Posts in Category: Beach Style

Affordable Gift Ideas 2017

Hi everyone – December is already here so let’s just cut to the chase. I’ve gathered all my gift ideas and put together a list of my favorite affordable holiday gift Ideas for 2017. Enjoy!

1) Serene House Ultrasonic Cool Mist Aromatherapy Diffuser

We’re all looking for ways to relax and unwind these days. Unlike other aromatherapy diffusers out there, this one has a handy automatic shut-off timer. Purchase online at Nordstrom.


2) Lands End Natural Canvas Tote Bag

This durable tote bag can be customized to your (or your recipient’s) liking – everything from color scheme to bag capacity to handle length! Perfect for everyday errands, grocery shopping and beach trips, this tote will quickly become your go-to bag.




3) Windowbox Herb Planter

This Windowbox Herb Planter from the Tasteful Garden is a great gift for a cooking enthusiast. The planter comes with 3 herb plants of your choice(!), soil and they are perfect for indoor growing. Planter colors include taupe, brown marble, or charcoal.

4) Escali Chrome Digital Kitchen Scale

This handy scale is making its appearance again on my affordable gift ideas list. I think this scale is the most reliable, economical kitchen scale around. I use them at my bakery as well as at the beach loft. It is readily available on

5) COCO Eco-chic Candles by Stone Candles

I love the COCO line of candles by Santa Monica based Stone Candles. The COCO line is comprised of eco-chic coconut wax candles that come in a wide range of scents and start at $6,99. Handcrafted and clean burning, the Honeysuckle candle is my favorite scent so far!


6) Farm to Table Desserts Cookbook

Well of course I had to recommend my cookbook Farm to Table Desserts: 80 Seasonal, Organic Recipes from your Farmers’ Market! It’s perfect for anytime of the year as the recipes are presented by seasons. Purchase my book on Amazon.

7) Heart of Glass Choker by Frasier Sterling

Like them or not, chokers are back in style. Handmade in Los Angeles, Frasier Sterling creations are beautiful and affordable.

8) QUIP Electric Toothbrush

So this gift is probably more for family than friends 🙂 Called the “iPhone of toothbrushes”, this sleek electric toothbrush is getting rave reviews for its sleek design, portability, ease of use and performance. Starter sets begin at $25 with 3-month refills starting at $5. Check it out!

9) Alex and Ani Friend Charm Bangle

The ultimate emblem of friendship, the periwinkle, symbolizes eternity and the power of camaraderie. Enough said.

10) Textured Plaid Square Scarf by J.Jill

I love getting scarves from J. Jill. They have such a nice assortment of designs at reasonable prices. I’m loving this textured plaid scarf because it’s a classic design that’s not too showy yet still eye catching.

Happy Holidays!

beach town baking

Cantaloupe Soup

cantaloupe soup (1)

It’s pretty warm here in southern California and I’ve been dreading turning on my oven to make desserts for my next cookbook Farm-to-Table Desserts. The solution? Chilled, very chilled, dessert soups!

The markets are overflowing with melons right now. There are so many types to choose from but for chilled soup my preference is cantaloupe. Its beautiful orange hue is so appetizing and its flavor is not too mild or strong for my tastebuds. Cantaloupe soup is best served chilled along with some fresh raspberries.

I like to add a little cilantro and fresh lemon juice to round out the soup’s flavor profile.


cantaloupe soup (3)

p.s. Don’t forget to purchase my new cookbook Beach House Brunch on Amazon here!


beach town baking





Cantaloupe Soup


  • 1 Large cantaloupe (ripe and chilled)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1 sprig cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • agave to taste
  • raspberries for serving


Cut the cantaloupe in half and remove seeds. Cut the flesh into small pieces and place in a blender along with the milk and lemon juice. Tear up the cilantro leaves and add them to the blender. Puree until smooth. Add agave one teaspoon at a time until desired sweetness is reached. Strain soup and pour into bowls. Garnish with cilantro and serve with raspberries.



Sailor Jerry Rum Laguna Beach Bungalow

photo 5

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Sailor Jerry Rum Bungalow launch party for the new ‘Sailor Jerry’ Bungalow at the beautiful Pacific Edge Hotel in Laguna Beach.

