I’m Christine Castro Hughes, a designer, writer, and mother of two darling children. I also run a graphic design studio out of my charming, crooked craftsman house. Brunch is my blog. More »
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caramel vs. toffee

Dark chocolate is one of those things I've come to appreciate in my older age. It's rich, sweet but not too sweet, and good for you, too. There are many fancy chocolate makers, but good ol' Trader Joe's is my go-to supplier for my dark chocolate fix. My latest obsession? These two new chocolate bars spotted at the checkout stand, one with caramel and black sea salt and another with toffee and nuts. I can't decide which one I like better. At $1.99 a pop, though, maybe I don't have to.


up, up & away

Balloons are such a perfect little pick-me-up, don't you think? Sure, they are an obvious accent at every party, but they also make a fine companion or a bold statement. Here are some balloons I've spotted floating around the internet lately. They lift my spirits in a big way.

1. The Red Balloon ($12.49); 2. Simplesong Design Happy Birthday Card ($5); 3. Something Beautiful is About to Happen Print by Wildhorse Press ($25); 4. Look Up Print by Yours Truly ($15); 5. Geronimo Balloons ($55 & up)


little vida

And just like that, another Darling brand is born. Little Vida is a new online children's boutique that is serious about fashion. Vida means "Life." It's also the name of owner Yazmin Flores's daughter, so we wanted to create an identity that was equal parts sweet and lively. I paired a whimsical script with hand-drawn illustrations for the winning logo. The color palette is navy with a punch of orange—classic with a twist. And to complete the identity, I designed a vine and leaf pattern that can be used on all the collateral.

In addition to the logo, I designed business cards, stickers and a promotional postcard for Yazmin. When it was time to start the website, though, I was just about to give birth to my little vida, Maira. Thankfully, my friend Sheila was able to pick up where we left off and design a lovely e-commerce site to match with all the pieces I'd already created.


pie squared

While ice cream and cupcakes are the keys to my sweet-toothed heart, sometimes I want nothing more than a good slice of pie. Lucky for me, and just in time for the holiday season, The Pie Hole opened up last week. The Pie Hole is a small but cozy joint in an unsuspecting corridor of the Downtown LA arts district. The menu, scrawled on huge rolls of kraft paper, includes sweet and savory pies, hand pies, tarts, and whoopie pies, as well as coffee and scoops of ice cream to make the treats complete.

I made a pilgrimage before rush hour on Friday to get some savory pies for dinner. The vegetable curry pie was calling Rama's name, and I couldn't resist the idea of a mac-and-cheese pie. When I got there, though, the vegetable curry pies were still in the oven. I didn't want to come home empty-handed, so I ordered a latté and sat patiently at one of their beautiful wooden tables (the owners made each one by hand). I'm happy to say that the pies were worth the wait!

Mac-and-Cheese Pie (left) Vegetable Curry Pie (right)

Rama gave the veggie curry pie the thumbs up, approving of the sweet but spicy flavor. I couldn't stop oohing and ahhing over each creamy, crunchy and flaky bite out of mine. For dessert, we each had a slice of lemon meringue pie. The majestic meringue had deflated by the time I got home, but the sweet and tangy pie still hit the spot.

The Pie Hole
225 714 Traction Ave. Los Angeles
tel:   213.537.0115
hours:  Tues-Sun 11am-9pm (or until they sell out)


costume party

I don't know how she did it, but for most of my childhood my mom made all of our Halloween costumes by hand. A few that stand out in memory are Raggedy Ann, a ballerina and a bunny. She even crafted this girlie robot costume, complete with battery operated light-and-button panel.

Sadly, I've yet to follow in those footsteps. I am more of a wait-'til-the-last-minute-then-panic kind of mom when it comes to Halloween. Thank God for the Internet and 2-day shipping!

In my research for costumes this week, I stumbled upon these beauties knit by hand in London. They are way out of my budget, but they sure are fun to look at. And hey, maybe they'll inspire those of you who can wield a needle and yarn?

Photos from The Miniature Knit Shop
Via Ali Loves Curtis