Another Year Older

Well, it’s my birthday.

And I’m not big on my birthday. It’s not that I mind getting older. I guess because I always have too high of expectations for a perfect day. But I never really know what that perfect day is supposed to be. And damned if I’m always upset the day after my birthday for not taking advantage of having a whole day about me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never had a bad birthday, though my mum might say differently (yes, I cried at a lot of my parties as a kid). And, I don’t have many close friends around to celebrate with me. I’m a bit of a loner introvert at heart I suppose.

I’m also really shy about attention. And you wouldn’t think I’m shy if you know me, but it’s true. I hate public praise or compliments about my work or myself, even though I secretly really need it. But I usually feel guilty or embarrassed when I’m positively acknowledge. Pretty terrible, huh? So even a “Happy Birthday!” makes me want to skitter back to the safety of my dogs at plants.

This year, I’m once again feeling the birthday blues. Finances are tighter so we aren’t headed out to anywhere exciting or to do anything special. Aside from that, Bay Area blows for being able to travel anywhere in a reasonable amount of time anyways. Sorry SF, even a cheap day in the city isn’t worth the drive on weekday. Don’t fret about my birthday mopes though. My hubs always makes the day a bit more special for me somehow or another, my mum always spoils me with smiles and hugs and fun gifts and yummy treats. I also share my birthday with a very great man, something of which I’ve always been very proud.

You might be thinking, “Why are you posting about your birthday if you can’t handle a ‘Happy Birthday!’?” I’m trying to turn over a new leaf, to be more outgoing and to be more accepting of compliments and to have a lot more confidence and self-love. It comes with the territory of having two businesses that force me to interact with a lot of people and share my creativity. I’m also trying to be more real and share more vulnerabilities. Because surely I’m not the only one who gets a bit blue on their birthday, right?

Life isn’t perfect, days can be disappointing, but you know what? It’s getting easier each year I grow older to hold less expectations, take more birthday salutations and not be such a bummeroni. This morning I’ll start my day with a smile and be grateful that I’ve been blessed with another year on this earth. Happy Birthday me. ❤️ 🎉

 
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Looking Back on 2018

I suppose I could have done a recap on 2018 sooner but, if you're like me, creativity and work doesn't stop to allow a break in time. But since we get a timeline, I definitely want to reflect a little on 2018. It was a big year with lots of emotions. Twenty eighteen was my first full year being self-employed, which came with many challenges and joys. I got to be home with my dogs (I'm really quite dependent on them), I had a flexible schedule to do yoga and walk my dogs, landed my first exclusive surface design contract, was able to pay off debt and pay a few bills, made six foot menu boards for a high-end wedding, had multiple wedding contracts, was an editor's pick on @etsy and shipped more wrapping paper than I thought I ever could and finally found my art voice. Along with all the good, there of course comes some not so great. The first half of the year was very difficult with still reeling from the loss of my mother in law and challenging with open another business (which paid off BTW). Life was chaotic, tiring, and busy. I lacked a lot of balance and focus for most of the year. And though my QuickBooks is showing a tiny profit at this point, I struggled with being able to fully contribute to my household on a regular basis which caused a lot of strife under my roof. I was able to keep my business running though, and for having been more focused full time for just a year, I think that’s pretty awesome.

Overall, 2018 turned out a lot better than I thought it would but I'm so very excited to go into 2019 with everything I've learned and with new energy and focus. There's so much possibility and I'm so lucky to have an amazingly supportive group of other girl bosses and friends to help me along the way. Here's to 2019. May it be filled with success, joy, focus and creativity. Cheers! 🥂🍾💪🏻

Book List: My Fall TBR

I'm a really bad book nerd. I love to read but I feel guilty as hell anytime I sit still (that's why I have to knit or sketch ideas at breakfast dates and while watching TV). So I binge read, which often leads to greater guilt, a stiff back and a lack of sleep. But with wedding season slowing down, being more on top of holiday and portfolio prep and the studio running a bit more independently, I have a bit more free time. And let's face it,

I really need to take some down time now and then.

