DIY Photo Mural Wall (For Less Than $50)

My office/craft room has a lot of “design traps.”  It’s small & I have A LOT of stuff, it’s poorly lit with no natural light and it has plain white walls.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel so fortunate to have my own personal office.  The problem is that it can sometimes feel like a cage instead of a happy, creative space, so I find myself doing my work in any room OTHER than my office.  I mean, I’ve lived in my home for over a year and I JUST got rid of the last few packed boxes in my office (Hi, I'm really good at avoiding things!).  In an effort to get more use out of this room, I’ve made it a goal to figure out how to work with the elements that I’ve been given and make it an awesome place of positive, creative energy.

I’ve been seeing a lot of these giant photo walls using engineer prints all over Pinterest and have been dying to do one.  I just didn’t know where I wanted to do it … and then it became incredibly obvious.  

I’ve had this big blank wall staring me down in my office for quite some time now and felt it was time to give it a much needed makeover.

I chose a picture I took back in 2012 on my 35mm film camera.  

I love this photo because of the detail, but also because it is one of the first pictures I ever took with my Nikon and it has a lot of sentimental value to me.  I was going to keep it plain, but then I decided that a quote or statement might give it even more punch.   I’ve been crushing on these prints for a while now and figured it was the perfect addition to the print.  

This is a super easy, cheap and temporary way (hello renters) to spruce up a wall in your home (or bedroom/dorm room).  The whole thing took me 30 minutes to put up and cost about $40.  Best part is when you get tired of it, you can rip it down anytime and swap it for another print.  Let’s get to it!



1.  Measure the wall that you are using.

2.  Choose your photo (make sure it is a high quality image since it is going to be blown up pretty large).

3.  Open your photo in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.  Blow up to the measurements of your wall and make sure the quality is 300 pixels per inch or higher.  My wall measured 88x88 inches so that is the size I made the image.

4.  Crop your photo into pieces the size of the engineer prints provided at your print shop.  I did this by making a custom crop size of 36X48 inches.   (Tip: Add the “Rulers” view in Photoshop to help guide you).

5.  Continue cropping sections of 36X48, continuing from the last point you cropped from.

6.  Save each cropped photo as a separate file in PDF format and get them printed at Staples (or wherever you find a printing place that does engineer prints).

7.  Once you have your engineer prints, lay them on the ground in the order they will be put on the wall.  Some pieces will have a white frame you will need to trim with scissors.  I kept some of the white trim on certain pieces because they worked well for overlapping with the next print.  By laying them all out you will be able to see which white trims will be useful for overlapping and which trims need to be removed.  

8.  Using the double sided poster tape, put up each print, lining them up so they overlap in the correct spots.  I found that it was easiest to start at the top right (or left) corner and work my way across and then I did the bottom panels after.  Be sure to use enough tape so that they are secure and aren’t bubbling out from the wall.  

9.  Trim any excess pieces.  And you’re done!

I still want to get a low shelf to place against this wall, which is why I put the "SCREW PERFECTION" logo higher up.

I can't tell you how easy this was and how much it has transformed the room AND my energy in it.  Happy DIY-ing!


Apple Breakfast Muffins

Good morning, Grannies!  Today I'm sharing another breakfast recipe with you.  I'm big on breakfast lately, probably because being pregnant makes me wake up feeling like I could eat a house.  That and the fact that eggs don't usually sound appetizing to me until later in the day, so I'm constantly looking for other tasty/healthy things to satisfy me in the morning.

These muffins are another recipe from my awesome new "Chopra Center Cookbook" which is filled with all kinds of delicious, wholesome meal ideas (as well as a 30 day health-promoting nutritional plan).  They're sweetened with applesauce, chunks of diced, sweet apples and your choice of raisins or currants.  They also have about 5g of protein per muffin which is great for growing a baby (or just a healthy body).  I love them for breakfast with a side of fruit & greek yogurt, but they also make a great on-the-go snack for any time of the day.  Or warm them up with a little butter & jam for a great dessert!

