Monday, December 22, 2014

HOW TO PERFECTLY WRAP A GIFT





We hope you guys are enjoying the holiday season. Leah and I are a bit under the weather, which is NO. FUN. 

Okay, so wrapping gifts is one of our favorite tasks of the season. Most people loathe it, but we feel like if you buy beautiful wrap, gift toppers, ribbon and use these tips then you might actually ENJOY it. What!?!?! When Leah and I met ( working for our friend, Lauren, at her paper boutique) we were taught the skills to pay the bills by Lauren herself. We offered a professional gift wrapping service that saved a LOT of people from going insane over trying to wrap their gift themselves. Okay, they may not pay our bills, but they do make people envious of your beautifully wrapped gift at your holiday gift exchange. Whenever all of us girls get together, and there is gift giving involved, we almost care more about how it is wrapped vs. what is inside the box. True story! It is just in our blood now. 

Here are our tips that we are passing on from one great wrapper to another.... YOU!

Get a great box that is sturdy and has a good shape.

-Wrap your gift in beautiful tissue and seal with pretty tape :) Details people.

- Once your items are placed in the box, then fill all of the extra empty space with tissue paper. This helps your box not cave in when you are wrapping it. This is VERY important. The box structure is everything!!

-Roll out your wrap and lay your box in face down. Pull the edge of your wrapping roll to the center of your box and tape (using regular invisible tape). This is where your perfect seam will be.

- Then, pull the other side of the wrapping roll (the actual roll itself) over about a 1/2" passed the seam you created, and cut.

- Now, turn your box (with the wrap attached) horizontally to where the untaped edge of the wrap is closest to you. Fold over to create a perfectly seamed line. Then, attach DOUBLE-SIDED tape to the inside of the wrap. In other words, put the tape right on the fold that you just created. We use about three strips to go along the width of the box.

- Now time to do the ends! Simply cut excess paper off so that your edges reach about half way down the side of the box. Any seam you are taping directly to the box can be adhered with regular tape. Any of the corners that you fold in and adhere to the paper itself should be taped with double-sided tape. 

- Fold in all of your corners just like you would on a regular wrapping job. Remember to keep pulling tightly and doing intense folds to keep the wrap from "bubbling" around the box.

- Turn your gift right side up! We love to add "bands" around our gifts. They help make your pretty wrapping paper go further and adds interest. I chose an old wrap from last year to use as a band over the gold polka dots. Simply cut the band to size (width wise) and wrap it around the BACK of the box to where the ends of the band take up about a 1/4-1/2" of each side of the back of the gift. We are alllllllll about the front! 

- I opted for a sparkly ribbon with no bow ( as this gift is for my 16 year old girl cousin). Again, to save ribbon, I just wrapped the ribbon slightly around the edges to the back of the gift and taped it. Double stick tape is preferred here so that you don't see it on the back of the ribbon, but regular tape seemed to hold this ribbon better. 

- Choose your perfect gift tag. Don't skimp on the gift tags!! They are fun and add that special touch to your already beautiful gift. Is it bad to say that we are NOT fans of sticker name tags on gifts???
oops!

Host a wrapping party, turn on a good holiday movie, or just grab a glass of champagne and get to wrapping!!! The investment in good boxes, pretty tissue, gift wrap and all of the pretty things that come after truly make the wrapping experience so much more fun! Also, receiving a beautifully wrapped gift can make the recipient feel all the more special. 

XO!!
-J

All wrap and gift wrapping goods were purchased at Lauren's boutique, Rock Paper Scissors
Seriously, she has the best stuff!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

FEATURED: HOLIDAY CENTERPIECE TUTORIAL

Anyone else in need of an incredible centerpiece for the holidays and have no clue how to do it? Luckily, my extremely talented friend, Matt Bollwinkel, just started a new floral business THISTLE BE FLORAL based out of LA and is graciously giving us a tutorial! I love how he uses unique textures, colors, and shapes that you'd never think of for a centerpiece. He's seriously so talented and funny, and his wife happens to be the same. My face literally hurts from laughing after I hang out with them. They're pretty much one of my fav couples ever.

