>> 2015 LOVE & SPLENDOR WORKSHOP INFO HERE // REGISTER HERE <<

Thank you to everyone for your sweet comments here & on Instagram regarding our Target commercial!  We are so grateful for the opportunity we had to be featured as a voice for adoption.  Many people have asked how we got the gig, so I thought I’d share a little behind-the-scenes post on how it all happened.

The process started in early March, when my sweet friend Joy (of Oh Joy!) emailed me about the casting.  She knew that Target was working on putting together a series of nursery commercials and they were looking for different families to feature.  She thought we might be a fit (since we were in the adoption process) and asked if we might want to audition.  Of course my interest was piqued, but I didn’t expect Erik to want to drive down to LA for an audition.  Surprisingly, he said we might as well fill out a questionnaire and see what happened.  We were called for an audition shortly thereafter, with less than a day’s notice.  (That is typical for the industry, but atypical for us since we live hours away from LA now…)  I asked the casting director if we could bring our kids (they were just casting parents) and they said we could.  So, two kiddos in tow, we made our way to the audition.

first audition // see noah sleeping by the monitor?

Our initial audition took less than 15 minutes.  We checked in, waited in a large room with dozens of other couples, and were eventually called into an audition room.  It was just us and a sweet cameraman who filmed us answering a handful of questions.  The process was pretty simple and we felt honored to share our adoption story, even if it was just with the cameraman!  The initial auditions were conducted over a few days, and they likely saw countless couples.

Imagine our excitement when we found out we made callbacks (aka round two of auditions), which meant another trip to LA.  I saw nearly 50 families listed on the callback sheet!  On this occasion, we were called in to meet the director and a team of creatives working on the film.  Noah slept through the audition (of course!) but Olive enjoyed hamming it up for everyone, making friends with the production team and crawling up on the casting couch with them.  It was hilarious!  Once again we enjoyed the experience of sharing about ourselves, why we chose adoption, and how we had already been so blessed in the process.  We also chatted about how our fast-paced adoption made it difficult to prepare for Noah in the way most expectant couples might prepare for their little ones.

Post callback, we learned we had been selected for the commercial.  The casting director then let me know that Target loved Olive and wanted her to be in the commercial as well.  We were delighted!  We had some paperwork to handle (since Olive is a minor, she required a work permit as well as a special bank account for children in the entertainment industry) before things were made official.  As a sidenote — at the time we filmed the commercial, we were not allowed to show Noah’s face on camera.  This is one reason why he is not featured in the commercial.

in the studio

From there we scheduled recording sessions (since the commercial is a voice-over, Erik and I spent time in a recording studio), fittings, and call times.  The recording session took a couple of hours in Santa Monica, where we sat in a sound booth with the director.  He asked us tons of questions about our relationship, our family, our homelife, our fertility struggles and the adoption process.  A lot of the questions were likely warm ups to get us comfortable speaking into microphones (with a handful of people sitting in the adjacent room, listening and taking notes on sound bites they might want to put into the final commercial).  I really loved that the process was conversational, since it meant our own words were used in the commercial, not a script.  It also helped us get very comfortable with the director (the brilliant creative, Mac Premo) before shoot day.  We had a great time telling our story to him in full detail, even though only a few snippets made it into the 1 minute commercial.  A little note: I was a little sick on the day of our studio session, so my voice sounds deeper than usual in the commercial.  Of course no one could really notice but it still makes me chuckle when I hear it played back.

olive with director mac premo

The day we shot the commercial was an exciting and packed day.  We arrived early to grab coffee and breakfast (catering + craft services = one of the best parts of the entertainment business! haha) and then were rushed into hair/makeup and wardrobe.  I love that they observed what we wore to the audition (our own clothes) and just tried to mimic that.  So, while the clothes we wore were selected by stylists (the hilarious Keith Wager), they were almost identical to what we had worn to the audition.  Keith joked that it was actually hard to find quirky clothes for me.  😉  Everything we wore was head-to-toe Target, of course.  Olive was put into overalls which looked darling on her, but there was a tiny bit of drama since she prefers to wear dresses everyday of the week.  We all convinced her she looked perfect and distracted her long enough for her to forget what she was wearing.  I then had the pleasure of having my makeup done by the talented Terri Apanasewicz.  She is an industry star who styles some of the most famous faces in Hollywood (including Cindy Crawford and Gisele, nbd), yet she treated me with the utmost kindness and care.  I told her I hope our paths cross again so she can really doll me up, instead of just giving me the everyday look we were going for with this commercial.  😉  We didn’t do anything to my hair (or Olive’s!) to keep it natural.  From makeup I was literally whisked to set, and right into the first shots.  Everyone on set was super friendly and accommodating, from the producers to the cameramen to the editors.

Also fun — they hired a teacher/handler for Olive, since she is a minor.  She was so lovely and also had worked with some of the biggest child stars in Hollywood, including Abigail Breslin.  I was really blown away by the talented crew that Target had brought on for the project!

