My little heart bursts.

Ladies, ladies, ladies (and my dad, Paul). It's Thursday and I don't usually post on Thursdays and I certainly don't post in the afternoons, but I am just too excited.

Back when my sister turned 30, I explained that there are two types of people in the world: those who get super excited for birthdays and those who don't. Erin (my sister) does and I don't. I'm not one to make a huge deal of birthdays and am generally caught in situations of "I can't believe you didn't tell me it was your birthday!". Birthdays, to me, just seem a bit awkward.

Today happens to be my little birthday. Normally, I don't say much about it and I'm not offended if someone forgets and I certainly wouldn't post it all over my blog, as I am now. But I just have to share all the lovely little surprises that have made me so thankful today.

Many of you probably know, but my sister Erin also has a blog and took the time to gather a whole slew of (can I call myself adorable?? Yes, I think on a birthday it's acceptable) adorable pictures of us from when we were kids and put together an especially nice post about us. Some of those pictures I haven't seen in forever. Others are among my favorites. She wrote about how different we are, but how much we are the same and that lately, we're celebrating those similarities.

But what I loved most is that at the end, she directed her blog friends over to my blog and kindly pointed out that as of last night, I had 99 followers and might someone do me the birthday favor of making that an even 100. Annnnnnd the lovely Sharon did. Thank you, Sharon!!

This is big, my friends. I've been blogging for about two years now. Just two months ago, I had 27 followers. I wrote and created because I love to write and create. But I wanted that blogging community I had heard so much about. Then my sister pointed out that my e-mail wasn't linked to my comments, making it impossible for bloggers to reply to the comments I left them on their blogs. So I immediately changed my settings. And that has made all the difference in the world. Two months ago, I never would have dreamed of reaching 100 followers by my birthday. And more excitingly, that among those 100 followers would be many kindred spirits. So while I am absolutely flattered by the number, I am even more excited to have found that community I had been hoping for.

So thank you, Erin, and thank you to all of you who take time out of your precious days to read and comment and e-mail and tweet and all those things you do to show how much you care about and support me. I truly, truly appreciate it. I am amazed by this past year and am finally beginning to see myself as a creative person and I owe so much of that to your support.

I'm off to celebrate my birthday, my rediscovered creativity, my recent blog designs (this latest one I am soooo very proud of), my second (!!!) wedding anniversary which also falls this weekend, and this very happy little life I am making with a husband I adore. (P.S. He got the morning off from work so he could surprise me with blueberry/cream cheese stuffed french toast! Love him!).

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
post signature

Beyond Inspiration: Lacey in the City

Friends, remember last week and the introduction of my new series "Beyond Inspiration"? Welp, I have another fabulous blogger here today! Lacey of Lacey in the City is here to talk a bit about how her passion for traveling first began and how she keeps it alive.

1. Could you explain a bit about your passion for traveling? How did it start?
I have to say that I've never known an immobile life.  Ever since I can remember, my mom would decide to pack the family in the car and drive from South Carolina to Southern Florida to visit my paternal grandparents, or to Central Kentucky to visit my maternal grandparents.  There were many Christmases that we drove from South Carolina all the way to Boston to spend the holidays with my dad's brother and sister.  (That's about a 17 hour drive, in case you were wondering!)  Also, my mom's job when I was growing up involved her traveling all up and down the eastern seaboard working at jewelry trade shows, etc., so during the summer or on long weekends, she would take me and/or my sisters along with her so that we could get to see new places around the country.  I remember specifically heading to Gainesville, Georgia with her one time and falling in love with the Southern States all over again.  Spanish moss, antebellum homes, sweet iced tea...heavenly.

Then in the summer of 2000 (I was 13), my mom planned a nine week road trip around the country.  We lived in Kentucky at that point, so we drove all the way across the southerly part of the Central and Western United States (through Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona) until we got to LA.  Once we got as far West as we could, we drove due North to Seattle.  Once we hit Seattle, we turned back East and headed home across Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Nebraska on our way back to Kentucky.  That was such a priceless experience for me - I honestly am not sure I would have the same sense of adventure or frame of mind that I do had it not been for that trip. 

My dad was also a huge proponent of traveling as much as we could, so he promised my little sister and me that he'd send us to Europe once we graduated from high school like he had with my older sister when she graduated.  My dad sadly passed away a couple of months before the end of my senior year, but he made good on his promise by leaving money set aside for my mom, two sisters, and me to take off to Europe for six weeks and have a trip of a lifetime.  Fifteen countries later, my mindset and sense of adventure were once again changed for the better and for good.

