Life Was Keen in 20-13

At the end of every year, I do this thing. I make up a rhyming slogan/motto for the new year to come. I think it started some time in high school, but the ones I remember are from 2007 and on. For example.

My 2006 must have been rough, because my slogan for the new year was “Take me to heaven in 2007.” Jesus did not do so, though I pleaded with him many times. I must have changed my outlook on life that year, because my next motto was, “2008, it’s gonna be great.”

It wasn’t great. I aimed lower. “2009, it’s gonna be fine.” And indeed it was, just barely. In 2010, I went for something more specific. “Date some men in 2010.” I did.

Anyway, you get the picture. This past year’s was “Life is keen in 20-13,” and the year surpassed my hopes and expectations. Full of change, growing pains, healing, new friendships, and a renewed sense of hope for the future… I’m excited for what’s in store for 2014.

There’s not too much that rhymes with “14”¬†(or 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19, for that matter). Keen (already used), mean, bean. I’m gonna have to get creative and call the year “twenty-one-four.”

Some words that rhyme with four: bore, core, door, gore, more, pore, roar, slore (hybrid of slut-whore). My first instinct is to say, “Don’t be a slore in 20-1-4,” but considering that isn’t a big struggle of mine (no judgment if it’s a struggle of yours), I’m deciding against it.

Other ideas.

“Don’t be mean in 20-14.”
“Help me, I’m po,’ in 20-1-4” (a la the movie Bridesmaids– anyone remember what scene this is from?)
“Life ain’t a bore in 20-1-4”
“Clear face and clear pores in 20-1-4” (UGH hormonal PMS breakouts no more, please God)

Anyway, whatever I decide to go with, I’m hoping for another amazing year with more (good) change, clarity/direction, and tons of fun.

Happy New Year, friends! As always, thank you so much for visiting and reading. Be back in 2014!

Tina Made a Card Holder

Hope ya’ll had a great Christmas! ūüôā

Another #waylatergram post but I just found this little DIY card holder that I made last year. Clearly I don’t use it, considering it was stashed in one of my sewing boxes‚Ķ ha. I roughly based it off of this tutorial (for the measurements of the fabric and such), but ended up changing the placement of the two pockets so that if I were to ever use this for something like.. credit cards.. there’d be no chance of them falling out!

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The wooden maple leaf button is pretty random but it came in a pack of the same buttons I used for my coffee cozy. Come to think of it, this project uses all the same materials– fusible interfacing, elastic banding, a button, embroidery thread, regular thread, and cute fabric. ūüôā

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The black polka dot fabric was from Joann’s; the light blue bird fabric was a sweet score from a friend who was giving away boxes of inherited fabric before she moved out-of-state.

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Shown with a Lindsay Letters business card (love her work! I have this print).

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My find has inspired me to get on the sewing machine again‚Ķ! Hopefully a new project to show sometime soon. Happy Thursday‚Ķ 6 days ’til 2014!

Merry Christmas!

A quick post to say Merry (early) Christmas!

I don’t know about you, but I follow 920843 blogs (mostly crafting, design, lifestyle, fashion), and almost all of them have been posting gift guides and holiday projects and DIYs all month. Between those daily entries + the flood of emails from retailers about shopping sales galore, I’m feeling really Christmas-ed out‚Ķ which is why I haven’t been posting any of that here. (Though if that’s what you’re looking for, check out these blogs for a good sampling: 1, 2, 3, 4).

In the next few days, I’m hoping to slow down, unwind, and purge myself of all the unnecessary crap that distracts from what Christmas is all about– friends, family, and most of all, the birth of a precious baby so many years ago. Hope ya’ll can do the same!

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My classy Bruin friends wish you a Merry Christmas, too!

xoxo, Tina

Lurvin’: MUJI

I’m sure all of you LA folks are already aware of this, but the MUJI U.S. flagship store opened in Hollywood this past Saturday! My only time in a MUJI was in Korea, so I was excited about one opening nearby. Elizabeth from Flourish in Progress (remember her from this?) invited me to a press event the day before the grand opening, so we got to see/shop the store a day early (without the crowds and with a discount!). Thanks, E. ūüôā

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They gave us free tote bags (pictured right) and a free planner. I think they offered the same to the first 1000 customers the next day as well! Hurray for free.

