Jenny's Favorites: April Edition

April was a whirlwind. Catching up on life at home, going to Malawi and then camping in Joshua Tree. Here are the things that got me through...

1. Naturally, when driving to camp at Joshua Tree, the only appropriate music to listen to is U2's The Joshua Tree album.

2. I was recently introduced to PF Candles. I got to visit their studio while in LA and got to spend some time with the owner and founder, Kristen who talks passionately about making sure her candles smell absolutely amazing. I highly recommend them all, but the Gardenia & Coconut and the Sweet Grapefruit are my favorites.

3. Have you had coffee brewed in a Chemex? This is the right way to make coffee.

4. Once the sun went down in Joshua Tree, Poler's Napsack was my uniform. I sat by the fire in it, I scurried to the bathroom in the dark in it and I slept in it. It is wonderful. I have the bright orange one, as does Hannah in season two of Girls.

5. I came home to a blossoming yard, full of lilacs and wisteria. I love Seattle in the spring when the sun comes out. It makes me want to sit still and enjoy it as long as I can.

6. After going a month without sugar, Mighty-O doughnuts have hit the spot.

7. I was given a Clark and Madison travel kit as a gift and I absolutely love it. It's beautifully classy and so very sturdy, I know it'll be going on many future adventures with me!

8. On our trip to Malawi, our bags ended up getting lost somewhere in Africa. Thankfully they made it back to us a day and a half later. While we were bag-less, I was able to buy surprisingly awesome underwear at Shoprite (a grocery store, I now own grocery store undies and I love them). Thankfully I had my favorite Trouvé pants with me. They came out of my carryon wrinkle free, are light and airy and super comfy. These are the most versatile pants I've ever own, I've worn them with heels to cocktail parties and now I've worn them with a borrowed t-shirt and Nikes in African villages. Note: Nordstrom no longer has the exact pattern that I have, so the link goes to the few designs they do have in stock currently.

9. This month I read Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, the third memoir Alexandra Fuller has written her childhood in Africa. If you haven't read her books before, I recommend starting with Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.
I gave the Divergent Series a go, I thought they'd be a easy airplane read, I have to say, the first was OK and I felt like it just went downhill from there. Sorry if you love these books, they just weren't for me.
Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future is another memoir that I found super interesting.

10. Dr Bronner's Lavender Hand Sanitizer has been my trusty companion all month, from Malawi to camping. Instead of smelling like a hospital when you sanitize your hands, this smells lavender and is actually very calming. 

Wedding Wednesday: Donations Instead of Favors

Will your guests leave your wedding with a favor at the end of the night? Jason and I did CD's of our favorite music, which is now funny for me to listen to, and unfortunately we still have a pile of extra ones in a box in our garage.

Sometimes favors can be fun, but after going to so many weddings, I often see favors left by the plates of many guests at the end of the night. Not everyone wants a heart-shaped wine stopper or a CD of indie rock.

More and more couples are foregoing favors altogether opting to make a donation to their favorite charity in honor of their guests instead. Don't get me wrong, I love getting a little box of chocolates and picture frame coasters, I'm not totally anti-favor, but here are a few reasons to consider doing a charitable donation.

1. Show you guests what is important to you as a couple. Your wedding is a great time to let your friends and family know what you love and support as a couple. This is a great way to start off your marriage by sharing the love!
2. Don't waste your money on something that'll be left on the table. Lets be realistic, even if your guests do take home whatever favor you choose to give, is it really going to be life changing for them? Consider that the same amount of money could buy a meal for someone, or a book, or a mosquito net and drastically impact someone's life.
3. Advertising for your favorite charity. On top of everything else, this is a great way for you to share your favorite cause with the people you love. In doing so, you might get others to champion the cause as well!

PS. If you're looking for an organization to support, there's always the one that is dear to my heart, Construction for Change!

Spring Cleaning! (aka The Post I Didn't Want to Post Because It Means I'll Actually Have to Clean My Messy House)

Like I said in last week's Friday Roundup I'm home for awhile and SO excited about it. But since Jason and I have been in and out so much in the past, well, year actually, I feel like our house is in a state of chaos. I haven't taken the time to really clean anything beyond the basic vacuum/dust/shove things in cupboards that's necessary to keep from feeling like Miss Havisham on an episode of Hoarders.

