Why It’s Been Quiet Around Here

Hello all!

It’s been insanely quiet around here and for an exciting reason! I have been taking graphic design classes at night for the past 2 years and I’m finally on my last class- portfolio!

It’s been the most challenging class. I’m creating 8 projects to include in my portfolio. I am create a full project with 4 components (sometimes more!) EACH WEEK. It’s CRAZY/SCARY how many hours I’ve logged on the computer doing work…

Due to the workload, I had to put designing products for Adventure of Letters on hold, but I hit an exciting milestone — 100+ orders! Never did I think that I would be selling that many cards or have so much freelance work opportunities. It’s been a great experience and I can’t wait to be done with Portfolio class and be able to make all the creative ideas in my head a reality!

Hopefully more posts soon! 2 more weeks!
Ann

EAT x MAKE // Belated Valentine’s Day Celebration

You know what? I had a belated Valentine’s Day celebration. It was actually a birthday, Valentine’s Day, and anniversary celebration all thrown in together. But it actually doesn’t even matter what the occasion was– this was one of the most fun things I’ve done.

It took a little planning and time to bake up most all the goodies, but once that was all aside, throwing a tea party is really a cinch. You could really buy little treats at your local store too, if you don’t have the time to bake. (I recommend Trader Joes!)

I made:
– strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting topped with fresh fruit (baked them 2 weeks ago and froze them– still super moist!).
-blueberry orange zest scones (doubled up on the orange zest!!!)
-Earl Grey shortbread cookies
-lemon dill cucumber finger sandwiches
-roasted bell pepper bleu cheese roast beef finger sandwiches

My boyfriend made:
-tomato ham finger sandwiches
-tomato lettuce turkey finger sandwiches

We bought:
-macarons (TJs)
-tart, eclair, cannoli (Whole Foods)

We made:
-London Fog lattes (Earl Grey)
-Bliss Tea (Peppermint Tea Latte)

My mom joined in on the fun too, and we ended up cutting everything you see into even smaller portions so that we could taste test everything! It was such a fun experience and definitely cost far less than going to a tea party place!

tea party high tea finger sandwiches scones fruit pastries patisserie
What are your favorite tea party treats? Do share! 🙂
Ann

Happy New Year || 2017 Intentions and Goals

Happy New Years, everyone!

2016 was an extremely busy and challenging year, but one full of learning and growth! There was so much disappointment, sadness, and upset… but there were also so much to be joyful about!

new years adventure of letters

My 1 word intention for this year is: RELAX.

2016 was full of firsts in starting my own small business called Adventure of Letters, selling hand lettered and illustrated greeting cards (most of which were either pun filled or pop culture related). It was a lot of hard work and learning on the job. Walking into this year, I have a better idea of how to do things.. but I know I have a lot to learn still! Last year, I spent most of my time creating designs; this year, I’ll be focusing more on social media/marketing/blogging… and expanding products beyond cards!

But wait… didn’t you say your intention was to RELAX this year, Ann?

Yes! I really started to find a better work/life balance a few months ago… and I’m stoked to continue fine tuning that balance. In August, I started a new job teaching PE (I taught 1st grade only prior) on a whim… and I also started taking night classes again. I was EXHAUSTED, but finally started to get used to things probably a month ago. Transitions and change are hard, but I’ve learned to be patient with myself and trust the journey.

I’ll slowly be sharing my mini goals this month.. but for my blog, look forward to a wider variety of topics: more DIY projects (some freebies!), more food related posts (meal planning, sharing recipes, etc), fashion (capsule.. since I’ve transitioned further into sustainable/ethical fashion), and hopefully more travel/adventure pictures!

I’m so excited for what 2017 has in store. Cheers to a new year!

