Lars’ Must Sees in New York City

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New YorkI had the opportunity to go to New York last month for work and lucky for me, I got to go back for round two this past weekend! New York is one of my favorite places in the world and I will never pass up an opportunity to explore the big apple. Baby J accompanied me on both trips, and though it slowed my usual pace, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing faces light up once a baby is around. It can melt even the crustiest of hearts (see my story below!). I felt so empowered to find that I could still visit my favorite places with a baby.

You may be thinking: “Brittany, how do you get around New York of all places with a BABY?” Well, thanks to Uber, we were able to navigate the city seamlessly. It can be done! And today I’m giving you a rundown of my favorite shops, restaurants, and sights of New York so you can start planning your own trip. And whether you have a baby, traveling solo, or a whole gang of girls, Uber’s new On-Time Pickups Guarantee is sure to make your trip stress-free.

New York

A Lars Girl in Mexico City: Travel Inspired Design and Fashion

Mexico City definitely is at the top of my list of favorite trips. Truly, it is a place of dreams. The gigantic, bustling city is home to almost 9 million residents, and the feel of the city is indescribable. I’m trying to teleport there using fashion and interior design; I’ll let you know if it works!

I visited Mexico City a couple of years ago with friends Nadia Coates of Casa Palomi, Meta Coleman and Chaunte Vaughn. (You can find Chaunte’s work in our print shop here! And some of Meta’s curated home picks here.) We went to visit Abby Low, whose work is also in our print shop! Abby’s book This is Mexico City is full of the color, print, and culture that inspired today’s post.

I am imagining what A Lars Girl would wear if her wardrobe was inspired by Mexico City. And what her home might look like. After getting a feel for some of the amazing sites in our Mexico City guide here, explore the links below for A Lars Girl top picks for fashion and decor.

Mexico City Inspired Fashion

 

Accessories

 

Read more about this amazing place

La Ciudad

Ciudad de México is an ancient city. Long before the land was called Mexico, the Aztec civilization built impressive temples and monuments in the middle of what was then a lake. Due to Spanish imperial efforts, much of the ancient city was destroyed or buried beneath new buildings. Modern renovation projects have done a beautiful job of peeling back the layers, allowing the city to truly shine. Though its past isn’t pretty, a beautiful way of life and a unique design sense has developed literally out of the ruins. Now a modern and very cosmopolitan place, Mexico City is a truly fascinating spot. 

La Mezcla

Old-world European architecture meets older ancient architecture, and all of it fits into an amazing modern place. When I think of Mexican design, I tend to think of folk art and textiles brim with life! Bright colors are used on funky patterns. But when I think of Mexico City, complex stylistic ideas with refined elements come to mind. Once there, you’ll know what I mean. If you’re looking to steal the style, try designing with Old World tastes, then decorate with clean-lined modern elements that allow ornate intricacies to shine. Conversely, try designing in a contemporary, clean design, then add some flair with natural or folk elements. To see this mezcla (mix) work in real life, check out pictures of the Museo de Artes Popular! Its architectural style is stunningly simple art deco, while the works within it are traditional and FUN! 

The residents of this city know how amazing it is, but most are happy to share the place they call home. I became friends with my cabbie and the local barista pretty quickly, and they clued me into the real neighborhood spots. Only true locals know the local spots. So, make some friends and get exploring! While you’re there, or even if you’re just lazing around the house, bring a dash of la Ciudad de Mexico into your life! See our shopping list above and below for clothing items and home decor that we think make the mark.

Mexico City Inspired Interior Design

Artwork

Decor

 

 

Becoming: Nadia Cates

Meet: Nadia Aguilar Cates  

Nadia is the Founder of Casa Palomí and Ella Rises and a proud mother of 6. Nadia’s passion for her home country has shaped her professional pursuits. With Casa Palomi and her culinary background, Nadia shares her love for Mexican cuisine (especially tamales!) through virtual cooking lessons. After relocating to Mexico for several years, she found a deep connection with her heritage, which has inspired her to empower Latina youth to connect with their roots through Ella Rises. In honor of Día de Los Meurtos, we are excited to have Nadia share how her rich culture has influenced who she has and continues to become. Because we all come from somewhere and somebody.

