Gallery Wall Ideas and…I’m Engaged!

Hello! It’s been so long. Quite a few things have changed for me…most notably, I’m engaged! I’m so thrilled and so fortunate to be with B. He’s such a great guy and makes me excited and happy to start each day.

Other news! I am in the process of redecorating my entire condo! So much fun (and long overdue). I’ve been picking up items here and there and seriously holding out for the furniture I WANT, vs. feeling the “need” to do it all at once. It’s been so fun picking out decor and imagining what my new condo will look once I am done. I’ll post some pics once the process is complete! One little caveat- B is also looking for a new home so I’m not spending a million bucks redecorating my place. I’m mostly doing DIY projects and getting creative (which has actually been a lot of fun!).

On that note, today I want to talk about wall galleries. There are some seriously cool wall galleries out there, and if you need proof, just check out Pinterest. People are so creative and bold with what they display on their walls and how-it’s pretty awesome. I’m debating creating a wall gallery above my couch in my living room. I currently have a large piece of art hanging in that spot, but I’m considering changing it up. I’ve compiled a short list of looks that I love and wouldn’t mind doing in my place. Check them out below!

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(All images via Pinterest)

PS: THIS tip for creating the perfect gallery wall and THIS apartment is so dreamy!

L.A. Photo Diary

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A few weekends ago, I went to LA to visit my mother. As expected, it was a fabulous time, full of relaxation and lots of sun. Living in Seattle, I sometimes forget what it’s like to wake up to warm, consistently sunny weather. Needless to say, it was a much needed dose of Vitamin C and Mom time.

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Above: Hiking Runyon Canyon. Below: Urban Jungle, view from Runyon.

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Thanks, Mom, for the hat!

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My mom’s ‘hood.

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Dragged my mom to the tourist trap, The Hollywood Museum. Forced her to examine all memorabilia associated with I Love Lucy/Lucille Ball.

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Having a fabulous dinner and wine at 3Twenty Wine Lounge.

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Lucy owned that dress ūüôā

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Bye bye, LA! Until we meet again.

Bar Cart Creation

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I’ve been looking for the perfect bar cart for quite some time now. After being inspired endlessly on Pintrest, I finally decided that a copper (rose gold-ish) bar cart with clean lines was my next home decor must have. After scouring thrift stores, Craig’s List, and online retailers without any luck, I finally decided on a basic chrome cart and a can of copper spray paint. Although I was skeptical about the outcome (I had never spray painted anything before) I was pleasantly surprised to see that the finished product was exactly what I had in mind.

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What I Learned From a Scarf

Having a contemplative moment on a hike in Israel.
Having a contemplative moment on a hike in Israel.

Last week, I came into work to find a pretty yellow bag on my desk, decorated with a white bow. It wasn’t my birthday, Hanukkah was weeks away, and I didn’t think it was my anniversary of….anything. Nonetheless, I tore away the tissue paper to find an adorable chocolate colored¬† infinity scarf covered in tiny, white polka dots. It would look perfect with my vast collection of chambray shirts and denim jackets.

“I¬†saw that and I thought of you!” My¬†coworker said who sits right next to me at work. She thought of me?¬†Someone at work went out shopping and saw something this adorable and thought of me? I was so touched.

I don’t think of myself as a “big personality.” For the most part, I have a small amount of close friends and an even smaller family. I’ve always grown up keeping a lot of things to myself, not for any reason in particular except that’s just how I am. So when people do special things for me out of the blue or point out things they have observed about me, (once a friend said, “If Jessica wants to do something, there is no doubt she will accomplish it,” which almost brought me to tears) I am so moved.

It got me thinking about how lucky I was to have someone do something so nice for me. Why was in a bad mood this morning? I thought. Why do I get so irritated on my commute into work? There are so many times that traffic, the expensive parking and the construction irritate me and spoil my morning. I then started thinking about all of the things that bother me about my life. Why am I so hard on myself? This simple scarf brought me so much happiness, and yet, in my day to day, I am always wanting to improve what I already have. Somedays I just want things that I do not need, like a new car, a new home, etc. I can’t count the number of mornings I have woken up and looking at my packed closet and thought, “I NEED NEW CLOTHES!” And why was I always so critical of myself? If I don’t wake up at 5am, go to the gym and have an amazing work out, come home and get ready and still find time to have a cup of coffee and pour over a newspaper, I feel like a failure, all before 7:30 AM. Really?

It was time for me to stop wanting what everyone else has or thinking I wasn’t enough. It was time for me to start appreciating and wanting what I already have and start acknowledging my accomplishments. I have never gone without, in my entire life. And even though I have had to work hard to get where I am, I’ve never felt like I had a load I couldn’t handle. I have a home, healthy food to eat everyday, my health, a fabulous job, a college education and family and friends who would go to the end of the earth for me. My life is totally awesome. Those self loating moments might seem¬†innocuous enough, but they are poison to your life.¬†And yes, while I can always improve and work hard to¬†accomplish my goals, I can make a choice everyday to appreciate¬†who and what I already have and remember how hard I worked to get where I am.

A simple scarf and a simple gesture brought me so much happiness. There is no reason why I can’t find happiness in something simple every single day.

New York, New York

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I recently went to New York for work. I had great weather and my first ever trip to Brooklyn! Even though I spent most of the time in the office working away, after hours I really got to go out and spend some times with my NYC buddies. It wasn’t my first time, but probably the best trip I ever took to the Big Apple. It really got me thinking (dreaming!) about moving to the city and starting fresh! Who knows…maybe one day! : )

Here are some pictures!

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The Joy of Challah

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Every Friday night, when the sun goes down, Shabbat starts. As soon as I light the Shabbat candles, an overwhelming feeling of calm and comfort comes over me. There is something about the soft glow of candles that draws me in and soothes me. The smell of Shabbat dinner, the glow of the candles and the calm and rest associated with not working, leaving the worldly stress behind and spending time with family and friends-needless to say, Shabbat is a special time.

Making challah (challot, plural) is a special experience for me. For years now I have been obsessed with making the perfect challah and using it as my signature Shabbat challah. While it is a process, I think after making more than a few loaves, I’ve managed to find a technique that produces a good challah that is beautiful and delicious. Below is a recipe that I have adapted from a basic challah recipe. It is sweeter bread, so if you do not like it as sweet, reduce the honey. Also, my challah is a three strand braided challah, which basically means I am a beginner challah braid-er. For an amazing guide on how to braid different types of challot please click on this link which will take you to the Shiksa in the Kitchen: Challah Braiding!¬†

If you can’t relate to anything I am talking about-don’t sweat! Challah is enjoyed by many Jews and non Jews alike! It’s a delicious bread and can be used to make sandwiches or my personal favorite, french toast. Challah French Toast=amazing!

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Basic Sweet Challah (makes 2 challot):

2.5 cups of warm water (about 110 degrees)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

3/4 cup honey + 1 tablespoon (for egg wash)

4 tablespoons mild oil (vegetable or canola)

8 cups all purpose flour

3 eggs (two for dough, one for egg wash)

1 tablespoon salt

Sesame seeds (optional-but recommended!)

1. Combine water and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over the warm water and let it proof-about 10 minutes.

2. Combine 3/4 cup honey, oil and salt with the water and whisk. Add flour gradually until combined. Knead the dough until it is manageable, but still slightly sticky (not completely smooth).

3. Cover with a wet, clean cloth and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour to 1.5 hours, punching down a few times every 20 minutes. (Punch gently!)

4. After the dough has doubled in size, punch down a few more times and turn over onto a clean, floured surface. Divide the dough and knead each piece for a few minutes until manageable.

5. Take each dough piece and divide into 3 strands (or 6!) and braid. Check out a handy, dandy guide via a Google search if you don’t know how!

6. Put each loaf on a greased baking sheet and cover with a warm cloth. Let rise for 45 minutes-1 hour. Some time during the rising process, you will need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

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7. Beat remaining egg and one tablespoon honey. Brush egg wash on the tops and sides of each loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Toss in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Enjoy!

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