I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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January 6, 2014


Last year I remember seeing lots of mamas I follow on the internets participating in a weekly project documenting their children every week for the entire year. I clicked around a bit over the weekend and finally traced it back to Jodi of Practicing Simplicity (I have been out of the blog loop for-ever!). So here we are, almost the first week of 2014 has passed, and just in time I’m starting.

I’m excited to have a little project for this blog and one that makes me use the big camera once a week. I’d love to turn this into a tiny photo book next January. We’ll see if I can stick with it. I will probably always be a bit behind, but I will do my best.

I’d like to think that this will keep me focused on what’s important for reals, vs what appears to be important on the internet. Which is kind of weird since I’m posting on the internet. But it’s going to be real life, you know? The stuff that has always been interesting to me, before everything had to be perfectly styled and professionally photographed and Pinterest worthy. Don’t get me wrong… that’s part of my job too, but it’s not my *life*. I’m going to try my best to remember that in 2014.

Anyone else joining in?

January 2, 2014

Carrot coconut soup

I think it’s safe to say that this is a perfect lunch soup for the quiet, calm days of January. Possibly my favorite month of the year, or at least it feels like that when Christmas is finally packed up and we can get back to living.

It’s from the November issue of Bon Appetit, but I’ve fiddled with the recipe to make it just to my liking. Though it’s really delicious as printed, but you know me and recipes.

It’s simple and velvety and sweet and savory all at once. And rich, but all good things seem to be. I think you could actually leave out the butter entirely and just use a bit of olive oil (or even coconut?) if you’d like. The coconut milk gives it plenty of lovely body on it’s own.

Carrot coconut soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 stick of butter
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 inch piece of lemongrass, halved
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cups (or more) veg stock or water
1 can unsweetened, full fat coconut milk
cilantro for serving

(If you happen to have thai lime leaves in the pantry, I would add one or two of those too.)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt. Cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook until the carrots are soft-ish. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and a bit more salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft. The original recipe says 40-45 minutes, but I think it really only takes 30 or so.

Puree in the blender (vitamix if you have for ultra smoothness!), then reheat in a clean saucepan, thinning with extra stock if you like.

Top with chopped cilantro leaves.

Happy New Year, all of you.

December 19, 2013

The best toffee recipe

It really is, you guys. And I’ve had a lot of toffee. Now, I’ve never actually made another recipe so I might be a bit biased, but I’m telling you this one is perfection.

And since there seems to be some interest in the recipe (according to this instagram photo), I thought I would repost the link here so you don’t have to go digging through archives to find it. I actually did a full-on step by step tutorial, which is good. But the photos are a little meh and make me feel like I’m showing off my middle school art project. It’s kind of hilarious that my iPhone photos now are better than my DSLR photos from a few years ago, isn’t it?

I give you…

the best toffee recipe, ever.

Guaranteed crowd pleaser. Promise.

December 5, 2013

Tis the season for photo albums and holiday cards

I am usually about two weeks away from dealing with holiday cards at this point in the year. Which means our greetings normally arrive in their intended mailboxes around the second week of January. It’s kind of a problem.

But this year I was determined to plan like a normal person would, and while I was at it, get the family photo albums situation under control. I did it, you guys. Cards are nearly addressed and stamped, photo books have already been designed and delivered. It’s an incredible relief, I have to tell you.

I decided to use Pinhole Press this year because 1) I’ve used them before for various gift projects and 2) their options are simple.

Customization is nice and all but do you know what? Sometimes it just creates more work for me. As a designer I toil over every decision and I’m rarely happy with how things turn out. So this year I shut off the creative direction and just let someone else make those choices for me. I have plenty of decisions to make every day as it is.

Their photo books are gorgeous and somehow managed to make even my own photos of the kids look nearly professional. I’ve so far made one that covers the last 18 months as a family of four (from Forrest’s birth to now) and one of just the photo shoot we did with Jamie last March. We have all of these beautiful family photos from various photo sessions and they’re mostly doomed to life on a DVD in my desk drawer. I’ve started making books of each and it’s really making me feel kind of awesome.

