We Found Our Photographer

I have to admit--I've been looking at wedding photographer sites/blogs for a very long time. Embarrassingly long for someone who was not engaged until this past winter. I can't even count how many wedding photographer portfolios I've looked through online. Sometimes I recognize that I've already been to someone's site based on the music that starts playing! {By the way, Punam Bean and Natalie Moser---love the music on your websites.}

I would try and justify it by telling myself that it was helpful to my work as a picture editor--not that I would ever need pictures from a wedding photographer, but hey--ya never know!
So in short, since this was the one time, and probably one of the only times, I would be researching and choosing a photographer for myself and not for a work-related project, I put a whole lot of thought into it far before the proposal. My eagerness spanned the world wide web and many sleepless nights of surfing.

After being thrilled with our engagement pictures, I'm happy to announce that we've decided to book Jessamyn Harris! I've been a long-time fan of Jessamyn's style, and I am so excited that she will be photographing such a special day for us. She's also super nice and laid back, which I think will be key for any stress/madness/insanity/baggage floating around on the big day. {Not to scare you, Jessamyn, if you are reading this.}

So, let's see...venue, check! Photographer, check!

It's starting to look a lot like a wedding.


Upcoming Events in San Diego

Sometimes I forget what life was like before getting engaged. It's all a bit fuzzy really...what in the world did I do...
To prove that I haven't been swallowed whole by the wedding fairies, here are two events I will most likely be attending, because I've got other interests besides the wedding too. ...Or do I?

If you are a librarian/teacher/museum geek/art geek/science geek/parent/kid/super cool person, you might like to attend too!

The San Diego Science Festival's Expo Day is coming to Balboa Park on April 4th. This is going to be a huge event with tons of exhibits and hands-on science fun. Bring the lil' aspiring doctors/engineers/astronauts/geologists/biologists, or any kids really! It's great to give them exposure to science, especially in such a beautiful setting with lots of activity.

On Expo Day, three museums will also be open FOR FREE: the Reuben Fleet Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, and The Hall of Champions Sports Museum.

This year's San Diego Children's Book Festival has a great line-up of authors and illustrators on May 9. I'm most excited about Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, being in attendance.

Books are going to be sold at the event, and the best part is that all the proceeds go to San Diego Public Libraries. And everyone knows libraries are sexy.

PS: I'm sad that I won't be able to make it this year's LA Times Book Festival, ironically because I'll be at a science festival (so many festivals!) So, will one of you attend for me? Thanks.


Nice Legs

[Image from Sarah and Dan's engagement session by Max Wanger]

Love the skirt. Love the engagement photos. Max just seems unstoppable, doesn't he?

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


We Found Our Venue

Wow, we've made an actual decision. Like, there's no turning back now or else my deposit is lost and I kinda needed that money decision. Eeeek!!!

After much thought and consideration, we've decided to hold the event in San Diego and have a Chinese banquet in northern California. Hopefully between the two parties we can see all our family and friends. We booked it for July 3, 2010, so that our guests could enjoy fourth of July weekend in San Diego. So without further delay...before there's time to change our minds yet again...


Here is our venue.

[All images (c) Orfila Vineyards]

If you've been following the blog, you might remember it as venue #2. Who knew we could have stopped looking after two venues instead of going to eight?

...Did I mention how insanely excited I am?

Surprise!: Our Engagement Pictures

I alluded to a surprise a few weeks back, and here it is! Surprise! I won a contest for a free engagement session with Jessamyn Harris, so while I was in San Francisco we had a fun photo shoot in Chinatown. We weren't even considering engagement pictures because of the added cost, so I was super excited that Jessamyn gave us this opportunity. Thank you Jessamyn!

The contest called for photo shoot ideas, so I sent her an email about one of the first times the boy and I hung out at a really dirty hole-in-the-wall in Berkeley. They sadly gutted the shop and now it's a Tapioca Express, but I thought it'd be fun to relive the night by taking some pictures with food in a kitschy setting. And fun it was! We got to eat, get our pictures taken, and spend some time with the very talented Jessamyn.

{You might remember her work from these awesome weddings around the wedding world:
Alex and Rich in Napa Valley; Lauren and Derek in San Francisco}

Here are some of my favorites from the shoot!

[I love the light in this photo! There was a very high chance of rain, and it in fact poured after we finished taking pictures, so I am happy that we had some sunlight! These photos were taken at Yuet Lee, a restaurant recommendation from my sister who insisted that the place served classic dirty Chinese food.]

