Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year! Holiday season! I absolutely love the shift from fall to winter, especially during this sweet season of giving. The air temperature shifts, the smells throughout my friends’ homes become cinnamon and vanilla infused, and the music inspires some cozy hot-chocolate nights in. I love it. Can you tell I love it? I love it!

In this season, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifting and what amazing products I’ve seen throughout the internet! Here’s a little something to help inspire some ideas and get your gift giving on!

Gift Guide for the Home Body

I resonate with the idea of this gift guide so much. While I love traveling and being immersed in new experiences, I also deeply love my nest and creating a space that’s curated, cozy, and sweet.

Gift Guide for the Fashion Friendly

I’m always up for some classic and unique fashion-related gifts! I don’t take the time to treat myself too often so when the holidays come along, I definitely throw in a few timeless pieces. Here are some items I’ve been loving lately.

Gift Guide for the traveler

Traveling has become a huge part of my identity in the past few years. I am so grateful that I am able to travel so much and experience so many different cultures. Here are a few basics that have impacted my traveling experience.

I hope you enjoy the holiday season and most importantly, soak up all your time with loved ones!

x Dani

Our New bedroom featuring UO Home

After finding out the house we live in was going to be sold, the search for the perfect new place was under way. I like to do LOTS of research and I kiiiind of went into an obsessive frenzy in finding the right place.

In searching, I found the best options on Craigslist, which ultimately led us to finding our 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. We honestly couldn’t tell what it looked like from the one photo that was posted on Craigslist and when we visited, the entire floor was ripped out and equipment was EVERYWHERE! They were in the middle of replacing the old carpet with new wood floors so things looked very hectic. After some consideration, we saw so much potential with the vaulted exposed ceilings, built in cabinets, bright light, and the mid century vibe and we decided (thankfully) to give it a go.

Take a peek into the inspiration that fed into the design of our sweet space and peep tons of sweet goodies from UO Home.

Color Inspiration

DANIMEEP HOME DESIGN.png

Interiors Inspiration

For the bedroom, I was so excited to incorporate the sweet items I received from Urban Outfitters! It was really important to me to maintain a neutral toned bedroom, especially since the room gets so much golden light. I also was convinced I had to purchase a sun catcher! I haven’t had a bedroom with so much light and I knew I just had to have something that played with the sun! I also found the sweetest shape study print from a local artist, Sueko Sage.

Shop the space!

Really excited to continue to decorate the space and make it our own! Our next room design will feature our living room and office, which will hopefully we spruced up with a sweet mid century desk!

Stay tuned! x Dani

Unique Portraits for you + loved ones

Over the years, I’ve searched for unique portraits I could partake in to either frame for my home or simply experience with a loved one. We’ve found some really amazing opportunities and I’m excited to share four of my favorite portrait experiences that I’ve stumbled across in San Diego (but that are honestly totally attainable in other places).

Read More

New Zealand Travel Guide

Since our trip to New Zealand, I've received lots of questions about where to go, what to see, and how to go about it all. My first response to everyone is usually something along the lines of jumbled excitement and how I would move there if I could. It's true. I looked into it for a second before I realized that my cats would have to go through some long-drawn Hawaii-ish quarantine process so that dream lasted for a hot minute. But if the cats weren't my life... I would. The country is just stunning. There are so many gorgeous landscapes to drive through including the steamy geothermal countryside, the rocky tunnel beaches, the countless sheep farms, and the green green hills.

To give you some back story, James and I decided to road trip through the country while he was studying abroad in the spring of 2016! We planned our trip from mid April to early May and at that time, it was the end of their summer & beginning of fall. If you’re planning a trip and want some visual references, take a peek below or check out the north and south island maps in the sidebar!

north island map

Auckland

We began our trip in Auckland, since James was studying at the university there. We stayed there for a couple nights and explored the city and here’s where we went:

  • Wintergarden Auckland Domain: This is a huge park, with lots of beautiful gardens, green hills, and ponds. We fell in love with the flower-infested interior glasshouse and the fern botanical garden. A beautiful place for a picnic or an easy walk! Cost: Free!

