3.29.2013

friday foto: my favorite spring flowers.

You didn't think I'd let March go by without a little ranunculus, did you?
These beauties have been dancing wildly in Mari's room all week. Just in time to welcome in Easter.

Hope you have a lovely celebration this weekend!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

and the winner is.

Congratulations, Mike! You are - well, your wife is and she doesn't know it - the new owner of this beachy, breezy iPhone 5 case.
If you saw Mike's post, you're probably thinking he suckered me. But, he really was the random winner and I'm so excited to send this case his way.

Thanks, all for entering the giveaway. Was so fun to get social. Stay tuned... come back for a Friday Foto shortly!

3.28.2013

all-natural easter eggs: the finished product (and a few hints).

If you missed it yesterday, we went all-natural with our egg dying this year, with the exception of bottled grape juice. The end result was a really, sweet muted palette.
So muted, in fact, that those white eggs you see? Those were dyed in beet juice! This was a bit of a science experiment that's very learn-by-trial, so I'd recommend having some food coloring on back-up in case you aren't totally satisfied with the color intensity (or lack thereof).
Here are a few notes for those who might dabble in all-natural egg dying, based on all the goodness you see below.
Pale Yellow
The sweet yellow eggs dry way darker than you think they will, and the smell of simmering orange peels in your kitchen makes these my favorite eggs of the dozen.

Pale Turquoise
We used red cabbage, instead of frozen blueberries, and these eggs also dried a bit darker than we guessed they would. Bonus.

Lavender Gray
For this beautiful, muted lavender, go to the grape juice. I thought they'd turn out too much like the blue eggs, but as you can see, they're just yummy.

Muted Orange/Peach
The paprika leaves a bit of a dusting on the eggs, so, if that might bother you, I'd skip. I liked their texture, but they did not dry as smoothly as the other eggs.

Pale Pink... or, in my case: barely-there pink.
I struck out with pink. Maybe I needed to simmer away a few more beets, but I was so hopeful given the bright pink dye. I even added more vinegar along the way and dipped them twice after giving them a chance to dry each time, which didn't seem to help.
We also attempted a pale green/yellow with the fennel tops and apple skins, and that yielded nearly clear water. But, I did get some apple sauce made and tomorrow, fennel is on the menu, so not a total waste. Next year, I will try spinach leaves.
How are you dying your eggs this year? Do report back!

PS: last call for entries for the turquoise-and-white stripes iPhone 5 case giveaway!

3.27.2013

all-natural easter egg coloring.

Last year, we colored eggs the day before Easter. A little late in the game, but we did it. And we did it using the store-bought tablets. Which are totally fine and fun.

This year, though, we happily used up some produce and following Annie's Eats' guide, did some all-natural Easter egg dying of our own. Going after a muted palette, here's what we used.
Watching fruits and vegetables simmer away reminded me of the early days of making Mari's baby food. I remember washing color-tinted water down the drain after many rounds of cooked vegetables and this process of chopping, boiling, simmering and steaming was all very familiar for me.

After it was all said and done (and peeled!), we were able to eat some of the fruits - literally - of our labor. From the apple flesh, we added to our applesauce stash with a quick steam and blend, and juiced the oranges for one beautiful glass of freshly-squeezed O.J. It was a busy, messy day, but so worth it.

If you're into egg dying as an experience, this is for you. More elbow grease is required, for sure. But it's very rewarding and fun for kids, young and old. I will always love dying Easter eggs, and I think I've found a new tradition for our family.

If a pale, soft palette is what you're after this year, I highly, highly recommend Annie's tutorial, plus the link to the original Better Homes & Gardens article on the topic (and, if your eggs are feeling a bit too pale, I'd recommend having food coloring on-hand for backup).

I will share with you the pretty, final results tomorrow.

PS: don't forget to enter the giveaway for the turquoise-and-white stripes iPhone 5 case! Giveaway closes tomorrow.

3.26.2013

turquoise-and-white stripes giveaway.

Well, hello, Tuesday. Let's do a giveaway.

I have been hanging onto this extra iPhone 5 case that is just too cute not to share. I originally ordered this for myself, and when I decided I'd like to exchange it for a slightly different case, the nice people at Zazzle let me hang onto the original, at no charge. I'd like to pay it forward, in exchange for some social love.

It's cute, fits like a glove and if you are a turquoise fan like I am - or know someone is who would love a turquoise gift - this was made for you.
Here's a link for the details on this Cocatoo Vibe Case-mate case on Zazzle. Note: it is made for iPhone 5. And nothing else.

