I just spent a weekend like I hadn’t spent in a long time – simple and magical all at once. We went camping with the girls for the very first time with an old friend that I met in Ireland. After months of packing and moving and trying to adapt to a new schedule, these couple of days were the perfect mini vacation. We packed our car with no real plan in mind and let nature show us the way. Life, simplified.

The girls were SO excited to be on their first camping trip, and I have to say, so was I. I used to camp so much when I was little  and absolutely loved it, and was waiting to see who they would react. They rocked it, and it was actually so easy to be out there with kids so little – all they wanted was to run among the trees, find hiding places and make bows and arrows out of sticks they found.

On Saturday we decided to check out a nearby beach, and we couldn’t believe our eyes at the beauty around us – we saw seals and dolphins and flights of pelicans…it was simply magical, because we weren’t on a tourist boat trying to make all that happen. It felt so raw and honest to be on the beach and see it all.

After our walk at the beach we stopped at a little organic strawberry farm called Swanton Farm. My friends knew about it and told us we HAD to go. I am so happy they showed this farm to us, because it is probably the most soulful place I’ve ever been too. They sell strawberries of course, but also anything made with strawberry – jam, pies, strawberry apple cider even! It’s cosy, they have couches and big tables and board games and a banjo and funny old pictures on the walls.

And my very favorite part? You pay and make your own change yourself. Nobody is at the register. They just trust that you’ll do the right thing. That place represents everything that’s soulful and honest in this world….and it got me thinking, why aren’t more places like this nowadays? Shouldn’t soulful and honest be the norm rather than the exception?  Some will say it’s utopian to put that much trust into people you don’t know, but as far as I am concerned, that’s how the world should be.

Credit: All pictures by Audrey Smit and my friend Julien G. 

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You know one thing about moving to California that surprised me, friends? The nights can get so chilly! I’ve always been the “girl that’s cold”, I blame it on poor blood circulation but I’m always more dressed than anyone else…so when we moved I geared up for the chilly evenings and bought a gazillions blankets. And when I saw these super pretty modern-weave oversized storage bins  at West Elm, I knew that they would be the perfect thing to store the blankets during the day and carry them from indoors to outdoors for our dinners al fresco.

But hey, I could not possible just leave this pretty bin without a little touch of color, you know? ;)  You can take the girl out of the color, but you can’t take the color out of the girl. I thought of updating the bin with a modern tartan pattern because to me there is nothing that screams blankets more than tartan – but I didn’t want it to look to traditional. After putting together my little rolling herb garden, I knew I wanted more mint in the home, so I used that as the base color and paired it up with more fun colors – pink, green, coral and blue.

PS: West Elm is having a blanket sale until Monday. My favorite are the ombre throws, so pretty!

- modern-weave oversized storage bin from West Elm.
- Acrylic paint
- Embroidery thread
- Super thin steel wire – I used 28 gauge wire- to make a makershift needle that you can bend enough to go through the weaving,
- pliers
- brushes
- masking tape, two sizes for the stripes. I used 3/4 of an inch and 1.5 inches wide.
- water based polycrylic in satin or gloss to protect the paint.

1. Apply masking tape about 6.5 inches from the bottom of the bin.
2. Paint your base colors with a brush – I thought of doing spray painting here, but was afraid it would mess up the weaving when I needed to thread it later on. Give it too coats if needed, but make sure to spread the paint as well as possible so there aren’t any big lump of paint stuck anywhere.
3. Think about what pattern you want to do on your bin. Start with your first colors – apply masking tape, paint, and once it is dry, remove the tape. Repeat for the process for each color. Note: Painting stripes on weaves can be tricky, and you won’t get something completely straight, but here are a couple tricks to make it easier: A) Make sure to apply the paper very well to follow the movement of the weaves, and B) never put too much paint on your brush, this way there are less chances that extra paint will “escape” to the sides.
4. Take off the masking tape. Note: Some of the paint might chip off when you take off the masking tape, make sure you save a little extra paint to patch these up.
5. Apply a coat of protectant on the basket so the paint won’t chip to easily.
6. Make a makeshift needles with the steel wire – something string enough to pull the thread through but that can bend to go through the weaving. Cut a 1 and 1/2 inches long, tie a not at the end and thread it. Pull on the knot some more to make the end as small as possible – that’s when the pliers might come in handy.
7. Cut pieces of embroidery threads about 7 feet long – long enough to go all around your bin.
8. Thread your basket horizontally all around the bin and repeat for as many lines as you want to create. Tie a knot when done and cut loose ends. Note: If some of  the whole are plugged with paint (it happened to me quite a bit), just use a nail/thick needle to make a whole through.
9. Et voila! You’re done. Fill up your basket with all your blankets!

Disclaimer: This post was put together in collaboration with West Elm. They provided the modern-weave oversized storage bin to me. All ideas, words and photography for the post are my own. 

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Something in green, red and yellow for ladies and the little ones, inspired by all them pretty leaves out there. For the ladies, how fun is this vintage lamp – the neon is the perfect pop of color! And for the little ones, I love this bookend deer. It it would so darling in a nursery. Happy Thursday, friends!

