Oh Joy

10 on the go essentials... 18 Jan 2016


Whether you're headed out the door for a business trip, a day at work, or just to run errands, here are a few of my favorite items lately for being on the go...

1. Ban.do phone case because this is just too fun not to want to carry around all day long.

2. Ban.do floral duffle for that overnight or weekend trip!

3. This is Ground cord taco to hold your cord basics while on the go.

4. Sunnylife travel radio for when you want to amplify those tunes whether indoors or out.

5. Poppin gold folio for business papers, meeting files, or projects.

6. Baggu 3D Zip Tote for shoes, extra clothes, or anything that needs to be put into a larger bag.

7. Lifefactory water bottle for the gym or just to stay hydrated throughout the day.

8. Frends headphones to keep your tunes to yourself while on the move.

9. Rifle for Le Sport Sac cosmetic bag because it's compact and easy to clean!

10. Owen & Fred luggage tag to keep track of your belongings no matter where you go.

organizing kids' clothing... 9 Dec 2015

Tips for Organizing Kids Clothing

Last week, I shared some of my tips about making the morning rush a little easier to navigate by prepping a bunch of different things in advance. Today, in partnership with The Quaker Oats company, I'm going to dive a little deeper into how to organize/save kids clothes so that they are easily accessible. That way when you are getting the kids (or yourself) dressed it's easy to find everything and get on with grabbing breakfast and heading out for the day.

Tips for Organizing Kids Clothing

So your kid's drawers might look something like the above shot. And that's what my drawers looked like before I realized it was taking way too long to find stuff when things weren't folded consistently, things weren't labeled, and it was hard to tell what was what. Here are my four musts for getting it all organized...


5 tips for making the morning rush easier... 30 Nov 2015

5 tips for making the morning rush easier

I remember back in the day, when I used to wake up leisurely at a comfortable time. I could take a shower, make some breakfast, and have a breezy morning on my way to work. Now, my morning starts something like this...

    At 6:45am Ruby yells, "Mama! I'm awake! Come and get me!" Ruby wakes up Coco from her yelling and     Coco babbles in her crib, "MaMaMaMaMumMum".

My alarm clock (aka my kids) has rang, and I shoot out of bed, stumble into the bathroom, and as soon as I walk into the kid's room, it's GO time. If it's a normal weekday, I have exactly one hour from the time I wake up to get all of us fed, dressed, and out the door by 7:45am to get Ruby at school by 8am and me to work by 8:30am. Because the morning can be so hectic, the folks at Quaker Oats Company asked me to share my tips for making the morning rush easier. Each tip shaves off at least 5 minutes so if you do them all, you're saving a lot of valuable time that can help you have a great start to your day...


how to create a portrait photo studio at home... 23 Nov 2015

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Maybe you’ve decided you’d like to take a family holiday photo or some cute photos of your kids as gifts for relatives, but a professional photographer is out of budget. Or you simply waited until the last minute and need to take some photos ASAP. I've partnered with Olympus today to show you how easy it is to set up a simple backdrop within a small space of your home to take these photos yourself!

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

1. Make your own seamless backdrop. All you need is a wall in your home or garage that gets good natural light that you can temporarily cover. Depending on how many people will be in the photo, the width you need might vary from 5-9 feet wide depending on how many people will be in the photo. If you plan to do this often, it's worth getting one roll of seamless paper in either 5 ft wide to photograph less than 2 people or 9 ft wide for bigger families with 3 or more people.

If you’re feeling crafty, simply buy a giant roll of white seamless paper and go crazy with paint to create the backdrop of your dreams. Or, you can make it easier on yourself by using fabric that already comes in a great color or pattern. Find a bed sheet in a fun pattern or buy a few yards of fabric at a local fabric store.