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, activist, etc.

  1. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I also consider myself a creative. I love to take concepts and bring them to life. For example, Casa Palomí’s pan de muerto class – an amazing Mexican sweet bread – that I did last week. I’ve never done that before but it’s live now and a success with those who have taken it!

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

My childhood has very much influenced who I am. I was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. I became a U.S. citizen in grade school. For a long time, I carried shame around my story because people made fun of me and others with similar backgrounds.

I am no longer ashamed of where I come from, and I can honestly say that my story and heritage empower me. I’ve reclaimed a call to uplift and empower those with a similar story.

There’s a quote by Gloria Anzaldua about this that resonates with me. In her words, “I am from the land of the North and the land of the South. Indigenous blood runs through my veins. It calls me, and I honor it. What I once saw as disadvantages, clearly defines me, strengthens, and empowers me.”

What aspects of your Mexican culture have most inspired your work? 

Mexico has such a deep, rich, and consistent cultural heritage. I’m inspired by all of it, but especially the music, food, and textiles. When I can, I meet and work with artisans. I learn about the history of the places I visit and return to them or remain in contact with the people as often as possible because that connection is what inspires me the most.

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur?

I think the reality of many entrepreneurs is that you ‘fail into success.’ I’ve tried and continue to try different things. When learning opportunities have appeared, I have taken them – most recently, with successful entrepreneurs and women, who I admire, offering mentoring classes!

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

There’s so many, but closest to my heart have been my parents, sisters, my husband, and each of my children.

What is a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

I’ve always had different guiding statements that have inspired me. They’ve evolved and changed over time, but they’ve helped empower me. A couple I like right now are  “There has to be discomfort to change” and “If we don’t heal the wounds of the past, we cannot expand to our full potential; we can learn from it and be empowered by it.”

What sets your work apart from other brands? 

My work is designed to connect you with the beauty of Mexican heritage and reflected in that you will hopefully see your beauty and strength at the same time.

Was starting your own business or taking on entrepreneurial projects always your ultimate plan? Did you always know that you wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into your work?

Such great questions. I’m a mother of 6, and that’s the most important work in my life right now. But deep within me, there was always a desire to create, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was … until I moved to Mexico. It was then that I knew whatever I did, it would be to preserve our heritage.

What does your daily routine look like? 

Routine? What’s that?

My oldest is 12, and my youngest is 10 months. You could say I’m a slave to my kids’ schedules. I work during nap times and at night. When we have big projects with Ella Rises or Casa Palomí, I always find help. My husband is pretty good at loading up the kids and taking them somewhere when necessary.

What is inspiring you lately?

The Ella Rises girls and the challenges they face. And the female leaders and artists who are participating with Ella Rises. See the second to last question.

Tell us about your current project(s).

At Casa Palomí, we share our heritage with the community through food. We’re currently offering a virtual pan de muerto class for Day of the Dead, and friends from all over the world have signed up for our class! Follow @casa_palomi for more details.

Ella Rises is an initiative to empower Latinas in high school through virtual art and mentoring classes taught by Latinas. This historic project has never been done before, and 125 girls registered for Ella Rises 2020! We meet every Monday and Thursday in October. For more details, check out EllaRises.org

You’ve done culinary school, tamales, catering, all sorts of things. Tell us about your journey!

You know, it is all rooted in my continued journey to discover where I came from and the culture around all of that. Check out @casa_palomi on Instagram –  it’s visually captured there. I think you could say I’ve been on a journey to becoming for a few years now. And, I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet.

What designers/creatives/entrepreneurs do you look up to from the past or present?

Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, came to my mind. I love his work! I often turn to it for inspiration, and I love his use of color and thoughtfully-curated spaces.

My culinary school maestros, Yuri de Gortari and Edmundo Escamilla, still inspire me today. They ignited a spark of love and reverence for my heritage, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

I am also inspired by Mexican artisans. I’ve been building relationships with weavers and embroiderers. Their names may never go down in history, but I know them and love them.

What is on the horizon for you and your work in the remainder of 2020?

Casa Palomí and Ella Rises are thriving, and I hope we continue to do so through the end of the year. We’re connecting and reaching individuals who seek a space of love, respect, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds. Follow @casa_palomi or @ellarises and join our journey.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business? 

