City Guide : South Beach, Miami

miami has been on my short list for quite some time.
the south american + cuban influence , picturesque beaches and art deco architecture are a few reasons why i knew this city would be great — just didn’t know how great!

let’s jump to it – a 36 hour city guide with the best things to do, eat and see in sobe.

City Guide to South Beach Miami

6:30pm – dinner at colette little french bistro 

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

miami is full of immigrants. like we literally did not speak with a single person who was from the states. i think that may be one reason why their food is so amazing.
my favorite cuisine is french and colette’s did not disappoint. the flavors, preparation and presentation were all on point (including a waitress originally from the south of france!). oh and do save room for dessert as their chocolate souffle was heavenly!

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

side note… my guilty pleasure is bravo’s real housewives. anyone with me? i kept my eyes peeled the whole trip for a miami housewife spotting and although i did not see one i did run into a husband. remember frederic  (adriana’s husband)? well there he is in the corner. i sneakily took his picture because i was so excited. also if you remember, he is french which made me that much happier that he picked colette’s for dinner.
and then we took a selfie.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

8pm: walk along lincoln road
lincoln road is filled with great shopping, street performers and people watching.
on another note, b forgot to bring a swimsuit this trip and so we thought it would be simple enough to find a cheap swimsuit in the area. NOT! we went to miami in september (so technically after summer season) and there was not one swimsuit for men anywhere. we searched up and down lincoln road without success. there was plenty of options for women but not men. can you believe that?

10pm: ice cream at frieze ice cream factory

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

DAY 2

9:30am: breakfast at yardbird southern table
yes, there is also a yardbird in vegas but i had never eaten at that one so this southern style restaurant was all knew to me.
located near lincoln road, yardbird southern table is the perfect brunch spot for benedicts, grits, chicken+waffles, homemade donuts and flaky biscuits.
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

why yes, that is a perfect maple donut topped with bacon and a side of extra glaze.

11am: beach & bikes
soak in the ocean views in south beach but don’t forget an umbrella because there is no shade and that sun is strong! you can also rent an umbrella on the beach like we did but they will charge you an arm and a leg.
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
the water is crystal clear and so warm. and those clouds? perfect beach day.
there are also bikes to rent all over south beach (sobe). it is a fun way to see the city but prices are steep.
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

2pm: lunch at las olas cafe
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with s3 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
olas is not trendy or cutesy but it is good cuban food and the prices can’t be beat. we tried a traditional cuban sandwich stuffed with french fries, empanadas (best i ever had) and key lime pie (all of which i would recommend). it is walking distance from the main beach.

3pm: paddle boarding with miami beach paddleboard
so i found an amazing deal through groupon that pushed me over the edge to try paddle boarding — $10 for one hour rental with instruction. it was a no brainer. another bonus — we got to paddle around the bay of miami beach so it is easier to find your balance and the homes lining the bay are drool worthy.
i brought an underwater disposable camera (yes like the 90’s) and still need to get the film developed but trust me, paddle boarding in miami was awesome not to mention a work out!

7pm: learn the art of flying trapeze at the flying trapeze school
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
yes, my hands had blisters after and yes, my arms were sore for a week but learning the art of flying trapeze was one of the biggest thrills. it was an adrenaline rush. i felt so alive and the team at the flying trapeze school were amazing instructors. i felt completely safe and like i was learning the true technique that circus performers use. it was also an added bonus that we were the only 2 to sign up for the class that day so we got to fly a number of times and see the instructors practice. definitely an experience i will never forget!
thanks to my older sister for recommending!

9:30pm: dinner at shake shack
i like shake shack. i have been to the one in new york and was excited to introduce b to the franchise. the burgers are good and very similar to in-n-out. the fries are easily forgettable but that shark attack concrete? heavenly. i like how shake shack has more options than just hamburgers and i feel like the food is very quality but, in-n-out will always have my heart in a burger taste off. i am a west coast gal, what can i say?

DAY 3

9am: breakfast at sofi cafe
after all the rich and heavy food, all i needed was a good acai bowl. that’s all i was craving and sofi cafe is just the place. i absolutely could not get over how darling the furniture was. it was definitely a spot where i would become a regular if i ever live in miami.
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

after breakfast, we walked around south pointe park. it offers scenic views and flat paths. then you can walk back to main beach and grab some of the most amazing tacos before you head out of the magic city.

