2016: Year in Review

Although 2017 is time to move forward, I wanted to reflect on 2016. 2016 was a tough year with lots of mixed emotions besides that in politics. 

Running a business and working full-time is really rough, but I'm not making enough to support myself yet, so for now I just have to keep hustling.

Design + Happiness has definitely been a crazy ride this past year with many tears shed. It's been tough to navigate all the parts of running a business. Designing is the fun part, but working with manufacturers and printers I think has been the toughest part for me. I've gone through many different places trying to find one to settle with. I don't know how people do it. I've definitely wasted a lot of time and money with companies that have created inconsistent products or just bad products for me. I'm hoping 2017 is the year that I can figure out my production process so I can get back to focusing on designing. 

On a high note, I got my first wholesale account this year and got a total of 4 by the end of the year. I attended 2 additional craft fairs this year, Renegade Craft Fairs, that I didn't get into the prior year. And 10x'ed my sales on Etsy. So things are looking up, slowly but surely. 

Additionally, we got to go to some fun adventures including a couple trips home to LA, a trip to New York, and Dillon Beach. Boba turned 1 this year and is continuing to brighten our day. I got to go hang out at Camp David as part of my work, which was a chance of a lifetime that I will never forget. I ran another half-marathon. And had a great, white Christmas and a fun New Year with my family. Those were some of the highlights of the year. 

Here are my resolutions for the year:

  1. Continue to grow and improve my business
  2. Go to at least one craft fair outside of San Francisco
  3. Blog more
  4. Exercise more
  5. Eat healthier
  6. Worry less
  7. Go on more adventures
  8. Learn how to play the ukulele
  9. Take more pictures
  10. Continue to make more things
  11. Keep on hustling

We'll see how it goes! What are yours? Hope everyone has a fantastic year! Happy New Year!

New York City

Grant and Boba had never been to New York City, so we decided it would be fun to go hang out there for a week. We decided to rent out an Airbnb in Williamsburg as hotel prices were really high. I loved being close to the subway, cute coffeeshops, restaurants, and shops. It was a little colder than I would have liked, but we survived! I was also able to catch up with old high school friends and old co-workers, which was another nice bonus. In no particular order, below are some of our highlights. 

 

Manhattan highlights:

ASSSSCAT 3000 at UCBT Chelsea - On Sunday nights they offer a free improv show at 9:30pm as long as you're willing to wait in line. We waited in line for about an hour, then they give you a number. Once you get a number you can roam around until the show starts which is about an hour later where you then stand back in line in numerical order. The show was great and was one of our favorite things we did on our trip. 

New York Pizza Suprema - We had some time to kill before ASSSSCAT 3000 so we walked around and found this pizza place. I think this was my favorite pizza out of the slices we tried so far. We mainly went to cheap pizza places. I really liked the Upside Down Pizza. Although Prince Street Pizza's pepperoni pizza is a close 2nd. 

Prince Street Pizza - I liked their pepperoni pizza. 

Dominique Ansel Bakery - If you want a cronut, you want to get there before 10am. We got both the DKAs and Cronuts. They were both delicious, but I think I'm leaning toward team DKA. I would love to try another cronut flavor though.

Paintbox - This place is definitely a splurge, but I love their nail designs and branding as a whole, so I had to try it at least once. I loved the entire experience from when you enter the door and see their pink furniture and look through their nicely bounded book of nail designs. I got my nails done by Evelyn and loved the outcome. I got a gel mani featuring the use of loose glitter that lasted about 3 weeks. 

Baohaus - Since we watch Fresh Off The Boat, we wanted to check out Baohaus. The Chairman Baos were our favorite. 

Momofuku Milk Bar - Since we watch MasterChef we wanted to check out Momofuku Milk Bar. Even though it was cold out we still decided to try cereal milk ice cream and I'm glad we did. 

Birch Coffee - I love Chai lattes and really loved the one here. We got it twice during our trip at two different locations and they were both yummy. I could use some now. 

ABC Carpet & Home - Many floors full of beautiful home goods and fun decor. In particular, I loved seeing Muuto furniture in person. 

Ippudo - The ramen special we got was ok. We probably should have went with the classic, but we loved the Yamitsuki Goma Kyuri, pork Hirata Buns, and lychee soda. 

Katz's Delicatessen - I made sure to have Grant watch When Harry Met Sally before we went to New York so we can go here. We shared a half pastrami sandwich and half matzo ball soup. They were both delicious. 

Van Leeuwen Aritisan Ice Cream - We stopped by to share some delicious honeycomb ice cream.

Pietro Nolita - If you love pink like I do, you'll love this place. We were too late for their breakfast, but we were able to get a yummy croissant and take pictures. 

