This Week's "Links to Love"

• 30 June 2011

Yes, this is technically a Father's Day collage, but you could take this idea and run with it for a birthday too. I love this new-to-me-blog called Gen's Favorites...found via Kayce Hughes.

Laugh if you want, but I just purchased next year's Easter dresses for a song over at Olive Juice Kid's big summer sale. One of the full-priced dresses I've been eyeing just dropped in price 60%. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Imen makes cheese-making look seemingly simple in this post. What a cool thing to do...and how delicious it looks!

Kera's vivid account of her recent travels to a Liberian village to visit family members is really quite amazing. Not your usual blog post to be sure.

If you're a Seattle local, did you know that the Seattle Aquarium is sending out teams of Beach Naturalists to certain Seattle beaches this Summer? Here is your chance to find out all sorts of interesting facts about the area and the ocean. What a great summertime activity!

image from Gen's Favorite


Healthy Eating Resources

• 29 June 2011

There is something about Summer that naturally creates motivation to eat healthier and I'd venture to guess it's because of two factors:

1. the imminent threat of donning a swimsuit (see my favorites here)
2. hot weather decreases our appetite and causes us to crave crisp salads and other "light" foods

If I added a #3, it would probably be "bad genes"...at least in my case! Don't you love when you inherit problems? :)

Regardless of your motivation, it's a good subject to talk about every now and again. And believe it or not, amidst the occasional made-from-scratch treat, there is a lot of thinking about and exploration of more healthy eating around here. Over the past couple of years I've made some personal changes that I've mentioned here and there including starting off my day with a tall glass of water, decreasing my dairy intake, eating less meat, and almost entirely eliminating soda from my diet. I have to say that I feel so much better. However, I know there is still room for improvement. I really need to get to know my neighbors better so I can offload those homemade treats more often. Lately they've been sitting on my counter far too long...

Anyway, here are a few healthy living and eating resources I think you'll dig:

1. Skip Hellewell's Word of Wisdom blog--he is Brooke-of-Inchmark's-Dad and writes a mean blog. It's actually really enjoyable to read about healthy eating and such from a man's perspective. I particularly appreciate the "healthy changes" indicated as well as the simple, well-designed layout. It's the best overall healthy living blog I've ever seen.

2. My sister Kristen writes a food blog called Glow that she created for those experiencing a myriad of food allergies, i.e. gluten, dairy, sugar, you name it. She was recently diagnosed with Lupus so she isn't updating regularly as much, but she has a backstock of 35+ original recipes at your disposal. If you know of anyone with celiac disease or gluten allergies, you should tell them about Glow.

3. I recently had an enlightening conversation with Teri Cochrane, a holistic nutritional counselor located in the D.C. area. Subsequently, I am now deeply fascinated with the whole idea of improving one's health, even serious medical condistions, by simply changing what moves into our bodies. I've enjoyed pouring through her clever "cookbook", which for the record was packaged so nicely in a gift-ready burlap bag. I've realized I need to become more creative with ingredients and exposing my kids to more types of food. I'm crossing my fingers the changes are well-received...:)

4. Last, the film that started it all...Food, Inc. You can view my write-up here, which also discusses how to eat healthy on a budget--something that's very important to many of us.

images 1, 2, 3 - Word of Wisdom Living / images 4, 5 - by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


{New in the Shop} Pretty Party Goods from Europe

• 28 June 2011

It's taken me awhile, but I've finally listed all of the pretty little things I brought back from Europe in my shop...just in time for all those summertime birthday parties and Fourth of July FĂȘtes! Many of the items are things you've asked me about in the past--the vibrant red/white twine, the French wooden boats--when I've used them for personal packaging or styling purposes. I'm really excited to be able to share them with you now!

Also, I've restocked the delicious French gray salt from the famous Parisian Bakery Poilane (they use it in their bread, which Ina Garten swears by), the sweet cherry lollipops I used in my daughter's Cherry Party and added a Deluxe Pie Box Kit, which includes those adorable wooden forks I picked up in Paris.

As always, quantities are limited...some "very" limited (i.e. twine, cupcake liners, french wooden boats, etc.). If you order today, the items will go out tomorrow, via PRIORITY mail and arrive just in time for that party you're planning this weekend or next Monday.

You can view the entire shop here.