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L: Swedish home via Hus o Hem| R: Malted-chocolate toasted marshmallow cake by Sweetapolita.

 A home all in black and white…and then some, because of course it had to have a little bit of color! ;) Loving all the graphics accents, the stripes ceiling, the bold wallpapers used throughout the house. Most of the black and white homes that I see leave me a bit cold, because, well, they feel cold to me. But somehow the owners of this house managed to make their house look warm, happy and welcoming. They also did a great job mixing mid-century pieces with more modern ones. I’d move in, pretty much any day!

And yum, that cake? I mean, did you hear the name of it? 6-layer malted-chocolate AND toasted marshmallow cake….it’s like campfire heaven just arrived on your kitchen table! It looks like the most perfect thing in the history of cakes, and might very well be Olivia’s next birthday cake. Check out more pictures and the recipe here on Sweetapolita. Happy Tuesday, friends!

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Happy Monday, friends! Sorry I’ve been missing last week, I’ve been sick and it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns around our house. Or maybe it has been about unicorns a little bit? When we left New York one of my very good friend gave the girls these awesome Handlebar Heroes unicorn and horse heads (she got them here) to put on the girls scooters. Well, if the girls loved their scooters before, they are now deeply IN LOVE with them. They have conversations with their scooters, they “feed” their scooters and they want to take them everywhere they go. Everybody keeps stopping us in the street to ask where we got them. Aren’t they just so cool? They fit on bikes too I think, and I love how they add magic to the everyday.

PS: I know Olivia isn’t wearing a helmet, she just wanted to show off her beautiful unbrushed messy hair to y’all ;) Jokes aside, we were just riding in front of the house to take pictures, otherwise the girls always wear their super fun bunny helmets

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Today I’ve got something fun to share with you, a little something that I set up in our new home in Berkeley – this herb garden on casters! A few weeks back I saw this mint kitchen cart in heaven IKEA, and just had to have it even though I had no clue what I’d do with it- envision my husband rolling his eyes in IKEA and thinking “great, more c**p in the house”. He’ll forgive me I know ;) Anyway, last week a couple of my herb pots landed on it and I figured, wouldn’t it be fun to make this cart a little rolling garden?!

And when I saw Oh Joy’s new studio (that gorgeous mint smeg fridge!), I knew right there I had my inspiration to update this little cart. I love what Joy did with her Ikea furniture, and thought I’d put her DIY to a test. A bit of gold contact paper, some washi tape and voila. So easy! And the best part is, you get tired of it…you tear it all apart and you can start over with new colors and a new style. I’ve said this before, but I am so deeply in love with contact paper….and washi tape….and casters – after all, all of our toy boxes are on casters!

FIY, you’ll might notice that a few of the plants on the cart are fake plastic plants from IKEA. Yeaaaaah, so about that…well, I figured that, with my famous black thumb and all, I’d better include something that I know will stay green in the long term ;) But aside from the fake plants, I included a bunch of cooking herbs and plants (sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, etc), as well as a few flowers that you can cook with (lavender, violets). I hope I can keep this garden green and growing!

The best thing about a having a garden on wheels is that I can put it outside when the weather is nice, bring it home if it’s too cold and even put it in different rooms in the house depending on when the sun falls over the seasons.

And to go along with this little garden of mine, I made some fun plant markers using wooden plant markers, chalkboard contact paper and washi tape. Again super easy! Originally I was planning on using a liquid chalk pen, but then I figured I wanted the names to stay on, so I used a white sharpie instead. The rest is history :)

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My lovely ladies, don’t you love these super feminine rose and white headphones by Frends? And while you listen to your favorite tunes, the little ones can go around your home in these cutest handmade metallic moccassins by Freshly Picked. Happy Thursday, friends!

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Image source.

Fall is by far my favorite season….and so I ask, will it ever show up in California? My leather boots are itching to get out of the closet and my jackets are glued to the weather app for any signs of chill temperatures. People here keep telling me it’s going to get cold but I just have a hard time believing them. I know I know, gotta have faith. In any case, here’s a little color inspiration – I love these softer, sweet colors, they remind me of a beautiful fall sunset. Happy Wednesday, friends!

PS: Also, are you ready for the rainy days?

1. Plaid wrapping paper sheets at the Trading Post.|2. Sweater by Sheila Couture. |3. Apple & pear bowl set at Leif. |4. a little house for the birdies by Hubler Furniture. |5. Chester the Racoon at Brika. |6. Card by Little Low.|7. Chunky throw by Ceannis.

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Present time is one of my favorite brand, and you’ll easily guess why: everything they sell is fun, modern and colorful. A TLS soulmate of a shop, really :) I also love the geometric influence and the scandinavian influence. I have to admit, Present Time is kinda simply perfect. The only problem? They only sell wholesale – I know you feel my pain, all of you who like shopping in your PJs ;)

Below are some of my favorite objects from Present Time‘s new fall 2013 collection. I’ll take one of each, thank you very much sir. Loving the geo vases especially!

Oh, and by the way friends,sorry the blog is still a bit slow these days – getting used to our new life and schedule has been a bit more challenging than I anticipated, but all is great and I promise I’ll share pictures of our new life and our new place soon. Happy Tuesday, friends!