If you're in the LA area, contact Thistle Be Floral. Immediately. 
He's the next big florist that you wish you knew before everyone else did... and now you do!

"MOM'S FAVORITE CHILD" HOLIDAY CENTERPIECE
Photographs by Sara Bollwinkel
Is your holiday table naked? Hide your shame with a homemade centerpiece that suggests you have your s*#t together. 

Here is what you will need... 
1. Fancy Shmancy Japanese flower arranging scissors. Or regular kitchen shears... (Anything between a machete to safety scissors will do)

2. Robert Goulet - "This Christmas I Spend with You". This is not optional.

3. Oasis Floral Foam

4. A cool vessel...such as this tremendous silver antique champagne bucket.

5. Flower Food - pro tip: One packet of flower food and a quarter teaspoon of bleach in your water will make your plants die slower...or last longer if you are an optimist. Pro tip: if you don't have bleach, use mouthwash!

6. Human Food - Your favorite holiday beer (or wine/scotch/kool-aid)


To prep your vessel for the flower invasion, cut the Oasis floral foam to fit and fill with water, flower food, and bleach. Allow this mixture to soak for a few minutes and pop open your human food.


Let's get down to business.
7. Greenery - take some clippings from the christmas tree, your local forest, or a neighbor you feel like stealing from. Source your pretty greens as this is where it all begins. 

8. Random "Foraged" (stolen) Berries - If you have dogs or children, use with caution.

9. Magnolia Leaves - these are a classic holiday accent to any arrangement or wreath. Some people spray paint them gold, but who has time for that?

10. Holiday Food - Pomegranates, Pears, Persimmons, Pumpkins etc. Anything that starts with the letter P will do. (Pinecones...not food but totally acceptable)

11. Protea - This is a great "focal flower" that will last the duration of your family's stay and into the new year. Succulents are another great option.

12. Ornamental Kale - Hippie/Hipster approved. These take up a lot of real estate. If you are super lazy, this is a solid addition.

13. Tulips - Great color splash - check out french tulips if you want a sassy option.

14. Star of Bethlehem - Cause its Christmas y'all. (Note they also last for a long time and will continue to bloom for weeks).

15. Peonies - This is the popular girl in school. She hangs out with the funny chicks (tulips) but steals their boyfriends. This is your other focal flower of choice. (Caution: much like the popular girl in school, they are fragile and fall apart easily)


Now that you have your flowers together, you need to process them by removing excess leaves from your stems. The idea is to keep all vegetation other than stems out of the water. The longer your water stays clean (and free of flower goo) the longer your flowers will last! 

The first stems to enter your vessel should be the greens.

Follow up the greens with accent greenery such as your magnolia leaves, or the berries I "borrowed" from my neighbors yard. This is the fitted sheet...totally necessary.

Next add your ornamental kale and focal flowers. Do this in a not boring way.

Fill in gaps with beautiful pieces of fruit or pine cones etc. To do this, carefully stab a wooden skewer into your fruit (make sure you don't run the skewer all the way through). Cut the exposed skewer to the depth of your vessel (so no stick is showing and the fruit sits in the arrangement snug as a bug.)

After you have gotten this far, take a step back, grab a drink and give your eyes a minute to rest. Revisit it with fresh eyes in 10 minutes.

Now add your finishing detail elements. Tulips and star of bethlehem are great at filling in the gaps and will add lovely bursts of color as they continue to blossom.

Now step back, admire your work, quit your job, and become a florist.

Happy Holidays Yall!

<3 Matt 

INSTAGRAM: @thistlebefloral
EMAIL COMPLAINTS: info@thistlebefloral.com

Thistle Be is Matthew P. Bollwinkel, who was born in Sibu Sarawak Malaysia in the winter of 1980 to missionaries Mark and Elizabeth (Bonnie) Bollwinkel. Upon their return to the United States, the family spent the subsequent years moving from town to town in California and Nevada with various churches. To this day, the place Matt calls "home" is the San Francisco Bay area.