HOW TO ENTER: visit and 'like' paperwhites on Facebook, and leave a comment on the wall by 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, March 29. The winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on Friday.

Note: this giveaway is in not endorsed by Facebook, nor Zazzle and is not a paid advertisement for either party. 

3.22.2013

friday foto: for the love of beets.

I was on the road earlier this week, for work, and one of the perks is that I'm usually traveling to the Bay Area, which means I get to taste some of the very best food and wine this state has to offer. And then I came home to a giant box of produce, which included these beautiful beets, from one of the very best farms this state has to offer.
I am so grateful for this goodness. Last night, we made a buffalo ranch chicken salad with Tanaka's fresh-picked Romaine lettuce and thinly sliced carrots. We've also got mustard spinach to explore and these beets to get to. I can't wait to get them roasted. Or, maybe use one for some all natural Easter egg dying? That's on next week's list.

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

3.21.2013

out and about: gum tree.

Last week, I made my first trip to Gum Tree. How it took me so long to get there, I cannot explain, but thanks to my friend Jessica, we enjoyed a lovely café lunch and a little bit of shopping, too. It's a toss up, though, because I don't know what I love more: the food or the goods. It really is a delicious experience, in every way.
The shop is chalk-full of things we love: Jonathan Adler home goods, letterpress stationery by Smock, darling gifts for kids, all sorts of yummy coffee table books and cookbooks by your favorites, like Smitten Kitchen, plus Dash & Albert rugs and much, much more. You can find all sorts of treasures on its website, but it's so worth a stop in. You will want to buy everything.

And then just a few steps inside the shop, you will stumble into the Aussie-inspired café - where, you'll want to buy everything. To eat.
Jessica started with a latte, and I with the asparagus and leek soup. And I scraped up every bit of my roasted beet and goat cheese salad. They top theirs with macadamia nuts. Something I will most certainly try next time I make my version.
I came home with a souvenir; a gift for a special sister-in-law, which was doubly worth it when I had it gift-wrapped in a simple kraft paper box. My kind of store.
Have you been there? Or checked it out online? For your next girls lunch, try it. You will find yourself wanting to go back, just like me.

3.19.2013

homemade taco seasoning for fish fridays.

Taco Fridays have become a little bit of a weekly tradition in our house, which is really nice come this time of year when we honor the season of Lent. We like to make ours with some spicy grilled shrimp, and each week brings some variations: guacamole, spicy cream sauce, black bean pico de gallo and so on. But we always, always spice up our shrimp with a rub of some homemade taco seasoning and a tiny bit of olive oil.
I had read about some not-so-healthy ingredients in the pre-made seasoning packets sold at the store, so in the past couple of years, I've been mixing up my own seasoning in big batches so it's always ready to go. I follow this easy recipe, which I stumbled on after a simple Google search.

Homemade Taco Seasoning from AllRecipes.com

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and store in an air-tight container.

When it comes to the tacos: I'm heavy handed with the spices, so after I've peeled and cleaned the shrimp, I give a really, really good dusting and mix it with a tiny drizzle of olive oil to coat. I grill the shrimp on a grill pan and last week, topped the tacos with some finely chopped lettuce and a black bean salsa, which doesn't really require much but a can of rinsed black beans, finely chopped tomatoes and onion, a tiny clove of garlic minced, salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon or lime. The longer it sits in the frig, the better it gets.

My other favorite topping, by the way is a spicy mayo. I follow DALS' tip and add a tiny bit of ketchup for some balance and sweetness.

Are you cooking for Fish Fridays? Any recommendations to share?

Shrimp taco nestled - well, squished, really - into Garnish's rectangular pint-sized berry box

3.18.2013

i'm instagramm'ing.

Hi, friends. Hope you had a great St. Patty's day weekend. Some of you may have found me, but I wanted to mention that I'm officially on Instagram. With the change in jobs came a change in mobile device, and now that I'm an iPhone user, I figure I better get with the program.

This is photo comes from yesterday morning. One of my favorite things to wake up to - besides the fam, of course - is an overnight rise of the best waffle batter on the planet. Yep, I'm still obsessed with and making Molly's waffles.
My dad joined us after church for a few rounds of waffles - we top Mari's with Whitney's apple butter and for the grown ups, a dusting of powdered sugar, some fresh sliced banana and a drizzle or two of syrup. So yum.

Hope to share lots more random goodness, one pic at a time, so come follow me! I'm @alisonsalcedo.