[Jessamyn was kind enough to buy us lunch since they were 'props'. Notice the empty bowl in front of the boy? Yeah, he ate his entire prop. I don't know what was funny, but apparently it was hilarious.]

[I think this might be my favorite. Which is funny because we're not posing. At all. We took a ton of photos in the street, so here I am basically grabbing the boy from danger. Don't worry. I got your back. You just keep smiling for the camera.]

[My favorite posed shot!]

[This is in front of another Chinatown classic, Eastern Bakery.]

[I'm laughing because the boy very clumsily tried to grab some pastries. Yup, we're big dorks.]

[Our shoes! I hadn't realized they matched until the day of.]

You can check out more pictures and read my email entry at Jessamyn's blog here.

All photos (c) Jessamyn Harris Photography


Are You My Venue? #4-8: The SF Bay Area

Oh boy, was it a long trip of venue scouting.

Some of the questions that I asked while visiting these sites:
- how would you suggest separating the unisex bathroom for my more traditional guests?
- do people usually add flowers or ribbons to the urinals to discourage people from peeing in them?
- no parking? Could you give me an average cost of shuttle buses?
- can we play this piano? There was a rental fee for the piano at the other site.
- so, I would get married on this lawn, and there would be another wedding on that lawn?
- is there a lot of turkey poo in the meadow? How about duck poo?

To keep this as quick as possible, I'm going to list the pros and cons of each place we visited.
If you are interested in any of these venues and would like to know more, please leave a comment and I can PM you!

Text Color

-Both of us liked this venue. It was quaint, cute, and could fit all of our guests.
-The fee goes towards a good cause.
-Beautiful architecture. Very SF Bay Area.
-Reasonably priced with chairs and tables (woohoo chairs!)

-What parking?
-I wasn't too impressed with the ceremony area, which I had hoped would be grass instead of concrete.

-OH EM GEE--I loved it here! The ceremony area is so so pretty and feels completely secluded. I could just imagine someone playing acoustic guitar as we walked through the forest of trees to the middle of the grove. Absolutely beautiful.
-We heart Berkeley like organic jam hearts soy butter.

-I didn't really feel like asking a friend to drive a van up and down the Berkeley hills so we could save cash on a shuttle van. Yeah, you guessed it--very little parking.
-For such an amazing spot, only 100 people could attend. We'd have to break some hearts in order to keep it that small.

[Le sigh. Image from weddingmapper]

-We'd be supporting a good cause.
-The Golden Gate National Park--freakin' gorgeous!
-Building is most definitely unique--nothing standard about it.
-Local, organic catering in-house
-There was a beautiful piano that came with the site fee in the ceremony room. I already had dreams of walking down the aisle to a piano...here was my chance!

-The bathroom. The boy hated the bathroom set-up. It is a rather old building, so the urinals did not work and the plumbing was a little leaky. Also, it was a unisex bathroom, so we would have to put up a curtain. I could just hear my parents complaining about that on my shoulder while we were on the tour.
-The boy just didn't like the venue at all and put it last on his list.

[The urinals look super charming in this photo by Marla Aufmuth via Snippet and Ink. The boy just wasn't digging it.]

#7 Dunsmuir Estate, Oakland, CA
I can't really write pros and cons for this one. There were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way. Enough said.

#8 The Brazilian Room in Tilden Park, Berkeley, CA

-The cost! This was the cheapest venue we saw.
-Very pretty rustic venue with a lot of foliage and flowers
-Quaint and cute
-Again, we heart Berkeley like flip-flops heart fleece sweaters.

-Parking woes.
-The drive through the winding hills got me a little car sick.
-We'd only be able to fit 120-130 with a dance floor. Bummer dude.

I'm so lucky to have such a patient partner who got dragged to all of these places. Let's hear it for the boy, and his willingness to drive all over the Bay Area and pay the $6 toll at the Golden Gate Bridge! Woohoo! **Applause**

I bet you're thinking, man Mo, I can't believe I read through this whole thing and you STILL don't have a venue. Well, lucky readers, stay-tuned for what we decided...


Playing Dress Up: Part II

My dear friend and old college roommate, Rosanna, was gracious enough to accompany me dress shopping at Trudy's Bridal in Campbell, CA. She was also very patient, supportive, and took a ton of great photos for me! So, Rosanna, if you're reading this, thank you again!