Plus, I have stacks of books with stiff spines like mine dying to have a little crack in them...but just a little, they need to stay pristine in their boxes on the bookshelf. So I've made a TBR for autumn and it's a big one. (Little known fact, I have an MO for buying lots of books and taking a million years to actually read them.) Here's what I have stacked on my bedside table for the next three months:

 

 

Siege and Storm

Leigh Bardugo

Unintentionally, I keep picking up YA novels because I get hooked on beautifully styled IG shots of moody and powerful covers  and then binge buy a series...Costco and B&N make this entirely too easy around the holidays when I'm feeling spendy and more bookish so let's blame them. My first YA was the Red Queen series...great idea, terribly written and apaling editing. The Grisha Trilogy has, so far, been a saving grace to present a similar story that is well written (and obviously well edited). I already started this second installment and am a bit turned off by the naivety of the main heroine, but hey, she's supposed to be a late teen and I know I was hot headed and and naive when I was her age so I'll cut a bit of slack. I'm still full captivated by the imagery and writing and interested in what comes next every chapter. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to the end of this long novel (I read the last few paragraphs of most books...tsk tsk...but I'm a goldfish and often forget halfway through what I read) but I'm hoping to see some growth of Alina and rooting for the demise of the Darkling while enjoying the imagery and fantastic languages Leigh Bardugo injects into the story.

 

Lily and the Octopus

Steven Rowley

Okay, technically I started this a while ago but it's taking me a long while because we all know how it will end and I really can't handle sad animal stories. (I silently balled at the end of Alex and Me in front of an entire room of visiting family. Highly recommend.) Steven Rowley does a great job with his characters and keeps your heartstrings taught. As a beyond avid dog lover, this book is difficult to take in but also something of an emotional outlet that allows me to share the grief of loss, not only of pets but also of family, with Ted (Lily's dad) and other dog parents. I'll let you know how much I cry when I reach the end...

 

Martin Marten

Brian Doyle

I technically started reading this one too and then forgot I did until delving into Siege and Storm...I think I only got a bit into it so I'll just restart to refresh the bit I've already forgotten.  This book was recommended to me by my mum and she had a copy so of course I accepted the loan. Plus, who doesn't like adorable martens? I've been lucky enough to see a little family in the wild and, whether or not there are actual martens in this story, I was hooked with the cute little mustelid on the cover. I've never read a Brian Doyle novel, but I've heard great things and I love nature themed novels so I'm hopeful to discover a new favorite author.

 

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

 Imogen Hermes Gowar

My reason for spontaneously buying this book? The alluring, Victorian sounding title and a curiosity of why one Mrs. Hancock would be fraternizing with said mermaid. Yup, Cerise's reasoning on picking up a novel. It doesn't always work out in my favor. Here's to hoping this lives up to it's Goodreads reviews.

 

The Silence of the Girls

Pat Barker

Honestly, in my book spending spontaneity with Book of the Month, I added this on with The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock because it was "free." I did read the summary and it does sound like a powerful story highlighting the strength of women in a misogynistic world. And I do love a good historical fiction novel.

 

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry

Fredrik Backman

My grandma had this book next to her chair last I visited (was she trying to tell me something??) and she said she was really enjoying the read. My mum also said it to be good novel and had a copy (she's a library!) so yes, this is on my shelf begging to be read. I've been curious about Ove and this may help me decide whether or not to add that to the winter TBR. I also may or may not have been drawn in by the cover art.

 

Ruin and Rising

Leigh Bardugo

Being that I read the first and second installments of the Grisha series, I probably should read the third installment, right? Plus, I have Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom waiting for my winter TBR. And since I accidently read the end of chapter 1 of this novel thinking it was the end end of the second novel and I have yet to goldfish it away, I'm intrigued, worried and I need to know what happens dammit.

 

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert

Everyone in my creative circle and their mum has read this (actually, don't quote me on their mums but my mum read it) so I figure I should give it a go. Seems to be a powerful and mayne introspective read. Plus, galaxy covers are pretty, 'nough said.

 

Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens

The synopsis of this novel sounds fairly intriguing but in all reality, the title pulled me in instantly. Spoiler alert, I don't think there are any cute crawdad quartets involved in this story. I will admit that I am turned off by the comparison to Barbara Kingsolver (I couldn't finish Flight Behavior. The idea and imagery were fantastic but I'm really turned off by whiny and naive main characters like Dellarobia. Please recommend another Kingsolver novel to change my mind about her books.) Aside from that hitch, I expect that this will be an interesting and perhaps culturally insightful novel.

 

 

And that is my autumn TBR folks.

It's a little overwhelming like an eager to-do list of house cleaning that's been negleted for months, but I'll let it go through the end of November with the hopes that I cram a ton in over Thanksgiving break. I'm a binger, remeber?

