Archive for February, 2009

feb28 Typical story: You are hosting a party at night and you are not allowed to use candles in the venue. Or you don’t want 800 feet of extension cord looped around the ceiling to get the paper lantern effect. Another option is using the battery operated tealights and candles. However, they are too expensive and quickly die before the event has even startd. What is the answer? LED throwies. Invented by Graffitti Research Lab, this simple DIY project cost pennies to make but will have a huge impact on your event. Originally, the throwies were used to create a non-invasive (and removable) way to add creativity and art to a dull metal space. Now, they are going to be the next big thing in event planning.

Check out this website for easy step by step instructions. You don’t need to use the magnet if you are tying the light to the lanterns or paper luminaries. If you do make them, email me the pictures of your work and I will post them here.

There are other forms of floaties:

You can use these throwies in the water (aka floaties). Just replace the magnets with a small piece of styrofoam and seal with wax. Toss the floaties into a balloon, then blow it up. Toss the floaties into pools, bathtubs, or other enclosed water areas and enjoy the light show.  Make sure to blow these up by mouth (or hand pump), helium will make these floatings into “flyies”. DO NOT use floaties in lakes, streams or oceans or open bodies of water. Lithium batteries can leak and cause environmental damage. In addition, floaties are harder to collect when it is time for clean up AND marine animals may eat the floaties. As Martha Stewart would say, “not a good thing”. So keep it safe and earth friendly.

Lastly, you can freeze the throwies in water. Seal up as you would a floatie, place in a balloon with water and freeze overnight. Place the block of ice wherever you need extra lighting (did someone say custom ice luge?)

What ever form you choose to use for your next event, it will definitely be a conversation starter. Enjoy!


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feb27Nicole and Jay celebrated their wedding nuptials July 4-5, 2008. It was a few months ago, but I have ogled over their stunning celebration since July. I had to share it! This goes without saying, but having more than one wedding celebration requires meticulous organization and patience. Not only were the two celebrations intricately detailed, but they were both culturally contrasting in traditional practices. How did Nicole find the time to plan TWO weddings while going to law school full time and living 2500 miles away from her wedding location? It’s magic, I’m sure of it.

On the fourth of July, Nicole and Jay honored the groom’s family by doing a Hindu ceremony. During this ceremony, the strong traditions were upheld and the colors were as bold as the commitments. The bride and groom’s family share this sacred time to reflect on the vows Nicole and Jay were about to take. Please enjoy the details, as they left a permanent stamp in my mind.



1.   The necklace, earrings and bangle are all 22kt gold. They were a gift from her in-laws. What a great gift! The tikka is the ornamental piece of jewelry that lays in her part. The bindi symbolizes wisdom, concentration, and protection.

2.   The bride and groom place Jillakara Bellam (paste of brown sugar and cumin spice) on each other’s heads.  This symbolizes the future sharing of joy and sorrow.  The priest prays for stability and continuity in their marriage.

3.   The groom holds the right hand of his bride and together they walk around the fire promising each other a lifetime of harmony, friendship, equality, and fidelity. This is equivalent to marriage vows. Each step represents something different.

With the first step, we have started on the course of our lives as householders.  Let us walk together.
Walk with me the second step for strength.
Walk with me the third step for gaining wealth and prosperity.
Walk with me the fourth step for enjoyment and happiness.
Walk with me the fifth step for progeny and longevity.
Walk with me the sixth step for the joys of all seasons.
Walk with me the seventh step for everlasting love.

4.   The night before the Hindu wedding ceremony, the Mehndi ceremony was done.  The Mehndi ceremony is a traditional custom done prior to the wedding.  Elaborate designs are painted on the hands and feet of the bride (and her close female friends and family). Traditional bridal patterns include peacocks and paisleys, as they symbolize passion. It is also believed that the deeper and darker the henna stains, the mother-in-law will love the daughter-in-law more and the marriage will be a happy one. This ritual signifies the strength and power of love in the marriage. It is considered a good sign if the bride keeps it as long as possible.

5.   During the ceremony, the bride and groom are say a prayer and give an offering of flowers and rice in a sprit of sacrifice and equal partnership. The bride and groom must not separate as long as the fire of life burns within them.  The fumes from the fire offerings are said to have healing and cleansing effects on the couple. 

6.   Her wedding sari was a gift from her fiancé’s parents.  It is made from one of the finest silks and came from the town of Kanchipuram, India. The embroidery is detailed and done with a silver thread.

