{food} 7 x 7 magazine big eat 2013…


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7 x 7 Magazine has released their Big Eat 2013 list! They have added EIGHTY(!) new dishes this year and I can’t wait to dig in.

Last year, I didn’t get around to eating as much as I initially wanted to. The effort of lugging around a cumbersome DSLR camera and embarrassing my chosen dining companion by snapping tons of shots before they could sink their teeth into the deliciousness became a barrier to crossing more off the 2012 list. I am planning a more no holds barred approach this year with as little iphoneography as possible.

Some of my favourite dishes last year:

meatloaf sandwich | fatted calf san francisco | sparklingandsweet.com

Meatloaf Sandwich | Fatted Calf

Carnitas | Nopalito | sparklingandsweet.com

Carnitas | Nopalito

dim sum | ton kiang | sparklingandsweet.com

Dim Sum | Ton Kiang

Going through this year’s list, I have already had 13/100 items compared to last year’s 32/100 when I began. I welcome the challenge with an empty stomach and curious appetite! Some standouts I can’t wait to try:

– Spicy Miso Ramen at Ramen Underground… maybe it’s the winter season but nothing sounds better to me than a nice bowl of spicy noodles.

– Peking Duck at Hong Kong Lounge… it is rare that I find myself at the end of the city but I would definitely venture for some authentic peking duck.

– Caldo Tlalpeno at Nopalito… I was so impressed with the carnitas, can’t wait to try a new dish.

Want to see what else I have crossed off of the 7 x 7 2012 Big Eat list?
Bar Crudo’s seafood chowder
Kelvin made ice-cream at Smitten
Carnitas at Nopalito
Fried green beans at Coco500
Prime rib at House of Prime Rib
Argentine beef empanada at Venga Empanadas
Dim sum at Ton Kiang
Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina
Meatloaf sandwich at Fatted Calf
Pickled eggs at Comstock Saloon and Deviled eggs at Park Tavern

{life} hello 2013…


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After sticking to my resolutions (for the most part) last year, I am excited to set up some new goals for 2013.

– Seek out inspiration offline. Monthly visits to SF favourites like the MoMa, DeYoung and take more photowalks with my REAL camera. (sorry, iPhone!)

– Get back in touch with my DIY side. My Pinterest boards and household to-do projects are calling me to get hands on creative in 2013.

– Challenge myself in the kitchen. In 2011 I experimented with a recipe a week which really helped me learn a lot more about basic cooking techniques and ingredients. This year, I want to take a similar approach but stretch my capabilities by dipping into new territory. Whether it be delving into niche region cuisine (Thai, Indian, Chinese) or mastering Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguingnon, I want to push myself to cook tougher dishes.

Last year, it helped to have resolutions published on my blog for the world to see and to hold myself accountable for. Although they are by no means ‘life changing’, I like to stick to goals I can see myself enjoying and keeping up with throughout the year. I encourage all of you to think about what you want out of 2013 and push yourself to achieve it!


{life} thoughts on a tragedy…

I can’t get the thought out of my head.  28 dead. 20 of which are children. Their pictures are everywhere- TV, newspapers, Twitter, Facebook. Their sweet, smiling, innocent faces gleam on the screen. Pictures from their last birthday, mall photos with Santa Claus… it is all too much.

I tried to avoid the developing news on Friday by taking a lunchtime gym break. Some escape from the constant status updates and tweets would do me some good, I thought. But no Real Housewives or People’s Court could distract me from President Obama’s speech airing on all the large screens at the gym. Everyone around me stopped what they were doing and we all stood silently, watching the screens. As tears welled up in my eyes, I realized that I wasn’t alone in grieving for these victims I had never met. Beside me, five other strangers stood listening to the news, shaking their heads in the same disgust and sadness.

As more details about the children and their families are released, I feel myself wanting to turn away as if to shelter myself from more sadness. But I can’t. I want to recognize that these young victims were real children, just like we all once were. Whether they loved football or were top of their class, I want to remember these children for who they were individually, not as the victims of this horrific tragedy.

I try to keep things light on here so apologies for getting a bit emotional today. It is too big of an issue not to address and has been weighing heavy on my heart. My thoughts go out to all of those affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. May we all find peace during this holiday season.

{interiors} new year, new office…


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For the last couple of years, I have been collect magazine clips, design postcards and other tidbits which I tack up on the wall behind my desk. It is a growing, constantly changing work in progress, but sometimes tends to look more like a teenager’s bedroom wall than an office.

I love these office spaces as they show ways to collect and display inspiration while still looking polished.

White office space | sparklingandsweet.com 106679084894998158_UqlpdyVf_c 106679084895000811_Y9H7cwhE_cone / two / three


{design} more free printable holiday gift tags…


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Last year I rounded up some fun printable gift tags for the holiday season. They were so easy to print, cut and personalize and also looked so much nicer than the ones for sale in stores. And how could I forget, they are free!

Here are some new designs that I am planning on using this Christmas


– print the gift tags on thick white card stock
– if possible, use a paper trimmer to keep lines extra clean
– personalize the tags using a stamps, sharpies and glitter. Be extra creative and add some ribbons, buttons or bows
Click the links below to download files
one / two / threefour

{life} new traditions…


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Last Friday, we purchased our first Hanukkah menorah. My husband is half Jewish (albeit on his father’s side) and loved his childhood memories of lighting the menorah. Although neither of us are particularly religious, the symbolism and spirit of the holidays is big in our hearts.

With holiday music blaring and cookies baking in the oven, we decorated our place with twinkling lights, a statuesque tree and as the finishing touch, put our new menorah in the window. Hanukkah starts tomorrow (December 8th) and with the lighting of our first candle begins a new tradition in our mini family.

{life} november instagrams…


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Nov instagrams

Happy birthday boy at Hofbrauhaus, LV / Partying with friends in Las Vegas / Niners game on a sunny Sunday / Cuteness overload at Thanksgiving dinner / Del Dotto Winery Caves, Napa / View from Amizetta Winery, Napa / Chrismukkah / Baking chocolate chip salted caramel cookies / Productive Sunday work session

{food} chocolate chip salted caramel cookies…


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Last week I made chocolate chip salted caramel cookies as a dessert contribution to a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. It was a bit experimental (which is risking when baking for others!) but they turned out great. I have been getting quite a few requests to share the recipe, so here it is:

*original recipe from Zesty Cooks, my edits in italics*

makes 3 dozen

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 16 wrapped caramels, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.


With an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms (may take a couple minutes of stirring). Fold in the chocolate chips (do not add the caramels yet). Do not overmix the dough at any point in this process.


Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (or up to 5 days) in the refrigerator. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Press a few pieces of caramel onto the tops of the cookies. I cut my caramel into squares around the same size as chocolate chips. If you want a caramel dominated cookie, cute the caramel square into four and use half of them on each cookie. Also, make sure to use parchment paper with this recipe. Not only does it make clean up faster but there is no risk of sticking.



Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. The centers should appear very soft and puffy. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt while they are warm. Let cool completely and enjoy! It may just be my oven, but baking took at least 12 minutes for my batch of cookies. Make sure to use coarse-medium grind sea salt, not kosher or table salt. Keep dough cold at all times while the batches are baking. I kept my dough in the refrigerator in between batches.

IMG_2390IMG_2437These cookies taste best 10-12 hours after they are baked. They last 3-5 days after baking so don’t worry about making them ahead of time.