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Cosmetics + skin care. MUJI has the world’s best skinny Q-tips that are perfect for makeup detailing/fixing (which I originally found out about from makeup artist Renee at Beauty Makeup Studio).

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The meticulous organization‚Ķ it pleases me so. As does the simplicity in design. And the neutral colors. And… okay I’ll stop.

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E, lookin’ cute in front of shower/bathroom essentials.

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These wooden utensils are from the line Found MUJI, which no other store in the U.S. carries– the line¬†features “items from around the world, re-discovered and renewed by MUJI, to represent the roots and philosophy of our products.”

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Kitchenware galore

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More kitchenware + storage.

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Figured this post needed a pop of color. Hexagonal water-based ink double-ended pen… is the official name of these pens.

Other than the stuff pictured above, MUJI also sells furniture, travel items, food (the first MUJI in the U.S. to do so), and clothing (50% off all clothing right now!). The store is huge and definitely worth checking out. Prices can be a little steep depending on the item, but you’re paying for the quality and minimalist-but-functional design.

Parking is a bit of a pain– there’s an underground structure, shared with stores like CVS and Fresh & Easy, and it offers one hour free parking with validation. Anything longer, and it’s $8 (yuck). Nevertheless, worth checking out, perhaps for some last minute Christmas shopping? ūüôā

7021 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

Tina Made a PVC Light Box

Last week, I did a first-ever collaboration project with Jason of Onigiri Everyday.¬†We’d been meaning to make ourselves light boxes for months and months now, and we finally did it. I actually made one a few years ago out of a cardboard box and tissue paper– tutorial here—¬†but I kept punching holes into the tissue paper. Oops. It became too annoying to replace the fragile paper over and over, so I wanted to try this¬†(more durable) PVC pipe + fabric version.

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When we looked at the¬†tutorial, it really didn’t seem very hard at all. But we ran into a few difficulties, and had to modify some of the original measurements/directions. Here’s the final list of materials we used (the list is for ONE box only, and the tutorial will be written for one box, though we each made one).


  • 4 x 22″ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 4 x 20″ sections of 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 4 x ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ PVC 3-way side outlet elbows
  • 4 x 1/2″ PVC male adapters***
  • thin white fabric cut to 79.5″ x 26″ and 26.5″ x 26.5″ (e.g. muslin or a 200-count white bed sheet)
  • heat bond tape (“no-sew”¬†hemming adhesive)
  • 2 small C-shaped hook screws
  • white poster board
  • kitchen twine (or anything similar)
  • 3 binder clips (one large, 2 small)
  • power drill
  • iron
  • scissors
  • tape measure/yardstick
  • hack saw (or PVC cutters, if you have)
  • 3 clamp lights¬†with bulbs

***NOTE: The Home Depot we went to did NOT have PVC 3-way side outlet elbows¬†without threading (one of the three holes had threading), which meant that the PVC pipes did not just fit right in– we had to buy adapters, which threw off our pipe measurements, reflected above. See picture below for labeled parts. If your PVC 3-way side outlet elbows are smooth (no threading), then you do NOT need the 4 adapters mentioned in the materials list above, and your PVC pipe should be cut into 8 x 22″ sections of 1/2″ pipe (as stated in the original tutorial), instead of 4 x 22″ and 4 x 20.”


Onto the directions…


Home Depot sells PVC pipes in 10′ lengths, so you need to buy 2 of those and cut them down to size– 4 pieces at 22″ each and 4 pieces at 20″ each (once again, if your side outlet elbows are smooth, cut 8 x 22″). We didn’t have a PVC cutter, but a hack saw worked just fine. Connect the 22″ pipes into a square shape using the side outlet elbows. Add the 20″ pipes, using the adapters if needed, into each of the 4 corners of the square. Finished frame should look like a table (4 legs with the ability to rest a flat surface on top). I forgot to take a picture of the frame alone, but you should be able to figure it out based on the very first picture in this post.


The next step is the fabric. Cut 2 pieces– one that is 79.5″x26″, and another that is 26.5″x26.5″ (a square). Note that these measurements are different from the ones in the original tutorial– the original measurements were NOT ideal for us so the ones given in this post are what we recommend. ¬†After cutting the fabric, use heat bond (“no-sew”) tape and an iron to create your slipcover that goes over the PVC frame.


