sewing class

tote bag
sew LA's tote bag class project

well, i said it and i meant it, i just finished my first project-based sewing class where we completed a simple yet very cute lined tote bag. i really enjoyed taking my time and doing everything right. this is easily the cleanest, strongest item i’ve ever sewn, due in part to having such a solid machine. and this print is so cute, i think i might have to find an excuse to buy a couple yards of all the prints i’m in love with and make a bunch of pillow cases.

i’m currently taking classes with sew LA, a cute fabric shop originally from silver lake which just moved to atwater village, offering classes in the back half of a boutique fabric shop. next month i’ll work on a simple skirt and a dress, and beyond that i’ll see if i’m up for pattern making. it’s so fun!

160 years of singer

antique singer machine
antique singer machine, image:

so cute to see this antique singer sewing machine, nearly identical to the one my great grandmother used as a seamstress after coming to america a century ago. my mother still has the machine in her home, which folds away into a side-table. this machine would have been made when she was just 2 years old. today, the singer company celebrates 160 years in business, and print magazine looks at their products and aggressive advertising over the years here.

i learned to sew from my mother and a few friends who did a lot of sewing at home, but i was impatient and cut a lot of corners. after years out of the game, i gave away my machine to save space, and for some years, i didn’t really miss it. lately, however, i’ve thought it would be nice to have a machine again, and a few projects have come up that i either had to pass on, or do by hand. when i finally had some canvas chairs to repair, i sat down and thought about it seriously, asked around about hiring out the help, and finally did some research on machines.

singer stylist
singer stylist

i’m happy to say, after looking through how far the newer machines have come, and having a great new fabric store with sewing lessons nearby, i decided to dive back in and picked up a singer stylist. i also signed up for some classes with sew LA so i can undo all my lazy seamstress ways and replace them with good, solid garment construction. my first class is this week, and i’m already overwhelmed with all the cool fabrics to choose from. and of course, thinking about pattern design…!

creative inspiration


on the heels of this past weekend’s dwell show, we’re talking about my hometown of LA today, namely how they took eight of 10 of the restaurant design awards. use kcet’s wrap up as your destination list and start experiencing these places firsthand!


i first heard about greenbar collective while working with mohawk bend, the managers of which were very excited to add them to their bar menu. greenbar collective is a distillery based in LA’s clean tech corridor downtown, producing organic infusions and liqueurs. in addition to their philosophy and production chain, i’m also a fan of their label design. check out alissa walker’s story about greenbar’s history for kcet: a boozy peek at the future of LA food.

also, as we take a turn into grilling season, if you’re looking to add something special to the cooler without buying pre-packaged drinks, mix-up your own recipes and ice them in mason jars. great idea!

LA river greenway
it took a lot of work and involvement from the community, but the LA river greenway was recently designated a national recreation trail. if you haven’t been down to visit the newer pocket parks or ride the greenway, i highly encourage it! explore on your own, or use this piece i wrote for LAist to find the parks and some of the backyard chickens along the way!

friday fun

this video may have a slow start, but it delivers on a small-scale portable rube goldberg machine. see the full write-up along with a diagram of the machine at

creative inspiration


your city is a public orchard
your city is a public orchard, image:

looking at green things for the week of earth day, this letterpress fold-out urban guide by textbook studios is right up my alley. i’ve been a supporter public fruit mapping for awhile now, and i think this piece is a lovely tribute to the cause.

green gifts

greenhouse, image:

if you’re in a giving state of mind, this simply-packaged plant carrier is a really cute gift / promo idea. die-cut out of a single sheet of cardboard, wrap the plant gift of your choice and hand them out.

speaking of plants, it’s time to get out into the garden and try out some springtime projects. this run-down of back-yard projects can get you started.


eco perch
eco perch, image:

i’ve been looking at this post a lot this week. eco-perch: a luxury treehouse prefabricated concept home you can assemble on land or in the trees. i’m not so sure i’d live in one full-time just yet, but as far as the concept of a vacation home, i think it’s a dream! if you’re fascinated with tiny houses, i found the tiny house blog while looking at a few of these.

compliment bombs: just one great use of school-style valentines

compliment bombs
compliment-bomb your friends with a gaggle of valentines!

probably the only weapons of mass appreciation you can get away with sending through the US mail are compliment bombs! why spread all your valentines around if you really want to say a bunch of nice things to one person? shower them with niceness, write a unique sentiment on each card in my school-style valentine packs benefitting dayna stephens and mail it, hide it in a sure-to-find place or hand-deliver to your most valuable targets.

this idea came about when my super-awesome friend, colleen, decided to sponsor a pack of valentines with the instructions that i should donate them to some lucky person who would use them. and that’s a real nice idea, but i said NO WAY! because colleen is one of my favorite people, and i’m not sure if she knows the profound effect she has on everyone around her. so i thought, what if i just write all her valentines back to her and surprise her with them [i hope she gets them before she reads this post]. beyond making something nice for a friend, it’s a great exercise to list all the things you’re grateful for—even in just one person. imagine the connectedness you can create by identifying your gratitude for everyone you know!

so skip the flowers [plant seeds instead and enjoy them all year], skip the chocolates [unless it’s that dark chocolate with sea salt caramel bar from trader joes, i’ll take that any day], click on the BUY button below and get started on building your very own homemade BOMBS! of love, that is. i don’t stand to make a penny here, once i pay the state and the post office, all the profits go to help dayna stephens. we’re in the home stretch, and if we sell them out, i’ll double your money in a matching donation! let’s do it!

