Friday, January 25, 2013

Wedding Recap - Welcome Reception

Justin and I attended the beautiful wedding of a good friend of mine over the weekend. It was in my hometown of Austin so naturally we lived it up chowing down on queso and perhaps even snuck a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger.

It was at this wedding reception that someone asked us how long we'd been married. When I responded "almost five months", I was shocked to realize that nearly six months had passed since our wedding. Shocked! It doesn't feel nearly that long ago, and I was immediately aware that I have yet to recap this momentous life event on the blog. Since it was a I'm going to break it down into a few different posts. You're welcome.

We considered our wedding to be a "destination wedding" of sorts because nearly everyone in attendance, including us, had to travel from out of town to be there. Because we wanted to soak up as much time with our visiting guests as possible, we decided to have a welcome reception rather than a traditional rehearsal dinner. Once we decided on the format, I was pretty immediately drawn to Saarloos & Sons. We've been before and love the chic tasting room and outdoor seating area with fire pits. And let's not forget about the wine! Located just a short drive from our wedding venue where we'd be rehearsing, it fit the wine country theme of our wedding beautifully.

(Courtesy of Yelp)

(Courtesy of Yelp)
After a near fiasco with my original caterer for the welcome reception (he went MIA about two weeks before the event) my mother-in-law wrangled a new caterer and delicious menu that included BBQ pork sliders, grilled veggie sliders with pesto, salad and cole slaw. We wanted a casual meal that could be eaten while mingling with a wine glass in hand and New West Catering delivered that perfectly.

Our welcome reception had no program and everyone was invited. Guests came and went as they pleased and the wine and conversations were flowing the entire time. It went even better than I envisioned and turned out to be my favorite activity of the weekend. Justin and I got to welcome all our amazing friends and family who traveled from near and far to be with us and there was much less pressure on us than at the wedding itself. Many of my wedding duties that were stressing me out in the days leading up to this event were completed just before our rehearsal so I could finally relax, enjoy some much needed wine and catch up with my loved ones.

Do you know what happens when you mix delicious wine with a photo booth?

Everyone seemed to be having so much fun that we actually had a hard time getting people to leave. The tasting room closed their doors and turned out the lights a good hour before we finally managed to vacate the premises. But that's the sign of a good party, no?

This is the part in the recap where I'd like to tell you I went straight back to my hotel room like a good little bride and gave myself a detoxifying face scrub and moisturizing treatment. But if I'm being honest, I went to the bar with my friends. I stayed out too late. I even did what no bride should ever do on the night before her wedding and I ate late-night fast food. Taco Bell, to be specific. I don't regret the extra time with my friends one bit but I do regret that Taco Bell. Dang you, sodium bloat!

Next up I'll recap the wedding day!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pinhole Press Product Review

I'm not one of those fancy bloggers who gets incentives for reviewing products, though I'd like to be! In fact, I found Pinhole Press through said fancy blogger and I had a great experience, so I'd like to share.

Pinhole Press is a online shop for beautiful, customizable photo products and gifts. I'm not talking about how CVS can slap your photo on a coffee mug or mouse pad, these are high-quality products like stationary, photo albums, wine labels, calendars, etc. You pick your desired product and template and then customize it yourself right from your computer.

My first experience with this company was when I ordered boxes with custom labels for our wedding favors. We wanted to give each guest a mini cupcake upon departure from our wedding as a little midnight snack and thank you for joining us on our special day. The bakery that did our wedding cake specializes in mini cupcakes so we wanted to incorporate those yummy treats but also include a message from us. The solution was Pinhole Press favor box labels*. I was easily able to personalize them with a photo and text that was printed on sticker labels to adhere to the favor boxes that held each cupcake (assembly required).

Within a week of placing the order I had received the items directly to my doorstep without complication. All we had to do from there was assemble the boxes (thanks mom and dad!) and then I had a few of my bridesmaids help me place one mini cupcake in each box and adhere the custom labels. We did this the morning of the wedding so as to keep the cupcakes fresh. Lastly, they were displayed at the exit of the reception for our guests to take home.

I was so pleased with how my order turned out that I also used Pinhole Press to print some wedding thank you cards using one of my favorite photos from our wedding. They even had a perfect oak tree template to match the theme we used for our invites.

Yet again, the ordering process was smooth and delivery was quick. Once our thank you cards hit mailboxes I received no fewer than four texts about how beautiful the cards were and specific comments about the texture and quality of the paper. I look forward to more opportunities to order items from Pinhole Press and have my eye on their photo books as a possibility for our wedding photo album (aka, #16 on my 30 Before 30 list).

*I should note that a Flash Plugin is required to view and customize the products on the site, so if your computer does not have one you will need to download Adobe Flash.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

30 Before 30 Update - January

As I mentioned last week, I have made some progress on my 30 Before 30 list that I'd like to share.

