Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Decorating!

Alex and I are huge fans of the Christmas Spirit. We love the lights, the ornaments, the egg nog... you name it, we like it. We are also the type of people who buy our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Here is our apartment's transformation over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Here is our messy living room before:

We headed to a little Chirstmas tree lot by our house. They had cheap trees, free delivery and we were helping out a little boy scout troop.

After a stroll around the lot, we found our tree.

After the awesome boy scouts lugged the tree up to our apartment, we threw on the lights and ornaments and the room started to glow.

But that's not all... we decorated our mantle* too! Christmas mantle!!

We weren't sure if we were allowed to put lights up outside**, but we figured it's better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

* Thanks to my mom for letting me use her decorations! She doesn't use them too much anymore and has an excellent collection of little Santas and vintage glass ornaments.
** We received a newsletter from the complex that said it's OK to decorate so... woo hoo!

Happy Holidays everybody!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Paint chip heaven at Benjamin Moore in the San Francisco Design Center
Let me tell you about the exciting week I had at work! 
Alex and I got our Christmas tree (more on that later) last Sunday and my computer somehow stopped working in the process of moving it from the living room to the kitchen. It eventually started working again but my boss's husband M wanted to take a look at it anyway to make sure it really was OK. He didn't find anything wrong with it but as soon as I brought it home, it decided to stop working again. The computer is back with him again and I'm working from my laptop now. 
Aaanywho, on Wednesday, my boss J, my co-worker K, and I met up at 7:00 am in Napa and drove down to San Francisco to the Design Center.  We attended a networking breakfast and watched a presentation by an architect named Andrew Skurman. He is a renowned architect that specializes in Classical architecture and recently published a book! He's a very interesting guy and his work is amazing. It was kind of intimidating to be in the same room with such an accomplished person.
After the breakfast, J and K took me around the different show rooms at the design center to pick up samples and look for pieces for our current clients. K was such a pro at the design center. We were zipping in and out of show rooms grabbing this and that. I told her how impressed I was with her knowledge of the place and she just laughed saying that there was about two months during the summer where she would make weekly trips to the SFDC. I wonder if that responsibility will be in my hands in the future?
The photo above is one I quickly took at the Benjamin Moore show room... I mean look at it! You wonder how many other ways there are to present paint chips besides what you see at hardware stores. I just love how they've stepped it up with the flooring and lighting. So clean and beautiful and anti-hardware store.
On Thursday morning, I was back in the office working on some last minute drawings for a meeting we had later that day. The project is a master bathroom remodel for a guy who loves the rich Tuscan look. We had three designs to show him, one of which I had a lot of influence with. J had told me what she was looking for but pretty much let me at it. I found a really nice vanity for the client and added some arches here and there in the interior. He liked all of the designs but his face really lit up when he saw what I came up with and chose to go in that direction. I don't want to say that I "designed" it, I was only following direction but it was still exciting having someone want something that I put together. All in all, my first official client meeting was a success! I can't wait to see what comes up this week.

Five Senses: Sunday Night Edition

Seeing: Photos "uploading" on my flickr. My internet doesn't like uploading photos while Alex games and I try to watch Netflix.

Tasting: Popcorn. My favorite snack food.

Hearing: "Scream and Shout" by Will.i.am featuring Britney Spears. I absolutely hated it the first time I heard it on TV but it has evolved into my guilty pleasure. I can't get enough of British Britney!

Smelling: Apple Cinnamon Glade Candle. Makes my house feel cozy...

Touching: 24x36 Building plans. Getting ready for Monday at work!

Friday, November 30, 2012

TGIF! Tomorrow marks the completion of my first 40 hour work week in... eleven months!
Can you believe that? My body is in shock!
Alex laughed at me when I mentioned that because not too long ago he was working about 60 hour work weeks.
The new job has been good! My boss is trying to make a space for me at the office so that we can all be in one location. Sounds like my sleepy chic work-from-home days may be numbered. I'm pretty excited for that though because there is so much to learn from those ladies. However, I must admit that I will miss going to my mom's house to eat lunch and watch Days of Our Lives.

Next week is going to be pretty busy. On Wednesday we are heading down to San Francisco to hear a talk about windows and then do some shopping for a client and on Thursday I will attend my very first client meeting to go over a design that I've been working on.
I can't even tell you guys how excited I am about this job. To think just last year I was sitting in my cubicle at my old-old job, drawing pipe supports and wondering when/how I would ever get into interior design. Now, after five months of unemployment and another five months interning, I'm finally heading in the right direction. I know this is just the beginning, but it's so nice to see my hard work finally paying off.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Paleo Pumpkin Pie!

Thanksgiving is here! My favorite holiday. I always look forward to the long weekend to spend with friends and family, to eat absurd amounts of food and to celebrate Alex's and my anniversary (sorry, had to throw that in there).

My absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving is dessert and in my house we usually have pumpkin pie. Since my family and I have started eating Paleo, we've been a bit worried about the upcoming festivities. It will be a "free day" for us but I thought this would be a great opportunity to try out another paleo recipe.