Overall I was  taken aback by the amount of people who were on-set to oversee the project.  There was someone there from Target HQ, along with the creative team who had been at the audition, sitting in a “video village” to observe the playback.  They would occasionally radio up minor comments and notes to help capture exactly what they envisioned for the project.  There was a props team, a seamstress, and countless others.  The energy in the air was palpable, and the pace frenetic yet upbeat.

It was a very full day of filming but I have to say I enjoyed every minute.  I loved just getting a glimpse of the fascinating world of film/TV.  SO much work went into putting together this spot; it made me pause to consider how much more time goes into shooting every scene of a TV show or movie.  I certainly came away with a greater respect for the art and thought and effort that goes into creating the commercials we see everyday.

I hope one day Noah can watch this film and see how excited we were to welcome him into our family.  He has truly been loved and anticipated from the very beginning.  I can’t believe he has now been with us for five months!

Enjoy your day and see you again soon!  Thank you for stopping by!

>> 2015 LOVE & SPLENDOR WORKSHOP INFO HERE // REGISTER HERE

I can’t believe it but my little family is featured in a Target commercial about adoption!  I’ve already watched it a handful of times and Olive is positively obsessed.  (Oh brother!)  Don’t worry — we aren’t quitting our day jobs.  But, we had a blast working on this project and are excited to have it as a little keepsake for our family.

Today I wanted to share the commercial (currently on their YouTube channel, but keep your eyes open: our contract allows to national TV spots as well!) but later this week I’ll share about the audition & casting process, as well as what goes into shooting a commercial like this.  It was a really unique and wonderful experience.

We’re not quitting our day jobs but hey, Olive is Coogan-account ready in case anyone out there wants to snap her up for their next ad campaign.  😉

I hope you all have a wonderful day; see you soon!

>> 2015 LOVE & SPLENDOR WORKSHOP INFO HERE // REGISTER HERE <<

It’s no secret I am an ice cream fiend (it is hands down my favorite thing to eat, period).  I literally can never get enough and it is difficult to keep it in my house since my self-control goes out the window when I know there’s a pint waiting for me in the freezer…  Whenever I have guests over, I love to make my own homemade ice cream as a special indulgence.  Just a few weekends ago, I had the joy of hosting the Kaisers (Nate, Jac, and their two kiddos Grace and Jasper).  During their last visit, we whipped up a luscious salted butter caramel ice cream.  This time around, I let Grace brainstorm some flavor ideas and we picked one together.  We landed on a creamsicle-inspired flavor that combined a creamy vanilla bean base with a bright infusion of fresh orange.  The result was incredible and I am happy to share the recipe here with you!

Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream // makes a generous quart
**Vanilla base adapted from David Lebovitz // customized to add hint of orange

  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 3/4 cups of sugar
  • pinch of sea salt (or best salt you have in the pantry — I use Himalasalt)
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lenthwise
  • zest of one large orange
  • 1/2 cup of orange juice (fresh squeezed from the one you zested!)

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice cubes (about halfway) and a bit of water so they are floating.  Then placing a metal bowl on top of that so it is surrounded by the ice cubes.  You want an extra cold bowl to add your ingredients later.  *A key to successful ice cream making is having a completely cold custard (un-churned ice cream) before pouring into your machine.

Put a mesh strainer over the metal bowl and pour the cream into it.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar until the sugar is melted.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture, then throw in the bean pod.  Cover, remove from heat and allow custard to infuse up to one hour.  Remove bean pod.

In a separate bowl, whisk together your egg yolks.  Rewarm the milk mixture and temper the yolks by slowly adding small teaspoons of the warm milk to the eggs and whisking continuously.  When the yolk mixture is warmed up, add *slowly* to the milk mixture.  I am really cautious about scrambling my eggs so I very gradually add warm milk to the yolks, then a touch of the yolks to the milk, and so on.  This is the most time consuming step for me but it is well worth not ruining a batch of ice cream with chunks of scrambled egg!  haha

Now cook the custard over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula.

Pour the custard over the mesh strainer into the cold cream (in that metal bowl over the ice bath).  This helps in case you didn’t temper patiently and have some floating egg bits in your custard!  It also ensures that the final product is luxuriously smooth.  Stir over the ice bath until the mixture is cool, then add the vanilla extract, orange juice and zest.  (I strain the orange juice but put the zest in directly because I love the pretty specks in the finished product.)

Put the custard into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.  This is a KEY step — your custard must be thoroughly and completely chilled.  If not, it won’t freeze completely in the churner and you’ll end up with ice cream soup.

When your custard is fully chilled, freeze it in the ice cream maker according to instructions.  I use the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment that works with my stand mixer.  I love it!

Once the ice cream is churned, remove to a freezer safe container and chill until firm.  (Fresh churned ice cream will have a softer texture since it doesn’t have any artificial stabilizers, but it will firm up nicely in the freezer.)