Welcome Kayce Hughes Classic Clothing for Kids + Mums

• 27 June 2011

It's always a pleasure to welcome a new sponsor that you're very familiar with...may I present Kayce Hughes Classic Clothing and Accessories. You are going to love these timeless pieces for you and especially for your children. Scallop trims, gorgeous hues, pretty buttons--what's not to love? If you're looking for pieces that will hold up over time and not look dated or trendy, Kayce Hughes is an excellent resource. She considers her experiences at Ralph Lauren and her lovely fashion-designer-of-an-aunt, Lilly Pulitzer, as being the main sources of inspiration behind her own label.

Over the years I've purchased classic dresses, blouses, and pajamas for my children and I've always been thrilled with the quality and styling. In fact, one Christmas those pajamas saved me when they arrived at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve one year. Oh how thrilled I was to gift my kids something new and special that they could also wear year round.

Kayce has really expanded her product line over the years and now offers vintage inspired toys, pretty notepads (love these for everyday use), moses baskets (used one with 3/4 kids), bubbles (adorable attire for baby's first summer) and the sweetest red mary janes around. If you sign up for the mailing list (see homepage), then Kayce will send you sale updates too--I love being in the know when it comes to an awesome sale.

As always, you can find a link to Kayce Hughes on the left side bar--at any time--for your convenience. Enjoy!

images via Kayce Hughes



One of my favorite places in Seattle to window shop is a gorgeous boutique called Lucca, located in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. In fact, Lucca is situated on my favorite street in Ballard--Ballard Ave. Forget Market Street, this off shoot is where it's at! Lucca is not only impeccably styled, but also offers the most interesting finds--Japanese art supplies, French tea, pretty jewelry, surprise balls, Italian toothpaste and a few vintage trinkets here and there for good measure. And these are just a few I can name off the top of my head! It's one of the most fascinating, most well-edited collections I've ever seen (I bought that clever card I mentioned Friday over at Lucca). But, the deal cincher was really the pricing--it's quite reasonable. In fact, you could easily walk out of there with a little souvenir for under $10. I love that.

The best time of the week to hit Ballard Ave is Thursday, Friday or Saturday--anytime after 11 a.m.--as there are a few other fantastic shops to hit that are only open during those times. Also, be sure to hit the following eateries while you're in the neighborhood:

* the Walrus & the Carpenter (for dinner--everything is good but the oysters are a must)
* the Other Coast (for lunch--try the roasted veggie and have it toasted)
* D'Ambrosio Gelato (try the pistachio!)

images by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


Whining + Warm Fuzzies + Weekends

• 24 June 2011

I saw this fantastic mantra at a local boutique and was immediately taken...best $3 I've ever spent! Right now this substantial, letterpressed postcard is clipped to the side of my fridge, but I am toying with the idea of having it framed. Is there anything more apropos for a house full of little kids? Especially since school just let out this week and the kids are experiencing more "together" time than they've had in quite some time, if you know what I mean :)

I hope you have a great Friday and a meaningful weekend! What are you up to? Besides somewhat mundane, yet important tasks like Saturday morning chores, we are hoping to find a u-pick strawberry farm so we can drown ourselves in berries. Leaving the city and heading out to the countryside hasn't happened yet since moving to Seattle and I'm feeling ready for a change. Even if it's just for a day!

postcard - white / poster - charcoal

images via Hammerpress Letterpress


Portland Report

• 23 June 2011

Over the years I've heard wonderful things about Portland and I have to say the city did not disappoint. I'm totally sold on the place and cannot wait to go back...hopefully sooner rather than later. Portland reminds me of a hybrid between Salt Lake City and Seattle, which in many ways is the perfect combination. And y'all were right about the food trucks...I cannot believe the incredible advice you all gave on what to do and to eat in Portland. Apparently blog readers make the best travel agents!

It was fun to see Sara's "Real Life Home" in person and to absorb all that gorgeous color. I was particularly impressed with the guest house renovation. They basically took an old artist's shed with no plumbing or electricity and turned it into an urban oasis. We know first hand this is no easy task. Since I hadn't seen Sara since we both lived in Boston several years ago, it was a pleasant reunion indeed.

Also, meeting Sally and taking her Packaging 101 class was a true highlight as well. She is lovely in every sense--very polished, very put-together and very, very nice. If I could shadow someone for a day I'm pretty sure I'd choose Sally :) Plus, I could listen to someone talk about cute packaging ideas all day long. I highly suggest you take her next class coming up...it's reasonably-priced and you'll learn a lot of valuable information and new skills.

