Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Venues: Cayucos Creek Barn

It's only fitting that the first venue I cover be the Cayucos Creek Barn. It was the very first venue I came across days after we were engaged, and I'll admit--with the first photos I saw posted on the website, I actually laughed out loud! The thought that people would pay to be married at this place was hilarious! But then....there's just something about this place. I started looking at some professional photographs (great shots by Tempting Weddings) and reading about people's experiences there. It has a charm that you can't really describe, but within just a few minutes online I was smitten, as was Raf.

The CCB was also our first stop on the venue tour--we had to stop by in the morning because there was a wedding reception in the afternoon. Here are our impressions based on the core criteria:
  • Cost: The price is RIGHT! The barn is one of the least expensive venues we've found. Granted, there's not much included--you pretty much have to bring everything in here, from tables and chairs, to touches of decor. This obviously costs more money, but it's still cheaper than most places--and, the best part, we get to put our own style into it.
  • The Look & Feeling: Bare bones, rustic, and oh-so-charming! There's absolutely nothing fancy about this place--there's 2 trailers on the site for goodness sake. And yet, I'm tellin ya, the place just grows on you. You can't help but feel relaxed and at home here.
  • Competitive Edge: This place has serious Fun Factor! They have a portable firepit for roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, a horseshoe pit (which we're STOKED about), and a built-in bar. One couple even had someone come in to lead line dancing lessons during the cocktail reception--love it! It's the kind of place where you just want to kick back, relax and have a great time with friends and family--exactly what we're looking to get out of our day. Oh! And it's right next to an avacado orchard! Doesn't get any better than that. Guacamole anyone?!

Long story short--I'll be posting about a lot of places here, but the Barn is really holding its own at the top of the list. You can see all the pictures we took at CCB here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Venue Madness

WARNING: Venue madness is on the way! Raf and I checked out 6 venues in the San Luis area over the weekend, learned about 2 more potentials from photographer Katie DiSimone (who we LOVE!), and have considered a few more in the Bay.

Our comparison criteria include:

  • Cost & what's included
  • Style/look & "feeling"
  • Competive edge

I'll start posting some pics and how each stacks up for us this week. Who knows, maybe we'll even pick a place before November...crazy!

Happy Birthday Jin Ho!

I'm so stoked I finally got to spend Jin Ho's birthday weekend with him! He normally goes to Vegas with his beefsteak friends for the Mr. Universe show or something, but (lucky for me) he skipped it this year! We got a booth at Downtown Brew, where he normally DJs on Saturday nights, and watched a couple super fun bands--The Dirty Heads & Still Time. It was great to catch up with he and D, and finally meet his brother, Dae (on the right).

Side note: Both bands were seriously awesome (you should look for tour dates near you!) I'm totally flirting with the idea of calling Still Time to see how much they'd cost to play the wedding. On iTunes their music has a groove/funk mellowness, but live these guys bring ENERGY! I also hear they do some pretty awesome covers...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Headed to SLO!

We're headed to SLO after work tonight and I can't wait! It's been one of those weeks where I totally need to escape, and San Luis Obispo is my favorite place on earth, so there's no better time or place! Plus we have a weekend of crazy goodness planned...

Most importantly, I get to celebrate Jin Ho's birthday with him for the first time EVER! (He's always in Vegas.) This is also venue madness weekend--we're checking out 4 places we're interested in using for the wedding, as well as hooking up with one of the photographers we've found. Raf's brother, Peter, is also headed down this weekend, so we'll be meeting up at Monika's for some family goodness tonight. Then, of course, I'll get to catch up with Nena & Dana--YAY! Nena just secured a job doing massage at a resort in Avila, so we totally need to celebrate. And Dana is a master baker, so I'm hoping to test out a wedding cupcake recipe or two this weekend as well! :)

Like I said...CAN'T WAIT! Be looking for lots and lots of pics coming soon! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OPW: Mili & Ankit

On September 13th, Raf and I enjoyed a day of OPW madness. It started with us handling the reception prep and vendor coordination for the wedding of my friend, Magda, from work. She planned the wedding herself, then panicked when she realized she didn't have anyone to work with the hotel and reception vendors on the day of the wedding. So, like any schmuck (er...I mean "nice friend"), I volunteered! It wouldn't have been all that foolish, except Madga & Manny's reception started at 5pm in San Francisco, and Mili & Ankit's reception (to which we would be attending as guests) started at 6pm in San Jose--a good hour drive away. Idiot! Long story short, the good news is, while the cocktail reception at Mili's wedding started at 6pm, we didn't head into the ballroom until at least 8pm, so it was barely noticeable that we were late. Whew!