Let me know if you try it — it was a definite winner over here!  Enjoy and see you again soon!

Happy Monday everyone!  I have been so excited since registration opened last week for this year’s Love & Splendor Workshop.  If you are thinking about joining us, don’t hesitate in contacting me with any questions.  I love hearing from you!  You can email me directly // angel@loveandsplendor.com

You can also see details about the workshop & SIGN UP HERE.

photo by Ryan Ray

Today I thought I’d share just a few of the sweet notes and kind words I received from attendees last year.  It sort of makes me blush to share these but I think it’s helpful for prospective attendees to read them.  I hope most of all you can discern how important it is to me to create a truly unforgettable, heartfelt, beneficial experience for everyone.  My heart is in this 100% and I feel honored to share it with you!

Dear Angel,

Thank you so, so much for putting on such an incredible workshop!  Everything was perfect from start to finish, and every detail was so beautiful.  The information you and all the speakers shared was priceless and so helpful for me and my business.  I was able to apply almost everything we covered to my own floral business, so it worked out really nicely; I will definitely encourage my flower friends to sign up next year!  I was an experience I will cherish forever.  You are one of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever met, it’s no wonder you’re so successful!  My heart is overflowing and I just can’t think you enough!!

Tons of love, Martha
Martha Claire Floral

Angel Darling,

I truly admire and appreciate your organization and attention to detail in planning this amazing and inspirational workshop!  Your talent is true and genuine and that is rare.  I love this about you and hope I can be so lucky to adopt those qualities as my own in my business.  I feel renewed, inspired and passionate about life and the adventures I have ahead of me making my way in the industry.  This workshop was exactly what I needed and I could not be more thankful to you for hosting it and of course, April for recommending it.  I am lucky to know such great women!  Your insight is so helpful, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with me.  Thank you!

Love, Kelsey
A Lovely Creative

Angel,

I can’t thank you enough for all the hard work you put into planning the L&S Workshops.  Please know that it paid off!  I left feeling inspired and well-equipped to take on the challenges faced in this industry.  You are truly a force — incredibly talented, but even more kind-hearted.

xoxo, Leah Moss
also at Parsonage Events Floral Studio / Michigan

Angel,

I can’t thank you enough for putting that workshop together.  It was so empowering!  Your love for what you do and your love for others is so strong.  The guests you chose were perfect; they were so honest and open.  Since the workshop I’ve made a big life decision and will be working for Archive Rentals Mexico.  I am so excited for the opportunity to design for them in a beautiful and new place.  I’ve enclosed the Maya Angelou quote you shared at the workshop for you to frame.  It was the perfect quote to sum up the way you and your guest speakers made me feel.  I left with such encouragement to continue in the industry with hope.  Thank you again for everything!  You are amazing!

Love, Jesenia Pena
Archive Rentals Mexico

I was truly blessed by the passionate, creative, encouraging bunch of women I had join me last year in Los Angeles.  I can’t wait to see how this year’s group shapes up and I look forward to making new connections and friendships this September in San Luis Obispo at Greengate Ranch!

Learn more HERE and sign up HERE!  Have a wonderful week!!

UPDATE: REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!  CLICK HERE!

Happy Monday, everyone!  In just two days, I’ll open up registration for the 2nd Love & Splendor Workshop and I couldn’t be more excited.  Today I wanted to post all of the details you’ll need to join us this fall.

LoveandSplendor_WorkshopLogo_Final-LowResolultion

WHEN/WHERE: Monday, September 14th thru Thursday, September 17th at Greengate Ranch and Vineyards in San Luis Obispo, California

WHO: We welcome aspiring and current wedding planners and designers of all experience levels, as well as other event creatives who want to learn more about how to run a productive, profitable, passion-driven business.  Last year I was thrilled to have floral designers, stationers, calligraphers and bakers in attendance at the workshop.  The material can be adapted to many different creative entrepreneurs.

WORKSHOP SPEAKERS + COLLABORATORS: This year’s line up includes Angel Swanson, film photographer Ryan Ray, Jeni of Found Rentals, Diana and Josh of Casa de Perrin, Jesi Haack of Jesi Haack Design, Melody of Sweet and Saucy Shop, Emarie VanGalio of La Tavola Linen and Theoni Collection, and MORE to be announced.  :)

photo by Ryan Ray

ABBREVIATED SCHEDULE // I love a good surprise so I’m keeping many details under wraps.  For now, here’s a basic look at how we will spend our time.  Of course, schedule subject to change as plans shape up.

  • MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14TH
    • Check-in to your room and get settled from 2-4p
    • 4p Opening session // Angel Swanson
    • 5p Depart for dinner
    • 530-8p Private Welcome Dinner — an exquisite meal shared with new friends, and a perfect time to break the ice and get to know one another!
  • TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH
    • 8a Breakfast
    • 9a – 12 noon Speaker Sessions
    • 12 noon Lunch
    • 1p – 2p Speaker Session
    • 230-430p Off-site Visit & Table Mockup Reveal
    • 430-530p Prep for Dinner
    • 530-830p Dinner — a detail-laden immersive experience
    • 830-10p Campfire Conversation // Coffee, Cocoa, S’Mores + a Facilitated Time of Connecting Together
  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH
    • 8a Breakfast
    • 9-12 noon Speaker Sessions
    • 12-1p Lunch
    • 1-5p Speaker Sessions
    • 5-6p Prep for Dinner
    • 6p-9p Final Dinner — a grand finale you won’t soon forget, with lots of surprises in store!
    • 9-10p Campfire Conversation
  • THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17TH
    • 730-9a Breakfast & Pack up for departure
    • 9-11a Final Sessions + Q&A
    • 11a-12 noon Farewells & Departures

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  1. Four days filled with actionable information, taught in a beautifully designed learning environment.
  2. A warm and welcoming community of industry-leading speakers and collaborators who will share their unique stories with you.  Questions are encouraged and each collaborator has a sincere desire to see you grow and shine!
  3. An intimately sized group of attendees to ensure a personalized experience.
  4. All workshop materials, including a binder filled with helpful outlines, documents and templates.
  5. All 8 meals from Monday dinner through Thursday breakfast — each meal will feature the best the area and season has to offer.
  6. Plenty of snacks and treats to keep us fueled throughout the day.
  7. Three nights of accommodations at *either* Greengate Ranch and Vineyard (the stunning location for the workshop) or our partner property, the luxurious four-diamond Dolphin Bay Resort (transportation provided daily to/from Dolphin Bay Resort).
  8. Memorable events and experiences, meant to wow and inspire.  You can expect all the love and care you would see go into a Love & Splendor wedding.
  9. Handpicked gifts and surprises just for you!
  10. A continuing “open door policy” — My desire is to be a lasting resource for all of my workshop attendees.  You can email and call anytime for advice and feedback, or even schedule a lunch or coffee date next time you’re in California!  I have loved spending one-on-one time with attendees from last year’s event!

Photo by Ryan Ray

INVESTMENT: $3400 for a private room OR $2900 for a shared room + bed (shared rooms are only for friends/colleagues who sign up together and indicate their roommate at the time of registration)

ACCOMMODATIONS:

  • Private rooms have either a Queen or King bed, with your own full bathroom.  These rooms are available at Greengate (the breathtaking site of our workshop) *and* at Dolphin Bay (within a 2-bedroom suite which is 1600 sq feet and offers stunning ocean front views, washer/dryer and shared kitchen).
  • Shared rooms have one King or Queen bed to share, with one full bathroom to share.
  • Both private + shared rooms are available at both host properties and your room will be assigned by Love & Splendor.  Preferences can be noted at registration, but are not guaranteed.  Trust me — you can’t go wrong with either property!

FAQ:

  • Can I come for just one or two days? // No, unfortunately there are no day passes available for the workshop; it is meant to be a complete experience.
  • Are there any discounts available?  // If you sign up with a business partner or friend and are willing to share a room (and king-sized bed) with them, you can opt for the shared room tuition of $2900/ea.  You must sign up with that person (on the same calendar day); roommates will be confirmed upon registration.  Shared rooms are available at both Dolphin Bay *and* Greengate and will be assigned by Love & Splendor.  All rooms are quite large and have PLENTY of space for two friends!
  • Can I room with a friend or colleague but have my own bed?  // Yes!  In this case you would each pay $3400 and will be assigned as “suitemates” for a 2-bedroom suite at the Dolphin Bay Resort.  You will each have your own room, bed, and bathroom.  Simply purchase a “private room” ticket and indicate your suitemate’s name via email to angel@loveandsplendor.com
  • What if I have food allergies or dietary restrictions? // No problem!  I will collect this information before the workshop and will make sure to accommodate your needs.  :)
  • Which airport is closest to the workshop location? // The closest airport is San Luis Obispo, a small regional airport a mere 10 minutes away.  If you fly into this airport on Monday, September 14th and depart on Thursday, September 17th, we will provide ground transportation (Uber or similar) for you.  Other major airports (e.g. LAX and SFO/OAK) are 2.5-3.5 hours away.  Upon registration, I can assist you with making travel arrangements and connecting with other attendees (to potentially share a rental car, etc.).

If you have any lingering questions, please don’t hesitate to email angel@loveandsplendor.com and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

class of 2014!

Don’t forget — registration opens this WEDNESDAY 6/10 at 9a PST / 12 noon EST.  I will post a live link on the blog that morning, and also have it in my Instagram profile.  Seats are limited to ensure an intimate, personal experience so if you’re thinking of joining us, don’t delay.  😉  I can’t wait to meet you in September!  Have a great day!

