Style

Goodbye Summer

August 23, 2016

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I’m going to warn you right away – today’s post has way too many pics of Olivia, my youngest in the most adorable clothes from Janie and Jack! I just couldn’t help myself. I use my camera everyday, but lately I feel like it’s just for food, DIY and interior photography. And while that is my job, I don’t want to miss capturing some of the milestones in my kid’s lives as well. And really, taking pictures is one of most favorite creative things to do.

I really don’t think parents ever look back and say, well darn we took way too many pictures. I know all too well that they grow up way too fast. I can’t believe Denali, my oldest, is in the 10th grade. So, I wanted to capture the end of our Summer and Olivia at the fun age. She started TK this week (it’s Transitional Kindergarten, a California thing). That means she goes to school everyday!

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To celebrate the end of Summer and her new school adventure, Olivia and I got dressed up and we went downtown for a little date. We went out for her favorite treat – Macarons from De Coeur Bake Shop. Olivia asks for these special sweets many times a week. Usually it sounds something like this, “Mom, sometime we should go have Macarons.” She’s just throwing that out as an idea or a suggestion. So this week I indulged her request and surprised her with her favorite cookies. _janie and jack olivia 9

I’ve always been a fan of Olivia wearing black and white. Maybe it’s because she is such a toe head. For her first year, I took monthly pics of her in a black and white polka dot shirt. Janie and Jack sent us the most adorable mix and match black and white combinations. Janie and Jack clothes instantly turn life’s smallest moments into ones to treasure. I’m so glad I have all these fun pictures of Olivia at this stage in her life.

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Olivia is a spunky, energetic, outgoing kid. She keeps us busy and bring so much joy to our family.

_janie and jack olivia 1 _janie and jack olivia 2 _janie and jack olivia 5 _janie and jack olivia 6

Here’s what Olivia is wearing:

_janie and jack olivia 12_janie and jack olivia 7 _janie and jack olivia 14 _janie and jack olivia 15

_janie and jack olivia 10 _janie and jack olivia 11

Now, I challenge you to go document your life! Take sometime today to take pictures of your kids, your pets, your friends. You’ll be glad you did.

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This post is sponsored by Janie and Jack. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 

DIY

How-to Remove Wallpaper Without Harsh Chemicals

August 22, 2016

Well, I’m just about ready to tackle some more wallpaper in our house. It’s a messy job, but I think we have a pretty good system down. We opted to not use harsh chemicals or expensive steamers.  The sunroom wallpaper came off a lot easier then we thought it would. And those white walls make me VERY happy.How to remove wallpaper without harsh chemicals.Please don’t be tempted to paint over wallpaper. This is not a shortcut you want to take. You’re walls will look so much better if you strip all the wallpaper off and start with clean bare walls.

We did a little pinterest research and I followed Cyd of The Sweetest Occasion‘s dawn soap suggestion she shared on Snapchat.

So, here’s what worked for us.How to remove wallpaper without harsh chemicals. You’ll need:

Step 1:

Tape all the way around the room with the painter’s tape drop cloth. This is a messy, wet job. You will want to protect your floors.

Step 2:

Using the wallpaper scorer, run the scorer over all the walls. You do not want to apply a lot of pressure or you will damage the walls. Just move in a circular motion to create tiny holes all over the walls.how to remove wallpaperStep 3:

Mix one part dawn dish soap with 5 parts warm water in a spray bottle. Work on one wall at a time. Spray down the entire wall with the warm, soapy mixture. Be generous! And then allow the solution to sit on the walls for about 5 minutes.

*Warning* – Even though this is just soap and water, the smell is pretty strong and it kind of hurts your eyes. how to remove wallpaperStep 4:

Using a wallpaper scraper, begin to scrape away the soggy wallpaper. If some wallpaper is stubborn, spray down generously with more warm soapy water.how to remove wallpaperStep 5:

As you begin to scrape, you will be able to peel off some bigger pieces of wallpaper.

Step 6:

Once all the wallpaper is removed, wipe down the walls well with a rag and warm water. Remember you have soaked the walls in soapy water, all the residue needs to be removed in order to prep for painting. You will need to wipe and rinse down the walls at least 3 or 4 times.Craftsman Sunroom MakeoverAnd now you can paint!!!! I know wallpaper is making a strong comeback, but this room feels so much bigger and brighter without busy, floral wallpaper. I do plan to add some wallpaper to a room or two in this house, but whether I paint or re-wallpaper, starting with clean, bare walls is definitely the first step.