I don't really like cleaning. Currently I'm putting it off by writing this blog post. Perhaps this is it, the time in which I find myself as happy as this drawing of  mid-century woman. Perhaps the key to enjoying cleaning is wearing pearls…I might have to test this theory.

As I've been gearing up to clean, I've been noticing a lot of checklists for spring cleaning on Pinterest and decided to make my own. I do like the idea of a check list, something I can be working at all week and seeing my progress as I go but some of them were pretty intense, I'm not going to be resealing my grout, sorry Martha. I'm more focused on the basics needed to refresh, declutter, reorganize and make me love my house again. Here's the check list I've made for myself:

A note on my checklist:  I'm fully aware that to some, this will seem like a really whimpy cleaning list, and for your house it might be. For us,  it could very well take a full day just to be able to check off the "purge closets and drawers of old clothes" and I just found a can in my pantry that expired 2 years ago. We've got some work to do. 

Nerd Alert: Downton Abbey Tea

I need to get it together with the blogging this week -- Jenny is finally home and it's time for me to get inspired and post some original content up here! In the meantime, I'm sipping my delicious Downtown Abbey English Rose tea from The Republic of Tea that I found at Fireworks this weekend. LOVE it.

Monday Motivation

Friday Roundup

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks and I feel like I'm finally able to breathe again.
I went from a week in Malawi, to camping at Joshua Tree and then got home as the 30/30 Project was launching. PHEW! The best moments right now are the ones where I'm sitting still, drinking tea and cuddling with Oliver the cat. I've been spending my spare moments on Pinterest and Houzz, dreaming of doing some redecorating, organizing, cooking and crafting-which I'll hopefully get to start on this weekend! I hope you have a restful weekend wherever you are and enjoy these fun links from around the web that made me smile this week.

Now that we're all eating sugar again, lets bake a cake! 

Lykke Li + A$AP Rocky

The next book on my reading list.

The iPhone charger you won't lose.

Do all 90's songs sound the same? 

Obama went to Jiro's! I wonder if he got to stay longer than 10 minutes?

This American Life's show on coincidences from last week is worth a listen. It kept me super entertained on the plane this past week.

Brian William's "Gin and Juice" cover is awesome as is his conversation with Jimmy Fallon all about it.

A mouse deer! 

Decluttering tips...I'm reading lots of posts like this right now, gearing up to do some spring cleaning! More on that next week.

And finally, a video of a video of animals being cute (thanks Heather!)

Photo: I took this of my friends walking around 29 Palms, searching for a vintage shop, during our Joshua Tree adventure, more on that next week!

30/30: Update

Well, as you can see, the 30/30 Project has taken over the blog and our lives this week. We're just a few days in and already,  we're half way to the goal and we've gotten some great support! Ellen tweeted it last night and Chelsea Clinton this morning! 

Here's some more positive press for the 30/30 Project: 
Rolling Stone

On top of that, we've all been really touched by the personal stories that have come in from people who's lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS in many different ways.

PS. Don't worry, we still have other things happening in our lives and next week, we'll be back to blogging about other things too! 

30/30: Malawi

I hope you all got a chance to check out the 30/30 Project, if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to take the time to read Teresa's post from yesterday about her family’s incredible story- how her mom, Julie, has been HIV+ for 30 years and the project that’s come out of wanting to commemorate her survival. Obviously, it’s a cause very close to Teresa’s heart, and mine as well and something we will be continuing to post about this month.

Jason and I just returned from visiting the area in Malawi where the 30/30 Project’s first clinic will be built. We got to meet and photograph some of the many women, men and children that this clinic will serve.

Malawi's Neno District is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited, with small villages of thatched roof huts on scattered about on picturesque hills. They look like something out of a storybook. However, the downside to living on beautiful hilltops- health care is at least a 2 hour drive away on incredibly bumpy and sometimes very muddy dirt roads and cars are few and far between out in these parts.

 Once it's complete, this new clinic will be run by Partners in Health in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and will bridge the gap in health care by providing services and medicine within walking distance for the many residents in this remote area.

PS. This morning Julie and Teresa's brother Ryan were interviewed on CBS's Morning Show, you can watch that online here. 