Fast forward a few years, and my mom had moved us to California.  (That's a long story, but you can read about it here.)  I started working in the Fashion Industry here in LA when I was 16, and during my senior year of high school, one of my bosses asked me to fly to New York for a week to work Fashion Market Week.  Thank gosh my mom looked at the offer as a bigger picture thing, because she let me miss a week of school to go get my first dose of Manhattan.  It was all a snowball from there.  I ended up working for a few different designers over the years, and for each of them, my job saw me traveling all over the country to visit accounts and work Fashion Markets.

2. What inspires you to continue seeking out adventures? What keeps you moving?

There are two quotes that I've come across that have stuck with me over the years.  One of them is "I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world," and the other reads, "We know the world, by knowing people."  Both are so simple but ring so true. 

You know how they say that you need to stand in someone else's shoes to see things from a different perspective?  As true as that is, I think it's equally as - if not more - important to make sure you stand in your own shoes in the most far-away destinations as you can find.  The more you immerse yourself in the way other people live, love, worship, dine, celebrate, etc., the more open your eyes and your mind will be.  So to me, becoming more learned about other people and places leaves me with the desire to still see more.  Along that thought, one of the things I personally love is being able to come across someone that is from some obsure town in North Dakota or the panhandle of Oklahoma and being able to identify with them and tell them I know the town or area that they are from - that I've even been there!

3. Logistically, what sacrifices do you make or what steps do you take to turn this want/need into the actual "I'm walking out the door and getting on a plane" moment?

I have two answers to this question, because my travel is not all for pleasure - in fact, more often than not these days, it is for work. 

When I travel for work, I definitely sacrifice time from my personal life.  I go a couple of weeks without seeing my family or my best friends, and I don't love that part of it.  It's very important to me to focus on and nurture my personal relationships, because the people in my world are my priority.  Life wouldn't be as amazing as it is without them, hands down.  So when I'm home, I find myself being pretty social, even when I'm tired, trying to make sure I get to see the people that mean the most to me. 

When I travel for pleasure, I think the main thing that we all have to plan around and figure out is how to fund our trips.  The other issue I run into is setting aside a week or weekend that I can get away from work and from home responsibilities.  My answer to both of those issues though is that if your money and time are tight, take day trips!  No matter where you live, there is cool stuff within proximity to you that you need to get out there and see!  I live in Los Angeles, so back in April, I drove with my sister and a friend the 3 hours to Joshua Tree National Forest.  And last weekend, I was crunched on time between work trips, so I set off to San Francisco (it's only 6 hours north of LA) for two days to see friends! 

If you are feeling like you are lacking adventure in your life, I insist that you sit down right now with a map and write down all of the interesting places (cities, national parks, monuments, rivers, etc.) that are within a six hour drive from your home.  And then take action!

4. How does traveling make you a more fuller version of you? How does it contribute to a more complete you?

I think this goes back to the quotes I mentioned about.  I am an empathetic person by nature, but having been able to see and experience as much as I have makes me feel like I have a deeper understanding of people and cultures. 

Ok so now that you know how lovely she is, stop by Lacey in the City and read all about her life and travels. I looooove her idea of writing down places within 6 hours. I think I ought to head to St. Louis and Milwaukee. Anyone joining? No? Ok, so tell me ladies, where are you headed??
post signature

The best day in the year.

This quotation found me the other night. I thought about how fitting it is for the beginning of the year. So I photoshopped it onto the picture of my planner.

I've always had a relatively positive outlook on life. Each year for years, my new year's resolution has been to make that year the best year yet. Some years have been far better than years before and others have been a struggle. Regardless of how the previous year unfolded, I've continued to make that resolution. And each year I'm finding that the year's outcome has little to do with events and much more to do with my attitude.

On this blog, I've written a few times about how last year was a year of growth and difficulty. While it may not have been a traditional "best year yet", it set the foundation for this year. By passing through the trying times, I am becoming more confident in my own strength and resilience.

I feel more proud of myself this year than I have in many years. I started this blog last year and have committed myself to creating original content. I've pushed myself in photography, learned a bit in photoshop, started designing blogs, written many stories and grown this little blog. But this year of accomplishing goals would not have been possible without last year's trials.

Last year, I learned the importance of patience and perseverance. I can see the ways in which those lessons have facilitated this year's successes. I continued to write and create when no one was reading. The lack of audience enabled me to create a blog for myself, something I could be personally proud of. I continued in hopes of one day connecting with other bloggers and finding some kindred spirits. And I think I finally have.

In the same way perseverance has led to meeting smaller goals in blogging, I am hopeful that, in this trying period of life, the patience, acceptance, hard work and perseverance that Adrian and I work to cultivate daily will eventually result in the accomplishment of so many of our larger goals. I'm learning that accomplishing smaller goals keeps us motivated to work towards our (sometimes overwhelming) life goals.

In the meantime, as we work and grow, I will keep my glass half-full outlook and continue to make each day the best day in the year, knowing that one day it will all have been worth it. And that I did it all with a smile on my face.

