Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A housewarming gift guide

With me and Matt's big move coming up, I thought what better time than to share some lovely housewarming gift ideas with you guys {and maybe dropping a few hints to those generous friends and family of mine!}. I once heard somewhere that it was bad luck to show up to a new home for the first time without something in tow, so the next time you're attending a housewarming or just dropping by to check out your friend's new digs, consider gifting one of these goodies as a token of well-being for a happy home.

01. // 02. // 03. // 04. // 05. // 06.
Cookbook. Now that we have the space, we plan on hosting a bunch of dinner parties for our friends! Now we just need to learn how to cook...I got this cookbook from my sister for Christmas, and I love flipping through it to admire the cute illustrations and artistically photographed dishes.

Serveware. To serve food in for said dinner parties. Wouldn't these serving bowls be great for pastas and salads?

Trays. You can use them to hold your barwares, magazines, keys, or any other area around your house that could just use a bit of organization. I love how colorful these ones are from West Elm.

Personalized return address stamp. This one has the most beautifully stylish calligraphy that looks way better than my dopey handwritting in the corner of an envelope.

Foo dogs. In China, foo dogs, or "guardian lions" are massive stone sculptures that are placed on either side of Imperial Palaces' front doors to protect the home. These small trinket versions can be placed on a tabletop in an entryway.

Succulents. I have no green thumb, so I feel pretty bad when people gift me plants that end up dying in a week. If you gift me a succulent, chances are the next time you come over it'll still be thriving on its own instead of in a heap of rotten plant goo in some forgotten corner.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Elpis & Wood

I usually don't order large items online without first being able to see it in person, but I couldn't resist ordering this beautiful salvaged black walnut coffee table from Elpis & Wood over the weekend. The live-edge wood, the mid-century metal hairpin legs...every piece in their shop is so special and unique, I could easily fill our new home with these beauties.

More from the shop...

Elpis & Wood

Friday, February 24, 2012

a few of my favorite things

live // create // wear
I'm obsessed with these wishbone chairs right now and am pretty sure they'll be making their way into our new home this weekend. These chocolate dipped potato chips look like the most delicious mix of sweet and salty, and are so easy to make! Little known fact about me: I don't have pierced ears. I know, I'm like the only woman in the world without 'em, and these sweet studs make me wish I wasn't so susceptible to infections!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

fruit wedges

From top to bottom: Anthropologie // Eric Rutberg // Badgley Mischka // Steve Madden // Chinese Laundry // Zara

I'm terrible in heels. I'm a heavy heel walker {seriously, practically every pair of shoes I own, even the sneakers, the heels are worn down} so for me, digging a spindly little heel into the pavement to support my body weight ain't gonna cut it. I love how wedges give me the height of a heel but with a fuller sole to help me keep my balance. For spring I'm coveting a new pair of wedges in yummy, fruity shades that look good enough to eat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to make sushi

Over the holiday weekend, Matt and I got a chance to celebrate our Valentines together and put to use my gift to him...a Japanese cooking class for two! We sipped sake and made a general mess of the class kitchen. I was especially surprised to see how easy it was to make sushi! The instructor let us go at it with the sushi ingredients...mine ended up being an inside-out roll stuffed with shrimp and veggies {aren't those mushrooms so cute??} and Matt made salmon rolls with spicy mayo. The best part is we got to take home the recipes so we can be making our own sushi rolls at home! {friends and family beware!}

Makes: 4 inside-out rolls {24 pieces}
1/4 English cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1 oz sprouts, such as radish sprouts
1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
8 shrimp {size 30-40}, cooked and split in half lengthwise
4 sheets nori
4 cups prepared sushi rice {see below}
8 tsp white sesame seeds
Soy sauce
Prepared wasabi
Pickled ginger

1 1/2 cup sushi rice {such as Nishiki brand rice}
2 cups water
2 tsp kelp granules or sea salt
Vinegar dressing:
2 tbsp unsweetened Japanese rice vinegar
1 tbsp superfine sugar
1/4 tsp sea salt

