I am busy working this week on a very special event and for the first time in a long time, it’s not a wedding!  I am so honored and excited to be planning and designing for the Alliance of Moms’ 2014 Giant Playdate.  It’s exactly what it sounds like: the playdate to end all playdates, a time for families to come together and enjoy one another and just have FUN for a cause.  The event is a fundraiser for the Alliance for Children’s Rights: a wonderful organization that provides support and services to foster youth in Los Angeles.  I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend the Saturday before Mother’s Day!

I’ve had a heart for foster children for a long time, and as a new adoptive mama (by God’s grace, almost official!) I couldn’t be more delighted to support such a wonderful cause.  If you are free this Saturday, snag one of the remaining tickets and join me for a playdate!  You can get your tickets HERE.

Here’s what we have in store…

  • It’s all taking place at the beautiful Lombardi House in Hollywood: home of the prettiest house + modern barn you’ve ever seen!  The event is from 10a-1p.
  • A scrumptious lunch by Heirloom LA is included, along with snacks and beverages from Annie’s, Organic Valley, and Leaf & Love Lemonade.
  • To satisfy your sweet tooth, grab some treats from Sweet & Saucy Shop and a refreshing paleta from Sí Paletas.
  • There will activities for everyone including…
    • Bubble fun by Best Bubble Parties
    • A craft activity by Camp Craft
    • A garden activity by Bramble Gardens
    • Drumming for the whole family with Free to Be Me Drum Circle
    • Photobooth fun from Flipbooth LA
    • Stroller cleaning by The Tot Squad
    • A braid bar & hair finishing station by Spoke & Weal Salon
    • A Tattly station — for all your “designy temporary tattoos”
    • A station for kiddos to put together a floral posey for their mamas
    • Great tunes spun by Daisy O’Dell
    • … and an incredible auction with items donated from all of your favorite mama brands + great dining experiences, gift certificates and luxury items!
  • I’ve brought on all my favorite pals to help make the playdate gorgeous…
  • Everything will be beautifully captured by Lauren & Abby Ross (photography) and Shark Pig (video production)
  • …and of course, Love & Splendor will be there with bells on (probably not literally, but who knows), holding down the fort and making sure everything runs smoothly!  You’ll also likely catch me playing at all of the above stations…

I hope to see you on Saturday!  If you’re a reader, please come up and say hi!  I’d love to meet you.  😉

I’m back with another recap of last year’s Love & Splendor Workshop — an inspirational & informative time of learning for current and aspiring wedding planners and designers.  Many, many thanks to my dear friend Ryan Ray for all of these beautiful photos…  It meant the world to me to have you there! ((In case you missed it: Recap of the Welcome Dinner 2014))

I was so thrilled to host my first workshop at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.  For this initial experience, I was looking for a venue that was centrally located (in LA), stylish, with fabulous in-house dining (knowing that breakfasts and lunches would take place there).  The Ace in DTLA fit the bill perfectly.  I was very pleased with everything from the space to the service and loved hosting my workshop there!  I had a good number of attendees staying on-site (from as far away as Greece and Canada, and three US states) which made it extra convenient, too.

We set up in Segovia Hall (the main meeting space at the Ace DTLA) and brightened up the industrial-inspired space with colorful La Tavola runners punctuated with coral charm peonies (one of my favorite blooms of all time).  My workshop logo by Julie Song Ink prominently features this very bloom, so it was fun to see my logo “come to life” thanks to JL Designs.  Each guest was greeted with a placecard penned by Anne Robin.  I hung a custom tote bag from each chair, filled with some curated gifts gathered just for them:

  • Jasmine body oil by Herbivore Botanicals — one of my favorite all-natural products; an everyday luxury
  • Mini-Mergency kit from Pinch Provisions — filled with all the essentials you need for your purse or on a wedding day!
  • A colorful watercolor print by Julie Song Ink
  • Two beautiful notebooks from Rifle Paper Co.
  • Stylish crossbody cell phone cases by Vanesa Rey
  • Marble-papered clipboards (which I  made for each attendee)
  • My signature heart sunglasses
  • A beautiful linen binder I filled with templates and information for our time together
  • Pens by Le Pen

In addition to the classroom seating, I had my friends at {found} vintage rentals set up a perfect lounge in the back of the room.  Comfy chambray & indigo upholstered furniture, cement & wire tables and cushy poufs created an ideal setting for mingling during meals and breaks.  I loved how the bright and colorful flowers (again, inspired by my logo) popped in that space.  Carissa, you are magic!

