Blog Posts by Emily Hsieh, Shine staff

  • Seven camping extras to help you embrace the great outdoors

    Carolina's video on the most gorgeous camping spots in the country has me inspired. Admittedly, my camping skills are more than a little rusty, though after surveying the latest accessories on the market, I'm far less nervous about heading out into the wilderness. There are more handy contraptions o

  • How to maintain your cutting boards

    I'm somehow down to one very old, very scratched plastic cutting board in my kitchen that over time has developed an unfortunate u-shape (which makes it especially hard, and probably dangerous, to cut on). This lame state of affairs has had me thinking it's time to update my supply-and my maintenance habits.

    My first order of business is buying new cutting boards. Much as I love the beauty and organic quality of wood, at the end of the day I prefer the ease of the plastic variety (they're more lightweight and less work to clean)-but clearly that's a personal preference. No matter what you choose, it's a good idea to buy a couple boards: one for veggies and fruits, and another for meats to avoid cross-contamination (I like these Oxo ones with non-slip grips so they don't slide on countertops, plus they come in different colors so you can easily tell your meat and veggie boards apart). I also like having a smaller one in the rotation for quick, little tasks like chopping herbs.

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  • Take a tour of Marilyn Monroe’s one and only LA home—on sale now

    Bombshell Marilyn Monroe lived-and died-in this gorgeous Brentwood, California Spanish-style house, and now it could be all yours, for a cool $3.6 million.

    As Curbed LA reports, the starlet bought the secluded four bedroom, three bath home-her first and last time as a homeowner-tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sec in March of 1962, just a few months before she passed away there. She paid $90,000 for it, and took out a fifteen year mortgage making monthly payments of $320. In the book, Hollywood: The Movie Lover's Guide: The Ultimate Insider Tour to Movie L.A., it says Marilyn was encouraged by her psychiatrist to put down roots, and that "she had found the house and bought it-all by herself. She had liked the house and took a trip to Mexico to look for furnishings and fabrics. She especially liked the garden, where she often played with her poodle, Maf."

    It's a shame she didn't have more time to enjoy the place. At 2,624 square feet, the built-in-1929 hacienda is

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  • 16 things to remember to do before you leave for vacation

    Before any trip, there's inevitably that frantic last-minute scramble to not only pack but tie up loose ends at work and at home. To take the edge off the latter-and to ensure you can actually have enough peace of mind to fully relax while you're on holiday-here's a checklist of things to remember to do before you head out the door.


    Hold all your mail and newspapers (it's kind of an open invitation to burglars otherwise, signaling the fact that you're not home!).


    Tell a neighbor you trust you're out of town, and consider giving them a key just in case, or at least have them keep an eye out on your house.

    If you've got a spare key hidden somewhere outside your house, now's the time to remove it.

    Close the curtains on any windows where people can see in to your house.

    Set interior timers so that a lamp or two turns on at night.

    Turn off your hot water heater-you might as well save some cash while you're away.

    Make copies of your important documents, like

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  • Kid-friendly fun with paint: the chalkboard wall

    smorgasbordblog.comsmorgasbordblog.com

    We're on a roll with the DIY painting projects this week, this time focusing on a cute, functional, couldn't-be-easier decorating idea for you and your kids.

    All you need is a little bit of space and some chalkboard paint. Tape out a large rectangle on one wall-via ohdeedoh.com I found this link to smorgasbordblog.com, where they've dedicated part of their dining room for this purpose-and fill it in with chalkboard paint. This serves as a blank canvas for your kids to have at it with drawing on the walls, and there's something very cool about the way the blackboard "hangs," transforming your children's doodles into modern, abstract artwork.

