DIY Bright Sunglasses

When I was in high school, I worked as a leader for my city’s day camp.  It was one heck of a job: eight weeks of hikes and cookouts and archery and songs and the world’s best coworkers.  We made lanyards and had a Western Week and took Friday off to hit the local lakes for some swimming.  I loved it so much- I figure if I ever get in the position where I have two months off in the summer I’m totally going back.  

Every Thursday after work, the families of the campers headed up to meet us at camp.  Armed with blankets and picnics, we all ate before assembling for a campfire of songs and skits.  (My favorite might have been the group of 3rd graders we wrangled into singing Huey Lewis’s ‘Naturally,’ complete with a lead singer and back-up dancer wadda-boomers.)  After camp, we all split up and the leaders drove home together.  And that’s when it happened, one summer night in 1997.  My coworker said, shortly after the solstice: “Welp, that’s it.  We lose a minute of light a night from here on out.”

I’ve never forgotten it because while it’s true, really, doesn’t it just remind you to pause and appreciate every moment of summer?  To revel in the daylight and the sunshine and keep a little day camp spirit alive?  That’s why we’re making a quick DIY project today: an upgrade for your sunglasses.  Jazz ’em up with bright color and wear them all summer long!

DIY Bright Sunglasses | Alyssa & Carla

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, June 26th

“The rainy season, ugh.  It’s so hot and humid, and it’d been raining almost every day.  It sure makes you less excited about going outside.  As a result, I’ve been scraping together some pretty hodge-podge meals.  Popcorn for dinner, hummus and pita for lunch, pastina with butter and cheese.  What are your favorite ‘I don’t feel like leaving the house’ meals?”

*The hubby and I are trying to decide where to go on our next trip, and this post from our friend Chelsea at The Ginger Side of Life has us seriously considering New Zealand specifically to take this Hobbiton Dinner tour.

*Caramelized pineapple and chili lassi. Yes, please.

*How happy would you be to reach for these pretty little spice jars while you cook?

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 6.26.15

“I’ve been to lots of cooking classes and I’d have to say that they’re always fun.  But this week I went to a dim sum class and it was AWESOME.  The class was held at a cooking school so we had hours of access to the full professional kitchen (including any extra ingredients we wanted to use in order to jazz up our recipes) and small group sizes so we all got to actually cook.  Since you often don’t get to make every recipe, I was in heaven.  I’m dreaming up some new versions of the techniques I learned, so stay tuned!”

* Love this gorgeous DIY marbled vase– and the blue color choice makes it gorgeous for outdoor entertaining in the sunshine.

* Crochet clothes hangers!  So delicate and sweet.

* Anthropologie has an additional 20% off sale this weekend- buy this amazing tunic dress!

One year ago: Bourbon, bacon and brown sugar ice cream with cinnamon. Cilantro pesto rice.  Shredded braised chipotle chicken.
Two years ago: Curry chicken salad and DIY wooden photo blocks.

around the web

Our easy matcha latte made it into Mr. Matcha’s 7 Best Matcha Drink Recipes!  With really kind words: “It was surprisingly easy to make, and the results were fantastic.  You don’t even need any special equipment to get almost coffee shop quality milk foam, either.”  

Matcha, Strawberry and Coconut Popsicles (Bonus: Dairy-Free and Vegan!)

I had a delicious little cup of ice cream the other day, and I can’t get it out of my head.  It was one scoop of strawberry sorbet, one scoop of matcha ice cream, and one scoop of roasted green tea ice cream (hojicha).  While not a new combination, the sweetness of the strawberries tempering the pleasant grassiness of the matcha against a creamy ice cream backdrop was absolutely perfect for a hot summer night.  I had to find a way to recreate this at home.

matcha, strawberry and coconut popsicles at

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French Polynesia Travel Guide

French Polynesia is a country in the South Pacific made up of over 100 small islands. The most famous islands are Tahiti and Bora Bora. The country is an overseas collectivity of France, which means that French is the most prevalent language, followed by Tahitian, then English. The population is an interesting mixture of primarily French nationals and French Polynesians.

