The (hungry) Shepherds

November 1, 2015

Tomato coppa salad - The Hungry Shepherds

Heirloom tomatoes with pomegranate, coppa, dill, and balsamic vinaigrette 

One of the best things about being married? Cooking and eating together and with friends in our new home. It’s so wonderful! We Shepherds love cooking on our funny, avocado green stove and having friends crowd around our small table, bumping elbows as we eat and drink together.

Roast chicken - The Hungry Shepherds

Roasted chicken with punch relish from Seven Spoons Cookbook

To document our eats as a smaller fun side thing, I started the Hungry Shepherds.The words “food blog” sound way too daunting, as does calling this a side-project, ha. I’m also not the best recipe follower or developer, so the other thing I avoid by not calling it a food blog is posting detailed recipes. Most of these meals are taste-and-see, or combinations of recipes I read about, but I will try my best to at least link to the recipes dishes are inspired by.

Waffles with Asian pear - The Hungry Shepherds

Buttermilk waffles with Asian pear and crème fraîche

Shrub tasting - The Hungry Shepherds

Soba noodle salad with skirt steak and kimchee puree + a homemade shrub tasting

Being able to host old friends and new friends has been so life-giving and joyful for us as newlyweds. We’ve experienced so much hospitality and love from other folks who have invited us over to their homes, and are so excited we get to do the same.

Hope you’ll follow along the hungry Shepherds’ cooking adventures and find some tasty things to make in your own kitchen!

Married! And hi.

October 25, 2015

Oh boy. Last blog post was on April 22nd, which indicates a lot of things like…planning a wedding in June, getting married, not planning a wedding, and being married. All which was grand, wonderful, and better than I could have ever dreamed. And now I feel like I’ve taken a long enough break from here and it took a bit longer to come back because I wasn’t sure in what capacity I’d be “blogging” (in quotes because of my abysmal lack of posts) again.

So much I’d like to say, but I’ll try to keep it short (probably won’t actually keep it short, though…) to ease myself back into the swing of things here. There was a lot of back and forth when thinking about posting wedding photos here, elsewhere, and just the Internetz in general…I would remember how I’d hoard beautifully styled weddings on my secret Pinterest board, which also created some interesting moments of “wait, weddings don’t look like this in real life” or “wait, why am I trying to have a wedding that was someone else’s?” Also there’s something about the sacredness of our wedding in all its rawer, unexpectedly beautiful moments, and keeping it intimate and private.

In conclusion, I decided, especially with Garrett’s encouragement, to share a little bit here. Dreaming and planning for the wedding was one of the most creatively + logistically ambitious endeavors we’ve ever experienced and I’d love to share about the projects I had the most fun on in future posts and a few photos from the day now.

Garrett & Irene, photos by Nirav Patel

Garrett and Irene's wedding, photos by Nirav Patel

Garrett and Irene's wedding, photos by Nirav Patel

Details and more photos to come! But ENORMOUS thanks to our photographer and friend, Nirav Patel, who seriously went above and beyond everything. We’re so grateful to you!

Marrying Garrett was a really, really good idea. I’m so glad that we can look back on our wedding and say that yes, it was an incredible, joyous, miraculous day but that wow, the days, months, and years after it will be and are so much better.

Earth Day with Coclico

April 22, 2015

Coclico Spring

Coclico shoes are beautifully and thoughtfully designed, and it’s an honor to collaborate with them as a brand ambassador to tell their story in honor of Earth Day. Coclio sustainably creates their shoes in their small, family-run factory in Mallorca, Spain from materials sourced locally in Europe. I love this quote from them:

At Coclico, we believe that luxury isn’t the ability to purchase endlessly, but the privilege of choosing wisely.

I’m re-evaluating my privilege and what luxury actually is when it comes to Earth Day, shifting my ideas of how I can contribute to the health of the environment. From big decisions like purchasing a car to smaller decisions like purchasing shoes, carrying them through with intention and awareness of their environmental impact is easier said that done. But I can research what’s in my ability to choose, and this Earth Day I’d like to bring more integrity into what and how I consume products.

Whether that means buying less stuff overall (God knows my closet doesn’t need any more), getting rid of stuff, or to not buy “stuff” at all and invest in quality pieces, I hope to take my privilege to choose seriously and wisely.

Okay now back to Coclico’s darn cute shoes!

Coclico x Irenekly


The Ozark Bootie in nude nubuck.

Coclico x Irenekly


The Harlen Wedge in navy leather.

Coclico x Irenekly


The Ziggy Bootie in black leather.

Coclico x Irenekly


The Fire Heel in nude leather.

Aren’t they all gorgeous? I can attest to their comfort and durability, too. Hope Earth Day for you all is more than just one day of giving back to our environment, but a day to thoughtfully consider how we can better love this world we live in!

