DIY pickling kit gift box

ok, i’ve got the easiest holiday gift idea for you ever! if you were thinking how cute it would be to make homemade pickles or jam for all your neighbors, but realize you don’t have that kind of time — this is the next best thing. and perhaps way more fun for them.

instead, make them a DIY kit to do it themselves! i’ve teamed up with NEWELL BRANDS, MAKERS OF BALL® FRESH PRESERVING PRODUCTS again, to create this simple cute little kit perfect for holiday gifting. 

is anyone else obsessed with bread and butter pickles? i love them so much, i feel like they’re good on ANY and EVERY sandwich. i eat them with grilled cheese, hot dogs, egg salad… maybe the egg salad sounds gross but i swear it’s good. well, i like it.

also this time, we did a secret santa so i sent the kit off to marisa of food In jars! and i received the sweetest gift box in return…

pickling mix (makes at least 1 pint sharing jar)

2 medium cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced thin
3 tbsp.  ball® salt for pickling and preserving
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 tbsp ball® bread and butter pickle mix
4 oz mini jar
16 oz sharing jar
printable labels

01. mix together ingredients in your mini jar. (these mini jars are 75% smaller than the standard ball® regular mouth pint jar, but has the same style)

02. print labels on 8.5 x 11″ cardstock paper, cut out and punch a hole in the corner with a hole puncher. for this recipe i added the pickling mix right on the printable labels.

03. use a piece of bakers twine to wrap labels around the jars, knot tightly.

and as for what i got in return for secret santa, heather from whipperberry made this adorable holiday survival kit with homemade sugar scrub, a fizz shower bomb and my favorite part is the cute little matches, she attached a strip to strike the matches on. so cute!!



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babys first holiday

it’s funny how this time last year i was pregnant and soooo excited (i was still first trimester and just popping, so it was all still so new exciting), we were daydreaming about how this time next year we’d be doing all the same things but with a baby in tow. and now it’s here!

i think you may know this already, but even though i’m jew-ish, we are a total christmas family. i loooove christmas everything, we always get a tree and i play christmas music the whole month of december and watch the christmas movies and basically just drink the christmas kool-aid. so i’m so excited for arlo’s first christmas, even though he won’t actually know what’s going on whatsoever, it’s special for us lol. so i teamed up with shutterfly to create all sorts of things to commemorate!

while in theory, i would have loved to have had a photographer come to our house and shoot some pretty photos of us, i decided to do our first holiday cards as a family with an easy selfie (appropriate given arlos love of selfies). i love that shutterfly gives me the option to design and print my own cards, but they have lots of really cute design options to choose from if you want to select a pre-built template too. we sat on the floor and used a selfie stick and it’s super casual and we love it. i quickly whipped up the design and i think they turned out great, they feel so personal and so us. i got square cards, and they also now have return addressed envelopes so i have one less thing to worry about when addressing all the holiday cards this year. (you can even have them do all the recipient addresses for you as well)

besides just the holiday cards, i went a little nuts customizing (aka arlo-izing) all sorts of holiday products for my family this year. one of my favorite items they have is the custom gift wrap, i actually considered using photos of arlo but realized that would be a little overkill. instead, i used some patterns i’ve designed and it’s sooo fun to have my own personal gift wrap. wrapping this year will be so exciting! they also have a free art library you can use if you aren’t a designer yourself.

and their glass ornaments are my faaaavorite. i’ve actually ordered these in the past as well and i love them so much. they have an option of three shapes and the glass makes them look so fancy versus just sticking a photo into an ornament frame slot. i also decided they will make the perfect tags for gifts, a keepsake and gift identifier all in one. so basically two presents in one!

last year we ordered an ornament of arlo in the womb, and this year we made them from baby pictures, so it’s been great to have these little time capsules when we pull out our ornaments every year. it already feels like our own special holiday tradition.

i also whipped up a photo book of all my favorite arlo photos, and an easel calendar. the design of this one is so good! i’ve decided i’m going to keep the easel calendar for myself because i love it so much. sorry grandparents.

it’s really easy when your baby is super cute and every photo you take is good, but pro tip, i keep a “best of” album on my phone (which i literally contribute to daily), so whenever i need to, i can quickly access all my favorite photos of him. doing both the book and the calendar were a total breeze because of arlo’s keen modeling abilities but also shutterfly is super easy to use.

shutterfly is the perfect place for family gifts once you have a baby, because duh, all the grandparents care about is arlo. there really couldn’t be a more meaningful type of holiday gift for them, and the ease of making everything is so crucial during the holiday shopping craze. anyone shopping for grandparent gifts should probably look no further.

this post is in partnership with shutterfly.
all opinions are 100% my own.

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holiday gift guide : for the entertainer

making these gift guides over the years is always a favorite for me, but it’s also v bad for me at the same time, because i end up wanting everything. literally everything! i guess that’s the idea but man it’s so hard to keep myself from adding it all to my cart. 