7.  The bangles were worn throughout the different ceremonies.

8.  The tray of fruit and flowers is a pooja tray. A pooja tray is a blessed tray that holds the offerings used in the ceremony. In general, pooja trays are used in every ceremony that has a request for a blessing. One the tray, there is a Ganesha statue, flowers, rice and a coconut. Ganesha is the most popular prayer deity and he removes any future obstacles. The rice, flowers and coconut are offered to Ganesha. However, coconut is one of the most favorite foods.

9.   As the guests enter the ceremony, they can participate by using the various auspicious items. (From left to right) The yellow/orange is sandalwood paste. Both male and female are invited to use this perfumed paste on their wrists and necks. The red powder is kumkum, which is made from dried turmeric and slaked lime. It is used to make the red dot on a woman’s forehead as they enter the ceremony. The grey powder is vibhuti, which is used to make a grey horizontal line across the men’s foreheads is considered sacred and holy.  The dish at the bottom contains rock candy.  It’s offered as a sweet to people entering the ceremony. 


 On the 5th of July, the families joined together one more time for a traditional Catholic Nuptial Mass.

1.   She puts on the last of the details of her Catholic ceremony ensemble. Her dark hair makes the perfect backdrop for the sparkly drop earrings.

2.    To make the wedding weekend even grander, the Catholic ceremony was held at Saint Peter’s Church of Canton. This church is impressive in size and the grandiose detailing makes it a spectacular place to pronounce their love.

3.   Bold and beautiful flowers were used for the bride’s bouquet and centerpieces. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows added a punch of color against the ivory dress. Bear grass was looped between the calla lilies, roses and ruscus for an elegant and modern look. The groom had an calla lily boutonnière to compliment the bouquet.

4.   To continue the celebrations, the reception was held at the McKinley Grand Hotel in downtown Canton. Her hairclip is shown when the veil has been removed for the reception. The happy couple dance for the first time as husband and wife. Her husband, Jay dips her elegantly in her Amsale dress. 5.  The bride wore a fingertip length veil with stain trim to complete her silk A-line Amsale dress.

6.   The couple peeks out of their 1942 Cadillac limo getaway car.

7.   This three tiered cake with a henna design steals the spotlight as candle light flickers and dances on the gerbera daisies and lilies.

There were many more details that I wasn’t able to capture. You can check her knot bio for all the extra details, including a video that made me tear up.

I hope you were taken away for a few moments while looking at Nicole and Jay’s pictures. You can definitely see there was magic in the air.

(All photos were used by Nicole’s permission. Thanks to Callie for capturing the true spirit of the wedding and making their love for each other and the support of their families the focus in your work.)

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feb26Most of our acquaintances have horrible RSVP etiquette. I am not sure why, but responding to an RSVP just doesn’t happen. So you’re invited to a party and at the bottom of the invite, there are four little letters. RSVP. As a host, my biggest pet peeve is when people do not respond in a timely manner (or not respond at all). Whether it is to a wedding, a dinner party, shower or gala event, an invitation comes with some important obligations. Here’s a quick guide to keep you on the guest list for future activities.

RSVP Basics

RSVP is a French acronym meaning, “Répondez, s‘il vous plaît,” or, “Please reply.” These four little letters are seen on every wedding invitation, bridal shower and most parties. Basically, it is saying, your host wants you to attend and a head count is needed for organization purposes (ie. food quantities, table placements, deposits!!! etc). The key thing is to reply promptly, within a day or two of receiving an invitation. Yes, your life is busy and schedules get hectic, but the host also has a busy life and a hectic schedule.

Question: How do I respond?

Answer: Reply in the manner indicated on the invitation.

  • RSVP and no response card: a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope.
  • Response Card: fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope.
  • Regrets only: reply only if you cannot attend. If your host doesn’t hear from you, he is expecting you!
  • No reply requested? This is unusual, but it is always polite to let someone know your intentions. Depending on the formality of the event, a handwritten note, phone call, email, text is sufficient.

Question: What if something happens and I need to cancel?

Answer: It depends on the situation which causes you to cancel.

  • Changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of: illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately.
  • Canceling because a “better” offer is a sure fire way to get dropped from future engagements
  • Being a “no show” is unacceptable. Contact the host (if for a wedding, let someone close to the bride/groom know).
  • However, changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements. (Every rule has a rule exception).

Question: May I bring X to the party?

Answer: Don’t even ask! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts want to invite-and no one else.

