Hello!

Hello!
Hello, I'm Sharon.

I'm an optimist, a happy person, an imperfect perfectionist, a professional problem solver, a city girl who enjoys life in the country, an engineer turned home designer, and a hopeless coziness & comfort addict.

Thanks for being here! Please make yourself comfortable!
February 10, 2017
The ultimate romantic dessert for Valentine's Day.

The ultimate romantic dessert for Valentine's Day.

February 10, 2017

Hahhhh... Chocolate for Valentine's Day... Cliche but can never go wrong!

Justin and I made our own tradition for "staying in on Valentine's Day" since we began dating. We figured that instead of braving the cold to go out or fight the other romantics for the best table at the most highest rated spots in town, we should just keep the celebration simple and stress-free, stay in, and just enjoying each other's company, and have some quality us time.

We love food, but we're not fancy cooks, so we always try to go for recipes that are easy but big on taste! This torta caprese (an Italian flourless chocolate almond cake) is just the right kind of desert for us!

Without further ado...

TORTA CAPRESE | ingredients (for a 8" cake pan)

  • Dark chocolate - 4oz 
  • Almond flour - 4oz
  • Butter, salted or unsalted, cut to chunks - 1 stick + 1 tbsp
  • Sugar - 1/2 cup
  • Egg yolks - 3
  • Egg whites - 3

TORTA CAPRESE | instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 320ºF.
  2. In a bowl, melt your chocolate over a double boiler. Breaking up the pieces help speed up the process.
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the double boiler. Stir in the chunks of butter to create a butter/chocolate mixture (if the butter is difficult to melt, this can be done over the double boiler too... just make sure the mixture doesn't get so hot that the butter begins to bubble!)
  4. Stir in the sugar and almond flour. Mix well.
  5. Wait for the mixture to cool before stirring in the egg yolks. 
  6. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until it peaks. Slowly pour the egg white foam into the chocolate batter and mix.
  7. Line your 8" cake pan with parchment or wax paper. Pour in the batter and shake a little to even out the top.
  8. Bake 40 minutes. The final product should have a "dry" looking top and moist (not wet) inside!

And you're done! You can dig in right away with a spoon, or wait for it to cool before removing from the pan. It's not the prettiest cake, but it's the taste that really matters! The cake is good on its own, but a scoop of ice cream probably won't hurt either... 💕


January 29, 2017
Finding Foreverland.

Finding Foreverland.

January 29, 2017
We'd like to build something that's everything we'll ever want, somewhere where we'll want to stay forever.
You know the feeling you get when you want to tell someone this wild dream or idea you have, that excitement you can hardly contain, mixed with the anxiety that the response you may get is that you're crazy?

This is what I'm feeling right now.

The year was 2012, when Justin and I lived in the San Francisco Bay area.

Like many Bay area couples, we lived in a small little apartment with a view to our neighbor's window. Like many Bay area couples, we try to get out of the city whenever we could on the weekends, to slow down our fast paced lives, and to be reminded that there is a bigger world beyond Silicon Valley.
A spontaneous decision for a weekend getaway in Mendocino in February was the breath of fresh air we needed. It was 3.5 hours away from the city, yet the small, quiet seaside town felt like it was a world away.

We only stayed for the night and left the next day, but something about that weekend that sparked a dream:

We'd like to build something that's everything we'll ever want, somewhere where we'll want to stay forever.


We have been discussing what that something means ever since.

Turns out, defining everything we'll ever want is a soul searching journey in itself. Along the way, we learned a lot about ourselves, about each other, about our priorities, and about being patient.

Like our house designs, our dream has gone through many iterations of define, refine and redefine. It is still work in progress. We hope we'll get there, but even if we don't, at least someday we'll get to look back and know that at least we tried... 😉


We've discussed more how we may want to utilize the rooftop deck. One idea Justin had is to have a greenhouse for pottable plants and seasonal vegetables. We agreed that if this is what we'll be doing the roof will have to be designed to handle heavier loads. (Note to future self!)

It always takes me awhile to design the kitchen. It is the heart of the home and one place we have a hard time compromising on. While the final design may look simple, coming up with a cabinetry design and placement to enable the kitchen to look clutter-free at all time took me awhile.

foreverland white house concept kitchen solera homes

One of my favorite feature in the kitchen is the banquette seating and the herb planter.