To hang the background, simply use thumbtacks or blue painters tape to adhere the top and sides of the paper/fabric to the wall, then let the rest of it drape down to the ground with enough room for the subject to stand on it. You'll need at least 10 feet long in total regardless of whether you use paper or fabric. With either option, it's so easy to roll up the seamless paper or just fold up the fabric and save it for next time.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

2. Lighting is key for taking a good photo easily. You want indirect, natural sunlight especially when taking the photos yourself. A professional photographer might know how to combat harsh lighting with diffusion techniques or with their camera settings, but you want to set yourself up for success. Usually the beginning of day and end of day are the best times to have indirect light, but it will depend on your location and where the sunlight comes through the window.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

3. Sit, stand, dance, jump! Just because you’re in front of a backdrop, doesn’t mean you need to stand still. If you’re using the backdrop for a baby’s monthly photo, you can have them sitting in front of the wall or laying down on the same background. This makes for a great way to have consistent baby update photos throughout the year because you can use the same fabric as a backdrop and they can go from laying down when they are tiny to sitting or standing as they get bigger.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

4. Use a remote shutter release. Often people feel limited because they don’t have anyone available to take a photo of them or of their family. So, if you don’t have a friend you could ask, you can do it on your own with your camera and a tripod. The camera we used to take these portraits, the Olympus E-M10 Mark II, lets you turn your smart phone into a remote shutter. So you can control when it takes the photo without relying on anyone else or having to run in and out of frame like a crazy person with a self-timer.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

5. Add props! While props can get cheesy, it doesn’t have to be a mustache and silly glasses. When you’re taking photos in your home, you have less of an outside environment to work with, so make it fun for yourself and bring in a few quirky items that will allow you to let loose and show off your personality and spirit.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

6. Family photos aren’t just for families with kids. If you’re a couple or a girl with a cute pup, your friends and family still want to see your face! So use this as a chance to make a great holiday card, framed prints for family, or custom thank you cards. 

You can create this at home studio any time of year especially when you always find yourself saying “I wish I just had a few really good photos of my family”.

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Let's talk cameras for a second. We are always asked what type of cameras we use for Oh Joy photos. While we will happily share what we use, the quality of cameras we use is a higher end, professional camera that I wouldn't recommend to someone who needs a camera for personal use. So, I was pretty excited to get to try the Olympus E-M10 Mark II which is what was used to shoot all the portraits in this post. It’s a high quality camera at a price point that is more reasonable for personal use (under $600). It allows you to change lenses, you can shoot in manual (if you want), it has a mirrorless lens (which allows you to have a more precise focus), and it's small enough to carry around in your bag. It's a great compromise between a DSLR and a point and shoot and is an entry level camera that has features of a professional one and now I finally have something to recommend to the at-home photographer. Stay tuned for a giveaway tomorrow on Instagram where we'll be giving away FIVE of these cameras!

how to create a portrait photo studio at home

Regardless of what camera you use (you can even use your iPhone if you need to), hopefully this will help inspire you to take more photos of you and your family within the convenience of your own home.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Olympus. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and original content like this for Oh Joy.

{Photos by Casey Brodley, backdrops by Ariel Fulmer. Coco's outfit by Such Great Heights. Special thanks to Olive Brodley and Ariel Fulmer.}

{los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... 18 Dec 2014

Salt Air

As my mind and body prepped for a new family member this year, 2014 included a ton of places I simply craved (which meant lots of sweets and lots of carbs). Here are my Top 20 Bites of 2014 in Los Angeles {in no particular order}...

1. The lobster roll from Salt Air is like the runway model of lobster rolls. It's not the meatiest out there, but it sure is pretty.

Good Girl Dinette

2. The blistered corn from Good Girl Dinette. I don't know what they do to this corn, but it has this amazing mix of crispy, sweet, and soft that is unlike any corn on the cob I've ever had.

Black Hogg Cookies

3. The Cap'n Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie from Black Hogg (recipe here) has become my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the city.

The Hungry Cat

4. For a meatier lobster roll, the version from The Hungry Cat with those amazing fries surely satisfies (we love their Sunday brunch!).


5. The best waffle I might have ever had is this one with a poached egg and bacon from Dinette.

Hart and the Hunter

6. Because toasts are the new black, this Trout Toast from The Hart and the Hunter is one of my favorites.


7. The "slut" (a coddled egg over potato pureé) from Egg Slut makes for a comforting and cozy morning meal.


8. The double chocolate cookie from Republique (middle) is gluten-free but you'd never know it was missing anything—it's chewy, sweet, crunchy, and simply out of this world.

Faith and Flower

9. The kimchi deviled eggs from Faith and Flower take deviled eggs to a whole new level.

Sweet Rose Creamery

10. Cinnamon Buttermilk Sherbet from Sweet Rose Creamery offers a fun twist on a cold treat.

(see the other 10 below the jump...)