The finished slipcover should cover 3 vertical sides of the frame (using your long piece of fabric), as well as the flat top (your square piece).¬†The picture above, from the original¬†tutorial, shows this in blue– you’re essentially combining those 2 blue pieces (white in real life) to become one connected piece. Basically, the heat bond tape melts with the heat of the iron, fusing the fabric together.¬†Helpful hint: It will be 92390x easier to have TWO people work on this step– one person to position and hold down the tape between the edges of the fabric, and another to do the ironing. After the slipcover is done, flip it inside out to hide the seams and make it look cleaner.

The original tutorial essentially ends here (after propping up a piece of poster board inside the light box to be used as an infinity wall). However, the poster board does NOT prop itself up (the tutorial suggests putting the box against some kind of support). To remediate this problem, we got creative and modified it so that the light box could be self-standing.


Basically, we drilled holes in the inner parts of the back two legs of the light box, and added C-shaped hook screws where we could tie kitchen twine from which we could clip the poster board.


The holes were drilled 16″ from the bottom (so measure from your ground surface up the pipe leg).


Jason is such a boy scout, he somehow tied the kitchen twine in such a way that the length could be adjustable.


Clip the short end of your poster board onto the twine using binder clips (shown above with one– use two for more stability). This is what the inside of the light box should look like with the fabric slipcover on it.


We used a large binder clip to secure the top edge of the slipcover to the PVC frame.

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ALL DONE! Kind of. Next up is to add light sources. The light box is pretty big, so it’s imperative that you have even lighting from the top, as well as the two sides.


We used 3 clamp lights. One clipped onto the back horizontal PVC pipe (as shown above), and the two side lamps were slipped onto chairs. Note that in the picture above, the 3rd lamp is hidden from view (the very right side of the picture), but it’s there! Anddddd the results of the light box in action:

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These were taken with a Canon Rebel T3 and post-processed via VSCO cam (just slightly– changed the contrast a bit). The pictures would have probably been fine as is had I had my camera in the correct settings, but it was only my third time shooting in manual and I’m still trying to figure things out by trial and error. ūüôā

Total cost of the light box (minus the lamps) was ~$16. Super inexpensive, and totally worth it if you want to up your photography game.

Jason and I decided we would separately take pictures and post about this project, so read his take on our light boxes¬†here. It’s so interesting to see the project through someone else’s eyes‚Ķ!¬†Hopefully more collabos with him to come in the near future. In the meantime, check out the rest of his¬†blog for some crazy amazing DIYs‚Ķ a couple pictured below:


industrial pipe shelf


vintage soda crate chalkboard nightstands

Pretty sweet eh? If you’re not into girly crap like I am, his blog is good resource for male-oriented DIYs. ūüôā ‘Til the next collab…


Tina Made Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Another dish I made for Thanksgiving! And then again the next day for a holiday potluck. Kinda sick of these little suckers now but I’m sure I’ll get over it soon enough. I made 50 dates for the potluck (for ~10 people), so the recipe below will be for that many– but obviously, cut down (or increase) if you need to. It’s super easy (only 4 ingredients!) but is a bit tedious to assemble. Promise it will be worth it though. ūüėČ Original recipe and directions¬†here; directions modified below.

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  • 50 pitted dates (I used Deglet Noor because they were smallest– original recipe recommends Medjool)
  • 50 almonds, unsalted
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • half block of cream cheese
  • 50 toothpicks, soaked in water for 10 minutes

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Throw a bunch of toothpicks in a bowl of water and let them soak (take them out after 10 minutes and pat dry). Meanwhile, cut a slit into each of the dates. Cut small rectangular pieces of cream cheese (~3/4″ long, 1/2″ wide, 1/4″ thick) and use a knife to place them into each date. Pop an almond into each one. The cream cheese should “seal” the date back¬†together so it doesn’t fall apart!¬†¬†¬†

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Cut pieces of bacon large enough to wrap around the dates, and secure with a toothpick. Soaking the toothpicks is not an absolutely necessary step, but prevents it from burning before going into the oven.

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Arrange dates in a shallow baking pan lined with foil. Bake for 8 minutes, then flip each date over, and bake for another 8 minutes. Flip dates again, and broil for 2 minutes. Flip dates for the last time, and broil for another 2 minutes. The bacon should be cooked after 16 minutes (or even less) but the broiling will crisp it up!

Bon appetit!

Snow-Line Orchard

A couple weeks ago, I went to a conference center called Oak Glen for my church’s annual retreat. It’s located in Yucaipa, land of plentiful apple orchards. My friends and I had a chance to check out Snow-Line Orchards, which was just down the street.