Matt's artistic inspiration includes Japanese imagery and culture, feminism, loud and dissonant music, photographs in old medical encyclopedias, animals, rust, dirt, gold, and and the love he has for his wife Sara and their two dogs Albert and Norman. Matt is a studio musician, a baker, and a business man. His love for flowers began when he was a young boy, but his draw to floral design began in the winter of 2013 when his community began commissioning his work. Matt's notoriety has circulated primarily by word of mouth, as he operates out of his home in Los Feliz in Los Angeles, CA (or in a glass case of emotion….or on location).

For more information or to set up a consultation please contact: 

Monday, December 15, 2014

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE!

It was my husband's birthday yesterday, and every year his two requests for gifts from me are: 
1. "Don't spend money"
2. "Bake my favorite chocolate cake"
I'd say I get off pretty easy!
Not to toot my own horn... but I'm going to. This cake is the BEST. It's super m-o-i-s-t (don't say it out loud) and super chocolaty in a not-to-sweet way. It's pretty easy too!

THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER EVER EVER

Cake Recipe
Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (I use bread flour)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups (good!!) cocoa powder 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon (good) pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. 
Line with the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. 
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. 
With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Always bake for a few minutes less if you've never made this recipe before, so you don't over-bake the cakes. You can always add more time, you can't take away! 
Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.


FROSTING RECIPE
Adapted from Magnolia Bakery

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
2 tablespoons whole milk, room temp
9 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon (good!!) vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Directions: 

To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. 
Add 1 tsp of kosher salt (my secret ingredient).
Remove from the heat and let cool for 5-15 minutes.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, 3 minutes. 
Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth. 
Add the melted chocolate and beat for 2 minutes. 
Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. 
Gradually add the sugar and beat on low speed until a desired consistency is reached. I whip it for a couple minutes so it's nice and fluffy!
My two cute helpers
Ari said "Happy Birthday, Daddy! Daddy, how old are you turning? Oh wow, 32? Does that mean you're going to go bald soon?"

You are going to LOVE this!! Enjoy!
-L

Thursday, December 11, 2014

DIY HOLIDAY CARDS DISPLAY

This is so easy... I don't even know why I'm posting it. BUT I think it turned out pretty cute. So. I'm also procrastinating cleaning my house. Typically when I'm at my most creative.
I just received my first two holiday cards! One from my bestie since college, and one from my sweet little nieces and nephews! Last year I was so lazy (read: just had my second baby) that I put all of my cards in a pretty bowl on the coffee table. This year I'm stepping it up a tiny notch. 

All you need for this easy DIY is:
- 1 wire wreath form
- 1-2 packs of plain clothes pins
- 1 roll of fun washi tape
- 1 clear command hook (sticks on the wall and removes without damaging the paint!) See below:
I found this pretty Meri Meri washi tape at our fav shop Rock Paper Scissors.
 Measure by sticking a clothes pin on the tape
 Cut tape
Bend around the sides of the clothes pin. Use the back of your finger nail to really stick it on there well. And... that's it. Told you it was easy! You could totally spray paint the wreath form gold or silver first, but it's going to get covered up with cards anyway, right? She says to convince herself.

I still have to finish decorating my mantel. Cannot find the rest of my decor!! It's probably in storage somewhere. Ugh. Ooh and I'm waiting on a sparkly banner from The Bannerie! I'm a tad obsessed.

Happy decorating!
-L

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR GIRLS


Do you have most of your shopping done already? Well, good for you! ;) If not, here are my top picks if you are looking for that perfect little something for the little ladie(s) in your life. 