Photos all shot by Jason and via @jkoephoto

30/30 Project

I'm thrilled that today I get to share with you all an exciting project that my family has been working on for the past few months (with Jenny and Jason who are like family!). There is a part to my life that I haven't written about on this blog that I'd like to fill you in on to give some context to the 30/30 here goes!

When I was born in 1984, my mom had a miserable labor and received a blood transfusion due to hemorrhaging. Unfortunately, the blood that she received was infected with the HIV virus. Miraculously, my sister and brother, who were born after me, and my father were not infected with the virus.

This March we didn't just celebrate my 30th birthday, we also commemorated the 30 years that my mom has lived with HIV/AIDS. Despite the doctors only giving her a few years to live when she was diagnosed, she has survived partly due to the access she has to powerful medications. To commemorate this monumental moment in her life, my mom said it wasn't enough to just be grateful, she wanted to do something to give back...and so she came up with the 30/30 Project.

For the past few years my mom and Jenny have volunteered their time working for an organization that you've heard a lot about on this blog, Construction for Change. Working alongside local leaders in developing communities, CFC constructs clinics, community centers, and schools that will last for a least 30 years. Jenny and Jason have been traveling and photographing their projects for over five years now. The 30/30 Project brings together Construction for Change and Partners in Health to build a clinic in the Neno District of Malawi. This clinic will provide healthcare for a community of people who formerly had to drive two hours to get medical attention. It will also provide lifesaving medication to the 10% of their population that is infected with HIV/AIDS. Pretty great huh??

Every mom out there deserves to have access to cutting edge healthcare like my mom does. I only dared to dream as a young girl that she would live to see my life as an adult and it's hard for me to describe how grateful I am that she is in Mylo's life and my own 30 years later. It's time to pay it forward.

Jenny and Jason just returned last week from Malawi where they spent a week meeting the people of the Neno district and photographing the site where the clinic will be place (amazing photos on their way!). We are all so excited about this project and the impact that it will have on this community. I am asking all our readers to watch the video above and consider giving to this initiative that is so dear to my heart. Click here to learn more. Let's build a clinic!

Monday Motivation

Friday Roundup

Happy Friday! Do you have big plans for Easter weekend? I'm looking forward to watching some Game of Thrones on Sunday since Lent will officially be over! Hoping the sun makes an appearance so we can get outside a bit. Enjoy the weekend!

Here are a few links to get us started:

Grown up Easter gifts. (Asparagus shaped chocolate?!)

Delicious and healthy Easter casserole.  Or if you have a sweet tooth like me, Oatmeal Butterscotch Blondies.

This might be the best video ever. (ATTN JENNY)

Would you ever paint a door neon?

Awesome illustrated guide to NYC.

Hilarious spoof on The Newsroom staring my favorite, Will Gardner, er...Josh Charles.

This hotel in LA looks like an interesting and unique place to stay.

Am I the only one that is excited about this sequel?? Apparently. 


A Gmail Tip & A Pretzel Story

Hello again from another airport, OAK to be exact. Gate 26 next to the Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  I have two things for you this morning.

1. For all you Gmail users out there, have you enabled Google's Search Field Trial? It is THE BEST. No more frantically searching through emails on your iPhone to find your flight details. All you have to do is a google search for "my flights" and the top of the search will bring back ALL of the flights in your Gmail. It works on a computer as well, as long as your logged into Gmail.

2. Did you know that Auntie Anne was Amish? The smell of pretzel goodness has broken me down, I'm about to go get a pretzel from Auntie Anne's, while I do, here's the story of Anne Beiler, an amazingly strong woman- and if you want more, she even wrote a book about it!

WW: Library Week

In honor of National Library Week,  I bring you wedding photos outside of the gothically gorgeous Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington. I love this spot for wedding photos, especially with a larger wedding party as there is a lot of space to spread out and a variety of backgrounds, even on a drizzly spring day like it was for Nick and Sarah's wedding a few years back.

 Photos by Studio JKoe

An Update on Lent

I may have been a little to ambitious with my Lenten resolutions. Not consuming sugar proved to be a bit too much to handle with crazy times at work and baby at home. I did however scale back a lot and am happy to say that I'm no longer addicted. 

I am proud to announce though that my resolution to watch no TV for the Lenten season has been a success! I only have five days to go and I can't say I've even missed it very much (although I'm VERY much looking forward to getting caught up on Game of Thrones). I've had more time to read, think, clean, exercise, cook....and play Candy Crush. Ha. 

