Palm Springs Essentials

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PALM SPRINGSSSS. I L-O-V-E Palm Springs, and I’m blessed to live a 90 minute car ride away from heaven in the desert. Two of my dear friends from college and I are doing a quick weekend trip soon, and I decided to start preparing my must-haves for the trip. Surprise, it’s basically cactus everything!!!

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1.Take your selfies with a phone protected by a saguaro cactus case. Not only is this super cute, but the brand name is SARINA. My name!!! Spelled the way I spell it! I was very excited when I found this in the Nordstrom’s Rack checkout line.

2. A quick (and very disappointing) google search revealed that there are NO saguaro shaped sunglasses for sale. Tragic. I settled with these heart shaped sunglasses. I guess EVERYTHING can’t be cactus themed, right? And with these, you can have literal emoji heart eyes 100% of the time while wearing them. You win some, you lose some.

3. It’s really hot in the desert, so bring a hyrdroflask for water. Mine is in the color ‘citron,’ and as you can see, it is very dented well loved. My friends fiancé once noted that it looked like it had been through World War 2. Considering how many times I’ve dropped it, he’s not exactly wrong.

4. Have you ever had a sunburn so bad that you can’t move? I definitely have. Between falling asleep in the sun, forgetting to put on sun screen, or accidentally going on a 5 hour hike (that’s a story for another time…), I have endured my fair share of painful, blistering sunburns. I plan on preventing that with my favorite sunscreen.

5. Two words: Cactus. Floatie. Like everyone, I was totally on board with the explosion last summer of super cute pool floaties. I sported the swan float last summer, but when I decided to book a Palm Springs trip, one of the first things I did was order a saguaro shaped floatie. I’m SUPER excited to use it.

6. iPhone photos are great, don’t get me wrong. But if you have access to a DSLR, BRING IT. My Nikon D7200 goes everywhere with me anyway, but I’m bringing all my gear to Palm Springs. There are soooo many photo opportunities, which is one of my favorite things about PS.

7. In addition to my Nikon, I’ll be throwing my instax mini 8 and some film into my luggage. When the instax cameras first became popular, I struggled to see the appeal. I have a DSLR, why would I want to carry around any other camera?! But I soon realized that they are very different, and especially for special occasions like vacations, I think it’s worth it to bring along both. I’m preparing myself for a instax album of plant photos.

8. Let everyone know that you’re vacationing in the desert with tags from made well on your luggage! I have quite a collection of these things things at this point, but a polkadot cactus and a vacation tag definitely say Palm Springs trip!

9. Finally, you’ll want some guides to help you make the most of your trip. The Palm Springs Mod app is awesome if you’re interested in doing some site seeing of the architectural awesomeness that is Palm Springs. The Palm Springs app has tons of information on a lot of different things, from restaurants, to hiking spots, etc. You can find both of these on the apple app store.

There ya go. 9 Palm Springs essentials. What do you bring on your trip to the desert?

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Succulent Sunday

I love plants. For those of you who know me, that comes as no surprise. If you follow me on instagram, (which you totally should!) you might have seen that I brought home some new plant babies recently. I decided to plant the newbies in a pot with a few extra lone succulents I had. I always feel like they look better nestled together.

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Wouldn’t you agree?

DSC_1864When arranging succulents, I try to stick to a color scheme to keep things coordinated. For this, I picked tones of green and purple. I took the new succulents that I bought, and grabbed other succulents in that color scheme that I thought would work well together. I also try to pick a variety of sizes, grabbing 1-2 large succulents, and then fill the remaining spaces with medium to small plants.

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Eventually these guys will start having a root ball that intertwines. If you plan to

If you want to watch a video, I recorded it!

Old Places Made New

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I spent four years living on the campus of my Alma Mater, Concordia University Irvine. Four years that I had the opportunity to explore the campus grounds. And did I? Nope.

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It wasn’t until just recently, three years after I graduated, when my current roommate and fellow 2014 alumni and I, ended up going for a walk around the campus, and happened upon this really amazing view.

DSC_9503The hillllls are aliveeeeeeeeeee…

DSC_9274Standing in a bunch of super tall, wild mustard may sounddddd like a good idea, and you’ll probably get some cool photos from it, but…

DSC_9298…you’ll probably also end up with like a million and a half bug bites, which I am still itching as I write this 4 days later.

DSC_9416One of the cool things about this particular part of the campus is that you get untouched wildlife, currently covered in wild mustard flowers and other various native California plants, combined with the downtown Irvine in the background.

DSC_9418That’s definitely one of the things that I love most about Orange County. I get nature and untouched land, including rolling hills of green and wildflowers, combined with the convenience of a starbucks on every corner and the feel of a city without the complete insanity of true city life.

DSC_9444Luckily I still live super close to Concordia, and have access to exploring any time I want. It was definitely a lesson in exploring where I’m at when I’m there. I spend so much time dreaming of exploring the world, and often forget that there are things to explore right in my backyard.

