Growing Succulents in Style

Starting your own succulent garden

While in California, I discovered the fun of growing succulents.

Walking around the beautifully manicured streets of the south bay, I saw so many gorgeously landscaped yards with cacti, aloe, and echeveria varietals just…growing. In the yard. (Can you tell I’m a northern gal?!)

I decided I would become a succulent hobbyist. (That’s a thing. I asked Pinterest.)

I went to SummerWinds nursery in my tropical themed tank from Merch Nerds (more on that later) and picked out a couple succulent plants. My favorite was an Echeveria Elegans, a native to Mexico succulent with frosty mint green rosettes that bloom delicate pink flowers with yellow tips.

After photographing them for Instagram (naturally), I researched how to take care of them and start a succulent garden.

Two Ways to Grow Succulents

They can thrive indoors in a pot anywhere or outdoors if you live in certain zones. Quick test: is it like a desert where you live? If yes, plant succulents indoors. No? Mmm, better not, but you can create an indoor succulent garden in a wide bowl. Potted succulent gardens can be gorgeous. Just look at these ones I found at the nursery:

For more inspiration, check out Succulent Garden on Pinterest.

Choosing Your Succulents

I asked the garden center and asked a ton of questions, because my succulent knowledge was low. Here’s what I learned. Some succulents spread on their own, like the Hen and Chicks variety, while some don’t. All are fairly similar in terms of the care needed.

I think just choosing the ones you like the best is the best way to start a succulent garden. See what’s available and go from there. You can add decorative landscaping rock for looks as seen in the succulent bowl above, but you don’t have to.

Caring for Succulents

I’m not an authority on succulents yet, but here is some succulent care advice I’ve picked up from experts so far.

Water them fully, then let them dry completely. If it’s a pot, put it in the sink and water it until the water runs out the bottom. Then don’t water it again until the soil is dry when you touch it. This will likely be about once a month but it could vary depending on how dry your air is.

Make sure your succulent is in a pot that drains! They don’t like their roots sitting in water. And if you have a rosette like my Echeveria Elegans, water the soil and not the rosette itself or the moisture can cause it to rot.

Obvi, they need a lot of light. Keep them away from cold windows, especially at night in cold climates.

Outfit Details

Big thanks to the clever graphic tee company Merch Nerds for this pineapple tank. It’s organic cotton and so soft and comfy! They have tons of other styles and colors on their website, including a cactus tee! How perfect is that? I also really love the Mermaid Off Duty style because if you haven’t heard, I like mermaids.

P.S. if you want to know why buying organic clothing is important to me, read this.

What do you think of my new found succulent gardening hobby? Drop your green thumb wisdom my way!

This Pioneer Town is Like Going Back in Time

Antique kitchenware in Pioneer Park

My latest article for Minnesota Parent magazine is one close to my heart because I based it on the camp I attended at age 7. It’s a historical park created to replicate 1880s pioneer life. While researching the article, I snapped a lot of the meticulously curated antique details. These previously unpublished photos show that when you visit Pioneer Park in Minnesota it’s exactly like stepping back into time–take a look:

Pioneer Park day camp

More than twenty years later, day camps for kids still happen every summer. The children cook and wash dishes in an authentic log cabin, even churning their own butter. And there’s a whole village waiting to be explored. Each of the buildings on the Pioneer Park campus showcases a different aspect of 19th-century life in the Midwest.

Visit Pioneer Park Minnesota

There’s a schoolhouse, barn, Finnish church, jail, and more. When you visit Pioneer Park in Minnesota in the summer, the buildings are open for tours. If you’re into the rustic farmhouse look, this is the real thing.

Antique hats

This shows the inside the millinery shop with hats, gloves and dresses in the store window.

Vintage millinery in pioneer park

Not everything is dresses and lace. The funeral parlor, doctor’s office and dentist’s office display some tools too creepy to photograph.

On the shelves of the General Store, not everything is quite from the right era. This bag of Snow White flour must have been from the 1930s at least, but it gives an overall picture of what the shops in the village must have been like during that period.

Vintage pantry on display in Pioneer Park

And there is even a blacksmith’s shop filled with horse shoes, wagon wheels and farming tools.

antique blacksmith's shop in Pioneer Park

There’s something just so fascinating about peeking into the past. To visit Minnesota Pioneer Park in Annandale, visit PioneerPark.org.

There are historical destinations like this one all around the United States. If you’ve visited one, let me know where. I think rustic places like this are beautiful and full of character. What do you think?

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

What is the Palace of Fine Arts?

This downtown San Francisco destination features a Greco-Roman style rotunda and colonnades on a peaceful pond. It was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exhibition and is now used for concerts, events and as a public park.

This place is STUNNING. As soon as I saw a picture of it two years ago, I knew I had to go. Two trips to California went by before I was able to make it, and I’m so happy I finally did. I was in no way prepared for how magnificent it is in person. It was easy to imagine I was in Europe, it so reminded me of things I’d seen in Rome and Greece.

At sunset, the sun setting over the bay illuminated the rosy columns with gold light. The structure sits on the edge of a pond, and a walking path encircles it. Families brought bikes and scooters for the kids. It’s situated near the Golden Gate, Golden Gate Park, and the Disney Family Museum so it’s easy to swing by if you’re visiting the popular tourist destinations in San Francisco.