12pm: lunch at my ceviche
there are a few different locations for this place but we went to the one on washington ave. my ceviche is literally a hole in the wall but it offers the best ceviche and tacos! i got an ahi taco and octopus taco. both were fresh, flavorful and packed with fish (you get your moneys worth).
there is no seating but the restaurant (or food stand) is located next door to a hostel that offers outdoor seating if you order a drink from them. so grab your tacos from my ceviche and a drink from the hostel and bask in your last moments under the miami sun.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

miami was one of my favorite adventures.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

 

in preparation for any trip, i research (especially restaurants) for hours upon hours. i like to have lots of different options and then choose based on our mood. below are a few places i heard good things about but did not have a chance to try.
true loaf – cookies, pastries
puerto sagua – cuban diner food (my sister highly recommended but it was closed due to fire when we were in town)
pubbelly – asian fusion
a la folie cafe – crepes
joe’s takeaways – crab, key lime pie
oliver’s bistro – breakfast / brunch
athen’s juice bar
the bazaar by jose andres – spanish cuisine, tapas style
michael’s genuine food & drink – new american eatery
cena by michy - new american eatery

on a personal note, you may be wondering why we went to miami (and i want to always remember for our own history). i was getting a little anxious of my upcoming birthday. i had talked about how fun it would be to travel on my birthday as to keep me excited for this milestone and less anxious. b sure listened because i opened his card on my birthday that said “put together the puzzle to find out where we will continue the celebration of your birthday”. i couldn’t put together the puzzle fast enough. i jumped up and down. he provided a way then he let me still do my favorite part of traveling (research and make an itinerary). so here we are a month after my birthday in miami continuing the celebration. it is a memory i will cherish forever.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

SHARE THIS POST

a year in review : 2015

i was sad to see 2015 go.
i called 2015 the year of travel.
it was the year i promised myself to work out consistently and see more of the world. i am happy to say that i did both!

january :

date nights at the stanford theatre, oakland temple and go karting.
assisted in hosting a baby shower for a new friend.
Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto plays all the classics IMG_3122

february :

said good bye to my little sister for 18 months as she went to serve the lord in houston, texas.
spent valentine’s day with my whole family eating chinese food and donuts.
my city hating husband surprised me with a staycation to san francisco. 
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIMG_3389.JPG

march :

crafted my way through st. patrick’s day.
my second nephew was born.
got glasses – wait what? yah, i finally accepted that my vision was fading and i needed glasses (all in time for thailand).
traveled to the wonderful country of thailand where a piece of my heart will forever be!
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

april :

said good bye to my sweet best friend. that little pup’s spirit will always be felt in my family’s home.
celebrated easter with my family and darling niece.
threw a french garden baby shower for my dear friend.
celebrated b’s birthday with donuts in bed, hikes, salmon and cuddle sessions. simple pleasures.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset IMG_5070 Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

may :

croquet dates in the garden
visits from b’s sister, brother-in-law & niece
visits from my sister and niece
celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary.
filled the house with fresh peonies

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

june :

traveled to cody, wyoming to spend a week with my family
met my newest nephew, james
saw bryan regan live!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

july :

traveled to mazatlan to spend a week with b’s family
ate at gary danko’s with my parents (yes, it was a highlight)

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
Image-1

august :

celebrated my birthday with airline tickets, french gardens & bundt cake.
said good-bye to b’s brother for two years while he serves the lord in slovakia
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

september :

spent labor day weekend in the city and ate my way through the city.
my niece was born.
traveled to miami to continue the birthday celebrations – lots of sun, trapezing & snacking.
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

october :

camped in big sur
traveled home to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends
dressed as queen mahal and taj mahal
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

november :

s’mores and sunsets in half moon bay.
hosted my first thanksgiving.
my third nephew was born.
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

december :

celebrated the life of donald kirk.
spent christmas in colombia & new years in panama.
Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

i got big plans for you, 2016.

october recap

how was halloween two weeks ago? i think i say this every post but time is just rushing by me as i am running to catch up.
this halloween was a mellow one. we went to a party the weekend before and then passed out candy to our cute neighbors on the day of. we also may or may not have binge watched walking dead (got sucked back into that show after missing 1.5 seasons).

as i mentioned previously, b recently took a trip to india for work. while in india, he picked up a few souvenirs since i am obsessed with all things indian. there is something about their vibrant culture that intrigues me. b knowing this, picked up a saari for me. a perfectly pink saari that made me feel like royalty. this feeling is what inspired me with our halloween costumes this year.
can you guess what we went as?