How are you keeping your glass half full?
post signature

How Adrian and Emily became Adrian + Emily

I've read that you can tell a lot about a couple by the way in which they share the story of how they first met. A happy couple laughs and enjoys the telling of the story, reliving the moments when they first saw one another. They remember the small details and they speak positively of each other.

Baby Adrian and Emily, before we were Adrian + Emily.

Adrian and I love to tell our little story.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be married by age 24. I met Adrian when I was 23 and had outgrown my younger self's deadline. When I met Adrian, I wasn't much interested in dating at all.

The year before we met, I had done a volunteer program and had moved out to Chicago. I loved my job and loved living in the city, but I was homesick. For my family, my friends, the ocean, and Dunkin' Donuts on every corner. Just before our first meeting, I had decided that that school year would be my last in Chicago.

At the time, I was working for the program I continue to work for now. But I was working in the Early Childhood program. Of all the kids I worked with, I absolutely adored this one little guy named Lalo. He was a year and a half and oh so mischievous but even more affectionate. He'd curl up in your lap and fall asleep with his little head on your shoulder and his little tiny hand on your ear. I was in love.

Love that little Lalo face.
In December, his uncle came to pick him up and his mother introduced us. I said hello to his uncle (Adrian), gave Lalo a hug goodbye and went back to cleaning up the room.

In January, this same uncle showed up for registration in the Adult ESL night class I was teaching. We tested him and he scored the highest I have ever seen to this very day. I told him he'd be better off in a much more challenging program but he insisted that he wanted the extra practice so I let him stay.

I continued to work with Lalo during the day and taught Adrian in class at night. Towards the end of the year, Lalo's mom invited me to a birthday party for her other son and again, I thought nothing of it. Our adult students routinely invite teachers to family events and I had already been to many others.

I couldn't go to that party but eventually, once school let out, I made it to Lalo's house for dinner. Adrian lived with his sister and her boys and over the course of the summer I was invited to more and more family dinners and birthdays and showers and even a wedding.

That summer, I got to know Adrian and I could see that he was interested. I did not want the stress of a boyfriend and told him as much. But each day, there'd be a little text or a phone call or an invitation. And little texts turned to long phone conversations and lunches and drinks with friends. My friends told me I was crazy for not wanting a boyfriend like him. He was such a nice guy.

Adrian waited ten months for me.

Until finally one day, I couldn't say no to his opening the car door for me and paying for me everywhere we went and pulling out my chair and never even trying to hug me because he wasn't sure how I would receive it.

He drove me home from a family party and we sat outside my apartment and I told him, "I think I'm finally ready to have a boyfriend."

One of my all-time favorite movies is Love, Actually. And one of my favorite parts is when Jack kisses Judy for the first time on her doorstep. She goes inside and he jumps off down the stairs and pumps a little victory fist pump. I always wanted to be with someone who was just so genuinely excited to be with me that they too couldn't contain themselves.

Adrian still does little fist pumps that I finally said yes.

Photo credit: Fragola Productions

Adrian says he knew from that first day we met in December. It took me a little longer. But oh am I happy that I finally figured it out. And that he waited all that time.

(Note: I felt inspired to finally share this story when I came across this lovely blog, beauty & the feast. Allie often shares other blogger's love stories "to instill hope in your hearts but also to keep the hope in mine". Love that! Go check her out and read some beautifully hopeful stories!)
post signature

Beyond Inspiration: It's Paper, Dear!

Friends, I am so excited about this. Since Adrian's Summer Entertaining Series was such a good experience, I wanted to continue with another original series. 

This summer, I've been thinking a lot about this idea of moving beyond inspiration and making real progress towards goals. For me, this has been taking my love of designing and starting to design blogs for others. While this may not be a life changing event, it has given me so much confidence and pride when I see my finished work. And I've seen other bloggers taking their ideas and doing some amazing things.

So in this series Beyond Inspiration, I've interviewed some bloggers about their inspiration and how they've moved beyond that inspiration and taken steps towards a goal. They've so graciously shared the projects their working on, the lives their making, and what keeps them going. I hope that by sharing their stories, you (and me too!) can take the first steps towards whatever dream you is in your heart.

First up in the series is an incredibly talented lady, Zie from Hello Darling Dear
She is here to talk about her most recent undertaking, It's Paper, Dear. 

1. Could you explain what It's Paper, Dear is?

It's Paper Dear is a monthly subscription box dedicated to the wonders that are paper bits and office goodies. Everything from a pretty journal to doodle or write or collage in, to a lovely pen or pencil to play with, to pretty tapes and buttons. But let's not forget about the paper... Note cards to recipe cards, to book marks and book plates. From templates to create the loveliest envelopes on the planet, to DIY paper projects. From stickers and stamps to labels and collage sheets. From scrapbooking and smashbooking supplies to stationery to write darling letters. And that's just a little bit! 

