I was just dropping some cash at H&M on boyfriend jeans and tunics when I clicked over to their blog and found yummy food recipes by New York-based blogger Julia Gartland, who is the photographer and food stylist behind the Sassy Kitchen blog. I’d not heard of her until now but was excited when I clicked over and found her beautiful gluten-free cooking blog. I’ve often thought to go gluten-free. I don’t have gluten allergies that I know of, but I do love the idea of trying something new and even a bit healthier. Aren’t her photos and recipes just scrummy?
Hope you are doing well, you guys! Sorry I’ve been a little absent lately. I’ll talk about it more on the blog soon.
Ok so my last post sorta bummed me out so let’s talk about creative handpainted gold leaf baked goods before the weekend hits. I don’t want to end my blog this week talking about dead birds! Downer! I decided to launch a new column on decor8 that I believe I can actually stick to called Instagram Fave Friday because I find a bevy of great stuff on IG and I feel so limited when trying to share great IGers. And trust me, I find some amazing IG peeps because I have a baby and my iPhone is my best friend when he’s asleep in my arms – so I surf and save constantly. I’m an IG machine. So I figured to just devote a weekly column that you can visit on Friday to end each week looking at beautiful things from talented people. Sounds like a plan.
I was thinking this morning that IG doesn’t have a real way to share, does it? I mean, you can see some stuff in that News feed but it’s not that great if you follow say, more than 50 people. You miss stuff unless you are refreshing the News feed every 10 seconds and I’m just not into that. Sure, you can fave images but no one can see your faves (which in all honestly I sorta like) but on the other side, when you WANT to share stuff you can either repost or regram it, which I just don’t like, or you have to tweet it but still a tweet doesn’t have much reach these days like a blog post. I still find that my blog posts go the distance when it comes to shares.
Yeah, so I’m going off topic slightly… But I’m going to take you on a little Instagram Fave Friday, my debut installment, right now. Today I’m highlighting IG extraordinaire, Nectar and Stone, who is Donna-Caroline Khoo a Dessert Designer with dreams to open a cakery someday in Melbourne. All I can say is MY GOD SHE SHOULD. Support this woman, people. If you live down there and have some leads for her, or ideas, or whatever she is someone that I believe could do beautiful things with a brick and mortar bakery. What talent. And hello publishers… Book deal alert!
On IG Caroline shares the things she makes and bakes, chocolate with gold leaf! Cupcakes! Girly Smoothies! Zebra cookies! Mini ice cream cakes in cones! Ice cream-shaped cookies! I know, I’m really living it up with these exclamation marks but oh! my! so! cute!
I love what she says about her growing brand, “Nectar and Stone – it’s who I am, what I love, my passion and creativity. I tell a story each day with my designs, colours, photography, flowers and style – it’s a collection of things from my past, present and future. I’m not here to make a quick dollar – my brand is about building loyal followers who love what I do and believe in me. I encourage people to find new ideas and concepts… ” So nicely stated. Makes me want to support her even more.
Yeah, this post is going to blow my diet too.
(images nectar and stone)
Hey guys, its Kelly Brown and Holly asked me to stop in from time to time to post tours of beautiful spaces that I shoot professionally so you get to see them first. This is my debut post on decor8 so I hope that you enjoy it! I am so excited to share with you a shoot I did recently at Gracias Madre, a plant-based (vegetarian & vegan) Mexican-inspired restaurant in sunny West Hollywood, California. In my opinion, the only thing better than eating a really, really great meal, is eating it in a beautiful atmosphere. Wendy Haworth and her design team along with patio designer, Scott Shrader, have created just that at Gracias Madre. By the way, you can click on any image below for super large views to ohhh and ahhh over the details and to pin!