Away - I love their carry-on suitcase and their store happened to open the week we arrived. I loved seeing the other sizes in person and the customer service was excellent. I really want to get the medium size suitcase one day. 

McNally Jackson Store: Goods For The Stuff - A cute, small store with pretty office supplies. 

Maman - Love the to-go cups and lavender hot chocolate. I wasn't sure about lavender in hot chocolate at first, but then I loved it. I like chocolate, but sometimes I think it's too much and I thought that the lavender complemented the chocolate very well to not be so sweet. I need to try making some lavender hot chocolate myself. 

Russ & Daughters Cafe - Love the decor and design. The wait was long, but we walked around the area and checked out some stores in the area. We enjoyed the Lower Sunny Side, Matzo Ball Soup, The Classic Board, shrub, and egg cream soda. 

CW Pencil Enterprise - Pencils, pencils, pencils. If you love pencils, this is the place for you. 

Anna Sheffield Jewelry - I've been following Anna Sheffield on Instagram for a while now, and wanted to see her jewelry in person. It was more beautiful in person. 

Uncle Boons - A one Michelin star Thai restaurant. The food was pretty tasty. We enjoyed the bone marrow, Mieng Kum, Roti, Khao Soi, and Massamun Neuh. Although, I like my parent's Massamun a little more. :)

Whitney Museum - Love that it was pay what you wish on Fridays from 7pm - 10pm, since we only had 1 hour left until closing. 

American Museum of Natural History - We enjoyed looking at all the taxidermy and gemstones and going to the Planetarium. Although, if you go to the Planetarium I recommend sitting in the back as you would probably not strain your neck as much as we did. We sadly did not see Neil DeGrasse Tyson there. :P

Washington Square Park - We just liked sitting near the fountain and people watching. 

Highline - Loved walking through the Highline and sitting down every now and then to soak it all in. The Highline is just such a great idea. I really wished San Francisco had something like this. 

Central Park - We rented bikes and biked through the park. It was a great way to take in the park. I wished we had a little more time to make more stops, but we did stop to see the Alice in Wonderland sculpture and Strawberry Fields which were pretty cool.

 

Brooklyn Highlights:

Pies 'n' Thighs - The wait was a little long, but food was worth the wait. We enjoyed the chicken biscuit, smoked bacon collards, mac 'n' cheese, cheese grits, cornbread, and cherry pie. 

Bulter's Bakeshop - Such a beautiful space. I love the gold tabletops, the pink to-go cups, and pastries from a Michelin starred pastry chef were tasty. We especially loved the breakfast empanada with green sauce pictured below. 

Loosie's Kitchen - We had a great brunch here! If you want to eat brunch here on the weekend, you'll need to make a reservation online. When you get there, you'll walk through a bar to get to the dining area. The decor is very pretty and the food was delicious. They also have a fun outdoor area, but they had just installed some insulation and weren't able to open the doors when we were there. Our favorites were the baked eggs, eggs benedict, and the nutella beignets! 

loosies-kitchen

Wiliamsburg mural - Found this sidewalk through @aww.sam's Instagram and I had to find it. It's at Metropolitan and Roebling right where the Citi bikes are. I'm glad we went there even though it was out of our way and I didn't have much time to soak it all in. I was still able to get some fun photos. 

Samurai Mama - My udon was ok, but I really liked the mama pork gyoza. I would go back to have the gyoza again and try the sushi tacos. 

Sprout Home - Stumbled upon this store with lots of lovely plants. If we lived in New York we would have walked out with some pots and plants. 

Catbird - I love Catbird's jewelry. I own a few of their rings and I have the You are the moon and stars stackable necklace on my wish list. They also have a Wedding Annex that is lovely with great service.

Bird - If I had lots of money, I would shop here for clothes, bags, and accessories, but it's also a fun store to window shop. 

Leif - Cute store for home goods, stationery, and other gifts. 

Mociun - I've been following this company on Instagram for awhile and have seen their jewelry in some of the San Francisco stores, but it was so great to go to their shop. I love their jewelry and hope to own their jewelry one day. I especially love the pavé diamond rings.

Love Thy Beast - I love this company. Boba has their puffy, bamboo hoodie, and bag and loves them. Their puffy jacket is probably my favorite thing Boba ones. It's been great for the cold, rain, and snow. We loved seeing their studio/showroom and meeting Orzo and Tiziana.

Atrium DUMBO - We went to this Michelin recommended restaurant for dinner. It had great food, decor, and ambiance. I enjoyed the soup of the day, duck, and brioche doughnuts.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory + Brooklyn Bridge Park - We grabbed a scoop and walked through the park and along the water. I love that NYC has so many public spaces to hang out. 

