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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
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!
the grounds of pubelo bonito are stunning though and i think all food tastes a bit better as you eat it ocean side
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!
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).
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.
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, you were fun to explore but i think one visit is good enough for me.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
dusk in cody made my heart swoon. and those clouds? wow cody!
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.
these are my people. i am so happy i got to be with them for 3.5 days.
until we meet again, cody!
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!
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 ranchin 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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
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!
okay so now that you have read my dreams for the event, let me take you to the reality…
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!
one of my biggest joys in life is creating events that bring people together and make lasting memories. i love the preparation details just as much as the day of festivities. i love letting my imagination run wild as i decide on a theme. i love the feeling i get after the end of an event. it is a high for me. is that weird? i do not understand a runner’s high but a party planning high? oh i get it!
with the seasons changing and the warm weather happening more frequently, i thought it was the perfect time to put together an event in my backyard. as i thought about what kind of backyard event i wanted, all that kept coming back to me is flowers. lots of flowers and greenery. thus the french garden party was born.
i may get a little crazy when it comes to events. i want everything perfect and a little over the top but in the best possible way. in order to centralize my thinking and keep my mind from wandering, i always put together a mood board of how i want the event to look / feel. i think it is the best first step when throwing any type of gathering.
i wanted bright colors, flowers, naked cakes, gold accents and a white base. i wanted the works.
be sure to check back tomorrow for a peak at the end result!
you know those weekends you never want to see end?
okay, let’s be honest that is probably every weekend
but this weekend was even harder to see come to a close.
it was b’s birthday weekend.
april 26 will forever be my favorite day of the year because i get to celebrate my love.
i get giddy just thinking about how much i love b and how grateful i am he was born.
so in order to do his big day justice, we of course had to celebrate all weekend long.
friday evening we checked out a local mexican restaurant – tia juana. neither of us was floored by tia juana but it had fairly good mexican food and free chips and salsa. i have had my eye on this place for a while so at least i can now check it off my food bucket list!
we then spent the night in watching survivor. any one else a survivor fan? b and i usually get really into it but this season i am so disgusted with a lot of the contestants. frankly i am not rooting for anyone (was rooting for joe but now he is off).
saturday morning i snuck out of bed to get b his favorite breakfast – sausage mcmuffin, hashbrown and chocolate chocolate donuts.
confession. i ate three donuts for breakfast that morning. maple leaf’s donuts are too good to pass up.
side note… i have been on this diet where i cut out carbs, dairy and processed sugar throughout the week and then eat whatever i want on the weekends. i just felt like all i was eating at work was dairy and carbs and this seemed like a great way to get back on track.
all i could think of when i saw these heavenly donuts was “it’s the freakin weekend. baby i am about to have me some carbs.”
r. kelly anyone? HA
following our lazy morning with breakfast in bed, i headed to the city since it was one of my dear friend’s birthday as well. we ended up celebrating with lunch at rotunda. rotunda is stunning and the ambiance is so classy. i would love to return for tea time!
and i don’t think b missed me too much while i was gone considering he treated himself to a massage.
b’s celebration continued with dinner at los altos grill.
this place was happening! i strongly recommend making reservations as there were many people waiting and hovering over the bar seats. we had a reservation and still waited about 10 minutes! it is a lovely bbq esque style restaurant with juicy rotisserie chickens, delectable bbq salmon, potato salad inspired deviled eggs and sweet banana creme pie.
the only thing that turned me off was they charged us for a dessert even though we mentioned it was b’s birthday. not a huge deal though.
waiting time = selfie time
b prefers very mellow weekends so that is what i was hoping to give him. i promised him i would not throw a party for him this year even though it took me all my will power not to.
the mellowness continued with german pancakes on sunday morning, church and a hike at gray whale cove (located between pacifica and half moon bay).
i strongly recommend this hike! it is about 2 miles round trip (quick) but every step of the way gets prettier and prettier. we were lucky to go on a clear day so the views were unreal.