Dining Room Overhaul

I’m so excited to finally share this room with you guys! It’s been a long time coming, but we finally re-did our dining room to make it exactly what we wanted. Maybe “re-did” isn’t the proper term since we never actually “did” it in the first place (ha). When we bought our 1927 Spanish house two years ago, we quickly decided the dining room was our last priority. Our new house is almost twice the size of our last place and the kitchen already had a nook where we easily fit in our little 1950’s dining set that we had inherited from my grandparents (my dad used to eat his meals at it growing up!). All that’s to say that there were other rooms that needed our attention (&money) way more than we needed a second big traditional dining set, so the dining room became an interim sitting room which just meant we had an unnecessary second couch there.


the second time we ever saw our future house! Georgie is itching his way through the dining room. Sorry to our real estate agent who I turned into a beautiful flower

About a year ago I connected with the folks at Joybird and discussed redoing our dining room with some of their furnishings. I already owned two of their couches and knew I loved their quality and how customizable their pieces are. Once I picked out the perfect console and dining room set, I had a few months for them to be built so I decided to wallpaper one of the walls to make the room pop.

I tried finding vintage paper but couldn’t find the style I was looking for. After awhile I decided to get wallpaper made out of a print from one of my favorite vintage dresses. The process was much more simple than I thought! I asked a few friends who work in design and illustration for their advice and they all agreed that it should be pretty easy for a designer to make a repeat pattern for me out of the dress print. I was referred to someone through an old co-worker and I paid her for her work and in less than two weeks, I had the exact image I was looking for! After doing some research I ordered some wallpaper samples of my print in a few sizes from Spoonflower. Within weeks I received 7 rolls of my customized wallpaper! I then hired a professional to do the install since this wallpaper isn’t removable, it’s easy to mess up unless you know what you’re doing. I really love the look of it but I will warn you that their wallpaper is very reflective therefore making it a bit challenging to photograph without a glare, but I don’t really mind!



A few weeks later, our furniture arrived along with a rug that our friends bought us as a wedding gift from The Jungalow. Finally the room was complete! I really felt floored once it was all set up. Somehow the room looks bigger with more furniture in it than it did before?! It also just feels like it perfectly reflects us now! We were pretty quick to start inviting friends over for dinner now that we had a table that could fit more than just us. Perhaps I’m being dramatic but I feel much more excited to cook these days, just so I can sit and enjoy my meals in our lovely new dining room.

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Japan Guide!

JAPAN-WHURL.jpgWoooweeee there’s a lot to cover here! I think it’s important to go into a trip like this knowing there’s no way you’re going to get to every restaurant or neighborhood you’d like to. Even if you have everything planned out, you WILL get distracted. This is also a place where you want to get distracted because there’s so much to see and do that you can’t possibly predict. This is just a basic guide of some places I discovered that I really enjoyed. I hope it helps inspire your own trip to Japan!


There are tons of places to stay in Japan, and in my experience most are pretty good and clean but very small. That goes for most airbnbs and low to mid priced hotels. They’re fine but they are what they are. Our final night we decided to splurge on a room at The Grand Hyatt Tokyo and it was great! The room was huge, breakfast was amazing, the pool and jacuzzi were so luxe. Definitely recommend it! I also recommend staying more central in Shinjuku or Shibuya when looking for hotels or airbnbs.



First things first: Japan is not a size inclusive country. Many of the shops I went to had ONE SIZE (!) many of which didn’t fit me, but luckily some stuff did. Just want to be totally honest about that because although many things are crazy cute, be prepared to be let down or just go for inspiration if you’re not an xs/s.

Shibuya 109 – I remembered going here the first time I came to Japan nine years ago and loving it. It’s a mall that is only cute women’s clothing brands. So much good stuff in here including this insane cake castle installation and so many vintage-inspired dresses.

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LaForet – Another mall similar to Shibuya 109 but a little more edgy and pricy. Worth walking through for sure! Cute food court too.

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Wego – I went into 3-4 different locations of this store because there were so many around Shibuya and they had great stuff and good prices. Some of their stores also carried vintage. Somehow I have no photos from this shop but this is where I bought most of the things I purchased on the trip.

Tokyu Hands – amazzzzzing department store in Shibuya. A great place for inspiration, souvenir shopping and buying cheap Japanese beauty products. Oh also dog kimonos and stationery so pretty much anything you can imagine. Set aside 1-2 hours to roam around in here.


Kinji – One of the only well-priced vintage stores I went to. It’s sort of like a Buffalo Exchange where they buy and sell vintage so the selection can vary quite a bit. Mostly focused on 90’s but found some 60’s and 70’s too priced below $40.


Amore Tokyo – stumbled into this store on accident and was shaken to my core. As soon as we walked in they locked the door behind us. I looked around and realized I was surrounded by the biggest vintage Chanel handbag selection I had ever seen. Naturally pricing reflected that but I still enjoyed the visit; it felt like a museum.




G2? – Adorable vintage store in Harajuku. In a sea of relatively high-priced vintage, this shop’s curation makes it worth the stop. And I’m still regretting not getting those shoes!


Shimokitazawa – This is a neighborhood of tons of cute little vintage stores. Loved walking around and exploring but truthfully didn’t do much shopping. Almost all of the vintage in Japan is purchased in the U.S. and just brought back so prices are much higher than what you’d see here for the same items. Again, it’s still fun to look around but don’t expect to find lots of deals.


Koenji – similar to Shimokitazawa, this is another neighborhood off the beaten path that has tons of little vintage stores. I found the selection here to be a little more elevated and even discovered a few non vintage Japanese brands I really liked. Both of these neighborhoods you can just take the train to the area and once you’re out of the station you’ll start to see shops.

