My New Venture: Morningtide

I'm so excited to announce my new venture, Morningtide, a small retail shop in Albany, CA that I will co-own with my friend and business partner Lisa Fontaine. Morningtide is a lifestyle shop with a vision to carry thoughtfully curated home accessories, gifts, clothing, and jewelry designed and made by independent artists and craftspeople.
 

We have been so busy and working so hard to make this a tangible reality. With plans to open our doors in early September, we still have a ways to go. We have put together an Indiegogo Campaign to help fund our goal. The money we raise will go toward providing an inviting entrance complete with potted plants and benches, update electrical and make some minor renovations that we were unable to negotiate as part of our lease. Most significantly, we will use our funds for a shop sign and build the retail displays including a dressing room, cash wrap, garment rack, and shelving.

We would appreciate you taking a look at our video and considering a donation. We put together some awesome prizes we feel are a good representation of the products we will carry in the shop. If you're unable to make a donation, feel free to spread the word! And don't forget to follow along on Instagram (@morningtide.shop)!

Thank you so much for your support!

Lucas' 7th Birthday Party

I can't believe Lucas turned 7 on April 26th. Last year he wanted a Pokemon party but we ended up with a magic themed party instead. He's even more into Pokemon now so we did it up with a Pokemon themed party with my own modern spin on it. Remember his 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th birthday parties?

I designed the invitations with a simple and modern take on Pikachu's face. I initially wanted to mail each invitation with a balloon that had a hand drawing of Pikachu's face but it didn't quite work out the way I wanted. Instead, each invitation came with a yellow balloon taped to the yellow backing of the invitation. The custom envelope liner had a photo of Lucas looking at a Pokemon book written in Japanese from our date to the Kinokuniya bookstore. The invitations were mailed in sunny yellow envelopes and sealed with wraparound address labels.

For the party favors, I made Poke Surprise Balls (tutorial here) using crepe paper streamers, a Sharpie and red acrylic paint. Each Poke Ball included a few Pokemon figurines, some Japanese candy, and a colorful whistle.

As usual, we order all the donut holes and make custom paper cones. :)

I made a super easy red velvet cake and cupcakes and just added the Pokemon figurines on top.

We hired a face painter who specializes in Pokemon drawings. Some kids had their full face painted and others, like Lucas, just had a character drawn on their face or arm.

Initially I was going to get Mexican food, but then I realized that Japanese food would be perfect for the theme! The sushi platters from Kyoto actually turned out to be less expensive. I just added Japanese rice crackers, fresh fruit, and some gyoza from Costco which I heated the morning of.

Okay, so the whistles. ;) I thought the whistles in the favors were so cute! I mean, for emergencies or to hook onto backpacks, right? But when all the whistles are going off at the same time and parents are kidding but not kidding about getting me back at their next party... Haha!!!

The cutest Pikachu that ever lived!

Every year, Nick and I tag team on making the pinata. This year I made a Poke Ball using the paper mache method and filled it with Japanese candies and Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks. Nick stayed up until 1 a.m. painting it.

Last year's pinata was a giant playing card that we made out of cardboard. It was unbreakable and hilarious because Nick had to stab it all over just to make it easier to break. This year was the opposite--it busted open just after a few strikes. We had to find ways to make it harder to open and sadly not everyone got a turn.

The look on Lucas' face when it was cake time is everything.

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East Bay Mother's Day Pop Up

Please join us on May 7, 2017 from 11-3 pm for an afternoon of shopping for/with moms, moms-to-be, grandmoms, new moms or pet moms. Enjoy delicious food, drinks, and goodies by these amazing designers/companies.