Ushering in Spring

March 20, 2015

It’s always a fun time when collaborating with my good friend Sammy of BUD Botanical Banditry, and even better when adding in a gorgeous dress from Modern Citizen. The loose theme around this collaboration is “Spring’s soft entrance amidst Winter’s dark,” or something high-level and sappy poetic-ish like that. Though in all honesty, watching winter light change to spring’s has been pretty amazing, and something I do want to capture. I also wanted to challenge myself to shoot in lower light and am pretty happy with the way these photos came out! Still lots to learn, but I hope I’ll always have lots to learn.

Big, big thanks to my friend Caitlin for modeling. Her graceful beauty is breathtaking, especially paired with some gorgeous BUD blooms!

Ushering in Spring - irenekly

Ushering in Spring - irenekly
Ushering in Spring - irenekly

Bud Botanical Banditry x Irenekly

Bud Botanical Banditry x Irenekly

Bud Botanical Banditry x Irenekly

Bud Botanical Banditry x Irenekly

Lo x Modern Citizen

March 17, 2015

The Internet is a funny thing. I simultaneously curse and praise it, for all the ways it’s changing…well, everything. But! One of the ways I am grateful for ze interwebs: the many great people I get to meet through it. And yes, “meeting through the Internet” is something that still awkwardly rolls off my tongue. But the redeeming thing is when I meet people like Lo and it’s not awkward and we get to create great things together.

Lo works at Modern Citizen, which is an up and coming brand started by Jessica, another amazing lady I had the pleasure of meeting. Her vision is to create clothing that fits seamlessly into the lifestyle of the modern woman, AKA pieces that are effortless, cool, and classy. Case in point? This terrific spring coat, which I am totally coveting. I had a lot of fun shooting with Lo (who is GORGEOUS, right?!), and she modeled the coat so well. It’s the perfect piece for transitioning into springtime wardrobes. I also loved getting to try my hand at shooting fashion – can’t wait ’til I get to practice more!

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly

Lo in Modern Citizen - Irenekly


Meeting Isobel of Bryr Studio

February 20, 2015

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

I’m unabashedly enamored with clogs and am growing quite the collection in my closet, so when Isobel of Bryr Studio reached out asking if I’d be interested in visiting her studio for a fun project together, I couldn’t say “Yes!” and “Huzzah!” fast enough.

Isobel’s studio in Cole Valley is absolutely wonderful and she creates brilliant designs – you can immediately tell that these are no ordinary clogs. I can attest to their comfort, lightness, and all-around perfection. I hope you enjoy this brief interview and get inspired to don some clogs of your own!

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

How did you come to create Bryr Studio? 
I worked in the fashion industry for over 18 years as a women’s knitwear designer, before deciding to take a ‘creative sabbatical’. As part of my creative break, I chose to follow one of my life-long dreams; to learn how to make shoes. One thing lead to another, and before I knew it, I was launching my own clog line.

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

What does a typical work day look like for you? 
I try to be in studio for the part of the day that is most creative for me, the morning. But first, I have to have a very big cup of coffee. Depending where I’m at with the production process, I’ll be cutting leather, lasting clogs, or packing up clogs to go out into the world. But as a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats, so the rest of my day is spent doing anything from emailing with customers to sourcing new buckles, to designing the next clog.

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

Where do get inspiration for your clog designs?
I’m inspired by the materials I work with. I’m very lucky to have several incredible leather manufacturers close by in Northern California, so my process starts with me walking their factory floor, feeling hides and searching out something interesting (and sometimes climbing ladders and reaching over piles of leather). I have my base leathers that I always use for the collection, but I like to pick up one or two hides on each trip to make something special and limited edition. This process keeps me engaged and open.
An idea for a new clog can be kicking around in my head for weeks or sometimes months. I’ll do little chicken scratch drawings, and put them up on my wall. It takes a while for the idea to ‘bake’ and it’s not a fast process. I’ll make a prototype, wear it out for a few days and think about it some more. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  When it works, somehow it becomes very simple and just right, and that’s when I know I’ve found something I want to share.

Bryr Studio Visit - Irenekly

What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love the fact that I’m building something real in the world that I truly believe in, that I get to work with my hands every day, and all the amazing people I’ve met along the way because of following my dream.

Thanks so much for letting me visit your studio, Isobel! And I can’t wait to announce another exciting collaboration we will be working on together in the future. Until then, clog on!

A Visit to Bar Tartine

February 6, 2015

Sometimes, I get to do really cool things for work, like taking a trip to Bar Tartine to photograph the restaurant and Sunday brunch, because of Chronicle Books publishing their new cookbook. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that this really is my job.

Here are some shots of my favorites, also featured over on Chronicle Books’ blog. Definitely, definitely visit Bar Tartine – the flavors that they’ve developed there make me want to just say a bunch of paradoxical things. So divine, yet so earthy. So complicated, yet so simple. How?!

