Foodie Artsy San Francisco

Here are a few pics from my food and art-filled San Francisco expedition over the July 4th weekend! Our main goal was to hit as many eateries as possible as our stomachs could hold! San Francisco being a foodie’s paradise, it was definitely worth the short stay. I also had set my own personal objective to explore parts of the city I had never set foot in with my camera in tow. Some of the places we checked out were Philz Coffee (they put mint leaves in many of their yummy drinks!), Tartine Bakery, Craftman & Wolves, Fisherman’s Wharf, and a few other eateries I don’t have pictures of (like Foreign Cinema and a bakery that sold cronuts to die for!). That’s a lot to squeeze in a couple of days! Luckily for my camera, there were tons of points of interest to take photos of throughout the wonderful neighborhoods. There was so much art everywhere we went. Not so lucky was my failure to use a smaller aperture when taking landscape/cityscape shots. So, here are the best of the bunch. Hope you enjoy!

Philz Coffee

Philz Coffee mural

San Francisco post office

San Francisco Latin Quarter

San Francisco church

Tartine pastries

Tartine Croissant

Craftsman & Wolves San Francisco

Craftsman & Wolves strawberry tarts

San Francisco Mission mural

San Francisco Mission street art

San Francisco park

Fisherman's Wharf Eat Crab sign

Fisherman's Wharf crabs

Fisherman's Wharf seafood vendor

Britex Fabric Store San Francisco

LA Flower Mart + Flower Arrangements

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Hellllllllloooo Peeps! And Happy Summer!!! After a month of traveling to my motherland, South Korea, and getting used to the time changes back and forth, enjoying my lazy weekends, etc. etc., I felt the need to be creatively productive again. :) So, yesterday, I visited the LA Flower Mart in Downtown Los Angeles with the intent of getting lots of “cheap” flowers and making several arrangements out of them. Well, I was hoping they were relatively cheap and I could even squeeze in some beautiful peonies into my budget. To my surprise, I actually woke up on my own unusually “early” on a Saturday morning and got ready lightening fast, got in my car and was happily on my way to the flower mart! Aaah, not so fast… The lovely 5 freeway that had an unexpected road closure and everyone was crawling at 3mph. Forget that! So I decided to be brave and go locally the rest of the way, through the daunting streets of South LA…! But it wasn’t so bad after all mostly going through the City of Industry. I just had to pass through a lot of graffitis and bad smelling areas (seriously). And finally, I made it to my destination by 10AM.

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I brought with me $40 in cash (plus an extra $20 JUST IN CASE I might go fLoWeR shopping CrAxY!) I circled around the entire store before making any purchases, checking out everything and comparing prices. All the flowers were so pretty but there weren’t too many vendors selling my beloved peonies. I found one vendor that had these stunning coral ones but they were being sold for $30 for five stems!! WOWZAS…

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I wasn’t about to blow my whole budget on them, so I made one more circle around and slowly started purchasing some other flowers I spotted earlier. Before my visit, I went on Pinterest and discovered the beauty of wildflowers! I totally fell in love with them… There’s just something so romantic about them. And the arrangements can be carefree and still look perfect. So of course, I knew I had to include them on my shopping list: chamomile, spray roses and a bunch of other flowers I know not the names of. I REAALLY tried to stick to my $40 budget….. (heh heh) But I ended up spending the extra cash I brought, ’cause man, flowers add up! Five dollars here and there, two bunches of spray roses for $10, and I ended up getting a bouquet of pink peonies that were $17. They were my most expensive purchase of the day. But I’m so glad I got them!

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Okay, time to create my bouquets! First of all, I had no idea how to arrange flowers. I had tried putting them together many time before. But alas, they ended up looking like sad limply things, flailing around in the vase. Not this time! I watched several videos of this guy, Michael Gaffney and learned how to make full-looking flower bouquets/arrangements the fast and easy way. Watch his videos. They’re pretty good and full of good info! One take-away is to buy some greens along with your flowers, because it’s the greens that help fill the vase and make your arrangement look good. And here it is. My first time trying out the Michael Gaffney way and I think it turned out well!