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

It’s a perfect place to take a stroll, and it’s free. We even got a free parking spot nearby. We were a little cold and hungry so we stayed for a half hour, long enough to take these pictures and enjoy the sights. Looking back I think we could have stayed longer. If it’s a warm day you could do a picnic here.

How to Take Photos at the Palace of Fine Arts

This is one of the most popular photo shoot destinations in the Bay Area. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we saw an engagement shoot, another fashion blogger, and a wedding shoot during the half hour we were there! That said, you’ll probably get other people in your frame. The inside of the rotunda is amazing, but make sure to check out the grounds surrounding it too for some other great shots.

What to Wear

Such a magnificent location called for a special outfit. When I found this dress at Nordstrom it instantly reminded me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast, which was perfect because the new movie came out that weekend. I definitely wore this dress to the theater for the premiere.  (The dress also comes in black and a pattern, by the way.) I added a couple layers of tulle over it just for fun, but it also looks elegant without it.

If you saw the movie this weekend, what did you think?

Visiting the Palace of Fine Arts

Tech Fashion Week Recap

I got the opportunity to take part in San Francisco’s 5th Annual Tech Fashion Week and I’m so excited to share a little bit about the experience. The above picture is of my co-panelists at the Fashion Bloggers Connect event. They traveled from as far away as Hungary just to be there! When I was preparing for the panel, I thought my experiences and insights as a blogger were unique and different. Turns out, there was a lot of commonality in what each influencer shared. A few highlights we covered in the panel:

5 Insights from Fashion Bloggers Connect

  1. Engagement is going to be the next important metric in blogging.
  2. Video is increasing in influencer importance.
  3. Starting an Instagram account first to grow your following is now a valid way to start a blog.
  4. Followers are interested in who you are and your story–not just what you’re wearing.
  5. Blogging is a type of journalism, so we have to keep up those standards. We also deserve to be fairly compensated.

There were so many bits of wisdom imparted by these influential ladies! I was so impressed by what they shared and humbled to be part of it.

Fashion Industry Awards

Awards honoring local talent in the industry were announced at opening night to stylists, models and designers in the San Francisco area.

Tech Fashion Week Shows

The week had multiple fashion shows showcasing local talent as well. All the events happened at different spaces around the city. Opening night was held in a hair studio after hours, with a loft for the models to descend from for the runway show.

The models were local men and women, some who actually work in tech and were made over into models for the evening.

This is just such a sliver of all the happenings at Tech Fashion Week 2017. If you can make it next year I highly recommend checking it out!

Best Gluten Free Treats in the Bay Area

Bay Area Gluten FreeI try to eat as little sugar as I can, but sometimes you just want a delicious treat! Eating gluten free means passing up many, many delicious treats. You have to look a little harder to find them, but gluten free goodies can be found in almost any city. The Bay Area has its share of gluten free delicacies, and these are my favorites.

1. Zest Bakery

I found this gem while searching for the elusive unicorn: the Gluten Free Donut. I found that and so much more at Zest Bakery in San Carlos. Everything in this place is gluten free, and some things are even dairy free, soy free or sugar free to boot. The prices were reasonable, and there was plenty of indoor and outdoor seating on a cute and quiet street. Parking was fairly easy too, even mid day on a weekend.

But let’s talk about what really matters–the quality of the gluten free baked goods! The muffins were indistinguishable from regular glutenous muffins, not an easy feat. The sandwich I bought was absolutely delicious and kept me energized for a day of sightseeing in downtown San Francisco. But most of all I want to rave about the bread–it was soft, fresh and not overly crumbly. The only disappointment at this place was the Oreo cookie, which I would skip. It wasn’t bad, but not on par with their other A-list goodies. If you are gluten free, you must try this place when you’re in the area.

2. Chantal Guillon

All macarons here are gluten free! Chantal Guillon has shops around the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Palo Alto. The hardest part is choosing which flavors you want. This is a best gluten free Bay Area destination for sure.

best gluten free bay area

3. Flour Chylde Bakery

This bakery has been around for twelve years making breads, desserts, cookies and pastries that are all gluten free. I haven’t been to their Novarto location, but I visited their booth at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market and sampled delicious cake. Their facility strives to be zero waste, which is a nice thing to support.

4. Sugarfina

A candy store for adults is the concept behind Sugarfina. Candies in little clear boxes labeled to show where around the globe the candy is sourced from are showcased around the store. The minimalist decor style is the main draw of this place, so stop in just to see the layout of the merchandise and snap an Insta-worthy pic or two. Oh, and free samples! Three locations to choose from in San Francisco, one in San Jose and more sprinkled around the U.S.

5. Timothy Adams

A picture perfect place for a first date or a friend date, this shop lured me in with its hot pink and blue decor and tempting counter full of truffles. The price is steep ($2.50 per chocolate) but the experience made it feel worth it. The truffles are smooth and memorable. Ask for your truffles to go or enjoy them in the cute dining room located at 539 Bryant Street, Palo Alto.

6. Ghiradelli

Fairly obvious, but what would a list about San Francisco be without Ghiradelli? Get a free chocolate square just for walking in the door. I’ve been to a store downtown and also Ghiradelli square. Both are fun but Ghiradelli square is a waterfront tourist destination with street musicians, shopping, and views of the Bay. There is a Ghiradelli chocolate souvenir shop and ice cream cafe there, but the actual chocolate factory is no longer onsite.

Have a favorite place you want to share? Make sure to contact me in the comments below.

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