I visited the restaurant during a recent trip to LA and immediately fell in love with the space, not to mention the food! I couldn’t help myself but to walk around the entire restaurant checking out every inch of the space and noting all the amazing design features. Lets just say its on my “must go to” list in LA. The plantain fritters and the sopes, so delicious! Oh, and the drinks! Small batch mescals and tequila with housemade syrups, shrubs, tinctures, and bitters! Yep, I had myself a good time!
With a Mexican flare, the interior is fresh and bright, perfectly utilizing color and pattern to balance out the large space. Cozy corner nooks and an amazing outdoor patio makes you want to stay there eating and drinking all night. Its no surprise that Gracias Madre received the People’s Choice Award from The American Institute of Architect’s 10th Annual Restaurant Design Awards in Los Angeles.
Executive Chef, Chandra Gilbert and Beverage Director, Jason Eisner go above and beyond to create beautifully distinct dishes from local and organic ingredients. Here’s what they say about the restaurant: “We first conceived the idea of Gracias Madre while visiting the families of our employees in Mexico. We wanted to both; offer organic Mexican food to the communities we serve as well as honor the mothers who work tirelessly in the kitchens of Mexico and often live without their husbands and children while they work side by side with us in California. Inspired by some of the recipes of these families and the love of their mothers, Gracias Madre serves organic, farm fresh, locally sourced food, full of flavor and love.” So, what do you think? Wouldn’t you love to eat (and drink!) in this beautiful space?! I know I can’t wait to go back! -Kelly
(text/photography kelly brown)
I am so inspired by the great food stylists and photographers out there – especially those who really push themselves to color outside of the lines and not fall into the generic look that can quickly become redundant and uninspiring. I’m sure it’s hard for food stylists to stay fresh, especially since so many of them are out there, but the cream always rises to the top when one puts forth the effort, right? But this post isn’t just about food styling. It’s also about food and health. And I guess I can add that if more food stylists would make healthy low-calorie foods look gorgeous, they would really stand out – there is a market (and global health need) for that because cake seems to be the most-pinned food ever! And I love cake but if I made as much as I pinned I’d be in trouble! Let’s chat about healthy living for a moment, ok? Remember this post that I wrote about Healthy Living back in May?
Many of you were really motivated by it so I want to continue with Healthy Living tips and encouragement on decor8 in the months to come to inspire those of you who want to make positive changes in your lifestyle and to keep at it. I don’t want this to be something I talk about once and then it falls off the radar and the Pringles show up and the Haribo party with Ben & Jerry. I know the payback from eating healthy is enormous. So here are some tips from me to you that are random but good.
TIP 1: My mother was a health nut – she dragged me into health food stores and to her chiropractors visits when I was barely out of diapers. She was into herbs and tonics and everything you can imagine – some weird and some very cool. But in the end, I know it works for her and even today, when she “falls off the wagon”, she goes right back to healthy foods, herbs, vitamins, etc. and bam! she looks and feels great. So I guess that is tip one – if you fall off the wagon WHO CARES. Get back on.
TIP 2: Since I started taking good health more seriously, I’ve noticed changes – especially in my overall cravings. I went from craving chips to wanting almond butter on apples or craving a big salad with avocado and chicken. And I’m not avoiding sweets or bread as I had started off thinking I had to do. I enjoy a bagel now and then and love having a slice of cake from time to time. But the thing is, the cravings are gone. I started taking vitamins daily for the past several months and they help, too. And lots of water. Just fill up a bottle and refill it like 4-5x a day and while you’re working, take frequent sips. So to get control of cravings, make sure you are taking your vitamins/minerals and drinking tons of water and eating some healthy foods!
TIP 3: I never miss breakfast. It’s a vital start for me now and I make sure that I always have breakfast foods in stock in advance so I never wake up with an empty fridge.
TIP 4: Good appliances… Speaking of fridges, remember this post about my obsession with SMEG? Well, I still would love to own one but I went with my second choice – a BOSCH (this one), in white. I LOVE IT. And funny thing is, because it works so much better than my previous fridge, I can now make sorbets that actually freeze and keep eggs and meats fresher, longer in addition to crispy lettuce and veggies. What a difference to healthy living a good fridge can make. It’s something I never imagined until I bought a BOSCH. So happy I did, I cannot recommend it enough. And it’s beautiful to look at!