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First, it’s important to note that Tokyo has the highest number of Michelin star rated restaurants above any other city, even Paris. There are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of top notch restaurants in Tokyo alone so you can be confident chances are high you will stumble into a great meal in any part of town. I ate 20-30 meals there and was only “eh” about one. Going into the trip knowing this, we didn’t make any reservations and just had a few recommendations we knew we wanted to check out. If you ARE interested in trying a specific place I highly recommend making reservations months in advance. Many restaurants are tiny so you can imagine what a bit of notoriety does for one’s ability to get a spot at the sushi counter.

World Breakfast Allday – Our jetlag going there wasn’t bad at all. Just stayed up as long as we could (9:30 pm I think?) and then slept 8 hours through the night. The only issue of course is waking up before 6 am and having nothing to do. Even cute coffee places don’t open til 9 for the most part. Oh also I woke up starving because my body thought I had missed dinner or something. Anyway, after doing some research we found this spot that opened at 7:30 and set out for it. It was so adorable and seriously delicious. They serve traditional breakfast options from 5 different parts of the world at a time and rotate often. I had the Malaysian and Aaron had Taiwanese and both were so good.



Eddy’s Ice Cream – I mean, I just had to?! Cutest ice cream ever and you get to customize it with your choice of cute cookies and cones. Oh, and it was delicious too!

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The Latte Tokyo – I don’t drink coffee but I looove matcha so I had a lot of fun scoping out the best and cutest matcha shops. Thrilled to report this one even had soy milk. So yummy!


Genki Sushi – So this was one of my most favorite spots to eat at, haha. First, the sushi is cheap and good. Every order of two pieces of sushi was about $1.19 and DELICIOUS. Second, yes you ordered individually from a computer and your food suddenly appeared in front of you like magic. Three, great for snacks in between meals because you could go in and get 4 pieces of sushi, pay and then be back out shopping. Lastly, we ate here twice and walked by countless times and I never saw a line. Highly recommend!



Afuri Ramen – another place recommended by a few people I trust. Did not disappoint! And each bowl was under $10. They also have vegan options here if you’re looking for that!




Cafe Kitsune – cutie cafe with delicious as hell matcha.


Totti Candy Factory – another thing I just had to do in Harajuku! Honestly, it was yummy too (each layer was a different flavor).


Tokyu Food Show – One of my favorite things about Tokyo is how many department stores house elaborate food halls in their basement. This one is one of my favorites. Keep in mind: most of these don’t have a cafe area for you to sit and enjoy the food you eat because they’re expecting you to bring it back home/work to eat. You can find stunning pastries, sparkling produce, and of course lots of sushi among other treasures here!


W/O Stand – Grabbed this delicious matcha when I was doing vintage shopping in the cool neighborhood of Shimokitazawa.


Gram Pancakes – I’ve been dreaming about these jiggly souffle pancakes since I saw them on instagram last year. I’m not sure if Gram is the first place that made them (you can get them at quite a few spots now) but they definitely seem to be in the highest demand. They only have three seatings a day at 11 am, 3 pm and 6 pm and you have to get there an hour early to get a ticket. The good news is you’re in the heart of Harajuku so once you snag your ticket you can easily wander around for an hour until it’s pancake time. I personally loved them! Definitely are more on the eggy side which I like; I didn’t feel weighed down by them as I would eating regular pancakes. Worth it!IMG_0706

Seirinkian – We saw this spot on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious a few months ago and had it bookmarked. They only offer two types of pizza and some great antipastis so don’t expect lots of options. So good though! Another delicious and cheap meal.


Awomb – One of our friends picked this place out and we had our hotel in Kyoto make a reservation for us (one of the perks of staying at hotels is you can email them ahead of time to make reservations for you!) and it was a really fun experience. Definitely a meal for a more adventurous eater as they only have one plate they serve with lots of little plates of fish and pickles and a side of rice and broth and you kind of just make bites on your own. Reaaally yummy! Also the neighborhood it was located in was just stunning. IMG_4204

Shunbou – One of our last meals in Tokyo was this delicious lunch. A traditional Japanese lunch elevated. I loved everything I tried and the presentation was so pretty!


Nishiki Market – A fun outdoor market in Kyoto with loads of produce, soft serve, fried octopus and so much more. Loved it!ACS_0540


Mister Donut – I can’t remember how I discovered this chain but I immediately recognized the donut looking similar in shape to one we had in Oahu last year that had a chewy texture and was so good. I read some reviews and YUP this was the same donut. When we finally stumbled across one it was just as good as I remember. It almost has a mochi-like texture.


Morning Glass – Cute little Hawaiian breakfast spot we found in Osaka. I enjoyed a delicious egg sandwich and Aaron indulged in some mac and cheese pancakes, naturally. Coffee and matcha were great too!ACS_0550


Fushimi -Inari Taisha Shrine – loved visiting this gorgeous shrine and getting to walk through the bright orange Torii gates. Definitely go early as it gets busy later since it’s the most popular shrine in Kyoto. ACS_0532ACS_0518

Nara Park – A dream come true! A little out of the way but if you’re going to Kyoto, it’s worth the extra leg of travel. Felt pretty magical. They sell food there you can feed to the deer but keep in mind we saw most vendors closing down at 4 pm so you wanna get there before then. Aaron also spotted an ice cream truck and had one of the yummiest cones of our trip: melon and hokkaido milk swirl! You only have to walk for 5 minutes from the train station before you start running into deer. ACS_0477 2ACS_0509

Dotonbori – Super cool neon shopping area and outdoor food market in Osaka. We read that it inspired Bladerunner which I can definitely see. Real talk: I got a bit overwhelmed while eating here and had to go back to our airbnb early. I think I was just overstimulating and drained from dragging our bags on the train and traveling and walking all day. Still fun and we ate some delicious tempura!ACS_0541

Harry’s Hedgehog Cafe – I had a really fun time here as expected! Got to feed and play with hedgehogs, otters, bunnies and chinchillas. Literally what more could you ask for?