2. Where did you get the inspiration to start this?

As a child, I was always excited for back to school. Not because I particularly liked school, but because of the new pens and pencils, the smell of the new books, and the crisp feel of notebook paper. And even now, I often find myself wandering into paper stores and office stores just to grab a new pen or new journal. (And as my friends can attest, they have had to drag me out by my hair more than once... heh). 

But I've always known I wasn't alone in this. I would see the other kids who were just as excited as I was, and I always find new folks ready to share and play and get excited about papery goodness with me. So with that in mind, I launched It's Paper Dear.

3. From there, what steps did you take to get this project off the ground?

Well, the idea came to life when my mom and I were just chatting about how wonderful paper is & I kind of freaked out from there. I was WAY too excited about the idea and completely put off everything else I needed to be doing in order to play a bit more with it. I started doodling and taking notes and researching and just on and on. And then, I sat down to sketch out what it would look like and that's when it hit me. This could really work. 

And after a lot of work and a ton of help from my mom, I was finally ready to launch it. & Then I did. 
Now, I have read quite a bit about other small business owners over the years & how a few of them saw a huge and wonderful response and some who didn't. So I was prepared to fail. I really was. I thought, well, I might get like one... maybeee two sales. And that'll be it. If it does end up working out at all, then it'll take years of work. 

And less than 24 hours after the release, I had like 3 sales. And I couldn't believe it. I cried a bit & was just so happy. Here was this little idea my mom and I had come up with, this little baby thing of mine... and people liked it! 

Now, I'm by no means ready to quit my day job, and I'm no where near where I want to go with It's Paper Dear. But I'm so excited and so happy with how things are going. I sold out of August twice, I'm half way sold out of September & I've got sales into November already! I'm just proud and so blessed and so very thankful that people have given me and my mad little idea a chance. 

4. What keeps you inspired?

Honestly, and I know people either won't believe me or will think I'm a super cheese ball... but it's the people. I cannot tell you how much it means to me when I get an email or a tweet or a comment on my blog talking about how much someone loved my box.

I will always remember one gal saying that she cried when she opened it she was so happy. And that she couldn't stop smiling afterwards. And that my friends, is the one thing in the world that matters. I made someone smile and I can ask for nothing else. 

5. How does this undertaking make you a more fuller version of yourself? Or, how does it contribute to a more complete you?

I'm 20 years old, in college and struggling to figure it all out. I've never changed my major but I've changed my mind with what I wanted to do with that degree like 53,896 times this past year alone. I'm silly and awkward and really loud and I always feel like a kid. Like if you could put an 80-year-old's hobbies in a 12 year old body, that's what I am. So I'm never sure of myself. 

But suddenly, I feel a little more sure. I'm still the same person & I still have no idea what I'm doing. (I'm 20, after all!) But I finally feel like I'm doing something that means something, if that makes sense. I have always had big dreams & lived in the clouds, but this feels like one of those clouds became real and tangible. And I could not be more excited to see where it all goes. 

Thank you so much, Zie, for sharing with all of us! I just love those last few lines of making the transition from living in the clouds to those clouds becoming real and tangible. So, so true. For more info on It's Paper, Dear please visit Zie's blog!

Be sure to check back next Wednesday for the next installment in this series, Beyond Inspiration.

And please, let's have a discussion, no? Tell me, how have you been inspired lately and what steps are you taking to make your dreams real?
post signature

August is the new September.

Happy Monday, all. Before I say anything else, I want to say thank you so much for your input on my post on creativity and selfishness. I appreciated hearing what you all thought and continuing the conversation. So thank you!

I go back to work on Tuesday. Schools out this way have begun switching over to a more or less year round schedule, which means school starts up in August. Being a teacher, I continue to think of the new year as starting in the fall. While I usually make a resolution or two on New Year's, the majority of my resolutions are made in September.

Though it's still ridiculously hot and the sun still sets relatively late, I have already found myself dreaming of fall days. Something about mentally preparing myself for a new school year also brings about an excitement for the new season. School and fall will forever be connected.

I'm looking forward to cardigans and cozy sweatshirts. New pens and cute notebooks and clean calendars. Caramel apple ciders and pumpkin spice lattes. Suede wedges and cognac boots.

And I'm excited to start again. To do better than last year and the year before that. To be more organized. And to meet new students and to have all the hope that the first day of school always holds.

August is the new September. What are you most looking forward to? And what changes are you hoping to make?
post signature

Selfishness and the Sistine Chapel.

