Up the Coast

A couple weekends ago we traveled north to California’s central coast area. It was a last-minute trip, but I’m glad we did it because it turned into a nice way to celebrate our anniversary. On Saturday we drove up to Half Moon Bay from Santa Cruz, making stops whenever we felt like it. Our first was, of course, a coffeehouse because it is always our mission to find the best iced mochas wherever we are. Caffe Pergolesi was cool because it was an old Victorian house, and it was packed with people hanging out in every room. The vibe was very Santa Cruz.

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Driving up the coast at this time of day was so beautiful because the sun was starting to set. I snapped a photo of this lighthouse, which is a hostel, and the rocky shores before heading to dinner.

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Finally we got to the place we’d talked about since planning this trip: Miramar Beach Restaurant. We first ate there a couple years ago and were blown away by the clam chowder. Do you ever consume something, rave about it forever and then fear you actually built it up way too much and it won’t be as good the next time you have it? That was us with their clam chowder–and  we were thankfully just as satisfied our second time having it. We sat in the outdoor area right next to the water with lights and fire pits that multiple parties can gather around. I have a theory that people who live by coasts are the friendliest, and that night was no exception with the people we were around. It was also nice to get some “congratulations” for our first anniversary and hear stories of others’ marriages (one going strong after 49 years!).

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The next day my husband went scuba diving and I walked around Monterey’s Cannery Row. I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was a real treat. I spent about half my time staring at the sea otters (I caught them as they were playing with each other), and the other half being mesmerized by the jellyfish.

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If you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it. The location itself serves as a gorgeous backdrop, and they definitely let guests enjoy it with the windows and viewing areas. I hope we get another weekend like that again soon!

 

Pumpkin Season

On Saturday, my husband and I took my godson and his little brother to Tanaka Farms in Irvine. It was mine and the boys’ first time there, and it was so much fun! First of all, the place itself is beautiful. Maybe it was the time of day or the rows and rows of pumpkins, but the light and colors all came together for a really lovely afternoon.

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Weekend Getaway to Big Bear

Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our birthdays by going to Big Bear–a place I’d remarkably never been to, despite how close it is to us. It was exactly what we needed, and a great way to escape the triple-degree temps at home. And, I’m already planning the rustic chic decor in our imaginary lake house.

Big Bear was in full fall mode. The local shops had a seasonal contest going on, so we walked by several adorable displays that made us feel like it was autumn (something we don’t get the pleasure of doing every year in Southern California). We meandered through the streets on the way to the lake, stopping to admire the occasional tree with leaves that had actually changed colors. Oh, and the high altitude made us out of breath, so at least we felt like we were getting a good workout in.

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Better Latte Than Never

Sometimes I feel so lucky to have found someone like my husband. I read this New York Times article that claimed America’s best iced latte came from a small coffee stand in Los Angeles. An iced macadamia almond-milk latte getting rave reviews only a drive away? I informed my husband that we had to try it.

So, this weekend we forged traffic, bypassed the parking lots with flat fees and found a lone metered space a couple blocks away. Then we realized we didn’t have change. We scoured the seats and found a few random coins; enough to afford us 28 minutes. That’s plenty of time for a quick coffee run, we thought. Until we stood in line for 25 minutes to get our order. Iced mochas are actually my drink of choice, so we strategically ordered the one we came for as mine and the tried-and-true for him–just in case. After one sip of mine, I made the switch, and my dear, wonderful husband just shook his head and accepted his new beverage.

It was actually our first time at the Grand Central Market in LA, and it’s a shame that we didn’t have more time to walk around. There were tons of food options and several menus were definitely calling out to us. But, our time was slipping away and we had to get back to our car. We then drove another 25 minutes to scope out the venue of a conference I am going to in a couple weeks. He circled around until he could point out exactly where I would have to go to park, and then we went back home. After we arrived in Orange County, we realized we had just taken a 3.5 hour trip, with a total of 28 minutes not driving–all for an iced latte that I didn’t end up liking. Then we looked at each other and laughed.

He then informed me we will be going to San Diego in a couple weeks for a baseball game.

A Warm Winter’s Day

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, so my husband and I decided to take a walk on the beach. Since he is from the Midwest, and often talks about us moving to his hometown, I like to take these moments to ask him what the weather is like there. It helps when we’re driving with the top down in February. These playful back-and-forth sessions are a regular occurrence for us, and I will admit that I am impressed by his unwillingness to ever admit any city is superior to his hometown. Even when he is forced to name stark contrasts that you’d think might change his tune; his overall perspective remains the same. I think his fierce loyalty bodes well for our marriage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As long as we can still go to the beach whenever we want.

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Voila! Personalized Chair Signs

Throughout the wedding-planning process, I really tapped into my inner DIY abilities and looked into several wedding blogs for inspiration. One trend that I really liked were the chair signs for the couple to hang on their seats. There were many cute and silly variations (Mr. and Mrs., His Wife and Her Husband, Ball and Chain), but the pairing that stood out to me was Señor and Señora. Since we had an untraditional wedding, it was a nice nod to my culture in an unexpected way. Like many items that have the word “wedding” in front of it, the ones I found were a bit pricey, so I took a hands-on approach and made them myself.

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Photo credit: i68 Photography

The cool thing about this is that it can work for many events where there’s a guest of honor you want to make feel special. “Future Mommy” or “Future Grandma” can work at a baby shower, “The Graduate” for a graduating student, “Birthday Boy” for a birthday party, etc. Plus, when people go up to the guest of honor, it’s a playful pop that people will inevitably see (and point out!) and will make the event a bit more special.

Here’s how I made them:

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Bridal Shower Buffet of Goodies

Among other amazing details from my bridal shower was the table full of goodies that guests could take home. It’s always nice to present guests with a memento from an event—and giving them options is even better. This buffet-style concept has become very popular among showers, weddings and other parties lately, but I think there was a few details used here that really made it unique.

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Apothecary jars of different shapes and sizes were filled with jewel-toned candy, which made for a bright and cheerful presentation. Some stood out with multiple layers of color, and others had a sheen that made them look like little jewels ready to be picked and devoured. As you can see, stringing ribbon through the printed cards and tying them around the jars made cute labels.

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It’s Raining Cuisinart!

This weekend I had my bridal shower and was blown away buy all the loving touches that were put into it. It took place at Rutabegorz in Tustin, and I must say, my family really transformed the already adorable space into something fantastic. For anyone looking for ideas in shower planning, using the couple’s engagement photos is a great way to add sweet, personal touches throughout the event.

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The U-shaped seats allowed me to see all my beautiful guests.

My fiancé and I love to explore different coffee shops, so they combined that with a chalk aesthetic to create the overall theme. Instead of place cards, each guest received a personalized mug (their names were written in chalk). The mugs were filled with coffee caramel candies. Such a great idea, right?

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