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  1. Don’t rely on google maps or yelp – There were plenty of times that we thought we knew where we were going from google or apple maps and then got totally turned around. Just know you’ll need a bit of a sense of direction when finding some of these spots and prepare to get frustrated at times. Many places are tiny and may seem hidden. Also, I recommend discovering places to go through guides (like this one!) and don’t expect to use Yelp or similar services to find good stuff. They aren’t big Yelpers out there and so it’s not easy to discover using those platforms. I had a bit more luck on Tripadvisor but keep in mind all of those reviews are from tourists so…
  2. Get pocket wifi – there are tons of websites that do this. You pick it up and return it at the airport so it’s super easy and ensures you have wifi while you’re out exploring. This is the one we used.
  3. Respect the public space / be quiet / don’t leave trash anywhere – The residents of Tokyo (and Japan throughout) are serious about respecting public space. Do not litter anywhere under any circumstances. Bring bags big enough with you if you have to hold some of your trash because there aren’t tons of public trash cans. Also, train etiquette is important: don’t eat, drink or talk loudly on them.
  4. Learn a few phrases / download google translate – super easy to do and helps with the few interactions you may have where you definitely are not understanding someone.
  5. Travel the least possible between cities – I definitely regret the way we planned our trip with spending a few days in Tokyo, then heading to Kyoto and Osaka and then back to Tokyo for a few more days. I had the best of intentions but the least you can travel, the better! A trip like this can be extremely draining and you don’t want to make it harder on yourself than you have to. Same advice goes for staying in multiple neighborhoods: not necessary! It’s so much easier to get comfy where you are and explore other areas by taking public transit around during the days and nights.
  6. Sign up for alerts for cheap flights (we use Scott’s Cheap Flights and Kayak). That’s how we found our flights for $500! I highly recommend it.

Skincare Travel Guide


I’ve always been the type to put homework and any type of packing or preparation to the absolute last minute. Which is why I shocked when I noticed I was starting to gather up my travel-sized beauty products more than a week before I leave for my trip to Japan. I think it’s a combination of me feeling good about my skin and also enjoying consistency while I’m away from home. Though I love traveling, I’m really a creature of habit and homebody at heart so it’s nice to keep some of my routine the same while I’m gone. I’m also really happy with the products I’ve been using lately and thought this was a perfect time to share! I think it’s important to mention that I’m by no means a beauty professional. These are products that I like and that work for me. That being said, I do tend to lean towards more natural or at least limited chemicals in my beauty products. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!


Supergoop Sunscreen – I recently started using this stuff and I’m ashamed I didn’t try it sooner! Protecting my skin is super important to me (skin cancer runs in my family) but I’ve been so disappointed with almost every facial sunscreen I’ve tried until Supergoop. The main difference is it settles into your skin almost instantly and isn’t greasy at all. Easy to wear as is or with make up over it.

Patchology lip & eye gels – I’ve been using these for almost 6 months and I looove them. The undereye gels are great at brightening in the morning and the lip gels make my lips so smooth and plump. This also really helps prep for application if you wear lots of matte lip shades like I do!


Nyakio Maracuja & Yangu Soothing oil – I’ve been using this for the past month since I got it in a gift bag and I loooove it. It’s completely vegan and cruelty free and totally soothes and brightens your skin. I wear it in the mornings or overnight and i’ve definitely seen a huge difference. Also added bonus: Nyakio is owned by a WOC.

Pacifica Rose Water Face Wipes –  So important for me to remember to wipe off all of my make up or any sort of excess grease at the end of the day if I don’t wear make up. Love these small travel packs too.

Schmidts Bergamot Lime deodorant – My absolute favorite brand of natural deodorant. I’ll be bringing this newish scent with me because I just ran out of my favorite – coconut pineapple! This one smells good too though 🙂


Bioderma Hydrabio Micellar Cleanser – I use this every night to take off make up and find that it’s great for all over the face and neck and especially eyes as it’s very light, unscented and not greasy. Love finding travel sizes of some of my favorite products!

Eczema Honey – I just started using this stuff two weeks ago when I had a rash but quickly found it’s so great and soothing for all over. I sleep with a thin layer on my face and have noticed overall softness and diminished acne scars. Also nice on my hands and arms too!

Embryolisse – This moisturizer is my holy grail. It’s so light and heavenly and truly evens out, hydrates and plumps your skin. As you can see I need a new bottle! This one has lasted me almost a year so a little goes a long way.

Billie Razor – my new favorite subscription service! I love everything about this company. It’s a razor subscription service that sends you new cartridges every few months (you can always opt out of a shipment if you don’t need a new one). You can also pick your color and the packaging is so cute! It’s priced great at $9 with free shipping and the company is owned by a woman too.

Ouai hair oil – love this natural hair oil for my ends. I put it on right out of the shower or even a few days into dirty hair. Smells great and nourishes my damaged ends.

Biossance Squalane & Vitamin C Rose Oil – another holy grail product I’ve been using for a few months. Natural and completely amazing at nourishing your skin and evening out your complexion. Though their products might seem pricy, you can snag free samples of this and other products on their website just by paying for shipping!

Blossom perfume roller – this is my first time trying this and I’m pretty excited! The packaging is adorable, the smell is fresh and the ingredients are pretty clean. And of course it’s small enough to throw in my carry on too!

Honeybelle Foaming Facial Soap – this is another first time product I’m testing out. I loved the small size and the natural ingredients including tea tree, coconut and sunflower oils.