Do you have some wallpaper removal tips or tricks? I’d love to hear what has worked for you.

 

 

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The Week’s End

August 19, 2016

That first week back at school is always the hardest. Struggling to get kids to bed a little earlier and then figuring out how to get everyone to where they are supposed to me. For us, we have one in High School, one in Middle School and one in Elementary now. Yesterday, I spent almost an hour driving, and I only got 2 kids dropped off. We are figuring it out and trying to get back into a routine. But, somehow 3 days of school felt like a very long week.

I am itching to start on another room in this house. I said I didn’t mind the paint color in most of the house. It’s a dark blue-ish green. But, now that we have been here a couple weeks, I think I HAVE TO paint. The Living room and dining room just feel too dark. And I think in order for this space to truly feel like ours, paint is the first step. Maybe this weekend I’ll try to do a little painting.

Fresh fruit digitial wallpapers. FREE download.

You can find these fresh fruit digital wallpapers HERE and HERE!

Here’s some fun stuff I think you should check out:

Have a great weekend friends. You can follow all my weekend happenings over on snapchat. I’m oleanderandpalm over there!

Design

Fresh Fruit Phone Wallpaper

August 18, 2016

Today’s post of full of good good things. I have some fun, free Fruit Art Wallpapers for you to download and I also have an easy way for you and I to do something good for someone else. I’m thrilled to partner with Naked Juice on their crusade to raise awareness for Food Deserts and to take action on helping make fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to everyone. 

I chose three colors that I’m considering adding to our new home – white (which is a definite!), rust (I love this earthy, orangey-red hue), and yellow!  And then I challenged myself to find as much fresh fruit as possible, in those colors, to create pretty images for phone wallpapers and lock screens. Fresh fruit art, whiteFresh fruit art, white

I often take for granted that I can go to a number of good grocery stores in my neighborhood and find pretty much any fruit or vegetable.  Did you know that there are food deserts in areas of our country, places where fresh produce is not accessible?  This is a crisis that is affecting 1 out of every 10 people in neighborhoods across America. Naked Juice helping fight this problem with their Drink Good. Do Good campaign. They’re are spreading the word to bring awareness and actual fresh fruits and veggies to these places.

I live in an agricultural hub, it seems nearly impossible that there are food deserts in the cities surrounding me. But, there are! Here in California, both LA and San Francisco, residents face food desert issues. As a mom, I can’t imagine not being able to provide my kids with fresh fruits and veggies daily.

Fesh fruit art, rust Fesh fruit art, rustThis is such a cool program you guys, you can use your social media to do some good.  Here’s how it works!

1. Take a photo of yourself holding a fruit or vegetable.
2. Share it on social media using the #DrinkGoodDoGood hashtag
3. Tag a friend to do the same!!!!

For every fruit and veggie selfie shared using #DrinkGoodDoGood, Naked Juice will donate 10 pounds of produce to communities in need.  Naked Juice has already given 250,000 lbs. of fresh produce to kick off this campaign. Now it’s our turn to help! Fresh fruit art, yellow Fresh fruit art, yellowLast year I created 3 pretty fresh fruit phone wallpapers, you can check them out HERE.

And this year I chose three more colors to play with. You can download 1 or all 3 of these FREE phone wallpapers HERE! Right now I have the sunny yellow hued image on my lock and home screen. Do you have a favorite?Fresh fruit art for your phone. FREE Download!

This post is sponsored by Naked Juice, thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 

 

Food & Drink

Night Cereal – Chocolate Chipotle Granola

August 16, 2016

Chocolate chipotle granola recipe - a sweet and spicy combination. chocolate chipotle granolaI love a challenge, so when got milk?, CA Milk challenged me to create a savory twist on cereal and milk for a fun night snack or even meal, I knew this would be right up my alley. I already love food with an unexpected twist. I’m the girl that’s always going to order the weirdest thing on the menu. For my ‘night cereal’ recipe, I quizzed my kids on some of their favorite flavor combinations. One of their favorite treats is these Chocolate Chipotle Donuts – we all love that rich chocolatey flavor with a touch of heat. So, I came up with a sweet, spicy and crunchy granola that my whole family loves – Chocolate Chipotle Granola.