Mili & Ankit's reception was super fun--500+ guests at the Marriott in Santa Clara, an entertaining series of choreographed dances by various friends and family, great late-night dancing, and, of course, excellent Indian food--my fave! (Btw, if anyone has a good photo of Mili & Ankit, send it over so I can post it--I don't have any closeup!)

I had to include this pic of Jules, Ash & I with our champagne. Or shall I say, their champagne and my apple juice...! Wtf people!?! I guess the server didn't think I looked like I needed a drink. (Wrong!)

Monday, September 22, 2008

OPW: Dan & Julie

OPW translation: Other People's Weddings.

Saturday night we attended an engagement party for our friends, Dan and Julie. Dan is one of the guys from Raf's high school crew. Dan and Julie got engaged a couple weeks after we did...and they already have EVERYTHING planned. It's totally irritating! They have their date, venue, colors, flowers, photographer--Julie even bought her dress this weekend! I'm so bad at this game!! I'll catchup...eventually.

Julie showed me a picture of her gown--it's the Adana from Blue by Enzoani. So pretty. I love the gathering, especially in the back.

The funny thing--as I was searching for a photo of the dress from the link she sent me, I recognized the dress right next to it--the Accra, one of the first pages I dog-eared in my gown mag. Not in my budget, but I just love the bust of this dress.

Here are a few more of the boys from the crew--Tags, Ramy & Bryan. I spent the evening entertaining them with visions of Match.com. Can you tell how excited they are?!

Update: Can I just add one more comment on how awesomely hard core Julie is? So 10 minutes after reading this blog post, she found a recent bride selling the Accra on craigslist for $550 off retail. I love it! Unfortunately, as the master hesitator, I'm not quite sure it's the one for me just yet. (Partially because even with a steep discount, it's still spendy!) However, armed with this knowledge, I'll definitely be perusing craigslist when the time comes. Thanks Julie!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Supper Club

Once a month, Ashley, Jules and I, along with our boys (Leo, Chris & Raf), gather for Supper Club. We rotate houses, coordinate menus, and always end up with a rockin meal. Raf and I hosted Supper Club at Apt 345 tonight. We organized last minute this month, so we kept the menu super simple. The good news is, simple is never a bad thing when it comes to food! Our menu included:
  • Grilled Halibut with Cilantro Garlic Butter. The halibut was line-caught in Alaska (by Raf & Dad!), and we substituted lemon for the lime, as that's what we had handy. We tried this sauce for the first time when Nena visited last week and loved it. The combo is super light and tangy.
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob. We are SO excited about how the corn turned out! It was PERFECT! And it doesn't get more simple than this prep. You can see the "recipe" by following the link, as well as a cool little video on All Recipes. It turned out perfectly tender and tasty--we'll definitely be referring back to this method as long as corn is in season.
  • Farmer's Market green salad, prepared by Jules & Chris.
  • Brownies with peanut butter cup ice cream, hot fudge & whipped cream, provided by Ash and Leo (mmmm!)

Raf and I did have a surprise visitor during our prep tonight:

Raf was mortified. First with the fact that he needed to cut some bad spots off the top of each cob, then he freaked when he found a live worm eating it's way through the last one! It was pretty funny. I reminded him that we bought our produce from a local farm that doesn't use pesticides. I'll trade a live worm for succulent, pesticide-free corn anyday! (After he tasted it, I think he was cool with the worm too.)

We also decided to start a "slow food" to-do list today. The idea being that we'll try one new thing from the list each week or two. Items on the list include finding a place to purchase pasturized meat, or making our own bbq sauce, mayo, butter, cheese, etc. Grilling corn on the cob made the list as well--we've always wanted to try it, but never had. Yay us! 1 down, hundreds more to go! :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Loving everything about this look. Especially the awesome way they pulled off a summery orange with these adorable J.Crew dresses.

Layered Gown

Ok, so maybe the layers of this gown are a little too over the top for me to pull off, but there's something about it I love...

Beautiful photos found on the blog of NY photographer Jen Huang.

Friday, September 19, 2008

In Defense of Food

This post is a reminder to myself. As I mentioned in my Bananas post, we know the steps we need to take to begin to reject the industrialized food chain and truly nourish our bodies. However, in chaotic weeks like these, we still find ourselves turning to the box-- processed foods, fast foods and mainstream grocery stores. I need to remind myself regularly how easy and enjoyable the real food path is.

After reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, I quickly devoured In Defense of Food. If you're interested in the 9 minute version of the 200-page book, check out this video:

Michael Pollan - Nightline from Taylor Brooks on Vimeo.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to the Farmer's Market. Thank goodness for video refreshers.