City guide! San Francisco


This was a fun one! I mentioned on my stories that I was planning a quick trip to SF a couple weeks ago with Aaron. He was attending a conference and I went to tag along and get some work done in a distraction-free environment (anyone else who works from home feel like they need a break sometimes?). I wrote out a list of all of my favorite bay area shops and eateries (including ones I had yet to try) and I immediately started getting excited. As a whole, I think there’s a lot of overpriced crap in SF (just being honest) but I also think it’s a great example of a city that can be really fun when you have a curated guide in hand.

Where to stay

I’ve gotta be honest here: I don’t have a favorite hotel in SF. Overall I think the hotels leave a bit to be desired as they’re generally overpriced and small. But that’s not a huge issue when you’re spending most of your time out having fun. I genuinely don’t mind a small hotel and tend to save money for when we go to really fun places (like Japan next month!) and use Hotel Tonight for quick trips like this where I don’t need luxury, space or amenities.



As someone who lived in the Bay Area, one of my absolute favorite things to do was go to the Alameda Point Antique Faire the first Sunday of every month. This flea market is in my top 5 for sure. It’s huge, easy to navigate, tons of variety AND lots of food trucks. Los Angeles flea markets are majorly lacking in the food department, and truthfully this would help keep me happy + shopping for hours.


me with a dreamy ice cream trash can i found 3 years ago!

I was really excited to check out some shops on Haight I hadn’t been to in years. Also got some great recommendations from instagram that did NOT disappoint. My first stop was Relic Vintage and I was just floored from walking in. Relic specializes in 1920’s-1960’s men’s and women’s clothing. As expected, each piece is so well curated and cared for it almost makes you not want to remove them from their special place in the store. Within minutes the owner Oran came up to me and rather than try to eye me while touching a pair of $400 1940’s pajamas he said “aren’t these amazing?! You should try them on!” while sliding them in my direction. I can’t believe the amount of early 1900’s vintage stores I’ve gone to where I was treated like I must not know anything and like there was no way I could afford or fit into anything they had; this was such a refreshing experience.



Next up was Static Vintage down the street and I had just as good of a time in there! I chatted with the owner about our favorite silhouettes for our bodies, gushed over prints and tried on so many dresses. I walked out with this one!


I also popped into Love Street and Held Over on the same block and had some great finds! It’s definitely worth the schlep over to Haight street, since there are so many great stores within 3 blocks.


Another fave Wallflower, is located in the Mission. I loooove Wallflower because it has such an amazing mix of vintage, their own in-house 70’s-inspired line and even some new sunnies to mix it up. A must-stop when you’re in the area!

Where to Eat

Mmm my favorite part! This was really fun because I hadn’t been to any of these places, but had been wanting to try them for so long. I definitely had a Hawaiian / tiki theme going but I promise each place was totally different!

I can’t even believe I had never been to the Tonga Room! It’s sooo fun and located in the basement of the fancy Fairmont Hotel. Amazing happy hour spot and please don’t be alarmed when fake rain comes down over the water every 30 minutes. It’s like a mix of vintage hideaway, tiki dream and a dash of Disneyland.


After returning home I realized I may have gone a little overboard with Boba Guys. I mean I went there all three days I was in town, haha. But actually it turns out I didn’t go overboard because I’ve been craving it everyday since! Why is it superior to other boba places, you ask? Because they use higher quality ingredients, have lots of yummy milk alternatives and let you pick your sweetness levels. Definitely the best milk tea I’ve ever had.


One of my favorite meals of the trip was at aina in Potrero Hill. Absolutely delicious elevated Hawaiian food. The menu was small and there were four of us so we got try the majority of the menu and everything was so good. Highly recommend it for a low key but elevated lunch or dinner.


You know that feeling when you see a picture of a new crazy looking food trend on instagram and you’re like “hmmm okayyy” and you’re simultaneously intrigued and also judgmental and also set very high expectations? That’s me literally everyday, haha. I basically took one look at this photo on instagram and judged it and walked in ready to hate it for basically no reason.  I was so wrong and it was amazinggggg!! It’s not just an instagram-friendly food like all of those ice cream cereal tacos I keep seeing (why) but it is truly delicious and perfect for someone like me who enjoys a protein heavy breakfast muffin. If you make it to Craftsman and Wolves, make sure to order the Rebel Within!


Our dinner at Northeastern Thai eatery, Hawker Fare was also delectable. The aesthetic in there is kitschy with lots of Elvis memorabilia and some tiki statues. We went there with a few others and since it’s family style, we got to try a lot. Absolutely looooved the larb and papaya salad. Oh and of course my tiki cocktail was DIVINE!



I’ve been wanting to try Leo’s Oyster Bar for awhile and planned it on our last day! I’ll be honest, the service wasn’t great and I also had an allergic reaction to an oyster (oops lol) but the decor was top notch and the food was pretty good. I’d totally go back for a cocktail and some bar snacks.


San Francisco is definitely a city rich with culture with tons of amazing museums, historic buildings, beautiful parks and even beaches. Although i didn’t have time to make many stops since it was such a short trip and I was clearly too busy shopping and eating, I made sure to go to one of my favorite places in San Francisco. Musée Mécanique is one of the largest privately owned vintage arcade collections and it’s so fun! I mentioned on instagram that Aaron and I had one of our first dates here, just making it way more special. While it’s located in the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf, it definitely has a run-down arcade feel (which I appreciate) and is worth the trek!