presenting queen mahal and her taj.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

the taj mahal was made for queen mahal by her husband. and i do think we represented them both quite nicely. what do you think?
few people got that i was queen mahal but usually recognized the taj fairly quickly.

what were some of your favorite costumes you saw this year?

until we meet again, halloween.
next year i promise to decorate the exterior of my house as much as the interior.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

falling into the weekend

i have been a bit mia this summer. it was a busy one filled with family travels, long work hours, birthday celebrations and summer loving. but let’s just pick up right where we left off, shall we? like that friend from middle school / high school that you haven’t seen in some time. you get a little nervous to reconnect and then once you start talking it is as if no time has passed at all.

i honestly can’t even believe it is already fall and only a couple weeks away from halloween. there are no truer words than ” the days are long but the years are short”. at least that is how i feel now.

facebook recently reminded me that it was 5 years ago yesterday that b and i took our first road trip to las vegas for fall break. one of my church leaders growing up always encouraged us to date at least four seasons and a road trip. i love this woman and cherished her guidance to me.

b and i took our first road trip in our third season of dating. it was only a 5 hour road trip but i do agree that road trips can let you get to know a person even better (especially if there are a few travel hiccups). this las vegas road trip made me further realize how lucky i was to be dating a man like b. we not only completely fit together in day to day life but we also vacationed the same way (lots of activities but a good amount of down time). i will never forget our week in vegas. i actually cried a little when we had to head back to salt lake city. i didn’t want to go home and be apart from him.
when we arrived back in salt lake city late that night i remember b dropping me off at my apartment. he grabbed my luggage and gave me a kiss at the door. then he said, “i just have to go home and drop off my luggage and i will be right back.” it was the best feeling to know that he wanted to spend every second of every day by my side too. happy to report that even after four years of marriage, the same is true.

sorry for the sappy post. b left yesterday for a work trip and i guess i am just missing him like crazy. i should be used to this by now but it never gets easier.

while b is away i decided to binge watch the mindy project and decorate our home for halloween. i have a few more things to add (there are pumpkins currently wet with paint in my backyard and i am trying to find a good hallows inspired drink stirrer) but so far i am pleased with the outcome and honestly all the crafts were so easy!

IMG_5497

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

those ghosts are just styrofoam balls, cheese cloth, string and brads.

i am still working on a costume this year. think i can top last year?
what are you being for halloween? have you started to check things off your fall bucket list?

Guide to Mazatlan, Mexico

hello again.
b and i returned from mexico a couple weeks ago and i have been playing catch up ever since.

it was a trip with b’s family and it was a great one.
b’s family loves mexico and loves all inclusive hotels/experiences. b was the one who introduced me to both (i had been to cabo before meeting b but that was it for mexico).
we went to cancun for our honeymoon and i absolutely loved it. those white sand powder beaches were a dream. b would go back to cancun every year if i let him but i am always wanting to go somewhere i have never been before. i live for the feeling of exploring the unknown.

b’s family decided this year, they would stray a little bit from the known cancun and explore the beaches of mazatlan. i had not heard a lot about mazatlan so i quickly researched everything there was to know about this old mexican city.
let’s dive right in, shall we?

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

STAY:

pueblo bonito emerald bay resort –  stunning all inclusive resort located about 25 minutes outside of the city. the grounds are gorgeous, the water warm and there are a number of pools to choose from.
i am not a lover of all inclusive experiences. i am a lover of food so i may be a bit bias but if we were to do this experience again, i think we would still stay at the hotel but not pay for all inclusive. yes, it is great to get all the food you want all the time but when the food is just decent, i would rather pick and choose my meals. pueblo bonito has two restaurants onsite and a couple more restaurants at their city location that you are also able to eat at. all the restaurants taste the same though. very ordinary food.
i will say, i did not have this problem in cancun because there were far more restaurants at our hotel to choose from and the food was above average. so i am not throwing away the thought of all inclusives all together!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

the grounds of pubelo bonito are stunning though and i think all food tastes a bit better as you eat it ocean side :)

SEE

plaza machado - central plaza located in the heart of the city that has the best restaurants in mazatlan. it is a vibrant square with beautiful bright architecture.
*i was only able to drive by because we were traveling with such a big group but would have loved to dine at one of the restaurants in the square. it was definitely one of the cleanest parts of the city.