I turn to a higher power for direction. If seeking divine direction resonates with you, I’d recommend praying, meditating, going out in nature, and reconnecting with our creator. Then, create a statement of what you want to be, look like, and do. Rewrite it in the present tense, start repeating it daily, and keep seeking divine guidance.

What is the best advice you’d give to a businesswoman on determining her brand’s mission? 

When someone asks me for advice, I try (not perfect at it) to just listen to what they have to say. I believe that we often have or already know the answers to our questions.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Katie Richardson, the creator of the Puj Tub, once told me “You’re right where you need to be.” I’ve taken that and ran with it. So, to answer your question, “I’m right where I need to be.”

Is there anything more you’d like to “become?”

Definitely! I embrace myself fully with where I am, but my journey of growth and progress continues. A millionaire would be nice too since I would love to invest more in my wildest ideas to help people. 🙂

Day of the Dead

For this feature, we worked with Nadia on creating this portrait, honoring both her, this unique time of year with the face mask, and the catrina in honor of Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday typically involves friends and family coming together to pray and remember those who have passed on. It is seen as a festival of celebration rather than mourning. Ofrendas, or offerings, are often set out with pictures of ancestors and tokens that represent them. Thank you, Nadia.

You can find Nadia

Casa Palomi
Ella Rises

Hot Craft Summer: A Summer Bucket List from Team Lars

I think we have put together a pretty good summer bucket list, if I do say so myself. From travel dreams to growing gardens, Team Lars has a great summer planned. And all of us are doing something crafty! Read on for summertime inspiration!

Brittany wearing a striped yellow dress in front of a pale orange wall eating canteloupe sorbet

Hot Craft Summer: The Ultimate Summer Bucket List

Brittany

Garet

  1. Bracelet making party with my gals
  2. Make a family video + have an outdoor movie night
  3. Make homemade peach ice cream
  4. Go on a long Saturday morning bike ride at a county park

colorful ice cream sundaes in pink, purple, and yellow

Jane

  1. Do more creative photoshoots – more personal work.
  2. Go on more morning walks & bike rides.
  3. Go on a road trip to see an outdoor musical/play

three photos by Jane Link hung on a wall with an aloe plant next to them.

Hailey

  1. Start traveling a little bit
  2. Get a tan haha (who amongst us can deny this desire??)
  3. Perfect my capsule wardrobe

doors in Cuba

(Speaking of travel, read up on Brittany’s trip to Cuba from a few years ago here!)

State Flower Map Coloring Poster

I’m excited to release this new State Flower Map Coloring Page in our shop! I love easy projects that you can do with your family or friends, and coloring this state flower coloring page fits the bill! You could sit down and have everyone color in their favorite place to vacation or where they’re from. This coloring page is also a great option if you want to do something with your hands while you watch movies with friends but you’re not a big fan of puzzles. Because this coloring page poster is big enough to spread out on the kitchen or coffee table, it’s a great project to do as a group.

The State Flower Map Coloring Page hangs on Brittany's rainbow calendar with some art prints and a painting by Jasper.

On the Road

Have you seen those map posters that you scratch off each state or country as you visit it? This printable poster would be a great way to mark your travels within the USA—you could color in each state’s flower when you visit it!

The coloring map is on a red table. Colorful markers are scattered around and some hands reach in to color it.

I think it would be so fun to plan a road trip with state flowers in mind. In every state you visit, try to find the state flower! What a fun way to get into nature and get moving! If you do, be sure to tag us in your pictures with #LarsLovesFlowers and #LarsTravels.

The coloring map is on a red table. Colorful markers are scattered around and some hands reach in to color it.The coloring map is on a red table. Colorful markers are scattered around and some hands reach in to color it.

At Home

Even if you’re relaxing into another summer at home, coloring in the State Flower Map Coloring Page poster is a perfect art project to celebrate flowers and learn some geography. If you’re looking for a way to give your kids some structure in the summer, this would be a great addition to a summer school curriculum. Fun and educational? Yes please! Best of all, you’ll finish the activity with a gorgeous poster to hang.

The State Flower Map Coloring Page hangs on Brittany's rainbow calendar with some art prints, a painting by Jasper, and a cutout bird. A colorful desk with flowers, a laptop, books, and a globe is in front of the calendar.