Kira Cook interviews Georgia Hardstark

Another great closet sale from my pal Georgia Hardstark launches today on Whurl and I decided to ask one of our mutual friends (and beyond talented writer!) Kira Cook to conduct the interview. Enjoy her answers below and make sure to check out the sale on the Whurl app!
Do you dress a certain way for your live podcast shows? 
Karen and I decided to wear black just to coordinate and have a “vibe.” Unfortunately I’ve always been obsessed with tacky patterns and bright colors so I literally only had 1 or 2 black dresses when we started touring. I’ve had to do a lot of shopping, which I don’t hate.
Do you miss eating on camera for work?
I miss cooking on camera, but not eating. No one looks good eating on camera.
You’d done a couple (or at least one) podcasts before MFM taking off. Did you sense from the beginning that it would become a phenomenon, or had something special, or was it just you two nerding out on murder for fun?
It was the latter. We liked both talking about true crime and podcasts, so we just decided to start MFM on a whim. We were, and continue to be, blown away by the success.
What’s your favorite era for vintage and why? 
I love the elegance of the 1940s and 50s, but my body was not made for that era. For my figure, I’ve found that 1970s and 80s compliment my combination of small boobs and big hips. Think Janet from Three’s Company.
What would be your Last Supper and what would you be wearing?
It would be a buffet in Las Vegas and I’d be wearing a beautiful dress with an elastic waist and pockets.
Has your personal style changed at all with the success of MFM?  *write in q from instagram*
I now have significantly more black in my wardrobe and fewer of the uncomfortable fancy dresses I would wear for Cooking Channel stuff. I also have more “casual” dresses that I can throw on when I go work at a cafe or run errands. I feel so much better about myself when I have a dress on, even on a random weekday, rather than jeans and sneakers.

How I quit sugar for one month


Why I did it:

During December I ate more junk food than I had probably all year. I was trying to just give myself some time after my wedding to truly not give a fuck about what I was eating since I had been pretty restrictive before the big day. Problem is, I also spent a lot of December with stomach aches and waking up in the night to take antacids. Anyway, I just felt ready to sort of erase all of the eating I did in 2017. I didn’t want to be restrictive at all with carbs, fruits, calories and all that, but I also didn’t want to eat any sugars (that includes honey, agave etc) or any processed foods (anything with 5 or more ingredients).

How I did it:

First things first: I removed all of the possible temptation from the house. There’s no way I could have done this with sugar staring me in the face. I threw most away but some stuff I put in a bag and hid in the basement. I’m not above asking Aaron to hide something from me if I feel too tempted! I immediately filled the kitchen with basically everything I wanted that fit the criteria. I’ve been carb-restrictive in the past and I consciously chose not to do that for many reasons. Mainly, I wanted to enjoy eating and feel better; I wasn’t trying to lose 10 pounds or anything. Also, I didn’t go nuts and eat potatoes for every meal, just ate what I wanted.  I’ll put a list at the bottom of some foods I stocked my kitchen with to give you an idea but I definitely did eat a lot of the same foods just with different sauces and prepared differently. I didn’t have a problem with it because I liked what I was eating, I felt good and I felt full. I will say that I think getting two new kitchen gadgets (Vitamix & an air fryer) for Christmas really helped make it exciting to cook for almost every meal. It was kind of like having two really cool new toys so it definitely made it more exciting to cook. If you live with your partner it’s also important to make sure they’re on board too. There’s a chance you’ll need some major support throughout!

The Bad: Completely depends on your outlook and lifestyle but I would definitely say the hardest part for most would probably be socializing. I pretty much stayed in all of January (which I was actually happy to do!) but I can understand that being a struggle for some. When I did go out it was usually when I planned to cheat (I think I cheated 3-4 times over the course of the month) or I planned enough in advance to make sure I was going to a compliant restaurant. Also, I don’t drink super often so not drinking wasn’t hard for me. Reminder: this is just what I did and you may still see benefits if you drink wine every night, since it’s sugar content is low. The other annoying thing is when you’re buying packaged foods at the supermarket, your trip will definitely be longer since you have to read every label. You’d be surprised how many things have added sugar!

The Good. Almost immediately I noticed I felt better. No stomach aches or sleepless nights or antacids. My skin looked bright within a week (full disclosure: I take pretty good care of my skin as well). I don’t weigh myself so i can’t say if I lost any weight, but again that wasn’t the goal. I didn’t feel bloated as I usually do. I really enjoyed the food. I made tofu stirfry, chicken with brown rice and veggies, fried cauliflower rice, red lentil pasta with homemade vegan sauce. I probably ate more carbs than I would usually allow myself to eat and still felt lighter and better! I even made sweet potato fries with cashew cheese dip. I found a lot of recipes by googling or even looking through instagram. This is the one area I think the algorithm works: the more healthy food posts I saved on instagram, the more similar ones it showed me on my explore feed. I also just kinda winged it a lot by the end. When I wanted something sweet I ate berries or a smoothie or I even made a couple mini loaves of banana bread using ripe bananas, oat flour, cacao powder and peanut butter. One major takeaway I have is there are sooo many products that have added sugar that really don’t need it. If you want to try restricting sugar but aren’t ready to go fully in, just start looking at labels. Even if you cook a lot at home, basically every sauce, salsa, peanut butter, jelly has sugar in it! There’s usually a sugar free option if you look hard enough though. The other GREAT thing about this month – I saved sooooo much money vs December when we were eating out constantly. A meal consisting of tofu, grains, veggies and sauce for two people typically costs about $4-6 total (1/4 bag of brown rice, 1/2 bag of brussel sprouts, container of tofu etc) so although there’s a ton of time you’re putting into cooking, you’re saving lots of money.

What now? I’m going to try and keep this up during the week for as long as I can. I’m on a roll now and why stop? I already felt the ramifications of intense nosedive into sugar on Superbowl Sunday which was enough to remind me that sticking to this as often as I can will keep me healthy and happy. I will not be restricting as much on the weekends but still trying not to go too wild. Don’t stop me if you see me eating an ice cream sundae! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to feel better, look brighter, sleep better and has a bit of self control. If you do it, let me know how it goes!

