July 21, 2014
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It’s Basics Makeover Week at A&C!  We are taking 2 really basic items: the tee shirt and the sandwich, and giving them our own fun twists.  Check back all week for our ideas on how to turn something basic into something special.

 

All you need for this tee shirt makeover is a fabric pen, to easily turn a boring, basic tee into a cute top.  You can buy cheap pocket tees at most major retailers, like Old Navy (and  you can usually find really fun colors on the sale rack at Gap).  I bought my shirt from Uniqlo for about $10.  They started their U.S. invasion in the last few years, is there one near you yet?

 

diy polka dot and stripe tee shirt makeover from www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

I think I’m going to go back to the stores and get a few more tees and coordinating fabric pens, because I have so many ideas for other designs!  Flowers and polka dots, stars and stripes, big polka dots and tiny polka dots, etc, etc.  This could also be a fun summer project for kids.  I know I LOVED wearing my own creations when I was a kid (and even now, who am I kidding?).

 

July 18, 2014
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Alyssa's Week

 

alyssa's weekly love letter

 

 

“California, here I come!  I’m so excited to head back to the Bay Area for a week of Carla, BlogHer and new clothes.  Then it’s off to Ohio for a few weeks with the family, Mexican food and craft store shopping sprees.  While I’m not looking forward to the long flights, I really can’t wait to escape the crazy heat here in Tokyo.  See you all Stateside!” 

 

*This cooler makeover is so brilliant.  Although it seems like it would be much easier if you just used a white cooler to begin with.”

 

*Oh my goodness.  I love gourgeres, and these BLT Gourgeres just take them to a whole new level.

 

*Want this sign to hang above this bar cart. And while we’re wishing for things, I’ll take a little extra space in our apartment to put these things.

 

Carla's Week

 Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 7.18.14

 “So, you may have noticed that some of the CARLA has been M.I.A. here at Alyssa and Carla recently.  I’m getting used to my new office, my new job and my new coworkers- and somewhere along the way I have NOT gotten used to what will need to be my new writing schedule.  What better way to work out the kinks by getting to spend A WHOLE WEEK with Alyssa, heading to BlogHer and making lists!  Where should I take her first guys- the craft store or the farmer’s market?

 

P.S. Aren’t these custom order spatulas from our shop the cutest?  They’re headed to a FL school district (and don’t worry, they’re not using them to serve food)!”

 

* I LOVE letterpress, but even though I took a great class at the Oh Happy Day studios it’s not awfully accessible for those of use without a usable machine nearby.  That’s why I’m delighted about this post which gives directions for making faux letterpress with embossing folders!

 

*I’m one of those people who always WANTS to find a great thing to use paint swatches for but can’t.  This paint swatch art idea is simple, but pretty.

 

* I’m obessessed with this crochet sleeve swing dress from Asos.  In cream or black, do you think?

 

One year ago: Cinnamon Horchata Milkshake.  Yes, please.

    aroundtheweb 

 

Carla went to Blog Party in SF this week and met some amazing bloggers, won a beautiful bag and ate lots of salsa!  Here’s a great recap with lots of photos from Nancy at spiffykerms.

 

Pretty in Pistachio included our DIY Cocktail Umbrellas in her Crafts for Entertaining post.  

 

Our Grilled Chicken, Almond, Feta and Blueberry Salad with Nutty Citrus Vinaigrette made it into Bright Settings’ 10 Summer Salad Recipes.

 

Love This Pic thought our Sequin Swizzle Sticks make great DIY party crafts.  There are some other fantastic DIYs in the roundup, so definitely check it out! 

 

Le Blog Friendstitch included our embroidered watercolor polka dot napkins in their weekly link love.

 

 

 

 

July 16, 2014
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I love lettuce cups and lettuce wraps.  The contrast between the crisp and refreshing lettuce and some kind of savory, spiced filling is a slam dunk for me, particularly in the summer.  It’s getting really hot here in Tokyo, and these pork lettuce cups with cucumber salsa make a great lunch for one of those days when even the thought of anything warm for lunch makes you sweat.

 

pork lettuce wraps with cucumber salsa from www.alyssaandcarla.com 2

July 14, 2014
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We had a going away party for a friend who’s leaving Tokyo soon, and she’s always a fan of the fun cocktail stirrers that I make for our parties.  So naturally, I had to do something extra-special for her!  These are a little bit of a twist on the classic cocktail umbrellas; I used origami paper in traditional Japanese prints instead of something more tropical!  Then I added a little flag on the top with a personalized message for the occasion. 

 

make your own cocktail umbrellas at www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

Have I told you guys about my new toy yet?  I got a Silhouette Cameo for my birthday and I can’t stop making fun things with it.  It’s one of my favorite presents ever (and my husband is a very, very good gift giver).  I’ve made business cards, cupcake boxes, Fourth of July decorations, cards and gift tags.  And now these.  These cocktail umbrellas are so bright and colorful!  I can’t get enough of them, and they were really easy to make with the Cameo.  You don’t need one to make them, of course, it just makes it much easier!

July 13, 2014
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If there’s one thing Pinterest has been great for, it’s making me feel like I am capable of having incredible nails.  There are so many photos of inspiration collected there, from colors and french tip ideas to actual miniature photos and all sorts of designs with tools that look a bit like torture instruments.

 

When I went to visit Alyssa in Tokyo last year, I noticed that (like a lot of fashion ideas) Japan is way ahead of the US curve.  Sure, there are some things that are easier to find here.  Alyssa tells me that you won’t find too many alternative colors in Tokyo at a good price since pinks and reds are most popular.  But they have so many stickers to help the coordination-challenged (me) and slim brush polishes!