I still don't think I've found a dress that I like enough to purchase, but Trudy's allowed me to try on more dress styles at different price points. Our consultant, Cheryl, was super patient and pulled a lot of dresses that were similar to what I had printed from the Internet. Overall, Trudy's was a great experience and I'm really glad I went with Rosanna.

Here was our favorite out of the bunch, but I think I'm still on the hunt for something simpler.

I've also realized that my mother doesn't seem to like anything I show her. I'm starting to think of just going it alone in terms of dress shopping from now on because I'm starting to get confused about what I like based on what other people think. I like shopping by myself and don't consult anyone, maybe I can do the same with wedding dresses? But I've heard, more than once, that dress shopping is a stressful experience and that your friends/sisters/anyone else you trust should be there for support. Thoughts?

Cupcake Recap

I'm back from my trip, and I come bearing cyber cupcakes! Aren't they adorable? They are mini-sized cupcakes--we ate about four of them right off the bat when we got them.

[Cupcakes from Sibby's Cupcakery, photo by joonepah; cupcakes $3.25, mini-cupcakes $2]

You might recall that I had planned four cupcakery visits, but we quickly downsized that to two after the first tasting. Looks like you CAN have too much sugar, imagine that!

Our first stop was Sibby's Cupcakery. I found Sibby's through Stinkerpants' blog (aka, Mrs. Creampuff,) and they looked so good that I knew I wanted to put them on the 'to try' list. I had to pre-order the cupcakes a week in advance, and although it was a "wedding tasting" I still had to pay the $24 for a dozen mini-cupcakes. Aside from those facts, the cupcakes were super cute.
I mean, look at the photo---freakin' adorable, no? Our favorite was their bestseller, Grandma's Chocolate Teacake, which was very moist. We shared the cupcakes with my sister and brother-in-law to get a well-rounded assessment of the cupcakes.

In the end, we all tasted an after-taste of flour. Our mouths felt a little chalky after each cupcake. But overall we didn't have too many complaints. I mean, we did end up scarfing all of them down, so they most certainly weren't bad! I think I had psyched myself into thinking Sibby's was going to be spectacular that I was honestly a little let down.

The next day we were going to be in Berkeley so we decided to make an appointment at Teacake Bakeshop in Emeryville. Right off the bat, I thought I would have to pay for the tasting because I hadn't encountered a cupcakery who would accommodate us on non-tasting days. But Teacake's manager, Sarah, surprised me by offering the tasting for free since we were coming in from out of town and had a tight schedule. Right off the bat, I was immediately impressed of how considerate she was. But how were the cupcakes?

[Teacake Bakeshop in Emeryville, CA; cupcakes $3, mini-cupcakes $1.75]

We arrived early because we ended a venue appointment early, and they were happy to accommodate us at an earlier hour. They even had our cupcakes all ready for us--four regular-sized cupcakes for the price of $0. We also really appreciated that one of the bakers, Anne, came and sat with us (even though the shop was really busy) to answer any questions.

Maybe it was my psyche telling me that Teacake was being super nice to us, but the cupcakes tasted awesome. Both the boy and I scarfed down our preferred flavors--coffee for him, banana for me--and left full and happy.

If you are in the Bay Area, I highly recommend visiting Teacake Bakeshop. They were very nice and accommodating for us weary travelers from San Diego, and the baked goods (including the cookies--yes, we even bought some cookies to try,) were really yummy.


Let's Get This Wedding Thing Started

I'm going to be m.i.a for about 5 days because we're doing our wedding trip, and hopefully when I come back, we'll have a venue to call ours and this whole planning thing can actually go somewhere! Yes!

Today I semi-panicked talking to a coworker who is also getting married in 2010. Here's how it went.

Me: So, have you been looking at any venues?
CW: Oh yeah, we already set a date at XXX for 2010.
Me: Oh cool...that's really nice to get things out of the way so soon.
CW: Yeah...Well, they only had one date available in 2010 so we had to act fast.

**Blinks twice, slowly looks up from cup of coffee**

Me: ...I'm sorry...one date?? Like, one date in the month you wanted, or one date the entire year of 2010?
CW: No, no, one date for all of 2010. It's all they had so we took it. Where are you getting married?
Me: Oh...um, we have several possibilities...that I hope are still possible. Heh.
**Scratches head**
Well, um, I'll see you later!