AYLA GROOM
Handcrafted jewelry, bags and stationery
etsy.com/shop/aylaisadora

CAN CAN CLEANSE
Organic juices, nut milks and cleanses
cancancleanse.com

CARRIE SAXL
Modern, organic jewelry made in CA
carriesaxl.com

GOOD EGGS
Organic grocery delivery and dinner kits
goodeggs.com

HYGGE
Modern denim kimono jackets made in CA
hyggedesign.xyz

JENNY PENNYWOOD
Hand printed textiles ethically made in CA
jennypennywood.com

MELANIE ABRANTES
Handcrafted objects of solid wood and cork
melanieabrantes.com

ZIRAFFE
Minimalist, chic and fun kids clothing
ziraffe.com

New addition:
Berkeley Cellar
Rainbow superfood powder
 

Snacks and sweet treats GOOD EGGS
Savory bites and bread CHASE AGEE of PAIN BAKERY
Korean bites and mocktail SELINA S. LEE of BANCHAN WORKSHOP
Mini ancient botanical favors MOONDELI (limited quantity available)

Favorites: Dinner Kits from Good Eggs

I'm so excited to partner with Good Eggs to bring you a preview of their new Weeknight Dinner Kit launching on April 16th. I've tried other meal kits before and there were always two things I didn't like about them--too much wasteful packaging and it took at least an hour to prep and cook. When I received the Good Eggs Weeknight Dinner Kit, I was so happy to see that the box was small, the ingredients were minimally packaged, and any packaging material that was required was compostable.

The kit came with 3 dinners and each one literally took only 10-15 minutes of prep time. Each recipe is clearly marked A, B and C with corresponding labels on the ingredients. It was easy to distinguish and separate for storing in the fridge.

I decided to make the Mint Pesto Pasta with Spring Peas and Green Garlic first. Initially I thought it wasn't enough food but turns out I had some pesto leftover so I could make a lunch the next day. Score! Lucas and Theo LOVED it! They never had mint and arugula pesto before and they kept asking for more. Score again! The meal came with a giant salad and a yummy red vinaigrette.

Love this on the box!

    I also got a Buh-Bye Box to encourage being fully present at the dinner table.

    Thanks Good Eggs for the amazing Finishing Salt from Omnivore.

    And thank you again for the Fresh 2016 Harvest Olio Nuovo from Other Brother. It was perfect for drizzling at the end of the

    I highly recommend this dinner kit for busy families. It's absurdly fresh, easy, and delicious.

    Here are more details of the Good Eggs Weeknight Dinner Kit:

    • Customers who sign up for the dinner kit receive 3 meals, which can be ordered and delivered at the same time as their weekly groceries (subscription not required).
    • Kit options change weekly
    • Cost is $69.99
    • Promotional pricing in April and May: $49.99 (use code DINNERKIT20 for $20 off your first kit)
    • 1 meal = 3 servings
    • Each weekly menu comes with a Good Eggs seasonal green salad mix and dressing that can be paired with any meal. (pairings suggested on recipes)
    • This spring, there will be 2 omnivore meals and 1 vegetarian
    • Coming later this year: vegetarian, paleo and other options

    + Ceramic bowls by Colleen Hennessy
    + Napkins by Sweetgum Textles
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    Favorites: School Lunches With Fluf Lunch Bags

    For many parents, including myself, school lunches can be a little daunting--what to pack each day, deciding between a warm lunch or cold, not wanting to spend too much money if it's going to come back uneaten, etc. Today, I've partnered with modern kids online shop Ziraffe who sent over some of the cutest lunch and snack packs from Fluf. They are washable, have a water-resistant BPA-free lining, durable, super cute, and made of organic cotton. I've paired them with our favorite lunch box to show you some lunch ideas that work for both Lucas and Theo.

    Theo's nut-free preschool lunch in the Cactus Zipper Lunch Bag (left):

    • pomegranate seeds
    • cucumber slices
    • apple slices
    • brown rice cake
    • mandarin orange slices
    • kiwi
    • yogurt covered pretzel (dessert)
      note: I usually include a protein such as string cheese or a sun butter sandwich but his class was having rice and beans that day so I omitted it.

    Lucas' first grade lunch in the Grey Zipper Lunch Bag (right):

    • blackberries
    • kiwi
    • olives
    • string cheese
    • peanut butter and jelly sandwich
    • sliced apples
    • organic dark chocolate coconut chips (WF bulk bin!)