1. Stocking stuffers: 
Tinkerbell Pez dispenser - I loooooved getting these as a child, so I can only hope that my child will enjoy it as well this year. 
Snow globe - This little guy is a perfect keepsake for this Christmas. We always love to give our daughter something to mark the year, whether it be a snow globe or an ornament. Even better, 25% of the purchase price goes directly to St. Jude's. 
Frozen activities book - because which kid isn't still singing "Let it Go!"???
Wind up mouse -  This mouse gives my daughter laughter for minutes at a time. He flips over and she thinks it is "super duper cool". 
Finger puppets - they are just so cute!

2. Board Game - These are always fun to add to your board game collection. Whether it be educational or just plain fun.

3. Cape & Dress up Accessory Kit - It occurred to me the other day (when my 3 year old daughter asked to be a super hero for Halloween next year) that little girls need to save the world sometimes too. Ya know, take a break from being a princess! ;)

4. Educational goods - I love watching my toddler learn. Watching her figure things out and use her problem solving skills is just the best. I love the idea of mixing fun gifts with some educational gifts as well. Adding a few books to your library is always a good idea. We tried these hot dot cards at Leah's, and Amara loved them!! 

5. Sleeping bag - Even if your child is not doing sleep overs yet, I think these are so fun for movie nights or pretend play. I am adoring this one with the big bow!!

6. Bunny slippers - duh!

7. Mini Mercedes - The thing we all wanted when we were little. If only Santa could bring me this in MY size?!

8. Little People Princess Castle - We bought this for Amara last year, but she is just starting to play with it a year later. Her imaginary play has taken off. She loves to make the princesses talk..... like all day long. Such a fun little gift, so I had to include it in my picks for this year. 




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

HOLIDAY LOOKS / HIS & HERS


Got a holiday party coming up? Do you know what you are wearing yet? You might be last minute fashionistas like Leah and I, but these looks will have you dressing like you picked your outfit waaaaay in advance. 


Meet Damien and Lisa Wong-Ken! These are dear friends of mine who happen to be professional stylists. Lucky me, right? They have styled for big events such as the Dove Awards, AMAs, Grammys and Billboard Awards. They have been faithful texters when my husband or I are having a fashion crisis. Bless them!

We asked each of them to put together a look for you and the special guy in your life so that when you hit the holiday parties, you will do it in style and with confidence.



Lisa says.... 
I went for a matching top and bottom. It’s the look of a dress without being one. This 
gives you the opportunity to get different sizes to fit your unique body shape. You can 
also wear each piece as a separate later on. Pair the top with your favorite denim and the bottom 
with a white T-shirt!

Booties are a must have! These are sleek and have a great texture. I’m all about pieces
being able to transition into different looks. I love statement jewelry!! This ring has such an interesting look and unconventional shape! Being that it’s winter, opaque tights add the right amount of warmth. These tights go the extra mile by slimming you down. It’s the perfect companion to a pencil skirt.

The front and back look of these studs are perfect for any hair do. With the top and bottom of the outfit
being all over lace, this is just the right amount of subtlety.


Statement coats are really big this year, and I love it. If you are going to cover up your 
amazing outfit do it with a great topper. This amazing burgundy wrapper the perfect 
contrast with the gold. Last, but not least..... the clutch. When I’m going dancing I like to carry a cross body bag. I hate leaving my purse, and a strapless clutch becomes cumbersome. I love the 3D effect of 
the sequins and that it’s multi-colored.

MEN!!!! Take note. I know for my husband,  dressing up is an intimidating thing because when it comes to hems, layers, accessories, etc., there are "rules" that he is just unaware of, and it can be overwhelming. Damien gives such great tips on every little detail you need to pull off your look with style.

Damien says....
Slim cuts, layers, patterns, and colors are the go-to looks for the season, and are always the
most versatile during the cooler (and sometimes colder) weather – no matter where you 
are in the country.

