Fourth of July No-Bake Graham Cracker Cake

Posted 5 July 2015 at 6:00 PM | Comments (0)

My mother wasn’t always the master baker she is now. When I was a kid, her go-to dessert was made with only two store-bought ingredients: graham crackers and instant vanilla pudding. She would layer them in a large baking dish, refrigerate overnight, and voilá, the tastiest cake for my six-year-old palette.

It occurred to me that I could probably recreate her recipe with whipped cream instead of pudding, and with a festive Fourth of July berry design.

It worked brilliantly. Three layers of graham crackers with three layers of whipped cream, and then blueberries and strawberries for an American flag design. After settling overnight, the cake was perfectly moist and soft and delicious. We polished it off with our BBQ crew in minutes.

Fourth of July No-Bake Graham Cracker Cake

Fourth of July No-Bake Graham Cracker Cake

The Apartment at the Connaught Hotel

Posted 9 September 2014 at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)

David Collins is the designer responsible for this visual feast. “The Apartment” is the penthouse suite at London’s Connaught Hotel, and it is dripping with sumptuousness. Every detail in this suite is exquisite and still it has incredible personality.

Connaught Hotel London The Apartment Penthouse Purple Door

Connaught Hotel London The Apartment Penthouse Entryway

Connaught Hotel London The Apartment Penthouse Living Area

Connaught Hotel London The Apartment Penthouse Living Area

Connaught Hotel London The Apartment Penthouse Dining Area

For a more detailed look, click the image below.


An LBD with Asymmetry

Posted 20 August 2014 at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

I am rarely a proponent of the Little Black Dress. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept, but I love color too much. Yet lately, as designers continue to gravitate toward neutral colors and simpler silhouettes, my devotion to color is gently waning.

Pieces that have especially caught my eye are this black Osman jumpsuit from the spring 2014 runway, and this black dress that Karlie Kloss wore to the Vogue Foundation Gala on July 11. Both are a kind of simple LBD but with an eye-catching dose of asymmetry.

Osman Spring 2014 Runway Black Jumpsuit with Cutout

Karlie Kloss July 11, 2014 Vogue Foundation Gala Little Black Dress

Ferm Living’s Marble Wallpaper

Posted 13 August 2014 at 3:04 PM | Comments (0)

In our Chicago condo, we had installed a faux-marble tile in our bathroom. We were doing a quick renovation to sell, and I honestly thought that, with our budget, we would end up with the same 4×4″ white tiles that everyone else had. A trip to the local tile store proved differently. The shop owner showed us a faux, gray and white marble from American Standard that was cheaper than the white squares and looked much richer.

Once installed, the faux marble looked so good that even our realtor thought it was real. We had to correct her when we noticed the listing read: “marble tile in bathroom.” Surprisingly, the faux marble won everyone over, even me.

Which is why I am not at all surprised that I love this marble wallpaper from Ferm Living.

Ferm Living Marble Wallpaper

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf Book Cover Design

Posted 27 July 2014 at 8:35 PM | Comments (0)

When author Sieni A.M. approached me about designing the book cover for her second novel, Scar of the Bamboo Leaf, she pointed me toward her library of visual inspiration on Pinterest. I spent some time looking at the images and almost immediately knew how to approach the design. I knew it had to be illustrated by hand, because the novel’s main character, Kiva, is an artist, and her story is told with beautiful and detailed descriptions of her art.

I also knew it had to include an image of Kiva, but because the story spans years, her image should be approached in a way that wouldn’t be too telling of her age. Neutralizing her age was also important because it would widen the audience of readers. So I decided to go with a silhouetted profile. (And then I put a bun in her hair because A.M.’s Pinterest board hinted at pretty buns.)

