Have a Merry Christmas!

posted on: Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas baby booties
Via SMP Living

And on this day, I wish you nothing more than the warmth and comfort of soaking up all the love  of life's many simple pleasures and cherishing the intimate moments that make our lives that much more meaningful, like the cuddle of your love's embrace, the softness of baby booties, or in my world, awaiting the pitter patter of little feet. I shared some news on my Instagram feed yesterday...and yes, it's the very reason why this blog has been neglected more often than I'd like to admit. But our families are ecstatic and we couldn't be more thrilled for this new adventure we're about to embark upon in the New Year. I'll be sharing more of my journey with you, but in the meantime, a wish for you...

Cheers to a bright and very merry Christmas to you and your families this holiday season! May your hearts overflow with all that is good and wonderful in this world.

Hog Island Clam Chowder

posted on: Monday, November 4, 2013

Seeing leaves turn amber shades of red and yellow as I stroll through my neighborhood reminds me yet once again that a new season is upon us and it's time to pull out my cozy sweaters and concoct sweet & savory dishes in my kitchen. After all, it was only last week that I found myself with a serious urge to brown butter, roast brussel sprouts, and subsequently whip up two dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies all in one night. But last night, I just wanted to curl up with a hot cup of something warm and rich like this hearty bowl of comforting clam chowder that I whipped up a few months ago for an amazing photo shoot that was featured on Style Me Pretty Living. It's taken me a while to share it, but I thought it best that I wait for the weather to get a bit chillier before I bring it to the blog. So, here it is.  For the complete recipe, head on over to SMP Living.

About the Recipe:
Hog Island Oyster Farm, located in beautiful Marshall, CA, is known for its sinfully decadent, perfectly briny and fresh sweet water oysters.  And if you ever visit its famous oyster bar in the San Francisco Ferry Building, you wouldn't ever leave without also ordering their signature bowl of clam chowder! As an homage to the West Coast-style chowder where we throw in the entire clam (shell & all), this Hog Island-inspired chowder was made with succulent morsels of Manila clams that will comfort you even on the chilliest of days.
Hog Island Clam Chowder | via Chandara Creative recipes
Hog Island Clam Chowder | via Chandara Creative | Amber Gress Photography

Blog Tutorial: Adding a Custom "Pin It" Button + Social Media Icons

posted on: Friday, November 1, 2013

Nothing makes me smile more than learning a new skill for my blog. Ahh..progress, I do love you. Like many of you, I don't have time or funds to invest in sitting in a class or workshop to learn everything there is to know about graphic design, so I rely on the good 'ole internet when push comes the shove and I need to learn a new skill...fast! And everything on this blog is truly a labor of love and a work in progress as I delve into the realm of CSS and graphic design (which is world's away from my undegrad degree in Political Science).


Recently, as you may have noticed, I installed a custom "Pin It" button to my images, and it's got me beaming from ear to ear. I wanted to share my knowledge with you just in case you're also wondering how to make it happen for your own blog. So here it is:

For Blogger templates, you can follow the tutorials on the following sites just like I did via:
Spearmint Baby
Code it Pretty

For Wordpress templates, follow the simple steps to creating your own custom "Pin It" button via:
Hello Monday Creative


Do you like my new social media icons? Well, you can have them, too! And all for free thanks to From Her New Leaf. I love blogs that share and in keeping with this sharing spirit, here's my tips on how to install social media icon buttons on your own blog!
NOTE:  I only researched how to do this on Blogger because that's the platform from which I blog. 

These are a set of social media icons in the Glacier color family.

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram Email

1. First you need to find a site that provides free social media icons OR you can purchase them. You can go to the link above, or simply search Pinterest or Google for "[free] social media icon." You will get a bunch of lists that populate really cool icons, and this is by far the most difficult portion of this tutorial.