TIP 5: A fall back recipe that is easy and helps your cravings… I mentioned sorbet a moment ago. I want to tell you more about my latest obsession. I was out with my friend Ann last week and she told me how she makes healthy sorbet in her blender and so I went home the same day and made my own, using a recipe I invented, that is unbelievably good and so much healthier than Ben & Jerry’s and super refreshing. You basically dump in a box or bag of frozen raspberries (or mixed berries) into a blender and then add a tiny bit of milk just to smooth it out and keep blending on Puree mode until smooth. Then drop in a tiny bit of vanilla extract, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a few teaspoons of sugar (or faux-sugar, stevia, whatever you want) and a bit of honey. I am not a honey person, so I promise you that you won’t taste it – it helps the texture enormously. You can eat it right away or you can fill freezer pop moulds with it and freeze for 24 hours or put it into individual portion-controlled tupperware cups (like I did, using cute containers from Japan) and store in the freezer. Then, when you have a major craving, remove and eat! Try it, seriously, it’s the best.
TIP 6: In celebration of healthy living, I thought to pull together the many healthy recipes I find online into a single pinboard, so please check it out! I’m sure you will find some great recipes and be inspired to whip up something other than the thousands of cupcake pins you see on Pinterest. Seriously, sometimes you need to step away from the cupcakes, am I right? They are yummy and wonderful but I found Pinterest was making me have cravings for things I normally never cared about. So even searching more for healthy recipes helped me to split the reality food from the fantasy food. Fantasy foods – potato chips, french fries, cupcakes – they are wonderful but definitely not to be eaten constantly because it seems to really impact energy and even emotional health after awhile. Have you noticed that too? So start a pinboard with healthy stuff you love so you can learn to lust after a big salad as much as you are lusting for ice cream!
TIP 7: Balance and the fact that stuff doesn’t happen overnight. In the end, it’s all about balance isn’t it? We ALL want a 24 hour magic pill. I’m not fad dieting or doing crazy fitness regimes that I won’t stick to in a year. I may join a gym but that’s still under debate because I’ve always been a gym dropout. What I am doing is investing in something long-term that my family and I can stick to and that is called finding our balance, our center and getting healthier in the process. On a side note, in less than a year, my husband changed his diet completely – he eats super healthy now – and he has a flat stomach, abs, defined biceps, his neck, shoulder and back muscles are rockin’ and he does around 200 sit-ups on an incline bench 4-5 times a week in addition to cycling, push-ups, resistance training and walking. And this is stuff he just makes time for and feels great from as a result. He was once a total sugar junky – I mean he would eat so much candy it scared me. Really scared me. He always had to have something chocolate in the house. This went on for 10 years and I was terrified he’s end up diabetic or something… Then he just decided to change. He’ll bring chocolate home maybe once a week and it’s usually a single dark cocoa organic bar or something not so bad… Or he’ll have some candy once every now and then for a special occasion – like movie night with the guys or something – certainly not daily. It took a long time for him to see progress when he went off of eating so many sweets, but today he SEES the changes and FEELS better and this has motivated him further – now he wants to get even leaner and build more muscle tone (I’m not complain’ hubba hubba), and is super duper determined to keep going for the rest of his life with this and I know he will, I believe in him and support him all the way. He also has lost around 20 pounds since we moved back to Germany from America just through eating out less and not indulging so often – and this was before his fitness regime started last year. He couldn’t believe that he gained 20 pounds when he moved to America – he was so ashamed of that – but it’s off now!
Healthy living is definitely a choice. What are some healthy living changes or improvements that you’ve made recently? Would you like to share?
(images: linked directly beneath each photo, please click on them to find recipes and more!)