    A few other school lunch tips:

    • Either make the lunch with your kid or ask them what they'd like in their lunch
    • Give them a choice (i.e. do you want pears or apples? a sandwich or a quesadilla?)
    • Pack the night before--for apple slices, cut them in the morning and have one of the kids rub lemon on them to prevent from turning brown
    • For kids who hate bread crust, I do one of two things: I either leave it on because sometimes my kids are so hungry they eat the whole thing, or I cut off the crust and put it in the actual sandwich (they can't see it or taste it, but they're eating it!)

    I bought most of these from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. The cost for each lunch comes out to under $4 and all of it minus the olives and pretzel is organic.

    I supplemented their lunch with some snacks. These Fluf snack packs are so convenient for school or just everyday use. I love the velcro closure for little hands and how roomy they are. I put cut-up carrots and gluten-free pretzels in the Fluf Mama Love Snack Pack for Theo. Lucas has raw almonds and cut-up carrots in his Hi Snack Pack.

    The lunch bags hold a lot (probably even artwork and jacket!).

    I love that there's a sturdy interior pocket for a water bottle or an ice pack.

    + This post is in partnership with Ziraffe. All words and opinions are my own.

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    Gift Giving with UncommonGoods

    The beginning of the year always seems to start off slowly and then before I know it, there's little league, swimming, summer camps, and birthday parties galore. I'll admit it--I'm a last minute gift giver and I'm always scrambling. Today, I've partnered with UncommonGoods to show you my gift picks for Nick's birthday, my girls trip, and my favorite gifts for Home Decor here above).

    1 / Blah Blah Throw  2 / Minimalist Teak Wall Shelf  3 / Out the Door Wall Mounted Key Holder  4 / Handwoven Guatemalan Zig Zag Wool Rug  5 / Come In, Go Away Doormat

    First off, not only does UncommonGoods have something for everyone, they are always working toward making their company more environmentally friendly, socially responsible and a rewarding place to work. UncommonGoods focuses on handmade, recycled and organic products, give their employees benefits and living wages, and is a founding member of B Corporation, an organization created to help customers understand the social and environmental impact of their purchases. I'm in total support of companies like this.   

    One gift I need to get this year is for Nick who will be turning 40 this year! There are so many unique Gifts For Men at UncommonGoods, it was really hard to choose. If you know Nick though, you know he loves beer, the outdoors, camping and music.

    1 / West Coast Style IPA Brewing Kit  2 / Personalized Mixtape Doormat  3 / Adventure Blanket  4 / Portable Camp Grill and Charger

    Every year my girlfriends and I go on a big trip and we do a take on Oprah's favorite things. I need to get 10 gifts each under $10. UncommonGoods has a sweet Bridesmaid Section -- I love that I can buy one thing and split them up for my girlfriends.

    1/ Wine Soap, Set of 4  2 / Sweet Treat Hand Cream Set  3 / Chakra Bath Salts Set  4 / 7 Chakras Handmade Soap Set

    + This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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    Favorites: New Tea Collection / Australia

    The latest Tea Collection line celebrates the adventurous spirit of Australia. Remember Lucas and Theo rocking the collections inspired by Japan, Italy and India? I've always wanted to travel to Australia--it was one of the top picks for our honeymoon. I love all the inspiration from the animals, the surf, the sun and the incredible natural beauty of Australia.

    To kick off the Australia inspired collection, I took Lucas on a day date to San Francisco--I've heard Sydney is very similar--where we started the day at Tartine Manufactory, then headed to Ocean Beach and Land's End, and ending our date with an amazing lunch at Outerlands.

    Lucas and Theo really love all the graphic t-shirts, and cozy playwear pants and shorts. The items shown in this post include the Pacific Surf Graphic Tee (you can see Lucas modeling it on the site!), Ishigaki Swim Trunks, Shima Rash Guard, and the Side Stripe Shorts. I just placed another order of the new arrivals and can't wait for them to put them on so I can snap some pics.

    + This post is in partnership with Tea Collection and contains affiliate links. All words and opinions are my own.

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    Recipe: Gluten Free Buckwheat Brownies

    I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. Oops! I thought I would have a lot more time after quitting my day job to post more regularly but I have been keeping busy with kid stuff and freelance work...oh, and getting a bit politically active.  Honestly, what did I do when I had my other job?

