Monday, November 25, 2013

Be Thankful.

Lately I've been feeling like time is flying by so quickly and so much is happening it's all just a whirlwind spinning around between my ears! As of this week we've been in Kansas for four months already, and watched the seasons change from a blazing, humid summer to mild, colorful fall and just the last few days a noticeable drop to frigid, icy winter with first snow ready to drift in any time. Looking back at those four months it is easy to become overwhelmed with how much has happened in that time, how much we've missed back in California, but also how much we've been blessed to be a part of here in Kansas. I can't help but be oh so thankful for everything that is happening in our lives right now, and in our family- both sides! 

My mantra this year has been "Choose Happiness," and with the exception of a few meltdowns along the way, I'd say I've managed to do just that. The amount of fruit it has produced has easily transitioned me into "Choose Thankfulness." I am so grateful for the love and support that my friends and family have shown through my big life changes this year, and for all of the opportunity that God has dropped in our laps the last few months! It is impossible to know exactly how things will shape up for us as we continue to get settled into our new life in Kansas, but what I do know for sure is that as long as we continue to choose happiness and express thanks for this incredible journey we're on, everything will fall into place exactly the way it is meant to.

And on that note, my sister-in-law and I are headed to the airport to pick up my mother-in-law, which officially kicks off our holiday fun! I hope you enjoy your holiday week as well, and take some time to really dwell on all of the blessings, even if they at times feel outweighed or overshadowed by that whirlwind between your ears. 

Life is as good as you allow it to be.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

And so it begins!

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Halloween lover. But I can't deny that half my excitement for Halloween is knowing the next day we'll wake up to full blown fall, when I can shamelessly obsess over florescent orange leaves on the trees and bundle up in cozy scarves and bake as many loaves of banana bread as my holiday loving little heart desires! 

The hubs is not a fan of winter. He's dreading the first snow. For him, November 1st marks a steady decline into miserably cold weather and sundown at 5pm. I've been warned not to even think about putting up the Christmas tree until the day after Thanksgiving, but I've been sneaking out bits of holiday decor when he's not home and trying to draw some festive spirit out of him a few weeks early. For example, the adorable ceramic Santa cookie jar from my grandparents... How can he say no to such a thing... when it's full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? He simply can't, and he didn't, thusly, Santa is already prominently on display in our kitchen and should safely remain so long as he never runs empty.





Pumpkin Seeds from our carving pumpkins - Salted, spicy, cinnamon & sugar
 Baked stuffed apple / GF banana pancake with berry topping
 Pumpkin beer bread / GF pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins
 Chicken & veggie quiche

Monday, October 7, 2013

DIY Bridesmaid Shirts

These were easy and fun to make and my bridesmaids loved them! The girls wore their shirts while we all got ready for the wedding together, which made for fun photos. I bought white, cotton, v-neck t-shirts at Old Navy and found all the below shown supplies at a craft store. 

1.) Wash and dry the t-shirts before sewing to ensure the fabric won't pull weird around the stitching later on. 
2.) Cut a piece of jersey knit fabric and place behind the area you're going to stitch. Place the knitting circle over the area, ensuring the fabric is taunt. 
3.) Use a pencil to lightly stencil on the letter or design you want to stitch on to the shirt.
4.) Thread needle, tie a knot at the end of the thread.
5.) Start stitching from the inside of the shirt. Keep even stitch lengths. I recommend using a stitch that loops back on the inside of the shirt instead of just going in and out. This gives more support to the fabric and prevents any weird pulling on the fabric. If that doesn't make sense think about it like this - You know you're doing it right when you can see the full letter from the inside of the fabric just like on the front. 
6.) Tie off the end of the thread on the inside of the shirt and remove the hoop. 

DIY Wedding Decor

DIY weddings require a lot of work, both in planning out and creating so many decor elements, and executing the day of, but it's so worth every glue gun burn! I loved being able to hand craft every detail of our big day to ensure it embodied who we are as individuals and as a couple. Here's a sampling! 