I’m SO excited to round out my 2014 Love & Splendor Workshop recap series (Welcome Recap / Day 2 Recap / Day 3 Recapwith this look back at our beautiful farewell dinner.  I wanted to send off my attendees with a grand final experience: an incredible meal, an inspiring environment, and surprises around every corner.  Although I’m biased, I felt we achieved just that.  :)  I loved planning and designing this evening alongside some of my dearest friends.  Going through the images for this blog post made me SO nostalgic and simultaneously excited.  I cannot wait for this year’s workshop, coming September 14-17 to San Luis Obispo, CA.  I plan on announcing all the details NEXT WEEK (ahh!) and registration will open on Wednesday, June 10th at 9a PST.  Here’s hoping that we’ll have another fabulous group of creative, joyful and energetic attendees!

i love this arrival/reaction photo!

missing a few but i love this photo of these beautiful ladies!

For this special farewell dinner, I invited attendees and speakers/collaborators to join me for dinner at a secret location.  I didn’t reveal the dinner location until the night of the event itself, and provided direct transportation for my attendees to keep the excitement high.  With the help of The Venue Report, I landed on The Washbow as the perfect backdrop for this celebration.  This modern gem in Culver City has a sprawling indoor space that is an ideal blank canvas for any event.  For my more intimate dinner, however, we kept the festivities outside in their beautiful urban garden.  There is a striking metal “pergola” on-site at the Washbow that was perfect for hanging charming bistro lights, along with foliage-draped chandeliers from JL Designs.  It set the tone for the romantic autumn feel I was hoping for, inspired by a magnificent mountain lodge.  To foster conversation and a feeling of camaraderie, we all sat down to one feasting table (made up of multiple wooden tables from Found Rentals) in beautiful bentwood chairs.

I embraced a jewel-toned palette of mostly oxblood, burgundy and crimson, with texture everywhere, from wooden tables and chairs, to fabrics like wool, tweed and velvet, to sprawling fall foliage used alongside the most sumptuous blooms of the season.  Once again, Carissa from JL Designs made the perfect collaborator as she brought my visions to life.  I especially loved her use of dramatic amaryllis (a fav of mine!) and whole pomegranates in her design.

Casa de Perrin tabletop wares stole the show in a variety of textures: walnut florentine chargers as a base, white collection china, gold flatware and a mix of red and cut crystal goblets for an extra pop on the tables.  The look was unabashedly luxurious while still feeling accessible.  Linens from La Tavola added even more color but the natural linen texture kept it subtle.  I set each seat with a wooden box filled with curated treasures like a name tag by Anne Robin, travel candle from Rosy Rings, beautiful matches, my homemade gluten free granola packed into Weck Jars, handmade Malvi marshmallows and Solstice Canyon almond butter.  It was a final opportunity to spoil these precious new friends.

Heirloom LA blew us all away with a phenomenal family style meal featuring all the best the season had to offer: a red grapefruit salad with speckled lettuces, fresh figs and sunflower seeds; grilled coho salmon and crispy pork belly served alongside roasted root vegetables and a warm sunchoke salad.  It was easily one of the most wonderful meals I’ve had, thanks to Chef Matthew Poley and his unparalleled team.  I loved looking up and down the table, watching new friends share in this meal together.  It was magical.  Heirloom LA put together a decadent mini dessert display, accented by ice cream cakes made by Sweet and Saucy Shop with Sweet Lucie’s ice cream (what a collaboration, right??).  My friends from Sweet Lucie’s even came out with their signature cart to scoop their ice cream in person.  Guests mingled in stylish lounges by Found Rentals and hopped in and out of the fun Flipbooth (a photobooth that prints out perfect flipbooks!) until we had to say farewell.

For a special takeaway station, A Rental Connection hung my favorite Edison bulbs on a vintage arch from Found Rentals.  This beautiful display featured seasonal apples from my favorite local orchard.  Apples are one of my favorite things about summer and fall, so I had to share some with my guests!

Without further ado, here are the stunning photos from my dear friend Ryan Ray.  I am so grateful I had him behind the camera, capturing every detail with such an artful perspective.

me & Ryan himself! Grateful I got him in front of the camera for this snap!

obviously this was before I changed, but I love this snap of me and Cary (Ryan’s wife), my soul sister

Michy, Lauren from Found, Erica from 10.11 Makeup, me, Jeni from Found, Carissa of JL Designs

my precious friend Tara of Heirloom LA

I always love seeing Mike from Sweet Lucie’s!

My Dream Team… event planning + design + styling: Love & Splendor // photography: Ryan Ray // venue: The Washbow Culver City, California // catering: Heirloom LA // florals: JL Designs // furniture rentals: Found Vintage Rentals // tabletop rentals: Casa de Perrin // linens: La Tavola Fine Linen // lighting: A Rental Connection // ice cream cakes: Sweet and Saucy Shop x Sweet Lucie’s collaboration // ice cream: Sweet Lucie’s // photobooth: Flipbooth LA // hair + makeup:10.11 Makeup // calligraphy: Anne Robin (placecards and menus) and Miss Multee (apple station signage) // venue scouting: The Venue Report

I hope you’re all having a great week!  How is already Thursday??  Look out for all the workshop details next week & don’t forget to set an alarm for Wednesday, 6/10 at 9a PST when registration will (finally) open!  Hooray!!  Thank you for stopping by; I am truly grateful for you.

