Selecting a Color Theme for your Social Media Channels

I'm working with a new client, and it's been very fun. One of the first things I did when I took over their Instagram account is archive ALL their old content. Why? Because there was no rhyme or reason in the posting of images, no editing of photos and no general color theme. Sometimes it works that you can work without these things, but in this case, it didn't. Their engagement was non-existent and the images that were shared did not tell a story about the business. 

Social Media Short: you can seemingly 'delete' photos from your Instagram feed by archiving them. This is good if you want to play around with your theme, test a new posting strategy, or just don't like what you had posted way back when. To do this, on the upper right side of the image select the three dots, and then from the drop-down menu, select archive. 

After spending some time in my clients' shop (it's a home decor/gift shop) arranging, styling and photographing product, I've spent the last week uploading images on a consistent schedule on both Instagram and Facebook and we've seen a noticeable jump in engagement, likes, and followers. Such a great feeling and the client is thrilled!

Selecting a color theme can be difficult and frustrating. When I'm hired to revamp a blog or social media channel, the first thing I do is study what they sell, taking into account the predominant colors they use and any company colors, logo designs, etc. I'm very visual, so I usually know what look I'm going for pretty quickly, and design content uploads to reflect this, scattering in some other content that fits within the scheme. 

There are quite a few websites out there to help you decide a color theme if that's not your thing. Of course, Pantone is the industry standard, and they have handy chip books and color guides you can purchase to help you get started. Many paint brands also have fan guides and you can sometimes get them for free from the retailers (however, I don't think they're doing this all that much anymore). A trip to Home Depot, Lowe's or any other home improvement store that sells paint is also a great place to start. Take a look at the paint chips, and many of them have some complimentary colors that can help you decide on a color theme. It's fun to grab a few ideas and play around with them later. 

One resource I love is Design Seeds, a fantastic website of user-generated images that are paired with the real color codes so you select the actual color when designing in Photoshop, or any other image editing program. One of my favorite color combinations are blues and neutrals, and this palette is perfection.

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This particular palette is called Color Wander - see it all here.  If you are a color addict (like me!) take a look at Design Seeds for major inspiration! 

Weekend Frolic: Tiki Drink Master Class at Greenbar Distillery

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We've been having some very low key weekends lately, and I have to say, I'm not complaining one bit! The weather has been quite warm (understatement) and we've been enjoying afternoon cocktails in the yard. 

My husband has a certain obsession with all things tiki, and we are always on the lookout for new tiki bars and events (we're even thinking of a little day trip to San Diego very soon for Tiki Oasis!) So, when I was scrolling through Facebook late last week and happened upon a post from Greenbar Distillery announcing they still had spots for their Tiki Cocktail Master Class, I jumped.

We've been to several events at Greenbar - tours, tastings, classes - so we knew it would be a fun event and we would finally learn to make a proper Tiki cocktail. The thing I love so much about Greenbar is that they do a great job of breaking down a cocktail into sections and explaining why you need a certain ratio of sweet, sour, alcohol and extras to make the perfect drink. 

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After an explanation, and a short demonstration, we moved to tables set up with everything needed to concoct the perfect adult tiki beverage (I'm bummed I didn't take a photo of the set up - I was so excited to get started!). The one thing I tried to keep in mind as I made my cocktail is making sure the flavors I was combining were complimentary. I don't like overly sweet, but I don't like sour at all. Greenbar provides the guides (above) so you know exactly how much of each item/ingredient is necessary, and the lines across the circle mean you can mix that ingredient with another. For example, for the 1 oz. of alcohol, I could have done 1/2 oz. of the Grand Poppy Amaro and 1/2 oz. of their Tru Gin or Vodka. I wanted to keep it simple so I didn't mix too many different alcohols together. My first cocktail included mango fruit juice, Grand Poppy Amaro, Fruitlab Ginger Liqueur, honey syrup, lemon juice, and a few dashes of saffron bitters. 

And then you get to shakin'!

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After the pour into the official tiki glass (shown at the top!) you can garnish it with whatever you desire, and start sipping! We were able to make two cocktails, and the vibe is totally relaxed and fun. There is staff on hand to help with any questions or to get you out of any jam (like when your shaker won't come apart, not that that happened or anything...). We left with our recipes, ideas for more tiki-inspired drinks and another fun memory to cap off the weekend.

