The Successful Hosting Series: Paperless Post

Part of being a proper host includes sending out a proper invitation for your get together. You could be throwing together an easy, mid-week dinner party or a full-blown soirée. Regardless of the occasion or level of effort going into your preparation, a quick invitation always adds a certain level of excitement and anticipation for your guests. Paperless Post makes this so, so simple. I promise you— the hardest part will be narrowing down your favorites.

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The Weekender Guide: 36 Hours in San Francisco

I have to admit that living in Southern California definitely has its advantages as far as weekend getaways are concerned. You can hop on a quick flight up the coast, or opt for a slow crawl along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) with the windows down and salty breeze in your hair.

Last August, Jeff and I took advantage of having a work-free weekend to spend together. We decided to buy tickets to fly to San Francisco for the weekend. We arrived late Saturday morning… after our initial flight was delayed due to fog (every. single. time.). We then proceeded to do everything possible within about 36 hours before we had to return home Sunday evening.

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By Sunday evening, we were exhausted and had sore feet, but felt that we had accomplished a significant amount of “sight seeing” and took full advantage of our weekend getaway. Keep reading for a play-by-play of our weekend.

dropped off bags at hotel  {union square}
lunch at hard water  {pier 3 • the embarcadero}
shopping + ice cream at the ferry building
explored fort point beneath the golden gate bridge
views from coit tower
coit stairs back down to the city
showers back at the hotel
dinner overlooking the bay bridge
drinks at top of the mark

breakfast at the hotel
walked to union square to hop on cable car
cable car to fisherman’s wharf
walked ghiradelli square + enjoyed a beer
lunch at the pier (again) + long walk to the stadium

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In Good Health: Sweet Summer Salad

Sometimes you just need a mid-week salad to pick you up a bit. Something that tastes like it took a LOT longer to make… like you put MUCH more effort into it. But you also want a little surprise and a little sweetness to edge off your sugar craving. Here’s your answer.

Meet my sweet summer salad. Unoriginal name, I know. But at least I gave you an alliteration. It has greens. It has herbs. It has tangy balsamic. It has sweet berries. And it’s delicious.

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red leaf lettuce, chopped
strawberries, sliced
blackberries, halved
blue cheese, crumbled
fresh dill, chopped
fresh mint, chopped
balsamic glaze
extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper

(1)  combine lettuce, berries, herbs, and cheese
(2)  drizzle balsamic glaze + olive oil over the top
(3)  add salt + pepper to taste
(4)  toss ingredients together & serve

The Successful Hosting Series: Reviewing Food52

Food52 just gets me. And by “gets me,” I mean understands me to my core, knows all of my weaknesses, and somehow makes me wish I had an extra $450 around to spend on copper nesting bowls. Seriously. COPPER NESTING BOWLS. Who actually, genuinely needs those? Nobody, really. But that’s precisely the point. You don’t realize you need them until you see them… and at that point, they just can’t be unseen.

You know those classic getting-to-know-you questions… Where are you from? What do you do for a living? What do you enjoy doing with your spare time? Okay, that last one… If we are being honest, my answer is shopping for everything home. Because when I have free time, I like to go online and put EVERYTHING in my cart. I watch the total creep up higher and higher, but here’s the catch: I don’t click “Proceed to Checkout.” Okay, I usually don’t click it. On the occasions when I can’t resist, it’s always a calculated decision… or it’s a spontaneous decision for something pretty amazing.

So when I tell you that Food52 just gets me, just take a moment to digest that and realize this is coming from a person who keeps her phone bedside so she can peruse the worldwide web at night for table linens and serveware… you know, all the essentials.

Full disclosure: I have 36 items in my Food52 cart right now approaching the $2,000 mark.

cheers. a

LJL-SHS Reviewing Food52All items are sourced from Food52

(1) Milk Bottle Match Striker

(2) Pewter Straining Spoon

(3) Porcelain Herb Flower Pot

(4) Porcelain Enamelware Nesting Bowls

(5) Wire Clips

(6) Porcelain Spoon Rest

(7) Brass Napkin Holder

(8) Gold-Dipped Serving Bowls

(9) Walnut Cutting Board

The Weekender Guide: Across the Bay

It’s nearly June and summer in San Diego is just around the corner. One of our favorite things to do when we have a weekend together is to spend it enjoying our city. That usually involves being outside: going on a hike, walking through the farmer’s market, exploring Balboa Park, et cetera. One of our more memorable weekend excursions included a lot of eating, a lot of walking, and a little ferry ride.