Poor weather on Saturday led to a canceled photo session with Bonnie, which I was very much looking forward to last weekend. However, I simultaneously felt relieved as not having to prep and stress about family photos meant more time to discover Portland and to relax, well, as much as one can "relax" with 4 kids in tow (you how that goes...). Oh and how wonderful it was to finally meet Bonnie! She is just as amazingly talented, stylish and sweet as I'd imagined her to be. Now I get to experience sweet anticipation of our next go at a family photo (hopefully later this Summer?). Can't wait to see that gal again.

Per all of your recommendations we stopped at a handful of food carts (a fabulous concept every city and town in America should incorporate!), Kenny & Zuke's (best pastrami sandwich EVER) and also at the Rose Gardens in Washington Park. All were excellent suggestions so thank you, thank you, thank you!

p.s. all of your fabulous tips about Portland can be found here in the comments.

p.p.s. I rented the child-size vintage umbrella from Bella Umbrella here in Seattle. Lucky for you though, they have an online presence too!


Suzanne Kasler's Inviting Workspace

• 22 June 2011

I love this beautiful, light-filled workspace...wouldn't you love to be here all day? Atlanta-based interior designer Suzanne Kasler has really created an exceptional place for her team to be inspired. I love to observe how individuals choose to organize their space--in fact, I'm downright fascinated. Right now I'm taking copious notes and wondering how I can create a mini-version of this office in a small corner. These images are definitely making it into my "someday" folder pronto...

You can view more images of Suzanne's workspace here.

images by Erica George Dines for Atlanta Homes & Interiors


Mini Strawberry, Rhubarb + Basil Crumbles

• 20 June 2011

In the past year or so I've discovered how truly amazing rhubarb is when incorporated into baked goods--particularly with berries. I'm so grateful I finally got past its slightly odd appearance and started using it more. Rhubarb is delicious and adds a unique, subtle flavor. This spring/summery crumble was our dessert last night and boy it went fast!

I'm super excited to share my new favorite Summertime dessert with you over at Zupas today. I really think you're going to love this one!

images by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


Favorite One-Piece Swimsuits for 2011

1 / 2 / 3

I find shopping for a swimsuit as much fun as denim shopping. Both I tend to avoid, yet both I totally appreciate more than anything else in my closet. C'est bizarre...

Anyway, if you're on the hunt for a cute suit to wear to the pool with the kiddos this summer, here are some of my favorites of the season. I love them all, but for different reasons--some are retro in feel, some modern, and some ultra-feminine. Any way you look at 'em though, they are really fabulous. Hopefully I saved a couple of you from surfing the web for hours in search of that perfect suit :) Happy Monday!

4 / 5 / 6



• 17 June 2011

Our family is heading to Portland soon and I'm super excited to finally set eyes on a city that receives rave reviews from just about everyone I know. On the docket is a visit with a friend from high school (proprietress of "real life home no.7"), family photos with Bonnie and Sally's "packaging" class at Summer School. Since our day is pretty full we won't have a lot of time for sight-seeing, but if there is a yummy, casual place you recommend for lunch or dinner, do tell please. After all, we do need to eat...:) And since you are all excellent about sharing the best tips, I couldn't help but ask!

p.s. are the food trucks in Portland all that?

p.p.s. is there any sightseeing we should "make" time for?

image by Bonnie Tsang of a Portland restaurant (love that couple schmooching)


Welcome Carrie Stroud Photography

• 16 June 2011

Today I'd like to introduce you to new sponsor, Carrie Stroud Photography. Carrie is a Seattle-based photographer who occasionally travels to Utah and elsewhere for photo sessions with families, couples, newborns, "ladies in waiting" and just recently...weddings too. Her photography style showcases natural settings with an emphasis on telling a story--no uptight poses here! When choosing a photographer, it's important to consider their general vibe and I'm here to tell you that Carrie is friendly, patient and willing to put in the effort to help create a positive experience for clients. As an added bonus, Carrie's prices are very reasonable.

Here in the Pacific Northwest the Summer months present a lovely time to capture special moments and experiences given the gorgeous weather. Get a head start on snapping that yearly photograph so you can take advantage of the blue skies, sunshine and beach-friendly weather--this is the type of gig that's right up Carrie's alley.