**Quickly throws away trash and bounces back to computer silently hoping all of 2010 isn't completely booked for all venues in California**

See you next week!


Move Over Red Velvet

[Image from Sprinkles Cupcakes]

Now you can get "green velvet" cupcakes at Sprinkles in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I don't think the green cupcake is working for me, it reminds me too much of mold. But maybe I'll give it a try when I visit Sprinkles this weekend. Would you eat a green cupcake?


How I Gained 15 lbs. (and then lost the weight)

Two words: gelato and pastry. In college I spent an amazing semester in Rome where I studied Art History, went to a whole lot of museums, traveled the country, and ate and cooked. A lot. My apartment was far from campus, so I had to walk along the streets of Rome each day, passing probably half a dozen gelaterie (pl. for gelateria) and a handful of pastry shops. I got really good at the phrase, "Un cono piccolo, per favore."

[The 24/7 bakery in Rome. Sadly, I don't have an address.]

There was even an ALL NIGHT bakery within walking distance of my apartment. If I wanted a chocolate croissant at 3 in the morning, I could get a chocolate croissant. Rough life, I know.

But my biggest weakness was the gelato. So if you are going to Rome for your honeymoon or for any trip, I highly recommend the following gelaterie:

[Heaven on a cone-- Old Bridge Gelateria, Rome]

OLD BRIDGE GELATERIA Via Bastioni di Michelangelo 5. Very close to the entrance to the Vatican Museums.
This is right next to the Vatican. I would get a large scoop of stracciatella (chocolate chip) or nocciola (hazelnut) on my way to school and be done with it by the time I got around to crossing the Tiber River. If you find yourself in a long line to see the Sistine Chapel, this is a nice way to pass the time.

GELATERIA MILLENNIUM Via Candia, across the street from Cipro Metro.
This was directly below where I lived. Way too much temptation and late nights studying brought me to their doorstep to eat ice cream even in the freezing cold. Across the way was a chocolate shop which displayed brightly decorated chocolate eggs during Easter. This was like every dieter's nightmare. Good thing I wasn't dieting at the time!

I hadn't realized how much weight I had gained until I got home. My grandmother and uncle just came right out and told me I got chubby. My sister was getting married and we had to go to the seamstress to make my bridemaid's dress fit. None of my clothes fit anymore.

For someone who's only 5' 1" 1/2 (gotta note the 1/2") those extra 15 pounds made a big difference. I kept my Italy weight for years, partially because I simply didn't have the time or motivation to lose it, and partially because the boy and my friends were supportive, sensitive people and constantly told me that I didn't need to lose it.

And maybe I didn't need to lose it. I was hovering close to being overweight for my height and weight, but I was still within the "normal" limits.

But I sure wanted to. I wanted to be able to wear my old clothes again and lose the extra cheekage on my face. I never had enough motivation, until I read a book.

[French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano]

The book, like anything else, isn't perfect. There are times when she makes losing weight sound like it should be a piece of cake by telling you to walk everywhere (a little impossible in San Diego,) buy groceries at the farmer's market, and savor each bite by chewing very slowly.

She also has this recipe for leek soup which you're supposed to drink for two days straight as a 'reconditioning' before your diet. I did not attempt to make or drink any leek soup.

Honestly, I don't think the book would have worked on me if it hadn't been for the opening chapters about how she gained the weight. She had studied abroad in the U.S. (she is from France) and gained the weight while having a fabulous time chowing down on hamburgers and ice cream. And then she gained even more weight while she studied in Paris and picked up a pastry or two on the walk to school. It sounded all too familiar.

So, I did listen to some of Mireille's advice, and after 3 months of semi-following her instructions, I lost the 15 lbs!! I feel so much more confident and happy at this weight, and I think the 3 months of sacrifice was totally worth it.

Here's what I did. And, oh man, it was NOT easy!
- I kept a food journal. I didn't write all the calories, I just quickly jotted anything I ate down in the notebook. Eating anything became a conscious decision because I had to put pen to paper each time.

- I found out (shocker!) that my weaknesses were sweets and pasta. So I cut down my pasta, and substituted sweets with yogurt and fruit. I didn't allow myself any cookies, cakes, cupcakes, candies, milkshakes, frappuccino drinks...you get the picture. I did, however, buy a really fancy chocolate bar and would allow myself a small piece every couple of days. But then I'd have to write it down.