Special tools: Bamboo mat wrapped with plastic wrap; Chef's knife

  1. Bring water to a boil then add rice, simmering in a covered saucepan for 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  2. Remove rice from the heat and let rest, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. While the rice is resting, whisk the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until the salt and sugar have dissolved completely.
  3. Turn the rice into a non-reactive {plastic or wooden} bowl. Pour the vinegar dressing over the rice. Using a wooden spoon, blend the dressing into the rice with short slicing strokes. Once mixed, spread rice on a baking sheet to cool. Set aside until the rice reaches room temperature. Once the rice is cool, transfer back into the bowl and keep it moist with a damp cotton tea towel on top of the rice.
  4. Next, cut a 3-inch wide strip off each sheet of nori, making them into 5x7 sheets and set aside. Lay a plastic wrapped bamboo mat into front of you, with its slats parallel to the edge of the countertop. Press one cup of prepared sushi rice evenly over the nori sheet. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds over the rice.
  5. Carefully turn over the nori and rice
  6. Fill the length of the nori with radish sprouts, letting some of the leaves poke out of the ends. Lay one-fourth of the avocado and one-fourth of the cucumber as close as possible. Top with shrimp halves or sliced salmon.
  7. Lift the edge of the mat closest to you with both hands and roll and mat and its contents until the edge of the mat touches the nori, enclosing the filings completely. Lift up the edge of the mat you're holding, and continue rolling the roll away from you until it is sealed. {You can place a little water on the farthest edge of the nori to help}
  8. Cut the roll into 6 equal pieces, wiping your knife with a damp towel before each slice. Make 3 more rolls, following steps above. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Recipe courtesy Linda Wyner of Pans on Fire

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Colorful napkins

Burke Decor
I'm pretty sure that if I owned these colorfully printed napkins from Simrin I'd be having people over for dinner parties regularly just to be able to use them. Steamed artichokes, anyone? {that's pretty much all I can make}

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy President's Day!

{ Victory Paper Designs }
Hope you're enjoying your extra long holiday weekend! After catching a cold I've ended up treating the holiday weekend like a stay-cation, hopefully I'll be back into the swing of things real soon! xoxo

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Brass figurines

After discovering this brass elephant trinket box yesterday, I became obsessed with the little guy's antiqued finish and playful charm. Dare I say I enjoy him more than a Jonathan Adler bright white ceramic? Quite possibly. You can imagine my delight then when I came across a whole line of brass figurines from High Street Market later that day!

 Each one is so darn charming, I don't think I'll be able to resist adding one {or more} to our newly decorated home!

High Street Market

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Historically charmed

Last weekend I visited a historical park in our new hometown of Dublin. The attraction held a barn, schoolhouse and graveyard from the turn of the century when settlers from Ireland first established the town {a grade-school field trip was visiting as well, and I awkwardly couldn't pass through the group's tour guide's lecture and got an earful}. There was such quality and craftsmanship put into pieces back then; I've had Ikea furniture that's already turned into dust in the last 5 get you pay for, right? It fills me with inspirations of faded hues, intricate details, and charming brass finishes that hearken the times of yesteryear.

01. // 02. // 03. // 04. // 05.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

10 Things I Love About You garland + gift certificate

Fresh on the heels of Matt's proposal, I wanted to do something extra special for him for Valentine's Day today! This morning he woke up to a sweet treat bag at breakfast {balances out his Trix cereal nicely} and tonight he'll be coming home to this 10 Things I Love About You garland {with a gift certificate at the end!}.

Remember that Heath Ledger movie "10 Things I Hate About You"? My bestie and I practically burned out that VHS in high school...this is esentially playing off that title but in reverse, get it?? I wrote down 10 things I love about my fiance {though it was hard to keep it at just 10!} and hung them on a string across our bedroom door using binder clips that I adorned with paper hearts. I used my corner rounder on each to give a flash card type feel. For the last card I wrote "I love cooking meals with you on the weekends". An envelope at the end reveals a gift certificate for a Japanese cooking class for two for next weekend!