Ann

LIFESTYLE | 7 Tips to Survive Being Outdoors All Day

My side hustle is basically designing and creating cards and stationery for Adventure of Letters, but my day job is teaching PE! It’s a new thing this year since I was teaching 1st grade for 4 years prior, but so far, I love it! I get to be outdoors, running around and getting kids active too. Win-win for me since I love being outdoors and I value staying active. Here are a few things I’ve learned about having a job that is outdoors!

  1. Wear and REAPPLY sunscreen.
    1. I can’t stress reapply enough, really. I use this for face SPF and this for my body. The former has serum built in, so that helps with keeping my skin healthy, not just protected. Being out in the sun all day dries your skin out, so I need that serum. The latter, I love because it’s not too sticky and the coconut scent is divine. It’s like you’re on a beach on vacation. It also doesn’t leave a chalky residue on you.
    2. I also use hand SPF! I wash my hands A LOT throughout the day because handling sports equipment that has come across a lot of students’ hands.. gets plain dirty. Regular SPF will wash off quickly with soap, but this one has proven that it stays on for at least 2 more washes than with normal SPF! It also is very moisturizing. Handling sports equipment with dry cracked hands is actually fairly painful.
  2. Wear a hat and sunnies.
    1. Don’t think you’re good to go with SPF only. Your eyes need protecting.. and if you’re constantly squinting.. you’re gonna get wrinkles on your face after a while! Most days, I wear a baseball cap because it makes it easier to move around, but I prefer to have a big hat with a wide brim that can cover my shoulders too!
  3. Hydrate.
    1. More than you think you need.. and throughout the day. I made this mistake thinking I was fine my first week, then ended up with a massive headache.
  4. Exfoliate!
    1. When I get home, I’ve got 3-4 layers of reapplied sunscreen on me, so exfoliating is a big deal to me. I need to slough off all that sunscreen and moisturize. I use one of those dry brushes to scrub off the caked on sunscreen and dead skin.
  5. Moisturize.
    1. Immediately after getting out of the shower, I slather on coconut or almond oil. It absorbs into my skin rather than sitting ON my skin as most lotions do. I’ve noticed I need to put on oil/lotion 2-3 times a day now because the sun really does dry out your skin.
  6. Change up the cut/length of your tanks/tees/shorts/pants.
    1. If your’e like me and you tan very easily.. you get lots of different farmers tans. My tans also stay for a pretty long time before it fades. Change up the cut/length of your tops and bottoms so you don’t continue to tan the same every day. My tan evens itself out eventually, with the exception of my sock tan. I wear low socks, but my foot is definitely a lot lighter than my legs! HAHA
  7. Stretch + Soak.
    1. I stand all day on hot asphalt. My knees, ankles, and feet are so tired at the end of the day… so I take the time to stretch while my students are active. I also do an Epsom salt foot soak every night to soothe my aching feet.

 

That’s it! Whether you work outside, or you’re on vacation and spending days out in the sun.. those are my 7 tips to surviving being outdoors all day! Hope they help you out!

Ann

TRAVEL | Apple Picking x Fresh Fall Fruit

It is no secret that I LOVE picking fruit. Why? I have good memories of picking fruit in the summer as a kid with my family– that simple. Something about being driven to find the ripest and plumpest fruit appeals to me. Let’s not lie here.. I also like the feeling of the fruit snapping off its stem. Anyone else find gratification in that?

This past weekend, I went up to Clearview Orchards in Watsonville to pick some apples. I chose this orchard because their website said they have an abundance of Fuji apples (my favorite variety)! Another thing I was looking forward to was freshly pressed apple juice.

It’s a small orchard, but there are plenty of trees to pick from. My favorite part was Jethro the tortoise and that they have a guest cottage you can rent!! Let’s start the photo roll with the GOODIES I bought. 3 jars of local honey (I drink 2-3 cups of tea a day on average!), an apple popsicle, a small apple juice, and an apple turnover. That turnover was gigantic, but more importantly, delicious. Enjoy the photos!