PS: while we're on the social topic, paper{whites} is on Facebook, and for those of you who loyally liked way back when, thank you. I'm finally posting over on FB, and you can like me at facebook.com/paperwhitesblog.

3.15.2013

friday foto: wildcraft.

Handcrafted, from the ground up, our dear friend, Chris, poured his heart and soul into opening Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza in Culver City's hipster neighborhood, where Culver and Washington meet. We made our first family stop in this week, and fell in love with his creation, and also: the really good food.
A pizza lover at heart with his own wood-burning oven to prove it, Chris did good. The menu is deep with creativity, variety and flavor, and the thin, sourdough pizzas are just yummy. And unique. Take a lovely patio, paired with delicious food and handcrafted beers and wines on tap, and you have my version of a perfect day/night out. (It's also Mari-approved, by the way. She especially loved the truffle white pizza.)

It's well-designed, with lots of rustic touches, plus a heck of a wall mural, painted by one of Chris' friends.

Put it on your weekend list. And also: get the charred cauliflower.

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

3.14.2013

a little of this.

I've talked about Amanda before, right? In my circle of friends, she's Ama, and she's been like a big, giant hug to paper{whites}. She's supportive in all the right ways and on all the right days, when I need it most. She's also a fan of education. She's a college professor, in fact, and since I've been a student of online classes in the last several months, she's been cheering me on.

So, as she's gearing up to host a shower with her mom next month, she asked me to design the invitation. So fun, right?
Amanda and her mom are designing a gray and purple-inspired shower, and are going for a bit of glam, mixed with classic ease. After a few rounds of edits, we settled on the design above, and repeated the notched border on the return address for the back of the envelopes (not shown).

It was such a fun back-and-forth collaboration, and I'm so thankful she trusted me with such an important project!

Fonts: Bebas Neue and Carolyna.
Envelopes from Paper Source.

By the way, I'm back in another class with Melanie this month, and I'm learning how to design a website so that I can do some really fun things with paper{whites}. More goodness to come!

3.13.2013

working from home.

So, behind the scenes of all the photos, the picks and the kitchen adventures, I've been struggling to find my place, working from home.

I'm sure that sounds ridiculous to some, but I'm betting that those work-from-home'ers might understand. Even with all the perks that come with working from home, it's been a significant adjustment for me, on all fronts. Now a month into my new job, I'm finally finding my groove. Mostly, thanks to my new co-workers who are making telecommuting easy, and of course, to my home office mate, Eddie.

That's right. Two of us are working from home and we're living to tell about it!

We moved the beautiful desk that my dad helped us put together from Mari's room to our bedroom. It's a bit big for the space, so we're going to shave it down, and I'll share some photos, soon. In the meantime, as we get cozy with our new setup (read: the desk is two feet from our bed), I've relied on a few things that might be helpful to you, too? Even if you don't work from home, there is still work to be done at home and getting organized has helped me feel - and be - productive.
A cheery notebook.
Papyrus carries Jonathan Adler spiral notebooks in the perfect note-taking size and whimsical, colorful designs he is known for. Opening this up everyday makes me happy.

A charging station.
We've had this for years, thanks to my friend Erin. It has been all over our house, but now, it sits on my desk and keeps our many cords in check. Two computers, two phones, a baby monitor and a desk lamp. Cords = organized.

Hanging wall organizers.
Our two-pocket organizers are from Ballard, but Pottery Barn's daily office system line is on sale now, and they offer a three-pocket. For us, two works just great; one for me, and one for Eddie. It's still in Mari's room, but is going to move to its new location, above my desk.

Portable pouch.
Having a small case that is ready to go at a moment's notice has been so helpful. I have a Room It Up - now All For Color - pencil pouch, like this one (looks like my black/white has been discontinued) that is just big enough for my favorite writing utensils, plus my phone and laptop charger, too. This little pouch has been helpful, just going from room-to-room, and of course from coffee shops to lunch meetings and to plane rides.

Desk accessory for pencils, pens, scissors, etc.
Speaking of writing utensils, you may remember this West Elm striped tumbler from Mari's room. We've got two, actually. Hers keeps her brushes in check, and mine holds all my pens and pencils on the desk.

We are still navigating a file folder system, working on re-organizing our catch-all closet that holds everything from work-related documents and books to crafts. I'm taking suggestions on your home file systems, if you've got one that works. Please share!

PS: little Mari, happy 20 months today! Yowza!

3.12.2013

easter entertaining.