I LOVE the stage Olive is in right now.  I am constantly telling people how much fun it is to have a three-year old, and just when I think it can’t get any better, it does!  I’ve felt this way about every stage, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised any longer…  It really does continue to get better.  :)  Today I wanted to share some snippets & favorite memories from winter 2014 & spring 2015…

wearing little minis

Does everyone think their kid is the funniest kid on the planet (both on purpose and unintentionally)??  Because seriously, Erik and I cannot stop laughing at Olive all.day.long.  This girl has the craziest imagination and says the most adorable things.  Recently she found some false eyelashes in my drawer and asked what they were.  I told her they were special eyelashes for when I get all dressed up.  She instantly started pulling at her eyelashes and said, “Mama!  I want to take mine off and put these on!!”  When I finished laughing I told her that they’re only for grown ups.  She reminds me everytime we pass that drawer: “When I’m a big girl I’m gonna wear those eyelashes and your special sandals (some Marc Jacobs platforms that she also has her eye on; ha!).”  Oh brother!

Olive loves to dance and sing, often spontaneously.  We can be in a store or even the market and if the music (or muzak) moves her, she says, “Mama I need to practice my dancing!”  From ballet to interpretive dancing to all out crazy shakes, she definitely gives it her all.  :)  I love listening to her making up songs throughout the day (she is great with independent play) about the most random topics.  She’ll sing to her toys, sing while reading a book, sing to Noah while he’s crying.  She definitely loves music.  She also loves pretending to be in school (reading books, practicing her numbers and letters) and art projects of all kinds (painting, “sculpting” with Play-doh, drawing, coloring).

Highlights…

  • Being an adorable flowergirl in Erik’s sister’s wedding (I was a bridesmaid and Erik was a groomsman) in November 2014
  • Lots of playdates with favorite pals including church gals (Jetta, Eden, Chloe), local friends (Zakary, Luke, Piper, Ellis, Leo, Alicia) and LA/OC friends, too!
  • Helped pick out our Christmas tree, put up lights + decorations, and enjoyed a traditional night of festivities in downtown Cambria
  • Continued to attend and love our local storytime one day a week!
  • Disneyland trip in December 2015 with halmunee (my mom) and our good friend Jackie + baby X
  • Multiple trips to the SB Zoo (where Michael the giraffe remains her favorite)
  • Christmas season dinner at the iconic Madonna Inn
  • Our first Christmas morning in our own house (just the three of us), before heading to LA for family celebrations
  • She welcomed a baby brother (through God’s grace of adoption) in January 2015 and has proven to be an amazing big sister — she loves Noah SO much and seeing them together makes my heart burst!
  • Attended a Valentine’s Day party with her friends (and loved every second of it)
  • She loves picking flowers everywhere we go (but always asks permission, first).  If I tell her no, she says, “Just let it grow, right?”  <3
  • She turned THREE and celebrated with donuts (of course) and a pirate-themed birthday (her pick!).
  • Held a bunny and rode a tractor at Ellis’ birthday party (not sure which was her favorite!)
  • Cried over a puppy for the first time (named “Tank,” affectionately called “Tanky” — a beagle/doxie mix at the local rescue)
  • Moved into a “big girl room” with a twin-sized bed!  She chose her own bedding at Target: Paris/ballerina themed
  • She helped Erik plant the spring garden
  • We toured a preschool (!) she will start at in the fall
  • She attended the Giant Playdate with me and had a blast
  • She had her first real job :) // more coming soon!!!

loving my solly baby wrap

photo by Callaway Gable

wearing Paush

This has been a big season of transition for our family, with the wonderful blessing of Noah’s arrival.  Olive has been so great with all of the huge changes and even more than that, I feel like she has grown into an even lovelier, kinder child since her brother was born.  I stand in awe at the way she has embraced him, loved on him, attached to him.  On one of our drives to LA, we made a brief stop at Target to go to the restroom.  I took Olive into the store and Erik stayed in the car with Noah.  As soon as we walked into the sliding glass doors, Olive started to panic and cry (real tears!).  “Mama! Mama you forgot baby Noah! We need my baby Noah!!”  It’s always “my baby Noah” and “my baby brutha” — never just Noah.  I love the way God has made her so tender, sensitive, and affectionate.

I can’t wait to see what the next season holds!!  And, coming very soon, I’ll be able to share some beautiful photos of both of my kiddos together!  Thanks for stopping by; have a fantastic week!