Apple Breakfast Muffins

adapted from The Chopra Center Cookbook


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (or your choice of flour)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (you can leave this out if you want)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins or currants (you could leave these out if you don't like them)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup apple juice (I didn't have any so I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce  (I was out of maple syrup so I added an additional 1/4 c. of apple sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites)
  • 2-3 medium apples, unpeeled, finely chopped (or grated)


1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan with a little oil (I used coconut oil spray) and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins & walnuts and stir together thoroughly.

3.  In a separate bowl, combine the apple juice (or almond milk), apple sauce, oil, maple syrup & vanilla.  Stir well, then add the egg and the apples and stir some more.

4.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir gently until combined.  Spoon into muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  An inserted toothpick should come out clean.


The Last Bookstore -- And My Secret Fear

On Saturday I went downtown to check out The Last Bookstore.  I don’t remember where I first heard about this store, but I had put it on my list of fun, new places to check out.  There are many reasons why I wanted to go exploring there.  It’s in an old two story building, it’s filled head to toe with brand new & second hand books, vinyl records & comics, it’s downtown and everyone online RAVED about it.  But the main reason I wanted to go was because the photos online painted a picture of an Alice In Wonderland kind of place, with dusty old shelves and hidden treasures.  Looked pretty rad to me.

I brought my camera with me because I thought it might be a cool place to share on the blog.  Now, before I dive into my fun adventure at this treasure trove of a bookstore, I want to talk a bit about a fear of mine...

I LOVE photography.  Over the years it has grown from something I occasionally dabbled in, to something I’m incredibly passionate about.  I own a growing collection of various cameras, from film to digital to instant to disposable.  I’ve photographed a ton of food, a bunch of spontaneous shots of friends, and a few staged photo shoots.  I truly love it.  But, ironically enough, I have a fear of taking photos in public.  

So, cut to me in this whimsical bookstore, my eyes wide with amazement over the winding bookcases, the hidden signs and art installations.  All I want to do is take photos of every single nook and cranny, yet I’m paralyzed. 

After I nervously walked around the downstairs, my huge camera tucked away in my bag, an employee told me there was a really cool art gallery upstairs.  I asked her if I could take photos and she said of course.  Instead of being excited about the news, I felt my stomach sink.  Now I had no excuse to not take any pictures.  

When I got upstairs I was immediately greeted by this fantastic art display.  I gathered the courage to pull out my camera and started to take a few shots, when I heard someone coming up the stairs.  My heart started racing.  I quickly walked away from the installation, hiding my camera.  I suddenly felt like I was in the 2nd grade and the 7th graders had caught me playing childish hand-clap games on the playground.  What the hell was happening to me?  The answer was I felt ashamed.   I was embarrassed to be seen taking photos of a bookshelf because maybe someone, some total stranger, might think that it's stupid. 

As I was having this “moment” with myself, imagining all these people judging me (which was in the Fantasy section, perhaps not surprisingly), a girl passed me who was TAKING PICTURES!  I immediately started to envy this girl, in total awe of her unapologetic confidence.  So I did what anyone else would do if they saw their role model/hero … I followed her.  Yes, I creepily followed her through the shelves of books watching her do what I so badly wanted to do.  (I swear I’m not a stalker!)  

It may sound ridiculous, but by following and watching her, I got the courage to pull out my camera again.  My thought process behind this was that if people were going to look at me funny for taking pictures, at least I would be bonded with this girl (who obviously had no idea we were now “in this together.”) 

It still wasn’t easy, but I found myself taking more photos, and the more photos I took, the less I cared whether people were watching me.  I was so engrossed, I lost track of the girl I was following (aka my personal Superwoman) and suddenly realized I was snapping pictures alone.  And, shocker, no one was watching me take photos!

I continued to explore the upstairs, snapping away, even gathering the courage to ask some of the artists in the gallery section if I could take their photos. 