But in all seriousness I've been surprised how little I've missed binge watching television. Not to say I'm done with it forever but it does feel nice to scale back and get some perspective. More on the three books that I read later this week...

Baby Sleep Routines

Did you see this post yesterday on Cup of Jo about how her baby sleeps in the bathroom?? I LOVE it. If there's one thing I've learned since becoming a mom it's that flexibility is key. I am a big researcher/reader so before Mylo was born I read tons of books and websites and I still enjoy reading what the "experts" recommend for different situations. But in the end it's all about what works for your own family and children. Mylo has always been a decent sleeper but he still wakes up occasionally in the night for a feeding. When he was four months old our pediatrician told me that "an 18 lb baby doesn't need to feed during the night." Which I promptly ignored. :)

Also, since he was a tiny baby he has always loved to sleep with a blanket on his face! When he was small it made all of us really nervous because you are advised not to let them sleep with anything in the crib. In the end I let him sleep with his small "lovey" blanket and every nap and bedtime he puts it directly over his face and drifts off to sleep. How do your kids sleep? I'd love to hear more quirky stories.

PS. I read this article yesterday about a new theory on why babies wake up during the night -- to avoid having another sibling!

Monday Motivation

Friday Roundup

Happy Sunday! The Friday Roundup is a little late, oops. We didn't haven't exactly have internet these last few days, but Jason and I are having a lovely time shooting in Malawi. I hope you're enjoying your weekend, wherever you are. Here are some fun links from around the web

For more info on the organizations Jason and I are currently shooting for, check out the websites for Partners in Health and Construction for Change. We be posting more on this project on the blog in the coming weeks too!

Where Seattle neighborhood names came from incase you were wondering why you lived on Capitol Hill or in Leshi, etc.

Kids reading to catsreally, this is a serious thing. And also incredibly cute.

New music for spring

Reminisce about Gap Dream and other smells from growing up a girl in the 90's

Interesting example of how much makeup can change a face. 

Champagne cocktails, perfect for a spring brunch. 

Supposedly the best oatmeal cookies, I might need to test this out...

Zara Baby Clothes

So in case you didn't hear, Seattle finally got a Zara! It opened in Westlake Center in February and is officially my new favorite place to buy Mylo baby clothes. As you've seen, he's a big boy and has grown out of most of his clothes that are in the first year range so I've been trying to replenish his dresser with some larger sizes, he has very chunky and adorable little legs so finding pants and PJ's that are comfy is a challenge. Zara's little sweats might be my favorite thing. Here are a few pics of baby clothes from their lookbook:

Cat Cafe!

Tokyo was one of my favorite parts of tour last month, not only is it a city that I love, my sister, Stephanie, was able to pop over from Korea to hang out with me for the week. She referred to it as "take your sibling to work week". Stephanie has been teaching in Korea for the past few years, she hadn't been to a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show or met any of our "tour family" as we call them. I love that she got a chance to experience a bit of our unique life.

One of the best things Stephanie and I did in Tokyo was checking out a cat cafe. Really, a cafe with cats, I'm not making it up! In Tokyo, where many people are living in cramped quarters and working long hours, owning a pet isn't an option. As a result, cafes, where you can pay by the hour to relax in a living room-esque setting, sipping on a coffee and petting a cat, have become quite popular.

Our hotel concierge recommended Hapineko Cafe in Shabuya, explaining to us that "neko" means cat in Japanese. The cafe is located just a couple of blocks from the busy Shabuya Crossing in a sunlight filled third floor space overlooking the busy street below. Walking in I felt like I was coming into a spa, the vibe was totally relaxed and after washing and sanitizing our hands, we were offered slippers and ushered in to find a cozy spot to sip our hot beverages and enjoy the cats. I had green tea, Stephanie had a latte, which she said was made wonderfully.

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical before going to Hapineko, I wondered if the cats could genuinely be happy being bothered by strangers all day. My concerns were quickly put to rest, before we were allowed into the same room as the cats, we had to read a 5 page pamphlet that included appropriate cat handling, discouraged people who were sick from entering, and instructed us not to pet any cats wearing pink collars as they were injured or ill and needed to be left to rest. After all of that, and seeing how calm and happy the cats were in their very clean cafe environment, I felt like they were in good hands. They had high perches where you weren't supposed to bother them, lots of other cats to play with and even had a little door into another room where they were left alone.