I had several really beautiful paper banners made by one of my bridesmaids!
This one, featuring our wedding date, hung on the front of our entry table.
Menu painted on vintage framed window. Table assignments clipped to a large bird cage themed wall hang.
Center pieces: wood slice, white wine bottle sans label, hand made chalkboard and twine necker. Wedding arrow painted on vintage framed window. Autographed wood slice instead of traditional guest book. Sweetheart table decorated with bird cages, an "I Do, Me Too" paper banner, and our initials. 
Tables decorated with burlap runners. Mason jar glasses with paper straws.
DIY burlap pillows with "Mr" and "Mrs" painted in white.
These were placed on a Victorian couch in the cigar and port lounge. 
Vintage wooden frame turned into a wine cork board with burlap and lace runner and flower.
Handmade ring pillow for bride's ring. 
Wood box painted white with silk flower attached to the top for groom's ring. 
Wine charm favors doubling as place markers at table settings
Hand painted wooden cake toppers
Beanbag toss hand made by my dad for the lawn games featured at our cocktail hour.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wedding Vendors

Wedding planning is hard; harder than you think it's going to be; harder than it sounds when people tell you about it. Even with an extreme level of organization, it's simply not possible to get through the entire process without any frustrations or unexpected setbacks. My best piece of advice is to find vendors who you connect with, who you're comfortable with, and who are easy to communicate with. Let your vendors know up front what level of interaction you need from them so the expectations are set right from the beginning. 

I absolutely have to brag on our wedding vendors because each and every one of them completely blew me away with their quality of work and day-of execution.

Young's Vineyard
   - When we were shopping around Shenandoah Valley for a winery venue, Young's Vineyard became our clear choice from the moment we set foot on the property. The vineyard owner, Annette, is friendly and easy to work with and can almost always be found in the tasting room alongside her employees. We highly recommend their port, zinfandel and chardonnay! 

Clark's Corner Ione
   - Clark's Corner's event coordinator, Jessica, is the most personable and enthusiastic caterer I've ever worked with. Jessica was open to developing a menu that met our taste and style rather than pushing us into any already developed packages. The entire staff seemed genuinely excited to be a part of our wedding and never gave off an "I'm just here to work" vibe. Jessica also orchestrated all of our table, chair, place setting, and linen rentals through Party Smart. Clark's Corner wasn't just a vendor, they were a part of our wedding!

DJ Maestro
   - Abel had a website where our guests could request reception songs ahead of time. There were no hidden fees for sound equipment, as his base package includes his table, two speaker stands and a lapel mic for the officiant. Abel was good about sticking to our day-of timeline and was flexible when necessary. Abel has seamless transitions, good volume control and uses the clean edits of songs.

   - Popcorn Wagon has a wide selection of drool-worthy flavors! The website has a guide that helps customers determine the appropriate volume to order. It was easy to schedule our delivery. The popcorn arrived on time and tasted fresh. Their prices are extremely reasonable for the quality of product!

Galen Dalrymple
   - Galen has known me since I was five years old, and he and his wife have remained some of my parents' dearest friends all my life. It was important to Scott and I that we have someone officiate our wedding who was and would continue to be invested in our lives and marriage. Galen provided pre-marital counseling during our engagement but was never intrusive. He was open to conducting the ceremony in a way that Scott and I were comfortable with. I couldn't have been more pleased! 

My incredibly talented bridesmaid Erin Yamashita-Urevig (soon to be on Etsy!)
   - Erin isn't available to you just yet, but I'll be sure to let you know as soon as she is! Erin's creativity and quality of work never ceases to amaze me! Her banners were the perfect finishing touch on our decor, and tied our theme together in such a Pinterest-worthy way!

Wedding Music

I can hardly believe our wedding was already four days ago! We had an amazing time celebrating with our family and friends, and were so pleased with how all of our hard work, planning and crafting came together. I'll post more details and photos over the next week. 

I'm already getting lots of questions about our music so I wanted to get that up for you guys first!