We kicked off our first day of instruction bright and early with a scrumptious breakfast buffet, complete with a mini-fridge stocked with Stumptown Coffee.  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE coffee, so this was a special “must have” for me.  We emptied that fridge (with re-stocks) two days in a row!  On the menu that morning: soft scrambled eggs, a seasonal frittata, bacon, chorizo, and a decadent waffle station.  YUM.  Then we dived into a packed day of learning, including guest speakers Jen Campbell of Green Wedding Shoes and film photographer Ryan Ray.

iPhone snap with Jen // love this lady and am so grateful for her support!

another iPhone snap: Ryan in action before the day began

Our beautiful lunch spread featured a bibb heart salad with radishes, blue cheese and pumpkin seeds, a roasted vegetable + kale salad, hanger steak with balsamic onion and fingerling potatoes, and buckwheat soba with fresh seafood…as well as a surprise treat of Sweet & Saucy x Sweet Lucie’s organic ice cream sandwiches.  I take my meals very seriously…

Our first day topics laid the foundation covering things like: starting your business, contracts, attracting and booking the clients you want, building strong vendor relationships, handling paperwork, branding, social media, and more.  I loved engaging with the ladies, fielding questions, and sharing my passion and experiences with each of them.

a photo of all the ladies in their new heart sunnies!

I gave attendees the evening to mingle and enjoy on their own, so Michy and I headed to Bäco Mercat (soooo yummy) for a little celebratory dinner.  I completely knocked out when I got back to my hotel room; it was such a full, magical day.

I’ll be back soon with a recap of Day 3, and lots of images of the gorgeous Delft-inspired tablescape I put together with Carissa of JL Designs.  I hope you have a wonderful week!!

**If you’re interested in learning more about how to start, build, elevate and nurture your own wedding planning business, I hope you’ll join me for the next Love & Splendor Workshop taking place this fall, September 14-17, 2015, in beautiful San Luis Obispo!  Save the date; more details coming soon.  Registration will open later this month!!

I am getting SO excited about doing another Love & Splendor Workshop this fall in beautiful San Luis Obispo, California.  I catch myself daydreaming constantly about it, and have been working hard to put together another incredible experience filled with instruction and inspiration.  If you missed the announcement post about this year’s workshop, click HERE!

There are lots of details to share soon, and I hope to open registration in a few weeks.  Today, I wanted to give you a better look at what happened at last year’s inaugural workshop.  You may have seen glimpses of the workshop on Green Wedding Shoes (Part 1 and Part 2), but today I’ll be sharing a more unabridged recap of the event.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to look back on these beautiful images by my dear friend, Ryan Ray.  The entire workshop experience was magical, from start to finish.  I loved meeting these creative women and sharing my heart with them!

I kicked off the 2014 Love & Splendor Workshop with a welcome dinner at The Salon — the private tasting room of Heirloom LA.  If you follow me on Instagram or have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know how I feel about Heirloom.  They are set apart in the industry as champions for sustainable, local, & organic foods.  They put together beautiful menus that feature the best of the season.  They work hand-in-hand with small farms and purveyors to utilize the most interesting and flavorful ingredients.  Most of all, their food is INCREDIBLE and is prepared with a great amount of love, care, and intention.  I frequently say if Chef Matt is in the kitchen, I want to be at the table.  I can never get enough Heirloom LA, and neither can my clients!  My favorite meetings are tastings at Heirloom LA because really, how can it get better than working while eating scrumptious food??  I knew I wanted to share the intimate “tasting” experience with my attendees for this welcome workshop, so there was no better setting than the The Salon.

With the perfect sized group of 15 attendees and a handful of vendors, we were seated at two tables: one large “horseshoe” shaped table and a second dining table.  Chef Matt prepared the entire meal in front of us, in the center of the horseshoe, answering questions about the food as we went.  It was the ultimate foodie experience and I heard many tell me that night that it was the best meal they had ever had.  That makes me so happy!!  I wanted to simply enjoy our first night together in a more casual way, getting to know each other, laughing together, and bonding in that unique way that only comes from breaking bread with one another.

I embraced a black & white palette for this event, with a slight “newspaper” influence.  With such a limited color palette, I knew I’d have to bring in lots of layers, patterns, and textures to add visual interest.  It was fun designing in black and white… especially for a color-lover like me!  Menus read, “Extra! Extra! Eat all about it!” (I couldn’t help myself…) and were formatted in columns like a page out of the newspaper.  A chalkboard was covered with modern b&w typography prints featuring inspirational quotes, offering uplifting “headlines.”  I loved using a geometric b&w patterned rug from found as an anchor in the room, along with a black dining table and industrial bar cart for the welcome drinks.  La Tavola‘s abstract b&w patterned runners and napkins made the perfect statement on the tabletops.  One of my favorite details?  The opaque black and white goblets from Casa de Perrin, white signature collection chargers, and ebony flatware.  So chic!  Carissa from JL Designs topped tables with white bud vases filled with b&w textured blooms (we needed lots of space for food, so these petite pieces added just the right amount of height and interest to the tables) and placesettings were noted with placecards hand-lettered by my friend and favorite calligrapher, Anne Robin.  The look was simple and unfussy but still brimming with playful details.  I can never resist adding a little bit of whimsy when I can…  I even dressed the part, in a black and white dress from Anthropologie topped with a loud & crazy Alice + Olivia embroidered jacket.

