Hi friends! We got back from our vacation in Hawaii late on Tuesday night, and as I right this post I am surrounded by piles and piles of boxes – talk about coming back to reality! We’re moving to the new house this Saturday and it still feels surreal. And our vacation in Hawaii now also seems surreal. I am in a zone of real realness where only packing boxes and bubble wrap exist ;)

So I figured I’d bring myself back to this past week before this crazy week gets the best of me, and share a few pictures and words about our adventures on the beautiful island of Maui. Although we take vacation often to go back to Europe and see family, it was our very first family vacation in about 5 years just going somewhere unknown and exploring. And damn it felt good! W

We tried to find the right balance between keeping it low key for the girls and going on some adventures, because hubby and I just can’t help it :) We stayed at a condo in Kihei (West part of Maui) and loved that – it was so much better than staying at a hotel! We had two bedrooms and a kitchen to make ourselves some food whenever we wanted. And it was just across the road from an amazing snorkeling beach. And it was also cheaper than a hotel. Win win win!

In case some of you plan on going to Maui with your little family in the future, here are some of our favorite things that we did while on Maui:

*Snorkeling: it was simply amazing! We saw tons of sea turtles and amazing tropical fish. I could have stayed in that water all day. Olivia went snorkeling for the first time and had such a great time - but hey, talk about setting the bar high when you see a sea turtle on your first snorkeling trip ;) Madeline didn’t quite snorkel but she climbed on her daddy’s back like a baby turtle and swam around with him and she was happy as a clam :) Our favorite beaches to snorkel with kids were Kamaole Beach Park II and Kapalua beach – no big waves and tons of things to see.

* Hiking Iao valley: Ok, I thought it would be more of a hike than it was, but it was still amazing and beautiful. 1/2 hour to 45 minutes of walking around with the kiddos in gorgeous nature. And probably for the best that it wasn’t more than that because my calves still hurt for two days after we went….out of shape much? I think Santa is bringing me a gym membership for Christmas…

* Going to a Luau:We went to the one at the Hyatt – which is a really beautiful hotel! Not cheap, but kids under 5 don’t pay so we all got in for the price of two adults so that was great! Drinks, a  buffet and a show. The girls still rave about the hula dancing they saw at the Luau, they even went on stage when they offered to teach a little bit of it….it was a great night for all of us.

* The town of Paia, and Mama’s Fish house: The little town of Paia is super cute, and the day we went there hubby surprised me by taking us to Mama’s fish house. Probably one of the best restaurant experiences I’ve ever had. The setting is absolutely stunning – the restaurant overlook a private cove filled with palm trees- and the food is just amazing. Not cheap, but definitely worth it if you want to treat yourself to a delicious meal. I was in paradise :)

* Stopping for shaved ice: I know, you find shaved ice in other places, but in Hawaii there are shaved ice store at every street corner and we happily made it a daily routine to get shaved ice. And I loved trying all of the local flavors – Pineapple and mango of course, but also lilikoi (passion fruit) and Tiger’s blood (strawberry & Coconut). Oh just for that I want to go back….

 

On our way back to the airport on Tuesday I made hubby stop at a fabric shop – I wanted to bring back some hawaii prints….fabric has got to be one of my favorite thing to bring back when I go to a foreign country. I can’t wait to get my sewing machine set up in the new house so I can make something with that pretty fabric…..maybe a tutorial to share on the blog? :)

Vacations like these are so addicting, and hopefully it won’t be another 5 years before we decide to do it again :) Happy Thursday, friends!

PS: 24 Merry Days is going strong – have you entered the giveaways yet? Yesterday, the Dot & Bo giveaway on In Honor of Design started – and you can win a gold bar cart + $100 gift cart to accessorize your cart! And today, $300 gift card from UncommonGoods up for grabs on Little White Whale!

You might also like:
a Brittany escape + new year's resolutions
Freia's nursery
TLS is 2! a survey + a giveaway :)
Exciting news...we bought a house!

Hi friends! We’re flying back from our vacation today and diving right into boxes and various packing supplies to move for the new house – fun times ahead! :) Seriously, I will be so nice when we are done! The painters painted the house white while we were gone…nervous to see the results! Anyway, I will share some pictures for our trip later this week and also our free tech wallpaper later this week – pssst did you download #1, #2 and #3?

