How to Throw a Pickling Party


The lovely Sarah of Ardent Magazine reached out to me a couple months ago about writing some stories for the magazine, and I of course said an honored yes. Here’s the first one–a watercolored poster of how to throw a pickling party, inspired by my birthday pickling party not too long ago. 

How to Throw a Pickling Party - irenekly

How to Throw a Pickling Party - irenekly

Snap up the last of that glorious summer abundance and do some quick pickling! Make sure tasty beer and a most excellent playlist is involved. And friends! The most important part of any party. Read the detailed how-to here


Still Here


Just thinking for a bit. A whole long bit, about who, why, what, how a lot of things. But I am inspired and convicted. I feel that in-between, of wanting to keep going forward but needing to also look back. Life is full, and I’m trying to figure out how blogging comes into play in all the fullness. 


Thanks for sticking with me!

Flower Festooning

Irenekly - Flower Festooning

Add flowers to any equation and I am a happy camper. We had way too much fun figuring out this festoon business from one of our new books, Decorate with Flowers, and also had some real struggles with Vine-making. Ex: Clogs are really loud and should be taken off when making a stop motion video. But everything was still so much fun to be a part of, and especially photograph!

Irenekly - Flower Festooning 2

Here’s Guinevere masterfully tying on a dusty miller to some twine. Also, those are excerpts from Pride & Prejudice pasted onto hang tags. Literature and beauty–we like those two things.

Check out the rest on Chronicle Books’ fabulouso blog!

Bees Knees Favorites

Bees knees is not just one of my favorite ways to describe favorite things, but is a most delectable drink and my favorite way to enjoy gin (so far). Okay no more saying ‘favorite’ and on to my extremely amateur bartender technique in mixing this bright and tangy concoction.

Irenekly - Bees Knees Cocktail


I first tried the Bees Knees at Prizefighter, one of my favorite (I can’t stop!) bars in the East Bay, and was amazed with how simple ingredients could make gin so delightful! It takes:

1.5 tbsp of honey – mine is this ridiculous orange blossom raw honey I compulsively splurged on once. It was worth it.
Juice from 1/2 a lemon – meyer lemon if you can find some!
2 oz gin – the one pictured above is from St George Spirits, which I’ll say more on.
4 oz tonic water

I melt the honey in the microwave, because I’m lazy, then mix in lemon juice and wait until it’s all room temperature. Then I pour the mixture into a glass with ice, add the gin, and top it off with tonic water. I also vigorously stir everything. I hope I’m not seriously offending any bartender or mixologist with my crude techniques…

But it tastes very good to me! The gin is so yummy, especially this one and this one from St George Spirits. Garrett and I did a tour and tasting of the St George distillery last weekend, and had way too much fun learning and trying everything. So fascinating, how all this tasty stuff is made.

Okay and now just for fun, here are some other favorites that are the bees knees:

Ally and I made this cake (recipe here) over the weekend for Shela’s birthday and it was amazing. Not even humble brag, just brag!

All of The Boffin Society’s Thinking Drink posts.

These two wondrous mugs.

This exhibition.

Satsuma Rosemary Salt



Basically everything that Local Milk posts, I am drooling and having those heart eye emojis over. But as much as I would like to try out Beth’s recipes, I don’t have the luxury of time/ingredients too often…except for when I’m on holiday vacay at home where my parents gloriously stock up on a slew of food! And have a crazy overrun herb garden to boot!

The recipe on Local Milk has many more herbs in the salt, but I only used rosemary, as distinguishing weeds/herbs in the garden got a little tricky. Satsumas are also my favorite, and I can eat way too many in one sitting, so basically this salt is the best and super easy to make. Find the recipe here ! I’ve already added this salt to everything and anything (i.e. mostly just veggies and chicken), but methinks sprinkling some on top of shortbread cookies would be delicious. Happy salting!


Looking Back and Forward


2013 was a huge year.