    Anyway, I'm back (mostly) with this awesome recipe for Gluten Free Buckwheat Brownies from the Alternative Baker book by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. The original recipe calls for Chestnut Flour but says a good alternative (to the alternative flour) is buckwheat flour which is what I had on hand. These brownies were dark and fudgey with that familiar crinkly top. So good! I ended up slicing them up into narrow rectangles to feed Lucas' soccer team (one of the kids on the team is gf) so I could have some too. ;) Enjoy!

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    Best of 2016

    So this year's 2016 Best Nine on Instagram consisted of a mix of family, our home, me, food, and a of course Lucas and Theo. For this year's holiday card (family photos by Sarah Hebenstreit) I decided to highlight our best six.

    This year was a crazy mix of highs and lows, sideways and zig zags, especially toward the end of the year with the insane political climate and sudden celebrity deaths. I'm so grateful for all the love and support this year from family and friends. Happy new year!

    1. Lucas turned 6 and had a magic themed party.

    2. Theo turned 4 and had a "waffle" themed party.

    3. Lisa and Nick celebrated their 11th anniversary (photo by Sarah Hebenstreit).

    4. Lucas started first grade and LOVES it.

    5. Theo is in his last year of preschool and wants to stay.

    6. Lisa quit her day job after nearly 20 years.

    Yep, so this one was probably the biggest thing that happened for our family this year. Many people didn't realize I had another job aside from Good on Paper. I was a senior designer for a large engineering/environmental/architecture firm in Oakland. And many people at that job had no idea I had my own company. The decision to leave was not easy, but it was the right move for me. Earlier this year, I got shingles and it was bad. LIke, really bad. My body was telling me I was spreading myself too thin with two jobs, two kids, a house, a husband and all the crazy schedules and things to think about in between.

    In late October, I was asked by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge (one of the most inspiring, influential women I know) to speak on a panel on her book tour for In the Company of Women. I was incredibly honored yet scared shitless to talk in front of so many people all wanting to know about my life and business. The whole night was a huge success--so much so that I was inspired by my own words and took to the big leap to go freelance full time and spend more time with my family. So far so good and I'm feeling way less stressed out about having to rush to work and leave work on time to pick up the kids, etc. It's a huge adjustment but things will fall into place soon enough. Feeling grateful for the most awesome boss and co-workers/friends.

    Despite all the bad that happened this year, so many good things also happened:
    A trip to Yosemite with friends
    Lucas survived summer camp and getting dirty at Trackers
    Lucas loved playing soccer on a team with all his friends
    Theo started swim lessons
    One of Lisa's photos was selected to be in the Tiny Atlas Quarterly Solas Photo Show
    Lucas and Theo modeled kids clothing for brands like Tea Collection, Ziraffe and Keen Kids
    Nick played an awesome CD release show with Your Song My Song
    Lisa went to LA for an awesome baby shower
    Lucas was a ring bearer for my cousin's wedding
    Went to another amazing wedding for Eric and Jaime
    Lucas lost his first tooth!
    Lisa hosted an awesome East Bay Holiday Pop Up (maybe I'll do a spring one too?)
    Took the kids to their first peaceful protest at Hands Around Lake Merritt
    Helped with a logo design for Women Watching Washington

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    Jackson Family Photo Shoot: December 2016

    I can't believe it's the end of the year! I managed to stay on top of our holiday photos this year, booking our super talented friend Sarah of Modern Kids to shoot our family's photos--she's been taking our photos since Lucas was a year old (remember last year's shoot and the year before that?). I'm always so amazed at the final photos. My boys are so crazy--I mean, this year Sarah was lucky enough to see Lucas' frank AND beans! OMG!

    I bribed the boys with donuts and the promise of more treats and a movie after the shoot. Still, the frank and beans came out. Ha!

    We went to Codornices Park in Berkeley for the second half of our shoot. I also decided to an outfit change would be fun. Ha! SO unlike me, but this only happens once a year. We set up a picnic under this amazing tree.

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