Cereal is a perfect late night snack or even dinner on a busy evening (yep, I’m that mom once in a while). Sometimes, when I have a lot on my plate or we have a million after school activities, my big kids just have to fend-for-themselves when it comes to dinner. With one in high school, one in middle school and one in kindergarten, our family is BUSY! Some evenings we aren’t all home at the same time. This yummy granola is a great dinner option for kiddos who get home late after cross country or marching band. All of my kids are pretty adventurous when it comes to food. So, having a gourmet twist on a breakfast staple works in our house.  chocolate chipotle granola - a sweet and spicy combination chocolate chipotle granola and cold milk Don’t be intimidated, granola is one of the easiest things you can make. And once you make one batch, you’ll be coming back to bake more. It’s important to me to know what’s going into my food. This homemade granola is full of fiber and protein and really doesn’t have very much sugar at all. Served with ice cold milk, this cereal is really makes a filling and nutritious meal.

Chocolate Chipotle Granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking type)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 pepitas
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

In a small pot, combine the coconut oil, honey and sugar. Warm over medium high heat until the sugar and honey dissolve. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.

In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients (the first 7).  Stir to combine.  Pour the melted honey and coconut oil mixture over the oat mixture. Stir till all the ingredients are wet.chocolate chipotle granola recipePour the granola onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.Spread out on the sheet evenly. Bake in a 325 F oven for about 25-30 mins, stirring the mixture halfway through the baking time.

Cool completely and then break apart the bigger clusters of granola. Store in an airtight container. Serve with cold milk or use as a yogurt or ice cream topping.chocolate chipotle granolaI love this combination of sweet with a little heat. Late night snacking just got a whole lot better in the McConnel house.chocolate chipotle granolachocolate chipotle granolachocolate chipotle granola

This post is brought to you by got milk? (Food loves milk!) Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 


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Grapefruit + Tonic Mocktail

August 15, 2016

I refreshing mocktail that's bright and crisp. Grapefruit, tonic water, lime, cilantro and grapefruit bitters.By now you all know that I’m all about an interesting and delicious mocktail. Cocktail drinkers can’t have all the fun. I enjoy mixing up fun drinks that my whole family can enjoy.  This latest drink is about as refreshing and crisp as you can get. Grapefruit Juice and tonic water partner to make a really fresh drink that has just the right amount of bite. And I love to throw in a fresh herb, they add another layer of flavor. This is the first time I’ve used cilantro in a sweet drink and it definitely won’t be the last time either. grapefruit and tonic mocktailI recently was introduced to Bolthouse Farm’s new 1915 brand of organic, cold press juices and protein drinks. I was instantly a fan, not only because this is a local company, but because the juices are amazing. They are all very yummy, but the Apple Grapefruit Peach Raspberry is by far my favorite. And while they definitely don’t need any improvement, they do make a perfect base for a special mixed drink. Because our days are still very warm, this refreshing mocktail is definitely a treat. grapefruit and tonic mocktailGrapefruit + Tonic Mocktail

Fill a glass with ice. Pour 1 part juice to 2 parts Tonic Water.  Stir. Garnish with a couple slices of lime, a sprig of cilantro and a couple splashes of grapefruit bitter.

(And I’m sure this would be a great drink to add a splash of gin to if you are looking for a spiked version.)grapefruit and tonic mocktailI kind of always thought I hated Tonic Water because of the quinine flavor. As a kid I had malaria many times (remember, I grew up in Papua New Guinea). So, I had to take quinine many times, and the medication is awful. But, it turns out Tonic Water is pretty fantastic. I love it’s subtle sweetness and slightly bitter taste. grapefruit and tonic mocktail grapefruit and tonic mocktail grapefruit and tonic mocktail

The post is sponsored by 1915 Bolthouse Farms. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 

Design

Round Mirrors for Every Room

August 9, 2016

Lately I’ve been loving round mirrors. This simple organic shape is the perfect accessory to break up a boxy wall or room. Loon around your home, chances are most of the things on your walls are squares and rectangles. Why not throw another shape into the mix. Over sinks, in entryways, over dressers, in gallery walls, round mirrors just look great everywhere.