I think the Coronado Ferry is one of those things that San Diego has to offer that is significantly underrated. For less than $5, you can get from Coronado to either the Broadway Pier or the Convention Center in about 15 minutes. Bonus points: If you live in Coronado and work downtown, you can ride the ferry FOR FREE between 5:40 am and 8:50 am… and they’ll even give you a return ticket to go back at the end of your work day!

So, the next time you have the better part of a day to do nothing but enjoy San Diego, try taking a leisurely ride across the bay.

Departing from Coronado…

  • If you like hassle-free parking, depart from Coronado. The ferry landing has a parking lot, but if it looks crowded, just find a spot along 1st Street.  There’s usually plenty of street parking.
  • Walk over to the pier to purchase a round-trip ticket from the yellow ticket machine. Once the ferry arrives, double check where it’s going before jumping on board. There are separate schedules for the Convention Center and Broadway Pier.
    • The Convention Center ferry runs every 30 minutes. The first departure from Coronado is at 9:10 am, and the last is at 9:40 pm. On Fridays + Saturdays, the ferry runs for an extra hour, making the last departure at 10:40 pm. The ferry drops you off right in front of the Convention Center, so you’re a short walk from the Gaslamp, Petco Park, and more.
    • The Broadway Pier ferry runs every hour. The first departure from Coronado is at 9:30 am, and the last is at 9:30 pm. On Fridays + Saturdays, the ferry runs for an extra hour, making the last departure at 10:30 pm. The ferry drops you off at Broadway Pier (right by the USS Midway and Seaport Village).

Departing from the Convention Center…

  • You can hunt around for street parking on one of the side streets off of East Harbor Drive. Or, you can pay $15-35 to park at the Convention Center.
  • The pier for the ferry is behind the Convention Center, adjacent to Embarcadero Marina Park South. You’ll find a yellow ticket machine by the entrance gate. Buy your round trip tickets here and then grab a spot in line.
  • The Convention Center ferry runs every 30 minutes. The first departure is at 9:25 am, and the last is at 9:55 pm.
    • On Fridays + Saturdays, the ferry runs for an extra hour, making the last departure at 10:55 pm.

Departing from Broadway Pier…

  • If you are having a lucky day, or if you get off to an early start and beat the crowds, you may be fortunate enough to find a metered parking spot directly along the bay on North Harbor Drive. Otherwise, there are plenty of lots nearby for $20 and under. And, as always with downtown, you can try your luck at street parking.
  • You’ll see a large, blue Flagship ticket booth in front of the pier. Purchase your round trip tickets there and hop in line to wait for the ferry.
  • The Broadway Pier ferry runs every hour. The first departure is at 9:00 am, and the last is at 9:00 pm.
    • On Fridays + Saturdays, the ferry runs for an extra hour, making the last departure at 10:00 pm.

Arriving at Coronado…

  • If you are hungry by the time you dock at Coronado, grab breakfast or lunch across the street from the landing at Tartine. Tip: They have great coffee; order an iced latte with whole milk + cinnamon on top.
  • You can rent bikes at one of the landing shops to get around the island. Bonus points: Ride over to Boney’s Bayside Market and grab sandwiches from the deli. Then ride to the beach for a little seaside picnic.
  • Stop along Orange Avenue for some snacking + shopping. Grab a juice at Juice Crafters to sip on while you check out some of the local shops. Make your way down Orange Avenue until you get to the Del.
  • Park your bikes and venture through the famous Hotel Del. Grab an ice cream at MooTime or a drink at 1500 Ocean.
  • Hop on your bikes and start heading back to the other end of the island. If you haven’t had any ice cream by now, you absolutely need to stop at Clayton’s Coffee Shop. Go to the walk-up order window along 10th Street and get a soft-serve vanilla cone dipped in chocolate. You’re welcome.
  • If you feel like a movie, stop at the Village Theater to see what’s playing.
  • Finish riding back to the landing, return your bikes, and grab a sunset dinner at Candelas before grabbing your ferry.

Arriving at the Convention Center…

  • Climb the famous Convention Center stairs and make your way towards the Gaslamp.
  • If you’re in the mood for beer + baseball, ask Siri if there’s a game going on at Petco Park.
  • Craving mexican food? Check out Lolita’s on Park Blvd. It’s one of six locations of what I consider to be the best taco shop in San Diego.
  • Grab a rooftop lunch at Rustic Root on 5th Avenue. Or push it off until dinner and take advantage of their happy hour menu from 4-6pm (Monday through Friday only).