After being away from my cat for the month, spending an hour at Happineko was a great way to get a cat fix. I'm pretty sure I'd be a regular if I was living pet-less in Toyko. I definitely recommend it if you find yourself in Tokyo. 

Spring is Here!

We have had some lovely weather in Seattle these past few days, and more in the forecast! It's wonderful to be able to spend more time outside, Mylo is much happier when he can be outdoors for part of the day and we all need to soak up some vitamin D! As you can see Mylo and Rafa are developing a cute little relationship, mostly that Mylo loves his kitty and Rafa tolerates him. Love that cat.

Back to Africa...

Jason and I are on our way to Malawi for the week. We left on Monday and don't get there until Wednesday, there never really are good direct ways to get from Seattle to Africa. This is our annual trip to do photography for Construction for Change, this year they are teaming up with Partners in Health to build a medical clinic that will service a large rural area.

See other posts I've written about our work with Construction for Change here. 

Photo: Zimbabwe, 2008, when we rode elephants on Jason's birthday. I feel like I look the same, but Jason looks so young here! 

Monday Motivation

A Disclaimer of Sorts...

Get ready, here's the saga of the honey mints...

On Friday, a couple friends stopped by and immediately saw the dish of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints on my coffee table. They had both seen them in my March Favorites on the blog and were excited to give them a try.

Brittany grabbed one right off, took a bite and made a face like a child being force fed broccoli. She couldn't even finish one! After Brittany's reaction and subsequent explanation of how strong the taste was, Danielle smelled the other half of Brittany's but wouldn't even put it in her mouth. What's more, they both insisted I write some sort of warning or retraction on the blog, as they didn't want people to start thinking I had horrible taste in things and stop listening to my recommendations.

As much as I was sad they had SUCH a strong negative reaction to candy that I really do enjoy,  it was actually a huge complement that they were so adamant that people read the blog and take my suggestions seriously. So if you're out there, reading the blog and trying things we post on here, thank you. You're much appreciated and I hope you won't be egging my house later over horrible honey mints that I forced you to try.

Later that night, we were celebrating Brittany's birthday in a honey mint free zone. Jason (who's also tried and hates the honey mints) and a few other friends were there as well. Everyone thought a honey mint warning on the blog was necessary. I find the whole thing hilarious and I still maintain the honey mints are good! I've eaten three in the course of writing this post.

Nevertheless, here it is, the warning they insisted I issue:


So now you've been warned.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'm curious to know, has anyone else out there tried them? Since Trader Joe's continues to carry them, I have to assume I'm not the only person out there who likes them.


Friday Roundup

Happy Friday! Hope your weekend is off to a great start! We had a rough weekend last week with lots of sickness going around our house so I'm looking forward to getting outside and enjoying springtime starting today!

Here are a few links to kick off the weekend:

Creative teen figured out how to save the gov't millions.  (PS. being a nerd is cool)

Speaking of teens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt being interviewed by Conan in 1995. Priceless.

Pantone colors like never before.

The magic of the window seat. 

Loving this Scandinavian design style.

Shout out to Brittany who turns 30 today: three year old having a midlife crisis.

Metal cats (YESSS). Also, cat craft night in Brooklyn!

Get your Tonya Harding "No Comment" sweatshirt before it's too late. (ATTN: JENNY)

Seattle's best new pastries... yes please.

Would love to take a bath in the great outdoors.

This short documentary was fascinating and a bit magical to me.

31 ways to make Chipotle employees hate you. 

The perfect Easter dessert + 15 other awesome Easter delights.


Shopping for Guy Things

I always see great guy clothes on Pinterest and wonder where people get the stuff- it's either a photo without a link or, even worse, a photo that links to a GQ article and the shirt I think would look great on Jason is $600. 

Right before we left for tour, a friend introduced us to Jack Threads a website with very stylish, very reasonably priced clothes & accessories for men. Dressy, casual, they have it all. And now I wish they had clothes for me too! 

PS. The Jack Threads blog is full of great tips to make any guy stylish from different ways to cuff your pants to buying sunglasses for your face shape.