Nevermind that I haven’t started Forrest’s baby book and Dashiell’s is still missing all the milestones. That’s my project after Christmas. Swear!

This next year I have a new plan for keeping photos organized and ready for a book at the end of each year. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I thought I should really share it with all of you busy mamas too.

Each time you dump photos off your camera, do a quick sweep through the roll and pull selects right then and there into a folder for the year. Genius!

That way in December I’m hoping to have all of my favorites from the year ready for a final edit before I make our book. Which I’m totally addicted to, BTW. Making photo books, I mean. I still look at our family albums on occasion when I visit my parents’ house and I want to have those memories ready for my kids when they’re older too.

Just make yours tonight. You won’t be sorry. You can even use the code 100layer to take 20% off your holiday card order!

Doesn’t it already kind of feel like Christmas is here? Eeee!

November 18, 2013

A fall mobile

I love mobiles. We have one in the kids’ room and one in our bedroom, and I love that they add just a teensy bit of whimsy to a space. The guys and I collected a bunch of things around the neighborhood during a few morning walks and Dash and I finally assembled our little project last week. By assembled, I mean Dash cut bits of thread and leftover leaves with his scissors at the table (his current favorite activity), and I assembled the mobile. But the point was that in the end we made the project together.

The only supplies we used were an embroidery hoop, thread, and baker’s twine. Plus the spoils from our walks.

I love that it hangs over the play space. I like to think it makes Dash feel accomplished that he made something for our home, with his little fingers. I know it reminds me that it’s not *that* hard to make just a few minutes of time to create something meaningful with my kids. Instead of always spending my free time doing dishes and sweeping the floors and catching up on emails. Eew. Making things is so much better, for all of us.

November 5, 2013

Halloween 2013

Let’s just say it was a good year for mama. I’ve been waiting to make Forrest’s costume for three years, since Brock first sent me a link to something similar (as a joke), and then forbade me from making it for baby Dashiell.

Which is clearly why you have a second baby.

I’d say this chicken costume does deserve just a little bit more play, don’t you think?

I could eat him alive.

In case you’re now convinced, like I was, that this is actually the most adorable costume ever invented for a baby, here’s what you need to make it:

Long sleeve white onesie. (I actually used two and sewed them together so he’d be warm enough without a sweater).
Yellow tights
Yellow crocs (obviously!)
White pilot cap
Red fabric or felt
Loose white duck feathers
Glue gun

Gluing the feathers to the onesie takes no more than an hour. Though one word of caution… babies do not like things like feathers touching their faces. Oops! Didn’t think that through until Forrest tried on the onesie for the first time. I ended up having to rip off all the feathers near his neck and shoulders, and he still cried for a solid 10 minutes when I first put the final costume on. But then he learned to love it, naturally, and wore it for the next 4.5 hours.

The most time consuming part was making the comb from red cotton jersey and sewing it onto the pilot cap. But you could totally use felt or something easier to work with too.

So easy and such a crowd pleaser. Every single person he passed by on Halloween (especially the ladies) had to stop and stare and talk and tell him what a darling little girl he was. Kidding! Nearly half the people thought he was a rooster. Good enough for me.

And Dash… he wanted to be a kitty. A scary kitty. But let’s be honest, could this guy ever *really* be scary?

Amazing how much they grow each year. In case you’re curious: Halloween 2010 / 2011 / 2012. Somehow that’s one thing I’ve managed to post every year.

November 1, 2013

Welcome, fall.

I love fall. I mean, I know *everybody* loves fall. But seriously, I think it’s my spirit season. We certainly have plenty of warm days ahead of us here in Southern California, yet I can’t help feeling slightly desperate to put away the sunscreen and popsicles (okay, probably not the popsicles) to enjoy sweaters, chilly bright mornings, tea in the afternoon, soups, holidays, whiskey cocktails, and the like.

Though full disclosure, I’m always excited about the next season, no matter which is coming up.