Arriving at Broadway Pier…

  • If you’ve never been, check out the USS Midway. Ticket prices vary (discounted rates for students, seniors, retired military, and kids; free admission for kids 5 & under, active-duty military, law enforcement, and firefighters).
  • If you feel like continuing with museum day, visit the Star of India.
  • Walk over to The Headquarters at Seaport Village to enjoy lunch.
    • If you’re in the mood for tacos + margaritas, check out Puesto.
    • If you’re craving a steak, grab a table at Eddie V’s.
  • After lunch, explore the shops before walking over to Seaport Village.
  • Enjoy an ice cream cone from Ben & Jerry’s as you walk through Seaport Village and along the bay.

In Good Health: Bobbing for Apples

I have three words for you and you’ve probably already heard them. Because honestly, it’s all over the place. Ready? Apple cider vinegar. I know, I know. But seriously, the stuff is amazing and you can spend hours reading about everything it does.

I remember standing in my kitchen nearly a decade ago. My best friend and I had just finished a hike and decided the next logical thing to do in our quest for overall health was to take a shot of apple cider vinegar. What a mistake. 

I feel like there’s this gradual build up that has to happen with apple cider vin. It’s a full process. For me, the easiest way to start is by mixing 1/2 tablespoon of it in a full glass of hot water. If I’m able to continue that on a daily basis, I gradually keep increasing the amount of vinegar. You have to ease yourself into it.

Something kind of amazing happened though. Bragg came out with a version that’s pre-blended WITH HONEY. You have absolutely no idea how much more tolerable this makes it. It’s everything you could want in a bottle… minus the tequila.

Here are some ways that I try to sneak apple cider vinegar into my everyday diet:

  • One word: marinate! Equal parts oil + vinegar are classic parings for a great marinade. Add in some extra goodies like fresh chopped garlic and shallots, a little sea salt + black pepper, and you’re good to go! Throw it all in a bag and forget about it for a few hours.
  • Make a salad for lunch and throw together a simple oil-vinegar dressing. Mix a little olive oil, a generous splash of apple cider vin, a little sea salt + black pepper, and maybe some fresh squeezed lemon or chopped garlic. From there, you can be as simple or as creative as you’d like with the rest of your ingredients. The best part is that you can just keep building on it and taste as you go. The possibilities are endless!
  • Make your morning smoothie as normal, but add 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vin. Chances are you won’t even taste the kick of vinegar in there!
  • If you gravitate towards cold, carbonated drinks (read: sodas), then try mixing sparkling water with lime juice and a tablespoon of apple cider vin over ice. You’ll end up with a cold, refreshing boost of energy.
  • Add a bottle to your bar cart and start testing out new cocktail recipes. You’ll be surprised at how versatile it can be… and at how you’ll hardly notice it’s there when you’re sipping on your gin + tonic!
  • Keep it classic: Drink a glass of hot water in the morning with a tablespoon (or less) of apple cider vin.


live better. a

The Successful Hosting Series: All About Napkins

Does anyone else have a compulsive problem with napkins?

Napkins, yes. I go weak for napkins. If I were to hand my laptop to you, you’d find a browser history full of searches for “linen napkins.” Lie beside me at bedtime and you can observe as I scroll through hundreds of results on Etsy for an hour straight. I have a genuine, serious, bonafide issue.

Let me preface this by saying that shopping for anything that is related to home or entertaining generally excites me. Whether I’m looking for an olivewood serving bowl or a set of linen hemstitch napkins, I’m all in— mentally, emotionally, financially.

The issue part of this napkin situation comes into play with the variety. There are the classic white, monogrammed linen napkins for your buttoned-up Sunday dinners. There are light blue and white seersucker ones for your outdoor summer barbecues. There are sets of linen ones with fringe edges, stitched edges, and scalloped edges. Some are embroidered, and some are screen printed. These are just a few types that you would want to include should you desire a well-rounded collection of napkins. As you can imagine, it is quite the rabbit hole to explore.