I went for collective solitude tonight with my friend Jen (who, bt-dub, wrote her highly-anticipated second blog post and it did not disappoint!). Collective solitude started a couple years back. The idea is that you and a friend or two go somewhere and bring work to do. Each person works separately but in the same space. That way you can share ideas and get opinions and chat a bit, but you don't have to work together. It's nothing short of magical and, really, my preferred way to work.

Anyways, as she was writing that stellar post, I was working on a blog design. And also mulling over in my head what I would write about in my own post. You see, I kind of shot myself in the foot the other day when I wrote about the importance of quality, original content. Because that means my ramblings are no longer acceptable. Which means I had nothing to write about.

Jen said, "Oh, the irony" and went back to wordsmithing an entertaining post and I returned to blog designing and stewing in my  jealousy of her ability to work "treasure trove of curiosities" into a post.

Then on the way home, we got to chatting. Jen's a creative and an artist to boot. So we, quite philosophically, discussed the importance of creativity and art. I was telling her that somehow, taking the time to be creative just feels selfish to me. That it just does not matter as much as my teaching. That at the end of my little life, I will be more proud of myself for having been a teacher than I will for having designed blogs.

And yet, in my classroom I strongly encourage creativity. I want my students to use their imaginations and to create an environment within their home that allows their children to do the same (I teach adults). And when someone has artistic talent, I offer suggestions of how they can further develop that talent.

So why when we take the time to develop artistic talents or to explore our creativity, why does it feel selfish? Why do I feel like there a billion other things that would be more worth my time and energy?

Sometimes there are stories in me that just won't let me rest until I've taken the time to let those stories run through my fingers. And sometimes, I feel selfish for sneaking out of bed to grab those floating words and place them in a pleasing order.

I wonder if Michelangelo laid in bed at night, wide awake as the lines and shapes and colors and figures of the Sistine Chapel came together in his head. When he finally started to paint it, I wonder if it was like doing a paint by number from having envisioned it all those nights before falling asleep.

And I wonder if he felt selfish for having spent four years painting that. And for all the years before those four, the years that he spent developing his talent.

I've never been to the Sistine Chapel, but I imagine if I do go, I won't look up at that ceiling and think, "How selfish of Michelangelo."

Do artists and creatives always feel selfish or  is it that once you reach a certain level of creativity and artistry, you suddenly feel less selfish? Or did Michelangelo and Dr. Seuss and Ella Fitzgerald feel selfish right up through their last days?

And would we, collectively, be lesser had they felt selfish and decided to wash the dishes instead?
post signature

Early morning coffee reads.

So when I was growing up, my sister and I used to receive chain letters in the mail. Annnnd my mom, being the nay sayer (love ya Mum!) that she is, would always tells us not to do them. So we didn't. And thus missed out on a staple of 80s childhood.

I was recently nominated by two lovely ladies for the Liebster Award and I was so thankful to them for thinking of me. I told my sister about it and obviously she was very jealous that I finally get to fulfill my inner 80s child dream of participating in a chain-like event.

I don't normally do this kind of posting, but I like the spirit of it and I thought it'd give me a chance to introduce all of you to some ladies who are consistently putting out some quality content into the blogosphere. I like that this award stipulates that you may only nominate blogs with fewer than 200 followers. There are so many high-quality blogs just waiting for a bit of love.

Both Maddie and Gracie blog about lots of topics. But most importantly, they blog about beauty and fashion, which is something you just are not going to find on this here blog. So for your beauty fix, you'll have to go check them out!

Ok so the rules of this Liebster Award are as follows: 

1. Post a link to your nominator's blog with some information about him/her on your blog.
2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
4. Follow your nominator.
5. Notify the blogs you nominated.

Alright so, 11 9 facts about myself (I couldn't think of anymore):
1. I'm left-handed. Hizzah! Neither of my parents are left-handed but my grandfather on my dad's side was. I like that little connection to him. For the most part, being a lefty is awesome, except when you have to make posters for school. Smudges, y'all. Smudges.

2. Sometimes I do things because I know Future Emily will appreciate it. And then I always take time to thank Past Emily for her generosity. This often includes: cleaning, showering before noon, and keeping master copies of all my lessons in organized files.

3. My favorite movie ever is Good Will Hunting. Best. Hands down. 

4. I just bought my first hairbrush in like two years. My hair is crazy straight and generally I just run my fingers through it and I'm good to go.

5. I hate when non-pajamas touch my sheets. And by hate, I mean I just start crying. Seriously. I'm a bit of a germaphobe and I hate the idea of clothes that have been out on the street/on the bus/in a public restroom would touch the place where I rest eight hours a night. This has taken Adrian some getting used to.

6. I have glasses for driving and using the computer, but I rarely wear them.

7. I hate grocery shopping. I could be in the best mood ever but as soon as I step foot in a grocery store, I want to punch myself in the face and consequently make everyone around me want to punch themselves as well. Adrian adores this about me. Right. He hates me in grocery stores.