The class didn't have an actual certificate for me to use, so I went ahead and made one myself, complete with little sushis and a heart-lined envelope! This is such a treat to come home to on Valentine's Day or even an anniversary. I can't wait to make California rolls with my love! Hope you all have a lovely Valentine's with maybe a surprise or two! xoxo

Friday, February 10, 2012

Our House

More exciting news on the homefront...we bought a house! We've been househunting for awhile now and have finally found the most perfect house for us nestled into the hills of Dublin, California. We move in a few weeks {something we're all too familiar with} and we're so excited to start decorating and buying a few new pieces {meaning tossing out some old hand-me-downs from years past} for our new home. We're thinking mid-century modern bones infused with graphic lady-like pieces. Some examples of the thought process:

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5
And of course I've created a new Pinterest board to collect all my homeware inspirations {follow along!} favorites so far being this live-edge dining table and this rainy house print by Hollie Chastain {Matt and I both fell in the love with the house when we were first looking at it because we could imagine ourselves cozying up inside during a rainstorm. It's those moments that really make you feel at home}

dining table // chairs // sofa // rug // pillow // art // planter // coffee table
ps. Have you heard that Domino Magazine is returning to newsstands in April???? My heart just about leapt for joy!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

ferm living in the kitchen

So I'm no culinary master {my knowledge of cooking is limited to Top Chef marathons which we leave on for the dog when we leave the house...she has yet to have a soufflé waiting for us when we come home} but I'm pretty sure I'd be spending a lot more time whipping up a meal for my boo and guests if I had any of these pretty kitchen and dining tools from ferm Living's spring/summer line. The only thing I do know how to cook well are artichokes so the fact that they've used them in their catalog styling only affirms that they belong in my home {especially that graphic tray!}

ferm living

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Paper Crave's Valentine's printables

Big thanks to Kristen at Paper Crave for including my I'm Sweet on You treat bags in her V-Day printables post today! Check out the feature here and don't forget to download your own treat bag for your sweetie!

3 Date ideas for Valentine's Day

It's no secret that I'm one of those people who enjoys celebrating Valentine's Day. People say it's a fake holiday made up by greeting card companies just to sell cards, but I think there's something magical about celebrating the one you love on the same day as the rest of the world. If you're like me and counting down til V-Day, then here are a few fun date ideas and the gear you'll need for your special day
shoe // spoons // apron // skirt // shirt
Sign-up for a cooking class! There are a bunch of Valentine's Day themed cooking classes where you and your date can learn to make your own 5-course meal. And then you get to eat it! Way more fun than dinner at a stuffy restaurant.

dress // candy bag // eyeglasses // sandal // throw
Remember drive-in movies?? There's still one around here in Concord where you can watch a double feature all while in the comforts of your own car. You can catch that new release and have a conversation at the same time.

sweater // capri // hair clips // friendship bracelet // skate
Valentine's Day is about celebrating the ones you love, and whether or not I'm single I always try and send some love my girlfriends' way. A rollerskating date is so Middle School, back when us girls would stay up late gossiping on the phone and boys still had some form of cooties that we were not quite ready to explore yet.

Hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day date! xoxo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the Creative Suite: Melanie Blodgett

1. // 3. // 4. // 5. // 6. // 7.

Melanie is easily one of the most creative and crafty gals out there in the blogosphere. Her blog, You Are My Fave, showcases all kinds of easy and pretty DIY projects {this entire week is dedicated to all things lovey dovey! I can't wait to get tons of ideas for Valentine's Day!}. She shares the step-by-step process with such a casual sense of humor that you can't help but feel like you're reading a letter from your bestie who throws the most stylish parties in town. Let hang out in the Creative Suite with Melanie, shall we?

1. What did you want to be when you grew up? 
I wanted to work at a fashion magazine. Now that terrifies me thinking about working next to all of the extremely stylish ladies that actually work there. I would still love to work at Martha Stewart Living though.

2. What would you classify your design style as? 
An eclectic mix of clean industrial, traditional and mid-century mod.

3. What is your most favorite project you've worked on? 
Probably the baby shower I did for my sister. Her and her husband had waited a while to adopt so it was a joyful day when things worked out and her son joined their family.

I also love throwing an annual first day of summer party.

4. Who is your current designer obsession? 
Amanda Jane Jones can do no wrong. I wish I had an ounce of her talent.

5. Where would you like to see your business in 5 years? 
I hope to have the same flexibility I do now and still love doing it. I'm having a baby in a few months so being able to be a mom and work only as much as I want to is important to me.

6. What do you love to do on a day off? 
I love waking up slowly, going out to breakfast with my husband and enjoying the rest of the day lounging around. I'm kind of a homebody.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you call home? 
Somewhere where it's summer all year round. I think Hawaii and I would get along well.

