Wednesday, April 16, 2014

San Francisco, Here We Come!

Photo Source

There is nothing like the anticipation of vacation. The scouring of TripAdvisor for hidden gems, looking up blogs from locals, and booking an apartment on Airbnb. The daydreaming and planning and counting down until a few delightful days off in a row.

When we found out I was pregnant, I immediately started panicking about all the travel we would miss out on after the arrival of a little one. I have great friends who have assured me that travel can and will still happen, but realistically with two jobs less than a year old, we know that our vacation time and funds will be limited for a little while. So we're squeezing in short trips wherever we can between now and September.

After exploring a few options, we decided to spend my birthday weekend in a city I can't believe I  haven't visited yet - San Francisco!

The things we are most interested in doing — besides a few of the tourist attractions like a night-tour of Alcatraz and a city bike tour — are local food (but nothing too fancy), amazing coffee (I'm drinking every drop of my allotted 12 oz a day), and history of arts/culture.

So give me your suggestions! Where should we eat, drink, and walk that is off the beaten path (but not outside the city)? Anything I should I read to prepare for the trip?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#firsttrimesterproblems: tweets I couldn't tweet

Here is, I hope, a bit of comic relief. Pregnancy is WEIRD. And even though I feel like I'm the last person on earth to do this baby thing, there is still so much that was never told to me.

My first trimester journal, in tweet form (p.s. if you click on any of them, you can tweet them yourself!)

Anything else I missed?

Monday, March 17, 2014

A latte more love...

We are excited and overwhelmed to announce that our family is growing...

Somebody pinch me — it doesn't quite feel real (and I forgot to wear green today)!
More to come.

Monday, March 3, 2014

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

File this in the category of DIY defeats.
Okay, so the final product is actually tolerable (and I bet most of you won't notice the most significant mistake at first glance) but boy was this project more agonizing than I planned.

E has been wanting some new kitchen decor for a while, but now that we have a new dining set, it was a good time to update from the fabric wrapped canvases we'd hung on the empty wall in the first few weeks of marriage, four and a half years ago.

I had read four different tutorials for similar projects just to be as prepared as possible. I should have taken a hint that in every tutorial the blogger wrote that it didn't work out exactly like they planned. So while I'm going to share what I did and what I learned, perfectionists beware: this isn't one of those projects that will look completely polished at the end. But I hope that my more detailed directions might help!

I ordered custom-made canvases from so that I could include as much of the canvas as possible. With all of the standard options I found in craft stores, I would have lost at least eight inches vertically, so no Antarctica, Greenland, North Pole, etc. I bought two maps for the triptych: one for the two sides and another for the middle.

1. Weight the map down with books or other heavy objects to flatten it. Cut the first map directly down the middle (as shown.) Cut about 10 inches off of each side of the second map, as straight as possible.

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

2. Measure about 2 inches down from the top of the map on the back, and and make tiny marks with a pencil across the top. This is the part of the map you will wrap around the canvas on the first side.

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

3. Spray poster mount generously on the paper and then very carefully line up the tiny marks with the top edge of the canvas. Before pressing firmly, slowly eyeball a straight line down on the right. When you're confident of placement, press firmly on the top portion of the frame and the right side of the frame (leaving the bottom and left side loose).
DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

4. On a clean, news-papered surface, turn the canvas over and spray the edge of the frame and the back side of the map generously with adhesive. Pressing down firmly and pulling the map gently, secure the map completely around the top edge of the frame to the back. (the first side is the hardest!) I also added some craft glue to this step for security.

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

5. Gently but firmly press, pull and secure the right side next. Snip the corner of the paper and fold as shown (like a gift box).

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

6. Then (I didn't discover this important step until the third canvas and it made a big difference) take one (clean) hand on the top of the map, and one hand on the back of the soft part of the canvas and press the layers firmly together from the already wrapped top corner to the unwrapped bottom corner. This will significantly reduce bubbling when you add the Mod Podge. 7. Continue spraying, pulling, pressing and gluing the last two sides. Once they are wrapped all the way around the back of the canvas, use an X-Acto knife to cut off any excess paper. 8. Very gently take a foam brush and lightly wipe Mod Podge over the finished product in one smooth layer. Any globs and your paper will bubble and start to disintegrate. This will happen either way...and it is the most frustrating product of this project.

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

9. Set your first canvas aside to dry and repeat two more times! (note: be very careful how you line up your country overlaps. Try to leave a half inch overlap as to make the map as continuous as possible. I used the guiding lines to make my guesstimates, but I made a mistake and now I'm missing a bit of Brazil and Greenland!)

10. Finally, spray the dried canvases with a matte acrylic sealant. I did two layers, just in case they ever needed to be wiped clean, the paper should stay intact.

11. Hang up your canvases on another day, when you have the energy to measure and level them.

DIY: World Map Wrapped Canvas Triptych | Latte Love Blog

Monday, February 17, 2014

A History of Valentines'

I wrote this post on Valentine's weekend 2012, saved it in my drafts folder and never pressed publish. Today I wanted to share a new Valentine's Day tradition we decided to start so I dug up this forgotten post with our new tradition (hint: it involves pizza!)

I'm not one of those women who says "Oh, I don't care about Valentine's Day" and then gets secretly sobby when my husband doesn't come home with flowers or a dinner reservation.

But I'm also not one of those women that hates on Valentine's day as a commercialized hallmark holiday. Because it is an opportunity to celebrate love. And I love love.

That said, I can't say I have ever had a terribly romantic day! A friend wished me a happy valentines yesterday and I started thinking about the awkwardness that has been a few of my past love days.