The kitchen opens to the entry area to the living room. The entry area has a feature wall lined with grey washed planks and barn lights to showcase our collection of maps/pictures/artwork.

foreverland white house concept living solera homes

The living room space is optimized for 2 people to relax and 2 furry doggies to cuddle. The open concept again flows between the living room and the bedroom. A set of heavy linen drapes and wood beam creates a non-intrusive separation that defines the 2 spaces.

foreverland white house concept living  solera homes

Last but not least, the studio.

foreverland white house concept studio solera homes

Since finishing these renderings, we've made some additional changes as different ideas/requirements came up. It's possible that by the time we find our foreverland to build our forever home, it'll look nothing like this initial concept. But it's always fun to dream, to have that dream mature with us, and to have a goal that we work hard for.

Someday, we will find our foreverland.


Thanks for reading! Do you have dreams that you are too shy to share too? (*whisper* This is a safe place to share!)

January 23, 2017
Brunch combo worth (french) toasting for!

Brunch combo worth (french) toasting for!

January 23, 2017
vanilla french toast with blueberry compote & devonshire cream

brunchead /brən(t)SHhed/
noun  a term invented by me describing people with a healthy passion and enthusiasm for enjoying a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch.

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, weekend brunch is our thing. I mean, what's not to love? It's 2-in-1, it's free style, it can be anything you want, sweet or savory, or sweet and savory.

And I know we're not alone (fist bump 👊).

Justin and I are on a constant quest for perfect our homemade brunch items, and we think last Sunday we got pretty close with this wonderful combo of French toast, blueberry compote, and (mock) Devonshire cream.

Without further ado...

(Mock) Devonshire cream | ingredients (makes about 1 cup)

  • Cream cheese, softened - 2 oz
  • Sour cream - 1/4 cup
  • Heavy cream - 1/3 cup
  • Sugar, powdered - 1 1/2 tbsp

(Mock) Devonshire cream | instructions

  1. Use a mixer on low to blend the cream cheese, sour cream, and powdered sugar. Blend until the mixture looks smooth.
  2. Add the heavy cream and blend the mixture on high. Blend until stiff peaks form.
  3. Refrigerate the mixture until ready to serve.


Blueberry compote | ingredients

  • Blueberries, fresh - 1 cup
  • Sugar - 1/8 cup
  • Water - 1 1/2 tbsp

Blueberry compote | instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients into a small sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.

homemade rustic bread
Our home made "evil pac-man" bread

VANILLA FRENCH TOAST | ingredients (for 2)

  • Bread, 1/2-1" thick - 4-6 slices
  • Eggs, large - 2
  • Milk or half and half - 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
  • Sugar - 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon, ground - a pinch (or more if preferred)
  • Nutmeg, ground - a pinch (or more if preferred)
  • Butter - 1 tbsp
  • Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp

If you need to make more of the egg mixture, just make sure that the milk-to-egg ratio is always 1/4 cup milk for every egg added.

VANILLA FRENCH TOAST | instructions

  1. Prepare the custard by whisking the eggs with milk, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together until it's fully blended. Pour the custard into a soup plate or baking pan for dipping.  
  2. Heat the frying pan or griddle on low. Add the vegetable oil and butter. Turn the heat to medium/medium high once the butter is melted.
  3. Dip the bread in the custard for 1 minute on each side.
  4. Remove the bread from the custard and allow the excess to drip off. Lay the bread on the frying pan/griddle.
  5. Let the bread cook for 1-2 minutes and check if the cooked side is golden brown. If so, flip it and cook the other side until golden brown.

Let the good times roll!

Whenever something is happening in the kitchen, the sharks are circling... White, fluffy, irresistibly cute sharks...


I apologize for the lack of food pictures. I don't know how other foodies do this, but sometimes it's really hard to let picture taking get in the way of putting food in my mouth! This was really testing my self control.

vanilla french toast with blue berry compote and devonshire cream

Come to mama!


Everyone's different when it comes to French toasts. Justin likes his marbled 😋.


Just in case you're wondering "where's the syrup?"... There isn't any!

This combo is plenty sweet/flavorful/yummy enough that we didn't feel the need of syrup at all. In fact, we liked more than having it more with syrup because the compote and cream kept each bite moist enough without making the fluffy toast soggy! It was also the perfect balance between the richness and acidity... Just looking at the pictures makes me look forward the weekend again 💖.

Have a great week!!