Sweetest Love Story Ever Recorded

I paid my first visit to Vimeo, a video sharing website, today. Highlighted on the front page was this video:

Too much candy from Capucha on Vimeo.

I just love it! The combo of the French and the fast forward scene reminds me of Amelie, my all time favorite movie!

But really, this is just a teaser for my favorite video Capucha has posted, "Capuchine Meets Alex". I'm going to send you to Vimeo to view this one--because you have to read the story behind the video before you watch it. This is seriously the sweetest love story ever recorded!

Big Country

For our long vacation this year, we spent 2 weeks camping and road tripping through Alaska with my dad. Pops has been talking about moving to Alaska to escape civilization for as long as I can remember, so I've been pushing him to at least take a vacation up there since he retired a few years ago.

It was definitely a wet summer to be camping across Alaska--it rained on us regularly. Fortunately, we had moments of clear, beautiful skies nearly everywhere we went. And let me tell you, when the sky clears, you've never seen anything so beautiful! Everywhere we went the words BIG COUNTRY kept running through my head. Everything is huge and ridiculous and amazing!

We owe a huge THANK YOU to my cousins, Kimmy & Brenda, as well as Bren's man Jimmy. Kim & Bren have worked summers in Alaska in the tourism industry off and on for years now, so they had all the best tips for dad's drive up and our road tripping itinerary. And Jimmy was SO good to us! We crashed at his place for most of the second week of the trip, safe from the rain--enjoying vegetarian goodness, a cozy solarium, and even accordian entertainment! He also linked Dad & Raf up with his buddy Lamont who totally hooked them up with his fishing connections.

I've posted a few of my favorite photos here. To see more, check out our Picasa album.

Jordan Caught the Blogging Bug!

Watch out, good citizens of the world, my people are taking over the blogosphere. That's right, my sister, Jordan, has begun blogging! You can find her daily musings of total randomness at Trailer Gypsy. If you fear people who share their strong opinions, it's probably best to avoid her blog (or any of our family dinners). But if that were the case, let me tell you, you're missing out, cuz she's hilarious!

So...who's next?? I love this idea of keeping up with all my favorite people by blog! Mom? (HA!)

Finding Inspiration

Thank goodness for all the DIY women on the internet, and the other wonderful women who share their ideas. Snippet & Ink is a beautiful eye-candy filled blog of daily wedding inspiration. Lucky for me, her "Real Weddings" coverage includes budget friendly inspiration boards. Well, thank you, Kathryn--I'm inspired!

Today I ran across Real Wedding Saturday: Deanna & Jesse and LOVED it! This couple did an excellent job planning a fun, beautiful, and very personal wedding on a $6k budget! GO TEAM!

I'll also be checking out Deanna's personal blog for more ideas (and instruction!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September Card Club!

Get excited, folks! I'm finally going to use the blog for it's original purpose--sharing crafting updates! Card Club was back in action last night after a brief break (due to our Alaskan vacation). We had 6 ladies for Club at Gina's place, which is always a good time--she stocks plenty of snacks, beer and wine to keep us energized, chatty & crafty!

The Cards--we do 4 at Card Club every month:

I've done this with the Birthday Bella before with different paper...still love it! This was the first Bella appearance at Card Club. Everyone loved her, of course!

Going for a birthday card that could be used for a boy:

Love this one, but can't take credit for it. I totally CASEd it from Stephanie on SCS. See her original here http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/gallery/photo/1019849


How do I know when I'm falling behind? When I'm buried in emails. It happens more often than I'd prefer at work, but over 80 unanswered personal emails (non-junk) is a personal record for me. Grrr...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Have I Mentioned?

I love this guy...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Last Day! Last Day!

Since graduating from college over 4 years ago, Raf has been working for the same employer--a company I affectionately refer to as "The Devil". Don't get me wrong, it's a good company and has been great experience for him, but he's given them more hours in the last 4 years than most of us put in in 10, and I'm looking forward to having my partner home for dinner!

For some time now, we've also been wanting to buy a home and build a life in one community, rather than continuing to split commute 30 minutes in opposite directions. That dream will begin as our reality on Monday when Raf starts his new job, just a couple miles from my office. And then--let the House Hunt begin! WOO HOO!

In the meantime, we're celebrating Raf's LAST DAY, LAST DAY! (Words I've been singing at the top of my lungs since waking up this morning.) This is the celebratory face I was expecting this evening:

This is the one I'm currently getting:

I guess this is what a guy looks like after 4 years without a break. Maybe I'll give him another 10 minutes of rest before I force him to join me for ice cream and champagne.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The BIG News!

Just in case you've been living under a rock...we're ENGAGED! That's right--after nearly 5 years, he still loves me enough to ask, and I still adore him enough to say YES!