I love the opening line of Peter Rabbit and the Pumpkin Patch, a book we’ve been reading very often over the last few weeks:

“After suffering through the stifling heat of summertime, the cool, crisp air of autumn always makes one feel more lively.”

Doesn’t that sum things up so nicely? Fall is so much about being inspired for me. I’ve been feeling that so much lately, but also a bit disappointed with how little time I really have to cook and grow and create like I used to do. Then I remind myself of how I’m growing little boys now, which is a project that is so mind-blowingly rewarding (also incredibly challenging) that I am mostly okay with not being able to do it all.

Doing it all… hmm. There’s been a lot of talk about that recently, hasn’t there? I know I find myself assuming that everyone else IS while I am not. This brilliant opinion piece in the New York Times that my dear friend Laura passed on to me is a pretty perfect analysis of how I feel about this issue. Frankly I’m just bored hearing about it. We have what we have. I like to try to remember that it’s more than enough.

In the same vein, this even more brilliant article on Instagram and self esteem is a poignant reminder to me of how best to approach your relationship with social media. If you haven’t read it, you really should. Thanks to the always insightful Lily for sharing it on her blog.

(Clearly these things have been on my mind a lot of late.)

Brock and I have been married for 5 years this month. FIVE YEARS! Wow. When I look back at our wedding, no matter how much fun I know we were having then, I would never not for one second want to trade those days for what we have now. But that sure was a good night.

I made these outstanding slow roasted, oil poached tomatoes from the most perfect late season San Marzanos. We still have some in the fridge and I’ve been nibbling on them for treats. They are like candy.

Also made some essential toy investments recently. After sorting through our current collection, of course. I do love purging toys. Play food, where have you been all my life? And because my boys are obsessed with our broom and mop, I got them one of each in their size. Of course I really need two of each because they will forever want what the other has, it seems.

This cuff is pretty perfect.

I heart this family newborn shoot we featured on 100 Layer Cakelet. Baby. Want. WAIT! Have. Hormones are crazy things, aren’t they?

Also some of my favorite books for parents and favorite books for fall are over on the 100 Layer Cake family blog too.

Which as you might have guessed is generally where I spend my blogging time right now. But the thing is? I really miss it here. Sharing parties and costumes and family photography is fun and all, but I miss my teeny tiny corner of the internet. I think, with the arrival of fall, I will make a more more earnest effort to be here more often. At Crafting Community I met two sweet ladies (Hey Melissa, hey Adrienne!) who stopped and said hi because they’d been reading this blog since BEFORE I WAS MARRIED. (Did I mention it’s been five years?) I was 1) shocked and 2) completely flattered and humbled that anyone still knew that my blog existed. I hope I can pick up where I left off soon. I hope some of you will still be out there.

If you are,


(Photos from our annual trip to the best pumpkin patch ever on the way out to Palm Springs.)

September 27, 2013

Beet popsicles

Kay so these? If you’re a crazy mom like me and measure your worth by the number of vegetables you can convince your children to eat, these are for you. Beets! In popsicle form! Imagine the vitamins.

Plus they have organic greek yogurt for a nice protein boost. And they’re yummy. In kind of an earthy way. But I swear your kids won’t even notice. That’s the beauty of the popsicle.

Recipe is up on 100 Layer Cakelet!

July 24, 2013

Forrest is one

His party is up on 100 Layer Cakelet for your viewing pleasure (along with a cute shoot we did for Ergo, if you can’t get enough of him), but here are a few photos after the party was cleaned up that evening. A nice bookend to the photos I posted of Dash the night before.

Is he not looking at me like, “Um mom, I was totally using that cart.”?

Loves to stand, does not love to walk.

I seriously wish you guys could all see how he crawls. Crab, spider, side-winder, even orangoutang. But definitely not your standard baby motion.

July 18, 2013

Summer, yes.

We’ve been having a good time this summer. That is for sure. I just dumped a bunch of photos into iPhoto off of my big camera so I can post Forrest’s birthday party over on Cakelet (did I mention he turned one?!), and I found these. From the night before when Dash was helping us blow up balloons and get things ready for the next day.

I love him.

That’s all. For now.