French-Polynesia-Travel-Guide (10 of 16)

It’s synonymous with “tropical paradise” and absolutely deserves that association based on its lush volcanic jungles, astonishingly clear turquoise waters, impressive sunsets and the abundance of tropical fruit, ocean life and flowers. We had to pinch ourselves regularly on our two-week trip to make sure we weren’t dreaming. We loved our time in French Polynesia and will definitely return some day.  I wanted to share some of the highlights, some advice, and a few things I wish I had known before we visited these spectacular islands.

moorea sunset

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Weekly Love Letter for Friday, June 12th

“Too bad Japanese plums don’t taste as good as they look.  Aren’t those gorgeous?  They were too pretty pass up, like a little bowl full of tropical sunsets.  I’ve never been much of a plum person in general, and I read somewhere that the Japanese varietal is considered ‘inferior’ to the European in flavor.  Lol!  Poor little Japanese plums.  Can you think of any way to make these tastier?  I can’t throw them away, but they really don’t have very much flavor.  Help!”

*My next dinner party is going to start with a shooter of cold soup.  I just can’t decide what kind!  Watermelon/jalapeno/feta?  Southeast Asian gazpacho? English peas/garlic cream/pickled ramps?

*Is this the prettiest bread ever made? I think I have to make it and find out.

*Of course I saw this tutorial for sea salt texturizing hair spray the day AFTER I bought the Bumble and Bumble one for a small fortune (although I love theirs, so I’m not TOO sorry.)

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 6/12/15“I’m headed to Tahoe this weekend for my annual family trip!! I look forward to this weekend all year and it looks like the weather is totally cooperating, the grill is ready and there’s a chance I’ll be able to find the favorite hoodie I left at the cabin last year. I’ll be posting tidbits on Instagram throughout the weekend so come follow along!”

One year ago: Refreshing Vanilla bean lemonade and crispy skin baked chicken wings (Just in time for your NBA Finals watching!  We’re cheering for opposite sides, since Alyssa is from Cleveland and Carla is from the East Bay.  What about you?)
Two years ago: Easy mango sorbet and a fresh Greek salad.

around the web

Our adorable DIY pinwheel cake toppers or cocktail stirrers made Mum’s Grapevine’s roundup of 16 Cake Toppers You Can Make at Home.

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta

Tracking PixelI have this thing for food bowls: a little bit of starch with some protein, maybe some veggies thrown in for good measure.  I love how the result is clean, simple and totally taste bud friendly.  In the name of healthier eating, I’m also always looking for the best available ingredients.  I’m excited to partner with Foster Farms today to pair their new line- Simply Raised (antibiotic free) fresh chicken- with a scoop of pasta, some creamy cheese and a whole lot of lemon.   

Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta | Alyssa & Carla

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Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream, aka Birthday Ice Cream

This is my Birthday Ice Cream.  Most people look forward to birthday cakes or cupcakes, but I’ve never been much of a cake fan.  Even growing up, I always requested ice cream cake or strawberry shortcake for my birthday.  So this year, I decided to make my dream ice cream for myself for my birthday (a girl can spoil herself once in a while, right?).  

Balsamic-Roasted-Strawberry-Ice-Cream (1 of 6)

Balsamic roasted strawberry ice cream has been has been at the top of my to-do list, so the timing was perfect.  This is Birthday Ice Cream not just because it’s a sexy, gourmet flavor combination.  It’s Birthday Ice Cream because I made it with premium ingredients, and I ignored ice cream rules to make it exactly how I wanted it.  

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Weekly Love Letter for Saturday, June 6th

“I turned 31 this week, which for some reason feels much older than 30.  I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because I was listening to the iTunes Top 50 Pop station and I skipped every other song because I couldn’t handle the music.  Yep, I’m officially turning into a crotchety old lady who listens to oldies, spends her free time in craft stores and goes to bed by 11.  Yikes.  I had a great birthday weekend, though, and my husband took me for an amazing meal at Liberté a Table de Takeda.  We had the most inventive and creative meal we’ve had in a very long time, and I highly recommend it. This week’s photo is the from the meal: gazpacho with strawberry, house-made burrata, chia seeds and edible flowers.”

*This Italian “omelette” thingy looks amazing: fazzoletto di uova.