As guests arrived, I greeted each one (alongside my amazing assistant, Michelle) and they were offered a beautiful hand-crafted drink.  I was crazy about the “mocktail” we served up which featured passion fruit juice, pear nectar, lemon juice and sugar.  Yum!  As attendees trickled in, they noshed at one of Heirloom’s signature crostini stations: a feast for the senses brimming with artisan cured meats, fresh milk cheeses, olives, organic pickled vegetables, grilled flatbreads, housemade crostini and a variety of dips, nuts and butters.  I made sure we took care of our two gluten free attendees (Hi sweet J & L!), too!

I made a brief welcome and let Chef Matt take it from there!  Our menu was as follows:

White Corn and Radish Salad: shaved carrots, mouse melon and cucumbers,
cherry tomatoes, tomatillo vinaigrette, toasted ricotta cheese and spicy almonds.

Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli: plancha grilled pumpkin, fried sage, crumbled queso fresco,
charred spring onion, swiss chard swerved witha  pumpkin bisque velouté

Heirloom LA Syrah Braised Buffalo Short Ribs (!): served with tuscan kale,
natural jus and tuscan cabbage

Sautéed Baby Broccoli: with citrus vinaigrette, roasted fennel and dandelion greens,
spicy pumpkin seeds and a cilantro vinaigrette

Flourless Chocolate Cake: topped with dark chocolate ganache,
creme anglaise and seasonal berries

My mouth is watering just reliving that perfect meal!

what can I say?  I get excited about food, clearly…

By the end of the evening, I felt like we had all successfully broken the ice and made some new friends.  It was the ideal way to kick off our time together and give the attendees “just a taste” of what was to come…  Each attendee left with a food-inspired gift along those lines, featuring a favorite ascolana olive oil from Il Fustino and artisan finishing salt from Jacobsen Salt Co.

VENDORS: Design & Styling by Love & Splendor | Photography by Ryan Ray | Catering by Heirloom LA | Venue: The Salon by Heirloom LA | Furniture Rental by Found Vintage Rentals | Tabletop Rental by Casa de Perrin | Floral by JL Designs | Linens by La Tavola Fine Linens | Paper Goods by Love & Splendor in-house graphic designer, Kristin

I can’t wait to welcome a new bunch of attendees this fall and make new memories and new friends…

I’ll be recapping the rest of the workshop in 3 more posts coming your way soon!  :)  Until then, make sure to save-the-date for September 14-17 to join me for round 2 at beautiful Greengate Ranch in SLO!  One thing I can certainly promise is that the food will (once again) be utterly incredible.

I haven’t blogged in ages so let’s just put that aside for a moment.  Life with two little ones at home has certainly kept me busy!  I promise some catch-up posts are coming soon, including some wonderful wedding features and fun family updates.  Today, I am THRILLED to share (here on the blog) that I’m hosting the 2nd Love & Splendor Workshop this fall, September 14-17, 2015, at beautiful Greengate Ranch and Vineyard in San Luis Obispo, California!

I revealed the location of the workshop yesterday on Instagram, but wanted to give you a little more information about the stunning venue I selected for our time together this fall.  In case you are a newcomer to my blog or haven’t heard about the workshop in the past, let me first introduce you to the workshop itself.  Last fall, I had the privilege and joy of hosting my very first wedding workshop.  It took place at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles and 15 wonderful women (including one from Canada, and one from Greece!) joined me for a time of instruction and inspiration.  The Love & Splendor Workshop is an immersive educational experience for aspiring and current wedding planners and designers.  Whether you’re still dreaming of taking the leap into entrepreneurship, or have been working in the business for years, I believe that the workshop will facilitate growth, innovation and excitement for all of the attendees.  The workshop covers everything you need to know about starting and building a successful planning and design business, as well as how to continue to elevate your client experience, remain memorable in a saturated market, and develop and nurture incredible relationships with your colleagues and collaborators.  I strive to make the workshop an immersive experience, which means I plan and design every moment (from classroom sessions to spectacular meals together) to feel special.  I am blessed to have some amazing friends and collaborators on board (again! yes!!) and I can’t wait to reveal more details in the coming weeks…

On Monday I’ll be sharing some details about the workshop schedule and how some changes to the itinerary will help encourage even more connecting and learning.  For now, save the dates!!

Today’s workshop focus is a reveal of the location of the workshop: Greengate Ranch and Vineyard in beautiful SLO, located on the central coast of California.  One of the key distinctions with this year’s workshop is that I chose a private property as our home base, rather than a hotel.  I wanted to create a more retreat-like atmosphere and experience, where we had more opportunities to mingle, socialize, dream and share together.  I can’t imagine a more perfect place to do this than Greengate.