I am sure I've said it before here, but Easter is one of my favorite holidays, especially for entertaining. I'm a big fan of brunch / lunch gatherings. I'm also totally smitten with the styles you see around this time of year - fresh colors, clean whites and textured touches that, in my opinion, can be extended to year-round serveware and décor.

With piles of catalogs comes this year's inspiration, in some yummy light and buttery yellows. Here are some of my favorite picks for Easter entertaining.
1. Pottery Barn faux ranunculus nest, 2. Shop Sweet Lulu limoncello tableware collection, 3. Shop Sweet Lulu porcelain berry baskets, 4. Anthropologie pot holders, 5. Pottery Barn speckled egg vase filler, 6. Mark & Graham table runner, 7. West Elm wood trays, 8. Shop Sweet Lulu yellow cake plate cling, 9. Crate & Barrel egg platter.

3.08.2013

friday foto: spring is in the air.

I'm so happy March is here. I'm bringing home chamomile flowers, for goodness' sake!
Wispy and free, and smelling like your favorite tea, these breezy flowers make a fun nest for a few stems of white alstroemeria, in one of my favorite white pitchers, from Ikea.

Happy weekend, all!

For more Friday Fotos, see last week's post.

3.06.2013

chicken sliders with basil mayo.

We had some gorgeous, summer-like weather over the weekend, and dining al fresco was in order. With the never-ending supply of baked chicken I have in reserve, I pieced together some sliders made special with basil mayo, on Eddie's favorite: Hawaiian rolls.  
There's not much to this, and the basil mayo is about as easy as it gets, with a quick chop of a handful of basil and garlic. We've had leftovers all week, and this, like most in the dip/spread category, is getting better and better with time. It's the kind of stuff that takes an ordinary little sandwich with some leftover chicken and makes it a classy little meal. 

This comes from The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for tomato sandwiches, and since she's always right on, we added thin sliced tomatoes, which added the perfect compliment to the basil-infused sauce.
The Barefoot Contessa's Basil Mayonnaise
Yield: a lot (I halved the recipe below and had a lot leftover)

1 cup mayonnaise
10 to 15 basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Whisk together all ingredients. I recommend chilling a bit before spreading, serving or enjoying.

To make chicken sliders, like these, you'll need:
+ mini Hawaiian rolls, halved
+ good tomato or two, thinly sliced
+ baked or BBQ'd chicken, thinly sliced about the size of the rolls
+ a spread of basil mayo on each bread half

I'm thinking they would make a nice addition to a bridal shower or Easter lunch.
PS: on the side, we enjoyed a room temperature orzo pasta with sauteed leeks, yellow squash, pine nuts, Parmesan and chopped basil. The recipe comes from Diane Rossen Worthington's Seriously Simple (page 60) - one of my favorites, which you may remember from this delicious summer fruit crisp.

3.04.2013

bringing the islands home.

Even as the fog comes in as I'm writing this post, we had a little taste of summer of summer over the weekend, which had me reminscing about our Kaua'i vacation. Since we got back, my Pandora Hawaiian station has been my daily soundtrack, and it's a constant reminder that with a little help, island life really is a state of mind. Here's what we're doing to bring it to our house.
one // lighting one of my favorite Anthropologie candles that just smells like a vacation.
two // leaving shoes at the door (but if you must, Rainbows are the only way to go).
three // with the weather warming up, the blender (and soon to follow, the juicer) is on the countertop (and we're conscious to keep the ice trays are filled).
four // recommended by my hair stylist, Bumble & Bumble's surf spray induces breezy beach waves.
five // this is one of my favorite slack key guitar albums to set the tone.
six // we dined al fresco over the weekend (we'd feel green and really good about it with reusable bamboo utensils, note to self!).

Some fresh cut pineapple, rum and pina colada mix also does the trick. It's always 5 o'clock on the weekends! Is it warming up where you are?

3.01.2013

friday foto: the postal service.

Happy weekend from your local Manhattan Beach post office box. I'm not mailing my daughter, or anything. This was a left-over from our outing to mail Mari's valentine cards last month.
Too good not to photograph, the lighting makes my heart skip a beat. It also reminds me that I need to start thinking about another photography class with Nicole this summer.

Speaking of, I'm currently in Creating an Identity with the fabulous Melanie Burk, and oh, do I love this class. I love it so much that I'm devoting lots of time to it, which may explain some posting lulls. I do hope to share some of my work with you, and am looking forward to another Melanie session in this month: Designing for Web 101. Is anyone enrolling in any upcoming classes? Who's with me?