Thanks Melanie! Check out You Are My Fave here! x

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wine tasting essentials

Happy Monday! Did you do anything fun this weekend? A bunch of us went wine tasting in Napa on Saturday and it was a perfectly sunny day to be strolling through vineyards while sipping on Pinots. It doesn't hurt that Matt's BFF just happens to be something of a wine connoisseur, so with him as our guide we we're always able to get the most out of tasting excursions. Here are a few essentials if you're ever planning a trip to any one of California's beautiful wine valleys.

01. // 02. // 03. // 04. // 05.
Breadsticks. Most tasting rooms have plenty of breadsticks on hand, but a few mom and pop vineyards might not have them. They're great palette cleansers to munch on so you don't confuse your Merlot with a Cabernet.

Wine Wipes. This handy little compact comes with 20 wipes to rid you of tannin teeth! {those terrible stains that wine lovers fall victim to} Just run over your teeth and mouth and order another round of reds. It also neutralizes acids that can corrode enamel.

H20. Any alcohol causes dehydration. Tack on walking around in the sun all day and it's a recipe for a wine headache. Remember to drink plenty of water between vineyards and tote it around in a cute, eco-friendly water thermos.

Bottle stopper. A few vineyards allow you to open their bottles to be enjoyed out on decks overlooking the grapevines. We might not finish the entire bottle in one sitting in which case putting a wine stopper in it to save the rest of the bottle is necessary. Afterwards, stick in the trunk of your car to avoid oxidation and going to jail for having an open container of alcohol in the cabin of the car ;)

Picnic lunch. Some vineyards have cafes with yummy lunch menus, but I find it sweeter to settle down for lunch with our own sandwiches and cheese on a sunny picnic table or in one of Napa's wide open fields.

ps. Perfect wine and cheese pairings
pss. Don't forget to enter the MyMemories giveaway!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Wedding Belles Collection SALE

Hi guys! We're having a big sale on our Wedding Belles invitations! I've shopped around at several different local printers, have felt many paper samples, and have found a new paper that's just as good as the old paper I was using but for a BETTER COST. In addition, I've added my design fees to the Wedding Belles suite, so it's less confusing in our discussions of hourly wages. So now the price you see on the sheet is the price you pay, it's as easy as that!

Take a look at our new pricing sheet and shoot me an e-mail at victorypaperdesigns[at] to get started on your wedding invitation suite! x

Giveaway: MyMemories digital scrapbooking software

The folks over at MyMemories are giving away free digital scrapbooking software {an $80 value!} to one lucky Victory Paper Designs reader!

MyMemories is an easy to use virtual suite that allows you to design pages that mimick the look of real scrapbook pages. It's a fun way to embellish your photographs and make lasting memories. I put together some pages using the suite to make my photos of my New Year's celebration a little special. It was probably my favorite New Year's I've celebrated; just an intimate gathering of my closest friends drinking wine, playing games, and huddling over a firepit in the backyard of one mother of a party house. It's a night I'll never forget!

To win your own MyMemories suite, simply follow Victory Paper Designs on Google Reader or Bloglovin' or Facebook...whichever your preferred network may be! Leave a comment below and don't forget to head over to to see all their pretty digital kits {the Sew in Love kit would be so sweet for Valentines}. A winner will be announced back here on Friday, February 10th! Good luck!

As a bonus, MyMemories is offering $10 off to everyone! Just enter the code 'STMMMS71752'

**This contest is closed, Connie is the winner!! Thanks for playing!**

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free Download: February desktop calendar

Photography by Hena Tayeb // Graphics by Victory Paper Designs

I'm feeling in a lovey dovey mood going into February. Valentine's Day is of course this month and it'll be my first time celebrating it as an engaged couple with my Matt! I've got all kinds of gifts planned for him and am looking forward to spoiling him rotten :)

For this month, I've created a desktop for you guys to reflect the sweetness I'm feeling in my heart {okay, okay, I'll stop being a sap now}. This collaboration comes from Hena Tayeb, an amazingly talented photographer; I couldn't resist her sunny chairs from Paris that I had to incorporate a Parisian pup feasting on a plate of spaghetti ala Lady and the Tramp style. Doesn't it make you cheery? Click below for the downloads!

Download large
Download small

{terms and conditions}
This desktop calendar is free for personal use, not for commercial distribution. If you wish to blog about this download please link back to this page and not the downloadable image. Do not sell, distribute, or copy this image. Enjoy your calendar!


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