put together a little DIY photo booth. A group of us were able to purchase equipment, materials, and put together our homemade photo booth in less than a week! Since I usually plan projects far in advance and like having plenty of time to work on them (perfectionist), this was definitely a timeline that put me outside my element; but in the end, teamwork really paid off!

DIY Photo Booth

1. Building the Backdrop
An easy way to build a backdrop without any messy glue or adhesives is using PVC piping (Home Depot or Lowe's), shower rings (any hardware store), and fabric (Joann). This tutorial shows how to build a basic frame from PVC pipes. We also had weights (sandbags) to stabilize the frame on the bottom.

Burlap or a thicker cotton are probably the best fabric choices because they sturdy, easy to decorate, and fairly cheap. I think lighter solids such as cream, natural burlap, or light grey work best for pictures. A faintly patterned fabric may also work with less decorations or it may verge on being "too busy".

2. Equipment
We already had a camera (two actually, one for backup), tripod, and laptop. Our biggest investment in the whole project was the photo printer. Our friend found this adorable, portable photo printer on amazon; it prints the perfect size (4" x 6"), the print quality is crisp and the colors are vibrant, and it's so light and compact-- when you are finished it even folds up and has a handle making it easy to carry!

3. Making it Pretty
This is the fun part (at least for me)! I only had a day to prepare the decorations for the backdrop so I went to party city and picked our some colorful paper fan rosettes (various size and colors, 6" - 16" diameter), and a brightly colored garland. We pinned all of the decorations to the backdrop using safety pins, much easier than dealing with tape or glue. Pinning the embellishments also made it easier to adjust their positioning later to best fit the frame of the photos. There are also lots of pretty pennant banners, poms, and tassels you can find on Etsy that make it super easy to customize the color and theme of your photo booth.

4. Get Creative!
Party City, Etsy, and even Dollar Tree are great places to find fun photo booth props on a budget. My favorite from our photo booth was a giant pair of nerd glasses, it looked so funny on everyone! Chalk board or dry-erase boards are also great props for encouraging creative and personalized photos.

Additional materials: Photo booth software (such as Spark Booth), table (one small table for the laptop and printer, another larger table for the props), umbrella (to shade the camera and equipment if outside), power strip, cables, and colored tape (marking area to stand for the pictures).

Lighting is another important consideration for a photo booth. If  the photo booth will be outdoors and it's a bright sunny day, the booth should be positioned in the shade to prevent harsh contrast and washed out photos. If the photo booth will be indoors, make sure there will be sufficient lighting around the photo booth.

There you have it-- my notes on creating a fun, versatile, budget-friendly, DIY photo booth!

It wasn't perfect (there were definitely quite a few technical difficulties throughout the day...), but it was a big hit at the carnival anyways. The families loved having their pictures taken, especially the kids; some came back to the photo booth three or four times!

Will and I were exhausted by the end of the day but what a blessing it was to serve God and the community in such a fun way!

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