  • …a date. Some invitations indicate that you may invite a guest or date (Mr. Joe Smith and Guest) and when you reply, you should indicate whether you are bringing someone, and convey his/her name.
  • …my children/nanny/mother. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.
  • … my house guest. It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guests, or not.


Office holiday parties may extend the invitation to spouses/significant others and not just the employees. Just be aware of company policy or ask your co-worker about previous parties.

House parties are usually a free for all, but let the host know you are bringing X amount of people.

Word of Mouth invitations: It seems like it is a casual event and not much planning is required of the host. No RSVP is needed.

Evites/Facebook/Gvites will note on the invitation if guests are allowed.
(gathered from Emily Post and various other sources)

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feb23To go along with my cake post, I created a mood board with a variety of wedding cake toppers. Hopefully, you will find one that fits your needs. These little toppers made my day; they are absolutely cute and unique. The prices range from $1.49 (Whoa, Ducky!) to a customized price of $200. Let me know if you have seen another unique wedding cake topper and where you can buy it. Thanks!


1. Til death don’t us part: These Catrinas are commonly seen during the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). These lovely novios and novias are so cute they will kill you. Anything Mexican related has a special place in my heart. I wish I found these little toppers for my wedding.

2. Polymer Pals: They little guys are so cute! Not only are they affordable, but they made by a local business in Portland. Yay local! A girlfriend of my used these on her cake and they were an immediate hit.

3. Perfect Peggies: This simple topper is a twist on the old traditional man/woman cake topper. If you are crafty, you can order some “naked” peggies and customize your own. Or if you rather just pay someone, the price is easy to swallow.

4. Puppy Love: They fuzzy puppies are almost too cute for the cake. I almost nuzzled their noses on the computer screen. In addition, you can use them as a Christmas ornament for your first Christmas together. Awwww.

5. Bobble Bride & Groom: When are bobble heads appropriate? I haven’t found the answer, but if you are looking for a topper that fits the sports fanatic, this is it. They are a pretty penny, so sell your most treasured baseball rookie card and get this for your guy/gal pal.

6. Lucky Ducks: I met my husband during college (Go Ducks!), so these little duckies hold a special place in my heart. Even if you are not a Duck fan, this topper is TOO cheap to pass up.

7. Guys and Dolls: Clothespin dolls used to be thing of the past. However, their popularity is rising since Barbies are too expensive. Who can afford new toys? Anyway, these dolls are the perfect topper for the bride who wants something different. If you are on a budget, try using the candle option that the store offers.

8. Honey Bunnies: These vinyl bunnies are sure to make you smile. Or cringe. They’re definitely are thinking about something and I am not sure what.

9. Love Birds: These fiber filled friends will fly right into your heart. The details in the female’s dress will make the detail oriented bride scream with glee. We know your your dress is awesome. Why not have two if them?

10. You and Mii: For all the Wii fantastic and uber nerdy couples, there is a topper for you. You can order a customized Mii topper for your cake. Oh mii or my!

11. Birds of a Feather: This is a DIY project for the bride who wants something uniquely his/hers. This step by step guide will show you how to make the perfect pair.

12. Eggs-actly Right: This topper is a traditional Japanese kokeshi doll. They come in egg shapes or a fatter version of the clothespin style dolls. Your topper will be cuter version of you and yours.

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feb21I love weddings. I mean, I love weddings and every thing that comes in a wedding celebration. There are a few parts of a wedding celebration that I can not miss, one of which being cake. I love cake. Not as much as I love weddings, but they are pretty close in my book. Luckily, my husband is always my date and I basically get two slices of cake. So, here is my ode to some lovely cakes in various shades of green.


1. Cutesy Cupcakes: These cupcakes are simple and make a fashionable statement. The Kermit mums and orchids are a great addition. If you are worried about the cake cutting tradition, order a smaller cake and use that as your topper. Cupcakes are a modern and cheap alternative to a traditional tiered cake. Look for your local grocery, bakery or cupcake store for more details.

2. Swirly Sensation: A repeated swirl design is done on this four tiered cake.

3. Jolly Green Giant: This giant 4 tiered cake is simple in design but makes a big statement with it demanding size. The cymbidium orchids top this fondant covered cake and the simple black dots replicate a seam.

4. Modernly delicious: In various shades of green and white, the circles are repeated and layered all over the cake. It is beautifully done for the mod bride.

5. Snazzy Slices: This two tier white cake with Italian vanilla butter cream with lime green polka dot design is perfectly coordinated with the cake server. The fresh flowers top this gorgeously green cake.