In anticipation of my 2015 Love & Splendor Workshop (registration opening SOON!), I’m working my way through a recap of last year’s event.  (Welcome Recap / Day 2 Recap) I have loved revisiting the images from this special experience; it all flew by too quickly so these pictures help me savor all those special moments and memories one more time.  Thank you again (and again) to my dear friend Ryan Ray, who captured everything in such a beautiful way.

On the final day of the L&S 2014 workshop, we had another full schedule of speakers + instruction.  Day 3 speakers included Brittany Castro of Financially Wise Women, Carissa Jones of JL Designs and Jesi Haack of Jesi Haack Design.  I felt like we had a great mix of practical presentations (lots of nitty gritty facts and info) as well as anecdotal accounts, shared experiences, street smarts kinda stuff.  😉  There are so many unique paths people have taken into this industry and I am glad my attendees were able to see a handful of them!

Also it was very important to me that the workshop remain mostly instructive on a practical, replicable level.  I know there are a lot of fun sessions we could have filled our day with, learning various creative skills or participating in artistic lessons.  But, ultimately, I don’t think it serves my attendees to dabble in things that will not add value to their services.  I will never be a florist or a calligrapher for my clients because there are so many people who excel in those areas — I want to leave it to the experts.  My primary roles include designer + planner + curator.  So, while I had a floral designer and a calligrapher work with me on the event, I chose to skip the ‘classes’ and keep the workshop syllabus more planning + design + business-strengthening focused.  If you are looking for a workshop that is heavy on the info, presented in a setting/environment/experience that will inspire, this is the one for you.  😉

the lovely Erica of 10.11 Makeup, who made me look & feel fabulous everyday

I was so blown away by my intelligent, creative, passionate attendees.  Love you ladies!

We ate like queens (again) thanks to the Ace Hotel’s LA Chapter.  My favorite items of the day were a baby gem lettuces salad, a treviso and arugula salad, fresh grilled fish with tomato and ginger relish, curried pork loin with capers and roasted broccoli and for dessert… cereal milk panna cotta and bruléed pineapple with coconut and banana mousse!  We also made sure to have snacks like olives, nuts, flatbread, crudité and fruit in the afternoon (along with the requisite restock of Stumptown coffee) because I love a good noshing station!

A fun part of Day 3 was an inspiration-to-reality tabletop design that I created with Carissa from JL Designs and many of our incredible sponsors.  I wanted to give the attendees a glimpse of the creative process, and how I work with a client in pulling together various elements and ideas and produce a cohesive design that WOWs.  For this special tabletop, I was instantly drawn to Delftware.  I have long loved the iconic white and blue patterns of traditional Delft pottery.  With Carissa’s help, we designed a table that was Dutch-inspired, mixing in things like mango and acacia wood, monobotanical arrangements of blooms (many indigenous to the region of inspiration) and modern candlesticks.  I loved the way the table looked and felt: layered, textural, lush and feminine yet natural and almost pastoral… with a breath of fresh modernity.  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to play with patterns and am drawn to things with a sense of whimsy.  This is true in how I dress, how I decorate my home, and I how I like to design an event.  This tabletop was totally ‘me’ in every way and I had the best time putting it together with Carissa and our creative colleagues.

The foundation was created by a gorgeous wooden farm table from found vintage rentals, set atop a gorgeous blue rug and surrounded by unique but complementary wooden chairs.  The table was topped with the most beautiful blue garden collection china by Casa de Perrin.  Chic teak flatware kept the tabletop from looking too traditional, as did the mix of floral vessels (traditional pottery mixed with the clean lines of the wood bowls).  Cut crystal and dark blue goblets, along with sparkling salt cellars, added the perfect finishing touches to each setting.  La Tavola‘s linen in Wedgewood (one of my very favorite colors) was the perfect shade of inky blue to create an “anchor” with a runner and napkins.  I added my own sourced Delftware napkin rings (two patterns), too.  Sweet and Saucy blew us away with her hand-painted masterpiece of a cake, mimicking the patterns of Delft pottery, adorned with spectacular white sugar flowers.  I still can’t get over how incredible the cake was!  There were even hand-painted macarons to match; exquisite!  Get ready for photo overload in 3, 2, 1….

 

 

We wrapped the day with a Q&A session; I wanted to make sure everyone felt like they had a chance to ask about anything still left undiscussed.  The truth is we could have spent 3 more days together and still have a long list of questions.  Each attendee had their own vision, their own goals, and their own ideas of what they wanted to walk away with after the workshop.  My hope is that the attendees continue to look to me for any encouragement, support, direction and mentorship they may desire.  I have LOVED catching up with many (most!) of the attendees in the time since the workshop.  My door is always open to these ladies and that’s how it’ll stay.