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Beautiful Outdoor Spaces

Happy July 4th! It's truly the season of outdoor living, barbecues and entertaining and we've been working to spruce up our backyard to make it more inviting and a place we actually want to hang out in!

We've lived in our current home for 18 years, and over time, our backyard has been through a few refurbishments. None of them big until this past fall, when we decided a major overhaul was necessary. My husband & I have gone back and forth on what our goals for the space were, and we had some major differences to work out. He wanted a lawn, while I wanted to go drought tolerant and low maintenance.

Considering the size of most Southern California yards, ours is large by most standards. We live on a street that curves uphill at the side of our property, so we have one of the largest lots in our neighborhood, just under 10,000 square feet, which affords us a nice sized backyard and a bit of side yard. The previous owner had put in a large cement patio which would be a fortune to rip out, so we've had to work with it. 

I'm in love with the idea of "garden rooms", where there are different areas and spaces for entertaining or chasing the shade on a lazy day. Since I've been dreaming of a beautiful backyard space for years, I set up a Pinterest board long ago that has since come in very handy. A few of my favorites that I used to draw inspiration from are below.

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I love the idea of a Pergola, and this space designed by Chip & Joanna Gaines is beautifully laid out with separate conversation areas as well as dining.

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This is so simple & organic, and I love the natural elements. It isn't clear how much sun this space would get, but in the evening it would be a lovely place to entertain, especially with the string of lights and a few well placed lanterns.

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I would have never thought to tile a patio, but holy cow this is gorgeous! Emily Henderson is a design hero of mine and she knocked it out of the park on this one. Seriously, click through on the image above to see the entire reveal, as well as the before photos, it's truly breathtaking. Through her use of color, texture, and layers she has truly created a beautiful and welcoming space that begs to be used for cocktail parties and entertaining every. single. day. (I would!)

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I'm super into this natural and boho design, and love that they didn't need a lawn to create a beautiful outdoor area. Gorgeousness aside, and as simple as it looks, those leather chairs and cloth poufs would need to be brought inside every night, especially here on the coast where the fog rolls in almost nightly.

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This is probably one of my favorite backyard redesigns. I like that they did the majority of the work themselves (we're huge DIYers) and worked with what they had in terms of size, climate and grass area. I love the pergola (which isn't in the cards for us) and the cute separate conversation areas. I probably got the most inspiration from this, adapting our space to fit our needs and budget. 

Today we will have a simple barbecue with a few people and I'm looking forward to using our new space fully. I'll try to snap some photos when everything is set and share a little before and after so you can see the progression. Enjoy your holiday and stay safe!

Two Days in Santa Ynez

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We just returned from a quick trip to Santa Ynez, and it was simply the best. We discovered the region 28 years ago when the parents of a close friend retired there, and we've been stealing away ever since. 

Santa Ynez Valley is located in the Los Padres National Park, above Santa Barbara, and is an easy 2-hour drive from Los Angeles. It was made famous by the movie Sideways in 2004, and the area really exploded after that. There are currently over 120 wineries in the valley and more are opening all the time. The valley encompasses the towns of Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Ballard, Solvang & Buellton, with Lompoc, Los Alamos and Santa Maria to the north.

Santa Ynez is one of those places that as soon as you drive into the valley, you can feel the stress of urban life melt away. And because it's only 2 hours away, it's an easy day trip for us when the feeling strikes, which is often! In fact, this was the first time in a few years that we actually stayed for two nights. 

This was a last minute trip that we planned when we realized that friends of ours from Florida would be there for a couple of nights before a wedding in Southern California, so we decided to crash their party. They're sweet, so they didn't mind!

We always strategically plan our time there and have our favorites that we always return to. Our typical MO is to drive almost to the end of Foxen Canyon Road and work our way back to town. I'm sharing our favorite stops below that we visited over the two day period, not all at once! We typically visit 3 wineries in a day, with snacks and lots of water between! I'm usually the designated driver since I'm not a big drinker, but I still really enjoy the scenery and vineyards.

Cambria Wines

Cambria Winery is way down almost at the end of the trail, off Foxen Canyon Road. It sits high up and has a gorgeous view of the vineyard. Of course, I didn't get a photo of that, but they have a window into the barrel room from the tasting area and the whole production always amazes me!

Waylan Wine Co.