Greengate is a working ranch and vineyard set in the Edna Valley, a winemaking region here in CA.  Surrounded by lush green hills, the sprawling property features a variety of settings for special events including two luxury rental homes, grassy open lawns, a pond and a stunning barn and courtyard.  There are chickens and horses on-site, and I’m not kidding when I say the birds just sing sweeter there.  I’ll have to post a video up on IG that I took yesterday morning… I couldn’t believe the beautiful song they sang for my arrival.  😉  Greengate Ranch frequently hosts incredible weddings and events, but their wonderful grounds make it perfect for a workshop retreat as well!  There are a number of accommodations on-site that will facilitate smooth travel arrangements.  I will outline accommodations in a future post but it will be a first-come, first-served basis for accommodations.  The first attendees to sign up with get “dibs” on the magnificent rooms on-site.  But don’t you fret — the other attendees will stay in phenomenal 2-bedroom oceanview suites at a four diamond resort just 15 minutes away (with shuttle provided back and forth each day).  So the real question is, do you want the vineyard or ocean view??

We will spend our “classroom sessions” in the ranch house’s gorgeous library/den or great room, with that golden California light pouring in through the windows.  But with this beautiful setting, I imagine so many more unique and valuable learning opportunities.  I see breakfast around the gigantic kitchen island, sitting on barstools and sharing stories and dreams together.  I see us roasting marshmallows out back (I’ll bring plenty so please don’t let me be the only one… haha), wrapped up in blankets under the sparkling stars.  I know it sounds crazy but there’s something about a bonfire that helps people open up.  I’ve had so many great conversations with friends around a fire… I look forward to the ones I’ll have with you this fall!  To top it off, many/most of our speakers will be staying with us on-site (yes!!) which means instead of just 45 minutes listening to a speaker from a distance, you will have more opportunities to ask questions, get to know everyone, and build genuine relationships.  Someone pinch me, because I seriously can’t imagine anything better than a giant sleepover with my favorite friends & colleagues plus the new ones I’ll be making.  :)

I’ll be taking advantage of all the unique venues on-site at Greengate to design some magical experiences.  If you want a taste of the scale of the workshop, take a peek at these posts Green Wedding Shoes shared from the last workshop: HERE and HERE.  You can expect the same attention to detail this time; I definitely don’t hold back when it comes to spoiling my attendees!

I have a LOT more to share next week (schedule! speakers! collaborators! a full recap of what we did last year!) but I’m going to wrap up now with some photos I snapped at Greengate yesterday.  You can see much more on their website as well — I thought it was easier to direct you there then re-post them all here!  😉

Enjoy your Friday and see you back here next week!

After a looooong (and unintentional) knitting hiatus of a year, it’s safe to say I’ve caught the bug again.  I first learned to knit in 2012, shortly after Olive was born.  It has quickly become one of my favorite hobbies.  I find it relaxing, inspiring and something that feeds my desire to work creatively with my hands.  I have a lot of expectant mama friends in my life right now and felt compelled to pick up the needles and knit some sweet little hats.  They make perfect, heartfelt heirlooms to add to any shower present.  They are also a super quick knit, due to their petite size.  Nothing is more satisfying that finishing a quickie knitting project!  Even with my crazy schedule, I have managed to knit 3 hats in a week and already have the fourth one in the works!  I tend to knit after Olive goes to bed, sitting with a cup of tea and a cozy blanket on the couch.  It’s a great way to unwind after a long day!

Working with some beautiful yarns by AraucaniaSwans Island Co., Rowan, Manos del Uruguay and Misti Alpaca.  I admit I’m a bit of a yarn snob, but working with beautiful yarns is part of what makes knitting so enjoyable for me.

You can find tons of newborn hat patterns online, but I decided to wing it based on what I had in my yarn stash.  I’m using lots of worsted weight yarns and a size 6 – 12″ circular needle (I swear by Addi Turbo needles and could never look back after switching).  My simple pattern is to CO 88 stitches, join in the round, and do a simple K2P2 brim (1.5″ish).  Then, I knit in the round until I have 3.75-4″ from the CO edge.  The decrease pattern is:

K6, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (77 stitches)  K5, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (66 stitches) K4, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (55 stitches) K3, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (44 stitches.  This is where I start transferring to dpns — I like the rosewood cubics dpns from Knitter’s Pride.) K2, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (33 stitches)  K1, k2tog until end of round, then work one complete knit round. (22 stitches) K2tog for an entire round. (11 stitches)  Then, K2tog five times, and knit the last remaining stitch (6 stitches).  Using a tapestry needle, run the remaining yarn through the live stitches, pull tight and down through the hat, and weave in the ends inside the hat.