BRIDAL PROCESSIONAL - Ben Harper "I Shall Not Walk Alone"
RECESSIONAL - Bruno Mars "Marry You"


FIRST DANCE - Ed Sheeran "Kiss Me"
CAKE CUTTING - Michael Kiwanuka "I'm Getting Ready"
BOUQUET & GARTER TOSS - Kelly Clarkson "Tie It Up"
LAST SONG OF THE NIGHT - The Mowglis "San Francisco"

A sampling of music played at our cocktail hour:

Adele "Love Song"
Alexi Murdoch "Love You More"
Amos Lee "Shout Out Loud"
Beirut "Nantes"
Ben Howard "Only Love"
Brett Dennen "Make You Crazy"
Bruno Mars "Just The Way You Are"
Chairlift "Bruises"
Dierks Bentley "Come A Little Closer"
Don Henley "For My Wedding"
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Heroes "Home"
Edwin McCain "I'll Be"
Faith Hill "Give In To Me"
Frank Ocean "Thinkin Bout You"
George Harrison "What Is Life"
Hunter Hayes "Wanted"
Ingrid Michaelson "Can't Help Falling In Love With You"
Ingrid Michaelson "You and I"
Jimi Hendrix "May This Be Love"
John Legend "Stay With You"
Keith Urban "Only You Can Love Me This Way"
Keith Urban "Your Everything"
Kenny Chesney "You Save Me"
Led Zeppelin "Going to California"
Lee Fields "You're The Kind of Girl"
Lynden DAvid Hall "All You Need Is Love"
Matchbox 20 "Overjoyed"
Matt Kearney "City of Black & White"
Mat Wertz "I Will Not Take My Love Away"
Mindy Gledhill "I Do Adore"
Mumford and Sons "I Will Wait"
Musiq Soulchild "Don't Change"
Passenger "I See Love"
Phillip Phillips "Gone, Gone, Gone"
Phillip Phillips "Home"
Ray LaMontagne "You Are The Best Thing"
Royal Wood "I'm So Glad"
Ryan Adams "Desire"
The Black Keys "Dearest"
The Honey Trees "To Be With You"
The Lumineers "Ho Hey"
The Lumineers "Stubborn Love"
The National "Don't Swallow the cap"
The Neighborhood "Sweater Weather"
Train "Marry Me"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Well, hello there, 30!

And there it is. One moment you're a 20-something and then suddenly midnight arrives and you're not. Waking up 30 looks a lot like waking up 29 but nothing like 20. 

I've had conflicting emotions about it, and today, on the day of, I still do, but I don't think it has much to do with some "loss of youth" complex. In the last year I met met a man and married him, walked away from my career, and forfeited my deep identity as a Californian to start a new life in Kansas City. Today, not only am I turning 30 but I'm packing for tomorrow's flight back to California and working through last minute details for our wedding. I'm job hunting in my new city and preparing to start a business with my new husband. It's a lot to take in! 

I can't really be upset about starting a new decade of life when I look back at how much I packed into the last one. I graduated from college, traveled all over the world, kick started my corporate career while maintaining a photo business on the side, and one of the brightest highlights - I got to experience becoming an auntie... twice!

Waking up 30 looks a lot like waking up 29 but nothing like 20. And that's a damn good thing! 

My love made me breakfast in bed - he's a keeper!

The Update Obsession

People are always complaining about the constant stream of Facebook updates. It does often feel like by the time we finally get used to a new app there's another one right behind it that completely throws us again. 

Apple doesn't update as frequently, but when they do the change are usually even more extensive. I haven't decided yet if I prefer the non-stop little updates or the occasional massive update. I've got to say though, that today's iPhone update has got me absolutely fuming. 

I saw an update in my "settings" icon so I went for it. After about 30 minutes it was done resetting so I started poking through my phone and realized it was a complete remodel of the iPhone formatting and user experience. I plugged into my MacBook Pro to back up my phone to iTunes to make sure I didn't lose anything. 

An alert popped up saying I needed to update to iTunes 11.1 before I could sync my iPhone. I went to the iTunes website and downloaded the update. When I tried to apply the update, another alert popped up saying the update requires OS X version 10.6.8 or above. My laptop came with 10.5.8. 

I did a quick Google search to poke through help forums and discovered that I need to either purchase Snow Leopard and install it on my laptop, or buy a newer Macbook. Until I do that I won't be able to update my phone from my iTunes.

You can purchase online, but there's all this talk about Leopard versus Snow Leopard, Lion version Mountain Lion, and I'm just not sure where I'm at currently or where I need to be, since most of this stuff came out after I bought my laptop... which wasn't even five years ago - geesh - but that's a century in computer years. 