Who is Sailor Jerry, you ask? Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins was an actual sailor living in Hawaii whose original tattoo artwork made him popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. Some of you may be more familiar with his protégés, Ed Hardy and Mike Malone. These two artists went on to create a rum inspired by their mentor and named it ‘Sailor Jerry’ Rum, a 92 proof spiced rum featuring a quintessential ‘Sailor Jerry’ hula girl on the label. I had the chance to try it for the first time at the party and dang was it delicious!

photo 1

The bungalow is a great way to enjoy the beach when you’re in Laguna. Day rentals are around $500 – $600. The bungalow which sits right on the beach includes its own tiki bar, full beach access, a pinball machine, private bathroom, comfy lounge-like sitting area, and a large outside deck with stunning ocean views. Bottle and food service is offered as well.

photo 4photo 1 (2)

Small bites that evening of grilled cheese sandwiches, crab cakes, lamb chops, pork belly and pepper-crusted grilled ahi tuna were provided by The Deck, the hotel’s restaurant. Bravo to the Chef!

photo 3 (3) photo 2 (2)

Guests drank ‘Sailor Jerry’ Rum-based drinks and enjoyed the tasty bites while live acoustic music played in the background.

photo 4 (2) photo 3

The evening ended with a stunning sunset along the Laguna Beach coast. It was the perfect end to a truly fun evening.


photo 3 (2)



beach town baking

Beach House Baking Release Party

book on table

Happy Summer everyone! Last week was the much anticipated Beach House Baking release party held at the St. Regis Monarch Beach.  After a month full of emails, phone calls and taste testing, the Beach House Baking Release Party went off without a hitch.

I’m thrilled to share with all of you some memorable shots from the party. And if you haven’t checked out my book yet, Beach House Baking is now available for purchase on Amazon here. It’s full of great summer and beach-inspired recipes for everyone!

First up – dessert! I baked up a variety of sweets from my book and created a beachy dessert table for guests to pick and choose from. The recipes I made from my book included: PCH (pina colada highway) cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Creamy Chocolate Cupcakes, Blueberry Lavender Pie, Tsunamis and Coco Hut Macaroons.

dessert table dessert table 2 dessert table_1

The reception was held at Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern in the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where I was the former pastry chef. Below are just some of the delicious canapés they served: avocado spheres filled with Dungeness crab, fried chicken bites, crispy kale chips, kobe beef sliders.

canapes 2 canapes 1 canapes 4 canapes 3

I was thrilled to have some very special guest bloggers and editors on hand. Anita Lau of Mad Hungry Woman, Valerie Mitchell of Mama Likes to Cook, Shelby Barone of OC Mom’s Blog, Caryn Bailey of Rockin Mama, Angela Saldana of Momfluential, Priscilla Mayfield of Orange Coast Magazine and Cathy Thomas of OC Register/ Cathy Thomas Cooks.

media media 2

Guests spent the evening perusing through my new book in between sips of champagne and my Berry Sangria.

looking at book looking at book 2 dan reading bookamanda and daniel reading book

Lots of friends came out to partake in the celebration, too!

val and justin 1 kate, lei and seyie christina and lei mac at dessert tablejustin amina and moval and justin_3 tracy, val, christina, george dr o and lei allie, heather, lei   seyie, kate, lei

All in all, it was a hugely successful event that was enjoyed by everyone!


beach town baking

Beach House Baking now available for pre-sale!



Beach House Baking cookbook

I’m proud to announce that my long-awaited cookbook, Beach House Baking, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! This project has been my baby, and I’m ecstatic that my dream of writing my very own cookbook is finally coming true. And if you’re wondering about the discrepancy between the blog and book title, we (the publisher and I) decided to change our minds about the name midway into this process, but fear not, the concept is still the same: Beach House Baking chronicles my baking adventures in some of my most favorite places to be– beaches!

The book includes some of my favorite recipes for cupcakes, cookies, frozen pops, ice cream sandwiches and pies. The last chapter is called Classics, and includes some of my all-time favorite recipes that I make over and over again, like my Apple Cider Donuts and my Berry Trifle. These are my tried and true favorites that have been hits with my family and friends, and I can’t wait for other people to share it with their loved ones now. Yummm!

Beach House Baking won’t officially release until May 6, but you can pre-order it now to make sure you get it hot off the presses and receive it just in time for Mother’s Day. If you order 2–one for you and one for your mom– shipping is free!

For those of you who may not be that into baking, you’ll still enjoy the beautiful photos of the beach and sweet treats taken by my photographer Chau Vuong. Her photos are exquisite and will make you want to try out all my recipes!

