Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today I'm thankful for...
  • The easy blending of our families
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Beating Raf in the Battle of the Broccoli Casseroles (mom's recipe beats Cooking Light)
  • Fresh cut Christmas trees delivered by Pops
  • The first of Ramy's weekly texts that made my heart warm
  • Yet another good year

Wishing you a joyful day with family and friends!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goodbye Apt 345.

The apartment, not the blog. Had you worried though, didn't I?

Now that Raf and I work just a few miles apart, it no longer made sense to commute 35 minutes each way once our lease was up. So we said a fond farewell to Apt 345 in Fremont yesterday. What will I miss? Dinners on the patio overlooking the lawn and huge trees. The orientation of my project desk, directly behind the couch--so I could craft and watch movies at the same time. Being across the street from the best scrapbook store in the Bay. All the super yummy Indian food.

What am I excited about at the new place? Storage space galore. 1-2 mile commutes. Resuming Neighbor Nites. In-house laundry (I've done 4 loads in 24 hours). Walking to the movies. High ceilings. Being 35 minutes closer to Livermore.

And in response to the question of the hour: what's going to happen to the blog name now that we no longer live in Apt 345? Nothing. It was our first solo place together. It was where we were living when he asked and I said yes.

Plus, I just like the name. :)

Engaged: Andy & Shannon!

It's madness, madness, I say! We're celebrating yet another engagement, this time Andy and Shannon! You all know Andy. Andy's been around since the beginning--long before "Brooke & Raf: The Couple", back in the days of "Brooke: Raf & Andy's Pledge Ed". Andy was also our roommate for a couple years--good times, filled with non-stop political debates. :)

Anyway, almost exactly one year ago I spotted (I wouldn't say "met") Shannon for the first time. After a Livermore wine tour to celebrate Julia, Bryan and my birthdays, we grabbed some food at the restaurant where Shannon worked (one of many in the lot where we were parked, but Andy was only interested in one--surprise, surprise). I would say this was still during the courtship period--in other words, Andy was in hot pursuit, Shannon was making no commitments!

And yet--just one short year later, they're making the commitment of a lifetime! I've never seen Andy more content, and I am SO happy for them! Congrats you guys. Looking forward to many years of doggie chat, political debates, and backyard barbecues!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Love Birthdays

Especially when they're mine! There's no other day I feel more loved. The best is walking out of dinner to 6 new voicemails--half of which involve singing! I think we should all have birthdays 4 or 5 times a year so we can be reminded more regularly how much we're loved.

Here are a few highlights from the day:

  • Hawaiian Burrito for dinner at Hukilau (my fave!)

  • An all day training (ick) highlighted by unexpected birthday cake (yay!)

  • The "Happy Birthday Cha-Cha-Cha" voicemail from Zoe & Maddy (best ever!)

  • My birthday present--a soapmaking class with Raf next month (can't wait!!)

Happy Happy Birthday to Me!

Btw, the photo above is from the Joie de Vivre Hotels Joy of Life Rewards Club. It makes me happy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Collections: Tableware

Warning: This is a long one!

Go ahead, call me crazy. We've decided to thrift some of our tableware rather than renting it. I originally got the idea to thrift the plates for our reception from Big Sur Wedding, and the more I thought about it, the more fun it sounded! Here's my reasoning:

It will cost us about $.50 per plate and per piece(!) of silverware to rent them = $2 per person for plate, fork, knife & spoon. We've decided on a thrifting price limit of $1 per plate and $.25 per piece of silverware = $1.75 maximum. Thus, I'm saving money! Ok, all that effort to save $.25 per person is ridiculous, I know that. However, by thrifting, we're supporting organizations that support the community, as most thrift shops benefit homeless shelters, etc.