January 20, 2017
A day like today.

A day like today.

January 20, 2017

Seems like everyone in my social network is passionately discussing politics today. And yet, I feel unusually at loss for words.

January 19, 2017
I wear my heart upon my sleeve.

I wear my heart upon my sleeve.

January 19, 2017
That's right, I'm starting my own holiday. #jointhefun

Life has in a bit of a pickle lately. The part of my life where I still wear the hat of a Corporate America Worker Bee, I should clarify.

Even as I make the move to steer myself away from my last 15 years of work history in public companies, I still can't help to feel disappointed in how the industry works. How people are mere accounting numbers, that can be slashed and zeroed out whenever an investor wants the company to do so to grow shareholder value.

The last time I checked, nothing in this world grows indefinitely, and yet that's what Wall Street expects of every public company. Whenever something keeps growing and growing, like cancer, it eventually kills its host, like how we've observed in so many great businesses.

I often wonder what the world has become.


It's moments like this, I channel my disappointment and frustration into positive energy and the effort to starting and developing our own small business. A good ol' mom-and-pop shop, big enough to allow us get by and still have spares to help those in need, yet small enough to stay true to our believes: friendly, loyal, and always around.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, I'd like to introduce something I've been working on: my first printed design collection for Valentine's Day.

Making cards was a family tradition growing up. I remember every year, every occasion, every important family birthday, my mom would get us to hand make greeting cards. It didn't take long before a simple drawing that says Happy (special)day into a full-on design project with mix media, different crafting techniques, and a little competition.

It was one of the fondest memories of my childhood.

Many years later, designing/making cards still hold a special place in my heart. And what better time to rekindle that passion than starting my first design collection for the day to celebrate love?









I hope you enjoy these designs or feel inspired to make a card for your valentine this year too!

PS. Most of these designs can be customized to include your personal message or even picture!

January 17, 2017
Seeing positive.

Seeing positive.

January 17, 2017
Colorado has been wonderful for us, even though it doesn't really have 300 days of sunshine.
It's amazing how time flies.

Four and half years ago, I was offered an job with a relocation package to Colorado. This was a few months after Justin and I moved into our first townhouse together in California. We were just the place we finally called our own. We had an amazing kitchen. We were excited about decorating.

We jumped on the opportunity to move nonetheless. We had always talked about where we'd want to move next. Colorado was high on our list, so we decided to make it happen.


Four and half years later, so much has changed, so much remain unchanged. Some doors have closed, yet some have opened. Colorado has been wonderful for us, even though it doesn't really have 300 days of sunshine.


Wherever I look, big or small, changes are happening.

This morning, I watched the wind frost on my Francis Meillands melt in the sun. Tiny, trivial, yet still magnificent.

I was reminded that significant changes are in motion in our lives. Scary, but there are potentials for changes to be exciting.

We'll be ready.
January 16, 2017
Nutella puff pastry waffle, round 2

Nutella puff pastry waffle, round 2

January 16, 2017
nutella puff pastry waffle
It's not a messy looking plate, it's avant-garde.

Remember our last failed attempt at making Nutella puff pastry waffle?  Since it was Sunday Brunch Day again yesterday, we gave it another try.

Since we were not able to finish even one double-layer puff pastry waffle last time, in the spirit of not wasting food, we cut back on the portion by using only half of a sheet.


PUFF PASTRY WAFFLE| instructions

  1. Optional- Cut the semi-frozen puff pastry sheet in half.
  2. Thaw the puff pastry sheet as instructed on the box (about 40 minutes).
  3. Preheat the waffle iron. No oil required since the sheet itself has plenty of oil in it!
  4. Optional- Trim the puff pastry to a smaller size to fit the waffle iron. (so that it's about the same size or slightly smaller than the iron).
  5. Lay it on the waffle iron. Close the lid.
  6. Wait and watch it steam and sizzle for 5-6 minutes. Check to make sure your final product is golden brown!
  7. Remove the waffle... let it cool for a bit and CRUNCH!


It's not a Nutella puff pastry waffle without the Nutella! So we smudged a generous amount of this finger licking goodness over our steamy hot waffles, and then sprinkled on a little powder sugar!

puff pastry waffle

Our verdict for this 2nd attempt? It's certainly better than our last attempt, but it's still not exactly what we had in mind when we got lured into trying this out.