Trickery, I tell you, this obsession with updates; this lack of forewarning before updates come through or explanation of what they will include. I would be more inclined to buy the necessary upgrades or better yet a newer Macbook, but considering every iPhone I've ever owned has been riddled with manufacturer problems and my laptop has had three, yes three, batteries explode, yes explode, I'm really just not in the mood to give Apple any money today.

Currently I'm operating off of a wall charging MacBook Pro sans exploded battery, and an iPhone 4 with a button that sticks so frequently I have to smack the back of my phone into the palm of my hand repeatedly before each use. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DIY Cake Toppers

And the countdown continues - our wedding is in 10 days! Eek! I am flying to California Friday, so I've already been packing and organizing and finishing up as much crafting as possible before heading out. 

One of my favorites from our many DIY projects is our cake toppers! 

Initially, we hadn't planned on cake toppers because we aren't having a cake. A wedding without a cake - I know, right? But neither of us really like cake and we didn't see the point in spending a bunch of money on something we didn't care about. Instead, we are having a dessert station with assorted cheesecake bites! Although I didn't mind skipping the cake, I didn't really want to skip the cake cutting moment, so our caterer offered to prepare a sweethearts cheesecake just for us. At that point it only made sense to have (cheese)cake toppers, but they would have to fit our casual, country chic theme.

I stumbled across an Etsy shop called Goose Grease, which is a Columbian fair trade DIY wood figures business owned and operated by a family in Brooklyn. "Fair trade"often equals outrageous prices, but I really feel like I got an excellent bargain with their wedding kit, which only cost me $28.95! The box included four toppers, two brides and two grooms, which relieved my "oh no, what if I mess up!" anxiety. The six colors provided were adequate, since I was able to mix them to get the shades I needed for our wedding colors. The kit even included two paint brushes and a cute fabric pouch.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Weekend In Branson

The hubs and I made the three and a half hour drive to Branson, Missouri for a little get-a-way. It's hard to describe Branson... Kitschy, hoaxy, touristy... but it manages to be all of those things in such a delightful way!

We lucked out with a hotel promotion that got us two nights in the Radisson for $99. As if that wasn't enough to get excited about, we were given a free upgrade to a top floor suite after finding a couple of beetles in our booked room. Apparently this time of year Branson has a problem with beetles - gross, right? But if that's the price to pay for a huge suite with a king size sleep number bed, I can deal!

Thursday I got my history fix at Table Rock Dam, which has a visitor center with great displays about the settling and developing of the Midwest, and the hubs got his good food and cigar fix at Waxy O'Shea's, a restaurant and pub in Branson Landing

Friday we toured Bass Pro's resort on Table Rock Lake, Big Cedar Lodge, and then spent the afternoon fishing! We didn't catch a thing, which is apparently referred to as getting "skunked," but by the end of the day I was touching stink bait and wading in the river barefoot despite the slimy rocks, so I'd call it a successful first attempt!

That evening we mini golfed at Pirate's Cove. That has got to be the cleanest, most well kept mini golf course I've ever been to! Neither of us are very good players, but we had a great time goofing off in the pirate ship and taking silly photos all over the course. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Big Move: Part 3

Our first night in Kansas was spent with my sister-in-law and her fiance, who live in the same apartment complex. The next morning we got our keys and did a quick walk-through of the place. I have never lived in an apartment complex quite like this - a clubhouse, a nice pool, an exercise room, beautiful grounds, a unit with full size laundry, a dishwasher, and a walk-in closet... and all for less than a shoebox studio in the worst San Francisco neighborhood would rent for.

A few of my fiancé's friends showed up to help unload the truck. The boys were quite pleased with themselves after lugging the larger pieces of furniture up three and a half flights of stairs, so my sister-in-law and I wound up moving more than our share of the boxes, which we were none too thrilled about, but on the upside, we got the best workout of our lives. We could hardly walk for the next two days!

It's a strange thing to see your whole life in boxes piled to the ceiling of a living room that doesn't quite feel like home; to unravel yards of bubble wrap protecting heirlooms and treasured possessions to be placed on shelves that don't quite feel like yours. I probably would have sobbed through the whole process if not for my ever so sweet sister-in-law who spent countless hours helping arrange and rearrange each room and closet until the whole space felt just right.