*What a fun way to jazz up a cloth napkin!  You could make your own or just add the trim to existing ones. (See, I’m 80. I just used the term “jazz up.”)

*Watermelon popsicles that are adorable AND sound delicious.

Carla's Weekly Love Letter for 6.6.15

“As Alyssa mentioned last week, I was in Portland at the Indulge conference.  It was SUCH an awesome experience- not just because I had the best roommates (Sarah and Alanna), but because we were treated to some amazing food courtesy of CA Avocados, OXO and Travel Oregon.  CA Avocados treated us to a four course meal with avocados highlighted in each course– can you say yum?  On Sunday, we heading out to the Willamette Valley for a farm tour, hands on demonstration and a beautiful lunch at the Allison Inn & Spa.  These chickens were one of the stops at the farm tour at Our Table Cooperative where we also ate blueberries and did a little shopping at their shop full of local goods- most of which was grown right on the farm!  It was a great time so today I’m going to share one of my favorite parts of blogging events- making new friends!

* Liz from Floating Kitchen and I share an alma mater!  Her blog is full of bright, fresh, delicious food and she’s a super sweetheart.  I mean, she made COCONUT HARISSA GRILLED SHRIMP SKEWERS.  Genius!

* Lisa blogs at Healthy Nibbles and Bits where she shares everything from gluten-free recipes to vegan dishes and more. Try these Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Snow Peas!

* One Sweet Appetite‘s Jesseca is so much fun!  (She also used to live right down the street from me!)  Jesseca shares recipes AND fun DIY projects.  (Totally want to make this Dollar Store Summer Photobooth.) 

One year ago: Chicken with mustard & cream sauce in a buckwheat crepe, DIY wooden door sign and 10 tips for using an AirBnb kitchen.
Two years ago: Japanese steamed cakes and Thai cucumber salad (not together, they’re different posts!)

around the web

DIY Ready included our Washi Tape Gift Box and DIY Washi Decorated Hanger in their roundup of 100 Creative Ways to Use Washi Tape.

Our DIY Leather Catchall made it onto Curbly’s list of 19 DIYable Gifts for Dad.

DIY Fourth of July Garland with Denim Tassels

Jeans are my uniform.  I LOVE denim, and wear jeans almost every day (except in the horrible heat and humidity of Tokyo summers).  This means that I eventually wear out a lot of jeans.  I’ve had a few pairs sitting in my fabric bag, waiting to be put to good use.  I hated to throw them away, since I’m a hoarder denim is so expensive.  But what could I do with them (besides make a super cool jeans purse that I would have totally dug when I was 11)?  

4th of july garland from

The Fourth of July isn’t a big holiday here in Japan, as you can imagine, so I usually make my own decorations. And what’s more patriotic than blue jeans?  Add the current tassel trend, and my worn out jeans got new life as a DIY Fourth of July garland.

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10 Picnic Tips to Help You Have the Best Picnics Ever

Picnic season is here! We love them: the breeze in our hair, the grass (or sand) between our toes, a frosty beverage in hand, and a delicious meal in front of us.  We’ve gathered 10 picnic tips to help make your picnics better than ever this year!

1. Bring bug spray.  For the best protection, spray everyone in your party and spray a barrier around your picnic blanket or table as soon as you settle on a spot.

2. Be prepared for spills.  Bring extra paper towels, an extra bottle of water to clean up sticky spills, and if you have room, bring baby wipes to keep hands and surfaces clean.

3. Maybe this is TMI, but it’s important: expect a less-than-ideal bathroom situation.  Be sure to go before you arrive at the park, carry extra tissues in case there’s no toilet paper, and keep some of these handy soap sheets with you (which are also AMAZING for travel) or hand sanitizer.

4. Pack a trash bag for garbage, in case your picnic site that doesn’t have trashcans.  And pack a few extra sturdy ziplock bags to isolate dirty dishes that you need to take home with you.  This will ensure that your entire picnic basket doesn’t end up covered in a layer of salad dressing.

5. Make the picnic blanket a no-shoes area.  (This is a Japanese trick that we think is brilliant!)  Keep your dining area clean and as free of bugs as possible by taking your shoes off before you get on the picnic blanket.

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