cathedral of the immaculate conception – absolutely stunning cathedral located in the center of the city. we were lucky enough to visit during mass.
fun fact: this is the only catholic church to have a star of david featured in it. apparently, a few jews donated a large sum of money for the church to be built so the church council agreed to put the star of david in the church as a symbol of their gratitude. look carefully to see if you can spot it!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

el faro lighthouse – “The lighthouse has the distinction of being settled in what was formerly an island and has a length of 641 meters by 321 meters wide and a height of 157 meters, making it the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world.” it is a steep hike to the top but i read that the views make it worth it. we, again, saw the light house from afar but i would have loved to walk to the top (usually takes 30-45 min).

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

cliff divers – caution! this may be a tourist trap but while in mazatlan, right? there are divers hanging around the rocks and they offer to dive 40 feet for you for $20. we were suckered in. the diver had to time it just right with the tide as to not dive directly on the rocks. it was pretty intense.

IMG_2307

DO

mazatlan is a place to relax. i was hoping to do a couple excursions but when you are with a big group it is sometimes just easier to hang by the beach and pool and play some games. so enjoy the warm pacific ocean and sip on your pina colada because if you are lucky enough to be at the beach then you are lucky enough (and even more lucky to be surrounded by people i love).

mazatlan

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

 

mazatlan, you were fun to explore but i think one visit is good enough for me.

Cody, Wyoming

this year’s family trip with my family was set in the beautiful town of cody, wyoming.
never heard of it? neither had i before traveling there over 10 years ago to visit my grandpa’s ranch. this is now the third time we have visited the town and it keeps getting better and better. i especially loved that i could now share this special place with b.

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

cody, wyoming is east of yellowstone national park. there are about 10,000 residents of cody. the city of cody was named after william frederick cody (buffalo bill).
i don’t know if it gets any more small town feel than this. and that is maybe why i like it. it is such a change of pace.
my grandpa’s ranch is about 30 min away from the town so it felt like even more of a retreat from the hustle and bustle. not to mention there is no cell reception on the property and spotty wifi. but can i just say it was a little thrilling to be so disconnected from social media? it was a great way to be “technology free” and enjoy one another with no distractions. this was just the trip i needed.

let me preface this post by saying this will no way be a guide to cody because frankly we stayed up at the ranch 90% of the time. cody is not known for its’ food scene or elaborate city. it is known for its’ stunning mountains, sweeping valleys and long rivers. it is a place to forget yourself and be immersed in god’s beautiful earth. so think of this more like a travel diary.

we started off the trip by celebrating my brother in law and step grandma’s birthday. my sisters made their day extra special by bringing up a photo booth and making a cake. of course, we had to have zombie props for my brother in law.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

these family trips only get more fun as there become more nieces and nephews and as those nieces and nephews get older. i absolutely love bonding with them.

something not to be missed while out west is shooting guns! this was b’s favorite activity on the trip! it was my first time shooting a shotgun. i will be honest and say i was not great at it but it was something i was glad i did at least once. my oldest sister was a modern day annie oakley and this was her first time shooting a gun so you never know until you try!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

this trip was filled with many firsts as it was also my first time fishing (that i can remember). i am sorry to say i didn’t catch any fish but it was still fun. b caught one and my brother in law caught a few. we chose the catch and release method.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

fun fact! when i was young, i used to be obsessed with horses. i once won a trophy vaulting on a horse and took horseback riding lessons before entering high school. i still love it. i was so happy to be horseback riding again.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

we rode all the way to the very top of a mountain and looked down on this view. i seriously wanted to take a picture with every step we took but pictures don’t even do it justice. cody, you are completely stunning.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

one day we did head into town for the buffalo bill museum (must see!) , a tour of old trail town cody, dinner at wyoming’s rib and chop house, and the famous cody rodeo. all of which i highly recommend!
i will say my least favorite of all the activities was the cody rodeo because of how horribly the animals are treated but it is such a big event in cody so we felt like when in cody, right?

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

dusk in cody made my heart swoon. and those clouds? wow cody!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

but mostly we just explored the mountains, ate a lot, played card games and snuggled on my newest nephew who is only 2 months old.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

IMG_4525

Processed with VSCOcam with s2 preset

these are my people. i am so happy i got to be with them for 3.5 days.
until we meet again, cody!