2. Save the files to your computer and follow this YouTube Tutorial by Blogaholic Designs. This is by far the quickest and easiest way I found without having to host your icons on a 3rd party image hosting site (i.e. Photobucket) or tweaking any HTML code. So unless you feel like doing extra work, give it a try, and have yourselves a Fab Friday!

Happy Halloween!

posted on: Monday, October 28, 2013

There's so many things I love about the month of October: the hoopla surrounding Halloween when children get dressed up as adorable little characters and adults who get insanely creative with their get-ups, the sweetness of homemade caramel apples like the ones made by my friend, Liren of Kitchen Confidante, and of course, the...

pumpkin patch | Photography via Chandara Creative
Pumpkin Patch | Photography via Chandara Creative

Cheers to a bewitchingly sweet and happy Halloween to you and your families! What's your favorite part of this time of year? 

Currently Coveting: The Art of Hand Lettering + Calligraphy

posted on: Friday, October 25, 2013

In a world consumed by telecommunications, where social media outlets run rampant and emails and text messages have now replaced the good 'ole pen and paper, I sometimes begin to wonder if the art of hand lettering has been lost to this new generation--a generation where the movement of your thumbs along a screen seem to trump the smooth, gentle strokes of ink gliding across the textured surface of pulp.  I once read an article about how some parents were beginning to question the validity of practicing a child's penmanship, specifically cursive, in school when the vast majority of our communication portals require the mastery of a keyboard.  And as I did so, I gasped and began to wonder how different my life would have been had I never learned how to properly hand write a letter.

And it seems rather ironic that I'm typing all this up on my blog when in fact, I feel like I should be penning my words in a notebook that's been tucked away for much too long. But please forgive me because I'm actually one of the few in a burgeoning minority that truly values and appreciates the written word and all its artistic forms of expression. As a child, I remember learning to perfect my penmanship in class, and with each stroke I drew, I became even more fond of the intricacy of the letters that formed each word. To this day, there is really nothing that warms my heart more than receiving a handwritten note, and it is in this spirit that I wanted to share with you what I'm currently coveting this week (actually that's a lie b/c I've long coveted this), which is the art of hand lettering:  an art that seemed to exist only in ancient manuscripts and official documents of centuries past, but has since been revitalized thanks to a richly talented community of calligraphers who share my same sentiment. Here, I'm sharing a few of those whose work I deeply admire and continue to keep me inspired. Enjoy!

Feast Calligraphy | Jen Fariello Photography
Feast Calligraphy | Jen Fariello Photography

Feast Calligraphy | Jen Fariello Photography
Feast Calligraphy | Jen Fariello Photography

2. Neither Snow

Neither Snow Calligraphy | Jose Villa Photography
Neither Snow Calligraphy | Jose Villa Photography via Blog
Neither Snow Calligraphy | Jose Villa Photography
Neither Snow Calligraphy | Jose Villa Photography

3. Anne Robin Calligraphy

Anne Robin Calligraphy | Marianne Wilson Photography
Anne Robin Calligraphy | Marianne Wilson Photography

Anne Robin Calligraphy | Rad + In Love
Anne Robin Calligraphy | Rad + In Love Photography

4. Kathryn Murray Calligraphy

Kathryn Murray Calligraphy | Katie Stoops Photography
Kathryn Murray Calligraphy | Katie Stoops Photography

Kathryn Murray Calligraphy | Coco Tran Photography
Kathryn Murray Calligraphy | Coco Tran Photography

FAB FRIDAY: Currently Coveting

posted on: Friday, October 18, 2013

It's been a while since my last post, and rest assured, my silence on the blog has been for good reason (much of which I can't divulge just yet), but there's been some changes in my life that have me giddy with glee and in due time, I'll share it with the world starting with you! In the meantime, I wanted to announce a new series that I'm going to start posting since there are so many moments as I'm surfing the web and I stumble upon something amazingly cute or worthy of a feature, and I realize I cannot possibly dedicate an entire post to one instantaneous bout of joy (although I might break this rule here and there).