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To be honest with you, I used not care much for the phone on my camera because the pictures I could take with my DSLR were so much better. Until recently, when my big DSLR started acting up on me, and I just had to use my phone as I had nothing else to capture family memories. And the more I did it, the more I realized how easy and fun it was – and that really, you can take great pictures with a little phone if you know a few things:

1. Grab your phone. The worst picture if the one you didn’t take – and same goes with videos. In the end, the technical and compositional details don’t really matter – the most important thing is that you take a picture and capture the momemts, the emotions, the details of it all. And take more than one picture while you are at it, we’re in the digital age after all! Just make sure to delete all of the ones that aren’t worth it, except for your 1 or 2 favorite ones. Taking loads of photos will also increase your chances of taking some that are good.

2. Turn off your flash. Unless it’s pitch black outside, you probably don’t need your flash. The problem with the straight-on flash most phones is that it blinds people, gives them red-eyes and can make people look like ghosts. When inside, try to look for natural light – a window (like I used my my selfie below), a slider, or an open door. And if your picture gets too noisy or grainy, just convert it to black & white – an old trick of the trade :)

3. Zoom with your feet. The zoom you have on your camera does nothing more than blow up the existing image, resulting in pretty bad quality photos. You’re much better off moving closer – plus, think about it, if you take a lot of pics and move a lot to take them, you won’t have to go to the gym anymore :D By moving with your feet you’ll also learn to better compose your pictures since you’ll have to think about what you want to include as you’re taking them.

4. Learn about the rules of composition. Most of these rules evolve around the the rule of thirds – which is more or less this:iImagine that your image is divided into 9 equal segments by 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines. According to the rule of thirds, you should position the most important elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect. Most smart phones, including the iPhone, have an option to turn on a 9-box grid when you look at your camera settings. Starting looking at leading lines, ways to frame your photos, symmetry and simplicity….the better you know the rules of composition, the better you can break them.

5. Take note of the light. Try to avoid extreme low and extreme high light conditions. Photography is all about lighting. Whether you use a camera phone or a DSLR, you’ll get better photos when you’re shooting in better light. Better light doesn’t mean brighter; the best natural light you’ll get is right after dawn, and again just prior to dusk. Cloudy days are also great, as the light that’s outside is very soft and diffused. Believe it or not, the light on a cloudy day is much better than at midday under a bright blue sky which can create harsh shadow or “burn” parts of your subject. And low light situation, try to stand very still (lean against something if you have to) as to avoid camera blur.

6. Think about your background.  Don’t let the background steal too much attention. When taking pictures of the girls at home, I have favorite spots where I know the clutter won’t show too much – because, really, didn’t anybody think that house was mess free?! Objects popping out from behind someone’s head distracts from the image you were trying to capture. If you have no plain background on hand and there is clutter everywhere, simply fill the image with your subject. But this rule is totally breakable, and should also look for “interesting” background that will add interest or texture to your pictures. 

8. Curate and edit your favorite pictures. I rarely take pictures and share them right away. I take a lot of pictures, and it’s important for me to only select my favorite ones. I can then do a tiny bit of work on them so they look as nice as they should. There are many apps available to crop, adjust brightness or contrast, and overall enhance your photos…and they are so easy to use! My favorite app for photo editing is vscocam (I am addicted!), but Camera+, Snapseed and Afterlight are also great ones. And if I can add my two cents – hey it’s my blog: ditch the filters, they’re entirely overused. Instead of relying on funky colors and borders, let them stand out for their own beauty.

9. Experiment! Don’t always go for the obvious shot. Dare to look for different perspectives – shoot at waist level or from above, for example. If you are taking a picture of a child, get down to their level. And always think about how you can compose your picture differently. You don’t always have to “get it all in.”By choosing what goes into your picture you can draw a lot more interest to some details – like the tiny feet of the little ones watching the puppet show. Go outside your comfort zone, try something different and have fun with it!

10. Capture real life. Look around you. And I mean, REALLY look. What are the things that you’ll want to remember ten years from now? A moment, an emotion, a detail –  that cup of tea that you just shared with your best friend when you asked her to be your bridesmaid, or the cherries that you just picked with your kids at their grandparents. People don’t always have to be looking or smiling when you take a picture, try to capture life as it comes – your pictures will get that much better if they feel like “real life”. Downplay the situation and shoot even when people aren’t prepared. Smiling pictures are way overrated, and everybody can do that. Try to look at life the way it is.

And don’t forget a little photo etiquette: all that being said, please try to remember your photo etiquette. Camera phones make it so easy to discretely take pictures where we go that we forget that sometimes people would like to be asked permission first. Also, mind the people that are with you. While taking pictures to collect memories is great, don’t spend all of your time on your phone taking pics, editing and sharing them on Instragram while with your friends. Take some pics and put your phone down, the rest can wait. Enjoy the moment. Your photos will be that much more valuable to you if you’re not head down into your phone the entire time!

All pictures by This Little Street. Taking with Iphone 5 and edited with vscocam

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