Los Olivos is a sweet little town just outside Santa Ynez and has many tasting rooms lining the main street. This is actually a really nice way to experience the region without having to drive. Waylan Wine Co. is the new kid on the block in Los Olivos, and they have a gorgeous tasting room. They've only been open for a couple of months but we had a great time learning about their wines and their backstory, plus the host was so enthusiastic, we couldn't help but purchase a couple of bottles in support. They're still young, but they have a lot of potential.

Refugio Ranch Vineyard Tasting Room

Refugio Ranch Vineyard tasting room is another old favorite of ours, and even though it's not politically correct right now, I love their logo. They recently acquired another winery down the street, Roblar, that we visited the next day and had a beautiful picnic on their veranda (see below).

Hitching Post Restaurant

For dinner the first night, we tried Leonardo's, located in Solvang, and owned by the former co-owner and chef of Trattoria Grappolo in Santa Ynez. If you saw my Instagram, there was a little story about Chef Leonardo & I from a cooking class 10 years ago - we tried to recreate the photo as best we could, but we've both aged! After dinner, Scott and I had a quick nightcap at the Hitching Post, another throwback from Sideways, and ran into David Crosby as we were leaving! 

Riverbench Winery

The next day we started at Riverbench Winery, one of our favorites. It's right on Foxen Canyon Road, and is so beautiful. We are members of this wine club and love coming out for the pick up parties, which include small bites, wine and live music. They also have a tasting room in Santa Barbara, in the Funk Zone, which is where we frequently pick up from when we can't make it all the way into the valley. 

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Foxen Winery is an old favorite and now has two tasting rooms on their property. The shack (first photo) is an old favorite, and it quite literally is a shack. It has a ton of character and in the old days, the two winemakers were pouring while three old dogs wandered around. This is another place made famous by Sideways, and they have since opened a newer, larger tasting facility that is quite nice but lacks some of the character of the shack. 

Roblar Winery

Roblar Winery is just outside the town of Los Olivos, and has a beautiful patio that is perfect for a picnic. If you forget to bring provisions, they have a kitchen and serve up a small menu that perfectly pairs with their wines.

Dinner that night was at SY Kitchen, which is hands' down our favorite dinner spot in Santa Ynez. I neglected to take photos of the meal, but it's a tiny place that seems to always be happening. Plus, we had our second David Crosby sighting there!

When we returned home I realized that this is our last getaway of the summer (and summer just started!). That means fun weekend frolics near home before our trip to Scotland in September!  

Self Portrait with Boy

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It’s been ages since I did a Book Club post, and while I’ve been reading regularly, there hasn’t been a book that has moved me until recently. Self Portrait with Boy is the debut novel by Rachel Lyon, and it isn’t a masterpiece by any means. The writing is good, maybe a bit disjointed, but it was the moral dilemma presented in the book that has been on my mind.

The story centers on Lu Rile, a struggling (in every sense of the word) artist in New York City, set sometime in the early 1990’s. She lives in an illegal loft populated by other artists and works three minimum wage jobs to support herself, and help her ailing father with his upcoming cataract surgery. Her medium is photography, and she is working on a daily self-portrait project on the day the novel opens.

She is at day #400, and as she is sitting in her loft, she notices the light coming in through the windows and the seagulls swirling outside. She sets up her tripod, undresses and practices jumping through the air aiming to time the shutter release at the precise moment she arcs in her jump. Finally, she is successful, and moments later hears a commotion in the stairwell as neighbors who were having a party on the top floor and their guests rush downstairs. She is oblivious and takes the stairs up to the roof, where she discovers that the young son of her neighbors had fallen to his death minutes earlier.

When she develops the slide, it is everything she thought it would be – beautifully composed, perfectly centered and balanced, but there is an image that she can’t identify in a corner that propels her to develop a print. That image is the boy falling, and it elevates the entire image to a masterpiece of composition; her jumping through the air at the perfect arc and the boy falling in juxtaposition to that jump. Both jumps, in opposite directions (for the record, it is never clear if the boy actually jumps or has tripped & fallen) are stunningly beautiful and equally haunting.

I’m not spoiling anything here, the gist of the novel is shared in many places, including the book jacket. What follows in the telling, which I won’t go into, is the moral dilemma she faces as she has to decide how to show this piece of work and the friendship that develops in the aftermath of the accident with the boys’ mother, and how that will be affected by her photograph. What escalates the dilemma is her internal struggle coupled with the extreme financial hardship she is dealing with, and that is what has stayed with me since the last page. The novel does have a tendency to drone on at times, and it certainly wasn’t a book that I couldn’t put down, but it did keep me engaged and provided an escape when I needed a little downtime – and that’s what I look for in novels. That, and a pretty cover ;)

The Weekend in Photos

To say this weekend was eventful would be a huge understatement. I usually don’t like to plan more than one major outing during a weekend because I love the downtime and just hanging out with Scott. For some reason, this weekend started out with only one thing calendered, and snowballed from there!