Unless it is a formal event that you are attending (in which case a dark suit is always 
appropriate), go with a dark blue denim that is tailored and slimming.  Even if you’re a 
“big boy”, don’t shy away from slim cut jeans!  If they are hemmed correctly, they will 
make anyone look a few pounds lighter. A good tailor will know exactly how to give you the 
perfect amount of "break in the leg".

Next, go for a mid-to-dark grey or black unconstructed sport jacket that fits right.  This 
simply means that there is little to no padding in the shoulders, and sometimes no lining.  
The seam should land at the top of the ball of your shoulder.  This will make it 
look slimmer and more flattering. The sleeves should be 
shortened to about a half of an inch just above your first thumb knuckle (the bump by your 
wrist).  It may seem short, but it’s right, and will add a touch of style to the end image as 
you show a little shirt cuff.


Shirts, ties, and pocket squares are preferences.  Patterns are always great so don’t be 
afraid of mixing them with colors.  A good rule of thumb as you start off is to have a 
printed shirt (let’s say a fine check) paired with a solid tie of a contrasting color 
(example: a blue and white fine check, with lighter/darker blue, a red, or yellow tie).  The 
tie should be about 2-3 inches at its widest point, tied in a 4-in-hand knot. When tied, 
the tip should land at the very top of your belt (Please! Wear a belt!!)  Cotton pocket 
squares are not for everyone, but they do break up a huge piece of blank canvas, and are a 
great accessory that doesn’t over do it.  If anything, just use a plain white cotton 
handkerchief and fold it into a square, exposing only a sliver.  No matter the 
shirt and tie, it’s a perfect compliment.

Socks and shoes are very personal items.  Socks can be as unique as you are, and shoes 
should always be clean.  For this particular look, I would go for a basic oxford. 
  Brown or black would look great. Matching a belt is not necessary either, as long as it’s “close enough”.

This look may not be your forte, but believe me, when people compliment you on how
you look, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident than ever!


EXTRA: Damien & Lisa's roster of clients includes:

TobyMac, Newsboys, Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath, Capital Kings, Ryan Stevenson, Run Kid Run
Finding Favor, B. Reith, Brit Nicole, Nicole C. Mullen, Mandisa, Journey’s Group (Journeys, SHI)





Monday, December 8, 2014

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR THE LADIES


Drool-worthy gifts for the ladies in your life AKA for yourself. TREAT YO SELF!
Click item name for the link:

1. SLIPPERS could you wear these out of the house? Hmmmm...

2. BANNER Our talented friend The Bannerie knows how we do. I got this for my new office!

3. LEATHER TOTE Looks like the perfect size to hold all your junk and your kiddo's inevitable change of undies.

4. TURTLENECK SWEATER Worried I'd wear this too much?? Not that worried.

5. FAUX FUR SCARF For feeling a little jazzy! How cute for a holiday party.

6. GOLD SCISSORS I just need this, okay? I'd definitely be more productive and creative.

7. LEOPARD CLUTCH Wear with jeans and a tee, or dress up with a cocktail dress!

8. DOORMAT Because you need a daily reminder.

9. CAMERA BAG Let me repeat. A camera bag!! With room for your other stuff!!! Perfection!

10. GLITTER EARRINGS Again, perfect for a holiday party or date night.

11. NECKLACE We looooove this jewelry company and everything they do.

12. CALENDAR Would love to frame these after the month is over! Gorgeous.

13. IPHONE CASE Have it. Love it. The clear design lets your phone peak through. FUN!

14. SWEATS Daily uniform, come to me!

15. AGATE BOOKENDS Wouldn't this looks look gorg on a dresser or bookshelf? 

16. NAIL POLISH Perfect for the holidays - or any time really! 

17. COFFEE CUP A mantra was never more true.

18. SCARF - Gorgeous patterns and colors. Extra big to wrap around like a vest.

19. SOCKS Cozy comfies are always a good idea.

20. FEATHER PEN To make you feel super important, even when you're writing your grocery list!

There you go! Just a small sample of some of our fav gifts out there!
::HINT HINT WINK WINK::

-L
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