This past weekend, I did a bit of research and found a couple of paleo pumpkin pie recipes to combine into the easiest and tastiest recipe for me to create.
Here is what I came up with and it is awesome!

Last month I made a paleo apple pie and really enjoyed the crust and decided to use that recipe for this pie too. The crust is not only easy to make, it is super tasty.

For the crust you will need:
9 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup of honey
1 cup of coconut oil (heated to liquify)
2 cups coconut flour (amount varies)
(This actually made enough dough for two pies, which was the amount I needed but you can cut the proportions if you want)

-Preheat oven to 350.
-Put eggs, honey, and coconut oil in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Mix in the flour a little bit at a time until it looks like dough.
-Grease a 9 inch pie pan with coconut oil and then press the dough into the pan evenly to cover the bottom and the sides.

I found a very simple pumpkin filling recipe from Ann over at Twelve in Twelve. Ann found the recipe at the Everyday Paleo blog. Ann gave it good reviews and Everyday Paleo is a reliable source... so it was good enough for me to try!

For the Filling you will need: 
1 – 14oz can of organic pumpkin puree (nothing added, just pumpkin) 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon -I will actually be doubling the amount for my next pie because the cinnamon wasn't strong enough for me or my taste testers.
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger -I didn’t include the ginger and the pie was just fine without it.
2 eggs
1/2 cup raw organic honey
1/2 cup coconut milk -I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk because that's what I had on hand.

While the crust is in the oven, whisk all of the pie filling ingredients together.  Pour into the crust that has been baked for 10 minutes, return to the oven and bake for and additional 45 minutes.

I'm pretty sure my oven is the original that was installed in this apartment back in the 80's so it's a little wonky. I baked my crust for 10 minutes before pouring in the filling and then baked it for an additional 45 minutes but the pie would not set.

I wound up baking it for an hour and a half, which caused the edges of the to blacken but it didn't taste burnt. When I make it again for Thanksgiving, I will probably lower the temperature and keep a better eye on it.
Overall, it tasted great! The filling was perfectly smooth but not too sweet. My parents didn't believe that it was paleo and were excited when I told them that I'm making another one for Thanksgiving day.
As for Alex...
I think he liked it. ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm Officially Working from Home!

Back in January, I was laid off from my job as a drafter for a construction company. It was my first job after college and although it helped me pay bills and I enjoyed working there, it was not a job that I could see turning into a career. It was day in and day out of steel construction so you can imagine it got really boring for a girl who studied interior design in college.
After being unemployed for five months, I was finally hired by a small architecture company in town as a part timer. I learned a lot from that job and I was especially grateful because it was my first design-related job.  As much as I loved it, I was not working as many hours as I wanted and being an independent contractor, job security was an issue.
Now, after working my first design-related job for the past five months and applying to countless firms and designers, I finally landed an interior design job!
It was total luck and looks like a job that I can grow in to. I'm working for a design/build company in Napa as a CAD drafter. It's full time and the principal designer said that I will also have the opportunity to try my hand at designing as well!
I'm super stoked and one of the perks is that I will be working from home. I've never had to work from home before and have already been warned by a number of people that I will soon be apart of the "I'm Never Getting Out of My Pajamas Today" club. In an effort to not end up dressing like a frump, I made this little "Sleepy Chic" outfit. Something cute but comfy. Something that I can throw on but not be embarrassed in if someone came knocking on the door.  Cute, no?
Welp, tomorrow is my first day...wish me luck!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paleo Apple Pie

Paleo Apple Pie.ai
So it is Fall (kind of... it's just starting too cool down in the Bay Area) and after seeing this post on tumblr, I decided that I wanted to bake an apple pie. My mom has an old tree in her backyard that grows these delicious red apples and always gives me a large bag of them to bring home.
Since I am still on the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, I looked up a paleo friendly recipe online and man, did I score. This recipe is not only simple but it is delicious too (and gluten free)! I found it over on Midlife Army Wife.

For the filling you will need:
10 apples – peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup raw honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon

The recipe calls for 10 apples but I don't think I needed quite that many so I would say use 6-10 apples depending on the size that you have.
Midlife Army Wife says, "Over medium heat, cook the filling ingredients until the sauce has thickened and coats the apple slices.  You want the apples to stay a bit firm, or else they will end up too soft after baking.  When thick, remove from heat and set aside to cool while you work on the crust."

For the crust you will need:
9 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup of honey
1 cup of coconut oil (heated to liquify)
2 cups coconut flour (amount varies)
Preheat oven to 350.
Put eggs, honey, and coconut oil in the food processor and pulse until smooth. (I used a hand mixer and it worked out just fine.) Mix in the flour a little bit at a time until it looks like dough. Midlife Army Wife says, "If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour, but be careful not to dry it out."
Divide the dough into two halves, one for the bottom crust and one for the top.

Grease a 9 inch pie pan with coconut oil and then press the dough into the pan evenly to cover the bottom and the sides.
Fill the pan with your cooked cinnamon apples and then use the rest of the crust dough to cover the apples.

