Our apartment in Redlands


We moved to Redlands, California last May, and I didn’t expect to find myself falling in love with this charming little city. We’re far enough away from LA/Orange County that the traffic is bearable, but close enough that we can still take day trips to the beach, to downtown LA for visits to the LACMA, or to our favorite pho place in El Monte. We live within biking distance to downtown Redlands, where you’ll find the post office, the most wonderful library, and an outdoor amphitheater where they hold musical concerts in the summertime. Dean’s commute to work is under fifteen minutes. There’s a fantastic night market/farmer’s market every Thursday. I’m volunteering at a wonderful local ministry where I work with underprivileged children in the area, and I love that it is just five minutes away from my home.

Sadly, we’ll be packing up again soon and moving on to another year of transitions. We’ll be living out of suitcases and relying on the kindness of friends and family for the next several months as we make our way over to New Jersey/New York/Washington D.C for Dean’s next set of rotations on this crazy journey of becoming a doctor. But we’re adventurers at heart, and so the prospect of exploring a new city for the next several months is something that we’re quite looking forward to!

Before we packed up our place, I wanted to capture some photos and memories of our apartment here. It’s been a good home to us, and I hope someday we can share these photos with our kids and tell them about this time in our lives when we lived in a little city called Redlands.

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A lot of the furniture in our home was bought second-hand, from thrift stores or Craigslist. We painstakingly refinished a lot of them, including this beautiful solid-wood mid-century table that I scored on Craigslist for $25. It even came with two inserts that can extend the table to seat ten! It was in pretty poor condition when we bought it, but after spending a couple days sanding, staining, and finishing, it was as good as new. We joke that it’s our first family heirloom we’ll be saving for our kids.

Some of the other refinished items in our home include: the teal lounge chair that I took apart and reupholstered in a bright linen, the coffee table, the blue velvet stool, and the side table. The side dresser is another project that I’d like to tackle someday. It has some great lines, but it’s covered in this strange off-white paint right now. We’ll see if that dresser makes the cut for our next apartment. :)

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Becky & Jay’s Wedding Invitation Booklet

9831 copy

We welcomed a new member into our family this summer, and oddly enough, she has the exact same name as me now. :) I was honored to design these wedding invitations for my brother-in-law and his lovely fiancée Becky. They’ve been dating for almost as long as Dean and I have been together (11 years!), so we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Becky very well throughout these many, many years.

For the wedding invitations, Becky wanted something fun, bright, and floral that could incorporate her palette of orange and pink, with pops of yellow and purple.

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Instead of having several pages of different components, we decided to bundle everything together into an invitation booklet. The first page was the wedding invitation, and the second page included all the travel and accommodation information.

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Like Dean and I, Becky and Jay met in junior high and have a long history together (including being high school sweethearts, staying together through college, and doing the whole long distance thing during grad school). It was only appropriate to include a timeline showing their love story!

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Another neat element in this invitation booklet was the tear-off RSVP. We included it on the last page of the booklet and asked guests to tear off, fill out, and return them post-card style.

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Coordinating wedding programs set the tone for their fun, outdoor wedding. My favorite part was the colorful sunglasses they provided for all their guests!

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Congrats, Becky and Jay! As you embark on this new journey together, I look forward to sharing in many more adventures with you two in the years to come!






DIY Striped Straws

Striped straws seem to be everywhere these days. I remember not so long ago, you could only find them in a few specific colors. Well, it looks like supply finally caught up with demand and now, you can find them in a rainbow of colors from a dozen different shops. But just because you can buy them, doesn’t mean you have to! Here’s a quick DIY for you on how to make your own striped straws in any custom color.

I love using the adhesive label sheets from Paper Source for this project because I can coordinate my straws with the rest of the party decorations.  I simply use the edges left over from the label paper I used for other elements of the party to make the straws.

Adhesive paper in color of choice (here from Paper Source or here for full sized color sheets)
White biodegradable paper straws (buy them in bulk here and keep on hand for all your parties!)
Paper cutter or exacto knife

Step 1: Cut 1/4″ strips of your colored adhesive paper.

Step 2: Peel off the backing.

Step 3: Starting at one end, twist your colored strip along the length of the straw. You may need to play around with different angles to use up the entire strip/not run out.

Step 4: Trim off the ends. That’s it!

Peach, metallic gold, neon! The possibilities are endless.


Elijah’s Red Balloon Birthday Party

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

I was so lucky to be able to celebrate my nephew Elijah’s first birthday with him this past weekend in his new Beijing home. My sister is a major francophile – she lived there for a year, fell in love with her husband there, and just returned there for the first time this past spring with Elijah! How appropriate it is that the inspiration for Elijah’s first birthday party came from the classic French film, The Red Balloon.

The Red Balloon is a charming film about a little boy in Paris who befriends a red balloon. Together, he and the balloon wander through the neighborhoods of Paris, making new friends and getting into trouble.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The concept for the party began with the invitations, which features a red balloon and string floating around Paris, outlining the city as it floats across. I thought it would be so fun to run with this string idea and turn it into a 2D/3D effect by “drawing” on the walls with black tape to create our own little Paris in Beijing. I added a little cafe, complete with table, chairs, and a lamppost. :)

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Can’t have a French party without berets!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

My sister handled most of the food preparations and cooked up some scrumptious French foods for our birthday brunch, including quiche lorraine, croque monsieurs, French toast, and an onion tart. Read more about the food details and recipes here.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Our drink bar featured Vietnamese coffee and a DIY mimosa station.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Since we didn’t have a red egg party for Elijah when he turned one month, we thought it would be meaningful to have them for his one year birthday.

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Sour cream chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. Elijah approves!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

C’est magnifique!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Nice to meet you!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

A teddy bears’ picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower.

A Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

Say cheese!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

And I’ll leave you with this awesome pic of Elijah. I can just hear him saying, “Oui, oui, oui, hon, hon, hon.” What a ham!

The Red Balloon birthday party | Lavender's Blue Designs

DIY Mini Colored Clothespins

I was browsing through Target the other day and found this fun colored tape set in the office/stationery section. I wasn’t sure yet what I’d be using it for, but I knew I’d have fun racking my brain for DIYs to put this tape to good use.

When I came home, I rifled through my craft supplies and discovered these wooden clothespins I had bought at Daiso (Japanese dollar store) back home in California. They seemed the perfect candidate for a quick dress-me-up with some colored tape.

The only materials you’ll need for this project are some colored tape (these ones from Target or some Japanese washi could work too!), mini or regular-sized clothespins, and a pair of scissors.

Step 1. Hold your clothespin with the metal hinge facing out.

Step 2. Align the top edge of the tape with the top of the clothespin.

Step 3. Firmly press the tape against the clothespin, lining up the edge.

Step 4. Trim the bottom edge off with scissors.

Step 5. Trim the long edge off with scissors (if you started on the wrong side, it will be harder to trim the long edge off because the metal hinge will be in the way).

And that’s it! Your mini clothespins are now ready for holding up craft projects, photographs, or attaching notes and tags to gifts.


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