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The funny thing about blogging is that it can be a solid month before I get to share projects… and so today I am beyond thrilled to share a project with Ford called Switch It Up! Ford challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and try my hand at a super-complex recipe, shrimp biryani. In fact, this entire project is a series where different experts give each other challenges! Thankfully, I had the help and guidance of Merrill Stubbs from one of my favorite sites, Food52. She gave me loads of pointers and even came back to ‘grade’ how I did — be sure to check out the video to see more!

Plus, here are a few snaps from behind the scenes… are you hungry yet??

switch it up with @Ford // be sure to check out the video where I'm challenged to make shrimp biryani from scratch #switchitup switch it up with @Ford // be sure to check out the video where I'm challenged to make shrimp biryani from scratch #switchitup

I’ve never even considered making Indian food, much less a recipe with so many special ingredients. Seriously, guys, I have never bought cardamom in my life. I learned a lot, all while not burning myself too badly — basically, a minor feat in my book.

switch it up with @Ford // be sure to check out the video where I'm challenged to make shrimp biryani from scratch #switchitup switch it up with @Ford // be sure to check out the video where I'm challenged to make shrimp biryani from scratch #switchitup switch it up with @Ford // be sure to check out the video where I'm challenged to make shrimp biryani from scratch #switchitup

Dress from Free People, belt from Anthropologie (similar), shoes from Aquazzura. Hair and make up by Sara Tagaloa.

This post is sponsored by Ford. All opinions are my own and always will be! Thanks for supporting content that keeps Jojotastic going.

a few to follow // food & styling blogs — the kitchen repetoire

I go through these phases (particularly on a quiet Friday night) where I fall down the rabbit hole of the internet and pinterest and discover boatloads of new blogs to follow. I thought it would be nice to share a few of my recent faves so you, too, can get a bit of inspiration.

First up is Kitchen Repertoire: what immediately captured my attention for this one is the straight-forward styling and recipes that feel fancy, yet totally approachable for a novice like me. It looks like they post about once a week, but everything they post gives me major lover eyes and a watering mouth in a big way. Two recipes at the top of my list to try: squid ink pasta with toasted breadcrumbs and anchovies and gnocchi with ramp butter and parmesan cheese.

a few to follow // food & styling blogs — the kitchen repetoirea few to follow // food & styling blogs — the white ramekins

Then there’s The White Ramekins. What did me in here is the recipe for lavender lemon shortbread cookies, aka all of my favorite things combined into one.

a few to follow // food & styling blogs — with food & love

I’m always a big fan of blogs with stunning styling, so With Food and Love is a great new blog to follow. Sometimes the best food photos are totally un-fussy and uncomplicated, which is why I love these images so much. Plus, how good does this raspberry chamomile cream soda, sound??

a few to follow // food & styling blogs — with food & lovea few to follow // food & styling blogs — from my dining table with skye mcalpine

Last is from my dining table by Skye McAlpine. I love her mix of storytelling, recipes, and truly gorgeous, but casual styling. I’m a big fan of darker, moodier photos when it comes to recipes, so this blog is right up my alley in a big way.

Have you been adding any other blogs to your blog roll lately? I’d love to keep discovering new ones!

images via their respective sites.

the perfect gifts for the home chef / foodie

Let’s face it: if you have an aspiring chef in your life, you’re pretty damn lucky. You know, the friend who always invites people over to taste test a new recipe or offers to cook when you’re not feeling like going out again. These foodies deserve a sweet treat after a year of snacks, dinners, and desserts. Here’s what I’d get for the home chef in my life:

  1. graphic cheese plate from Baba Souk ($45)
  2. teak cheese knives from Accompany ($30)
  3. technicolor salt and pepper shakers from Saturday ($30)
  4. truffle oil from Terrain ($32)
  5. laser engraved lazy susan from Nordstrom ($70)
  6. Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert ($11.37)
  7. ceramic french fry holders from UncommonGoods ($30 for a set of 4)
  8. marble citrus reamer from Leif ($40)
  9. Thug Kitchen cookbook ($14.61)

p.s. here’s more gift inspiration, including the cat lady and the wanderluster!

the amazing candy packaging of Holland

If one thing blew me away while in Amsterdam it was the candy: the selection, the flavors, the packaging. Everything was just so perfect and ready to take home in my checked bag. Not joking, I brought back approximately 20 bars of chocolate alone. Here are some of the most gorgeous of my stash.

the amazing candy packaging of Holland - gorgeous & delicious chocolates from Tony'sLet’s start with chocolate, shall we? Tony’s Chocolonely was ubiquitous throughout my travels — and totally hard to miss with this gorgeously bold packaging. The quality of chocolate is fantastic (and ethically farmed and produced), but what I really love is how special the bars are. The shape of each piece is totally irregular and the combinations are perfectly balanced.

the amazing candy packaging of Holland - gorgeous & delicious chocolates from Tony's the amazing candy packaging of Holland - fun chocolate hipposWhen I saw these milk chocolate hippos from Barú, I had to have them. Filled with almond and pecan praline, they are both delicious and cute.