DIY Pallet Garden

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This is probably one of my favorite DIY projects that I’ve ever done. It’s quite easy, cost effective, and super versatile. It’s great for apartments or small spaces because it stands vertical, and you can grow basically whatever you want in it. I filled mine with flowers, but I can see this working really well as an herb garden, or filled with succulent arrangements.

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For this tutorial, you will need:
-A pallet
-Terra Cotta pots (I used 8)
-Wire
-A wire cutter and crimper
-Electric drill
-3/8” drill bit
*You’ll notice that there is a nail and hammer in the photograph – I didn’t end up using those!

A note about materials:

I chose copper wire, mostly because it’s pretty! (There is a lot of NOT pretty wire out there, I have now discovered.) This wire is also rustproof, which makes it more durable for outside use and plant watering.

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Next, grab your wire and the wire cutters. Before cutting your strip of wire, wrap it around the terra cotta pot, just below the extended lip. Leave about 4 to 5 inches sticking off of the base of the pot, as you can see in above photo, and cut the wire.

IMG_3704.JPGNow that you have the length of the wire measured, use that as a ruler to cut wire for the remainder of the other pots. Repeat for the number of pots that you’re attaching to the pallet.

IMG_3702 2.JPGSet the wires aside, and lay out your terra cotta pots on the pallet to plot where you want each of them to go. Mark the location with a bit of painters tape.

IMG_3687.JPGDrill a hole in each of the points where you want your pots to go. You want the hole to be able to fit 2x the diameter of the wire (since both ends will be pulled through the hole.)

IMG_3674.JPGThread each end of the wrapped wire through the holes in the pallet.

IMG_3663.JPGFlip your pallet over, and reach your hand through to the back side where the wire is sticking out. Twist the wires around each other a few times, and then push each end taught against the back of the pallet. Ensure that it’s sturdy, as it will need to support the weight of the pot, dirt, and plant.

IMG_3662.JPGRepeat.

IMG_3649.JPGNow that you have all of the wires installed, you can add your pots! I removed each one when I filled it with the plant. That’s the really nice thing about the design – you can remove the pots to make planting much easier. I’ve seen some similar designs out there, but the pots are secured so tightly that you can’t remove them, which adds an extra unnecessary hassle.

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I hope you enjoyed! Let me know what you would fill it with next!

DIY Driftwood Candle

I have a chronic need to change the decorations on my dining room table. I feel like I’m never quite satisfied, or it’s never quite perfect. I’ve had numerous bouquets of flowers, almost just as many vessels for said flowers, candle stick holders, unique/vintage salt and pepper shakers, wood blocks, table runners, the list goes on. But! I finally found a solution. A driftwood candle.

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I think that this works for a couple reasons. I love the natural element of the driftwood, and I really enjoy having a little piece of the coast on my dining room table. It’s also great because it’s super low, so you can still see over the top when dining with people, but it’s enough of a statement that it doesn’t get overlooked.

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There’s a ton of places to get driftwood online, but I was able to snag mine locally. (If you can’t find easily accessible or affordable driftwood, you could totally do this project using a wood block, a thick tree branch, etc.) To start, I grabbed a drill bit and began drilling circular holes into the top of the wood until I was satisfied with the space for the candle.

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You don’t have to, but I would recommend sanding down the edges to help create a smooth canal for the wax to be poured into.

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Next, use hot glue or industrial glue to tack the metal piece of the wick down to the bottom of the wood. Let dry.

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Take a stick of some sort (I used a dollar store wooden spoon), and wrap the top of the wicks around the tool. Let rest on the top of the wax well.

Time to prepare your wax. I used these wax flakes. Follow this tutorial to see how I melt wax for candles. I chose to keep this candle unscented, as I plan on putting this on the dining room table, and I didn’t want it to interact with the smell of food. If you wanted to add an essential oil, now would be the time to do it.

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Slowly pour the wax into the driftwood. I noticed that the wax wasn’t quite level, so I put a towel underneath one side until it laid parallel. Then, let the wax harden. I let mine dry overnight. After it’s been dried, cut the wicks to your desired length, and viola! A candle.

*troubleshooting tips: If you spill wax on the wood in an unwanted area, there’s a couple different things you can do to remove it. If you decide to use the torch to add texture to the wood, you can burn off the spilled wax using the torch. It’ll work double duty, as when the wax burns off you’ll have a really nice charcoaled area. Additionally, you can use a silicone scraper to try and scrape wax drips off of the driftwood. I used both of these techniques when finalizing my candle.

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When I examined my candle the next morning, it felt like there was something missing. I grabbed my creme brule butane torch, and gently began burning some of the edges of the driftwood. It gave it a really cool, textured look, and it definitely reminded me of a bonfire. It kind of brought the beachy bonfires that I’ve enjoyed so many times into the apartment.

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I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I think it’ll settle my desire to compulsively change the centerpiece for a little while.

The Easiest Way to Melt Wax for Candles

Melting wax has always been a rather daunting task for me. I’ve tried for ages to find an easy way to melt wax that doesn’t involve ruining a cooking pan, or spending half an hour standing in front of the microwave, stirring every minute or so. Behold: the pyrex cup double boiler.