5 tips for applying to pre-school... 21 Mar 2014

Oh Joy / Ruby

It's been a while since I've talked about what's going on in the parenting world part of my life lately, so I want to share a little bit about applying to pre-school. I didn't want to go all "crazy mom" and get stressed about this process. But I did. I got stressed, I made a crazy spreadsheet comparing all the pre-schools we were looking at for Ruby, and I was up at night worrying about if she'd get into any of them. And at the end of the day, it all worked out how it was supposed to. 

Just as a foreword to this post, I am fully aware that the process of applying to pre-school isn't as competitive everywhere as it is here in Los Angeles. In many parts of the country (and even outside of the U.S.), you just fill out an application, put down a deposit, and your child gets to go to wherever you want him or her to. But here in LA (and other large cities like New York and San Francisco), applying to pre-school can feel like the second coming of college applications. There are limited spots and a small percentage of the applicants actually get in. It can be super competitive. You're going up against kids of actors and astronauts and parents who all have really cool jobs.

For the privacy of my family and our community, I won't be talking specifically about where we applied or where Ruby is going to pre-school, but I thought the process was so fascinating that I wanted to share few tips with those of you who might be approaching this subject in your lives in the near future...

Oh Joy / Ruby

1. Decide what kind of school environment makes sense for your child and your family. Some parents want their kids to run free and enjoy playing while they can. Some parents want structure. There are play-based schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, and schools that are a combination of them all. Some schools split up the kids by age and some mix them all together. During the process of touring schools, we decided early on that we wanted Ruby to have a mix of play and learning. We wanted her to go into kindergarten with a good comprehension of her letters and words, and be on her way to reading. And we wanted a school that would offer her inspiration and ways of learning that we wouldn't be able to provide on our own. 

2. Tour a few schools and watch how the kids interact with the teachers and with each other. Do the kids at the school seem interested and engaged? How do the teachers engage them? The biggest turn-off for us was when we visited a school and saw that a child was bored and sitting in the corner by him or herself, or playing in a patch of dirt when there were plenty of other things to do. You want your child to love going there and to constantly feel engaged.

3. Think about the most important factors for you. It's sort of like any other life decision—what's most important to you if you can't get everything you want? Location? Cost? Style of learning? Schedule? For us, it was about the style of learning, a school that offered early drop-off hours, and the location (something within 10-15 minutes of our offices or our home). 

4. Participate in Parent & Me classes if available. Some schools offer Parent & Me classes where, for a couple hours each week, you can experience a sampling of what the school has to offer. It gets your child familiar with a more formal school set-up, and you get to know the teachers and their style of instruction better. And, in my opinion, it really helps when you're applying to a school if the staff already knows you and your child. It always helps your application and can never hurt your chances. Plus, that way, the school can make its decision based on how well your child would fit into the school and not just based on what your family looks like on paper.

5. You don't have to sign-up at birth. When we were pregnant, people asked us if we were going to start looking at pre-schools and we were blown away. I hear some people do put their unborn children on pre-school waitlists, but I had no desire to do that not knowing what Ruby's personality would be like. It was much better that we waited until she was an actual toddler. We started looking at pre-schools soon after Ruby turned two, a few months before all the deadlines for that school year. We looked at five schools, applied to three, and she got into two of them. We honestly loved all the schools we applied to, but chose the final one based on Ruby's personality now and where we thought she'd flourish the most.

At the end of the day, your kids will turn out fine no matter where they go. The pre-school your child goes to doesn't dictate if they'll go to Harvard. I went to very ordinary pre-school and turned out fine. However, I wasn't the best traditional learner as a kid, and did best when learning visually, so it really made me want to give her additional opportunities that I didn't have. I think if you have choices, it's worth researching what's best for your family and your child. It can only enrich your child's learning and imagination.

If you have pre-school aged kids, did you guys have to go through this crazy process, too? Anything else you learned in your experience?