the amazing candy packaging of Holland - cute and colorful hard candyUgh, hard candy — such a guilty pleasure. See those gridded ones? They are the most mouthwatering butterscotch I’ve ever tasted. I avoided the black ones though — I’m not such a fan of black licorice, but the Dutch seem to love it. And the round ones seem to be rolled in something very tart, but become super sweet towards the middle.

the amazing candy packaging of HollandOk, I tried to understand these Pastilles de Leone, but just could not. I dug into them once I got home and was less than thrilled by the chalky texture and weirdly dry flavor. But hey, that packaging is so beautiful, don’t you think?

the amazing candy packaging of Holland - wine gums!I saved the best for last… wine gums! For those not in the know, these are my most favorite gummy candy. They are a bit firmer that typical gummies and the flavors are totally unique (black currant is the best). I’m unclear on if they all still contain a small amount of booze or not, but traditionally they had the names of drinks impressed on them such as port, champagne, and gin. I used to have a British coworker and every time she went home, she’d bring back bags and bags of these treats. I developed a love of them long ago and now any time I can find them, I practically hoard ’em.

p.s. check out my full travel guide to Amsterdam!

miscellaneous adventures

Here’s something you may not know about me: I’m obsessed with tiny spoons and have quiet the collection. So when Kelly from Design Crush sent over a link to Miscellaneous Adventures I may have squealed. So many spoons! So many outdoorsy vibes! So much wood! Kelly is a good friend, indeed.

miscellaneous adventuresMiscellaneous Adventures was created by illustrator and craftsman Andrew Groves and serves as a place for design to meet traditional craft and outdoor skills (aka my personal heaven). You know what else is awesome about them? They believe in FUN. So, not only do they sell stuff, but they also host incredible workshops to learn skills like woodcarving and wild camping in the woods. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for anything that gets me outdoors more and more.

miscellaneous adventures miscellaneous adventures miscellaneous adventuresp.s. there’s a slingshot!

images via Miscellaneous Adventures

I’ll keep it short and sweet: I want it to be the weekend… desperately. I’m currently in the throes of taking Alt for Everyone and learning a ton. It’s so amazing because I’m doing it from the comfort of my home office and brushing up on all my skills to make this blog a way better place. On a personal note, I’m so happy with how this blog has evolved and all the exciting, new things coming in a few months. Be sure to stay tuned!

This week on Anthology, be sure to check out: José Aroda, Elizabeth Mayville, and French Press by Yield Design Co.elizabeth mayville gorgeous french press by yield design coThen here on Jojotastic…

Happy weekend!

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohls

Have you seen the #DestinationSummer virtual road trip from Kohl’s? It’s truly one of my favorite ideas in a long, long time. Basically, Kohl’s asked a bunch of bloggers to step away from the computer and show the world our respective hometowns. And, because I’m still so new to San Francisco, I basically got to be a tourist in my own city! I decided to use this as the perfect opportunity to indulge in two favorites: the beach and s’mores.

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohlsWe cruised out to a favorite spot of mine, Muir Beach. About 30-45 minutes from San Francisco, the drive to the beach is stunning in and of itself. Once you cross the Golden Gate bridge, follow a windy road to the beach, catching far-off glimpses of the Pacific as you go. I recommend making the trip right at golden hour for that perfect California glow.

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohls
Using tons of picnic-friendly tools, textiles, and serving pieces, I laid out my ultimate s’mores bar. To start, I gathered supplies from a few of my favorite neighborhood staples here in Hayes Valley: sweets (such as graham crackers, fancy marshmallows and chocolates, and tonsss of toppings) from Miette, plus sausages and other grillables from The Fatted Calf. Don’t forget firewood!

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohls
To create your own s’mores bar, here are a few tips:

  • Mix up your toppings: from gummy bears to honey to lavender, it’s always fun to explore different flavor combinations.
  • Another fun way to experiment is to offer different alternatives to the traditional graham cracker. I suggest everything pretzels, Nilla wafers, even peanut butter cookies! (While shooting, I discovered that Kimberley has a gluten-free diet, so we thought it would be fun to replace crackers with thinly sliced apple!)
  • Don’t forget the fresh fruit, especially here in SF. Since moving here, I can’t stop devouring local blackberries. They are unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.
  • Last, but not least, chocolate is king. Splurge on the fancy stuff, in all different flavors and textures. I may have chosen a few based on packaging…

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohlsSeriously, what is more fun than playing with your food??

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohls
It can get pretty chilly when the sun goes down, so I recommend bringing extra layers. I like to rock a men’s flannel shirt with vintage cut offs for a casual, borrowed-from-the-boys vibe that will also keep me a bit warmer.

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohlsBeing 100% honest with you, I was really blown away by the awesome outdoor dining pieces I found at Kohl’s. The colors, the materials… even the prices were so good. I definitely plan to use these pieces for more picnics and outings going forward.

links: double old fashioned / pitcher / melamine salad plate / enamel camping bowl and plate / grilling fork / bamboo cutlery / mesh food covers / jute round placemat / acacia tri-server / striped tablecloth / beach towel / flannel shirt

build your own s'mores bar // www.jojotastic.com #destinationsummer #kohls
photography by Kimberley Hasselbrink

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. All opinions are my own, and I would never endorse something I didn’t completely love. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Jojotastic going.