 

Best Activities To Do With Kids in the Bay Area

not being a parent myself, it took me a little while to research the best activities to do with my nieces when they came to visit. it was a whole different world to me. but after doing a few google searches and talking with my friends who do have kids, i found some pretty great options and wanted to share my finds with you!

Best Activities to do with Kids in the Bay Area

1. children’s creativity museum in san jose – this option is geared more towards older kids but your littlest ones will love it just the same. so much to see, experience and learn!

2. slide ranch (just past san francisco) – great outdoor ranch for picnicking, hiking, exploring and interacting with animals. “slide ranch connects children with nature.” and what kid doesn’t love nature? i think my nieces would live outside if we let them.

3. berry / apple picking at gizdich ranch in watsonville – this is a great activity for any age. b and i went apple picking just the two of us and thoroughly enjoyed it but going with a little one can make it extra special. our little niece was so excited by every strawberry she picked. she  would cheer and talk about how yummy they are. see those jazz hands below? she did that every time. she kills me.
this could technically count for two activities because eating the berries is a heavenly experience in and of itself. never have i ever tasted such amazing strawberries in my life (and for very reasonable prices — $1.75/pound).
oh and don’t forget to let your kids enjoy the play area behind the cafe while you enjoy a piece of the best pie on earth. heck, buy a whole pie and bring the experience home. that is what i did. $11 for a whole pie? yes please. i can vouch for two berry and olalliberry.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

4. san francisco or oakland zoo – i think i go to the zoo every time i visit my nieces and nephews. kids dig the zoo. so why not add these two to your list?

5.  vasona park in los gatos – definitely one of my new favorite parks! this park has it all. steam engine train to tour the property? check. boating in the lake? check. fishing in said lake? check. bbq grills? check. large open meadows to frolick? check. walking path to get your cardio on? check.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

6. san jose municipal rose garden – the roses are in bloom now so walking the garden is simply breathtaking. i am not sure how long their blooming season lasts but it is def worth a trip to see it. i loved all the different colors of roses as well as the fountain and rose archway. beautiful beautiful garden in wonderful neighborhood of san jose (the homes surrounding the garden are eye candy as well). great big lawn behind the rose garden is good for frisbee, croquet, picnicking or letting your little ones run free. another bonus — no entrance fee!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

7. shoreline park in mountain view - another great and active park to check out. shoreline offers boat rentals to take out on the lake as well as bike rentals to explore the land. don’t forget your kite — this place always seems to be a little windy and they have a designated kite flying area. who knew such a thing existed?

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

8. happy hollow park & zoo – zoo + park in one! are you sensing a theme here?  i have learned kids really like being outside and animals.

9. deer hollow farm – hike + petting zoo. this is a quick one mile hike to a historic 10 acre farm. sounds pretty cool, right? farm tours are only open the third saturday of each month so plan ahead!

what are your favorite kid friendly activities in the bay area? do tell!

weekend recap

life has been busy with visitors around here!
two weekends ago b’s sister and her sweet family visited us and this past weekend my sister and her darling daughter came for a visit.
we have been feeling the love this month and will treasure these special memories for many years to come.

b’s sister and my sister both have daughters around the same age so i knew we would want a low key weekend with lots of kid friendly activities — not to mention b’s sister and my sister are pregnant and due within a few months of each other. can you believe that? can’t wait to smother some more nieces and nephews in the coming months!

so after much planning, here is what a weekend with a couple pregnant ladies and toddlers looks like. basically lots of playing outside.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

my little niece has me wrapped around her finger.
i have this connection with her that i have never felt with a child before. she calls my name at all hours to know that i am close and we giggle until we can’t giggle anymore. her little hugs and “thank you auntie emi” melt my heart completely.
children are such a blessing. they make you remember how amazing this world really is and that ice cream can cure anything.

check back tomorrow for a full list of kid friendly activities in the bay area!

ps hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend.
memorial weekend, why did you have to end?