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Friday night we headed downtown (again!) as I had scheduled a tour & tasting at Lost Spirits Distillery. We have already visited two other distilleries in the area, Greenbar & The Spirit Guild, but I had read that Lost Spirits has a very unusual tour, and we were curious.

Unusual is another understatement, and while it was a little kitschy, we had a blast. Think, a cross between Willy Wonka, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise & the Tiki Room. I’m not kidding. Housed in an industrial building, that looks quite small from the outside, you are taken on a tour that begins with a tasting of their bespoke rum, and then guided into a boat which delivers you to the still room. The story of their origins is fascinating, and they get 1000% for creativity and enthusiasm. As if the boat ride wasn’t enough, you are shuttled onto a floating carousel (see above) which delivers you to another stop in the production chain. It was very well done, and we had so much fun! Unfortunately, it is kept very dark, so photos are difficult. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area and up for something unusual, I highly recommend this experience!

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With no plans on Saturday, we found ourselves driving to the Getty Museum in mid-morning traffic, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages! In addition to street art, I’m a total museum junkie. I’m that person that has to stop at almost painting, read almost every description, get up close and personal with almost every piece of art. I’m intrigued with the brush strokes, the use of color and the composition. I’m also that person that often photographs art so I can remember it later, because it almost always evokes a feeling in me, often causing so much emotion I have been known to cry. (true story, ask my husband)

There was a great exhibit of some lesser known Rembrandt drawings and his India inspirations as well as a great exhibit of early American photography. And the gardens – no expense is spared, it is breathtaking and it was a gorgeous day to boot!

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Sunday was Earth Day, and Metro Bike Share was celebrating with free rides. There are several bike stations in Venice, so we headed there and rode around the Venice Canals. In all my years of living in Los Angeles, I’ve not been there! This is definitely on the Be a Tourist in your Hometown list. The Venice Canals are an area of man-made canals built in 1905 by Abbot Kinney in an attempt to recreate the appearance and feel of Venice, Italy. It’s an adorable area, and hard to believe that the hustle and bustle of Venice Beach is so close, not to mention Los Angeles and all its’ traffic. There are little bungalows dotted between modern architectural dreams, with footbridges and one-way auto bridges on a few streets. It’s so beautiful, and even with the remodeled homes has a certain charm that is unfound anywhere else in Los Angeles.

The weather this weekend was perfect for all these excursions! We finished the afternoon Sunday at The Rose Cafe in Venice where we indulged in a little day drinking and people watching. It couldn’t have been better. 

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Downtown LA Street Art Tour

A little-known fact: I love street art. Not the gangsta graffiti that litters the freeway, but actual art. Where an exterior wall is commissioned and painted in a downtown or city area. Whenever we’re driving or walking around, I almost always have my iPhone handy to shoot the street scenes and there’s no place more abundant in street art than Downtown Los Angeles. It turns out, there’s a tour for that – LA Art Tours provides guided, private and group tours of the downtown areas with an emphasis in several different categories: The Brewery Art Complex TourDTLA Graffiti/Mural TourUrban Art & Craft Beer TourAlley Adventure Graffiti Bike Tour, and the Santa Fe Art Colony Tour.

Last Sunday, we took the DTLA Graffiti/Mural Tour and it was so much fun. It’s a 2-hour walking tour in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District (one of our favorite places to hang out and explore), and it was led by a local guide, who is also a street artist. What I loved so much about the tour (besides getting up close to the art) was hearing the history of street art and the techniques that different artists use. Did you know, they don’t usually outline the art before they begin – no pencil, no chalk. They just go in and start layering – almost all of it is done with spray paint, using different nozzles to achieve different stroke looks and blending. It was mind-boggling, the talent!

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We also learned that every artist has their own unique style; with graffiti, the style is their signature. Many of the large-scale murals that are found Downtown are the product of street art groups, and they are usually commissioned for a few months to a year. After that, it gets painted over so another street artist can come in to do their work.