01. iridescent champagne flutes! they would be fun to pull out every time you’re celebrating.
02. fancy soap is one of those no-fail gifts always (and you can reuse the pretty bottles forever)
03. love the handles of this cheese knife set.
04. these color block cocktail napkins would look amazing displayed on their bar.
05. i love this confetti tumbler as a little vase so much.
06. these copper place card holders are the perfect hostess gift.
07. this set of candle holders is the easiest way to dress up any dull table.
08. i mean, this cheese grater. 
09. obsessed with the organic shape of this divided serving platter.
10. for the host who loves to throw parties, the dopest punchbowl!
11. these subtle tie dye napkins are so, so pretty.

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arlo : five months

arlo is such a big boy now. literally he is a huge giant baby, but he’s also so mature and different compared to his newborn days. he’s perfecting his giggling, right now we have to usually work pretty hard to get him into a true laughing fit, always having to come up with new bit after new bit — so i’m looking forward to when he laughs constantly and i don’t have to work so hard! (although sometimes i’ll just be talking to gid and he cracks up randomly, which is my fave) 

his big gummy smile is still so infectious, but i’ve noticed he definitely loves ladies these days. when we’re out to eat, he sets his sights on different women and gives them big flirty smiles and big flirty eyes, and i even saw him do it to a woman who wasn’t noticing him — so he kept it up for 10 minutes until she did.

he started solids this month, and has liked every single food we’ve given him! he is such a little piggy. he makes the most grossed out, cliche baby faces, but then is always ready for more. and within only a couple of days, he totally got it — he opens his mouth wide and chews. he is also getting to be fairly good in a high chair, so we’ve been taking him to restaurants and he can last a little bit sitting in one! (with his high chair toy to suck on) he has gotten way better at outings (and so have we), and he still pretty much hates the car and his car seat but it’s gotten better for sure and i’m hopeful it’ll continue to do so.

still no teeth, still so much teething and so much drool, but now that he’s able to grab teethers and suck on his toys, the teething is a little more bearable for both of us. he also loves sucking on his feet, as you can see!

i think he also has officially sat up! it’s lasted about 15-30 seconds, but he can pretty much do it before toppling over. i’m so excited for him. he really loves standing, so whenever he’s being cranky there’s a good chance i can just put him on his feet and he gets so excited.

and besides standing, he is obsessed with the cats. our favorite activity is to chase them around and pet them, he gets so pumped up to even be near them, but loves tugging on their fur and they have been so surprisingly patient with him. they even ask for pets from him lately. it’s all very cute.

still loves raffi, but i’m really trying to get him into other music (he seems to tolerate the beach boys), and he can turn the page when reading now. still loves bath time and we still haven’t moved him to the tub despite being v big for the sink these days.

we were supposed to take his first trip this month (just a couple of days in sonoma), but it ended up being cancelled due to a family emergency. i had prepped and packed for weeks and trained him to nap in his crib, so at least now i know we can hopefully handle the next trip, which will be a bigger deal than sonoma — we’re going to hawaii on his 6 month birthday with my in-laws!

he’s in the 98th percentile for height but has dropped down to only the 75% for weight, haha.

everyone still says constantly that he is the happiest, smiliest baby ever — and i could not agree more.

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holiday gift guide : for the jetsetter

for the travel obsessed wanderlust-ing perpetually jet-lagged friend who is just never home… some TSA friendly gifts!

01. i love this baggu collapsable tote so much i got one for our next trip (it folds down tiny and is machine washable)
02. this muji neck pillow is much cuter than most neck pillows
03. a v fancy portable battery pack (aka power bank)
04. i included this camera last year but i still love it, and this one is in black.
05. love this passport case
06. oh my what a cute travel mug i designed myself!
07. a fun travel book with lots and lots of spots and guides to cool places
08. for the OCD packer, i want these packing cubes so bad! if only i traveled a lot.
09. a cutie little tech pouch with lots of essentials
10. super handsome wireless bluetooth headphones (i personally can’t stand earbuds, especially for a long flight)
11. i love kristen ess hair products, now travel size ones!

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our cat adoption stories (and paying it forward)

i’ve teamed up with HP again, this time they asked me to reflect on a moment that has inspired my life, and to give back to my community in return! especially this time of year, it’s so easy to focus on the material, of course, so it feels so good to take a moment to sway and help out in other ways.

when i had the chance to reflect, i immediately thought about operation adopt, where i adopted rocky two years ago. they are such a great organization and you can quickly see how much they truly care about their animals. since moving to the valley two years ago, i definitely feel more of a sense of community than i did in the city — which is a really nice feeling! as in… my dry cleaner knows my name. just thought you should know. it felt extra nice to solidify that feeling of the neighborhood (WHAT IS THIS SENTENCE LOL HELP)

my cats have been so important in my adulthood, because they totally paved the way for me to care for something besides just myself, and they taught me that animals really need our kindness too. giving them a home is probably the kindest thing you could do (for both of you!). you might have already seen on instagram that i posted for world kindness day about them, because they really changed my life!