My favorite was the group of “grannies” knitting at Gather.  (Side note: I’m totally coming back to take one of their intro to knitting classes!)

As I drove home, I reflected on my terrifying/exciting experience.  We all have different ways of confronting our fears.  Some of us tell ourselves to just get over it and do it.  And I’ll admit, I’ve gone this route in the past.  But, for me, I don’t think that necessarily gets rid of the fear; just because I do it, doesn’t mean I'm not still afraid of it.  The missing step is understanding the fear.  WHY am I afraid of this?  By understanding the root of the fear, I can be more compassionate towards myself, and I can try and work through it instead of beating myself up about it.  And truthfully, how are you supposed to get over something that you are afraid of if you don’t understand why you are scared of it in the first place?

Basically this all boils down to me owning who I am.  Owning that I am the girl who is inspired to take a photo of a cool book display and not caring what other people think of that.  It’s a learning process and, at times, I’m still stumbling along, but instead of avoiding it, I'm facing it.  And that makes me happy.  That makes me proud.  That makes me who I am.

What scares you?  How do you overcome it?

PS Thanks to the random girl in the store for taking photos and leading the way, even though you had no idea you were doing that for me. 

PPS I realize I didn't really talk that much about The Last Bookstore in this post, but if you live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend you check it out.  


Healthy Homemade Breakfast Bars

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to read more.  I usually have a book or two (or four) on the go but I am definitely guilty of taking my iPad to bed more often than not.  I want to make more of an effort to wind down my day with words on a page instead of on a screen.  So, as a part of my resolution I got myself a pretty new nightstand (to replace the old chair with a lamp on it that I had been using for the past six months) and took myself on a date to the local second hand bookstore.  Of course I ended up in the cookbook section where I came across a copy of "The Chopra Center Cookbook" by Deepak Chopra.  I have a bunch of his books but this one is a collection of recipes that they use at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing which is "a healing place where people come from all over the world to  transform their bodies, minds and souls  through nutrition, meditation and mind-body practice".  It includes over 200 recipes as well as a great introduction on nutrition and eating with awareness (another one of my resolutions that I'll share more on later).  Most of the recipes are vegetarian/vegan and are all whole food based.  Although I'm not usually inclined to buy a cookbook without photos, after flipping through I really wanted to try a bunch of the recipes so it came home with me.

After reading the intro chapters, the first thing I did was turn to the breakfast section.  I'm not someone who craves eggs in the morning so I'm always looking for something other than oatmeal or toast (or really amazing banana bread) to start my day.  I love that all of these recipes use little to no sugar and often substitute apple sauce or fruit purées for oil.  Since I've been going to prenatal yoga classes in the mornings I decided to start by making the 'Breakfast Bars' because they also make a great portable snack that you can throw in your bag for when you're starving after class (aka "second breakfast").  They were super easy and if you are missing any of the ingredients (ie: fruits/nuts/seeds) you can just swap them out for something else.  I actually left the sugar out of mine because I didn't want them to be very sweet and they were great.  They're kind of like a cross between a muffin and a granola bar and they taste like mini-oatmeals.  I'll definitely be making these again and trying out some different variations.

I also ordered a few new cookbooks from Amazon that should be arriving soon so you can look forward to hearing about those as well.  Meanwhile, I'll be the pregnant gal laying in bed at night reading cookbooks while munching on Breakfast Bars.  Happy baking!

Healthy Breakfast Bars

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or your flour of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds (or flax meal)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (I didn't have any so I used chia seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used half raisins & half cranberries)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (or pecan or cashew pieces)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar (or sugar of your choice)

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 canola oil (or ghee)
  • 3/4 cup applesauce (or mango purée)


1.  Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with oil (I used coconut oil).

2.  Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl & stir to combine.

3.  Place all wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.  Pour into dry ingredients and stir everything together.

4.  Transfer mixture into your pan and pat down & distribute evenly.  (Optional:  Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the batter).

