Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Afternoon Tea at the Ghirardelli's Summer Home

afternoon tea
My friend Sashee, the creator of Teadrops, invited Sophie and me over for afternoon tea this weekend. We learned that her property used to be part of the Ghirardelli family's summer home—so crazy! Her kitchen nook is bright and cozy and filled with the prettiest tea cups.

She lives in the hills behind downtown Los Gatos, but with the tall trees and quiet surrounding her, her property feels like a hidden retreat.

garden salad
mariage freres tea
We had French tea, baked brie, orange slices and salad—with lettuce from her vegetable garden!

kitchen nook
It was fun having such a relaxing afternoon and catching up over tea. I love homes filled with history, don't you?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unfortunate Married Names

Did you take on your partner's last name when you got married? Or do you plan to, if you're not married yet? For a while I entertained hyphenating my name until I realized I'd be... Mrs. Tung-Pies. So unfortunate, ha!

I thought my hyphenated married name was bad, but then my friend Dianna told me hers. Her last name is Chiu and her boyfriend's last name is Pu, making her... Mrs. Chew-Poo!*

Just. Too. Good.

Do you know anyone with an unfortunate hyphenated name? And does it make you laugh every time you hear it? (I'm totally guilty.)

 *spelled phonetically for effect

(photo by Judy Pak)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Plane-Spotting Birthday Party

happy 1st birthday
My friend Ali's son Oliver turned one this weekend! She threw a cute party for him at the Heritage Rose Garden, a sweet spot in our neighborhood where you can play on grassy hills and watch planes land at the airport.

easy diy party decorations birthday pictures
She made bright party hats and lemonade, which were perfect for the warm, sunny day.

places to have a picnic
celebration balloons
one hip mom
 Aren't they the cutest?

first birthday party
Happy birthday, Oliver. I'm so glad you were born. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

pretty tabletop
One wedding detail I've known for a long time is that I wanted my sister Sophie to be my maid of honor and my cousins Nathalie and Denise to be my bridesmaids. They make me feel warm and gushy inside and have small, nimble fingers perfect for wedding crafting (ha, just kidding on that last part! :P) I found the best whimsical way to pop the question and was so excited to see them unwrap their surprises this weekend.

unwrapping a box
Both Denise and Sophie thought I was bringing over homemade cookies. (And I'm secretly glad that's the street rep I've got: spreader of baked joy and happiness. It could be worse.)

thepartyposse balloon message
But instead of chocolate chips, they each unwrapped a balloon!

pop a balloon to reveal a secret message
Attached to the end of the string were the words "Pop Me!" with a gold safety pin attached.

will you be my bridesmaid
POP! Silver stars and a secret message were hidden inside. (Funny story: When Nathalie popped hers, we ooh'd at the mini confetti shower while her dog Rex took that as an opportunity to scarf down the note.) 

will you be my bridesmaid
pink peony
I delivered each box with a pink peony as a nod to the wedding theme. I love the idea of a lush garden party—and nothing says luscious like great big peonies.

It was so fun to give these! They make asking anything so much better (just imagine: how could your boss say no to your next raise amidst a flurry of silver confetti!), and I'd highly recommend them.

You can find these balloons in a box at ThePartyPosse.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hazlwood Venue Visit

hazlwood property
With everything going on with Alan's health at the end of last year, I wasn't in much of a wedding-planning mindset. But then, 2014 arrived, ushering in this beautiful summer-y weather, a boost of optimism and... we're ready to do this! It's one thing to be a wedding guest or a member of the bridal party, but planning my own wedding feels crazy and surreal. It's so exciting! I've started looking into local venues and recently toured Hazlwood, a property tucked into the Santa Cruz mountains. I thought I'd share some of the pictures and pricing in case anyone else is interested.

hazlwood property
When you walk in, the owner's house and bocce ball courts are on your left, with a pond straight ahead (pictured above). Since it's winter, there were a lot of fallen leaves and dead plants, but Barbara, the owner, assured us that everything gets cleaned up and re-planted for event season.

hazlwood los gatos
Next to the pond is a grass lawn (on the right) where the wedding ceremony takes place. The white greenhouse on the left is where the dinner buffet is set up.

hazlwood wedding venue
This is the view of the ceremony site from the porch of Barbara's house. (See the white structure in the distance?) It's under a pretty grove of redwoods, but the lighting is a little dark for my tastes.

hazlwood wedding venue
This is the "summer house" where the bride gets ready and which later turns into the cake-cutting spot and dance area. The doors open up so guests can dance inside and/or outside.

hazlwood property
 Here's the inside. Those windows!