Of course, if you use lighter weight yarns, you’ll want a smaller needle and more stitches.  If you use a chunkier yarn, grab a larger needle and fewer stitches.  Play around and see what works for you.  The Purl Bee has 3 great (free!) patterns for newborn baby hats using their line weight yarn and you can see they CO 108 stitches and use a size 2 needle.

I’m totally on a roll right now and hope to finish 15-20 hats in the next month, so I can gift them to all the mamas-to-be in my life.  Any knitters out there??  I’d love to know what’s currently on your needles!

I hope you’re all having a great week so far.  My 2015 is off to an amazing start and I hope the same is true for you!

I have been dying to share this special celebration with you, and I am thrilled that the day has finally arrived!  Tina and Brian’s incredibly creative, colorful, and detail-laden 5-year vow renewal is featured today on Green Wedding Shoes (thank you, sweet Jen!).  Make sure you scoot on over to feast on all the eye candy, courtesy of my talented friend Braedon Flynn.  It is always an honor to be featured on Green Wedding Shoes and I think it’s the perfect venue to debut these stunning images.

I couldn’t resist sharing my own post today, whittled down to some of my favorite images from the day, as well as some extra background and details.  I had the hardest time selecting photos because this event was seriously jam-packed with gorgeous.  Everywhere you turned, there were layers and layers of beauty and visual interest.  I hope you’re pulled up in a comfy chair and ready to dive into all the goodness.

Tina and Brian are a very special couple to me, because we go way, way back to 2009.  Tina had been a blog follower even before her engagement, and I was blown away when she contacted me to help her style her nearly 800-guest wedding in Taipei, Taiwan (!!!) *and* her stateside reception in Los Angeles.  We clicked from the very start, and I can tell you that she truly become one of my most precious friends since then.  When she told me she wanted to throw a 5-year vow renewal celebration, and wanted me to be a part of it again, I was over the moon.  Tina, for you — any party, anytime, I’m there.  😉  It is a dream working with a friend/client who is so creative and stylish herself, yet also yields to her vendors an amazing amount of trust.  She had such a strong sense of vision from the get-go, and all we had to do was embellish and breathe life into it!

For this occasion, I had the pleasure of collaborating with  my dear friend, Tori Hendrix of Sitting in a Tree Design, on the design for the celebration.  We had a perfect creative synergy and had a blast working together!  The vow renewal was drenched in rich colors embracing a jewel-toned palette (inspired by Tina’s background as a gemologist) that included sapphire, emerald green, deepest purple, oxblood, onyx and metallic accents.  Texture also played a big part in the overall event design, and elements such as leather, ponyhair hide, herringbone tweed and velvet all made their way into the look of the day.

Tina blew us away right out of the gate by setting the tone with her one-of-a-kind invitations.  You guys, it was the kind of invitation that you wonder how you can display forever.  (No wonder, since Tina is a gifted calligrapher and hand lettering artist that goes by Miss Multee.)  A custom black acrylic box was topped with a geode “handle” like a sleek jewelry box.  Inside upon a velvet pillow, an agate slice was hand-lettered in gold ink.  Accessory cards were also done in Tina’s calligraphy, letterpressed and foil stamped by Copper Willow.  A black leather tag wrapped around the entire box on a length of black suede cord.  It took my breath away!  Best of all, Tina had thoughtfully chosen each geode and agate slice to match the style and sensibilities of the recipient.  No two were alike.

They invited 30 of their nearest and dearest to be present for this momentous occasion.  Though the celebration was intimately-sized, the details were larger than life and styled for maximum impact.  Upon arrival, guests encountered a station with an array of floral crowns and boutonnieres to adorn themselves.  They grabbed a beverage and followed a path through a set of striking green vintage doors to enter the ceremony space, where sumptuous upholstered furniture from Found Vintage Rentals faced a bougainvillea-draped arch by Siren Floral Co.  Overhead, hundreds of agate slices were strung as linear garlands, creating an aerial “cloud” (one of our earliest design ideas).

The incredible dinner, artfully prepared by Chef Matt of Heirloom LA, was entirely vegetarian (and mostly vegan).  Tina and Brian, both vegetarians, were excited to share an inventive meatless meal with their guests.  Creative courses included beet greens ravioli, coddled eggs and potatoes served in miniature mason jars, and the tiniest casserole dishes filled with vegetarian bibimbap: a spicy and savory Korean rice dish.  Sweets were plentiful, with macaron ice cream sandwiches by Sweet and Saucy Shop and Sweet Lucie’s, as well as an assortment of mini desserts and cakes by The Scootabaker.