Apple Picking Harvest Goodies Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Fresh Fuji Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Views Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Fresh Fuji Clearview Orchards WatsonvilleApple Picking Fresh Fuji Clearview Orchards WatsonvilleLocal Honey Apple Picking Clearview Orchards WatsonvillePumpkin Patch Apple Picking Clearview Orchards WatsonvillePumpkin Gourds Squash Apple Picking Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Honeycrisp Clearview Orchards WatsonvilleApple Picking Lavender Sprigs Clearview Orchards WatsonvilleApple Picking Bag Sprigs Clearview Orchards Watsonville

Apple Picking Fresh Fuji Denim Bag Clearview Orchards Watsonville img_1584 img_1589

Until next time,
Ann

EAT | Dan Tat

If there’s one thing I actually enjoy eating at dim sum, it’s gotta be dan tats. Dan tats are basically egg custard tarts. There are different versions of them such as the po gok tat- the Portuguese version I had in Macau, China. Different bakeries also make the tart crust differently. Some have it more dense like a shortcake, but my favorite is the puff pastry like crust with tons of flaky layers.

I’m not much of a recipe blog, but I do cooke/bake because I DO eat. For now, I won’t be posting recipes or directions (unless I used a link). Treat this as more inspiration!

First you make what I call puff pastry Chinese style. I make my pastry dough from scratch. It is way more work intensive, but worth it. I rolled and folded this one 3 times with a total of 10 new layers. More layers = more layers of flakiness. I don’t fold too many times because the dough starts to break down with the new addition of flour and it either gets too mushy or too tough.

dan tat pastry dough

dan tat putting it together

I rolled out the dough and cut it out to the size of my mini tart tins. I use aluminum tins, so you don’t ever have to spray or flour them. They don’t stick for me.
dan tat fresh out the oven dan tat fresh out the oven 2
dan tat layersdan tat time to eat

Hope you’re having a great Labor Day weekend!

A

TRAVEL | Alameda Point Antiques Faire

Earlier this month, I ventured out to the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. It’s held the first Sunday of every month with scaffolded pricing. The earlier you go, the more expensive. I didn’t get that at first, so I went for the $5 admission, which was after 9am.

Once I got there, I realized why. EVERYONE is bustling and grabbing the great deals early in the morning!!! It was way busier and packed than I expected. I’ve been to the San Jose Flea Market before and it’s dwindled since I remember going as a kid. I thought it’d be like that, but NOPE. I guess Alameda’s Flea market is the place to go!

I wasn’t searching for anything in particular, but it was fun looking at all the stuff that was there. There were tons of vendors with a lot of useful stuff. I was looking for some cool lettering things or antique art supplies, but didn’t find much. I was also looking for  Le Crueset  dutch oven to add to my kitchen!

My favorite as you’ll see were the record players, suitcases, and vintage signage! I like the idea of having those suitcases stacked in my living room because it doubles as STORAGE, but looks presentable! What do you look for when you’re thrifting?

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TRAVEL | Carmel, CA

The last time I visited Monterey/Carmel back in April 2015, I did the Pebble Beach and Point Lobos State Park things. It was more of an explorer and adventure trip. This time my focus was relaxation.

There are many places for coffee/pastries, but I decided to go with a place that many locals go to. I grabbed lunch, but missed out on getting their angelwings and raspberry croissants. Evidently, they only bake it once a day and they’re sold out by 10am. Next time!