Perhaps we just had the wrong expectation for the puff pastry waffles... We were hoping that it'd be like eating a croissant--crunchy, flaky, and buttery. While it is crunchy and flaky, it's nowhere close to being buttery.

We read the box, and realized there's no butter in the pastry sheets, just vegetable oil... Guess that explains the "oily" taste that we find slightly off-putting.

Lessons learned?

“There's just no shortcuts in life!" 

Justin concluded.

Guess we'll just gonna have to take the plunge and to make some croissant dough next time!!!

January 13, 2017
3 simple rules for living happily ever after (with your white sofa).

3 simple rules for living happily ever after (with your white sofa).

January 13, 2017

Over a year ago, Justin and I made one of the most audacious decisions of our lives: we bought a white linen sofa set.

Our beautiful set was delivered shortly after we had begun building the coffered ceiling in our living room. The quintuple trimmed coffer took us much longer to finish than anticipated, and the sofa set was left double wrapped for months.

By the time we were ready to unwrap it, I had already forgotten which color we had picked. "The sofa isn't white, is it?" I said to Justin. "Umm, I thought it is."

"That is preposterous!" I said. "Why would we buy white sofas? We have 2 dogs! And we eat on the couch every night!"

I was ready write this off as our worst design blunder of 2016.


It is now 2017, and I'm pretty proud to say our white sofas have survived us, the couple who seldom clean, and live on their sofas.

Turns out, living with white sofa can be really easy if you follow these 3 rules:

1. Oops-proof it.




How? Well, if you are shopping for a white sofa, then try to find a slipcovered version of the one you've been eying.  Slipcover offers the flexibility that traditional upholstery can't compete: it can be removed for cleaning!

If you already have an upholstered white sofa and want to live more casually on it, it's always a good investment to have a slipcover made or DIY a white slipcover so your sofa is oops-proof.

Another trick to oops-proofing your white sofa and amp up the #hygge meter for your home is to throw a lot of throws on it!


2. Don't sweat the little things.
(a little glass-half-full attitude helps too!)




If you are as addicted to the home/interior design sites/blogs/TV shows like I am, you may feel like you need to keep your home picture perfect at all times so you can live a happy, stylish life like Joanna Gaines.

The truth is, a picture perfect life doesn't always need to be picture perfect.

As much as I'd like to see our living room like this everyday...


It actually looks like this every night...


And occasionally, I find my beautiful pillows being used to build a fort...


Have I found crumbs on the sofa? Yes of course. Have I seen (doggy) butt stains or paw prints on the cushions? You bet I have (nothing a little Clorox or a dip in the bleach can't fix & disinfect!). Are our cushions and pillows constantly look smashed? Most certainly.

Do I get bothered by it? Absolutely not.

As much as I enjoy our home when it's looking clean and beautiful, I enjoy it even more when it's lived the way that we like it--cozy, comfortable, and relaxed.

A few crumbs here and there and a pile of constantly misplaced and deformed pillows are just true reflections of how much we're enjoying and getting the use out of our white sofas!


3. Have a plan B.


If you've tried the above and still find yourself biting your lip every time you look at your white sofa... It may be time for Plan B: ditch your white sofa.

It doesn't mean that it's time for the sofa to hit the curb, but instead, dye it!

I'm a big fan of dying fabrics but haven't personally tried to dye our white slipcovers for an obvious reason--we're still loving ours! But, I've played with fabric dye enough to say that it's a tried and true saving grace for whites that no longer work for you! (If it worked for the stained, old tee's I reclaimed to make clothes out of, it will work for your slipcover too!)

Fabric dyes... natural or synthetic? As eager as I am to try my hands in making plant-based natural dye because it's organic and seems like a lot of fun, I am not sure it'd be the best choice for slipcovers unless you're already a pro at it. It's less permanent and less wash-fast compared to synthetic dyes. Synthetic dyes like Rit Dye (for natural fabrics) or Rit DyeMore (for natural and synthetic fabrics) are fairly easy to use and foolproof. 
Where to buy: Amazon carries them but their prices seem a bit higher. I recommend checking out Jo-Ann or Michael's if there is a store near you, or get them online. If you're buying online, don't forget to take advantage of rebate programs from  TopCashbackEbates, or Giving Assistant for 1 to 2% cashback on your purchases at these two stores!


There, it's just that simple to live happily ever after with your white sofa!  Are you ready to pull the trigger on the one you've been coveting too?