The dough was too delicate to roll out into one piece to cover the pie so instead, it is recommended to roll out smaller pieces and then place them together over the apples like a puzzle.

Bake the pie at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes and cover the edges of the pie with foil if they start to brown too much.

Midlife Army Wife recommended letting the pie cool over night before covering it. This will prevent the crust from becoming too soggy. I let mine cool over night and it was perfect the next morning.

The pie was delicious! It crust wasn't too sweet but if you took a bite of crust with a bite of the cinnamon apples, it was just right. I even heated a piece up in the morning and had it for breakfast.
All of my taste-testers, my parents and my boyfriend, all enjoyed the pie. My mom even requested that I bring her more! There will probably be more apple pies in the near future because this baby is definitely a guilt-free treat!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Paleo Cupcakes

I have a major sweet tooth and since I eat mostly paleo, my beloved sweets have been cut out of my life. However, some awesome people in the paleo community have created paleo friendly recipes for sweets and other comfort foods so this weekend I decided to make cupcakes.
You should note that even though these are technically alright to eat on the paleo diet, they are a once-in-a-while treat because they are still too sugary for you. 
I found the cupcake recipe at Elana's Pantry which also linked me to a frosting recipe as well.

For the cupcakes you will need:
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt (I just used regular salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup honey
  1. Pulse together dry ingredients in a food processor
  2. Pulse in wet ingredients
  3. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and scoop ¼ cup into each
  4. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes
  5. Cool and serve
Makes 8 perfectly moist cupcakes. My dad compared the flavor to an Almond Joy which is one of my favorite candy bars so, woo-hoo!

For the frosting:
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and coconut oil
  2. Stir in vanilla extract
  3. Place frosting in refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to thicken
  4. Remove from refrigerator and whip frosting with a hand blender until thick and fluffy
  5. Frost over Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes
You must, must, muuust refrigerate the frosting for 15-30 minutes. I forgot about the frosting and it just solidified to a giant sauce pan shaped chocolate bar so I had to reheat it to start over. I'm not too sure about the flavor of this frosting. No one else complained but I've never really been a fan of the coconut oil flavor and that was all that I picked up on while eating the frosting.

All in all I would say there is barely any difference between these cupcakes and normal cupcakes. My three taste testers also approved them so I will say that this paleo recipe is here to stay!

Monday, September 3, 2012

California Academy of Sciences


 I wanted to do something fun this long weekend and I wanted to get out of the house. My first idea was to go down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium but after getting up too late on Saturday and then realizing that it takes almost 3 hours to drive down there, Alex came up with the great idea to spend the day at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on Sunday. I had not been to there since I was probably 12... way before the remodel so I was pretty excited to not only see the exhibits but to see all of the new renovations. Here are a few pictures I took... in the 4 hours that we were there, I took almost 200 photos so you're pretty lucky that I could narrow it down to this many. There were just too many things to see there!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Candy Haul

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Yesterday we bought candy. Lots of candy, which is unusual because for the most part, we (and by we I mostly mean I - he still love his Honey Bunches of Oats) have given up processed foods. However, when I saw that purple package of Choward’s Violet mints (the same one I’ve seen floating around Tumblr) I knew I had to try them.

Then I saw the Bon Bons. The same chewy goodness that I used to buy from the French Club back in high school. How could I resist?

Not wanting to feel left out, Alex picked out a candy too.
“Happy or fizzy cola?” he asked.

They may be empty calories but gosh dern-it, they are tasty.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekend Project

It's Labor Day weekend! Woo-hoo! And since my boss is on an architectural pilgrimage to Chicago (she says you can't go to Architect Heaven without a voyage there), I have an extra long Labor Day weekend. What to do, what to do? I definitely have a lot of things to do... like today for example:

That's a pretty boring list (minus the Days of Our Lives action with my momma) and I want to do something fun and creative this weekend!
Maybe you follow me on Instagram (@masikawa but probably not since I don't have too many followers on there). I recently posted a photo of my balcony at my new apartment:

It's a cute little space with a lot of potential (that little wind chime came with the apartment, haha). We've lived here for about a month and the balcony still looks the same. My plan is to spruce it up with some plants- probably succulents since those are almost Marika-proof, some seating, some lighting and something to hang on the wall.
Lately, I've been seeing photos of sparkly garland floating around tumblr and pinterest. The most popular photo being of Emily Schuman's of Cupcakes and Cashmere:

That gorgeous garland comes from ConfettiSystem.com. It's a bit pricey for myself so I thought, "Why not do it yourself??"
After a bit (and by "a bit" I mean one Google search) I found a simple DIY-version of an outdoor friendly garland. 

It's a no-sew project which is perfect for me because I haven't touched a sewing machine since 2002 (I took a Home Ec class in 8th grade and made a pair of shorts!), and it's made of fabric which will hold up against rainy weather. 
Doesn't that look awesome? I think it's cool "wall art" for the exterior and makes it party-ready. Go here for the tutorial. 
Now I just need to head to the fabric store to get my little DIY project for the weekend going and hopefully my balcony will be a little more exciting!