Also--it's freaking fun! I was feeling a little deflated after the first gown shopping experience, so my mom & sister decided to hit up a bunch of thrift stores in Medford on our way home. (Side note--wow, you've never seen a better town to thrift, we hit/passed at least 8 stores in about a 2 mile trip!) Lucky for me, the first shop we stopped at was a gold mine! We picked up at least 8 dishes there, as well as a hefty handful of cute silverware. Thus, it was there that the decision was made to take on the challange, and it was there that we established our price limit.

Then, amazingly, the next 5 or so stores we hit up ALL had dishes to add to the collection! Basically, it ended up being a lot easier to find the type of dishes I was looking for than I expected--we ended the day with 26 plates and I passed up more than a few. Now just cross your fingers that I'll have as much luck closer to home.

So, what do you think? Are you interested in joining in the fun?? C' know you wanna! If so, here are the parameters:

  • Plates: we're collecting vintage stoneware-style plates--the heavy ones, not those thin, light white ones found in all our grandparents cabinets. All the ones we've found have a beige-ish base color and some sort of good time design in the middle (no blank centers). Remember, our price limit is $1 per dish. We found a few gorgeous collectables closer to $5, but a limit is a limit (mom!)

  • Silverware: we're collecting forks, knives and spoons. There's no real method to our madness, just stuff we thought was fun. It's all been totally miscellanous to this point (we haven't found any sets). None of it is fine dining status--just everyday old school goodness--not too heavy, not too light. Again, our price limit on silverware is $.25 per piece.

  • Canning Jars: I was also hoping to thrift pint size canning jars to use as water glasses. However, what I've learned so far is: people who can are also people who thrift! Every store we visited was wiped of jars and the ladies laughed when we asked. They said the minute they hit the shelves they're gone again. (Damn me for sending half a dozen to the thrift store a couple years ago!) Anyway, I don't think we'll reach the 120-ish mark by thrifting jars, so I'm thinking of skipping that one. However, if you see some in your thrifting endeavors--go ahead and grab them! We can still intermingle them with the Patron bottles for flowers--and I just love them, so I'll probably keep them afterwards anyway! Not sure what to name as the price limit since I didn't find a single one, so just keep me posted on the deals you find!
Here are some (terribly shadowed) shots of the 9 styles we have so far:
Check out some of the awesomeness collected by other brides to be. This first shot is from Lena Corwin (loving these!), the second was found on Once Wed and shows shots from both Lena and Big Sur Wedding:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank Goodness for Snippet & Ink

I absolutely love Snippet & Ink. Without this blog, I wouldn't be having nearly as much fun with wedding planning! Here's what I'm loving over there this week...

Digging the slate colored dresses in the background from this sweet Livermore wedding!
These benches are simply perfect! Is it too much to ask my pops to put together 30+ by August?! :)
Backyard weddings make my heart happy.
And this one. This one literally makes me want to cry. I don't know why, it's just perfect. It makes me melt. She hasn't even posted about the wedding yet--this is just the sneak peek! I'm pathetic.

Who Knew?

I can find joy in a HUGE gown! Rebeca by Pronovias.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

As you may have heard, we're planning to completely forgo the traditional (super spendy and often tasteless) wedding cake in favor of cupcakes baked by loving "volunteers"! I've already started bugging some of my best baker friends about what kind of cupcakes they might be willing to contribute.

While perusing a cool new (to me) blog tonight, Homemade by Jill, I came across her recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes and immediately thought of one of my contributors. Don't these just have Ashley written all over them?!?!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Gown Goodness

While in Ashland with my mom and sister this weekend, I visited my first two bridal boutiques. Somebody congratulate me--I didn't even get sick! The first place was terrible--I didn't see even one dress I liked enough to try on--but in an effort to be a good sport, I still put on a whole pile of hideousness.

I can't believe they talked me into hitting up David's Bridal later in the weekend. The good news is, they did, and it wasn't bad! I tried on multiple dresses that I enjoyed. Of course, I didn't buy one (sorry folks, I'm just not that girl) but at least I was feeling more confident that finding a reasonably priced gown that suits me will be doable. Unfortunately, I can't copy good pics off of the David's website, but here are a few of the gowns I tried and liked (click on the individual photos to see full-size images on their website). My favorite of the day is brand new, so it's not posted yet.