  • Parnell, Auckland: This was a really great neighborhood for exploring. We found some yummy bites at local coffee shops + breakfast places. Our biggest recommendation: the NZ Meat pies! They're essentially like chicken pot pies, but you can get different things inside them. We enjoyed the minced meat pies from (funny enough) gas stations.

Cathedral Cove

After our time in Auckland, we rented a car and headed to Cathedral Cove, which was a 2.5 hour drive.

We arrived in the afternoon and hiked down to the most gorgeous cove. It's important to look into the time of sunset when you go, just so you can prepare for the hike down and hike back up. It's about a 2-3 hour hike (with rest stops of course). We stayed there overnight and "freedom camped" in our car! Freedom camping is very common in New Zealand. This means that you can park your car in designated areas and camp in your car for freeCost: Free!

hot water beach

Hot Water Beach is only half an hour away from Cathedral Cove, so we decided to go there after! Hot Water Beach is so fun because you can rent little shovels and dig until you hit the hot spring of water underneath the sand. We went in the afternoon so it was a little busier. We would recommend going earlier in the day to find a spot first! Cost: Free - $ (depending on if you rent a shovel)!

rotarua

From Hot Water Beach to Rotarua, it's a 3.5 hour drive. With Rotarua, there is so much beauty. It's a town unlike anything I've ever seen before. The town is situated over a geothermal area, so there is steam coming out of everything- the bodies of water, the sewers, the wells, in people's front yards. The first day, we explored the small town and took long walks around the lake. Cost: Free!

  • Polynesian Spa: This was truly a treat to enjoy. The entire trip, we were car camping and using public showers so it was so so nice to enjoy a spa day at the Polynesian Spa. We were kindly gifted this experience from a family friend and it was so wonderful! There are hot springs that you can swim in that overlook the lake in Rotarua. Cost: $10-244.

  • Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland: One of the most unforgettable places hands-down. If you need to skip anything, don't skip this experience. This park was magical and full of steamy colorful geysers and the most gorgeous hike. Cost: $35 (when we went)

three sisters and the elephant rock

From Taupo to Three Sisters, it’s about 3 hours! This beach is a beautiful, dark beach with stunning views of the three rock formations that jut out of the sand. There is also a huge rock shaped like an elephant! Cost: Free!

IMG_2885.JPG

wellington

It’s about a 4.5 hour drive to Wellington, but it’s a pretty one! We found an Alpaca Farm halfway through our drive and it was so much fun! The sight of alpacas running with their hideous underbites is so so so great. Wellington is a really great city! There are a lot of hip restaurants and shops, think about it like the “SF” of NZ! It’s cool, okay? So cool I didn’t get any photos. Lots of people will stop here and then take a short flight back to Auckland, but we decided to continue to the South Island.

ferry from Wellington (north island) to Picton (south island)

It’s about a 2 hour ferry ride from Wellington to Picton and it’s a really nice ride! You can sit indoors or outdoors and it’s very clean. Admission is available to purchase at the dock. Cost: $35-45

south island map

Attachment-1.jpeg

Greymouth

Once we arrived in Picton, we drove 5.5 hours to Greymouth. This may seem like a lot but the entire time, we were able to pull off in the most beautiful spots! At this time of the year, the South Island showed the fall season much more, with yellow trees and crisp cold weather. We had to double up in our sleeping bags for the night to stay warm! Cost: Free!

Arnold’s Pass + Castle Hill

OOOOkay, Castle Hill is absolutely divine and makes you feel like all of your Game-of-Thrones dreams are coming true. It is INCREDIBLY scenic and such a beautiful (and easy) hike. You can explore the area for 30 minutes OR three hours. From Greymouth, it’s about a two hour drive, where you will drive through “Arnold’s Pass.” Cost: Free!