My "Currently Coveting" series is my little treasure chest of goodies that I'm currently oohing and aahing over, and I figured what better audience to share it with than my lovely readers. There are times in my life when I'm searching for something and Google just doesn't cut it anymore, especially when it turns up random search results that aren't curated for taste. So, it's my collection of curated items that I'm loving or lusting over, and I'm hoping you'll love as well. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

1. Gold Polka Dots
While chevron is taking the world by storm, I still believe there's something so classic about polka dots, and when they're blinging gold...it's really hard for me to resist.  When I spotted this chic golden bedding collection by Emily & Meritt on Glitter Guide, I was ready to hit the roof. But alas, the designers partnered with PB Teen, so of course, the bedding doesn't come in a King/Cal King size, but for those of you who nestle your heads on something smaller, you are in luck!

And then there was this nursery that I spotted on Grey Likes Baby that left me swooning since I'm a sucker for any kind of design that gives you more bang for your buck by allowing your little one to grow into a room from the moment they're born to the moment they become teenagers. I think gold polka dots does the trick...cute enough for baby, but classy enough for a lady!

Emily & Meritt Metallic Dottie Collection | Via PB Teen

Gold Polka Dot Nursery | Via Grey Likes Baby

2. Rose Gold Flatware + Jewelry
While we're on the topic of gold, I can't seem to get enough of rose gold metal. It's soft, subtle, and much more feminine than its traditional cousin, and most importantly, it's got me smitten beyond belief! These metal sensations at West Elm are simply stunning to admire and add that extra touch of class and fancy to your next dinner party...perhaps for the holidays? I can already see myself 20 years from now...the little old lady polishing my rose gold stemware with a smile on my face! Yes, pretty shiny things make me that happy!

And then, there's this gorgeous ring that looks like an heirloom piece from the moment you slip it on your fingers and walk down the aisle. And the best part was that the tropical island wedding was just as dreamy as the ring.

Rose Gold Flatware | Via West Elm

Rose Gold Ring | Via KT Merry

3. Amber Vintage Stemware from Casa De Perrin
Let's see...how many times do I spend drooling over the exquisitely curated collection of tabletop rentals from Casa De Perrin? Too many, but who's really counting, right? There's something particularly mesmerizing about amber vintage glasses that takes it to the next level for me--reminds me of the alluring autumnal season that beckons a cozy throw wrapped around my shoulders while I sip a steaming cup of pumpkin spiced latte and savor a good book. I absolutely adore them and would love nothing more than to stockpile a little arsenal of these lovelies for my own amusement. Now, if only I can convince the hubby that having my own supply pantry would be befitting of this small obsession.

Casa De Perrin | Via Style Me Pretty | Bryce Covey Photography

Case De Perrin | Via Style Me Pretty | Tec Petaja Photography

Flash Giveaway: 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival with Muir Glen Organic

posted on: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heirloom Tomato and Mozarella Salad | Pill Photography
Via Style Me Pretty | Pill Photography

Friends, I have a special flash giveaway to announce. I was fortunate enough to receive a pair of tickets from the wonderful team at Muir Glen Organic for the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival happening this Saturday, September 28, 2013 in Fulton, CA from 11am-4pm, and I would love nothing more than to give them away to one of my lucky readers.  (Note: Tickets to this event are currently all sold out!)

I absolutely adore heirloom tomatoes...there is nothing like the sweet, succulent morsels of sun-ripened goodness when biting into this late summer fruit.  So, just imagine spending this Saturday sipping amazing KJ wines, tasting over 175 heritage tomato varietals, and sampling the finest culinary delicacies of the region's best restaurants!  And because this is a 24-Hour FLASH GIVEAWAY....it's happening real fast!

UPDATE: Thanks for your entries. The giveaway has ended! Stay tuned for next time!

Here's all you have to do to enter:

1. Like Chandara Creative on Facebook
2. Post a comment below indicating what's your favorite heirloom tomato recipe AND include your email address or instagram handle (if your profile is public).