5.  Bake for 30-40 mins until golden brown & an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool, cut into bars & serve.  Or wrap individually and take them to-go!


Farro, Quinoa & Spaghetti Squash with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

One of my favorite presents I received this Christmas was The Lemonade Cookbook.  If you don’t live in Los Angeles you may not be familiar with this restaurant, so let me bring you up to speed.  Lemonade is founder Alan Jackson’s take on “seasonal southern California comfort food,” cafeteria-style.  They have a massive variety of salads to choose from along with some heartier dishes (and delicious sweets).  I LOVE their food, so I was excited to find out that they had a cookbook.  

The only thing I don’t love about some of Lemonade’s dishes (or most restaurants for that matter) is their excessive use of oil.  The pomegranate vinaigrette uses a CUP of oil.  A CUP!  A little olive oil is good for you, but too much of it always makes me feel sluggish.  

The first recipe I tried out from the book is this delicious spaghetti squash dish.  If you’re saying, “spaghetti-what?,” you are in for a treat!  Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for thin noodles and is loaded with nutrients like beta carotene and fiber.  It’s tender with a slight crunch which makes it the perfect way to get your vegetables in AND satisfy your pasta cravings!  

As a vegetarian, I’m constantly looking for ways to up my protein intake, so I added quinoa to the recipe.  I think it gives the dish an additional layer of flavor and texture.  I also swapped out the dried cranberries for fresh pomegranate seeds to compliment the vinaigrette.  And, as I mentioned above, I downsized the olive oil from 1 cup to 2 tablespoons (your stomachs will thank me later).  

I also learned a great way to deseed a pomegranate.  I watched this YouTube video which is actually pretty hilarious. (SPOILER: He hits the pomegranate and keeps saying, "You've been a bad pomegranate").  Anyways, back to deseeding a pomegranate.  Basically you cut it in half and then whack it with a wooden spoon and out pop all the seeds!  Just be careful, I think I hit my own hand more than the actual pomegranate. 

Farro, Quinoa, Spaghetti Squash with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Inspired by the Lemonade Cookbook

Pomegranate Vinaigrette


  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • salt & pepper


1.  In a small sauce pan, place the pomegranate juice and honey over medium-low heat.  Bring to a strong enough simmer to allow it to reduce to about 1/4 cup.  This should take about 10 minutes and the consistency should be slightly thick and syrupy.  Set aside to cool.

2.  I did the next step in my Magic Bullet.  If you have a small food processor, that will work too.  If not, you can mix it in a mason jar by shaking it all.  Combine the pomegranate syrup, shallot, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and oil.  Add salt & pepper according to your taste.  Mix it up!  Done.

Farro, Quinoa & Spaghetti Squash


  • 1 spaghetti squash (around 3 pounds)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup farro, dry
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthways.  This took a little bit of muscling through, just be patient and don’t cut your finger off.  

 3.  Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds.  Spread some olive oil on the insides and season with salt & pepper.  Place the cut-sides down on a baking sheet and let roast in the oven until the insides are tender.  This should take about 45 minutes.

4.  While the spaghetti squash is roasting, start preparing your farro & quinoa (separately).  

For the quinoa:  Add the quinoa to 1 cup of water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil.  Let simmer until all the water is absorbed, usually about 15-20 minutes.

For the farro:  Add the farro to 2 cups of water with a dash of salt in a covered saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes until tender.  Drain the excess water.

5.  When the spaghetti squash has finished roasting (test to make sure it’s tender enough to pierce a fork in the flesh), set it aside until it’s cool enough to handle.  

6.  Now comes the fun part!  Take a fork and start scraping the insides of the squash.  It comes out in long strands similar to spaghetti.  Place all the stringy, flesh of the spaghetti squash in a large mixing bowl.

7.  Mix in the farro, quinoa, parsley, pomegranate seeds and vinaigrette to the spaghetti squash.  

8.  Serve and DEVOUR!

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.  I’ve been eating it all week and I’m still not sick of it!