Attachment-3-2.jpeg

Dunedin

It’s about a 5 hour drive to Dunedin. IMPORTANT NOTE (that we did not figure out until 2 years later): Dunedin is pronounced "Doo-nee-din” not “Doon-din.” Nonetheless, Dunedin is a cool city. There are some great restaurants around the area, along with a beach closeby where you can spot penguins! We went too late in the day to see them but it is still a really beautiful beach, with turquoise water and white sand.

photo-1.jpg

Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach is unreal and is luckily in Dunedin! We went in the morning when the light was golden and so so beautiful. I recommend going in the morning because after a while, tourists and hikers start to pick up! We had the space to ourselves and it was truly such a perfect place. Cost: Free!

Attachment-3-4.jpeg

Cathedral Cave

Cathedral Cave has a collection of beach caves that are stunning, dark, and moody. You can visit some shallow ones if you’re afraid of the dark OR you can go pretty deep into some. Cost: Free!

Attachment-1-6.jpeg

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is about a 5 hour drive from Cathedral Caves and I’m convinced it’s Atlantis. There are endless waterfalls. We drove into the Sound during a rainstorm, which was such a magical experience. There was mist and fog rolling over these sprawling waterfalls and rivers. I highly recommend visiting if you are in the South Island and NOT skipping out on this one. There’s a little visitor center in the Sound where you can sip on a cup of hot chocolate or shop for vintage inspired Milford Sound posters. Cost: Free!

Queenstown

We ended our South Island experience in Queenstown, where we took a return flight to Auckland and then I went HOME! ;( This town is considered a popular ski town but when we went, there wasn’t much snow yet! It’s a great place to stop by for a quick visit but in my opinion, you can definitely skip this if needed.

Hope this guide helps inspire your trip!

x Dani

October Handmade Finds

Hello friends! It’s October and I’m in love with these handmade finds via Etsy! Check out these sweet shops, all of which have artists who pay attention to the most precise and loving detail.

x Dani

Do It Yourself: Floral Cookies

We’ve all seen the very loved, very beautiful floral cookies that are taking over Instagram. With art directors throwing them into photo shoots and brides requesting them for weddings, it’s a really exciting and fun way to spruce up some sugar cookies. Here’s a simple way to give your next dinner party a little something special!

B9FFF2CE-A1EA-486B-9825-86E66FBC233B.JPG

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Edible flowers. These can be purchased from Speciality Produce in San Diego OR you can search “edible flowers” and find them in your local garden section.

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flower

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup butter, softened



Steps

I used a recipe from All Recipes for the sugar cookies and then simply added the extra florals!

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix your flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

  • In a large bowl, mash the butter and sugar until it’s smooth. Beat in your egg and vanilla! Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll your dough into rounded balls and then flatten them on an ungreased cookie sheet.

  • Add your edible flowers however you would like! This is fun because I got an assortment of edible pansies in a variety of colors and had such a great time arranging them based on their colors!

  • Once you’re done arranging them, add a tiny bit of sugar over them in order to seal them into the dough.

  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven or until golden.

Enjoy! x Dani

The Sand Dunes | A Love Story

The Sand Dunes in Southern California is my favorite place in the world. It’s magical, mysterious, silent, roaring. I think some of the best work comes from this place, not because it’s a mirror of some distant overseas Morocco desert, but because it evokes this foreign, alien-like landscape that causes you to question your entire existence and placement in the world. Combine it with some morning sunshine during a west-to-east wind storm and you have this wonderful, insane, bizarre magic. 

Read More

May Vintage Finds

Lately, I've been so excited to score some vintage finds that have a classic and contemporary feel. While I love Madewell and Anthropologie, I've been leaning towards finding second-hand pieces that not only stand the test of time, but have been lived in and have their own sweet stories. I always think about how someone might have fallen in love in their jeans, or maybe traveled to a new country in a cool coat, or maybe discovered something new that changed the course of their life. It's also wonderful to see contemporary trends inspired by these pieces and support second-hand shops. 

Read More

Flourish | An Interview with a Florist

Spend time with a florist and I can guarantee you will feel inspired. Kate, owner of Flourish, proves to be one of the most graceful, positive, and family-oriented women, shedding light on her floral business, her love for her city, and her inspiration from wildflowers. I sat down with her in her lovely Ocean Beach abode and spoke with her about her florist + creative journey.

Read More