You can view the Carrie Stroud Photography website and entire portfolio here.

images via Carrie Stroud Photography


3 Stylish Favorites for Summer

• 15 June 2011

It's ever-so-slowly starting to warm up here in the Pacific Northwest and to celebrate I'm digging out my open-toed shoes and short-sleeved shirts. In the meantime, I'd love to share with you some of my favorite summer pieces I've seen here and there.

1. I'm surprised how much I love Madewell--sister company to J.Crew. Have you stopped by? It's more casual than it's popular, more glamorous counterpart, but I actually find it more my style when it comes to day-to-day attire. They are hosting a pretty good sale right now...might be worth checking out.

2. This budget-conscious flat is a great choice for summer and will also stand in as a nice transitional show come Autumn. Cognac leather is my favorite neutral as it looks fantastic with black, navy, gray and even white.

3. I love a great belt--and this one is perhaps the sweetest thing I've seen in quite sometime. I didn't always pay attention to belts; in fact, I used to think they were kind of a waste of money. However, I've come to realize they are fantastic to have around and worth the price tag...particularly leather ones.

Have you seen anything fabulous lately? What are your great finds?

images via Madewell


Easiest Summer Dessert Ever {Panna Cotta + Berries}

• 14 June 2011

Panna cotta...have you ever made it? I've recently discovered it to be the easiest dessert in the world to make. If you have ten minutes then you have time to make panna cotta--no joke! This Italian cooked cream dessert is the perfect ending to a Summer dinner party because you can make it ahead of time, it's simple (i.e. picky eaters + kids will likely not complain), and it's just delightful with a coulis, lemon curd, or a pile of berries.

Today over at Zupas it's all about this creamy, smooth, gorgeous dose of Italian goodness...take a peek here.

images by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


Organization Tip No. 24: the Secret to a Clean House

• 13 June 2011

There is nothing like the impending arrival of a houseguest to motivate me to whittle down my to-do list and whip my home into shape. I'm not complaining though, I secretly like the added encouragement! So, this weekend, as I sorted and cleaned out closets, drawers and more closets and drawers, I had an epiphany. The secret to an easily-maintained clean living space is simply having less stuff to clean up. You would think it's some kind of organization system, right? But truly, when it comes down to it, the issue is just keeping tabs on how much we are accumulating in our living spaces because having lots of "stuff" = having to always be cleaning up that "stuff".

Before we moved to Seattle, we hosted a large garage sale and pared down quite a bit. And since moving here we continue to be concerted about what things we are holding on to--it's truly a constant process and not just a one time effort (although I wish it weren't so). In fact, I find myself purging things from our home on a fairly continuing basis--about once a month in fact. While it is a bit of a pain to sort, sell, donate, schlep, etc. the end result is pure satisfaction...and liberation...and clarity of thought. As crazy as it may sound, the less "stuff" we have, the more interesting our lives become. Meaning, instead of being constantly consumed with maintaining our junk and the accumulation of this and that, we are focused more on experiences--treasures that stay with us always. So all in all, it feels like putting forth the effort to clean out nooks and crannies a good thing.

For me, problem issues continue to be closets (I love to toss stuff inside and shut the door...obviously not a great long-term plan!), the playroom, my children's rooms, the laundry room, etc. Because of heavy use, these little areas tend to keep me on my toes. What areas do you find problematic in your space? And what secrets do you have to share?

Peek at organization tips #1 - #23  as well as my general organization tips.

p.s. this fabulous little nook resides in the home of Sarah Hicks Malone--the creator of the fabulous party blog Sara's Party Perfect. I haven't stopped thinking about her living space since viewing it on D*S last Autumn. I find it incredibly inspiring on so many levels!


Minted Summer GIVEAWAY

• 10 June 2011

Just when I thought Minted couldn't get any better, I spot these pretties on their site. How cute are those skinny labels on those wedding invitations? Why weren't my graduation announcements remotely as cute as these modern cards? (it's not too late to order them for your teen!) And don't get me started on the baby announcements--these girly notes are gorgeous!

There really are some amazingly lovely options for any occasion over at Minted right now, which is why I'm excited to share with you some fun news. Minted would like to offer one of you a $100 gift certificate to use as you please...because I know, and they know, that you can find a great way to put that much credit to use. We know you'll have a good time scheming about that next party and which invitation you'll choose to set the tone.

So peek around and see what strikes your fancy--chances are you'll find a myriad of ways to spend one hundred dollars of credit!

p.s. I hope you are enjoying all these back-to-back giveaways--you deserve 'em.