I decide to hunt out some good sized, modern and even reasonably priced round mirrors. And I found some really great options. Round is a shape that’s going to work with any style. Your probably going to want to add a round mirror to a room in your home. I’ve listed the width and price of each mirror for easy reference.

Online sources for stylish round mirrors.

row 1 : Rope Hanger // Dark Acacia Wood // Natural Wood

row 2: Wood Barrel Frame // Copper Frame // Tapered Edge Frame

row 3: Thin Brass Frame // Silver Leaf // Wood and White Frame

row 4: Rose Gold Frame // Black Metal Frame // Thin Bronze Frame

I recently bought a huge (like 4 feet wide) round mirror for our new house.  It will be hung as soon as a strip off the 2-stories of wallpaper in our stairway.  If you want to help, I make a mean iced coffee and I always have treats on hand.

Is there one that catches your eye? I love the wood and white frame. That combo always gets me and the price is so good. I might use this mirror in one of my bathrooms.

Travel

Big Bear California Travel Guide

August 8, 2016

The week before last, while we waited to hear when we’d close on our house, we decided to take a little vacay right here in Cali for a couple days. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that we’ve NEVER been to Big Bear. It’s just 3 hours from our home, way too close to have never visited. I pride myself in thinking that I know California so well. We camp often and I take advantage of living in this great state all the time.  But, somehow Big Bear just never was a stop. Well, it’s safe to say that we will be heading to Big Bear again in the very near future. We are fans!

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear is known for it’s ski hills. Most LA folk that ski have probably been there. With gorgeous granite rock, tall pine trees and a gorgeous lake, it’s also a really great Summer spot. We swam, hiked, sledded, and ate lots of pie. Here’s my Top 10 must sees and eats for Big Bear.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

Big Bear Top Ten

1.Definitely stay at the Noon Lodge at Mallard Bay. The detail and thought that has been put into the design and decor of these adorable cabins is absolute perfection. Our cabin was cute and comfy and the kids spent hours in the gorgeous pool. In the evenings we sat by the fire and played corn hole and bocci ball. (There’s lots of pics from this cute place, I couldn’t help myself.)

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel Guide

2. Eat any meal at the Teddy Bear Restaurant in the village. We might have eaten pie there more then once. And their chicken pot pie was amazing!!!

Big Bear California Travel Guide

3. Ride a bike! The town has great bike lanes. The Noon Lodge had bikes to borrow, but the ski hills also have rentals and there is some great mountain biking when you take the lifts up.

4. Swim at the China Island Cabins on the lake.  There’s some great granite rocks to jump off of.

5. Hike Castle Rock. It’s a great hike for families. It’s about a one mile hike to the top, but the views are great and there is lots of fun bouldering at the top on the huge granite rocks.

6. Have coffee at the Copper Q. They have an amazing assortment of pastries and more pie. We enjoyed everything we ordered.

Noon Lodge in Big Bear California

7. Visit the North Pole Fudge and Ice Cream Co. in the village for a sweet treat. They have loaded gourmet candy apples, ice cream and lots of candy.

8. One of our favorite activities was the Alpine Sled at Magic Mountain. You ride down the mountain on  a 1/4 mile cement track on sleds. It’s really so much fun. You control your own speed. It’s a really unique experience and so much fun for all of us. We also spent the afternoon on their waterslides as well.  Olivia must have run up those stairs and down those slides 50 times.

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear

9. Take out from Maggio’s Pizza is a must. We brought home pizza and salad and enjoyed it on a picnic table outside our cabin.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

10. Rent a couple stand up paddle boards. We rented two and took turns for a couple hours paddling around the lake. Even though there are a lot of boats, the water is pretty calm and the kids had a blast.

Big Bear California Travel Guide

Bonus: If you go all the way to Big Bear, then you need to drive another 45 mins. and visit Lake Arrowhead. We stopped on our way home and here’s the 2 things I would highly recommend.

  1. Be sure to check out Shop Road Trip. This well curated shop is full of hip home wares and plants.
  2. Eat at Cedar Glen Inn. We stopped for lunch before hitting the road. I’ve heard their breakfast is amazing, but the sandwiches were killer. Huge portions and just good food.

Big Bear California Travel GuideBig Bear California Travel Guide

Ok now get out and explore. And if you are in California, this a great weekend destination. You won’t be disappointed.