Entries/Comments will be accepted until 8pm PST, Thursday, September 26, 2013 and the lucky winner will be contacted by 8am PST, Friday, September 27, 2013. Tickets will be emailed to you, so make sure you include an email address in your comments.

Good Luck!!!

Disclosure: This giveaway is being sponsored by Muir Glen Organic. One winner will be randomly selected to receive a pair (2) of tickets to the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival (valued at $75/ticket).

Published on Style Me Pretty Weddings: A Summer-Inspired Wedding Editorial

posted on: Monday, August 5, 2013

I'm absolutely honored Style Me Pretty Weddings featured this amazing summer-inspired wedding editorial today. There are so many things that inspire me, but what tops it off is my favorite color palette: coral + peach-toned hues to match with my favorite summertime fruits: melons! Here's a few snippets  from the shoot captured on film by my amazing friend, Coco Tran Photography, and be sure to visit SMP for the entire collection!

Photographer :Coco Tran Photography | Creative Vision+ Styling: Coco Tran | Flowers: Vo Floral Design | Makeup: Cathy Dung | Hair: Gabi Baker | Food Styling: Chandara Creative | Models: JE models Alana+Edward | Linens: 1000 Fine Events | Stationary  + Calligraphy: Kathryn Murray  | Ceremony Location: Private Backyard, California | Bride's Dress: Bo Lee Boutique  |Groom's tux: Banana Republic |
Bride's Earrings: David Yurman

A Birthday Wish -- Celebrating Gratitude

posted on: Thursday, June 6, 2013

" It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy. " -Anonymous                                                           
Blooming possibilities with a coral peony | Photography via Chandara Creative
Nothing says Happy Birthday better than coral peonies | Photography via Chandara Creative

My 30th year was marked by dreams--realized, including the completion of business school, and perhaps even more importantly, the end of one chapter of my career, and the beginning of yet another one.  The decision left me anxious & scared, but in the end, much more fulfilled that for the first time in my life, I finally had the courage to let go of certainty to embrace my gift of creativity. And then, one of my dearest friends from college recently welcomed a precious little bundle of life into his family...and my heart jumped leaps and bounds, knowing how lucky this little guy was because they'd make two amazing parents--no doubt. And as I cradled all five pounds of him in my arms, I nearly melted from the tenderness of the moment--the moment when their big, sparkling eyes meets yours and all you can sense is the purity and innocence of their gaze, and how their entire life awaits them.

But my 30th year was also marked by loss...the loss of my aunt (the maternal figure to my father)...one that shocked our entire family, but further strengthened our filial bond.  And as I delivered her eulogy in both English and my native tongue of Laos, I couldn't feel more blessed and proud that in this lifetime, I was gifted with being her niece.  For an entire day, as an homage to the deceased, I was ordained as a Buddhist nun, cloaked in nothing but white fabric, and as I listened to the monks chanting, their words became a symphony to my ears...perhaps made more beautiful because we all sung it in unison for my aunt.  And so for the first time at a funeral, as I observed the ceremonial rituals being performed as part of my Theravada Buddhist religion, I was left with an overwhelming sense of peace & tranquility knowing that  her battle with cancer no longer consumed her being, and that her suffering had ended because she was in a much better place.

So, on this day, as I begin yet another year of life, I am grateful....grateful that another year awaits me, and that my heart is full & brimming with love for all the meaningful people in my life, including...

A husband who has never stopped believing in me (despite how crazy my imagination may get) and continues to amaze me with his love, patience, and generosity, but most importantly, for continually making me a better person...imbued with my own flaws, idiosyncratic tendencies, and quirks (yet loves me despite them all).

A loving family that has always stood by me, held my hand, pushed me, and supported me in my most trying & joyous moments.

Nieces & nephews...they color my world with shades of craziness and thoughtfulness I never knew existed. Each day with them is another wild ride full of laughter and they continue to remind me that I can don my rose-colored lenses any day and join them.