Guests enjoyed the evening at one of four uniquely-designed tablescapes.  Each table featured a unique color story and design details.  It looked like a veritable showcase of the Casa de Perrin inventory, because we were able to play with so many incredible pieces from their collection.  One table featured ponyhair, succulents, airplants, cement, clear glass, corrugated zinc and wood.  A second table was topped with black leather placemats (made by Tori), sapphire blue glassware and milkglass budvases filled with bursts of berry-colored florals.  The third table showcased green glass demijohns from Found, filled with bougainvillea.  Black taper candles in brass candlesticks completed the moody look.  The couple themselves joined their friends at the fourth vignette: a breathtaking green wooden table topped with dazzling gold details, aubergine glassware and a literal treasure chest overflowing with florals.  Rachael of Siren Floral Co. beautifully executed the floral vision to capture the wild, romantic, lush feel of the day.  Although each table felt distinct, they were tied together in the scale of their design.  I spent most of the day debating which one was my favorite and I think I changed my mind 100 times!

Tina and Brian are a truly unique couple, inspiring those around them with their impeccable taste as well as their generous and loving hearts.  Everyone present, myself included, felt blessed to be a part of such a special celebration.  Sitting down as a guest that evening was the ultimate gift, because I am thankful to be invited into their lives after all these years.  I wish Tina and Brian only the best for the future and am already counting down until their 10-year anniversary!

Vendor Dream Team

photography: Braedon Photography // wedding planning + design: Love & Splendor // venue: The couple’s home in Los Angeles, California // wedding design + styling: Sitting in a Tree Events // florals: Siren Floral Co. // videography: Elysium Productions // invitations, favors + calligraphy: bride, Miss Multee // printing studio: Copper Willow Paper Studio // makeup: e2beauty // hair: 1011 Makeup // furniture rentals: Found Vintage Rentals // tabletop rentals: Casa de Perrin // welcome drinks + dessert bar rentals: The Hostess Haven // table linens: La Tavola // geodes, agates + crystals: All sourced by bride // concrete planters: Concrete Geometric // bar: Please & Thank You Bar // catering: Heirloom LA // desserts: The Scootabaker // macaron ice cream sandwiches: Sweet & Saucy Shop + Sweet Lucie’s // bride’s gowns: Rachel Gilbert // bride’s shoes: ValentinoStella McCartney // bride’s headpieces: Twigs & Honey // groom’s suit: Club Monaco // shirts: Club Monaco(multee)project // shoes: Cole Haan // watch: Rolex // live musician: Kevin Miso

And I can’t end this post without sneaking these personal photos of us at the celebration.  See that ridiculous swing that Rachael made??  Braedon snapped a dozen photos of Olive on it and they’re easily some of my favorites of my little girl!  Thanks also to Erica of 10.11 Makeup who did my hair and makeup as a gift from Tina (!!!).

 

I love the excitement and anticipation that comes with this time of year.  Although much of the hustle surrounding Christmas can be closely related to a preoccupation with gifts and material goods, I strive to keep my mind and heart focused on the reason behind the season.  As Olive gets older, we are looking forward to infusing our holiday traditions with meaning, drawing her attention to the beauty of Christ and His arrival here on earth.  There are many family gatherings we will enjoy later this week, with bountiful feasts to eat and beautiful packages to open.  Above all, however, we hope Olive grows up to learn about the greatest gift we’ve received, and how it allows us to truly have joy in all circumstances.

This year will be a different experience because we aren’t going to see our families until Christmas Day.  While we will surely miss the fabulous Christmas Eve celebration with Erik’s family (the Italian seafood feast known as festa dei sette pesci), we are excited to begin laying the foundation for our own household traditions.  I love brainstorming ways to make these occasions memorable for our family!  Decorating the tree was so special this year, seeing Olive light up (pun intended) as we adorned it with heirloom ornaments.  I know that as she gets older, these activities and moments will become precious to her, too.

Here are a few fun Christmas activities we’ve enjoyed so far this month.

getting our Christmas tree (about 7′ tall) the weekend after Thanksgiving

Hospitality Night in Cambria + lights at the Cambria Pines Lodge

there’s nothing like Disneyland at Christmas

Christmas light trolley tour in Santa Barbara (our first time and SO much fun!)

3rd-annual dinner at the over-the-top Madonna Inn: it’s a Christmas extravaganza in there!

Christmas party at church!

sitting by the fireplace and watching classic Christmas movies

indulging in special treats like homemade cinnamon-sugar donuts (baked!)

3rd-annual Christmas Mamas Party for my dearest friends in the wedding industry

We are planning to have a sweet morning at home on Christmas with just the three of us.  It’ll be our first Christmas waking up in our own home!  I’ll make a special breakfast and Erik will read scripture.  Then, we plan on heading to spend the rest of the week with family.  Does your family do anything special this time of year?  I’d love to hear about your own traditions!

I hope you have a warm and blessed holiday with your loved ones. See you again soon!