The first Valentine's day I really remember was with a guy I'd been seeing for only a couple of weeks in early college. I was still living at home and my dad wanted to meet him before we officially started dating, so I invited him over to my family's on Valentine's Day the Olympics. Yeah, it was that romantic. While we were sitting there watching luge races, I was praying that the awkwardness would pass quickly while my dad quizzed this guy that I barely knew about his work, family, friends, etc. I was sitting on my hands tensely, a foot away from him on the sofa and trying not to act weird in front of my parents. But it was the most awkward experience ever, and I didn't even get chocolate out of the deal.

The following Valentine's Day I was still dating the same guy, but things were rocky. We were in the middle of a big fight, but attempted to make up because it was V-day after all. He took me out to Red Lobster with no reservations and a one hour wait which we passed sitting in an empty Taco Bell. (spoiler alert: we ended up breaking up two weeks later.)

The next February was a few months into E and I's relationship, and I thought "This relationship is so great and wonderful - he probably has something drop-dead romantic planned." I'm still not sure I understand fully what it is about us women that expect our significant others to step out of character (mind you, the character we fell in love with) and perform great feats of chivalry and romance on the one day of the year that everyone else does it too.

Anyway, we agreed not to do anything big, just hang out. He was going to call after studying. I got dressed, made up, and sat down to wait for the phone call. I went from excited, to elated (if its taking this long, it must be good), to exasperated, to supremely annoyed. I marched up to his dorm room at 8pm and found him asleep on the couch. Ouch. I was mad all night, even though we both think it's hysterical now. (We ended up eating cold food from the campus snack shop, and going to bed early).

After that experience I decided to temper my expectations about the day. Fast forward to 2014 (our sixth Valentine's Day together). The barre studio that I've been a regular at since summer, has a Friday special where significant others can take a free class! So after a few months of begging him to give it a try (mostly to prove what a tough workout ballet can be!), E lovingly, sacrificially agreed. We met a barre buddy of mine and her husband, and had a great time watching them sweat and shake it out. The both left surprised and impressed at the intensity of a "ballet/pilates" workout.

We countered the calorie burn by heading to one of my favorite California pizza spots and breweries, Pizza Port. The crowd was light, and there was nothing like beer and a Pizza Roma in sweaty workout clothes with great friends. We ran into another couple from our church while we were there who told us that going to Pizza Port with friends was their Valentine's Day tradition - fun for the adults and the kids!

 And we thought - brilliant! A workout, low-key pizza dinner and walk near the coast sounds like the perfect tradition for us.

We finished the night staying up way to late starting House of Cards, Season Two!

What are your favorite Valentine's Day traditions? (They don't have to be too romantic - just you!)

I'm off to scoop up the clearanced pink m&ms and sweethearts. My second favorite part of love day!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sugar Free [Lucky Me]

I love cookies and I LOVE candy. Every day at 2:30pm I dig into my desk supply of sweets or go scrounging for them in others' offices. I eat my fair share whenever it is available at gatherings, and I bake and bring goodies into the office to share regularly.

Towards the end of the year after three holiday-related work parties, a few of my coworkers talked about taking a break from sugar in the New Year. I made fun of them at the time ("I'm not going to be a slave to diets!" I said), but when I got home from a Christmas trip homeaka family food fest 2013and was so over cookies I thought I might give them up for good, I decided I could make it through a sugar fast. Not permanently, mind you, just for 21 daysthe supposed length of time that it takes to break a craving (though 6-8 weeks is recommended to make it a long-term habit).

I started doing some research, found some sugar detox plans but they were all paleo-ish (NOT for me. I love bread and cheese), so I decided to just make my own personal rules that involved significant changes, but were still doable.

My 21 Day Sugar Detox Rules

21 days eating no foods with sugar in the ingredients, no fake sugars, and no alcohol. (honey, maple syrup are allowed in small portions)

This commitment inadvertently cut about half of the carbs from my diet because it meant almost no bread, no bagels or sweet breads and no cereal. Needless to say, one day into the experiment I was kicking myself (and others, if you must know). Have you ever tried drastically cutting carbs? It makes you light-headed and nauseated and stabby and pretty unpleasant to be around.

It's Friday, and I'm currently halfway through Day Five. I think I've made it through the "I hate everyone" portion of the diet, but I'm still sleepier than normal and feel hunger pangs more frequently than I used to. I chew on dried coconut chips when I want chocolate and I eat a tablespoon of almond butter while my husband wine in the evenings. It kind of sucks, but I'm doing it. And that's more than I can say about any health-related effort from the past.

Follow me on Instagram to see what I've been eating this week!

The main less I've learned so far is the impact of making good snack choices. Other than breakfast, my main meals haven't changed much. But now that I know I can't go get a pastry from Starbucks at 10am, I have to plan to pack a hard-boiled egg and cashews and hummus. And then they're right at my desk and they taste yummy and I thinkhow has it taken me this long to eat good snacks? Intentionality people.

I hope that at the end of this "detox", whether it turns out to be 7 days or the whole 21, I will have learned that enjoying treats is wonderful, they just cannot be a part of my daily snacking habits. I've already learning that making intentional snack choices takes only maybe five minutes a day. (much less scary than I imagined it to be!)

In case you're interested, here are a few resources I looked to for inspiration:

Meg Fee's series on giving up sugar
The 21 Day Sugar Detox (too extreme for me! but some helpful tips)
Is Sugar Toxic? (NY Times)

I'm feeling a little silly doing this detox and talking about it, since I don't usually subscribe to the strict healthy eating, paleo, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free stuff, nor have I ever been particularly healthy in my life, but I guess we can all make healthier choices, right? Have you made any changes recently? Wish me luck!

Latte Love All rights reserved © 2008-2011 | I am a HowJoyful Design by Joy Kelley