A short shopping list of foods I ate lots of this month:

  • Enlightened broad beans (taste like corn nuts but high in protein)
  • Spindrift (sparkling water with a lil fruit juice mixed in)
  • Nut pods (nut & coconut based creamer for coffee and tea)
  • Oat milk
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Red Lentil Pasta (the one from trader joe’s is great and cheap)
  • Cashews (to soak and make sauces!)
  • Nutritional yeast (a fake cheesy flavor for sauces or homemade kale chips)
  • Nuts (I made a few batches of granola with nuts + oats + coconut oil + date syrup)
  • Date syrup (sweetener made from only dates! great to add to sauces instead of honey)
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach (it’s so easy to disguise two giant handfuls of spinach with a little mango in a smoothie!)
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas (I made crunchy chickpeas in the air fryer and it was so easy and yummy!)
  • Kale (I also made kale chips in the air fryer with nutritional yeast and avo oil)
  • Bananas



Master Wedding Blog Part 1 – Planning!


After Aaron proposed in December of 2016 I didn’t have immediate ideas of what kind of wedding I wanted and neither did he. Initially we both considered eloping  for the ease factor, low cost and potential for a fun vacation. While we were considering what to do and enjoying our first month of being engaged, we decided to book a trip to Madonna Inn for a night with our friends. I mentioned the trip to a friend and she said “Oh are you looking at the wedding venue there?” The truth is I hadn’t even thought of it in the moment but I had considered it as an ideal wedding venue after Georgia told me a year prior how inexpensive & easy it was to plan her wedding there. Anyway, we emailed the Madonna Inn and inquired and easily set up a tour of the space.


When we got there, looked around & got pricing it seemed pretty obvious we would end up having it here. Obviously, aesthetically it’s a dream, but also it’s a great option for someone who doesn’t want to do a ton of work since the space is already pretty elaborately decorated, food & cake are included in the package and it’s easy for family coming from out of town. Just for fun, I did some research on some other potential venues outside of LA and figured out that for the cost of the ceremony, dinner for 120 people and the reception rental, you could rent an empty venue in Palm Springs, ha. For me, I knew I wanted to spend the least time planning this wedding as possible. I didn’t want to worry about renting chairs, tables, flatware, tasting food etc. so it was clear what we should do. Aaron was completely on board so we started looking at dates before the end of 2017. They only had a few dates left and one of them was Saturday 11/11/17; I still can’t believe that date wasn’t taken?! So we went with that.


At about the same time that our lovely videographer Amanda Monroe Finn reached out to me, I was solidifying our photographers, Caroline & Jayden Lee. I got advice from so many people that the one thing to really spend money on for your wedding should be your photographers so I immediately booked them. That’s not to say they were expensive or anything like that, but the advice was that this isn’t an area you want to skimp or ask a friend/ guest to shoot your wedding. I genuinely have zero regrets here. Their photos are really breathtaking and I truly think I’d be just as obsessed if they weren’t pics of our wedding.


One thing I can definitely say about our wedding: we did exactly what we wanted. There were so many aspects of the process that people assume should go a certain way and I thought it was appropriate to ask “why” to a lot of those expectations. For instance, wearing white, having bridesmaids and groomsmen, having your parent walk you down the aisle. This is nothing against anyone who does those things but I think it’s important to question why you’re doing something especially when it comes to such an important day. I wore exactly what I wanted; a vintage white and pink dress from Whurl! Our friends were freed up by not being involved in the actual ceremony so they got to truly support us by setting everything up the day of (hanging tassels, balloons, organizing place cards) while we got ready. And though I love my dad, it didn’t feel right to be handed off as though I was his property when I’m a 32 year old woman that lives on my own and has for over a decade. That being said, we still got to have a fun lil father-daughter dance to “In My Life” by the Beatles later on at the reception. I guess what I’m trying to say is that to me, some of the rules of how a wedding “should be” seem a little outdated.

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A little more about my dresses! I’ve had a few friends that have worked with Tashina and I can honestly say working with her was one of my favorite parts of the entire wedding. She’s AMAZING at what she does (her invoice says Dress Surgeon which is the best and most accurate title ever) and made me feel comfortable the entire time. As a human woman, it’s pretty easy to feel like complete crap if a garment doesn’t fit your body a certain way (what an insane and ridiculous thing to actually type) but I never felt bad once in the many check-ins and try-ons we had with my three vintage dresses. Oh and that doesn’t even cover the fact that she took a simple tiered tulle dress and transformed it into a bejeweled beauty. She even saved extra jewels for me so my equally amazing hairstylist Sandra could make a matching hairclip for me.


Back to planning! We whittled down our guest list to about 140 invites and ended up hovering around 100 yes’s which is where we wanted it. Another area we “did what we wanted” was with the guest list. Maybe that seems obvious but you can’t imagine how many people I’ve talked to that said their parents tried to invite 100 of their friends and it turned into a huge fight or worse, they let them and then their wedding turned into a day that didn’t even feel like what they wanted it to be. I wouldn’t say we had any knockout fights with our families about this but we definitely had to say no at times. Maybe I’m being brutally honest here but I don’t know why anyone should ever have to invite anyone that makes you or anyone else uncomfortable to your wedding.