 

One of my favorite manicure ideas is the glitter french tip look.  I’ve looked high and low for an “easy” option since, let’s face it, ANY option not labeled “easy” is going to be impossible for me to manage.  But each tutorial involved executing lots of layers and waiting several minutes in between coats and sometimes even TWEEZERS.  TWEEZERS.

 

So I came up with my own tutorial, using only three items and involving only four steps.  I promise you can do it too.

 

Gold Glitter Manicure from www.alyssaandcarla.com 005

July 12, 2014
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Who decides these food holidays?  We love them, but it’s pretty funny to think about.  Did someone just sit down one day and start filling in a calendar with all of their favorite foods?  If so, we’d like to be friends with them.  The entire month of July in celebration of ice cream?  Sounds like our kind of people.  Although we think guacamole should probably get a whole week in its honor, not just a day.

 

cherry ice cream with a brown sugar and bourbon swirl from www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

If you’re as excited about ice cream as we are, here are some of our favorite recipes from the archives:

 

Sounds crazy, but our Bourbon, Bacon, Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Ice Cream is ridiculously delicious.

 

We love the spicy flavors of Mexican Hot Chocolate so much that we made it into ice cream!

 

Cherry Ice Cream with a Brown Sugar & Bourbon Swirl is fruity and sweet with a little bit of caramel flavors from the brown sugar and bourbon.

 

Chai Ice Cream is delicious with our Cinnamon Hot Fudge Sauce.

 

It may be out of season, but it’s so good that we don’t even care!  Pumpkin Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce is one of our favorite recipes on the entire site.

 

And for a happy hour/dessert combo, make a Peaches & Cream Grownup Ice Cream Float.

 

July 11, 2014
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Alyssa's Week

 

love letter photo for july 11th

 

 

“Apparently I’m running a soup kitchen for caterpillars now.  I found one devouring one of my basil plants the other day and couldn’t bring myself to get rid of him.  He’d be eaten by one of the nasty giant crows that terrorize our neighborhood.  We have to at least give him the CHANCE to turn into a butterfly…

 

Tending the insect buffet is keeping me busy, as are a number of fun summer projects like my image for this week.  More on this colorful craft soon!” 

 

*Who says parfaits can only be sweet?

 

*I sort of wish I didn’t know about this recipe for one peanut butter cookie.  Dangerous.

 

*If only we had more outdoor space; this looks like so much fun!  Some day, maybe.

 

Carla's Week

 Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 7.11.14

 

“My new office is dog-friendly.  And it’s awesome.

 

This is my first dog-friendly office and it’s even cooler than I ever imagined it could be.  All the pups are well-behaved and sweet and although they mostly stay beside their owners on luxurious little beds, sometimes they come around for snuggles and/or a chance at a bite of your lunch.  Even better: PUPPIES.  A coworker has brought in her 14 week old Labradoodle a few times in the past week or so and I’m tempted to STEAL HER SO HARD.  Someone get me a puppy!”

 

Fruit Kabob Name Cards are basically the most adorable idea for a summer party.  Since I’m not sure how I feel about seating charts for casual occasstions, I love the idea of using descriptive words!  Maybe “Congrats” for a shower or “Adios” for a good-bye party?

 

*I don’t eat mangoes, but I have struggled mightily with peeling them for others.  I’m excited to try this technique on my next attempt!

 

* No commentary needed: Blow Pop Martini Jelly Shot.

 

One year ago: A delicious take on pasta.  Try it with an olive and almond tapenade!

    aroundtheweb 

  

Mark Lipinsky writes the most colorful roundups!  And he included our DIY ombre shoelaces in one.

 

Karen from In the Kitchen with KP was part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year, and she included our DIY Essential Oil Sugar Scrub in her 10 Things to Know Before Buying and Using Essential Oils post.

 

Our homemade fall face mask made Miss Wish’s 8 Salon-Worthy Homemade Honey Face Masks.  

 

 

 

July 10, 2014
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Carla and I talk over video on Google, and the other day she called me while I was working on this project.  She said “are you SEWING??” Not only was I sewing, but I was drinking tea, wearing my pajamas and watching a British drama series in the middle of the afternoon.  It was the Best. Day. Ever.  And apparently I am an 80 year old British woman.

 

embroidered watercolor napkins at www.alyssaandcarla.com

July 07, 2014
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Salty snacks are my weakness, especially crunchy ones.  Or cheesy ones.  Kettle chips, especially salt and vinegar ones, are my favorite.  Or a lovely slice of cheese.  But neither of those are exactly healthy, and I need to start replacing my afternoon snack with something a little more waistline-friendly.  The classic apple-with-peanut-butter and a hint of Maldon works pretty well.  These baked zucchini crisps are perfect because they get their saltiness from the naturally low-fat (as far as cheese goes, at least) Parmesan cheese while satisfying my need for something crispy.  

 

parmesan zucchini crisps from www.alyssaandcarla.com

 

July 05, 2014
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Wow! It turns out you guys really like to make your own interesting salad dressings.  We got some great buzz on Twitter about our 3 healthy summer salad dressing recipes, so I wanted to give you a delicious way to use my personal favorite of the three: the nutty citrus & shallot dressing.  It’s a really balanced combination of nut oil (I used almond oil but walnut would be delicious too), lemon juice, orange juice and shallots.  

 

grilled chicken salad with almonds, feta, blueberries and nutty citrus & shallot vinaigrette from www.alyssaandcarla.com