It was such a joy to host our first Thanksgiving this year; in a lot of ways it felt like a rite of passage.  Once you’re hosting holidays, I think you’re a bonafide adult.  😉  We have been traveling so much this year that we felt like we just needed to slow down a bit this season.  After some discussion, we decided to stay here for Thanksgiving and simply invite our families to join if they were willing.  With my sister out of state, and one of Erik’s sisters out of the country (on her honeymoon!), we knew the family would be a bit spread out.  In the end, we hosted just a handful of relatives: my parents and Erik’s eldest sister and her family.  Our table of 9 felt perfectly intimate and cozy and we were able to enjoy a wonderful meal along with meaningful company.  I especially enjoyed watching Olive playing with her two cousins!  She doesn’t get to see them very often so it is a shriek-fest of joy when she is with them.  What a blessing!

I had my sweet mama here to serve as the ultimate sous chef.  She helped me wash, peel and chop vegetables all morning while I tended to each dish.  She also washed dishes and countertops, packed up leftovers and helped me make a lovely turkey broth.  We shared a lot of great conversation in the kitchen and agreed we ought to do more cooking together.  It is such a timeless way to connect parent and child, mother and daughter.  Working alongside one another, we laughed and reminisced and taste-tested.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for her beautiful heart of sacrificial service.  There is no doubt about it — my mom is the most servant-hearted person I know.  The way she works so hard (to this day) to bless me, my sister, and our husbands (and Olive, of course!) convicts me of my own need to serve more.  How’s that for gratitude on Thanksgiving??

I loved being the hostess this year; every part of the process delights me.  From planning the menu, to shopping for ingredients, to setting the table, I take such pleasure in creating a special experience for my loved ones.  You know how they say the cobbler’s children have no shoes?  It’s true in the event world, too: we spend so much time planning personalized celebrations for others (whom I love!) that we often skip the effort for our own families.  While I know that a get-together (especially Thanksgiving!) does not find its value in perfectly placed flatware and manicured tabletops, I still think there is worth in thoughtful details that make a guest feel special.  I tea-stained cheesecloths for a simple runner (under $5), gathered Trader Joe’s tulips + spider mums in some vintage brass and Delftware vases from my own collection, and used my own china, flatware, napkins and amber glassware to set the table.  The pumpkins are part of our home’s fall décor — I just moved them from the living room to the dining table.  Candles always elevate the formality of a tabletop so I just placed votives into extra amber goblets I had!  To top everything off, I foraged some fallen leaves from the neighborhood.  And by “foraged,” I mean I pulled over on the side of a road and picked pretty leaves off of someone’s yard while their dog barked menacingly at me.  It was hilarious and worth it!

My favorite part of our Thanksgiving table (other than the people around it) was the table itself.  My amazing husband built the table the week before the gathering, using reclaimed wood and US-made steel hairpin legs.  He even made a matching bench for one side!  We look forward to hunting for just the right vintage chairs to complete the set; on Thanksgiving we just used old dining room chairs we had.  Being the sap that I am, I felt there was a unique symbolism in gathering around a table that was built by my husband, hosting our very first family holiday.  I can’t wait to make many more memories around that perfectly imperfect table.

Here’s a glimpse of our gathering…

prep in progress

not the best pic of me and my mama but I’ll take it!  😉  Next year we’ll take more pictures of people!

before: slathered with sage butter and stuffed with shallots, apples, lemons, celery and herbs.

after!  Don’t mind my amateur trussing job.  It was delicious!

the beautiful table + bench

Erik’s beautiful sister, her husband, and two sons (Olive’s cousins) — check out Olive’s awesome bedhead!

homemade vanilla bean ice cream

dessert: apple crumble à la mode with salted caramel sauce

I hope you all are having a great weekend!  We are doing lots of tidying/cleaning — I feel like I have the spring cleaning bug a few months early.  I’m taking advantage of the motivation and purging tons of stuff.  See you again next week!  :)

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones.  Erik and I hosted our very first Thanksgiving and it was a joyful day from start to finish.  I’ll be sharing more about our Thanksgiving celebration later this week!  In the afterglow of the last holiday, and in great anticipation for Christmas, I wanted to get this post up as soon as possible.  I actually planned to write and post it last week, for Thanksgiving itself, but prepping for our get-together took precedence.  😉

Every November here in the US, we are collectively reminded to give thanks for what we have.  It’s a time when we reflect on the bounty of what we have and savor it.  As I tick off my own list of blessings, I am reminded to direct my thanks to the great Giver of gifts: my God.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” // James 1:17

I have a powerful and loving God, and a life-giving relationship with Him.  I have a devoted, silly, inspiring husband who loves me with patience, grace and humility.  My daughter — I have a daughter!! — fills our home with laughter and my days with profound lessons.  I have a wonderful family who lends me support and encouragement on a daily basis.  I’m blessed with an amazing group of friends, near and far, who have been by my side for unspeakably joyful moments as well as the dark valleys of heartbreak.  I am fortunate to live in this beautiful country.  While it may be imperfect (as we all are), it is still a place where I can enjoy freedoms that are denied to others around the world.  I have much more than I need and a whole lot of what I want, too.  Some might say it is easy for someone “like me” to express gratitude.