I’ve invested an extensive amount of “research” into napkins… so, as a self-proclaimed expert, I’ve compiled a list of the essentials for you.

cheers. a

LJL-SHS All About Napkins

(1) White Linen Napkins with Fringe Edge • Pottery Barn, $48 for a set of 4

(2) Wine & Cream Chambray Fringe Napkins • Pehr Designs, $10 each

(3) Bon Appetit Embroidered Napkins • Anthropologie, $32 for a set of 4

(4) White Napkins with Chambray Edge • Anthropologie, $10 each

(5) Agrarian Striped Linen Napkins • Food 52, $85 for a set of 4

(6)  White Linen Napkins with Monogram • Food 52, $65 for a set of 4

The Weekender Guide: Sedona

I think it’s fairly safe to say that Sedona is one of those places known for relaxation, renewal, and rejuvenation. It’s somewhere you can go to just stop for a moment, get some grounding, and breathe. We have family in Arizona, so on our last visit, we decided to make a day trip to Sedona. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the trip.

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You could easily spend a full weekend in Sedona and I’m fairly confident that at the end of that weekend, you would leave feeling rested and recharged. Bonus: I really think they have something for everyone. It is definitely worth putting on your radar.

  • If you want to feel “one with nature”… Stop by Bell Rock on your way in
  • If you want to squeeze in a hike… Check out Broken Arrow Trail
  • If you love water… Take a dip at Slide Rock
  • If your favorite part of vacationing is seeing the local shops… Check out the beautiful Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
  • If you can’t go anywhere without the full “tourist experience”… Make a reservation with Pink Jeep Tours
  • If you just need a little R&R… Pick from one of many luxurious spas


enjoy. a


In Good Health: Diffusing Essential Oils

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As you will soon discover with the In Good Health series, I am a purist at heart. I gravitate towards natural health remedies, and tend to be skeptical of solutions that are chock-full of ingredients you can’t pronounce and promise overnight transformation.

With that said, essential oils have been something that I’ve incorporated into my daily life for the past 5+ years. You can do so many different things with them… the applications and benefits are (nearly) endless.

In my opinion, the easiest way to start incorporating oils into your daily life is to use a diffuser.

  • I currently have this diffuser in my bedroom, kitchen, and living room. You can fill it up and it will run for five hours. I turn it on every night before I get in bed and let it run as I fall asleep.
  • I prefer this smaller option for my desk at work. It plugs directly into a USB port and runs for four hours. I usually run it a few times per week, especially when I feel a headache coming on from staring at a computer screen, or if I have low energy and can’t focus.
  • This nebulizing diffuser is on my wishlist. Unlike the ones listed above that require you to dilute the oils with water, this one releases only pure essential oil into the air.


Once you have your diffuser, you can start your collection of oils. Before you start your shopping, there are a few things you should keep in mind…

  • Oils get old, so be cautious of over-purchasing when you’re just starting off.
  • Some brands sell organic options. If that’s important in your home, then look for organic when you’re shopping— especially for “the basics.” Note: Organic is going to be particularly significant if you are planning to ingest the oils or put them on your skin.
  • Some brands dilute oils. I prefer to buy 100% pure essential oil, so that’s always something I look for on the label. Again, this is more of a personal preference. Be cautious though because 100% pure essential oils are highly concentrated. If you are going to apply them to your body at all, you will need to combine them with a “carrier” oil. 
  • Visiting a health foods store or another shop that carries oils is always a good idea so you can smell scents before buying them. However, you can sometimes find better deals online.
  • Read the labels! They usually list health benefits and give you ideas of what other oils to blend them with.


There are hundreds of combinations of oils that you can create. My suggestion is to start with the basics and round off your collection as you discover what you like. I’m a big fan of Vitacost, especially for buying oils. However, I’m not always buying enough to qualify for free shipping. In those cases, I usually order my oils from Amazon. Here are some of my favorites with direct links to Amazon:

  • Lavender — try mixing with rosemary
  • Eucalyptus — try mixing with lemon
  • Peppermint — try mixing with tea tree
  • Lemon — try mixing with peppermint
  • Clary Sage — try mixing with bergamot & rosewood
  • Bergamot — try mixing with rosemary
  • Rosewood — try mixing with clary sage
  • Patchouli — try mixing with bergamot
  • Rosemary — try mixing with peppermint
  • Clove — try mixing with orange
  • Cedarwood — try mixing with tea tree

live better. a

The Successful Hosting Series: An Introduction

There are books upon books on entertaining. Literally. They’re everywhere and they make you want to host Sunday dinner every weekend for your family, regardless of how crazy they are. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and, honestly, it’s a pretty good wagon to be aboard.

So, entertaining. Let’s really dig into it and digest all of the different aspects and exciting elements involved. I’m calling it The Successful Hosting Series and I hope that it will become an evolving conversation between us.

cheers. a