Design

The Craftsman Sunroom Makeover

August 6, 2016

Well, it’s been a week. We got the keys to our new house late Friday evening and then had to be out of our old house be noon the next day. And to add to the fun, we got to move on the day that was 111F. Sheesh, pretty sure that was the hottest day of the year.

But, we are in our new house and LOVING it! Yes, there are still boxes everywhere and soooo much unpacking left to do, but believe it or not, we’ve already made over one room completely. There were some late nights, but our new sunroom is officially our favorite room in the house. This is one of the smallest rooms in the house, so it seemed like a good place to start.

I’m so excited to you to see our new place!

sunroomSunroom in Craftsman home room makeover. Here’s the room before. It really did have a bad case of “old lady” and a whole bunch of floral wallpaper. But, it has gorgeous built-ins, a very fun leaded glass door to the hallway, and a wall of windows and french doors.

So, before we moved furniture into the house. I took 20 mins and ran around the house and took before pics. But, somehow I totally missed this room. So, I dug up some photos from the listing and ones I had on my phone from the first time we looked at the house.

sunroom before 1

Lots of wallpaper and lots of windows.

sunroom before 2

The trim, doors, and windows were all in need of a fresh coat of paint (or 3, which it turned out to be).

sunroom before 3

Olivia posing with the fabulous leaded door that was lost with the wallpaper behind it.

I teamed up with World Market to give this room a fresh modern look and feel. This room isn’t very big, so I wanted to keep the space as light and airy as possible. So, I decided to go all white with the paint. I painted the walls flat and the trim, doors and moldings all semi-gloss (the color is the same white in my old house – Alabaster White from Sherwin Williams). Taking down wallpaper is no joke.  It took 3 of us the good part of a day.  But, I think we have a pretty good system (I’ll share the details soon). Then I prepped the walls by patching holes and caulking around all the trim.

Sunroom Makeover. White hydrangea in grey and brass vase.

The best feature in this room has got to be this gorgeous door. Pink, green and gold – it was meant to be my door. Now that the room is white, the door really stands out as a piece of art.

Stained glass door in 1918 Craftsman home.

I kept the art on the walls simple and hung them on the picture rail (which I LOVE, no more holes in my walls!). I also added this cute leather strap mirror to the wall right beside the kitchen. The back door is in the kitchen and I thought this would be a great place to quickly check your lipstick or hair before leaving the house.

Sunroom - mirror with leather strap

The new brass and wood pendant replaced a broken glass ceiling mounted fixture. I love this light fixture, you may see it in other rooms in our house in the future.

Sunroom Brass Pendant Light

I love these rattan hairpin chairs, they don’t weigh down the space and they are extremely comfortable. And they look really great with my vintage table that I found on Craigslist for just $20. I gave the legs a fresh coat of white paint and added brass caster wheels to it. I plan on doing a lot of my food photography in this room, so I wanted to be able to move the table closer to the windows with ease.

sunroom makeoverSunroom Makeover

After giving the built-ins a fresh coat of paint, I changed out the knobs for simple brushed brass ones to play with the light fixture. Then I filled the cabinet with baskets and pottery from Papua New Guinea (where I grew up). I thought the greens and browns of these pieces would stand out nicely in this all white room. And it’s just really fun to have a special place to display these.

Craftsman Sunroom Built-in CabinetsSunroom MakeoversunroomSunroom White flowers and stained glass door. Sunroom Makeover

I know we will be eating most of our meals in this room. I can’t wait to have my coffee in here every morning.

Sunroom Sunroom Makeover

Sources:

Craftsman Sunroom Makeover

So, what do you think?  What’s your first impression of our new home? Don’t you think every house should have at least one leaded stained glass door?

It’s really nice to have one room completely finished. Now onto the next room.  I think it might be out master bedroom or maybe the little studio attached to the garage. This is going to be fun.

This post was sponsored by World Market. Thank you for supporting the companies that help make this blog possible. 

DIY

DIY Bohemian Beach Towels

July 28, 2016

We are spending as much time as possible in pools, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. When it’s this hot, a swim is the best way to cool off. And if you are headed for a swim, a beach towel is a must. These DIY Boho Beach Towels were a lot of fun to make. I used $4 white towels from Target and dressed them up with some fun tie dying and a little tasseled trim.

Check out the full how-to on ehow today!

DIY boho beach towelDIY boho beach towel tie dye towel