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We heard about Snow-Line’s infamous apple cider donuts + fresh pressed apple cider and had to check them out, i.e. eat them.

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I love me a legit autumn with pretty trees and colorful leaves. I believe if you visit in the earlier months, you can pick your own apples, but ’twas too late for us.

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Eunice, Michelle, Sunghee, and me. ūüôā The rafters of the building had the names of various apple varieties painted on them.

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Inside the store, there were… apples. A lot. And food products made from… apples. (-_-)

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We taste-tested a ton of ’em. Uhm, perhaps my apple palette isn’t refined, because they were all good.

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OH the donuts. Freshly made in front of us, they were miniature and warm and covered with cinnamon sugar.

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They came in bags of 1/2 or 1 dozen. Also, mini apple/pumpkin pies, which supposedly were good but cold. Why wouldn’t they warm before serving? Why? (My friends asked. They said no.)

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The apple cider came hot or cold; I tasted both and stood in the store for 5 minutes trying to decide which one I wanted because they were equally delicious. I went with the hot and was not disappointed.

Snow Line (and the rest of the apple orchards) is only about 1.5 hours away from LA, so it’s not too far of a trek if you want some fresh apples (and donuts and cider). There are tons of benches for picnicking, too. Catch is, I believe it’s only open during apple season (9/1 – 11/30) so you JUST missed it. D: Check out the website to plan a trip for next year? ūüėČ

Snow Line Orchards
39400 Oak Glen Road
Yucaipa, CA 92399

Tina Made it for Bramble Workshop

I’m so elated slash excited to share that as of this past Monday, I’m now an intern for¬†Bramble Workshop!!! I’ll be working with Jessica, the genius behind BW, on random projects at random times (thank goodness for my flexible schedule) and I am so so so looking forward to it.

I originally came across Jessica’s work on Instagram because I kept seeing @brambleworkshop tagged in posts of various bloggers/creatives I follow. Anddd I kinda sorta fell in love with what I saw. Here’s a small sampling of her work below– IT IS MAGICAL. Check out more at her website (all pictures below from her site too).


This insane wood + lucite chandelier for Oh Joy! Studio


Here it is installed…!


Urban Palate‘s tasting room


Loving all the wood + pops of color


Window display for Hermès


Installed at the Costa Mesa store!

I love that she uses so many different media to create her pieces. Hoping to learn (and make) tons while I’m with her. My first day will be this Saturday– we’ll be making dreamcatchers. I know‚Ķ dream job. But tonight, we’ll be going to this:

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Starting off the internship with a party. ūüėČ Looking forward to meeting tons of amazing people from amazing companies!

Have a great Thursday, friends!

Cranberry Couscous

My friend passed on a delicious cranberry couscous recipe to me a few years back (via¬†, and I’ve made it here and there, usually for potlucks (with a few modifications). However, when I clicked¬†back on the recipe link recently, the original recipe had completely changed! Not sure when that happened, but I really like the first version, so here it is with the modifications (you can compare it to the recipe that’s currently up, linked above– there are pretty significant differences). I made it for Thanksgiving last week but I feel like the cranberries make it also appropriate for a Christmas meal, don’t you? ūüôā Recipe below is technically for 6, but I’d say that as a side, it can serve 8-10.

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  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked¬†couscous
  • 3/4 cup dried¬†cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • juice from 1/4 orange

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All the ingredients– note that I only used 1/4 the orange, 1/4 of the onion, and 1 large persian cucumber and carrot each.

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In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Cool for 10 minutes. Seed and chop cucumbers, carrots,  and onions.

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In a bowl, combine the couscous, cranberries, carrots, cucumber and red onion. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, salt, pepper, and juice of orange.

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Pour dressing over couscous mixture; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Toast sliced almonds by stirring on pan at medium-high heat. Turn heat to low as soon as almonds begin to brown. Tip: It will take awhile for the almonds to start browning, but once they do, they will burn fast, so watch carefully!

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Just before serving, mix in almonds. This dish explodes with so many different flavors/textures… sweet, salty, soft, crunchy, chewy, etc. Party in your mouth!

I’d recommend you make this dish at least half a day before serving, to allow the couscous to soak in the flavors of the dressing. If you’re in a time crunch, let it sit for at least a couple hours in the fridge.