five years ago, my best friend took in a pregnant stray cat. i assisted in the birth because their mom wasn’t the most maternal, so we had to make sure she’d keep them alive. it was pretty disgusting, but we gently nudged her towards each sack to make sure she’d tend to all of them and get them out. and even though i’d never really liked cats — being there for that moment changed that for life. i think in a way, witnessing and assisting in the birth made me feel kind of maternal, like i had delivered 5 kittens myself lol. i wasn’t planning on taking any of them home, but i would go visit them regularly and i just loved bodhi so much. he was always playing on his back and could not have been cuter — so i decided i needed to adopt him. lucy was kind of the belle of the ball, she was the only girl in the litter, and was so rambunctious and funny and by far the best hunter. gid loved her the most. but more importantly, bodhi and lucy were best friends, so i didn’t want to separate them. and that’s how someone who never even liked cats ended up adopting two at once…  we adopted 2 of the 5, and then found loving homes for the others.

and then two years ago, i was walking by operation adopt with my dad and stepmom and walked in for no reason, and then i saw rocky! her name was dolly at the time and she had really short hair (they’d cut off her long fur to clean her). she had belonged to a hoarder who had 120 cats! they adopted out everyone but kept a couple of cats as evidence for months. three of them made it to operation adopt — three ragdoll girls, one kitten and two adults. they were all sooooo cute in different ways, but “dolly” stood out to me with her feisty personality. i asked to hold her and immediately texted gid a photo saying “can we adopt her?” without hesitation he responded “yes”. he’s pretty chill huh? so i filled out an application right then and there and a few days later she moved in with us!

i wasn’t sure what adopting an adult cat would be like, but it was actually so nice to skip those rough kitten months where they climb and jump on everything. rocky still has the energy of a kitten here and there, but as i said, she really has fulfilled all my elmira dreams. she’s only half rag doll (and half calico, which according to the vet, is the feisty side), but she lets me carry her around like my own little cat doll, and she sleeps next to my head every night, all night!

i was so happy when operation adopt accepted my offer to redesign the posters for each animal up for adoption. i used my HP spectre x360 to design and then i used the inking capabilities to hand draw on it. i think it turned out really cute, simple and clean but definitely a modern update to what they had before.

when i saw laser lemon on their website up for adoption, i knew he had to be my muse, because he looked like a baby bodhi! arlo has really taken a liking to the cats lately, so i thought meeting laser lemon would be so fun — well, turns out kittens are completely terrifying. who knew!?

how cute is laser lemon? someone needs to adopt him right now!

it felt so good to give back, and i hope you also feel inspired to #ReinventGiving this holiday. it doesn’t take much effort or time to help someone in need out, so i hope you’ll consider doing the same. would love to hear if you’re planning to!

this post was in partnership with HP. all opinions are my own.

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our house is so smart now

for real. i am so excited about this post! ever since fixing up the studio, i have always made a point to go out and do as much work as i can — but i’ve always had one major problem. the wifi signal is the worst. like as in, it basically has never worked. it takes forever to even load emails, so you can imagine how that affects my productivity, especially when i’m on the clock with the babysitter here. i talked to my much more tech-savvy brother a zillion times about solutions, but didn’t want to spend a ton of money or time or energy on it so i just gave up on the idea of using the internet out there. the irony is not lost on me that my job is working on the internet.

but all that has changed, because i’m so psyched to partner with samsung today about the samsung connect home. it’s a mesh wi-fi system, which makes such a huge improvement to our signal. we used to get so annoyed when we couldn’t stream movies and we’d call the internet company to complain relentlessly, but not anymore! our signal has been so great, but most importantly — i can totally work in the studio now, no problem. i’ve been sitting out there responding to emails, listening to music, streaming episodes of friends, just going crazy basically. living that good wi-fi life.

it also doubles as a hub for all my smart home devices to the wi-fi network. so i can control my video doorbell now, the smart lightbulbs and our new robot vacuum. i also just know myself and i know how exciting it’ll be to acquire new smart products that are compatible. i’m not a dork at all. and i control everything with the samsung connect app, it is super simple and awesome to now be able to control everything through just one app.

we got a three pack, so we ended up putting one router in the living room, one in the bedroom and the third in the studio. each one has a range of 1500 sq feet which is perfect for my little 1500 sq foot house haha — but good news for people with multiple stories, it’ll work for you too, giving you corner to corner coverage. setup was super easy, we did it during one nap and were good to go before arlo even woke up.

but besides improving our wi-fi forever, i am soooo happy we finally got rid of the ugly black eyesore of a router with huge antennas sticking up in every direction, that gid never let me hide in a cabinet. well now it’s gone and i don’t miss it one bit. the super low profile of the samsung connect home routers is obviously perfect for me, it’s so sleek and small and blends right into our decor. not sure why all media isn’t small and white like this? they should all get the memo that this is way better. our cabinet tops are v happy. and so am i.

this post was in partnership with samsung.
all opinions are 100% my own.

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