While the holiday season is my favorite time of year, it’s really easy to get swept up in the rush and before you know it, January arrives and it’s all over. This go ’round I’ve committed myself to be as present as I can for the entire month. Now that we’re about half through it’s good to take stock of how you’re doing. I’ve done my best to relish simple things like putting ornaments on my tree with my toddler or choosing my Christmas wrap scheme for the year. But what I’ve really cherished is making the time to connect with people I care about.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

One way I accomplished this was hosting a mini retreat with California Closets. California Closets helps you love how you live. Virtually anything you dream up, they can design and build. I collaborated with California Closets for both my master closet and my pantry and my dreams were most certainly realized. So the December season arrived, I gathered a group of my favorite women in one of my favorite Bay Area escapes – Bolinas, CA – for a long, slow, dreamy afternoon filled with laughter, crafting (yes crafting!) and of course amazing food in a gorgeous setting.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

Taking time out can be really hard. There is always work to do. There are always to-dos that run off the end of the page. There is always someone wanting something from you. But you’d be amazed how enriching pressing the pause button can be. Taking even just a few hours out of the grind to take care of yourself feels indulgent, it feels luxurious – it feels freeing. It’s the best way to restore energy during one of the busiest times of year. As you drive north from San Francisco and turn west, reaching the crest of Mount Tamalpais and then descending through redwood trees to arrive at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, you cannot help but exhale. The sense of calm is palpable. This is the feeling I wanted to offer my friends and hope we all can carry through the year’s end.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

This quote rings so true for me right now.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

For our craft we created our own asymmetrical holiday wreaths (they were inspired by this post). The genius that is Natalie Bowen Designs guided our creative endeavor. Using evergreens, leaves, flowers, even mossy branches pulled from the side of the road, we had a ball letting our creativity flow – yes even me! Everyone’s final results were stunning.

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

There’s also something really special about sharing a meal this time year. It lends an intimacy to the season that you just don’t get from cocktail hours or holiday parties. Our setting, the darling Eleven Wine Bar & Bistro offered soul-nourishing, local foods including oysters, cheese and the best sparkling rosé. There was nothing fancy or overwrought. Just fresh, local ingredients and simple timeless flavors. It’s a great reminder that you don’t have to beat yourself up if you’re not a gourmet chef. You can create a beautiful experience over pizza!

how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34how to destress during the holidays on apartment 34

I’m so grateful to have found a moment to take a deep breath and connect with friends this season. Even if you don’t have the ability to create a gathering like this one, you can do a few things to take care of yourself this season. I’ve included my top 10 below. I hope they inspire you to not only get through this season, but truly enjoy it.



  1. Make those lists – all the lists and check them twice. It’s impossible not to forget something this time of year.
  2. Bite off your to-do’s in manageable chunks. Can’t carve out four hours to write your Christmas cards in one sitting? Spend 15 mins a day getting a few out the door.
  3. Make things in advance. Cookie doughs, pie crusts and breads can be frozen. Sauces can be made the day before. A little preparation goes a long way.
  4. Yoga. Yoga is your friend.
  5. So is Love Actually, The Holiday and The Family Stone
  6. Make time for meditation. Even just five minutes a day is proven to calm your nervous system, lower your blood pressure and lead to clearer thinking. And there’s an app for that.
  7. Give yourself a night off. A bubble bath, a good scrub or body oil, candles and maybe that meditation app.
  8. Release the desire for perfection. You don’t need to throw the perfect party. You don’t have make the ultimate meal. You don’t have to make sure every single family member is happy
  9. Try making something. Like with your hands. While I usually shy away from DIYs, we made wreaths at our dinner and the end result was so satisfying.
  10. If all else fails, there’s always some egg nog nearby


For more holiday gathering ideas, CLICK HERE


placesettings via chairs & cups / florals & wreath making by natalie bowen designs / accessories via Found Rentals / location & menu by Eleven Wine Bar Bistro

photography by andrea posadas

This post is in partnership with California Closets. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting collaborations we’re excited about and that have kept Apt34’s doors open.

When it comes to giving gifts to littles, it’s wise to remember that you’re actually gifting to the parents too. So those toys that light up, play songs, wiz, bang, and whir? Yeah, we’re not so thankful for those. But there is a treasure trove of amazing goodies out that there that kiddos will clamor for and that won’t make mamas shudder when adding it to the ever-growing collection of kid-related accouterments. Here are some faves I’m going to be giving to the new wee babes in our life (and a couple I’ll be adding to our world as well!).

gift guide for the littles on apartment 34 gift guide for the littles on apartment 34

1> Finding non-cheesy, kid-friendly tableware seemed like a never-ending quest. Enter Miniware. Even the cutlery is cute. And eco-friendly. Problem solved.