The very best of friends (my chosen family) whose unwavering love & support for all of my life's decisions continue to inspire me exponentially.  They are my Team Awesome, my dreamers, believers, doers, movers & shakers--the people who saw greatness in me even when I didn't see it in myself.

And for each of you out there who visit this blog and while I don't know all of your personally, I am grateful. For every like on Instagram & Facebook, follow on twitter, and hit on this blog, I smile. I really do.

In Remembrance

posted on: Monday, May 27, 2013

" The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart...should swell into a mighty chorus of remembrance, gratitude, and rededication..." - Abraham Lincoln
Memorial Day takes a special place in my heart. I come from a family of honorable men who sacrificed their lives to make this day possible for me. After all, my own existence has been one that was borne out of political turmoil.  And as I write, my heart remembers seeing the grim, melancholic expression on my husband's face when we last visited his military base to pay our respects to his fallen soldiers, yet another solemn reminder that our freedoms of today have not been without its price.  And so, today, as many of us take a reprieve from work, I am taking some time to honor and remember our brave men and women who have served, thereby making their ultimate sacrifice to our country.

Memorial Day, Fallen Soldier Memorial, via Chandara Creative
Fallen Soldier Memorial | Schofield Bks, HI | Photography via Chandara Creative

Published on SMP Living: Entertaining with Oysters

posted on: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm absolutely thrilled and giddy beyond belief that my first styled shoot with my favorite briny friends was published today over at Style Me Pretty Living.   Many thanks to the fabulous Silvana di Franco for capturing the beautiful day. 


Oftentimes, whenever we do something new, we talk about and embark upon grandiose goals, but truth be told, when I woke up this morning to this tweet, my heart jumped up and smiled like I'd just won the lottery. No, no money involved, but just this crazy passion of mine doing backflips to the nine. I still remember drooling over the features from other amazing creatives they'd highlight, and wondering if perhaps someday, if I ever created something just as amazing, that just maybe...I could grace the SMP Living blog, even for a split nano-second, that would be uber-fantastic in my little world. And so today, when my feature did just that, I realized that these small, incremental moments of happiness are what I live for...these milestones that serve as a recurring reminder that doing what makes me smile is really why Chandara Creative was born and why I know, it will continue to shine on.

Oysters with Chandara Creative | Photography: Silvana Di Franco

Oysters with Chandara Creative | Tomales Bay | Photography: Silvana Di Franco

Oysters with Chandara Creative | Tomales Bay | Photography: Silvana Di Franco

Oysters with Chandara Creative | Tomales Bay | Photography: Silvana Di Franco

Oysters with Chandara Creative | Tomales Bay | Photography: Silvana Di Franco
Don't have an oyster set? No worries. I used a drink dispenser stand and a small plate to re-create my own. No biggie.

See the full feature at SMP Living

Appreciating Apples

posted on: Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If you can read this, thank a teacher.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day via Chandara Creative

I have so much respect for teachers. 

My mother is a pre-school teacher; my sister was a kindergarten teacher; my friends have dedicated their lives to a humble (but immensely rewarding) teaching profession, and quite frankly, I don't know where I would be today without my first grade teacher, Mrs. Cooper -- who graced me with the gift of literacy at the tender age of 6. I picked up my very first book and read it from cover to cover. I loved every bit of it, and haven't stopped loving it since then.

Back then, my family didn't have money to go on lavish vacations, so books became my portal for traveling to wherever my imagination would take me, and goodness gracious, the possibilities were endless. I remember tilting my head up and wishing meatballs really would fall from the sky as it had in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; I remember envisioning a room filled with golden silk threads with a little, old, wrinkly man riding on a spoon after learning about Rumpelstiltskin, and I remember feeling my first pangs of injustice seep in after finishing my first chapter book, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. To this day, I gift all of my friend's children with childhood literacy...it is truly the only gift that keeps on giving.  And when I do travel, my hubby and I collect children's books in different languages, from different countries.  We would love nothing more than to create our own multicultural library in our home one day, and judging from the stockpile we've amassed over the years, I know we're well on our way.   