{Top photo by Bob Cho. Bottom photo by Casey Brodley.}

a few of my favorite apps lately... 28 Jan 2014


There's no question that it's fun to add graphics to photos to share on Facebook and Instagram, and the Obaby app makes it easy to add text and graphics to existing photos. I personally love adding little illustrations to photos, but the time lines for baby bumps and month-to-month photos is super cute, too. (And it's currently 80% off in the App Store!)


Ever since Apple updated their iOS, I haven't loved the way the new Calendar interface works on my iPhone. Bonnie recently introduced me to Sunrise which has a much cleaner and intuitive interface for keeping track of your calendar.


As a continuation of Endless Alphabet (one of Ruby's favorite apps), Endless Reader takes it to the next level to help kids put words together and understand how they fit into sentences. Ruby loves this one, too, and loves hearing about the story and context behind words.

What apps do you love that are part of your daily routine right now?

P.S. my last set of favorite apps...

packing for a family trip... 28 Oct 2013

Oh Joy | Packing for a Family Trip

We're heading to Mexico tomorrow! As part of a partnership with St. Regis hotels, we're off to Punta Mita to experience Family Traditions at St. Regis, which is all about making a vacation with kids easier and more fun thanks to the hotel's family-friendly activities and accommodations. We're hoping to continue the tradition of at least one far-away vacation per year. France was super far away, so I love that Punta Mita is only a three-hour flight for us (it almost seems like a piece of cake compared to flying to Paris!). And since we recently traveled overseas with Ruby and now we're heading out of the country again to Mexico, I thought I'd share some of my packing tips for staying prepared, while still keeping things easy, on your family adventures...


family-friendly spots in los angeles... 16 Oct 2013

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles

When I first moved to Los Angeles, someone told me, "L.A. is what you make of it." The city is rich in so many different things—food, culture, music, shopping, nature, etc. that it really can be whatever you want it to be. For me, I've made L.A. into a town full of great eats, amazing local and indie designers, and a place where my daughter can learn and thrive from all the things L.A. has to offer. Today, I am sharing four of my favorite family-friendly spots in this city—all of which are free or inexpensive to enjoy.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) | While I love art, I find so many museums to be too precious and too quiet. I need to be able to take my family to a place where kids are allowed to roam free and enjoy their surroundings just as much as the adults do. Ruby loves the giant noodle exhibit at the LACMA so we often find ourselves going there to visit that exhibit. They offer free art classes every day in the children's gallery. And on Sundays, the LACMA has Family Day where families can tour the museum for free.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | LACMA

Afterwards, we love getting a bite to eat at Ray's at Stark Bar. It's fresh, healthy, delicious, and has items that feel fancy yet still totally kid friendly.

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Oh Joy | Family-Friendly Los Angeles | Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round | Griffith Park is full of so many amazing little adventures. As you may have seen from our trip to Paris, Ruby loves merry-go-rounds, so we love bringing her here. It's only 10 minutes from our house and such a nice change from our usual afternoon playground trips. They also have popcorn and treats a plenty to add to the fun.


oh joy in france / part 3: what we did in lyon... 9 Oct 2013

Oh Joy in Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon

During our trip to France, we spent five nights in Lyon which is just a couple hours of outside of Paris by train. Bob had a conference for work there, so it was mostly Ruby and I hanging together most of the day, and Bob joined us in the afternoons when he was done work (hence why he is wearing such fancy outfits in most of these photos).

Oh Joy in Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon

We rented an apartment in the 6th district in Lyon through airbnb. It was perfect for what we needed—spacious, cozy, relatively toddler-safe, and close to grocery stores, parks, and restaurants. Since it was on the 6th floor, we made sure that it had an elevator so that we wouldn't be huffing it every day. However, the elevator was comical. It just barely fit the three of us when all squeezed together.

Once we crammed ourselves in and out of the elevator, here's a what we did while in Lyon...

3rd District

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

One of my favorite places to visit in any city is an indoor food market with various vendors and purveyors of every kind. Similar to the Reading Terminal Market in Philly or the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Les Halles de Lyon is a food lover's dream with stalls aplenty. We bought some amazing cheese and charcuterie there that topped any cheese and charcuterie we've ever had in the States.

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

Oh Joy in Lyon | Les Halles de Lyon

We even found the tiniest macarons in all the land at the Richart shop there. Ruby loved them because they were just her size!

Les Halles de Lyon | 102 cours Lafayette, 69003 Lyon



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