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Throughout this whole process I felt extremely supported by my friends and it was just so lovely. Honestly, I mean that. Something I haven’t experienced much in my life because I’m a control freak in some ways and often don’t ask for help, not because I don’t need it but because it makes me feel like such a burden. I really got to see my friends weren’t showing up for me because they expected anything in return (duh) but because they were genuinely excited. My friend Alana did such an amazing job designing our invites and our photobooth backdrop. I probably gave her little to no inspiration because I just didn’t even know what I wanted and she came up with the most perfect invite I could have imagined. I printed them with Mixbook (so easy to use + they have lots of cute templates already) and even included a sprinkle of confetti from Dixie & Twine in each envelope.

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I would say handling the RSVPs was probably the most stressful part for me, and something I can’t see getting around. Again, these are all my personal opinions and maybe there’s tons of people out there who don’t feel overwhelmed by this part! But between hounding people for their responses, clarifying their food choices, and unexpected or last minute dropouts it can feel really challenging. Sort of highlights the project management aspects of a wedding and probably an area where having a planner would be a relief. In the end, I know none of this stuff is usually personal, but it can’t help but feel that way when you’re planning a day centered around yourself (which feels weird in its own way!)


The only other challenge I had was around hiring a florist for centerpieces. As I mentioned earlier, one of the many great things about the Madonna Inn is how elaborate it already is. So when it came to decorating the reception room, I didn’t need much! A balloon arch and disco ball were more than enough to make the room pop. I inquired about centerpieces and the prices in general just seemed like a lot for our budget and what we actually needed. One friend suggested I instead go the thrifted flower route as she had done for a photoshoot a few years back. She convinced me and I was off to the races! Zipping around to thrift stores and picking up bouquets of silk flowers and colored glass vases. It was waaaay easier than I expected and I probably spent a total of $60 on fake flowers and vases. For my bouquet I needed a professional and reached out to my friend Yasmine and she really hit the nail on the head. It came out beautiful!


Click here to read Part 2!

Master Wedding Blog Part 2 – THE day!




Click here to read Part 1 on Planning our wedding if you haven’t already!

About two months before the wedding it finally set in. Suddenly it was just felt real; not just like some elaborate party I was planning. The days leading up to it definitely felt a bit accelerated but I still feel like my life was pretty normal. We made sure to keep each other calm and not change our daily lives as much as we could. The day before the wedding we said bye to our pups (the biggest bummer about the Madonna Inn – no dogs allowed) and hopped in our car to drive up for our weekend. I remember there was a stretch of the drive where I fell asleep and then woke up and told Aaron I wanted to stop at a Chinese restaurant in Santa Barbara for lunch. He had to remind me we were getting married and on a tight schedule. Then he handed me a granola bar, ha.


Speaking of snacks, our car was also filled with 100+ goodie bags for each of our guests featuring some of our favorite snacks from Spindrift, Otis Spunkmeyer and Enlightened. Each guest also got a sweet little pin designed by my pal Robin Eisenberg of our dogs Georgie and Mochi inside of a pretzel. One of my favorite parts of the wedding!


The day itself went pretty perfect and smooth. When people ask me “what would you change about your wedding day” or “what is one thing that went wrong?” I genuinely can’t think of anything besides that I wish the lights were dimmed and the disco ball was rotating for our first dance, haha. Even the unplanned parts like when I forgot to print my vows and made Susan go print them and run them up to me in my room, ended up being some of my favorite moments.


When it came time for the ceremony, it was exactly as it should be. Sweet and short. My brother officiated (and did an amazing job considering he’d never done it before!) and we wrote our own vows. Somehow I didn’t cry or barf during the ceremony, but I did laugh a lot. I also kissed Aaron way before I was “supposed to” because I guess I forgot how these things work haha. As with everything else, it was so perfectly us.

samanthaaaron-wedding-2017-madonna-inn-woodnote-reception-47 (1)When we entered the reception (which btw was about 50 feet from our ceremony) for our first dance our lovely DJ Erika played “True Love Will Find You In The End” by Daniel Johnston and it really was a perfect moment. We spent the rest of the night eating and dancing the night away with our friends and family. I am SO glad I had such amazing an amazing videographer and photographers to capture because it does feel a bit blurry by the end.


A few words about working with the Madonna Inn: would definitely do it again but it’s very no-frills (ha, imagine that) in the service & perks department. There were definitely some miscommunications across the way and hiccups and personally I found the reservations department not to be super helpful leading up to our big day. If you book a 20 room block the bride and groom get their wedding night free which was nice. But no discounts are offered to guests, even in our case when we had about 40 of their rooms booked for our wedding. Our wedding coordinator was fine but they have so many weddings there they definitely run it more of a business than trying really to make it about your day and catering to you. They couldn’t tell me until a week before what time the reception room would be open to us in case they booked an event in the same room earlier that day which was annoying when coordinating with our sound guy and balloon deliveries. Things like that. Ultimately, you get what you pay for which I’m fine with in this case.


I think I fit a lot in here but please feel free to reach out if you have more questions. I will definitely say once again, that I loved the team I hired and would recommend them all in a heartbeat (DJ, Photographer, Videographer, Dress Surgeon, Hairstylist etc) if you’re planning an event coming up. Hope you enjoyed looking through pictures of my wedding as much as I did!


My new headboard + interview with Jessica Pedraza


About 6 years ago I was looking through estate sale listings on craigslist and noticed a stunning golden colored heart-shaped full-size tufted headboard and my jaw dropped. “She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine,” I thought automatically before canceling my first meeting at the office that morning so I could rush over. Long story short, I got it! It wasn’t cheap but it was worth it to me. Such a unique piece that once belonged to a teen girl in the 60’s who had lived in this house near Beverly Hills. It moved with me three times until I decided it was time for a new and larger bed. Side note: I could probably write a whole post on how getting a king sized bed changed my life, highly recommend it! Anyway, the headboard didn’t really fit anymore and around this same time I connected with Jessica Pedraza on instagram. She’s an LA-based design-obsessed woman that works at Roberto Pedraza Custom Furniture, you guessed it, her family’s business. When she told me she could make ~anything~ my mind completely soared, but we decided to start first with making a new headboard for my bed in my dream color. I’ve never been involved in making a custom piece of furniture so it was really fun just to get to go fabric shopping for what I knew would eventually be MY headboard. Yesterday, my headboard was delivered and left me in tears because not only is it everything I dreamed, getting to see the details and quality up close I know it will someday be someone else’s vintage dream.