" You're never too old,
too wacky, too wild,
to pick up a book,
and read to a child! "
 -- Dr. Seuss
For all my teachers who have helped nourish my passion for reading, 'Thank you, Thank you."
Happy Teacher Appreciation Day...you are the apples of my life.

Stay Inspired,

Oh Sweet Pea

posted on: Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sweet pea tendrils | Watanabe Farms | Photo via Chandara Creative
Sweet pea tendrils | Watanabe Farms | Food Styling + Photo via Chandara Creative

Sweet pea tendrils | Watanabe Farms | Photo via Chandara Creative
English sweet pea tendrils + arugula flower blossom | Watanabe Farms | Photography via Chandara Creative
There are weeks that go by when I don't pick up my camera--it sits idle, restless, completely neglected.  I know I'm guilty of finding comfort in my handy iPhone--it's just so light and easy! But then I begin to wonder if maybe...just maybe, I've managed to forget how to frame a shot in my head, how to play with luminous light, or how to capture the essence of my subject. And then there are days like yesterday when I have a reason to get snap happy...when I get to work with an executive chef on his portfolio and when I'm entrusted to deliver simply nothing but my best work..and it happens.

I get inspired. All over again. And I clap (yes, I clap).

And I fall in love, hopelessly, in love and smitten with...my art.

And I have to keep on telling myself: Oh sweet pea...it's just like riding a bike.  You still got it. Yes, you do.

Fab Friday

posted on: Friday, April 19, 2013

Oyster Farm Bedding, Tomales Bay, CA | Photography via Chandara Creative
Oyster bedding [Tomales Bay, CA]
This week was a whirlwind....there's been such devastation in the news, but on the bright side, there's so much good to be had. While I can't tell you everything (just yet), I'm elated that an upcoming trip to the East Coast to meet and eat with some amazing creatives is in the works; an editor from one of my favorite new magazines has rekindled my literary fire; and I had the amazing opportunity to style a shoot with an amazing new photographer friend who I'll be introducing to you shortly.  Above is a little snippet of what's coming up and of course, I'm over the moon for this weekend as I'm helping my dearest friends with their baby shower.

So, go out and enjoy your Fabulous Friday!  I know I will!


posted on: Wednesday, April 17, 2013


It's taken me a couple of days to process what's happened...and I'm not sure any words can really relay my feelings, but the recent tragedy in Boston breaks my heart.  To think that somebody can be filled with so much hatred that their only recourse is to take to the streets and lash out on innocent lives leaves me in sheer disbelief.  I can only hope that despite the senselessness of this heinous act, we can still spare room for compassion in our hearts.  Because this act of terror is further evidence that the proliferation of hate only perpetuates a vicious cycle of destruction, obliterating all in its path.  Our lives are much too short to be consumed by hate.  So with each passing day, if we can learn to love deeply, forgive often, and fill our hearts with more light than darkness, then perhaps we can pass these values  on to our own children because....

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, then they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite"-- Nelson Mandela

Happy World Creativity & Innovation Week

posted on: Monday, April 15, 2013

"Creativity is key to driving economic growth." -- Adobe 2012 State of Create Study
Nobody likes Mondays, but this week, let's make an exception in celebration of the International Creativity & Innovation Week! I'm not kidding..it's a real celebration that's backed by...get ready for it...empirical research done by Adobe (those same awesome people that got you hooked on their Creative Suite). Yeah. That's right. Now, go!

Fab Friday

posted on: Friday, April 12, 2013

Wishing you a 'Fabulous Friday.'

April is a busy month for me...lots of celebrations of dear friends. I'm off to sip wine in Napa and then roughing it with an impromptu camping excursion. But before I go, here's a snapshot of the team that made it all happen, along with the stop motion video that debuted at Retrofit Republic's party this past weekend. Enjoy!

Official Tastemakers Video Lookbook from Retrofit Republic on Vimeo

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