Michael Gaffney floral arrangement

As for the vase for the wildflowers, I wanted something rustic-looking. I had gotten these mason jars** from Oriental Trading Company a few months ago and a wooden crate (?) from Michaels.

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Together, I knew they were going to be the perfect pairing to make smaller arrangements look like one big statement! Here’s how the idea turned out. What do you think?

Wildflowers in Mason Jars

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The best thing about arranging wildflowers is that there seems to be no rules! You can just put them in the vase however you want and they turn out just fine. :)

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I made a total of four arrangements in different containers. I spent a good three hours working on these and they made me so happy! There is truth in happiness being found in connecting with nature.

Floral Arrangements

Peonies in vase

I think this is my favorite out of all the arrangements. So simple yet so elegant!
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How would you feel if this came delivered to your door? It would make this girl smile ear to ear for sure! :) Thanks for reading!

Wildflowers delivery

**I received the mason jars from Oriental Trading Company for this review. All opinions are my own.

Wedding Decoration Photos

My super talented photographer friend, Sandra (of Shoebox Stories Photography/Loveland Photography), had asked me to help her take some photos at her family’s wedding. I was quite surprised when she asked since I’m still just starting out. But she assured me that I could do a good job. (I sure hope I did. hahaha!) So I agreed with some bridled excitement. My task was to photograph the wedding decorations, while she was to take care of the rest. Here are her photos from the wedding. And below are mine. Some of the reception photos were challenging to edit since they were taken under bright fluorescent lighting. But I picked out the ones I liked the most. Feel free to tell me how they turned out!

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Descanso Garden Photowalk

Spring is officially here…! And when you think of Spring, flowers are the first thing that come to my mind. Well, last weekend, a group of us went to the Descanso Gardens to check out their Cherry Blossoms Festival. Here are some pictures from the photo walk! Ironically, I did not take any pictures of the cherry blossoms because I got distracted by other beautiful things in the garden… :) Hope you enjoy!

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Camera Strap Covers

Spent a few hours this afternoon making these camera strap covers! I wanted to cover my current Canon straps with something more comfortable, fashionable and washable so that it doesn’t end up getting gross in the hot summer months (sorry for the visual!) Thankfully, it was a pretty straight-forward project, so I was able to whip them out quickly. I made two variations; one with an old silk scarf I had and the others with cotton fabric. Below are some links I used to learn how to make these. No sense in re-inventing the wheel when the web is full of these tutorials!

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Check out these links for the tutorials I used:

Camera Strap Cover with Lens Pocket
Strap Cover without pocket (less wide)
Scarf Camera Strap

Also, here’s how I sewed the silk scarf onto the key ring. Just go over the gathered edges a few times with regular stitches and zig zags.
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I was able to use the same leather scrap from my previous post to add some accent to the ends of the strap. I’m very pleased with how they look on the scarf!
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Now I just have to finish adding a top stitch on the fabric covers… Back to the sewing machine I go!

Lastly, here’s me using the strap!
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Leather Initial Keychains

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A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to a leather fabric store in Downtown Los Angeles. It was right by the 10 Freeway in a sketchier part of town. But surprisingly, there was a flood of customers for such an obscurely secret place. They sold all kinds of leather; from lambskin to pigskin.
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I went looking for white leather to make a cute clutch I saw online, like the one below. Since I didn’t need a large piece, I went directly to the scrap piles that sold leather scraps for $3.50 per pound! Unfortunately, the only white leather piece I found was too small. So I ended up getting a big sheet of light grey pigskin fabric for ONLY $13.50! Still a bargain!
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Then off we went to look for some purse hardware and trims (for a lamp project I’m doing.) Going to the fabric district is like treasure-hunting to me. And I’m glad to do it with a friend who loves sewing and creating stuff just as much! :) Anyway, before tackling the leather purse, I wanted some practice sewing on leather. So I decided the easiest thing to make was initial leather keychains out of the scraps. One for my name “S” and another for my sis “W”.