I loved working with Jessica and getting to know a bit about what inspires her. Feel free to reach out to her directly if you wanna be my headboard twin ❤

How did you get started in furniture design?

I really got started because of my dad. He needed help with paperwork and translating in his custom furniture business. I started visiting different custom furniture workrooms and furniture designers with him. I fell in love with  being able to help designers make their designs come to life.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
Seeing the finished piece completed and seeing how the client styles the piece in their home.
What are your favorite sources of inspiration?
Anything vintage especially from 40s-70s and Mexican Modernist designs from the 50s and 60s. I get a lot of my inspiration from vintage Mexican sterling jewelry.
Do you have a favorite designer? 
My favorite modern designer would be Kelly Wearstler and my favorite vintage designer is Charlotte Perriand , a french architect and furniture designer.



Next up for my bedroom: wallpaper!


Interview with Area 52 Vintage!

I’ve been shopping at Area 52 Vintage for 5+ years and it’s by far my favorite antique mall booth of all time. It’s a serious time capsule with so much attention to detail. Imagine my absolute delight when the sisters who own Area 52 opened up a shop on Whurl as well last year. Everytime I post photos from my trips there I get lots of comments asking about it so I thought I’d give Melia, one of the co-owners, a chance to answer some questions about instagrams’ favorite antique mall shop!
– How long have you had Area 52? What inspired you and your sister to open it?

Area 52 Vintage was born in the early 1990s. Not by that name then, but the first stage of it’s birth. Annette and I had this crazy idea that we could take our love for mid-century modern and sell it here and there. Both of us needed some extra money. We’d figured out where to easily get merchandise a couple of years earlier. At that time in So Cal you could load up a truck in one morning it was so prolific! Back in the early 90s there was no online vintage selling. Brick and mortar was it! eBay was born in 1995 and so was my first online account. I changed User ID names over the years but one of the main ones was Junk To Funk. I sold everything known to man while figuring out my brand.
We have been at The Orange Circle Antique Mall since 1995. Space 112 in the basement, back in the corner was the start! Took a brief break in 1999 when I moved to Temecula in Riverside County. We came back as Area 52 Vintage (that was our space number) and the current name is a spoof twist on the military’s Area 51 in Roswell. Always somewhat of a mystery as to what you’ll find in our space!!

– How do you curate your shop so perfectly?! It’s like a 1969 time capsule!

We lived it! I was born in 1958 and Annette in 1968. 100% native to So Cal!! We shared a bedroom in Santa Ana so our groovy love got going there. I had sssooooooooo much flower power, some psychedelic posters and a few mini skirts. My little sister could not get enough of them! Annette being so young, worshipped it all because her big sister had it. I know it inside and out because it was my life. I was raised on Rowan and Martins Laugh-In, Adam 12 and The Brady Bunch. By the way……I was Marcia and Annette was Cindy! No rules other than its gotta be shocking, bright and original vintage!

– What are some of your favorite pieces you’ve ever found for Area 52?

Holy smokes I would not know where to start on some of my favorite pieces I’ve found over the last 25 years. The biggest and by far the most lucrative is a gargantuan poster collection Annette and I purchased in 2004. It was over 120,000 vintage posters from the late 1960s to 1978. Think Farrah Fawcett Red Bathing Suit (10,000 total) in original covers with tags or Alice Cooper velvet flocked black light (2,000 total). Seriously killer find. Jaw dropping in magnitude and scope. Only crazy groovy people would have tackled it. I could talk to you for an hour just on that one haul! Credit goes to Annette for finding it and talking me into it. She is great at finding merch!
Honestly I could go on and on about groovy finds and places they were found. I have a photographic memory and most of prime pieces I can tell you where they were when I found them. My favorite pillows are an identical ROUND trio……..about 16”, late 1960s, all shag carpet, ….one gold, one marigold and one avocado green. I still want to hug them every time i see them! Found at an Estate Sale in Sun City, perched on a retro bed for $2.00 each!! Way crazy!! 10 years ago I was in a RivCo thrift store and out walks a worker with a big box. Before she put it down I saw it was loaded with Franciscan Starburst dishes. Snagged the box for 5 bucks!

– What are your thoughts on the demand for vintage in 2018? Have you seen a steady incline in sales or has it been up and down over the years? I think about this a lot since I think vintage-lovers are lifetime customers but at the same time vintage always feels trendy. 
The thing that is way cool about vintage is that we are mostly selling memories. Things hold memories for people. The thing that has helped me most over the years has been always to remain nimble. Don’t get stuck anywhere. I moved from mostly mid-century into groovy psychedelic about 10 years into it. Part of it was just fine tuning my brand but the biggest part is understanding trends change as populations grow older. Generally the older people get, the more purchasing power they have. They want to buy THEIR memories. Things they had or their parents had. And Hollywood has helped. Think Mad Men! I was not raised in the 1980s with Rainbow Brite, Hello Kitty or Cabbage Patch. But 35 year olds were. The changing trends are just memory trends. The current political climate has also brought a resurgence of interest of the hippie era. It has brought about some awesome current art, weaving in many of the ideas and images from the 1960s. I love the merging of the now and then.

Make sure to follow @area52vintage on Whurl & Instagram