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I started by putting a pyrex measuring cup full of wax flakes inside a medium sauce pan, hooking the handle over the edge. Fill the saucepan with water until it’s an inch or two below the rim of the pyrex cup, and put it on a burner. A benefit to having it hang like this is that the glass isn’t resting directly on the burner or on the bottom of the pan (which could damage it), and the entire mug is surrounded in water.

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The wax melts pretty quickly. The first cup melts down in about 5 after the water starts boiling. After the first batch melts down, you can add more wax flakes until you have the right amount of melted wax.

The saucepan with the boiled water was still clean and wax free, I just wiped it down quickly. The glass of the pyrex mug is easy to clean, but I keep one mug designated for melting wax. At only a few dollars, it’s way more reasonable to have a designated measuring cup, as opposed to a designated sauce pan.

Use the wax however you choose! 🙂

Rhinestoned Vanity

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My roommates birthday was at the beginning of April, so naturally I waited until the end of May to start her birthday gift. This post is a two parter, so be sure to check back for the final result.

For this first part (the part where you apply the rhinestones), you’ll need:
-rhinestones (there are over 10,000 on this 4’ish by 1.5’ish desk)
-a silicone spreader
-industrial strength glue (I used E6000)
-a sharpened colored pencil
-a TOOOON of time (applying the gems alone too me about 12 hours in total.)

Start with a desk, coffee table, end table, or any sort of surface that you think could use some rhinestones (so basically anything, as we all know rhinestones make everything better.)

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To start, apply some glue to a small area of the desk. (I did mine in about 4×4 inch squares.)

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Spread it out evenly with the silicone spreader, and then sprinkle on some of the rinestones. Some will lay flat (yay!), but most will be on their side, or upside down.

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With your sharpened pencil, begin flipping the rhinestones, pressing them into the glue. After you’ve finished an area, repeat the process until the entire surface is covered. Don’t worry about getting bits of glue on the tops of the rhinestones, or in between the rhinestones. Once it’s covered in resin (which comes in step two), it won’t be apparent. The idea behind it is super super simple, but the task of applying that many rinestones by hand is certainly daunting. Totally, totally worth it though.

Here’s a super quick video of the beginning process. Stay tuned for part 2!

Rain in Southern C.A.

You heard me. It’s RAINING. In Southern California. If you need some reference for what it’s like when mysterious water droplets fall on our usually temperate area, watch this buzzfeed video. It’s pretty accurate. Needless to say, I have almost zero use for rain gear, aside from the few days a year that we manage to get some rainfall.

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Despite the complete lack of need, I actually do own a fair amount of rain gear. So, naturally, I took the opportunity to break it out at the first sight of precipitation. I LOVE my rain boots. The rain boots that all of my friends laughed at me for buying, because, I live in Southern California. They had a good point, but now I have the ability to splash in puddles, so I think we all know who’s winning in this scenario. (Me.)

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I bought the umbrella for similar reasoning that I bought the boots. My necessity level for an umbrella is pretty low, but it’s super cute, has a watermelon print, and somewhere deep down I knew I would one day put it to good use. Taking this photo was the good use. I haven’t actually ever used it to keep me dry…

DSC_0188.jpg I got this Michael Kors rain jacket from Nordstrom’s Rack yearssss ago. I think I snagged it in Las Vegas during my last year of high school. It’s actually gotten some decent use, as I break it out whenever it gets cold here (so like… below 65…).

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Bonus to humid weather, my hair unleashes its wavy potential and I get these super cool mermaid curls.

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And hey, if I ever travel to a place that’s rainy, I’ll be all set. I think that’s a good excuse to buy a plane ticket.

Italian Deli Meat Wrapped Asparagus

I will admit, this creation came about as a “I have ingredients in my fridge that I need to get rid of.” Some of the best (and also the worse…) culinary creations have come from that particular predicament, but this definitely turned out to be one of the best. Yay!!

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1) Clean and trim your asparagus, and sautéing it in a pan with a bit of olive oil. I didn’t season these (not even with salt!), because the cured meat is going to bring in the extra flavor.

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2) Prepare your assembly station. Be sure to let the asparagus cool before you start wrapping it!! Lay a few spears of asparagus across the meat slice, about 1/3 of the way up.

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3) Begin wrapping, keeping your roll as tight as possible. Place your newly wrapped veggies into a dry pan on medium low, seam side down. Press and hold it for a few seconds until the roll will stay in place without any pressure. You don’t need toothpicks, as the meat will cook together at the seam, although you can use them if you’d like.

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4) Roll the wrapped asparagus around the pan until all sides of the cured meat are browned. Remember, you’re not really cooking anything since the asparagus was cooked already, and the meat was previously cured. You just want to add some of that golden brown caramelization to the meat.

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5) That’s it! You’re done. These turned out a lot better than I expected actually.

I think these are great as a special side dish. If you trimmed the asparagus up a bit and used toothpicks, I think it would be a great hors d’oeuvres for a party too! Let me know what you think these would go with!