8. I never wear sweatpants outside. Like really, never. I do my best to look pulled together and sweatpants don't fit into that. It's a slippery slope into looking like People of Walmart. 

9. Adrian and I always bless each other on the forehead before he leaves for work. Because he leaves an hour before I wake up, I can now make the sign of the cross on his forehead in my sleep. Also, apparently I always say, "Be careful."

So in true 80s chain letter fashion, I'm nominating the following stunningly lovely blogs and I wholeheartedly recommend them as they are all part of my early morning coffee reads:
1. Erin, my sister.
2. Alix
3. Katie
4. Jen
5. Sandra
6. Ashley
7. Sarah
8. Gabriella
9. Zie

Ok so I didn't exactly follow all the rules, but I gave it a good honest effort. That counts, right? Back to regular content maƱana!
post signature

Adrian's Summer Entertaining Series: Paletas

I am so excited to have Adrian here to finish up his Summer Entertaining Series. I know he's become quite the popular guy around here so we are currently in negotiations to see if I can get him to agree to another series sometime in the future!

Hi friends! I'm back and this will be the last post of the Summer Entertaining Series. This time, I'm presenting a dessert recipe. This recipe is really easy and delicious. It will cool you down, especially during this hot summer.

I want to share this recipe for Paletas de hielo de arroz con leche (Rice pudding popsicles). I like to make these paletas because it reminds me of my childhood. Those days when I used to hang out with my friends, playing soccer. After the games, we always went to our neighbor's house because she used to sell these popsicles.

You will need:
- Mini jello molds or popsicle molds. If you don't have any, you can use small disposable cups.
- Wooden sticks (We bought ours in the baking section of Michael's)
- 1 cup of white rice
- 1 liter of milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 can of condensed milk
- A pinch of ground cinnamon

Here's what to do:
1. Prepare your arroz con leche (rice with milk). Put the rice and cinnamon stick in a pot and fill with water, just enough to cover the rice. Cook it on low heat until the water has evaporated.
2. Then add the milk. Keep cooking it until the rice is al dente (soft), If you need to, add a bit more milk. When the rice is completely cooked, add sugar and stir slowly. Let it cook for three to five more minutes.
3. Add the can of condensed milk and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Stir for two minutes, still over low heat.
4. If you plan to use plastic containers, let the rice cool down. But if you are using aluminum molds, you can fill them immediately with the arroz con leche. Let them cool down on the counter for a bit then place them in the freezer.
5. Two hours later, insert the wooden sticks in the middle of the popsicles. Make sure the rice is a little hard so that the stick will stand straight.
6. Let them freeze overnight and your paletas will be ready to enjoy!
7. To remove the paletas from the molds, fill a cup or bowl with cold water and place the mold upright 3/4 of the way into the water for just a few seconds. Twist them a bit in your hand and pull them out.

I hope you have enjoyed all the recipes I have posted here! And probably I will come back in the future. That's not a threat. It's a promise!

In case you missed any of my other recipes in this series, you can find them here:
La Paloma
post signature

Loving Lately: Birthday Edition

My birthday is coming up at the end of the month and I can be difficult to buy for. Whenever I shop, I always know exactly what I'm looking for and I'll search and search and search until I find the. perfect. item. And then I stop searching. So I decided to make things easier for everyone and put together a little list of things I would absolutely love and adore and would hug the giver for days on end.

1) For the very generous giver: A Kate Spade bag. Oh yes!
2) For the non-material giver: Alt Summit classes. I'd love to take this one or this one.
3) For the lush giver: Mrs. Lillien's Cocktail Swatchbook. Perfect for Midweek Mojitos.
4) For the fashionable giver: A Melie Bianco tote.
5) For the nautical giver: Adorable striped shorts from Old Navy.

And for the exceptionally loving, adoring, super loaded giver:
Pictures via The Saguaro
Oh how I long for a vacation here. It popped up on my instagram feed this weekend as Elise Blaha Cripe vacationed there and ever since then, I have been thinking, "How can I make this happen??" One day, friends. One day.

So there it is, ladies. The official Emily Love List of 2012. What's on your love list?
post signature

A Creative Commitment.

I recently updated my about me page. I began to realize that this was my first stop when I came to a new blog and so I felt like mine needed a bit more love and attention. In redoing this page, I wrote a bit about what this blog is all about. Which of course required some soul-searching and deep thinking. All from the comfort of my couch. That's where most deep thinking happens, am I right?

I started this blog almost two years ago (eeek!) to share a bit about my life with my friends and family who live on the East Coast. As I blogged, I found this little creativity in me that had just been waiting to be discovered. This blog has become an outlet for that creativity. A place to share my writings, my projects, my photos and my loves and it has been wonderful.