2> I am endlessly obsessed with kids books (check out this post if you need more recs). This story, about what you can discover when walking in the woods, warms the heart & is easy on the eyes.

3> Every kid needs a cuddly friend and a sweet, friendly deer is perfect this time of year!

4> A rocking robot?! I just want one.

5> The train obsession is real. This guy connects and includes blocks.

6> Gotta love it when a kid dresses better than you do. This cactus romper is too cool for school.

7> Because every mama needs a few minutes hands-free.

8> Do not be fooled. You do not need an ugly, ginormous automated chair that takes up half your living room. This rocker will do the trick and looks amazing!





Check out the rest of our gift guides HERE.

image via house & home

Apartment 34 on Instagram

I have waited a long time for this day to come. After more than three years, we’ve completed the bulk of renovations on our house, I’ve designed (most!) of the spaces and I finally get to celebrate a holiday season in a house the feels like home. And while I still can’t quite do the full top-to-bottom reveal just yet, I can’t help but share a few sneak peeks of my favorite modern holiday moments I’ve created this year. First up is a mega sneak peek of my living room.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

I’m sure you’re not shocked to learn I’m not into very colorful holiday decor. It feels weird to me to take a bunch of red and green stuff, dump it all around your house for a month and then pack it all away again. I’m more of a “use everyday things to lend a festive spirit to your space” kind of person. Thankfully, I was able to turn to my friends at Overstock.com for all the super gorgeous finishing touches I needed to not only make our spaces feel holiday ready but also find some treasures I’m going still going to love come January 1. Case in point – so many pretties for my living room! It really is the finishing touches that set the tone for a space. Thankfully, I didn’t have to dash all over town or spend hours and hours searching for the perfect piece or even pay for shipping. I found my swing arm wall sconce, textured throw pillow, throws, a chic tray, candle holders and more all at Overstock. Rather than douse my space in literal holiday cheer, I love making a nod to the season through texture, layers, warmth and just a few light touches of obvious holiday decor (hello DIY wreath!! More on that to come tomorrow).

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

In this hectic tech world, it’s nice to have something soft and cozy to cuddle up with. I’ve long been obsessed with the jumbo knit trend (do you remember the master I met while in Australia a few year back??) and this gorgeous handmade throw is on Overstock right now. It adds immediate cozy yumminess anywhere you put it.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

Coffee tables are a great spot for a little holiday cheer. Using a tray as a mini serving area lets guests sit back and relax. I’m obsessed with this tray’s brass handles and marble insert. Perfect spot to place a holiday tipple. I also love breaking out a bit of crystal this time of year. A crystal decanter and glasses make even ice water feel special. The holiday season is all about glowing light so I tend to put candles just about everywhere. I’m obsessed with this brass candle holder set and I know I’m going to use them all year long.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

Even with my minimalist ways, I can’t resist a fun little layer of this gorgeous magnifying glass. It’s sturdy enough that I would totally let my kiddo play with it.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

Cozying up on the couch is probably my favorite holiday activity. A textured pillow adds that inviting (dare I say hygge) touch you crave this time of year.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

And then there is the mantel! I’ve longed for a fireplace where I can enjoy mantel moments again. But this year I’m craving a touch more subtly then over the top elaborate setups of years past (turns out the simpler route is also much easier to maintain than the ever-dropping garlands). I opted for a gorgeous magnolia wreath from Overstock (that’s faux but that can be our little secret). I also added this really amazing polished aluminum reindeer bust. Rather than wall mount him (still don’t have the heart to punch holes in my pristine plaster walls), leaving him on the mantel was the perfect solution. A few more of my prized candles and a little bowl of Christmas baubles completes the look. While I like my more clean vibe, if you wanted a playful take you could hang some Christmas baubles from Vixen’s ears (that’s what I’ve named her).

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

In my book, it’s not the holiday season without a bar cart moment! I broke out more crystal stemware to add to my cart but kept the rest of it nice and spare. A gorgeous peacock feather wreath adds a modern glam touch.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

If you are in the garland mood, Overstock has a ton of great options for that as well. For this look, I applied my holiday layering trick by starting with a (faux!) evergreen garland, topped with a string a Christmas balls. I then tucked a marble tray underneath as a little seat for some pillar candles (always candles) and a few more loose Christmas baubles complete the look.

modern holiday moments on apartment 34

But really, when it comes right down to it, the holiday season is about cuddling up with the ones you love most. That’s the number one thing on my to-do list between now and 2018. Thankfully, I have plenty of jumbo knits and my cuddly pup ready to help facilitate!

