The California Lookbook

VTNF Picks

FORWARD // 

After five days, I am quite taken with California.

I will not be moving here, mostly because there is not enough St. John’s Wort or diet spiked seltzer in the world to correct my well-ingrained, East Coast neurosis, and I’d hate to ruin a good thing for everyone else. That said, the western seaboard does require a type of nonchalant presentation even of its visitors — one that does not often come naturally to those of us who spend the better part of the year either shivering under or sweating through a Brooks Brothers blazer. Where DC and its urban counterparts are stylistically stark and deliberate, the LA area’s cliff- and palm-strewn beaches shape style choices that are a little blurred and less contrived, like an off-the-cuff Instagram you Facetuned but didn’t filter.

While traveling, I like to collect little outfit trinkets from the people I encounter. I think of them as mental souvenirs I can use to adjust or expand my style perspective moving forward — like I’m a sartorial anthropologist except with a lot more creepy staring.  Lucky for me, we were fortunate enough to encounter a wedding cocktail hour at the bar we were visiting in Santa Monica, which proceeded to yield the hottest group of homegrown West Coasters the world has ever known. It’s not often you get to outfit creep on a bunch of locals looking their best, and you better believe I went all in. Bright colors, big earrings and layers of patterns soon surrounded us, in a way that managed to avoid the showiness that often accompanies over-accessorizing.  

You can tell that setting is a major consideration for Californians, and it was as if each color was chosen to complement the sunset, each turquoise cuff was selected to accent its owner’s fresh glass of Simi Char, and every shoe choice to gracefully challenge the textures and patterns already at play, uneager to simply blend in. In LA, sunglasses are upgraded from omnipresent prop to supporting character, with many pairs serving a statement all their own — think ardent tortoise cat eyes and geometrically progressive aviators. Hemlines ranged from can’t-bend-over to dragging-through-the-sand, and yet no one looked overdressed.

Overall, the micro styling decisions of Californians seem to mirror one macro philosophy; “We care, just not as much as you do.” Point taken. 

One more thing to note: California gets cold at night!!!! While our fair swamp clings to the heat of the sun in diligent preparation for a sporadic Ice Age, California cools almost immediately after sunset. I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere. 

Lookbook theme: small budget, big earrings. At best it will inspire, at worst it will help you kill three more minutes at work. XXOX

LOOKBOOK // 

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Similar overalls // Tortoise Sunnies // Similar earrings // Bandana
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Floral Gaucho Jumpsuit // Mules
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J. Crew Tortoiseshell Earrings
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Las Brisas // Laguna Beach

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Tortoise Sunnies // Gabby (NOT FOR SALE)
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The Bungalow // Santa Monica
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Eyelet Dress

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White peplum top // Favorite white jeans // Similar Earrings
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Fred’s // Huntington Beach

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Dress // Nude Slides
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Pier // Newport Beach

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Striped One-Piece Suit

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Eyelet Dress

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Floral Gaucho Jumpsuit // Tortoise Sunnies

xxac

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Celebrate the Blossoms with a Booze-Infused Layered Cherry Tart

Food + Recipes, VTNF Picks

The cherry blossoms are allegedly blooming this weekend, which, apparently, is a horticultural phenomenon ripe with controversy. I can think of about 9,000 other controversial topics our time may be better spent pondering, but I suppose in a city of nerds, peaking early is something with which we are not accustomed. 

For our intents and purpose, an early bloom is great, because we now have a few more weeks to enjoy this booze-infused cherry layer tart without the Memorial Day Weekend calendar square peering over us judgmentally. So, pull up a seat and prepare for a layered dessert that brings a tidal of flavor (with no trip to the Tidal Basin required.) 

This recipe yields two dessert jars. 

What You’ll Need 

cherry-blossom.png 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen cherries. 

 cherry-blossom.png 3/4 cup of cherry pie filling

cherry-blossom.png One cup of heavy cream.

cherry-blossom.png One or two tablespoons of Maraska Maraschino Cherry Liqueur.

cherry-blossom.png Two dark chocolate Hershey’s bars. (Three if you know you’re probably going to eat one on the way home.)

cherry-blossom.png Two tablespoons of shredded coconut

cherry-blossom.png One pre-made graham cracker crust. 

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The Moves 

Booze-Infused Whipped Cream 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png Start by beating 1 cup heavy cream in a large mixing bowl until ~*soft peaks*~ form with a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or your arm and a whisk if you’re looking to add an element of drama. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.pngAdd a generous tablespoon of Maraska Maraschino Cherry Liqueur and gently fold in and taste. Feel free to add more liquor if you like, party girl, but only if you plan on enjoying it in bed — this stuff is strong! 

How awesome are these cherry tea towels from locally owned Comet Cloth? Shop the whole selection here!