The story: We went for a hike in Big Basin on July 19th. I stopped for a snack--partially because I was starved--partially because I knew something was up and was worried I might pass out! I had a pretty good idea it would come that day...but certainly not that moment. Raf was pulling snacks out of our bag, I was sitting on a log, my mouth full of almonds, and I turned my head to find him on one knee holding gleaming BLING to my face! He was so cute. I did my best to chew quickly while he said nice things and squeaked out the actual question, so I wouldn't be spitting food when it was my turn to say yes!

And now the "fun" begins! Ahh, the wonderful world of wedding planning. If anybody has an extra $20k lying around that they'd like to part with--let me give you my number!! In all seriousness though, BEWARE. This brand new blog is about to become wedding idea/vent-fest central. And let me tell you, we are all over the place. This could take a while...

This *bleep* is Bananas...


What's the worst thing your man can come home from the store with after you just finished reading (and loving) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? Answer:

I picked up Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in Alaska because I needed a new read for the ride home. I read the Omnivore's Dilemma earlier this year and it totally opened my eyes to where our food comes from and the impact it's having on our culture, bodies and environment. Since then I've been learning more and we've been slowly trying to make changes to our food habits: eating less meat, shopping at farmer's markets before hitting up the grocery, eating out less and trying to find responsible restaurants to support when we do. I've even been picking up old-school, used gardening books for when we graduate to life with a backyard (hopefully sooner than later!)

I hate to admit that we still don't make our lunches as often as we should, and have still been known to find a drive-thru window at 1am, but we're aware and we're trying! Well, at least I thought we were...until Raf came home with the dreaded bananas!

Why the banana discrimination? Here's the premise of AVM: "Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family abandoned the industrial food pipeline to live a rural life--vowing that, for one year, they'd only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it." One driving force behind this decision is the unreasonable amount of fossil fuels consumed by the industrial foodchain--partially because we demand produce that is out of season and not native to the US. The banana is picked-on in the book on more than one occasion. Why? How many banana trees do you cruise by in your neighborhood? Exactly. Think about the amount of fuel it takes to ship all those bananas from South America everyday. And (side note) what's the deal with our addiction to 3 fruit options? I mean seriously, how many of us deviate from the daily apple, orange, banana formula? It's time to diversify! (Seasonally, of course.)

The worst part of this purchase--it's still summer! There are still beautiful fruit options at our local farm stand. Oh yeah, and we live in California, so those options are never more than a hillside away! Silly boy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Best Music Week Ever

So, the bad news is that I was sick and had to sacrifice my ticket for the Jason Aldean show in San Jose last weekend. The good news is I had 2 nights of awesomeness this week that more than made up for it!

The goodness started on Wednesday when we saw Willie Nelson at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. Wente is an awesome supporter of the non-profit I work for--they've made a rockin 125 case donation to our events to celebrate their 125th anniversary. They treated Raf and I to a show of our choice from their summer concert series, and I wasted no time choosing the Willie show! It was so much fun! The venue was intimate and beautiful, the food was incredible (as always), and Willie was a riot! It's crazy to listen to him live--he sings his songs like he's telling jokes--people were cracking up. The highlights were two new songs he's written about being old: Superman and You Don't Think I'm Funny Anymore. Highly recommended hilariousness!

The second night of amazingness was on Friday when we went to the Dave Matthews Band show at The Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley. We go see DMB at Shoreline every year and it's always a great time. When it comes to live music, I'm a grass girl. The downside: the artists look like ants on the stage, so I end up watching the screens the whole time. The upside: it's a night under the stars in the grass rather than an uncomfy seat! Well, let me tell you, there was no risk of screen-watching at this venue--The Greek is absolutely UNBELIEVABLE! There can't be a bad seat in the house...especially not ours, on the second step off the ground! We saw Dave's every facial expression, every eyebrow lift--and who knew Dave was a dancer?! Let me tell you, you can't see that from the screens! The best part of all? They played Cornbread--my FAVE DMB song live! It was an unforgettable night, and we walked away with a kickass concert poster so we can remember it everyday (no DMB pun intended!)

Hello World!

Today is the day. It took me FOR-EV-ER to get this blog started in June. Yes, it's Septbember and I said June. Why did it take me so long to complete a 3 minute process? Because EVERY cool blog title I could think of was taken. Literally, like days worth of trying names. It was ridiculous. The annoying part? I think a whopping 2 of them had more than one blog post, most had none. And now look what I've done--I've joined the ranks of those annoying masses who setup a blog, take a name off the market, then never post a damn thing! Well World, today is the day that ends. Lucky you. Apt 345 has officially been born. WOO HOO!