- I only drank water, and drank about 4-6 glasses a day.

- I would ask for a take-out box before I started any restaurant meal. I put a small portion of the meal in it before I started chowing down.

- I worked out 4-5 days a week, usually running a mile on the treadmill and then doing light weights.

- I ate oatmeal for breakfast. every. single. morning.

- I tried to keep my diet on the down low. I didn't want anyone convincing me not to go ahead with it, which did happen from time to time. And I'm so glad that I did--I feel much better than I used to.

I'm proud I stuck with it, and now I take a fun aerobics class and go running on the treadmill a few times a week for exercise. If you've read this far, thanks for reading about my love affair with gelato and pastry. We're doing just fine these days.


Woohoo! I Own a Scanner!

I am now the proud owner of a CanoScan LIDE 200. 
I've been playing with it and these are some things I scanned that make me happy. 

[Card in a Jip and Janneke card game--too sweet, no?]

[Card in a Dick Bruna card game. Dick Bruna is the illustrator of Miffy, one of my favorite illustrated characters. Like Hello Kitty except Dutch.]

[Postcard from Dim Sum Flash Postcards]

[A doodle I did one morning at work on a post-it, which later became inspiration for my last gocco project]

[A hand-made coin purse I bought from Spitalfields Market in London]

[A coin purse my cousin gave to me as a going away present when I moved to San Diego]

[A frame I bought in a children's store in Rotterdam. The artwork inside is from a calendar page by Good on Paper Design]


Things That Happened To Me This Week

+ Something very exciting happened to me, but I'm going to wait to divulge to keep it a surprise. I know, you're on the edge of your seat to find out. Don't lie. I can tell you that it's wedding-related, but that's all I'm revealing. I swear. You just gotta hold your horses for a few weeks.

+ I had a really embarrassing/traumatic experience at work yesterday. I was walking back from lunch, and as I was walking past some offices, someone opened a door which hit me in the head and knocked me over. You know those slapstick comedies in which someone is riding a bike or on roller blades or jogging and all of the sudden slips and falls or hits a tree branch or an anvil hits them? Well, I'm pretty sure it looked something like that, except there was no laughing and it totally hurt!
I had a massive headache and nausea, and the boy actually picked me up from work. We called the nurse to make sure it wasn't a concussion, and then he brought me home with some tylenol and ice cream.

There's a sign on that door now warning people to open it slowly.

+ My mother didn't like the dress.

[Image from Christos]

I know, Krista, I was really disappointed too. What's a girl to do?
Back to the dressing room...

+ I bought more gocco supplies and a brand new scanner! I may just devote an entire post to random things I can scan later.

Phew. On top of everything, the boy has finals which unfortunately affects my sleeping pattern too. Attached at the hip indeed.

But thank goodness it's Friday. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!



We're Going Places

A lot of places actually. In about a week, I'm taking some vacation days and we're heading up north to the San Francisco Bay Area to take a look at some venues, meet a possible photographer, try on dresses and eat a bunch of cupcakes...y'know, just in case we DO decide to have it in the Bay and need to know what four of the local cupcakeries have to offer to us. Mmmhmm. You can probably guess whose idea it was to go to four bakeries.

Anyway, it's a lot to accomplish in four days (and a lot of driving) but I am so excited. I'm excited to be close to finally deciding where we are going to get married. Because I still have the dilemma of what city to have the event.

Do we have it in the city that we currently live in, or the city where all of our family lives? I would say more than 75% of our guest list lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a good one hour plane ride or eight hour drive from our itty bitty apartment in San Diego.

Do we make it convenient for us, or convenient for them? And if we made it convenient for us, would everyone hate us for being selfish and making them spend the weekend in San Diego?

I'll probably take a tip from the Gilmores and do a pro/con list, but in the meantime I'm just going to enjoy all of the pretty places we are going to visit and seeing my family for the first time since the engagement.

Here's where we are headed:

1. The Outdoor Art Club

2. The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

[Photo by Don Prichard Photography via UC Botanical Gardens]

You can see it in all its glory here.

3. The Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate

4. The Headlands Center for the Arts

[Photo by Once Photography]

You might recognize this venue from here.

5. The Brazilian Room

You may have seen the Brazilian Room here.

Has anyone gotten married or attended a wedding at any of these venues?

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