Layered Cherry Tart

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png Once your frozen cherries are thawed, combine your cherry pie filling and halved cherries together. You should prepare about a cup and half. Bonus points if you let your cherries soak in liquor overnight! (Apparently, rum is the best for this.) 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png After that’s finished, put your Hershey’s bars in a Ziplock bag and crush them into pieces with something heavy. Again, you could just buy pre-made dark chocolate morsels, but I like to ham up the drama when I cook so I can use my hard work as leverage against my boyfriend during our next argument. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png While you’re at it, smash up that pie crust, too. From there, put the chocolate morsels, broken-up pie crust, and shredded coconut into a Pam-sprayed pan and heat on low until the chocolate gets gooey. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png While that’s cooking, start by adding a bottom layer of cherry mix to the jar. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png Next, add your boozy whipped cream, which can be transferred by spoon or turkey baster if you’re concerned about #aesthetics. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png From there, add your warmed pie crumbled-chocolate-coconut concoction as the next layer.

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png Repeat the process until your jar is full. Feel free to take some creative liberties on the proportions of the layers — there’s literally nothing that isn’t delicious in this dessert. A bigger mason jar will hold about six or seven layers, and this recipe makes enough for two jars. 

x1f352.png.pagespeed.ic.-ZRiMmAyar.png Nuke your masterpiece for 10-20 seconds, top it with some leftover chocolate or coconut, and enjoy something cherry in the comfort of your very own, tourist-free home. 

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xxac

Framing Things with Sarah B. Keating

VTNF Picks

Books, bags, boyfriends; you can frame anything if you set your mind (and X-ACTO Knife) to it!

I called on long-time confidant and interior muse, Sarah B. Keating, to discuss one of my favorite things about her apartment: all of the random things on the walls. Seriously, everything from luxury garment bags to salt and pepper shakers aren’t safe in Casa de Keating, resulting in multiple, gorgeous gallery walls that include exactly zero prom photos.

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Through a strategic and deliberate PR strategy, I was able to sit down with Sarah Keating, who graciously offered all of her advice on framing (and life.) Enjoy!

What initially inspired you to start experimenting with frames? I started framing non-art when I started paying my own rent. I couldn’t afford to buy art and since I work in a creative field, I like to be surrounded by things that inspire me.

Where do you go to find frame-spiration? Anything from wrapping paper at TJMaxx to ads in Vogue. Also, as an art school dropout, I create some of my own art with Adobe Indesign. Also, if you’re going for a specific color scheme, Etsy is a great place to original, unique prints of varying sizes.  

If You Can Dream It, You Can Frame It

ø Images from books: coffee table books, thrift store books. Be sure to check out the Kate Spade and Gary Malin books that helped add flair to each of her gallery walls.   ø Garment bags (!?!), as shown below. (Editor’s note: you can buy these on Poshmark!)
ø Recipes. I think framing a handwritten recipe from your favorite relative is a beautiful gift!
ø Fabric swatches and scarves.
ø Magazine and news clippings. The moon landing, Paris Hilton’s mug shot. Ya know, historical stuff. 
ø Internet things, and obviously, photos. S.K. recommends printing them at Walgreen’s for a cool $4.99.
ø Maps. S.K. recommends Bank & Surf Custom Maps for high-quality options that come already framed!
ø Actual objects. Sarah has a cork, amethyst stone AND these salt and pepper shakers in the mix.

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What You’ll Need to Get Started

ø An X-ACTO Knife and maybe a grid mat, too.
ø Double-Sided tape (generally super helpful in life).
ø Mod Podge (if you’re planning to mount the image on wood)

Step-by-Step

I put these Keating-approved tips to the test and made a frame of my own. For all of $10 and ten minutes of work, I am ob👏sessed.

Step 1: Find something to frame.

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I spent a whole $2 on this watercolor book that I’m fairly certain pre-dates Pinterest. It was sold to me by the sweetest volunteers working the Opportunity Shop at St. Alban’s School. Highly recommended if you can sneak away for some mid-day thrifting!

Step 2: Make sure it’ll fit.

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Hold the frame up to images you think may work for your frame to get an idea of how it’ll look together. This will save you and your fingers a lot of time and effort!

Step 3: Cut it to size

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Once you’ve made your selection, use an X-ACTO Knife-knife to cut the image to fit. If it’s a larger image, be sure to continually “test” it in the frame so you don’t accidentally cut out your favorite part! Also, is there anything more satisfying than cutting with an X-Acto??

Step 4: Frame.

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Ta-da! This is an image taken from the book called “Winter Evening at The Rio Grande Valley” by Fremont Ellis. The Rio Grande Valley is in South Texas, FYI. (I thought it was in Utah….)

Pro Tips

Keep my frames clean with Windex wipes, because I don’t like spending more than 90 seconds on any one task. Great for mirrors, too.

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If going for a three-dimension option, make sure the objects are not too heavy for the frame, as they can easily fall when hanging. 

Decide on a theme, then run with it. For a client’s gallery wall, she created this awesome pink and blue spread with an oceanic theme (pictured below.)

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They make great gifts, too. Keating’s gallery wall includes a champagne cork from a family celebration and other unconventional momentums. 

Frames We Love

For simple black and white frames for gallery walls, S.K. recommends getting started at IKEA and Joann Fabrics, or allow Framebridge to do the dirty work for you! That said, if you’re looking for a little chutzpah, look no further than the picks below! 

FramePic!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

Keep up with Keating — and check out more of her gorgeous work — here!
Featured photography provided by Emza Joy Photography, @emzajoy, and Sarah B. Keating.

xxac