How To Throw A French Garden Party

okay let’s talk details.

going into this, i knew i wanted to keep the budget low and make as much decor as i could over buying things. i also knew i had to incorporate over sized paper flowers somehow because they had been on my mind for months. i started with the paper flowers and took off with decor from there.

can i just say that paper flowers are a lot harder to make than they look. well maybe not incredibly hard but they are time intensive. the hardest part is definitely figuring out what to use for the stem (b and i discussed possible options many nights before falling asleep). i searched for hours trying to find the best over sized paper flower tutorial. i went back and forth but decided i liked designsponge’s tutorial best. the shape of her flowers were very peony-esque and anything peony is a winner in my book.
the only downfall with her tutorial was the stem. the money to buy cement and wire didn’t seem worth it (not to mention the extra tissue paper and time). i didn’t know what i would do with the flowers after and having so many large flowers didn’t seem practical. i also couldn’t fit the recommended wire in my car (due to length) so there was that, which probably pushed me over the edge to find another way.
i studied the house that lars built‘s flowers for a while and couldn’t figure out for the life of me what her stems are made out of! if anyone knows, please enlighten me! i even brought a picture to home depot but the employees had never seen anything like it. i think it may be some type of pipe.

i threw in the towel. there had to be an easier way!
and there is. it may not be as dramatic looking but picking up bamboo sticks from home depot did the job. i wanted to add some leaves to the bamboo as shown in designsponge’s tutorial but the flowers themselves took me more time than i thought.
overall, i was super happy with the outcome. just wish the wind would have cooperated a bit more.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

i bought the tissue paper via papermart . this vendor was recommended by oh happy day and ended up being a lot cheaper than buying in any party store.

now with the superstar out of the way, i moved on to the centerpieces. i knew i wanted simple greenery to make the flowers stay the stand out. i found this tutorial of how to make a lemon leaf garland on pinterest and knew it was the perfect addition considering i have a lemon and orange tree in my backyard.
i was thinking of adding some flowers to the garland but did not like the options i found at trader joe’s that weekend. next time!

IMG_5135

IMG_5131

IMG_4145

next up, food!
the food is why i call it a french garden party. we feasted on chicken salad croissants (great chicken salad pre made at costco), berry salad, baguettes and short bread cookies that resembled pastries. the food came together easy and can be made in advance so you are not stressing the day of.
and the short bread cookies? you can thank tj’s for those. i picked up a variety of fruit and chocolate fillings. they were a hit.

IMG_5214

IMG_5117

don’t skimp on the drinks. although we did offer water with grapefruit garnish, i wanted there to be a bit more variety so i picked up 4 different flavors of french lemonade from tj’s (trader joe’s).
tj’s sparkling lemonade with muddled raspberries was the perfect thirst quencher in the heat. oh and please don’t forget drink stirrers!

IMG_5116

the cake was critical. i had been dreaming up a naked cake for this event for months. it just screams garden party — the light filling with fresh flowers. am i right?

however, i must confess.
the cake scared me and so i asked a friend if she wouldn’t mind taking charge.
i provided her this recipe and she just went to town. i am so so grateful for her because it really livened up the buffet table. not to mention it tasted even better than it looked. can you believe that?

IMG_5184

but you know what was the biggest factor to making this event a success? those party rentals.i can’t praise williams party rentals enough for their top notch products and incredibly helpful staff. williams party rentals even makes the clean up a breeze by providing a dry cleaning bag for the linens and encouraging you to just wipe the food off the plates. no need to wash every dish your self! oh williams party rentals, you are the bees knees.

 

 

all rentals were donated by william’s party rentals.
all thoughts, all opinions are my own.
i actually sought them out for a collaboration since they are my favorite party rental store in the bay area!

French Garden Party

okay so now that you have read my dreams for the event, let me take you to the reality…

IMG_5070

IMG_5072

IMG_5131

IMG_5107

IMG_5141

IMG_5091

IMG_5080

IMG_5210

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

IMG_5214

IMG_5195

IMG_5117

IMG_5116

IMG_5246

my french garden party to celebrate a dear friend turned out heavenly (of course there are always a few hiccups but once you get past those it is all forgotten).  and one of the key factors that tied it all together was using william’s party rentals. william’s party rentals has top notch service as well as a great variety of products to choose from. i was drooling over those gold chairs and wouldn’t mind having a set of those in my garage!  also those plates and gold utensils? seriously, i was in heaven.

william’s party rentals takes any event to the next level seamlessly.

can you believe how lucky i am to have such a wonderful garden to throw soirees? b and i really lucked out in renting this house. i will definitely need to take advantage of it this summer because there is no other place i would rather be.

i promise to get into the nitty gritty details of the food, decor and bar cart tomorrow.
today, is all about the eye candy.

 

 

all rentals were donated by william’s party rentals.
all thoughts, all opinions are my own.
i actually sought them out for a collaboration since they are my favorite party rental store in the bay area!