Have you read any of these books? Let me know if you did and whether you loved them, hated them, or?? I'm also taking suggestions for my Winter TBR, though my want to read list is already very, very long of course.

 

Let connect on Goodreads, Instagram and email!

 

 

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3 Must Try Lavender Honey Tea Lattes

 
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Are you a lavender fanatic like myself?

Maybe a tea AND a lavender lover?

Then you came to the right place! I kicked the coffee chug a few months ago and noticed a huge benefit to my overall health and productivity. (Don't worry, I'm not here to soap-box about switching off your coffee intake, I know it's amazing, it's just not right for me right now.) But I really missed having a hot drink in the morning. So I decided to make matcha almond milk lattes.

Amazing as they are, I got a little bored with matcha every morning.

Even with a maca interruption every now and then, I was wanting something new. So I decided to experiment with some fog style variants. Early grey is one of my fave teas so I grabbed the last sachet in my tea cupboard, pulled out my favorite morning mug, set the tea to steep and turned on the espresso machine. While waiting for the Breville to heat up for my almond milk, I wandered past my dining room and experienced a wonderful scent of lavender from the drying bouquet gifted to me earlier in the week. It smelled so pleasant, I thought to pluck off a cluster of flowers and plop it into my steeping tea. The scent was amazing! After steaming my milk, I pulled the tea bag and lavender out of my mug, mixed some local honey into the hot almond milk , poured in the "fog" and was eager to drink my little experiment.

My tastebuds were in heaven!

I loved the flavor so much that I decided to try a few different teas with the lavender and honey. Her are the simple recipes for my favorite lavender honey teas:

 
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Lavender Honey London Fog

- 1 Earl Grey Tea Bag or Loose Leaf Tea (my favorite is Double Bergamot Earl Grey  by Stash)

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and raw...it really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug

 

Making the lattes

1. Start your water to boil and place your tea bag and lavender into your favorite cup

2. While the water comes to a boil, turn on your steamer and pour your almond milk into a steam pitcher. Steam your milk, making sure to allow air into the very top layer of your milk to achieve a lovely foam. If you don't have a steamer, heat up your almond milk on the stove top or in the microwave. If you like foam, invest in a little frother whip. They work really well!

3. As your milk continues to heat up, pour hot water over your tea bag and lavender and let steep.

4. Remove your milk from the heat, clean your steam wand and add honey into the milk. If you're using a frother whip, whip air into your hot milk for a frothier top. But be careful! It can get a little wild and milk may go flying out depending how full your container is! (Yes, I speak from experience.)

5. Remove your tea bag and lavender from your mug, then pour your honeyed almond milk into your tea and enjoy! (If you're an American tea heathen like me, you can leave your tea bag and flowers in the mix...I like my flavor STRONG. Sorry for making the rest of you tea drinkers cringe.)

 
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Jasmine Green Tea Lavender & Honey Latte 

- Jasmine Green Tea or your favorite green tea in bag or loose leaf

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and raw...it really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug

- Matcha (optional to sprinkle on top of your foam)

 

(repeat prep instructions above)

 
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In preparing green tea, you may want to remove the bag or tea strainer before adding the honeyed almond milk. Green teas can be quite strong and earthy and cut the flavor of this recipe if steeped too long. You may also want to start your green tea steeping with cold water to get the best benefits from the tea!

 
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Lavender & Honey Chai Tea Latte

- 1 Chai Tea Bag, Loose Leaf Tea or Chai Concentrate

- Pinch of lavender buds (about one flower head worth or 1 tsp)

- Almond Milk (Califia barista is a fantastic and frothy)

- Honey (preferably local and raw...it really is yummier!)

- Hot water

- Steamer or a frother whip

- Your favorite mug

- Nutmeg (optional to sprinkle on top of your foam)

 

(repeat prep instructions above)

Are you using your favorite chai concentrate like Tazo or Oregon Chai? Add it directly to you milk and steam!

 

I hope you enjoy these recipes! If you do, you can prep your teas ahead of time and refrigerate them to heat up later or drink iced. I make a weekly batch of lavender and earl grey tea and keep it in the fridge to make my drink prep in the mornings go just a bit quicker. You can add your tea concentrate directly to your milk when you steam or heat! And to make it even more fun, I made a tag to hang on the bottle I use for my concentrate. You can download one for yourself here! Let me know what you think of these and if you've tried any others that you love to kickstart your morning!

 
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