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Here’s how I made the keychains:
(IMPORTANT: Before you do this project, please read through the steps and figure out what you’ll need to do for your initial/letter. Since each letter is differently shaped, you’ll need to alter the positioning and cutting/gluing of your shape.)

Materials You Need
* Leather Scraps
* Sharp Scissors
* Clear plastic (as template for initials)
* Fabric or Tacky Glue
* Sharpie Marker
* Scratch Paper
* Ruler
* Binder Clips
* Key Ring
* Sewing Machine
* Denim/Leather Needle

Instructions
1. Select a piece of leather you want. It should be big enough for your initial/letter(s).

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2. Cut the plastic to a rectangle that will fit your letter and set aside. Draw (or print out) your letter(s) on a sheet of paper. I drew mine using a ruler. It took me a few tries to get the shapes I wanted. Place the plastic over the letter and trace over it with a sharpie. Cut out the plastic letter.

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3. Before you place the plastic cut-out on the leather, you’ll need to figure out where the key ring will go. The leather will be folded over to create a 2-ply and it’s the fold that will create the “hole” for the key ring. I’m using “W” as my example and I’ve decided that the key ring will be positioned on the top left (or right) of the “W”. (See picture # 5.) So that’s where the fold will be. When you’ve decided on the placement of the key ring, place the plastic cut-out on the wrong side of the leather. Using a ruler, draw an outline around the letter, about 1/4″ from the edge of the plastic.

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4. Remove the plastic and set it aside. Fold the leather over to create a 2-ply, making sure you have enough space in the fold (to create the hole for the key ring.)

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5. This next part is kind of tricky… Hold onto both layers of leather tightly and start cutting along the outline. Use binder clips to help you hold the leather together. Cut as neatly as possible around the edges.

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6. Here’s the leather initial, unfolded.

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7. Next, you’re doing to glue the 2 layers together with the plastic template sandwiched in between. (The purpose of the plastic is to make the keychain sturdier and less flimsy if your leather is on the thinner side.) Glue on the plastic first, then put glue all over except for the key ring area. Put the two layers together and press gently. Clean any glue that seeps out between the layers.

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8. Let the glue dry for at least a couple of hours before you start sewing.

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9. Here are the initials all glued together. I didn’t take pix of the sewing steps. But I sewed very carefully near the edge of the letters, remembering that there is plastic in between the layers. Actually, I had to hand crank the sewing machine because you cannot make mistakes on leather… Once you’ve punctured a hole, the hole is permanent! So if you’re not an expert with the machine, I strongly suggest hand-cranking each stitch and taking your time going around the edges!

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10. As for the treatment of the edges (apparently, that step is called “burnishing” leather edges), you need more tools. But I wasn’t about to buy more stuff just for these initial keychains. :) So I read up on how to do the minimum treatment. You can treat the edges by using some water and a canvas piece to rub off the roughness for a smoother finish and paint with some acrylic paint or rub beeswax to seal the edges. I painted mine with some gold acrylic paint I had on hand! (The products photographed here don’t show the finished edges. I had taken the photos before I found out about burnishing. lol.)

Hopefully this is easy enough to try it yourself! It took me about 3-4 hours to complete two initials. If you do make your own keychains, please do share and send me a link! Thanks for reading~.-

Santa Monica Pier Photowalk

Here are some pictures from my photo walk last weekend. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment (or click on the heart at the bottom of the post if you like what you see!)

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Heart-Shaped Lavender Sachets

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I made these heart-shaped lavender sachets. Which one is your favorite? Mine’s the white lacy one. :) These are wonderful to use in your lingerie drawers. Or hang them in the bathroom or anywhere you want the fresh scent of lavender!

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Here’s what you need to make them.