The silhouette, on its own, was okay but felt too simple for a girl with a creative spirit; I gave her a crown of bamboo leaves, but still it seemed stale. A.M. suggested adding flowers, and leaves blowing around her head, and it added just the amount of energy that Kiva’s profile needed.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf Kiva Silhouette Illustration by Mojan Sami

When I got started on the title, I went through typeface after typeface, unable to find anything that complemented the image of Kiva and her bamboo-leaf crown. So I decided to draw the title by hand as well. It took time, but the result was worth it. Custom type almost always pays off.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf Title Design by Mojan Sami

Then, the cover went through so many iterations that it would be crazy to post them all, but all of the rough drafts were wilder than the final design we chose, and most of them were blue. Early on, we thought blue would be the right choice for the cover.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Cover Design Drafts in Blue

When we finally came to a decision, both the author and I agreed that this design was the right one. The warm color and the more simple silhouette were a better choice for this magnificent story.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Book Cover Design by Mojan Sami

Here’s a low-resolution view of the full cover, front and back. Notice the lemon-lime color on the spine and back—I thought it injected more life into the design and alluded to the tropical setting where the story takes place.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Book Cover Design by Mojan Sami

Of course, there have been other social-media promo pieces, like these for the author’s Facebook page.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Facebook Profile and Cover Photos

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. is now available at Amazon. It’s a story you will never forget. Buy it now.

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Now Available at Amazon

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf Coming Soon

Posted 10 July 2014 at 4:31 PM | Comments (0)

One of the most rewarding projects I’ve been working on is the book cover for Sieni A.M.’s second novel, Scar of the Bamboo Leaf. Here’s the promo. I can’t wait to show you the finished cover!

Scar of the Bamboo Leaf by Sieni A.M. Coming Soon

*Bamboo watercolor by KO Studio Art.

No, No Kimono

Posted 9 July 2014 at 10:16 PM | Comments (1)

Advertising is creepily powerful. Even though I have zero interest in flowing kimono jackets, super-cropped tops, and wide-brimmed hats, the styling of this photo is so good that I feel like I need this outfit, now. I’m not even doing a good job of talking myself out of it—every time I look at the model’s smooth skin and perfect eyebrows, I have to ask myself, “Wait, why don’t I want a kimono?”

Urban Outfitters Ecote Crinkle Square Kimono Jacket 2014

Well played, Urban Outfitters.

I Want Alberta Ferretti Spring 2014

Posted 8 July 2014 at 9:33 PM | Comments (0)

If I had to choose a favorite fashion designer—and I’m not sure that I could—it would probably be Alberta Ferretti. Her collections are always colorful, feminine, and simply make me happy. Her spring line was no exception. Before the show, Ferretti herself cited, “Positive energy, the joy of living.” This attitude probably has everything to do with why her clothes resonate with me.

Alberta Ferretti Spring 2014 Runway Collection

I just want to pull one of these dresses off a hanger and wear it to a fabulous summer party, complete with cascading braid, swinging earrings, and bright orange shoes.

Chicago : Mexico City Wallpaper

Posted 7 July 2014 at 9:28 PM | Comments (0)

I only recently discovered Grow House Grow, a Brooklyn-based company that designs wallpaper and more. For their Chicago : Mexico City wallpaper, they combined notable design motifs from these two sister cities—Midwestern Prairie School meets geometric Aztec. The result is stellar and would look awesome in an Art Deco-inspired bathroom or entryway.

Chicago : Mexico City Wallpaper from Grow House Grow

Simple Office with Pale Blue Walls, Both Traditional and Contemporary

Posted 6 July 2014 at 9:23 PM | Comments (0)

My parents’ 1976 house has been, for lack of a better word, unmaintained. Though they have earnestly displayed all of their trinkets and treasures from around the world, the outdated backdrop imparts a sense of melancholy from wall to wall.

It has been an ongoing dream of mine to take it all down and start over, and the upstairs office has always seemed like a decent place to start.

Because the room is south-facing, the afternoon light is brilliant. Even on gray days, the room fills with light, more than other rooms in the house. I like pale blue walls in a room like that, because a south-facing room can handle cooler colors.

My mom likes a certain softness in décor. She has always been partial to pastels, lace, and florals. Picture frames are gold and ornate, and rugs are always traditional.

I think I’ve finally figured out how to decorate her office for her taste, while keeping it in this decade. It goes something like this:

Office with Light Blue Walls, Clean, Simple, and Transitional Decor

I like how the light fixture adds a little ‘70s flair while the daybed and throw pillows are more modern. Still, everything works together. So… who wants to help me tear down the laminate-paneled walls?