    Related: Easy, inexpensive, DIY project: painting stripes on walls; Decorators weigh in on the ultimate white paint

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  • Easy, inexpensive DIY project: painting stripes on walls

    Better Homes and GardensBetter Homes and Gardens

    Wallpaper has resurfaced as a major decorating trend in the last five or so years, and much as I'm dying to partake, the expense of not only the actual wallpaper but the labor to hang it (this definitely falls under the category of home improvement projects I don't trust myself to tackle on my own) is daunting. Instead, I've been considering painting a pattern on my walls to mimic the graphic effect. And if you go with something relatively straightforward, like stripes, it doesn't seem that hard to accomplish.

    First, pick your colors. If you're craving something really bold you can go with opposing shades of black and white or something similarly high-contrast. For a more subtle look, try shades within one color group, like robin's egg and powder blue. It can also be fun to mix paints with different finishes-like matte and semigloss-for more visual interest.

    Consider whether you want vertical or horizontal stripes. Both add dimension to a space, though vertical stripes make

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  • Take a tour of Peter Facinelli and Jennie Garth’s stunning Hollywood home

    Twilight star Peter Facinelli and wife (and 90210 alum) Jennie Garth opened up their Hollywood home to InTouch Weekly recently, revealing a family compound that's as luxuriously appointed and sprawling as that of the Cullens' (albeit far more warm and cozy than his on-camera vampire den!).

    The couple bought the 6-bedroom, 9,500-square foot estate located in a star-heavy hood that includes Sara Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and the Cyrus clan as neighbors, five years ago. The $6 million house-which boasts amenities like four indoor fireplaces (plus an additional one outdoors), a swimming pool, beautifully landscaped patios, and a kitchen fit for a professional chef-also has its own celebrity pedigree: John Ritter grew up there, and it was designed by the same architect who created homes for Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra too.

    With its lush grounds, ample size, and elegant-but-comfy furnishings, it's the perfect place for Jennie and Peter to kick back with their three

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  • Outdoor lighting, a dozen cool and inexpensive ways

    Lighting is one of the most important, yet oft-overlooked aspects of any party-especially one taking place outdoors. Not only do they serve a functional purpose, helping you and your guests navigate in the dark, but they can also add so much charm and ambiance to a patio. Here, twelve affordably priced options-from high-tech solar-powered lanterns to dainty hanging glass votives to flower-shaped floating candles-to accentuate your next backyard barbecue.

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  • Beat the heat: how to make the most of your fan

    If you don't have an air conditioner, or even if you do but are looking to cut back on your electricity bills, consider a good old fashioned fan for keeping yourself cool in the summer heat. They don't cost much to buy or use, and are a more eco-friendly alternative to boot. Here's how to make sure you're using yours right.

    Though it may seem counterintuitive, it's actually best to position your fan in a window, facing out. This helps air flow through the room-which keeps it cool in the process. Since hot air rises, you want to put the fan as high as possible (preferably in the top of the window). Close the window around the fan (it helps to invest in a rectangular window-specific fan for this reason) to avoid reverse air circulation (which is what happens when the air sucked through the fan goes back around the fan and is sucked back in). You can use paper or cardboard, or even drapes or slats of wood to cover any gaps between the windowsill and the device.

    To maximize air

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  • The pros pick: Decorators weigh in on the ultimate white paint

    Choosing the right shade of white paint isn't actually that straightforward. There's a ton of nuance involved: some skew yellow or even pink, adding warmth to a room, while some have cool undertones that give walls a feeling of crispness. Overwhelmed by the breadth of choices at my local paint store, I assembled a panel of top interior decorators from coast to coast to clue the rest of us in on their favorite ivory shades-and why.






    Schuyler Samperton:

    "Benjamin Moore's "Ivory White" goes with everything. It's beautiful creamy tone."


    Jesse Carrier:

    "Benjamin Moore "White Dove" is the perfect shade of white….not too yellow, not too blue. If we had a "signature trim color" this would be it!"


    Chloe Warner:

    "Benjamin Moore's "Atrium White." It is the perfect balance between creamy and chilly, and looks amazing on woodwork and trim."


    Miles Redd:

    "I love Benjamin Moore "Super White," in high gloss because it is bright and happy."


    Grant K. Gibson:

    "My

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