ITEMS YOU NEED
* Pretty fabric
* (Optional) Embellishments: Buttons, lace, rick rack, etc.
* Fabric Scissors
* (Optional) Pinking Shears
* Pins
* Needle and thread
* Sewing Machine
* Fabric Marker
* Heavy Stock Paper or light cardboard (Cereal boxes work well!)
* Coordinating Fabric Ribbons or Elastic
* Point Tool or Bone Folder (for turning fabric right side out)
* Dried Lavender (got mine from Amazon.com)
* (Optional) Polyester Stuffing (Poly-fil) to make the sachets plump

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Make a paper template: Cut out a heart from a heavy stock paper or brochure. (The size depends on how big you want the sachet.) Fold it in half, draw a half heart and cut it out.

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2. Trace on fabric and cut: Keep in mind that you’ll have a minimum of 1/4″ seam allowance.

3. Embellish your hearts: After you cut out the fabric pieces, you can decorate one or both sides of the hearts. I sewed on some lace using a small zig zag stitch on the sewing machine.

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4. Trace a smaller heart on the inside: on the wrong side of the fabric, about 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the edge. (You only have to do this on one heart.) You will sew on this line. Also, mark off two inches on the straight side of the heart (either on the right or left side), as shown below. This is where the opening will be to insert the dried lavender.

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5. Pin the two fabric pieces with right sides together. And sew on the trace line you created, leaving a 2″ opening for stuffing. Sorry, I don’t have the trace line in this picture but I sewed around with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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6. Remove the pin and cut around the heart with pinking shears to avoid bulk: Leave the 2″ opening alone. If you don’t have pinking shears, you can cut with regular fabric scissors and clip the curved parts. Here’s a good tutorial on clipping corners and curves. And another one.

(Click on the picture to enlarge.)

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7. Turn the heart right side out with a point tool: I use Martha Stewart’s bone folder as my turning tool and it works great! You can also use the bone folder to fold the hems in on the 2″ opening seams if you don’t want to use an iron.

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8. Stuff the heart: You can stuff with dried lavender or any aromatic ingredients, like dried rose buds. If you find the opening too small, you can use a funnel rolled out of paper to drop in the lavender. (See picture.) For plumper hearts, a good option is to partly fill them with some polyester filling. The amount depends on how nice and bulky you want it. Close the 2″ opening by hand stitching a blind slip stitch (check out this video) or if you’re lazy like me, just use your sewing machine or hand stitch as neatly as possible. haha.

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9. Lastly, sew on your ribbon and buttons: Sorry, I didn’t take pictures of this step. But one thing to point out is to sew your ribbon closer to the top corner of the heart. This will balance the weight so that it doesn’t topple backward or forward when you hang it.

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>>>THE QUICK & EASY VERSION<<<
If you don’t know how to sew or don’t want to, you can make lavender sachets in these cute sheer drawstring bags!! (I got mine from Oriental Trading!)^^
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^^ I received these products from Oriental Trading Company for this review. All opinions are my own.

Avila Valley Barn – San Luis Obispo

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a nice holiday season and a chance to rest and celebrate with loved ones. I spent a few days in one of my favorite vacation spots, San Luis Obispo, over the holidays. Of course I took my camera with me and took some shots of the beautiful “wintery” scenes of the Central California Coast. Here are a few from Avila Valley Barn. It’s a fun place to go all-year-round. Enjoy!

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This last shot is from Apple Farm Inn.
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DIY Magazine Christmas Trees

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! What are you thankful for this year? I have lots to be grateful for but one of them is my talented sister. I love her not only for her creativity but for her spunky and fun personality and her never-ending well of wisdom! And speaking of amazing capabilities, she has done it again. It was time to transform her library with Christmas decorations. So what does she come up with? These wonderful Christmas trees made out of old books and magazines! Ok… To be honest, this wasn’t her clever idea. And I’m sure someone else had come up with this long before Martha Stewart ever did. But here is the link to Martha’s DIY tutorial if you’d like to see where she got the idea from. Wouldn’t this be a great craft project for the holidays with the family?! If you haven’t thought about what to do with your old books & magazines that’s just taking up space in your home (besides tossing them into the recycling bin), give this a try! I guarantee you’ll come up with wonderful results like these…

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