Paris Bakery Monterey

I won’t stop raving about the French Onion Soup. The broiled crispy bread.. but unlike many places I’ve ordered the soup, Paris Bakery puts 2 layers of bread, so you have enough for the whole cup of soup. The broth was definitely well flavored. Gosh, this is what dreams are made of.Paris Bakery Monterey Pesto Chicken French Onion Soup Paris Bakery Monterey

I also went to Monterey Fish House instead of the Fisherman’s Grotto, despite it having fewer reviews on Yelp. I don’t really eat seafood because I have allergies to shrimp and lobster specifically. One thing I CAN eat are scallops, and so, I naturally got the scallop pesto linguine with vodka sauce. It was tasty and there were many Bay scallops. Monterey Fish House Scallop Linguine

A got the Sicilian Holiday Pasta. He said it had a LOT of seafood in it. “A piece for every bite of pasta”. I think there were clams, mussels, shrimp, squid/calamari, and 2 big pieces of salmon. Monterey Fish House Seafood Holiday Pasta

A hole in the wall place we tried out was Baldemiro’s Taco Shop. It was 2 streets down from the AirBnB. It was pretty good! I love tacos from taco trucks, but they don’t always load up the meat and toppings. Baldemiro’s DOES. I mean.. A’s tacos had 3-4 shrimp on EACH TACO. Baldemiro's Taco Shop tacos

Lastly, Carmel Beach. I’m not the biggest fan of Carmel downtown. It’s cute and quaint. I enjoy grabbing coffee and a pastry and sitting in the patio area at Carmel Coffee House on Ocean. It’s tucked into an alley, but if feels like Pike’s Place a little. It was overcast on beach day, but it was still beautiful nonetheless. I could spend forever on that beach and its soft white sand. Carmel Beach Carmel Beach Panorama

What are your favorite spots when you’re in the Monterey/Carmel area?

Ann

TRAVEL | Monterey, CA

One of the biggest attractions in Monterey is the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I haven’t been since I was maybe 10, so I decided to pay a visit this time around. The AirBnB I rented had guest membership cards, which is really what made me choose it in the end. Admission for an adult is $50, so it’s a steep admission if you ask me.

I got there late morning and it was already bustling. It’s definitely smaller than I remembered, but I went through each exhibit slowly. I really enjoyed the huge tank with the sharks and seeing all the jellyfish! After that, you can walk down the stretch of Cannery Row and even dip your toes in the Bay along the way (you’ll see a beach entrance area). IMG_2345-2monterey bay aquarium shark tank monterey bay aquarium otter monterey bay aquarium seahorse monterey bay aquarium shrimp monterey bay aquarium touch tank monterey bay aquarium otter feed monterey bay aquarium monterey bay aquarium octopus
monterey bay aquarium digital fish monterey bay aquarium shark attack monterey bay aquarium multiple jellies monterey bay aquarium orange jellyfish monterey bay aquarium egg yolk jellyfish monterey bay aquarium egg yolk jellyfish 2

Next post, CARMEL! (and food pictures.. of course).

Ann

TRAVEL | Capitola, CA

On the way down to Monterey, I love stopping in downtown Santa Cruz for a coffee break or a stretch break. I love Verve Coffee and the Penny Ice Creamery (which serves Verve Coffee ice cream!).

My 2 favorite shops are Stripe (they have a men and a womens a few stores down). They take such care to decorate their store and it’s curated so well. It helps also that everything in those stores are in my style aesthetic, I’ll be honest. It’s a great place to pick up gifts for others or something special for yourself! They have home goods, cards, clothes, hats, and even sunnies!

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Less than 15 minutes away is Capitola, which is the home of the infamous row of colored houses. Parking is not easy to come by at the beach front, but that’s to be said about any beach, right? This time, I took my chances to see if there was parking and to my surprise, I found a spot right in front of Mr. Toots Coffee House. I’d never noticed this place before, but they had a sign outside advertising “Free Wifi” and “a great view”. I guess you could always eat at the restaurants on the waterfront or head down to the beach, but it sure is relaxing to be on your laptop doing work and still get a great view! There are only 2 tables on the terrace, so cross your fingers and hope they aren’t taken!

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Capitola State Beach is much less crowded and low key than Santa Cruz Beach (Boardwalk), so if you’re into a day on the beach out on the sand, I’d suggest to head over to Capitola. And hey, if you’re not feelin’ Capitola when you arrive, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is only about 15 minutes away!

Capitola Beach

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