6. Tropical Flare: Tropical flowers looks like they were painted on this festive fondant cake.

7. Formal and elegant: White fondant with vertical sparkles and sage green bow detail this three tier cake.

8. Simply Green: Butter cream frosting and Swiss dots and green ribbon make this cake a sweet statement.

9. Island Style: This petal shaped cake (scalloped shaped) is perfect for the island celebrations. It is paired with green cymbidium orchids, Swiss dots and a pearl bead border.

10. Strawberries Forever: This cake is enrobed in white chocolate and layered to give an updated striped design. The strawberries are dipped in chocolate for a unique look.

11. Spotlight Lime: Fondant in bright lime just screams for attention. Fondant circles accent this bold cake. Source unknown. If you know the source, please let me know so I can give proper credit. Thank you.

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feb191In this time of economic slowdown, it is hard to justify any extra expenses. It is sad to say that I consider buying books a frivolous expense. A way to beat this slump is to host a book exchange party. You can gather a group of your friends, enjoy some snacks and find new reads without spending a buck. Not only do you get to update your library, you also get to share your books with others (and then rest to charity).

Hosting a Book Exchange party is easy and fun. There are no rules – but there are a few things to keep in mind.

The Index:

  1. Need between 9 – 15 people to provide a range of options
  2. Send out an evite (Triple yay: no waste, save money and it’s free)
  3. Every person should come with at least 5 books (you can specify a genre ie. cookbooks, or just say fictional)
  4. Request they bring a bag to hold their items books
  5. Provide warm refreshments such as tea, coffee and hot chocolate; cold refreshments such as juice, water and snacks. A potluck is a great way to avoid putting all the cost on the host. Evite has a sign-up sheet associated with each invite. You can designate several categories: sides, appetizers, dessert, salad. etc).
  6. Whatever is left over at the end of the evening gets donated to charity/or kept for the next exchange.

Before the event / Planning Process:

  1. Make sure your home can accommodate 9-15 people. If not, consider using a friend’s home that may have more space.
  2. Set the date a few weeks in advance.
  3. Find sufficient seating for the area. Once you snag a book novel, all you want to do is curl up and enjoy it.

The day of/Before your guests arrive:

  1. Clear two spaces in your home that will comfortably fit up to 15 people. One space for the food and drinks and the other space for your guests to peruse the books.
  2. Create some numbered tickets for your guests.
  3. Make sure the food and drink table is stocked with cups, napkins, plates, serving utensils and utensils.
  4. Put in your favorite listening CD or radio station.

Let Exchange begin:

  1. As your guests arrive, give them a number, introduce them to new faces and direct them to the food and drinks area. Let them mingle for a bit, while you start organizing the books (alphabetical order by author is easiest/fastest). Spread the books around the space so there isn’t an overwhelming amount of people in one area.
  2. Once the books are organized, ask the guests to file in the book area according to their number. The guests will pick one book. When they are done, head back to the food area. Repeat until everyone has picked. Then let the guests with the largest number go first and work towards one. Then let even numbers go, then odd, etc. So there is not a favor in who goes in next and all the “good” books are taken. This way, the first person who arrived, won’t pick out all the best books.

Once everyone has arrived, go over the “rules” before you start.

  • The number of books you bring, is the number you can take. Unless no one wants them and they are being donated to charity. Then it is a free for all.
  • You don’t have to pick a book every time, skipping a turn is okay.

Some tips:

  • Good to go in with both a playful and assertive attitude
  • Don’t take it personally when people aren’t choosing the books you brought

At the end:

Once everyone is done choosing their books, sit relax and nibble on the snacks. All the books that are left over are sent to charity or kept for the next book exchange event. If you do donate them, always a good idea to call the charities ahead of time to make sure they are in need of the books.

What do you think? Post your thoughts.

(book image from fromoldbooks.org)

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feb191The time has come and it is time for your __________ (insert speaker) to speak. You get a little sweaty and your heart beats a bit faster. You are unsure what your boss/friend/best man/mom/step-brother’s dog sitter’s girlfriend is going to say. Be aware of your body language, as I am sure your expression will be captured on film. Sigh of relief, the toast is over. It wasn’t that bad. Guests are toasting their glasses… But wait, don’t clink your glass, as the toast was directed to you. It is like buying your own piece of artwork, clapping at the end of your ballet recital, yelling encore for your drum solo etc. The best way to acknowledge the prost is to smile and hold your glass up as if you were “clinking” an invisible glass. Sounds silly? Of course it does, because everyone loves to clink glasses.

What are your thoughts?

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