Make your own State Flower Map Art

When you finish coloring your State Flower Map Coloring Page, hang it up! It has the potential to be It’s extra personal because you’ll color it yourself, and it will make a great conversation starter. Print your state flower coloring page on nice paper and then frame your finished work for extra gravitas. It would be so great in a kid’s room!

The State Flower Map Coloring Page hangs on Brittany's rainbow calendar with some art prints and a painting by Jasper.

Materials

All you need to make your own state flower art is our State Flower Map Coloring Page, markers, crayons, or colored pencils, and a frame.

The State Flower Map Coloring Page hangs on Brittany's rainbow calendar with some art prints, a painting by Jasper, and a cutout bird. A colorful desk with flowers, a laptop, books, and a globe is in front of the calendar.

Instructions

  1. Download the State Flower Map Coloring Page from our shop.
  2. Send the file to your local print shop or at a larger chain like Staples (we used this service and it’s under $10!). You can print the poster on sturdy paper, but you don’t have to.
  3. Gather your friends and color! You know what to do!
  4. If you want to frame your coloring page, this magnetic poster frame is a great and easy option. Enjoy!

The State Flower Map Coloring Page hangs on Brittany's rainbow calendar with some art prints and a painting by Jasper.

Looking for more coloring pages? I have great news in the form of COLORING BOOKS. Check out our Picture Hope coloring book, which we made with lots of artists to raise money for COVID 19 relief. Find it in our shop here. I’ve also made a coloring book called Flowers, and don’t forget all our other coloring pages in the shop! Get coloring!

I would love to see your finished coloring pages and hear about your summer adventures, whether you hit the road or just the couch. Tag us with #LarsLovesFlowers and #LarsTravels!

Cuba Travel Guide Part 1: logistics

Havana, Cuba travel guideI’ve been giving some sneak peeks away of our trip to Cuba over the past few weeks and it’s been so interesting hearing your reactions. Most are floored that we (Americans) could even go and others have mentioned that you are anxiously awaiting a travel guide because they are planning their trip too. After our experience, there is a lot we were really pleased about and other things we would have done differently.

I’m breaking the guide into two parts. One part for logistics on how to travel to and around Cuba and the other for things to see and do. I don’t normally provide traveling logistics, but because Cuba is still rather unknown to Americans, information was somewhat hard to find.

Let’s dig in.

Our France itinerary

It’s been a few weeks since our trip to France and as we’ve been cooking on all 4 cylinders since, what with the One Room Challenge and all of our holiday content, not to mention some upcoming big projects (stay tuned!), but I’ve now hunkered down to share our itinerary because if you ever get to the chance to plan a trip to France I’d highly recommend so many things that we did. They took my breath away. I mean, look at my face here! That’s the look of pure joy (and it’s all staged because we’re pulled off to the side of the road 😉 )  Because we were there for a wedding, it took us to a part of the country that I’ve always wanted to go to but hadn’t prioritized yet. It was a life-long dream really.

Instead of creating a comprehensive Paris guide, I’m just noting a few bucket list items that may or may not be the Eiffel Tower. You can find those in all tour books. These are worth it, but not mentioned as often. Here we go!

Miami prints by Jane Merritt

Miami City art prints

Like the other prints in the Lars Print shop, each design can come however you’d like–as a download where you can print it off yourself or as a print in the mail in a variety of sizes or it can come framed and/or matted. Here we put three together and I think they work perfectly together, no? All that Art Deco glory–so good! 

You can find the prints in our Lars Print Shop!

And you can find our art lovers guide to Miami here!

You can see Jane’s work here.

Art prints for every style

From illustrations to photography to quotes, the Lars print shop has wall decor for every style! If you’re looking for some bold pieces to accompany your Miami prints on a gallery wall, you can find plenty of patterns and bright colors in the Lars shop prints! Or, if you’re going for a more subtle, pastel wall, you can browse through some of the illustrations to match the Miami art prints.

We even have a couple of art prints for Coronavirus relief charities. You get beautiful pieces of art AND help out communities during the pandemic. It’s a win-win.