Click here to pre-order your copy now!


beach town baking

Easy Ways to Beachify Your Home

Been stuck in the polar vortex? I feel you! Just watching all the news footage of the snow storms makes me feel chilly, and I’m baking cupcakes just a few steps away from the beach.  Luckily,  there are a few simple steps that you can take to easily “beachify” your home, so you can at least feel like you’re near the beach (or even better, scan through my Beach Town Baking archives and find a beachy dessert recipe to help whisk you away to the tropics!)

This post is going to focus on specific pieces of furniture that can help you achieve that beach environment right at home. Even if your home or apartment already has its own inherent design, adding just a  few key pieces of furniture can help transform your space into a tropical getaway.

When choosing furniture, try to stick with natural materials like rattan, which makes a good choice for both indoor and outdoor furniture. It also takes to paint well so you can change its color if it doesn’t match your existing palette. Wicker is a popular weaving technique that many rattan pieces have.  Check out these gorgeous wicker and rattan chairs– they look so inviting and relaxing, don’t you agree?

beachify house

(photos courtesy of Houzz, Home Décor Dream)

Another natural material to consider is bamboo.  This eco-friendly material  is inexpensive and I love it because it is extremely durable and doesn’t swell or shrink.

beachify house

(photo courtesy of

When it comes to pillows, the more the better! Everything about beach décor should scream relaxation. Look for fun beach sayings or colors of the ocean such as beige, blue, green or white.


beach pillows

(photo courtesy of The Nautical Company)

beachify house

(photo courtesy of

If you need a floor covering, I recommend handwoven rugs. You can purchase a rug with straightforward beach designs such as palm trees, sailboats or ocean creatures  like sea turtles and fish. But if you prefer a subtler beach-related design, look for stripes or herringbone.

beachify house

(photo courtesy of

beachify house

(photo courtesy of Tom Mackie Beach House Hammock)

Lastly, adding a hammock is a quick and easy way to beachify your porch.

Which one of these things are you going to incorporate into your space for an easy, beachy upgrade?

beach town baking



Beach Aftercare Routine

With summer in full swing, it’s time for us to take advantage of the beach weather while we can and spend as many afternoons down by the shore as possible. As much as I love the feeling of the sun beating down on me, I have to admit, summers can take a toll on my body (mostly in a good way!), and sometimes I need to give myself a little spa treatment to recover from the mini beach getaways (a vacation from a vacation, that is!). Here’s my little after-sun routine that I do after every beach trip that helps take away the fatigue of the heat and makes me feel glowing and sun-kissed:

salux towel

Scrub Away the Day: Stripping away those layers of sunblock, sweat, dirt and sand is the first step to feeling exponentially better. My favorite body exfoliating tool is the Salux towel, a nylon cloth that leaves my skin feeling silky smooth after a good scrub down. And unlike traditional exfoliating tools, the Salux towel dries quickly and doesn’t turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. And, these things last forever! You know it’s a good product too when it’s won numerous awards! You can find the Salux towel here or at a local Japanese market.

maui babe beach lotion

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize: It’s essential to keep your skin as hydrated as possible post sun exposure. Make sure you’ve exfoliated (see above!) before moisturizing, or else the lotion won’t penetrate through to your skin. My after-beach lotion of choice is the Amazing Maui Babe After Browning Lotion. Hailed as the Islander’s secret, this lotion has the right dose of vitamins and moisturizers (aloe, macadamia nut oil and antioxidants, oh my!) to return my skin back to a soft, supple state, and never leaves me feeling greasy. Bonus points for making my tans last longer! You can find this lotion on Amazon here.

Soak Up H2O: Most of us are slightly dehydrated on a daily basis, but throw in a full day of sun, and you can imagine how parched our bodies can get! I can’t emphasize this enough, but remember to hydrate at the beach, and also drink lots of water post-sun. Yes, water can be boring, but you can always infuse it with fruits and herbs to make it more interesting. I like to slice up fresh cucumbers, throw in a little bit of mint and a squeeze of lime into a pitcher of water. Bonus: Use the cucumbers as a soothing face mask after you’ve finished your water concoction.