For more holiday decorating ideas, CLICK HERE

PPS: Sign up for our newsletter to receive all our holiday tips and tricks. It’ll be landing in inboxes tomorrow!

photography for apartment 34 by Leslie Santarina 

This post is in partnership with Overstock. All thoughts, opinions and content are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34’s doors open.  

While I swore this was my ultimate gift guide, as we round the bend toward the heart of the holidays, I couldn’t help but round up a few more gift ideas (because trust me, I’m still hunting too!). With wellness all the craze these days – yes, I’m trying to incorporate meditation into my daily life, I’ve become fascinated by clean skincare regimes and I carry essential oils in my purse – there are so many lovely things that can help us on the path to feeling good, both inside and out. Who wouldn’t be happy about feeling good this season.

wellness gift guide on apartment 34wellness gift guide on apartment 34

1> If better sleep can come in form of all-natural oils, sign me up

2> The secret to healthy skin, less cellulite and better circulation is using this dry brush for two minutes a day

3> Stocking stuffer alert! You can give yourself a mini facelift with this facial roller. Doesn’t hurt that its gorgeous too

4> This face oil is glowing skin in a bottle. Srsly. I swear by it

5> Sometimes you need a little insight into the universe. This tarot deck is a stunner

6> What if you could just sprinkle fairy dust on your food to cure all your ills? Don’t know if it works, but it’s with a shot

7> Travel-ready essentials oils. Perfect antidotes for visiting family over the holidays

8> Nothing keeps moisture locked in during the cold winter months like a really good body oil




art by rocio montoya via trendland

This time of year it’s way too easy to overindulge on the daily. Holiday parties, cocktails, and heavy dishes are everywhere. I’m looking for ways to eat light, fresh and most importantly quickly as there are just too many things to get done every day! That’s why I’m obsessed with this simple but delicious crostini recipe made with Alouette Garlic & Herb Soft Spreadable Cheese. It’s the perfect for a quick and easy lunch, but you could also whip up a batch to serve at brunch or even bring as your contribution to a holiday party. Scroll below for the full recipe!

simply delicious crostini recipe on apartment 34

Zucchini Toast with Alouette Garlic & Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese  


1 zucchini sliced
1 slice rustic bread
1 watermelon radish sliced
Alouette Garlic & Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese
Coarse Sea Salt
Fresh chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place zucchini slices on a cookie tray, brush zucchini slices with olive oil, and roast until edges brown 5-8 mins. Toast your bread (I like to grill mine on the stove with butter!). Cover bread with a generous amount of Alouette Garlic & Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese. Layer on roasted zucchini & freshly sliced watermelon radish. Top with coarse sea salt & chopped parsley. Enjoy!

This recipe was so much fun to make that we actually made a video demonstration of it! Check out Instagram later today for the exclusive.

For our entire recipe archive CLICK HERE.

This post is in partnership with Alouette Garlic & Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting collaborations that we’re excited about and that have kept Apt34’s doors open.

Does anyone else out there decorate for the holidays in phases? While our tree is up, I’m still working to deck the rest of our halls. While I did a traditional garland on our staircase last year, this year I’m craving a slightly lighter, more modern touch. I’ve yet to land on exactly what I’m going to do (watch Instagram the next couple of days for sneak peeks) but the following eight modern garland ideas are offering major inspiration.

modern garlands on apartment 34

Digging the ultra minimal look.

modern garlands on apartment 34

Magnolia and eucalyptus are a pretty alternative to classic pine boughs.

modern garlands on apartment 34

While I’m wanting to simplify, it’s hard to resist a major moment this time of year.

modern garlands on apartment 34

Black, white and a hint of green. A picture perfect holiday look, no?

modern garlands on apartment 34

I’m loving the look of subtle draping, though the bird is a bit much. Too much design cliché for me. The mixed candles are a bit more of a practical approach.

modern garlands on apartment 34

Really loving this clean refined holiday style.

modern garlands on apartment 34

This reminds me of my favorite of my mantles to date. A touch of drama with the draping, a bevy of candles, but still monochromatic and clean. This might be my winner. Will be sharing my halls fully decked quite soon!

Do you have a favorite look?

images in order of appearance mokkasin / these four walls / hunted interior / faux martha / lonny / unknown / studio mcgee / lonny

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