Giveaway Guidelines

- You have 5 days to enter this giveaway (closes Tuesday, June 14th at midnight).
- Make 1 comment on this post to enter.
- Anonymous comments will be ignored so make sure we know who you are!
- The winner will be chosen via random.org and announced sometime on Wednesday, June 15th at the top of this post--so make sure you peek back and see if you're the lucky one!
- If you win, please respond within one week of the winner announcement to secure prize. Thank you!


Real Life Home No.7: Colorful + Ecclectic

• 09 June 2011

The theme for this week's "Real Life Home" is color, color and more color! Quite different from the other spaces featured in this series, this Portland home shows us all how fun life can be when we brighten things up a bit...literally. One of my favorite aspects of the "Real Life Home" series is appreciating decorating styles that aren't exactly like our own--styles that uniquely reflect another person and his or her aesthetic. Peeking into this happy, color-swathed Portland home is a visual feast prepared for you by my friend Sara. And now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, I can honestly see why colorful interiors are so popular up here--a wonderful strategy to counteract the gray!

{above photo} Sara's Francophile bedroom (she and hubby speak fluent French)--this girl is not afraid to mix and match color and patterns--I love that! Personal favorites include the chandelier, zig zag bedding and that to-die-for-chartreuse trim.

For those of you just tuning in, this series showcases living spaces decorated by people who are not formally-trained interior designers; people who mix new finds with antiques and secondhand pieces from Craigslist (or the like). People who have figured out, on their own, what looks and feels good in their living space.

Sara and her husband are lucky enough to have a little guest house in their backyard--the perfect respite for friends and frequent flyers like grandma and grandpa. They had a lot of fun with this renovation and made sure to add the family's signature pops of color inside too {below image}.

Loving the appearance of that chartreuse again--what a pretty contrast against the exposed brick wall. And let's talk about that cobalt blue door...isn't that beautiful? I feel like I need that now.
Also notable is the chandelier and the growth chart mounted on the wall to document the stature of her two, sweet kiddos.

Below you see the exterior of Sara's home as well as a portion of her kitchen. The hues of blue compliment the pops of red so well. Putting those colors together was simply brilliant!

This angle makes me want to revisit our open shelving discussion.

Last, I want to share these colorful, "kid spaces" Sara created for her two toddlers. I feel so happy looking at them! Highlights include that funky pillow on the sofa, the upholstered chair in Penelope's room (such a cute girls name, right?) and the painting over the changing table. I love the gentle reminder that nursery art does not have to be juvenile per se, in order to be appropriate for a childlike space.

All of the people who've shared their living spaces specifically for this series expressed feeling a little timid about putting it all out there, Sara included. I hope you consider leaving a little note here on this post, sharing any thoughts you might have about this colorful, ecclectic, inspiring space. It means a lot!

More beautiful spaces designed by non-designers:

Real Life Home No.6 - Amy (calming neutrals)
Real Life Home No.5 - Lynne (whimsy + details)
Real Life Home No.4 - Emily (clean + textural)
Real Life Home No.3 - Kirsten (whites + woods)
Real Life Home No.2 - Maria (white kitchen love)
Real Life Home No.1 - Cherilee (mid-century modern)

all of these lovely images are courtesy of Portland-based Heather Keeling Photography. Merci Heather!


Lemon Curd Shots with Raspberries, Cream + Pistachios

• 08 June 2011

Talking about all sorts of yumminess over at Zupas this week. Lemon curd shots anyone?

p.s. you need these for your next bridal or baby shower :)

image by Stephanie Brubaker for stephmodo


Springtime Jaunt in Discovery Park

• 07 June 2011

Last week we ventured on a nature walk through Discovery Park with a family we know through our daughter's French preschool. It was such a hoot listening to 2 little girls babble in French for 2 hours straight as they wandered about smelling buttercups and picking tiny daisies in the grass. We are so grateful to have the chance to live right in Seattle, yet have such a beautiful place nearby to enjoy the outdoors. If any of you are considering a move to Seattle, move to Magnolia! I think you'll be happy here :)

And speaking of being happy, do you notice that your kids get along better when they are outside or is this just a phenomenon in my family? I feel like we should take more hikes/walks more often...particularly this summer when the kids won't have as much personal space because they're out of school. All I'm saying is don't be surprised if I'm heading out on a hike every day :)

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