Bar Tartine Visit - irenekly

Bar Tartine Visit - irenekly

Bar Tartine Visit - irenekly

Bar Tartine Visit - irenekly

Bar Tartine Visit - irenekly

Forest In A Box Invitations for My Bridesmaids

January 27, 2015

I’m sure every bride feels like her bridesmaids are something special, but boy, are these lady friends of mine incredible. I’m so humbled and excited to officially ask them to be a part of leading up to the big day and beyond.

Knowing how bridesmaid  duties can be taxing and overwhelming, I wanted to create something more personalized to the wedding and go the extra mile to make something nice for my bridesmaid invitations. On second thought, I should have included some tasty chocolate and a bottle of wine in this box… Anyway. Read more about this whole process here, where I shared wedding/bridesmaid thoughts on Chronicle Books’ blog.

Irenekly - Bridesmaid Invites

I had way too much fun jumping back into Illustrator and finally getting to design again. Special thanks to Kelsey, who helped me figure out how to print this tricky little Polaroid card!

Some details and themes that inspired the invitation:

  • All things redwoods-related, as Garrett and I will be wedded under a canopy of redwoods
  • Gold paperclips, just because
  • Dried moss and flowers
  • Festive pops of my favorite accent color

Irenekly - Bridesmaid Invite

Do you like my makeshift + strategic blur? Heh.

Irenekly - Bridesmaid Invites

One of my favorite parts of designing this invitation was putting together a little pamphlet of bridesmaid bios + fun facts. My secret hope is that these ladies, though several of them are mere acquaintances, would become lifelong friends. Let’s hope that throwing a bridal shower and attending invitation-folding parties would only bolster cheer and goodwill, not drive people crazy…

Irenekly - Forest in a Box Bridesmaid Invites

Ta-da! Here it is all put together. This is definitely one of the most fun projects I’ve put together in a while, and watching my bridesmaids open these boxes (and receiving exclamation-point filled texts from long-distance bridesmaids) was simply the best.

Onward, #WrinklyMaids!

It’s Gonna Be a Crazy/Good One

January 13, 2015



And by one I mean year. It’s gonna be a crazy year!

It feels a little silly announce this on the blog, because it’s been a couple months now and yep, I’ve yet again managed to neglect posting here regularly, but here goes: I’m engaged! And to the best man I’ve ever known! I’m still marveling over it, over everything.

I love this line from Garrett’s proposal (which I honestly wouldn’t have remembered without the recording): the surprise isn’t in the day we got engaged, the surprise is looking back and seeing where we started and how we’ve arrived to where we are today. The fact that I’ll soon call Garrett husband (?!?!) is something I never expected. Not just since the day we first met in music class, to the funny/awkward “dates” we went on, officially saying yes to this dating thing with him…I can go on. Star-crossed lovers we are most definitely not, but grace-guided? Maybe most definitely yes. Infinite moments of grace, when we sat with the realization that the person sitting in front of us was this nearly unfathomable person filled with different memories, tendencies, quirks. But that this other person was also becoming more familiar, more dear, and more cherished as the days went on.

Anyway. I am extremely grateful and blessed to now be engaged to this man who once was a stranger, but now is my best friend. Crazy how that happens! Crazy how two people can do that. Heh. Okay, I’ll stop talking cheese and instead move on to the video below:

Garrett & Irene: The Proposal from Diane Tsai on Vimeo.

One of the most incredible parts of the engagement day was learning that my dearest friend Diane had flown from NYC the night before and was following us around the whole day (thanks to another dear friend Michael), recording EVERYTHING!! This video is probably the greatest gift we can have to remember this day – it is so sweet to see again the moments of my complete obliviousness, hear the tremor in Garrett’s voice, and relive the incredible warmth of our family and friends celebrating. And it’s also brilliantly done, might I add! Might I also add that she creates videos for TIME Magazine. Umm…! It’s the real deal.

Okay and now…the wedding planning is in full force! It is a crazy time, guys. I don’t know how people do it. We’re trying to pull this thing off in June, and nope, don’t remind me that that’s only five months away.

Hopefully, I will be better about updating the blog with fun little things that happen along the way. I must say, getting to jump back into designing and dreaming up ideas for decoration/music/colors/everything scratch the creative itch quite well. Also, I’d love any advice or recommendations for an Oakland wedding! Any and all, please!


Ice Cream, Down to a Tea

October 29, 2014

Tea Ice Cream - irenekly


A while back, I worked on another article for Ardent Magazine, which you can read here. Working on this article consisted of dreaming up ice cream flavors and making them happen–possibly one of my favorite things to do. I think my favorite from the bunch was the Genmaicha with Sea Salt and Honey. So. Tasty.

An excerpt on my inspiration for these ice cream flavors:

Here are three flavors that were born from past travels: the Genmaicha slowly sipped during quiet mornings in Kyoto, Rooibos Tea enjoyed while my cousin relayed stories from her trip to South Africa, and Lady Grey Tea had with some excellent scones during cream tea at Grantchester in Cambridgeshire.

The possibilities for tea + ice cream flavors are endless! What should be next? Perhaps Jasmine or English Breakfast?

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