Hazlwood had a few different areas for photo ops or for guests to roam and explore. This set of stairs led up to a wishing well.

hazlwood  venue
In between the summer house and the ceremony site, there's this open area which would be awesome for special wedding surprises—for instance, a bounce house, a sweet slip 'n slide set up, whac-a-mole and other arcade classics... No? Too much? Okay, fine. But seriously, I'm still considering this venue because of all the space for entertaining all my crazy ideas.

hazlwood parking
Other things to know...

About the Property: The owners, Barbara and Bob Knipe, live on the Los Gatos property and rent it out through the spring and early fall. It's just down the street from Nestldown, another wedding venue.  

Maximum Number of Guests: 100-150. Barbara emailed me the max was 100, but when we spoke in person, she said it was 150. 

Pricing: $3500 to host an event from 10 am-10 pm with clean-up from 10-11 pm; includes a 2.5 hour ceremony rehearsal the day prior. Each event gets dedicated use of the property with no two events happening on the same day. 

Contact Info: 408-429-4381;

Not pictured: One man cave complete with a dart board and pool table for the groom to get ready in.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Golden Mornings

bodum gold french press
smallbatch coffee roasters
gold french press
Over a year ago, after much deliberation, I ended a torrid relationship with my French press. What started as part of a slow, lovely morning ritual involving hand-ground coffee soon became the bane of my existence. I wanted coffee ASAP, without having to spend ten minutes grinding coffee and washing out yesterday's grinds from the press. So, I bought a Nespresso U and the French press romance came to an end. But a few weeks ago, Alan brought home a bag of our friend Jesse's Smallbatch coffee. Then he pulled out the hand grinder. Followed by the French press travel mug. And before you knew it, there we were, back to where we started. Some on-and-off-again relationships will never end. I have to admit, though, the press does make a mean cup of coffee. And our new gold French press is just too pretty not to use. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Douglas Fir Tea

douglas fir spring tip tea
I've been getting more adventurous with my tea choices lately, and I love this new Douglas Fir Spring Tip tea my cousin Nathalie got me. It's made from 100% Douglas Fir needle tips! The tea inside smells like I'm standing in the middle of a thousand wild Christmas trees—so good. I was a little scared to taste it, but surprisingly, it tasted a lot less like tree and more lemony, bright and crisp. Would you try it? 

p.s. The tea brand's logo is "The mountains in a bottle is what we do." Spot on.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trip Photos: Muir Beach

muir beach hiking
muir beach
I've been buried underneath a pile of kleenex for the past few days, but I think I'm finally starting to get over this never-ending cold! I was going through the pictures from our Muir Beach getaway at the beginning of the year and got dreamy-eyed remembering the beautiful ocean. If you look in the picture above, the awesome airbnb rental we stayed at is on the hill on the right!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Some People Make Soup, I Make Juice

green juice
I've been under the weather lately and hope to get things back to normal around here next week. Seems like there's a bug going around, doesn't it? Everyone I know is either sick, fighting it off or trying to get better. (What a way to start the new year!) My sister Sophie got the flu, so I made her some of my secret weapon: fresh-squeezed green juice!

Hope everyone's staying well and healthy.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Amazon Review for a Stanley 6" Box Cutter: An Unlikely Tale of Heroism

For Christmas, I got Alan a new computer monitor. It came in a huge box with obnoxiously oversized styrofoam cushions that took up our entire trash can. I broke down the box over the weekend with a pair of scissors and cursed their dull edge when my hand soon started to hurt. I threw the scissors aside and started using my bare hands to better tear apart the panels. Sweaty and out of breath, I decided right then and there to get a box cutter.

A quick search on Amazon brought up the Stanley 6" classic which Dan K "DPK" gave five stars. A seemingly simple product on the surface, the Stanley 6" classic is no ordinary tool. Dan's review showed me that it can be so much more, even—dare I say—magical...

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