It catches me off-guard when someone will tell me something along those lines — that I have it easy, that I lead some sort of charmed life.  I suppose that if you’re only seeing snippets on the blog or photos on social media, it might be possible to think that.  Those who have read this blog over time, however, or know me in real life, know that I have experienced many sorrows along with my sweetest days.  I’m not here to list off burdens or compare griefs.  That’s not what this post is about.  I’m simply saying that we all have experienced pain and difficulty.  The beauty is this: gratitude transcends those circumstances and experiences.  A spirit of gratitude revels in the everyday blessings.

You’ve probably heard the difference between happiness and joy: happiness is based on your circumstances.  It can be evoked by a delightful occasion and dashed by a terrible situation.  Joy, however, is deep-seated and unwavering.  It is a disposition of the soul — a comfort and peace that cannot be shaken or diminished.  My joy is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because of who He is and what He’s done for me, I can live and walk in JOY.  When someone tells me I seem like a really “happy person,” I know that what they’re really seeing is the joy of Christ in me.  And that is a blessing (since I am so imperfect and cannot reflect Christ perfectly)!  In times of distress and trials, I can rest in knowing that God’s sovereignty and love never change.  When my heart aches and longs for things I do not yet have, I can still rejoice in what I do have in Him — that which can never be taken away from me.

I write these words and I believe them with every part of my heart, but I still fail in practice.  I catch myself wishing or wanting for more, begrudging the abundance I have and even desiring the gifts of another.  We redefine luxuries as needs.  We compare treasure and are left wanting.  I need to be reminded sometimes (even in writing something like this post!) to give thanks at always.  I must rest in the gracious provision of God and trust that He cares for me.

Gratitude is so closely tied to contentment: simply being satisfied with what you have.  It seems like we are trained from childhood to always want more, to strive for more.  It’s a tragic misdirection of our energies.  We see time and again that people who have more are not necessarily more fulfilled.  (In fact, I’ve seen almost the opposite…)  Contentment is not about quantity but perspective.  When we live in gratitude and mindfully acknowledge what we do have, we find contentment.  We can thank God for what we have, where we are.  We can rest instead of resist.  We can lift praise rather than petitions.  Let me be clear: I am not against self-improvement or goals or ambitions of any kind.  The question is whether or not my achievement of those goals (on my timeline, according to my plans) is tied to my joy.  If I live and die by the plans I make for myself, I am setting myself up for disappointment.  I would be chasing happiness, not joy.

This year is the first year that Olive really “gets” Christmas and we are seizing the opportunity to instruct her about the true meaning of the holiday.  We pray she will grow to cultivate a heart of contentment, acknowledging what she has (and who it comes from) and being sincerely grateful for every blessing.  All I want for Christmas is a heart of contentment and a spirit of gratitude.  All I want for her is the same.

Thank you for letting me spill a bit of my heart here today.  I am truly thankful for YOU, taking the time to read my fumbling words and sharing life with me.  What are YOU thankful for?

Happy Monday, everyone!  How is it already Thanksgiving week?!  I am equal parts shocked and delighted.  This year we have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving in our own home and I couldn’t be more excited.  With all the traveling we’ve been doing this year, it feels great to just be home for the holiday.  😉  I also look forward to creating more of our own little traditions as a family as Olive gets older.  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a sneak peek of the reclaimed wood dining table that Erik is building for me.  I can’t wait to set it for our Thanksgiving meal!

Over the weekend, I spent some time menu planning and pantry-stocking for the big meal.  I plan to pick up the perishables and fresh veggies tomorrow from our local farm.  Here’s what’s on the menu so far…

  • Appetizers: cheese, charcuterie, lots of olives (yum!)… maybe a roasted cauliflower soup
  • Whole roasted turkey (we picked up an organic, free-range turkey from Mary’s Turkeys // raised about 150 miles from me!!)
  • Apple + Pecan + Chesnut Stuffing (apples from our favorite local apple stand: Gopher Glen)
  • Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots (a healthier take on my childhood favorite, using green beans from our local Rutiz Farms)
  • Chardonnay Glazed Carrots (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens)
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts (with and without bacon, of course)
  • Twice Baked Potatoes (fully loaded with cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives)
  • Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple and Marshmallows (yummmm!  This is Erik’s sister’s specialty!)
  • Whole Cranberry Sauce
  • Apple Crumble (Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Fuji and Christmas Bliss apples from Gopher Glen)
  • Homemade vanilla bean ice cream with salted caramel swirl
  • Our favorite warm apple cider.  It makes the entire house smell heavenly as it sits in the crock pot!

What am I forgetting??  I’d love to hear your Thanksgiving meal “must haves” in the comments.  I still have time to improvise!  :)

Hope you’re having a great start to your week — see you soon!