In the meantime, hope you guys are taking every opportunity you can to enter the 24 Merry Days giveaways! Today there’s an adult bike + kid balance bike from Public bikes (my fav!) up for grabs on Say Yes, and you can also still enter the $400 West Elm gift card giveaway that started yesterday on The Sweetest Occasion. I am telling you, only good stuff coming your way this December :) Full 24 Merry Days of giveaways calendar here!

You might also like:
{this little shop} oh leander
Nutty little mug cake
{live here, eat that} simply colorful
The best plum tart you'll ever have

Guys guys guys it’s that (fantastic) time of the year again! Today is December 1st and you know what that means?!! It’s time for another round of 24 Merry Days of giveaways! 24 days. 24 bloggers. 24 uh-mazing giveaways! We’re going to be spreading some good ol’ holiday cheer left and right!

And you won’t believe the goodness we have in store for you: a Madsen cargo bike, a mini SMEG fridge, Loeffler Randall handbags, a gold bar cart from Dot and Bo, a smart cooking scale + Ipad mini from Drop, an adult and kid balance bikes from Public Bikes, big fat gift cards from West Elm, Anthropologie, The Land of Nod, Lulu & Georgia, UncommonGoods, etc, smart jewelry from Cuff, a pair of boots from Swedish Hasbeens…and SO MUCH MORE! I mean, are you guys drooling yet or what?!

Now you ask, how can you enter? Well, everyday one of the giveaways will be hosted on one of the participating blogs where you’ll get more details on what to do. You can find the calendar of giveaways here. Now I can’t tell you which prize will be given away on what day – but I can tell you that EVERYDAY there is going to be an amazing prize. So make sure to bookmark the 24 Merry Days website for December! Also, you can like 24 Merry Days on Facebook and follow along the giveaway – make sure to like the daily status so you keep seeing them in your feed every day in December :) Now I am telling you – you DON’T want to miss this! Because, what if you were the lucky winner?!

Today, the first giveaway is happening on The Sweetest Occasion, and you can win $400 to one of my favorite brands, West Elm. Click here to check out today’s giveaway! Good luck friends :)

24 Merry Days site design & logo by Gloria Chen.

You might also like:
{the colors of happiness} confetti
I'm a tree hugger
I'll leave a treat under your pillow...
Frozen

Thankgsiving is a funky holiday when you are from Europe. In a way, you feel like it’s not really yours to celebrate because you didn’t grow up with it – when I was little there was no turkey, no pumpkin pie, no football, no Indians and Pilgrims, and no Black Friday. But at the same time, it is everybody’s holiday isn’t it? I mean, it’s hard not to relate to a holiday that’s all about focusing on the things that bless your life. Thanksgiving keeps growing on me. I love looking back at the road I’ve been on and try to imagine what the road ahead looks like.

Coincidentally I just started reading Lean In during our vacation in Hawaii, and why I’m enjoying it, it’s also been making me feel guilty in a way – guilty of some of the choices I’ve made over time. But today I just close my eyes and chose to just savor life as is. No regrets. No wondering what could have, should have been. No guessing. Just life as is. This wonderful life with my little family. 

Wherever you are in this world, and whatever season of your life you are in right now, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. Take a look at your life…I am pretty sure the glass is half full :)
You might also like:
Soulful + Honest
Santa Cruzing
A family picnic
fall sangria with cranberries & apple cider

Can you guys believe it’s already almost December? My favorite month of the year, but I wonder if I’ll have much time to enjoy it this year – we plan on moving to the new house mid-December, I won’t have much time to shop for presents…..do you think the girls will notice if I just pack their old toys and just put wrapping paper around it and just move these boxes to the new house. Tadaaaaaaaaaaaa Christmas presents :D hehe.

Thought I’d share some of the gift ideas on my radar for this year – not as extensive of a guide as the one I made last year, but hopefully still helpful :) Happy shopping to all of you who will be brave enough to tackle shopping this Black Friday! If you’re looking for me, I’ll probably be somewhere in the Pacific ocean – taking a little family vacation in Hawaii for Thanksgiving (follow along on my Instagram profile if you want).