I graduated college, set foot in new countries, and got my first “big girl” job. Last January, I remember marveling at all the milestones to be had this year and being equal parts frightened and excited. How could a year hold so much? Was it possible for everything to even happen? And yet, by the sheer grace of God, it has and more.

I learned that everything that happened at Berkeley was truly invaluable,  that my lens has been altered to ask hard questions and learn how to grapple with hard truth, but that the asking and grappling can and should never stop.

I learned that loving people is really difficult, especially when the vehicle through which my love is transmitted (my selfish, wimpy heart) needs a lot of working on.

I learned that traveling gives you unshakeable wanderlust in your feet and eyes, and that your hand will forevermore be writing new cities onto the “Must Visit” list. But even more so, I learned that planting roots in a new city, a new home, actually means more adventure and exploration.

I learned that fear–of failure, of loss–is crippling, but that there is love and freedom to be had in embracing inevitable imperfection. There is grace enough, and there will always be grace enough.

I learned that admitting weakness is asking for strength, and I learned the sweetness of having a strong hand to hold in prayer and encouragement.

And I learned that being in a posture of humble need, not petulant neediness, is how I must constantly step into the new and the old.

I’m so thankful that my wistfulness over this year already being over can actually surge into hope and expectation for what 2014 will bring, and that there will always be new life to be found. So, in the coming year, I have some small and big hopes. One of those is to balance out the levels in which I consume and produce, and to not just be sedately inspired all the time, but proactively create, too! And hopefully this blog will be a tool through which I can push myself to tackle some new projects.

I’m excited! It’s definitely an excitement that took some watering, but now it is growing and I trust that this year will be good, even if that “good” is not how I would exactly define it (read: lots of cookies, no conflict, and pretty stuff). Here’s to a full, blessed year!

Goodbye, December!


Some snapshots/igrams from this past month. December has been so sweet and lovely, it feels sad to bid it farewell already. A lot has happened, and there are super exciting adventures ahead, but December! I’m not ready for you to leave just yet. Better fill this last day with many excellent things, like a big cake and puppies.

Also! So surprised by this feature from Emmadime on my Instagram! I’m such a fan of you, Emma, and this is a huge honor. Thank you!

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

A quick post on a simple, yet shnazzy breakfast recipe. The beauty of being home for the holidays means glorious ingredients so easily at hand, like these ikura, and ample time to test out new recipes.

Baked Eggs with Miso Crème Fraîche

Oven to 350, mix in salt, pepper, ginger, and teaspoon of miso into the crème fraîche, and plop a tablespoon in the ramekin. Crack an egg on top, add another tablespoon of the crème, top with dill, and pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Eat gustily with some crusty bread. Happy breakfasting!

Mamoo Totes!

Hooray, hooray! I’m so excited I get to finally share these. I mentioned the hang tags I re-designed for Mamoo Kids before, but a much bigger project had been in the works for a while: tote bags!!! When Anna from Mamoo reached out about designing a new line of kid-friendly book bags complete with empowering messages, how could I say anything but yes? All the totes are 100% natural cotton and awesomely handmade in San Francisco. Here they are!

Voyager BlueRobot Red

Whoohooo. My dream is that one day I’ll see some adorable kiddo around SF, sporting this bag filled with his or her favorite books. Check out more photos of the bags at all angles and other colors on Mamoo Kids! Big thanks to Anna for this amazing opportunity. (Aaand, one more design is in the works!)

Mia + Tim Wedding Invitations!

Super excited to finally share this project! My beautiful cousin/basically sister is getting married and I had the honor of doing her wedding invites (and her Save the Dates!). All she asked for was “very simple and rustic,” so I had a lot of creative wiggle room. I made a logo for them first, complete with ears of wheat because they are getting married on a ranch, and then the rest just followed. This was my first time designing wedding invitations and it was so, so fun! And now, on to other bridesmaid duties like planning her bachelorette party…




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