farro pomegranate salad

farro pomegranate salad
farro pomegranate salad

i’ve been playing around with farro lately, since it’s such a nice alternative to rice. i think it does particularly well as the bulk of a more pilaf-type salad, with fruit, nuts and greens all cut to similar sizes. i pulled this selection of seasonal flavors for a hearty late-fall farro salad.

farro pomegranate salad
1 cup farro
2 cups water
arils from 1 pomegranate
2 apples [i chose 1 fuji and 1 granny smith]
juice of 1 lime
6 roasted garlic cloves, mashed with a fork
2 tbs olive oil [i used garlic-infused canola oil]
1/4 cup italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
1 handful arugula leaves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon zest, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt & pepper to taste

cook the farro in 2 cups of salted water until water boils away and farro is al dente. cut apart the pomegranate and collect all the seeds. chop apples, collecting pieces in a bowl, and sprinkle with lime juice.

place the farro in a large mixing bowl. add the mashed garlic cloves and oil, parsley, almonds, arugula, lemon zest and parmesan cheese and mix well to incorporate. fold in the apples and pomegranate arils and mix gently to incorporate. salt and pepper to taste. serve warm or chilled.

preserved meyer lemons

meyer lemons
meyer lemons

sometime last year i tried out making preserved meyer lemons, and they rapidly became one of my favorite flavors to keep on hand for seasoning all kinds of food. meyer lemons just reappeared in the farmer’s market, and they’ll be around all winter. enjoy them fresh while they’re ripe, but try making preserved lemons early in the season so you can try them out, and then you’ll know if you need to make 4-6 more jars to keep through the summer.

preserved lemons are really simple to prepare. you’ll want some quart-sized canning jars, preferably wide-mouth, a good amount of coarse sea salt, and about 8-12 lemons for each jar.

meyer lemons, quartered and salted
meyer lemons, quartered and salted

some people like to cut the stem-ends off their lemons, but since i like to use the whole thing, i left the ends on. since i’m using meyer lemons, which have thinner skins anyway, i slice from the non-stem end lengthwise to the stem end without cutting all the way through. turn 90 degrees and make a similar cut, so you have a quartered lemon that is attached at the base. if you work over a plate, you’ll be able to collect any juice to pour in the jar later.

you’ll always end up with some seeds, but this is a point where i try to remove any i can get to. once you’re ready, pour salt into the quartered lemon, coating all interior sides, close the quarters and place it in the jar. as you work, you’ll want to jam the lemons together, packing them as tightly as you can to release juice and eliminate space for air.

i worked with 11 lemons total, and my jar was about full with 8 of them inside. i zested the last 3, since they’ll just be used for juice [reserving the zest for other projects] and juiced the remaining lemons into the jar to submerge the preserved lemons and add a tablespoon of salt. place in the pantry for a couple days, and then into the refrigerator for about a month. once a the peels have softened and the salt and acids have worked the lemon oil from the skins, you’ll have a deeply flavorful addition to all kinds of meals.

preserved meyer lemons, packed in a jar
preserved meyer lemons, packed in a jar

some say to wash the lemons of their salt before use, but i just chop up the whole thing and forego salting the dish i’m making instead. one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is to top chicken or fish with chopped preserved lemon and oil and then broil. here are some other ways to use preserved lemon:

preserved lemon dip
cracked green olives with herbs and preserved lemon
farro, white bean and preserved lemon salad
spanish anchovy, fennel and preserved lemon salad
israeli couscous with roasted butternut squash and preserved lemon
grilled wild salmon with preserved lemon relish
preserved lemon citrus chicken with chervil gremolata
moroccan chicken with preserved meyer lemons and green olives

apple, celery & lemony yogurt slaw

this recipe, with many other delicious treats for thanksgiving, appears in the parlato design studio seasonal eats recipe guide! request a free copy before november 7 [details here], and follow the thanksgiving2011 tag for more recipes as they become available. enjoy & thanks for being awesome!

apple, celery & lemony yogurt slaw

i decided to include a fresh, crunchy salad in my thanksgiving menu, because so much of thanksgiving food is carb-laden comfort food, i thought it would be nice to contrast that with some raw greens and fruit. this salad is really easy to prepare if you have an adjustable mandoline with a julienne attachment [it’s not necessary, but it cuts the prep time down a lot]. replacing any mayonnaise with yogurt, we’re getting a leaner fat and protein, and natural probiotics. beyond being tangy and refreshing, a little of this salad goes a long way!

apple, celery & lemony yogurt slaw

half a head of napa cabbage
4 medium apples, mixed
2 large stalks celery
1 cup plain greek yogurt
juice and minced zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp crushed
mustard seeds
1 tb apple cider vinegar

slice cabbage crosswise thinly [about 1⁄8” thick] and place in a large mixing bowl. julienne the apples into matchsticks with a knife or a julienne mandoline and place in the bowl. slice celery stalks thinly crosswise with a knife or mandoline and place in the bowl.

in a small mixing bowl, add the yogurt, minced lemon zest, mustard and mustard seeds, mix to incorporate. whisk in the vinegar and lemon juice to incorporate quickly to prevent curdling. salt and pepper to taste.

pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. transfer to a serving bowl to serve.


make it vegan
substitute the dairy yogurt for vegenaise, cultured soy, or coconut vegan yogurt
skip the yogurt and make…
lemon viniagrette
lemon maple vinaigrette

alternate ingredients
– increase the color contrast with some red cabbage
– increase the tangy factor with some radicchio
– spice it up with some julienned radishes
– increase the probiotics with some saurkraut
– go all out on color and fiber with vitamin-rich root veggies like julienned carrots and beets