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midtown bizarre.

Last weekend I popped up at The Midtown Bizarre, a monthly curated maker market held at Identity Coffees in Sacramento. I’ve had a booth here a few times now, and I love coming back each time. My booth: I had some Mom pennants for Mother’s Day plus a build your own flower crown bar.

As a maker, I love how it’s a super easy set-up, I get to meet new (awesome!) makers, parking is a breeze, and…coffee! I tried the sparkling cascara (“coffee cherry tea”) beverage made with the dried skins of the coffee fruit.

The coordinator, Vanessa, is super woman! Her family owns the coffee business and she curates the monthly markets. She also takes the best photos.

This month I got to meet:

Andie of Andie the Kitchen WitchAndie’s body care line includes natural deodorants, salves and balms, body sprays, and even some stuff for pups. I got one of her ‘Headache Go Away’ aromatherapy perfumes. Sadly, I’ve already had to use it, but I’m happy to report that this stuff is amazing!!!

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David of Best Supply Co. The best supplies: candles, body/room sprays, facial oil, and beard oil, obvi. I spent a good amount of time smelling all the lovely candle smells.

Pearl of PXC DesignsPearl creates with mostly wire and today she brought some pieces with bead/stone accents. I like the simplicity of Pearl’s designs, but somehow they still make a bold statement, and they can go from work to party.

Sandra of Sandra Vargas Art. Sandra is a graphic designer and illustrator. Take a closer look at her art and you’ll see she uses all kinds of mediums – colored pencil, computer painting…. I think it’s the big eyes in her work that makes them so intriguing; that, and her use of color. I enjoy the pop culture references, too.

Heather of Mega Babe Vintage. First of all, I love it when clothes are organized in rainbow order! Heather curates vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories, and she sells them at very reasonable prices. I enjoyed watching shoppers pick out their favorite pieces.

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Karla of Cru Chocolate. I met Karla at a previous Midtown Bizarre, and she was back today with more of her delicious chocolates. She even has a (new to me) line of drinking chocolates! Yum! Check out her beautiful packaging designs and read about her story on her website.

Such amazing work and lovely people! 🙂 Thank you to Vanessa and Identity Coffees for hosting a forum for makers to meet and share their work with the community!

nearcation’s all I ever wanted.

For our second wedding anniversary, Hubs and I planned an almost 24-hour nearcation adventure across the Bay in San Francisco. Since we thoroughly enjoyed last year’s SF nearcation, and there is so much to see, do, and eat in the City, we decided to do it again. Plus, we lazy and didn’t want to drive or fly far away. 😉

This time, we stayed at Hotel Nikko. I love the art in the rooms and throughout the hotel, and the squishy beds, and the touch pad on the nightstand that welcomes you by name. They have the most amazing line of bath products, too; the custom scent is bamboo lavender, but to me it has notes of chai spices which I love. Also, I’m into the separate stand up shower and bath options. Note to self for future home.

The hotel sits between Union Square and the Tenderloin. I made sure we stopped to see some of the mural art nearby. A lot of the ones I wanted to spot were either painted over or grafittied over, but I got to see the peace mural. Ya!

We had dinner in the Tenderloin at Onsen, a bath house with restaurant. There’s no sign on the door which makes it feel super exclusive. Everything we ordered was impressive; I was even super excited by the tea pot. Plates are shareable which is so fun when you want to try everything.

The next day, per Hubby’s request, we ordered room service for breakfast. We are big room service fans! Everything was so good even after traveling through the hotel to get to us and enduring a food photoshoot. 🙂

A quick chair hang out in the lobby after check out, then to get caffeine wasted! We stopped at the Chai Bar for a tasty beverage and some snacks. To our delight they had a chai flight option (You know how I love trying all the chai!) that came with an animal cracker snack.

Then, Hubs was still hungry so we wandered to Blue Bottle a few blocks away for more caffeine and savory sustenance. This was our first Blue Bottle experience (unless you count coffee ice cream made with Blue Bottle coffee).

And then before we knew it, so ended our quick nearcation adventure! We decided on hitching a ride back to the East Bay via ferry. Twas a weekend of firsts – this was also our first time on the ferry. I loved it! – Minus the part where we had to be inside the ferry to purchase our tickets. Once I was outside on the deck I had all the I’m on a boat feels. Totes taking visitors on the ferry from now on.

The end. Until our next getaway! Local tourist much? Share where you like to spend a day/weekend below.

bath bombs and bon bons!

This year for birthmonth I celebrated with a chocolate factory tour, a picnic, a mini hike, a kava bar lounge session, and a bath bombs and bon bons party! The last mostly happened because I love alliteration. And themed celebrations. And crafts. 🙂

We had bon bon treats and ’90s jams all night. I found lots of bon bon options at Trader Joe’s (and I added edible shimmer to some of them for added fancy) and at a local chocolatier. I also found the tiniest plates for all the tiny foods.

My maker friend extraordinaire, Angel, hosted and taught the bath bomb part of the evening. I have the craftiest friends! Check out all these fun supplies. The scent of the different essential oils filled the room. Ahhh-roma therapy! Ready to craft! But first, a wefie to capture this Breaking Bad moment.

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We started with a warm up craft: body oils. We filled these cute containers with base oils (I used sweet almond oil), Vitamin E (for a preservative), a few drops of rose hips, and an essential oil combination of our choosing (I chose lavender and peppermint).