If you love these Miami prints but aren’t sure how to start your gallery wall, we’ve got you covered! Learn how to make a gallery wall here, and let the decorating begin!

Roussillon, France

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I’m getting through my pictures from last year’s trip to Provence slowly but surely. A couple of weeks ago I talked about Gordes, and just 10 km away the landscape dramatically transforms into iron-rich soil and you come across Roussillon. It’s such a noticeable change in the appearance of the red cliffs and consequently, the colors of the town. Whereas Gordes feels blindingly white because of the limestone, Roussillon feels much more Mediterranean. Like a clay pot. The houses are saturated in bright, earthy colors. It’s a bit less formidable and a bit more reachable. Mom and I walked the town and discovered, like many other towns in Provence, the haphazard arrangement of the town plan, which is conducive to lots of nooks and crannies and, thus, lots of fun unexpected doors and windows. It’s a door-lover’s paradise! 

Colors of sorbet, non? 
I loved the iron-work detailing throughout the town. These metalsmiths had a good time.

 Watermelon house? Please and thank you.

 The view.

 Isn’t this a fantastic covering for a balcony? I note it here so that someone can use the idea for their own backyard.

 And we left at sunset. Sigh.

I dream about this place. Where do you dream about? 
More pictures from Provence: Gordes, our entry,  the town we stayed in Apt, walking around Apt

Click Retreat Caribbean

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click retreat caribbean

In January I was invited to teach a photo styling workshop with my good pal, Meta Coleman, aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of The Seas, the largest ship in the world for Click Retreat, a conference for bloggers that focuses on photography and social media in the Caribbean for a week. When I got the email the only words I saw were “January”, “cruise”, “Caribbean” and immediately responded “YES!”. We visited Bahamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten.

But, what would make them think I would even like it? I mean, it’s not like the Bahamas had photogenic pink buildings everywhere or anything…

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And it’s not like the scenery was very scenic. Bleh.

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Seriously, I couldn’t find a single pink building ANYWHERE in the Bahamas! It was so BORING!

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It’s not like we had colorful props to work with or delicious fruits to make smoothies with…

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Meta and I pretended we were recently engaged and on a romantic getaway the whole time taking our engagement photos…Somehow we keep getting invited to rad places around the world…just the two of us without our families…when in Rome!unnamed-12

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Tucked away

Still working through these Iceland photos. What do you think so far? Nuts, right? Paul and I rented a car for a few days and drove across the island. We stopped periodically to capture the houses built into mountains*. I’m guessing this technique came to be because it’s so (so so so so so so so) windy and the rock is at least one solid fortification. 
*kind of reminded me of that rock house in Laguna Beach. You know what I’m talking about OCers? 

Iceland waterfalls

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And three months later our Iceland trip is finally being wrapped up in photos. Goodness, I’m constantly reminded how surreal this place is. You can’t go to Iceland and not see waterfalls, so I’ve dedicated this last post to all things waterfalls. A little tip, “foss” in Icelandic means “falls” in English, which might help break down the names. Here we go! We started our waterfalls exploration by taking a little day trip out to Barnafoss with our gracious hosts.
Then Paul and I rented a car for a few days and hit some of the major highlights around the southern rim of the island including Seljalandsfoss, Skógarfoss and Svartifoss. The beauty of Seljalandsfoss is the trip BEHIND the waterfall. Pretty wild. And cold. And loud.
Svartifoss is insane. Look at these rock formations! It has the feel of cathedral organ pipes you know what I mean?
Ok, these little rock pile ups below are a sweet story. Visitors are supposed to add a rock to the top.
Moody!

I’ve been enamored with pictures from other people’s trips to Iceland including Jenna’s super detailed write-ups. Mackenzie of Secret Pocket has beautiful photos of their trip to Iceland/Denmark for the holidays last year. Elaina from Fint og Deilig and her husbandMark spent their honeymoon camping in Iceland last summer. Brave souls! I’ve been following the Instagram of Andrew and Carissa as they explore Iceland right now. This shot at the Blue Lagoon is gorgeous! Elena also did an Iceland falls post. BTW, we did go to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s biggest tourist destination, but we didn’t take a single photo! Crime! Needless to say, the place is otherworldly (and expensive! especially when we went here for free!)

Check out some more Iceland photos here