But I ran into this idea again and again in the blogosphere. That no one cares much for your words, they care more for your photos because if you have a post with lots of words, everyone just clicks out. Then, if you have a wordy post, you ought to include someone else's photos if you don't have some of your own. So I did that. And while they made my posts lovely, I never felt one hundred percent comfortable with the idea. Because it wasn't my work.

I have nothing against blogs that are collections of inspiration. I think we all need and crave a bit of inspiration. But my biggest challenge has been to move beyond being inspired and actually start creating. When my blog consisted of other's photos or projects or whatever else, I wasn't pushing myself to go out and take that great photo by myself. To learn all the ins and outs of my camera. To make my words stand on their own. And to create and then share.

So I am making a commitment to continually share original content. Stories, photos, projects that are my own. It is just as much a commitment to myself as it is to all of you. I figure I owe that much to you and to myself. If you are going to take out a moment of your day to come this way, I ought to provide you with something new and original. Otherwise, you could just search on pinterest for what you wanted, no? And I owe it to my formerly dormant creativity. I've got years of not creating to make up for with this blog.

It takes more time, for sure, to create rather than add links and photos. But in the end, I'll be able to say that I made all this on my own. With my own ideas and my own skills. And I'll be proud of it.

But if it turns out you're more partial to the me that shares stuffs found on the interwebs, there's facebook for that.

Otherwise, I'll catch you here, three times a week. And of course, leave me links so I can find your blogs where you are creating, writing, photographing or whatever it is you do with those skills you've got.
post signature

Adrian's Summer Entertaining Series: Tacos

I know you all will be so excited to hear that Adrian is back for this week's post in the Summer Entertaining Series and he's got perhaps the best recipe to date.

Hi friends. I'm back with another recipe. Now we have an entree: Tacos de carne asada. We call them tacos de carne asada, but they're not really asada (which means "grilled") because we make them on the stove. But that's what we call them.

Here's what you need:
- Two pounds of taco meat (beef). In Mexican grocery stores, it will be labeled "Carne para tacos".
- One bottle or can of your favorite beer. I usually use Corona.
- Seasoned salt (to your liking) or you can use one packet of Goya's seasoning called "Achiote y Culantro".
- Cilantro
- Limes
- Salsa
- Corn tortillas
- For the sides: cucumbers and radishes

Now, here's how to cook the taco meat:
1. Place the meat in a frying pan (at least two inches deep) and turn the heat on medium-high.
2. Add your seasoned salt or seasoning to the meat and mix it around.
3. Now add half to three-quarters of the beer to the meat. Mix it around. Leave the heat on medium-high until all the meat turns brown.
4. Once the meat is brown, turn the heat up to high so that all the liquid evaporates.

To prepare your tacos:
1. Now that your meat is ready, wash and chop the cilantro, cucumbers and radishes.
2. Warm up the tortillas by heating them on a skillet. (Do not heat them in the microwave.)
3. Place your tortilla on a plate and fill it with taco meat, cilantro, salsa and squeeze a bit of lime juice on to it.
4. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy your tacos! I'll be back next week with my last post in the series!

For those of you who have just found us recently, click the photos below for links to the other posts in this series:
We hope you enjoy this and that it inspires you to host your own summer dinner party!
post signature

The Long-Ago Dream.

This past weekend, Adrian and I went on a little staycation as an early birthday celebration. With him having so few weekends off, we wanted to squeeze it in before the end of summer hits and I go back to work.

I loved our little staycation. Actually, we loved it. We relaxed and had dinner and talked and watched the Olympics. And swam. A lot. Like four separate times in forty eight sun-soaked hours. I read a book on a lounge chair. I drank an iced coffee with my legs dangling in the water. I wore my big floppy hat. And new sunglasses, too.

I have waited all summer for this. When I was little, I loved swimming. Take us to a pool and my brother and I would stay in it until the very end. We were of I-can-swim-faster-than-yous and one-last-jumps. We loved every single opportunity we had to swim in a pool. And, I've found, I still very much do.

My dream as a kid was to have a house with an in-ground pool. Somewhere between quitting the swim team and becoming a far too serious adult, I forgot that dream.

Oh, but this weekend? The dream is back.

Afterall, you're never too old to dream a new dream. Or rather, to dream a dream you had forgotten you dreamt in a long-ago life.

What dreams have you forgotten, friends?
post signature

The Light.

Adrian and I went to a vintage market again this weekend. We didn't find a whole lot we were interested in. Except this incredibly large vintage advertisements. They were simple and clean and graphic and I loved them. And they were also upwards of $700. Right. But I fell in love with the idea of a large graphic print for my living room.

And then I thought to myself, "I could do that. And in colors that match my living room."

So I did.