Then, the main event: bath bombs! We sifted the dry ingredients – baking soda and citric acid – and mixed together the wet ingredients – witch hazel, safflower oil, essential oils, and natural colorings. Then, we got our hands (or gloves, rather) messy – we mixed the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the powder was completely colored. Then we packed the mixture into our molds.

For added fun: biodegradable glitter/shimmer, mini molds, and mixing colors!

Angel showed us a few ways to wrap and store the bath bombs, too. This was a super fun activity for birthmonth, and would also be a great handmade gift idea (hint, hint – Mom’s Day!), a fun DIY spa day with friends, or the start of a new business venture! 😉 Big hugs and thank yous to Angel for hosting and sharing bath bomb wisdoms! Have you dabbled in bath bomb making? What are your favorite scent combos? Share below!  

sunnies and snacks.

I love planning events, trying my hand at making different foods to share, and setting up activities for friends to try. For birthmonth I threw a picnic party – great friends and yummy snacks all afternoon made for a fun and relaxing day.

For snacks I made tabbouleh, a green salad with tahini lemon dressing, sunomono cucumber salad, veggie wraps, and French onion dip. I also gathered shortbread cookies, nuts, mandarins, blackberries, chips, and black sesame crackers. My new fave (accidentally made) snack: what I’m dubbing “tabbouleh nachos” topped with Green yogurt French onion dip. I can’t wait to make it again!

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I set up some crafty play stations – origami and photo decorating. Plus park friendly activities – bubbles, lawn bowling, dominos, and sportsballs (Hubby taught me how to properly throw a football!). My niece also brought the Bean Boozled jelly bean game. Gross fun!

And party favors because that’s how I roll: everyone got a pair of sunnies.

More picnics please! What are some of your go-to picnic foods and activities? Do share!

earth day.

On Earth Day I hung out at the Makers Workspace Open Studios event for fun creative times. The space was set up with free activities and some of the artists and makers in residence had their doors open for visitors to browse and shop.

Kyla of Impressed by Nature had a flower pressing workshop. We used her travel size flower presses and she shared all the basics of flower pressing. We pressed jacaranda, daisies, hydrangeas, and bougainvilleas. I can’t wait to open up my press in a month to see the end result!

Christie and Veena of Floretta Designs hosted a flower crown making station and had bouquets for sale. It was all kinds of lovely. Plus, they had a backdrop for a post-flower crown making flower crown photoshoot (of course!). My kind of booth! It is safe to assume I wore my crown around for the rest of the day (and then I hung it on my front door afterwards!).

Katie of Wandering Falcon held a nature drawing session, too. She had an amazing collection of nature specimens for us to observe and draw, and lots of drawing utensils including watercolor pencils! I tried my hand at drawing zoomed-in sections of different specimens; it was fun to work with the magnifying glass to see all the detail. Nature is so impressive!

Yay Earth Day! How did you celebrate? Share below!

planter party.

Free Home Depot workshop? I’m in!

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Home Depot has monthly DIH or do it herself workshops. The workshops are made for beginners, and they walk you through a simple home project. This month we made wall planters.

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The DIH workshops are generally taught in demo fashion and you have to purchase supplies and make your project at home. But tonight we got hands on access and got to take home what we made for free. Score!

Our instructor cut the wood for us and we sanded and stained, and attached all the hardware.

This was probably dangerous, but I totally used power tools while wearing sandals! 😛

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With the right tools and space, this is a super easy project. I’m not a big fan of the sawdust (it’s messy and I don’t want to breathe it in), but I did enjoy the staining part (just like painting!).

Tahdah! Now, what plant to use and where to hang?

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Home Depot might be my Third Thursday hangout from now on…

it’s pronounced CHO.

Chocolate!!! A TCHO chocolate tour has been on my list of local activities for a while now. What better time to go than for my birthday! I invited friends to play hooky with me (it was a work day, after all), and come celebrate at the chocolate factory.

Inside, the waiting area is so colorful and vibrant. Their eye for design extends from their chocolate packaging to their chocolate space!

We began our visit with a company history and chocolate making lesson. Chocolate rewards were given for all correct answers! Then it was off to tour the factory space.

No jewelry, no false eyelashes, and no sandals allowed. I even had to cover up my nail polish with gloves. Also, no pictures so you’re stuck here with this photo of me and Hubs in our factory suits.

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Before stepping into the factory our shoes even got a quick cleanse. Once inside, we learned about each machine in the factory and our tour guide took us through each step in the TCHO chocolate making process.

After the tour, you guessed it, it was time for chocolate tasting! We started off with a chocolate in liquid form with sugar crystals – an intermediate step in the chocolate making process. I really liked the crunchiness in this unrefined product. Then, we sampled TCHO single-origin bars, and a select few flavored chocolate bars.

We experienced each piece using the “5 S’s”: smell, snap, sit, swirl, swallow. Fun fact: Dark chocolate, if tempered correctly, will have a distinct *snap* – listen for it when trying out a new bar.

My fave of the samples: the cinnamon spice bites, recently released. We also got to sample special edition “Maker’s Series Bar #5”: sesame crisp (sesame seeds, puffed rice, and sea salt) and our host pulled out the previous release (strawberry cream and nibs) because it was my birthday. The latter reminded me of strawberry Pocky.

And then we ran wild in the TCHO market where we sampled even more chocolate bars and stocked up on what seems like a lifetime supply of sweets.

Where my chocolate snobs at? 😉 Do you have a favorite chocolate? Do they have tours? I wanna go!