This is a very fun local adventure (be a tourist in your town!) and the perfect activity for out-of-town guests, and very inexpensive – our Graffiti/Mural tour was just $12 per person. There are several different time slots that you can schedule, but I would suggest early on Sunday before the crowds and cars make it difficult to see (and photograph!) the art. Afterward, head over to 3rd Street & Traction and grab a bite at Wurstkuche or Arts District Brewery and check out the free gallery at Hauser & Wirth.

Above all, don’t forget to wander!

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Be a Tourist in your own town!

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Have you ever played tourist in your own town? Probably not, but it’s a super cheap and easy way to spend a beautiful day outside. Yesterday we drove down to 22nd Landing at the Port of Los Angeles, where they have a Metro Bike LA Station next to our favorite brewery, Brouwerij West. A one-day pass is $7.00 (trips less than 30 minutes are only $3.50), all you have to do is download the app, create an account, enter payment information, and then follow the prompts on the kiosk and choose your bike.

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There isn’t a lot of traffic in that area, plus it was Sunday, but we simply crossed the street and rode into the Cabrillo Marina for a little sightseeing and easy exercise. There was just the slightest chill in the air but the wind was blowing against us so that definitely added to the work of the ride. It was such a gorgeous day, the sky was the bluest blue, with just a few clouds it was a perfect Sunday afternoon.

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Just past the marina is a large empty parking lot where motorcycle enthusiasts gather to ride and show off some shenanigans – there was a group of Mongrel Motorcycle Club members, and we watched one of them pop a wheelie, definitely a production because those bikes are large & heavy!

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A little further down the road, you can find the SS Lane Victory, which has self-guided tours daily and actually has a pretty interesting history. It was built in 1945 here in Los Angeles and served in World War II, the Korean War & Vietnam War, as well as part of a merchant fleet.

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You can continue down the road (north, I believe) and hit Ports O’Call Village and eventually the LA Waterfront Park. We did not continue down yesterday, but did this same ride last month on a warmer day and rode to the Waterfront Park and back. It’s a great ride, but Ports O’Call has certainly seen better days and really not worth stopping at.

Instead, we headed back toward the Metro Bike Station and rode through a 22nd Street Park, which is right next to the station.

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And of course, we couldn’t leave before topping ourselves off with a visit to the brewery, which actually happens to be our very favorite way of ending the weekend

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IF YOU GO...

  1. Visit Metro Bike LA for details. There is a map with locations (see below), mostly in metropolitan areas. I think it would fun to do this in Venice and Pasadena too, but I’d be wary of Downtown LA due to traffic.

  2. Download the app, create an account and load your payment information.
  3. Bring a backpack or crossbody bag, you don’t want your camera, phone or wallet falling out of your pocket, and while the bikes do have baskets, there are large gaps and small items will fall through.
  4. Bring water, money and a lock if you plan to stop for a bite or a beer.
  5. Watch the traffic, they might not be watching you!
  6. Have fun!

Crushing on the Black Farmhouse

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I think I first encountered a black-sided home last year while we road tripped through New Zealand. We were there in March, which is their autumn, so the leaves were beginning to change and some of the grasses in the fields had gone brown. In that early dormant state, you’d think the landscape would be barren and cold. But no, it was organic and beautiful. And every once in a while, we’d be driving (and we’d be the only car on the road for miles) and we’d drive through a tiny little town. In fact, the only way you’d know it was town would be the lone post office or feed store that would be on the highway. Other than that, nothing! It was surreal and quaint and felt like such a throwback. We loved it.

Driving through those small towns on the South Island, we passed many farmhouses – some old, some new, some restored. But never had I seen so many painted black with steel roofs. They looked so utilitarian, yet so modern and contemporary.

We are now in our mid-50’s, and retirement is so close we can taste it. What’s been happening is that every little trip we go on, we begin to imagine what it would be like to retire to that place. Certainly, New Zealand gave us that fantasy, but it’s so far away, it really is unrealistic. This past weekend we were in Paso Robles, and I was thrilled when Scott mentioned that he would consider that region for our next chapter (add it to Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Palm Springs, San Diego & Amsterdam).

Of course, my mind started immediately wandering, and I started fantasizing about building a dream farmhouse, on a small plot of 10 acres with an established vineyard (ha!). I think a black farmhouse would be the perfect structure to stand out on the rolling hills and majestic fields of Central California. A girl can dream

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