What’s your after-beach care routine?

beach town baking

Fun and Beautiful Sea Shell Projects

When I’m at the beach (which is quite often!), I always seem to pick up a pretty shell or two and pocket them as mementos. Slowly, these shells have accrued in the corner of my house, and I finally decided that I had to do something about the situation and find a way to put them to good use. There are tons of craft ideas out there for repurposing shells, but these are my favorite! Here are three great projects to turn your beach souvenirs into lovely home trinkets:

Shells and sand in bottles as souvenirs

1. Shell Collection Display: An easy way to use your seashell collection is to put them out for the world to see. Find apothecary jars and glass vials at flea markets and thrift stores to use as displays for your collection. If you’re a world-traveler, start collecting sand and shells from beaches that you’ve visited, and put them in their own bottle. Add labels and make note of where each jar came from. Your display will not only look stunning in your home, but will be a great conversation starter about your travels for guests!

Sea Shell Lights

(image courtesy of

2. Seashell Lights: I saw this picture on and I knew I had to make this! Sure, you can probably buy these lights from her site, but I figured this project was simple enough (and cheaper!) to do on my own. Go to your local hardware store and buy a set of white tree lights (or go through your garage and find old Christmas lights! I’d rather avoid the hassles of untangling, though) Take each of your shells and, using a pair of tweezers, carefully superglue them onto the string in front of each bulb. Let dry, hang and enjoy!

Beach Town Baking Sea Shell Soap Dish

3. Shell Dish: I love this one because it’s so simple. The hardest part about this project will be finding a big enough shell. Once that’s done, you’ll need to make sure that all of the living tissue on the shell is gone. You can do this by either boiling it or freezing it for a day or two. After the shell is clean, simply use it as a soap dish in your kitchen or bathroom.

So simple and fun, right? Which one of these three projects is your favorite?


beach town baking


Looks for Any Beach Occasion

Usually, I dress pretty low-key to the beach, but sometimes it’s nice to be a little fashion-forward, too! Going to the beach doesn’t strictly mean wearing a bikini and shorts; here’s my little guide on how to dress at the beach for any type of occasion:

1. Just a beach day: A simple sundress or a wrap in a bold color or pattern worn over a cute bathing suit is the way to go. Grab some gladiator sandals and oversized sunnies, and throw your hair up in a bun. If you want to get a little fancier, some gold or wood bangles are a great way to “dress up” your look without overdoing it.


2. Stroll Along the Pier: Pair patterned shorts with a white tank for an effortlessly chic look. Dress it up with a statement necklace and a pair of embellished but comfortable sandals. Remember to bring a light cardigan to throw on just in case the breeze begins to pick up!


3. Dinner Overlooking the Sea: Beach style should always be simple, so for a more formal occasion, a maxi dress is an easy way to instantly transition from a laid back daytime look to elegant evening attire. Add a pair of wedge sandals, a gold chain necklace and bracelet, and take down your bun to let your hair fall down in natural waves.

Who said you couldn’t be fashionable at the beach? These looks are all easy, beautiful and effortless. What are your favorite ways to dress up at the beach?


beach town baking






Beach Town Living: Nautical Chic Homes

Living in Southern California, I’m blessed to always be within driving—most of the time even walking!—distance from beautiful beaches. You’d think that we Californians would get sick of the sea, but honestly, I don’t think we can get enough of it! I love incorporating the beach into everything in my life (can’t you tell from this blog?), and one of my favorite things to do is look at beach-inspired homes. For those of you who don’t live near the coast, you can still easily bring a nautical vibe into your home with the right décor. Here are some easy ways to add a little maritime spirit to your abode:


What’s more nautical than navy-and-white stripes? The best part of this look is that it’s so simple to achieve– just paint thick stripes on your wall! For those who are non-committal, try looking for bold blue-and-white striped patterned fabric and hanging it up like a tapestry instead. Or, invest in a navy-and-white striped duvet cover.


Image courtesy of Decorating Magazine.

Red always pairs perfectly with navy and white in nautical themes, but the trick is to use the color sparingly. Throw in a few red accents to break up the navy and white color scheme, but be careful not to overdo it.


Image courtesy of House Beautiful.

Scour flea markets and thrift stores to find vintage ship figurines to place around your home.


The rugged look of rope goes great with the nautical theme. A simple DIY project is to buy rope and then layer it in glass jars or bowls. Place these pieces on coffee or end tables, and add in a couple seashells to complete the look.


I love this distressed wood fixture! It adds the right amount of shabbiness to an otherwise very chic setting, and reminds me of an old lighthouse.

You can choose to be as drastic or as subtle as you want with this theme. If you’re simply looking to temporarily change up your home for the upcoming warmer months, adding maritime-themed decorative pieces and swapping out your sheets for nautical-themed bedding are easy and affordable ways to embrace the nautical trend without having to fully commit to anything.

Will you be trying out this look for your home?



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: