June & July in Review

What a summer it's been here in Southern California so far. Heatwaves, wildfires, bugs. I, for one, am looking forward to the cooler, rainy months. In addition to his garden patrol and delivery dog duties, Hoku has taken it upon himself to mentally map the flow of air conditioning throughout the house and has determined that the most ideal nap spot is at the NE corner of the sofa. See exhibit A below. We have corroborated his findings with a peer review.


A few new additions to the house include a handmade raffia toy basket for Hoku (which we shared in a 'Meet The Maker' Story Takeover over on Wool And The Gang's Instagram) and also a wooden Shiba figurine from Japan (my official travel-sized Hoku companion). At home, he is the guardian of my plant propagation corner, where I've just added some pilea cuttings. The other succulents seem to be rooting nicely and I'm looking forward to transferring them into new homes soon. I guess that means I have to buy new planters.  


Another new addition to the family room is Hoku's gray pouf. I had the pleasure of working with German brand MiaCara Design and I cannot say enough good things about their beautifully designed products. Not only does the round Scala pouf fit the aesthetic of our home perfectly, it is also impeccably made and the perfect height for sitting and lounging. So much so that family TV time has humans and pup alike racing to see who can claim it first.

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As to be expected, the garden is ever evolving. In early June, we harvested our corn and cleared the stalks to expand the watermelon patch. The carrots were completely harvested by mid-July, becoming a part of tasty stews, soups and pup snacks. With an unseasonably mild early summer, our seedlings could not have asked for more ideal initial growing conditions and it was really looking to be a bountiful summer season. 

Then, an unfortunate turn of events. While we away in Seattle over the Fourth of July holiday, an epic heatwave hit Southern California and temperatures soared to 116 in our area, sadly burning much of our once-thriving garden to a crisp. (This article from The LAist explains what these new temperature highs mean for the future of growing plants in LA and be warned, it is seriously depressing.) We returned home to discover that the leaves of our yellow pear tomato had been burnt to the point of disintegrating into dust in our hands, the growth of my favorite and usually very productive sun golds had been stunted, near ripe bell peppers shriveled, and about half of the little mandarin oranges growing on our tree (to be picked next Spring) had turned into little black raisins. I almost cried. But on the bright side, we were surprised to discover which plants had managed to survive, some seemingly unscathed! The eggplant, strawberries, indigo rose tomatoes and the watermelon were the definite winners here.

And of course, I must give credit where credit is due. Their survival is largely due to my mom, who had been watching Hoku at our house when the heatwave hit. She had the sense to give our non-shaded garden a little extra daily watering in the early morning and late afternoon and essentially saved it from certain apocalyptic destruction. She claims the green thumb skipped a generation - my grandma could grow literally anything! - but I honestly think she has secret plant whisperer potential.


Have you been following our Watermelon Watch story highlights on Instagram? This little one is now 6 lbs! I think I'll devote an entire post to watermelons soon because that is how emotionally invested I am in these guys. 


In case you missed it, our patio space got a pretty big makeover. Check it out in this post here!

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And lastly, we took a weekend trip to Palm Springs when my little sister stopped through LA for a few days while her stuff made its way from New York City to San Francisco. (She's officially moved in now, so I guess it's time to plan a trip up to SF!) I've always loved The Parker and was so thrilled to collaborate with them on this post

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How is your summer going so far? I'm looking forward to some serious home-bodying in August before some light weekend wedding travels in September. 

A Girls + Pup Getaway at The Parker Palm Springs

When you live in Los Angeles, no summer is complete without sipping on a refreshing, fruity cocktail poolside in Palm Springs! So when my sister (Hoku's favorite aunty) stopped by to visit us on her way to a fresh, new start in San Francisco after nine years of living in the Big Apple, an extra special girls + pup weekend getaway at The Parker was in order.  What could be a more perfect summertime Southern California welcome?


Driving through the gates of The Parker is like discovering a secret oasis hidden away in the middle of the desert. Curious as always, Hoku stuck his nose out of the window as he had done many times in the past when we visited the resort for brunch at Norma's. (Little did he know that this time, we were coming back as guests!) The road continued to lead us past impeccably lush landscaping until we rounded a large fountain and The Parker's iconic, sky-high, bright orange doors came into view. We had officially arrived in Wonderland.


The hotel's lobby, designed by none other than interior designer Jonathan Adler, sets the tone for The Parker experience, perfectly blending whimsy and glamour. The cool details and bright pops of color is pure eye candy. We eagerly checked in with the nice ladies at the front desk and could not wait to see our room. 


We made ourselves right at home in one of the Parker's patio rooms, which has a spacious outdoor lounge area surrounded by vibrant, pink bougainvillea and a hammock with enough space for two. Hoku, who is not a fan of hammocks, chose to stay firmly put on the ground and found himself a comfortable spot on the soft sand. 


Even though it was an uncharacteristically overcast summer day for Palm Springs, temperatures had still climbed into the 100's and we wasted no time changing into our swimsuits and beelining to the Gene Autry pool to escape the dry, desert heat. (While the pool area is dog friendly - dogs are just not allowed in the pool - we decided it would be best if Hoku stayed behind to relax in the cool air conditioning of our room.) We were greeted by the friendly pool staff who quickly got us set up with fresh towels on poolside chaises under the happiest, yellow and white striped umbrellas. We alternated between taking dips in the water and sipping away at our delicious cocktails from the Lemonade Stand.

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For dinner, we wined and dined at Mr. Parker before taking Hoku on a starlit stroll around the property. Even in evening, The Parker's grounds are well lit and a welcoming communal fire pit surrounded by white butterfly chairs invited all to gather round.


The next morning, we woke up early to explore The Parker's expansive 13-acre property and to beat the heat of the day. From the pétanque court to the croquet lawn, we loved discovering all the little hidden corners and beautiful vintage doorways along pathways lined with lush greenery.


And of course, our visit to The Parker would not be complete without brunch on Norma's colorful, ultra pup friendly patio. The Normalita's Huevos Rancheros and Cripsy Belgian Waffle covered in Devonshire cream and fresh berries are two tried and true favorites. 


After a delicious brunch, we packed up our things, said goodbye to our pretty patio and passed through the great orange doors once again. We couldn't have asked for a more relaxing sister's weekend. If you're looking for a dreamy, pup-friendly desert hideaway, The Parker is where it's at. 


This post was created in collaboration with The Parker Palm Springs. All opinions and photos are my own. 

The Patio: Before & After

When we bought our little old house back in 2015, the backyard was not one of its main selling points. (You'll see what I mean at the end of this post.) It was overgrown with weeds and odd-shaped. In the northwest corner was a brownish-red brick paver patio that I solemnly vowed to eventually demo and replace with the likes of wood decking or limestone. Of course, that was before we renovated both bathrooms from the ground up, updated the kitchen, installed new HVAC, replaced the galvanized plumbing, refinished the hardwood flooring, painted the interior and exterminated the rats living in the attic. So needless to say, there was not much in the budget left over for the patio of my dreams. Six months down the line, we eventually saved up enough to redo the landscaping, created a garden space and bought new patio furniture. These simple updates went a long way in transforming the backyard and we finally weren't embarrassed to have friends over for barbecues.

Still, the patio remained in all its red, bricky glory. I considered adding an outdoor rug, power washing and overlaying some deck tiles like these from Ikea, but none of these felt like the right solution. Then one day, someone suggested lime washing and I figured it was worth a shot. So I drove to Home Depot and bought two quarts of lime wash and a cheap wooden brush for $75. For the next couple days, I painstakingly painted each brick by hand with a little 3" brush. Despite the inclement weather and phases of self doubt and painter's remorse, I couldn't be happier with the results. Most importantly, the three of us love spending time out here now more than ever, which was always the goal at the end of the day!


The lime wash I used is Romabio in Bianco White. The label claims that the wash is reversible up to 5 days with a power washer, so that was reassuring enough. The whole process took a couple days because I kept stepping back to examine it from afar. If one area looked too flat and opaque, I'd spray it over with the hose and use an old bristle brush to scrub down certain bricks to achieve the effect of depth and texture. 


For more progress shots & behind the scenes, check out my Instagram Story highlights!

Chairs: Article  //  Patterned Pouf: World Market  //  White Cushion: World Market  //  Green Cushion: Ikea  //  Green Side Table: Ikea  //  White Side Table/Propane Tank Cover: YLiving  //  Propane Fire Pit: Amazon  // Fire Pit Cover: Amazon  //  White Plant Stand: Amazon  //  Outdoor String Lights: Amazon


If you're wondering what this space looked like before, feast your eyes on these gems I dug up from the archives of an old phone. Some photos are from the very first time our realtor took us to see this little fixer upper, right after she cheerily cautioned us to "keep an open mind." I don't know if it was the dog poop or the air conditioning unit propped up with a stick but somehow we saw all of this and thought, yep we want to live here