We hope to go back to NYC again, maybe in the Spring next time. I'll also have to plan ahead to get tickets to some tapings. I really want to go to The Tonight Show and Last Week Tonight and maybe a Broadway show too. Until next time, NYC! 

If you have any recommendations for NYC, please feel free to comment below. Thanks in advance!

My Dad's 60th Birthday

Grant, Boba, and I flew down for my dad's 60th birthday. Well, the weekend after for a quick LA trip. My dad likes to walk and people watch, so we walked around Third Street Promenade and the Santa Monica Pier. I am from Santa Monica and miss being so close to the beach. The beach in San Francisco is not that same. 

We had some Tito's Tacos, which is one of my family's favorite places to eat. It's a place my parents have been eating before we were all born so it's very nostalgic. I love their tacos, chips, salsa, chili con carne, and refried beans, but I know it's not for everyone.

We also went to one of my favorite ramen places, Tsujita LA. I love the Char Siu Tsukemen here. The line was pretty long, but we got through it. Here's Boba waiting in line:

Afterwards we decided to hike to the Hollywood sign since my dad and I have never hiked up there before. I thought that would be fun thing to do especially after we stuffed ourselves with ramen.

I thought it was a great hike besides the horse poop. Boba even hiked up with us. We could have hiked more to the back of the sign, but the sun was setting by the time we got to the front of it. I like seeing the sign from the front more anyways. Maybe we'll hike to the back next time. 

After that we took my dad to Salt and Straw. I love their honey lavender ice cream and their salted caramel ice cream. So good! Can't wait for them to open in San Francisco. 

Overall, it was a fun weekend with the family. My brother likes to joke that we just did everything I wanted to do and so it was my birthday weekend, but my dad just has similar taste! :P 

Happy 60th Birthday Dad! We love you!

Dillon Beach Weekend

I've decided to plan our vacations around places I want to stay when I can. I was looking through VRBO and found a cute pink cottage and really wanted to stay there. It was kind of pricey though, so we decided to hold off on it. Little did I know that Grant would later surprise me for our 6 year anniversary with a weekend at this pink cottage. Our anniversary is in August and it was all booked, but we got to stay there last weekend and it was great!

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I had never heard of Dillon Beach before, but it's a cute little beach town near Tomales Bay. The cottage was a short walk to the beach. It wasn't quite beach weather but we still walked down to the beach. We tried to get Boba to swim, but she wasn't feeling the ocean water. Hopefully one day we can teach her to swim with a life vest of course.

The house was very comfortable and had everything we needed, including a hot tub and an endless pool. It was a nice relaxing weekend to get away from the city and just live the beach town life. 

We also found a little food joint called K&A Take Away that was run by a husband and wife team serving great sausage sandwiches. We found it on the way back from getting some groceries to go cook, but we still wanted to try them out and shared one of their sausage sandwiches and sweet potato salad and they were both delicious. 

We also weren't too far from a great bakery called Wild Flour Bread. It's about a 20-25 minute drive. If you're trying to avoid carbs, this is not the place to do it. If you're not, you'll love this place. We loved the sticky bun and cheese fougasse. 

We couldn't end a trip near Tomales Bay without going to get some BBQ oysters at the Marshall Store! So on the way back we grabbed some oysters and sat outside soaking in the sun. 

Boba's Birthday Bash

Like the crazy dog mom I am, I wanted to throw boba a birthday party in the park and we did! I designed an invite and this past weekend we had a party in Golden Gate Park next to the beautiful Conservatory of Flowers.

For the party, I made the tea the day before, bottled them up and used a gold paint marker to label them. I bought black tapioca pearls from Nuts.com and cooked them in the morning of according to this blog and they came out delicious. I also made some simple syrup for people to be able to sweeten their boba milk tea their way. I got some Strauss whole milk, the best milk, and Califia almond milk as well as some ice. I had some boba cups and straws from my party last time, which was convenient. I just added some cups from Target and some party supplies from the Oh Happy Day Party Shop. They have such a great selection of party supplies and since they were in San Francisco, I would get them next day. 

I had ambitions to make a cool balloon setup with some black sphere balloons, a rainbow balloon, a heart balloon, an emoji balloon, and Boba spelled in large gold foil balloons, but I lost some balloons on our way to the park and I popped a B, so that failed. It was too windy anyways to have my balloon setup meet the vision I had in mind. 

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I also ordered a peanut butter cake, which actually comes with beef liver and bacon, from Paw Patch Pastries for Boba and her friends and I had a trés leche cake from Tartine for the humans. The dog cake came out great and the dogs seemed to love it. Lastly, I put out some of my Boba pins for people to take. I didn't do a good job of taking pictures, but good times were had. It was a great day for all.