Our first night in the new apartment was a rough one. We didn't discover until late that evening that both the A/C and cold water weren't working. Too exhausted to process my disappointment, I didn't even bother changing out of my sweaty, filthy clothes before curling up on top of our clean bedding. Fortunately, the next morning I was able to reach someone in the front office who had a maintenance man at our apartment within a couple hours to fix both issues.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Big Move: Part 2

The Big Move Continued...

On Sunday morning we were up with the sun and headed toward Reno. I led with my car, and the beau followed me in a Budget rental truck, towing his car on a trailer. We realized in that first leg that the rental truck was going to need to go slow and steady on even the slightest incline. I really didn't mind creeping through the mountains around Lake Tahoe at 30 miles per hour, since I knew it would be the last time I would take in those views for a very long time.

Our first day was a 13-hour trek to Salt Lake City. I had high hopes for sight seeing to do at each stop on the trip, but by the time we pulled into our hotel parking lot all I could think about was food and sleep. We didn't do any sight seeing other than what was visible from our windows as we cruised down the highway, and we were both completely okay with that.

Day two took us from Salt Lake City to Denver. That drive was a little shorter but we got to Denver during rush hour which, if you think is bad on any other Monday, is a nightmare when you've already been in the car for eight hours. We decided to just tough out the extra hour of drive time to get to the far side of Denver and avoid any morning traffic the following day.

Day three was a Tuesday. It felt like a lifetime away from the previous Saturday, spent sipping tea in the sunshine, opening wedding gifts and reminiscing with my girlfriends. We pulled out of Denver at what should have been an early enough hour to get us to my sister-in-law's apartment in time for dinner. Somewhere in the middle of Kansas we blew a tire on the trailer. It could have been much worse, so I won't even complain about it. Within seconds of pulling to the side of the highway a patrol car pulled up behind us and offered to escort us to the rest stop just 100 yards or so further. We were able to get a hold of a shop in the next town and had a man there putting a new tire on within an hour, and Budget even paid for it. What could have been the end of our day wound up only setting us back about two hours.

An hour or so down the highway I noticed low, dark clouds just north of us. They were beautiful. Clear blue skies to my right, ominous black clouds to my left. As they inched closer across the sky there was some relief from the blistering heat, but the humidity took it's place, making the air so heavy and sticky I had to close my windows and turn on the A/C just to keep my hands from sweating on the steering wheel. 

Shortly after a strange thing caught my eye, something I hadn't seen before, something that doesn't happen where I'm from. Just above the tall grass the air looked like it was full of white streaks coming toward me. The grass blew down sideways and the panels on some sort of tented dome in the field began flapping violently. I stared our my window, fascinated, having no idea that those black clouds were the tip of a massive storm that would rip across the middle of Kansas, later dropping hail the size of ping pong balls. While it didn't feel lucky at the time, we really were lucky that all we caught were those white streaks, which turned out to be the hardest most consuming sheets of rain I've ever had to drive through. When the rain first reached my car it seemed to hit from the side more than it did from above. My Kansas family teases relentlessly for this description but it's really the only way to describe it - I felt like I'd driven my car off the pier and into the ocean, as the wind and water whipped my car around on the highway. I couldn't see a thing.

I flipped on my lights and slowed down, slow enough to see the glow of an exit sign in my headlights. I followed the exit down a slight decline and parked off to the side, where the small overpass provided some relief and a strange view of the storm from beneath. My fiance got out of the truck and ran over to my window, shielding his face from the heavy rain, shouting through my window - the only way out of this is to pass through it, we have to go now, it will only get worse! Reluctantly, I inched my way back onto the highway, death grip on my steering wheel, radio off, praying aloud for fear that I'd just driven within hours of our destination only to wind up dead in a ditch. When the rain lightened up enough the big trucks started to go faster, but I didn't dare, so I had to endure a fresh dumping and splashing with each one's passing. A small red car was backward in the median; a deer lifeless on the side of the road.

Once in the clear, we still had another 150 miles to go. We pulled up to my sister-in-law's apartment well after dark, but we made finally made it!

Next entry: The apartment!