1.Love these graphic cheese plates from Baba Souk.
2. The essential Bar book, a classic!
3. Hubby has this chair and LOVES it, definitely a wonderful present
4. A sweet gift to DIY for little kids, DIY Crown and wings
5. Pretty little wooden balance trike at Land of Nod
6. Pretty newspaper holder for the office or living room
7. This bunny ears hat is too adorable!
8. Another great gift to DIY: give bottles of homemade Bailey’s
9. Great aprons from Lint & Honey
10. Pretty sure I need this wooden bath caddy
11. Love everything that Petit Pippin makes. Her softies are my favorite!
12. I’d cuddle under warm and bright throw any day.

You might also like:
A library
{Good for you, good for others} Men (not) in black
{the colors of happiness} fields of flowers
{this weekend} let's not wear our hair in a ponytail


You guys…..we bought a house!Now you know what I’ve been doing these past few weeks – along with working tirelessly on planning another round of 24 Merry Days. I still can’t believe we are home owners…..sounds pretty grown-up, doesn’t it? :)

Back to the house shopping the Berkeley housing market is not joke – so tough to get into! There are too many people wanting to live here and not enough houses coming on the market, so guess what…..bidding wars for every home! And we’re not talking $10 or $20 over asking…way more! And making making all cash offers on top of it. It’s insane!

But that’s all behind us now…..and we’re starting a brand new chapter :) I wanted to wait until we closed to share the news with you all – I am so superstitious! But we  got the keys yesterday and I wanted to share some pictures…not a full tour because I haven’t snapped too many pictures yet, but a little preview :)

The home is older, built in 1920 but has been well loved and cared for over the years, so we don’t have to do too much before we move in – which is perfect since we want to be in there before the holidays :) But oh, do we have dreams for this home, so many things we want to do! It’s so weird, thinking that this is all ours and we don’t have to ask anyone to change things! It has four bedroom, and an in-law unit so that our family from Europe can come and stay with us as much as they’d like!

So you’ll ask, what’s the one thing that made us fall in love with this home? The backyard. Hands down. It is a big lot filled with redwood trees, and we’re still in the middle of Berkeley, It’s like living in a cabin, but in the city. It’s magical. And there is a creek that runs through the lot also, so guess what, to access our backyard we have to cross a bridge :) I can’t wait for us to start making memories there. 

I will share more about our dreams for this home soon…but for now, friends. I shall go to bed. It’s been a looong, exciting, tiring week!

 

 

You might also like:
TLS is 2! a survey + a giveaway :)
Life's a beach
Slow down
More is more....

Hola friend! Is your tech feeling a little down, sad that winter is on it’s way? Well, Jessica from Coco + Mingo and I have a little something to make your tech happy :) This is our third post in this happy tech series – and it’s been so much fun working with someone as amazingly talented as Jessica. And well, she’s pretty awesome all around, to be honest ;)

Living the life I imagined….I think it’s an ongoing battle for me! Battle with what? Well, that good old self-esteem, that “but can I really do those things?”, “am I cut out for it?”…the doubts always creep in somehow. But in the end the minute I decide to stop worrying and stop doing, I realize that really it’s not that bad at all. And in fact, starting to live your dreams is pretty damn awesome :) It’s all about jumping in and reaching out for those stars with your two pretty little hands.

Anyway, hope these free wallpapers for your computer and phone make you happy when you look at them :)

Click here to download:
1280x1024 feather wallpaper (PC)
2560x1600 feather wallpaper (13 inch mac)
2880x1800 feather wallpaper (15 inch mac)
Feather phone wallpaper.jpg

Lettering by Jessica from Coco + Mingo, artwork by me. For personal use only. Not for sale or distribution. If shared, please link back to original post – thank you :)

You might also like:
{no more blank walls} Smile!
A rolling herb garden + neon plant markers
DIY giant animal wall stickers (with free printables)
DIY constellation reward board...that glows in the dark!