This one is mom's favorite. If I was getting married on the beach, I think it would be mine too, but I'm just not sure.

This one made me HAPPY! I love the playfulness of the tea length. And it's on clearance for $250! So tempting.
And, in the spirit of Gown Goodness, this is the dress Gina chose for her wedding. My favorite from David's is (not surprisingly) similar. Totally different cut/styling (the one I tried is much more simple) but both are lace from head to toe in the vintage ivory on champagne colors. So classic, so feminine, so pretty. Gina is going to look amazing. Yay for girls who can try & buy in one day!

It's All Happening!

Well folks, you'll be glad to hear that things are beginning to come together with the wedding planning! As I had mentioned in a previous post, while looking for vacation homes for family to rent near the barn that had been our venue frontrunner, I came across a rental on for a house in San Luis Obispo that also allowed parties and events. There was just something about it. The minute I saw it online, I knew we'd have to see it--and let me tell you, that wasn't the easiest decision! We were running out of open weekends, had already been down twice, were beginning to feel the pressure to book something before the holidays, and, because this place is a vacation rental rather than a wedding venue, the communication was slower--not to mention that they've only had one wedding on-site, so they're still trying to figure out their fees, etc.

Anyway, long story short, my new "decision maker" (another post!) insisted twice that we go see this place--so we made the last minute decision at 5:30 a couple Fridays ago, and hit the road that night. We spent a good amount of time after the property manager left just getting to know the place...and we fell in love. Everyday since then, I've gotten more and more excited about the wedding. For the first time, I'm able to envision what this day might look like. And let me tell you--I love it! It's going to be so US. Just the way it should be.

So, for all of you who have been hounding us for the basics--it looks like Raf and I will be getting married on Saturday, August 1, 2009, at the Flying Caballos guest house in San Luis Obispo. You can see all the photos we took here.

Get excited--it's all happening!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cool to be American

Knowing I would appreciate it, my friend, Val (the pregnant expat in India I recently told you about), forwarded this article to me: "Suddenly it may be cool to be American again".

This simple article brought tears to my eyes. As much as I love to travel, being identified as American abroad is rarely a fun experience. This is a huge reason why I'm so excited about what happened this week. Not only does it restore the hope of many Americans, it also restores faith in us as a country, as a people, to others around the world. Finally, the rest of the world can relate to us, respect us, and wish us well again.

It's a very good week.

Note: the photo above is from a protest rally in Georgia (the country).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today I am truly proud to be an American.
Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Will.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gown Candy

Hello World. It occurred to me tonight that I'm a blogaholic. I haven't posted in 4 days and it's killing me! Too funny. Better to be addicted to blogging than crack, though, right?

Raf and I made one last quick trip down to SLO this weekend to check out our final venue. I can't wait to blog all about it, but I'm holding off...trying not to jinx it. I think we may finally have our spot!

In the meantime, I'm beginning to think a bit more about gowns. The annual cardmaking weekend with my mom and sister is this weekend in Ashland. I've been holding off on going to a boutique for many reasons, one of the top ones being that I have to go with my mom and sister first. Why? My sister is the only brutally honest person I know. I'm going to need that when considering spending obscene amounts of money on a wear-it-once dress. Who knew her nastiness might actually be useful?! :)

In an effort to fire myself up for trying on wedding gowns, here are a couple pieces of eye candy:

Audrey dress by Jenny Yoo ($450):

Babette French tulle dress by JCrew (listed for $1,800, but I don't think they sell it anymore):

Thank goodness I can't find anywhere to buy this one. I just LOVE all those little dots and the playful flowiness of it, but $1,800 is a wee bit out of what I consider a reasonable price range. :(

Should be interesting to see what we find this weekend!