I picked out this Harry Potter quote because it has resonated with me over the past year or so. I haven't kept it much of a secret that our first year of marriage was incredibly difficult for us. Not because of the usual getting accustomed to living together stuff (that part we actually loved), but some outside circumstances that have left a mark on us and have, in part, triggered some anxiety in me, which previously laid quietly sleeping. Learning to make the most of this life and to get a handle on my anxiety has been a battle. Some days have been easier than others.

A year ago at this time, I felt unbearably uninspired. I wrote about it a couple of times on this blog.  I had nothing to write about and created very little. And I was unhappy. Adrian worked from noon until ten or eleven or sometimes twelve at night and only had Wednesdays off. And I worked from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon and didn't have Wednesdays off. We hardly saw each other and when we did, we were tired.

Since last July, Adrian's been working 7am to 3:30pm and with rotating days off. With him around, he's become a large part of my creative process. I share my ideas with him and he thinks of how we can make them come alive. He's the logistical realist. And I desperately need a dose of logical realism. Adrian's being home has been the light switch I needed to start creating.

So I've been creating lots. Little projects around the house. Blog designs. Stories. And now, oversized posters. And the best part? The more I create, the more I think of ideas.

And above all, I'm happy. I'm creating and imagining and spray painting and finding inspiration everywhere and I'm truly happy.

"Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

Also, if you're interested in getting a copy of this print or using the graphic, please e-mail me. And as always, please link with love!
post signature

Instagram Roundup: July 2012

July completely flew by and I forgot to put together an instagram roundup! So that means you get some Oh Hello Love on a Thursday. Lucky duck.

1) My grandmother instagrammed before instagram.
2) My dad and his dog. Cracks me up.
3) Midweek mojitos continues!
4) Strawberries are just so photogenic.
5) Blackberry soda from Honky Tonk BBQ.
6) Brainstorming for this here blog.
7) New hat.
8) Can I have one in every color?? Land's End catalog.
9) My new purple mason jar. Found at vintage market. I'm in love!

If you haven't yet, follow me on instagram and see all my life of Emily photos. You can find me at ohhelloemily

Happy Thursday!
post signature

Adrian's Summer Entertaining Series: Easy Decor

Hi all. Adrian and I are back for another installment in our Summer Entertaining Series. This week, Adrian is taking a break and I'm stepping in to share some easy decorating ideas for a summer dinner al fresco. 

Since Adrian and I love to eat outdoors and love to entertain, we've put together a little stash of pretty goods to make our backyard togethers a bit more than just your run-of-the-mill barbecues. Our requirements for decor are that they be both cheap and easy. 
Choosing and sticking to a color scheme makes picking out items a breeze. We are currently into blues and greens so we have chosen paper goods in those colors. This also makes setting the table a no-brainer. I don't have to think about what matches because it all matches and with everything in the same color palette, I'm not afraid of doing a little pattern mixing.

Many of the items in this set-up were items that we just had around the house. The tray for the centerpiece we picked up a a friend's yard sale for a dollar. Then we sprayed painted it green. Because we spray paint everything. The vase and votives we had laying around. I prefer to use regular glasses when there aren't too many people. Otherwise, plain white paper cups with washi tape or colored straws would be just as lovely.
The striped napkins came from Target, only $1.49 for a pack. I found the blue napkins and white paper plates at Party City. The napkins cost just $2.25 and the plates were $5.49 for a package of twenty. The clear utensils came in a huge pack from Walmart a while back. The straws were $2 for a pack of 250 at Meijer. And the tablecloth is a vinyl tablecloth I picked up at Marshalls for $3.50. Tip: Now is the time to stock up on paper goods as most stores are clearancing them out for fall. I keep paper goods on a shelf in the pantry. My friends always joke that I could throw a cute party on a moment's notice. And they're right. I could.
I bought the flowers at Whole Foods for $6.99. This is more than I normally pay for grocery store flowers, but still cheap overall. Tip: When buying grocery store flowers, go monochromatic. Even carnations can look elegant when they're all the same color. 
I used a bit of crepe paper from leftover party streamers to tie the votives into the centerpiece. This keeps them anchored and prevents them from looking like they were randomly placed. Ribbon works fantastically as well, if you happen to have some on hand.
 Lastly, I love having lights strung up and ready to go for when the party lasts a bit longer than expected. We bought these a few years ago and have had them up all summer long. I love the ambience they create, turning our ordinary backyard into a chic little dining space. 

This entire set-up took us about twenty minutes to create and the total cost was around $22, including the flowers. Many of the items, though, will be enough for more than one barbecue.  

We hope this inspires you to go out, gather a few things and start making your outdoor dinners a little prettier! 

Next week, Adrian will be back to share his recipe for Carne Asada Tacos. Trust me, they're amazing.
post signature
Blogging tips