Me:Madeline, what do you want to be for halloween?”
Madeline, day 1: ” I wanna be Cruella”
M, day 2: “No, actually, I will be the dog and daddy will be Cruella.”
M, day 3: “No, actually, I want to be a lunch box.” (?!?!?!)
M, day 4: “No, actually, I want to be a pumpkin patch.” (?!?!?!?!?!)
M, final call: “Ok, I’ll be the dog and daddy can be Cruella.”

Man, we cut it close….I mean….a lunchbox costume?! Instead, now I get to see my dear hubby dressed up as Cruella de Vil. Best. Halloween. Ever. Also, Olivia wanted to be a pineapple this year and she requested that her baby sister be a strawberry. AND she convinced her good friend at school to dress up as an orange. So it looks like we’ll have a whole fruit bowl, friends :) Happy halloween!

Images: 1. |2. |3. |4. |5.

You might also like:
On to new adventures...
{In love with} Present Time
Weekend DIYs - 4th of July edition
A colorful Christmas

Hubby keeps joking that I am turning into a hippie since we moved to Berkeley…and he might be a tad right :) But hey, nothing wrong with wearing flowers in your hair and trying to live in peace with the environment, right? :) Jokes aside, I’ve been increasingly thinking a lot about chemicals over the past few years, especially since having the girls. What we eat what we put on our skin. I have a mile-long list of things I want to make myself, and on that list was laundry detergent…..so I gave it a try.

And I guess, more than a try because that’s what I now use for all of my laundry! What do I love about it? Well, I LOVE that it’s easy to make and eco-friendly, that is is WAY cheaper than the laundry detergent you buy in a regular store, and that it cleans the girls’ “i-just-rolled-myself-in-the-dirt” clothes super well!

I am sharing my recipe on the West Elm blog today, so make sure to check it out here :)

Credits: Photography by This Little Street and Jacqueline Knapp. This post was conceived in partnership with West Elm. No compensation was received. All thoughts and opinion are my own.

You might also like:
{rock it yourself} cut and sew wonder toys
DIY glitter monogram cake toppers. Make one....or grab one!
{rock it yourself} artificial flower cake topper
Trade & Made: DIY Golden Clouds mobile

Last weekend we went on our annual trip to Little Basin with friends. It was heaven in a campground, lost in a sea of redwood trees. I wanted some fall and it delivered. The crisp air. The smell of the trees. I am not sure what it is about these big old trees, these wise souls. You look up, and you just feel so small and all of the suddenly, it’s like everything is put in perspective. It also helped that we had no cell reception at the campground, so all we did was to enjoy the company of our friends. Nowadays, it’s not so common, you know? I mean, how often do you spend an entire day with friends without checking your text messages or emails at least once?! We made memories for life, and that my friends, is much better than checking out my facebook page :)

The entire weekend was all guitar playing around the camp fire, making s’mores, climbing trees, telling stories.  Aaaaand we may or may not have been drinking this fall sangria all weekend :) I made a big container of it before we left, it was so easy to make and everybody loved it – soooooooo delicious! So I figured I’d share the recipe with you all – see it at the end of the post. I also made a box of these vanilla bean bourbon marshmallows for the adults (I am OBSESSED with this flavor combination right now) and they were a hit even with my friends who don’t like marshmallows. We gulped them down :)

Now all I want is to go on another camping trip, I could live in this redwood forest I swear :) Happy Tuesday, friends, and let me know what you think of the sangria if you try it!

Fall sangria recipe

1 bag of cranberries
2 red apples
2 green apples
2 pears
2 bottles of white wine (pinot griogio etc)
2 liters of hard cider
rosemary and raw sugar for garnish

Cut your apples and pears in cub, and place them with the cranberries at the bottle of your containers. Pour the wine and cider over the fruit, mix and let sit over night in a cool place. Serve cold with rosemary dipped in raw sugar – don’t skip this, it makes a BIG difference :) To get the sugar to stick to the rosemary, quickly dip the rosemary branches in water, get rid of excess water and roll in the sugar. Please enjoy moderately – you can easily cut the ingredients in half if you need less :)

You might also like:
Nutty little mug cake
{live here, eat that} old school
{this weekend} let's make a list...
{like mother, like child} colorful kitchen