There’s one more finale post in this recap series: the magnificent farewell dinner!  That post is coming soon so stay tuned.  :)  Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

I had such a sweet Mother’s Day weekend this year, so I thought I’d share a few snippets of how we celebrated.  I know so many people are vehemently against “greeting card holidays” like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.  I can never truly understand why.  Of course we should honor our parents and tell our loved ones how precious they are to us more than one day a year.  BUT, I see nothing wrong with a special, dedicated day to really remind us to go that extra mile in pouring out our appreciation.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or cost a lot of money (or any at all, frankly!).  I am always happy to have a reason to celebrate the blessings in my life.  Mother’s Day is not about getting spoiled by my family (obviously not opposed to that, though! ha!), but about reveling in the joy of motherhood itself.  I want to spend special time with my family, slow down a little (read: not do dishes for a day), and just reflect on the wonderful privilege of mothering my two children.

TWO!  This year I have two beautiful children, making this Mother’s Day extra special.  We are so close to the finish line with finalizing our adoption with Noah so it won’t be long before you see his sweet face.  :)  Everyday with him is a joy and I can’t wait to share more about our journey and experience.  I thank God for these two precious blessings.

On Saturday I kicked off the weekend in the best way possible: working at the Giant Playdate by the Alliance of Moms.  This special event is a fundraiser for the Alliance for Children’s Rights — a non profit organization that advocates for LA’s foster kids.  I was honored to plan + design this year’s playdate.  It was a ton of fun (and a great change of pace from weddings) and I had the double joy of bringing my kiddos along for the last hour!  I will be sharing many more photos from this event in a full blog post down the line but here are a few sneak peeks for now.

romper by sweet threads / cupcake by sweet and saucy shop / frill from geronimo balloons

endless entertainment from best bubble parties

The following photos are by the incredible Abby and Lauren


she LOVED this camp craft station where she made me an adorable wooden bead necklace

On Sunday morning, I woke up to an excited Olive and Erik at my bedside.  They had a card and a few hilarious gifts that Olive chose for me (one was a Barbie doll which she has now taken back for herself and the other was a light-changing bouncy ball).  We went to church and then had our usual post-church lunch of In-N-Out.  We then hit the road to Cambria, where we have gone to celebrate every Mother’s Day since 2012.  I grab an olallieberry iced team at Linn’s and we strolled around the antique and garden shops together.  The weather was perfect and we had such a lovely afternoon.  We returned home for Olive’s nap and then went for Thai food for dinner (my fav) before doing a Target run before bedtime.  Nothing super fancy but a joyful day spent with my three favorite people.  I couldn’t ask for more.

Olive’s dress by little minis / my dress by anthropologie

This week we’ve been working hard at purging and organizing (perhaps for an upcoming garage sale?) and putting finishing touches on Noah’s nursery.  I’ll share soon!  I also am working on final preparations for next weekend’s weekend in southern California.

I hope you are having a great week so far; see you again soon!

I’m still in the middle of re-capping 2014’s Love & Splendor Workshop (HERE and HERE), but I had to share a little post of excitement about the location of this year’s workshop: San Luis Obispo, California.  I grew up in southern California but have made California’s gorgeous central coast my home for the past 3.5 years.  It is truly a magical place and as I tell people, it’s everything I love about California (stunning beaches, lots of natural beauty, varied landscapes, incredible food, sunshine and perfect weather) minus everything I dislike about California (traffic, smog, hustle and bustle).  While I am still in LA/OC frequently (with our families still living there, plus weddings), I feel an immediate sense of peace when I cross through the Gaviota Tunnel into the Santa Ynez Valley.  I feel truly blessed to live in a place where many people choose to vacation.

San Luis Obispo county is home to numerous microcommunities, each with its own unique look & feel.  If you love to see rolling hills of vineyards as far as the eye can see, head to Paso Robles (or parts of Arroyo Grande).  If the beach is more your style, my favorites include Shell Beach and Avila Beach.  Nearby Morro Bay reminds me of Monterey, with its charming embarcadero, docks, and wildlife (you can always spy an otter or sea lion nearby).  You can hike the Nine Sisters, bike in the city or the country, kayak along the coast (my husband’s favorite), and surf along Pismo Pier.  The farm to table concept is highlighted beautifully here, with easy access to locally grown food, local wild caught seafood and locally raised livestock.  Can you tell I love it here?

You may know that SLO was named as the “happiest city in America” by Oprah and highlighted as one of the top 4 happiest cities in the world by National Geographic and Reader’s Digest HERE but more recently, the New York Times did a piece on how to spend 36-hours in this idyllic area.  If you have 5 minutes to spare, check out their fun video with some glimpses of local favorites.  Also, the companion article shares many more fabulous recommendations, including my favorite local restaurant, Ember in Arroyo Grande.  Big hint: a good handful of things mentioned in the video and/or article will be incorporated in this year’s Love & Splendor Workshop.  I cannot wait to share the beauty and JOY of this area with new friends.

If you are looking for an inspiration, informative workshop experience that will also double as a soul-refreshing retreat, I can think of no better place to be than this fall’s Love & Splendor Workshop.  More info coming soon!!

I hope you’re having a fabulous Thursday — thank you for stopping by!