# 13 Make my husband breakfast in bed

Before we left town for the holidays we had one glorious Sunday with no plans but to see The Hobbit at 5pm. We both slept in but as usual Justin slept longer. This gave me the perfect opportunity to sneak downstairs and whip up some pumpkin waffles with scrambled eggs for my breakfast in bed debut. I don't think I've ever made anyone breakfast in bed before, let alone Justin. One Valentine's Day he surprised me by bringing me an omelet and toast in bed so I've always wanted to return the favor.

One little beggar pup had no shame giving Justin the eye throughout his entire breakfast.

# 19 Locate the time capsule I made in 6th grade (if it exists) and open it

Unfortunately this task is only partially complete. While I was at my parent's house in Texas for Christmas I was able to locate the time capsule. I thought I had missed the point in time when I was instructed to open it, but it turns out I'm not due to open until 2016! Blergh. I was so looking forward to reading the letter I wrote to myself in 6th grade. The funny thing is, I still remember some of its contents. One of the items we were asked to place in our time capsule was something we thought would increase in value over the next 20 years. I thought I was being smart putting some Disney toy in there but I'm pretty sure it's still worth nothing. I would have been better off boxing up my collection of Pogs.

So help me decide - Do I replace the time capsule item on my list with a task that I can complete by the time I turn 30 or does it still count?

I would also like to point out that I nearly accomplished # 25 - Attend a beach bonfire. But nooooooooo. While we were in Cayucos for my birthday weekend there was a group having a bonfire on the beach just across the street from our hotel. I insisted we go join them since it was obviously fate that I had just published a list of things to do that included attending a beach bonfire. Justin was mortified by the idea of crashing a stranger's bonfire party and refused to have anything to do with it. Hmph!

Maybe he was worried about the nature of the townies after we met this little guy in a local shop?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My 29th Year

In addition to unveiling my 30 Before 30 list earlier this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday with drinks and cookie cake in LA...

And then a quick road trip up the coast to a tiny little beach town called Cayucos for the weekend. 

Anytime I travel far enough North on the 101, I have to stop at Avila Valley Barn in San Luis Obispo. My bestie and I found this magical spot purely by accident on the drive up to Hearst Castle a few years ago. We were in need of a bathroom break when we took the first exit we saw and happened upon Avila Valley Barn. We pulled into the dusty dirt parking lot to see if they had a bathroom and then almost completely forgot our potty mission as we took in all the barn had to offer. There was an ice cream shop, a petting zoo, a farmer's market, gift store and the smell of baking pies and fudge filled the air. We were like children running around and shrieking at each new discovery. I've been back a few times since and every season offers new bounty. On this trip, I got a cup of oatmeal chocolate chip ice cream, Justin got some salted caramel dark chocolate fudge, and we scoped out the new baby calf at the petting zoo.

With a few purchases from the gift store, we were on our way to Cass House in Cayucos. I stumbled upon Cass House on the interwebs while I was planning my wedding over the last year. At the time I was browsing a lot of wedding related blogs and had seen some beautiful photos of a tiny and intimate wedding held in the garden at Cass House. I was intrigued by the picturesque house and garden and especially the locally and seasonally inspired restaurant at the inn. I bookmarked it for a future special occasion and my 29th birthday became just the right time to pay a visit.

We were greeted so warmly when we arrived to the inn and everyone on staff was so friendly and accommodating that we felt we were worlds away from the hustle and bustle of LA. There was even a birthday gift for me from the hotel waiting in our room! It was soap :)

We really liked how casual the inn was, like you were staying in some one's home, and the rooms that weren't in use were open so you could peek inside. Our room was our favorite since it came with a cozy patio and view of the town's main street and beach.

The hotel's complimentary wine and cheese that evening didn't hurt our spirits either.

Since it was just before Christmas, the town was having holiday celebrations the night we visited, including a gingerbread contest at our inn. In addition, every business on the main street opened their doors and served cookies and hot chocolate or soup and tea. It seemed like everyone in town was out to celebrate, including pets. 

When dinnertime rolled around, we headed back to our hotel for my birthday treat, a four course tasting menu at the Cass House Restaurant. 

Our meal was truly a culinary experience and the type of dinner that lasts two hours with time between each course to breathe, discuss and just enjoy your company. While I loved the courses, my favorite part about the restaurant was that they brought you tiny house-made breads between each course. We had mini versions of probably four or five types of breads and rolls instead of one big bread basket, which just made for a much nicer presentation. Unfortunately I ate the little breads before I could photograph them.

Our stay and meal at Cass House certainly made for a 29th birthday to remember. Just a three hour drive from LA, we found a sleepy town with a sophisticated inn and restaurant that made us feel right at home.

I have made some small progress on my 30 Before 30 list since then so I promise to fill you in next!