Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Out of clutter, find simplicity..." Albert Einstein rocks.

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Ahhh. It's amazing how time flies these days! (We must be having a laugh riot at Good Taste Events!) Another year is already coming to a close, and a new year is about to begin. This time of year is always one of reflection and resolutions. This year I am making some simple resolutions that I believe will ultimately reap big rewards. I've mentioned being more proficient at writing hand written, thoughtful thank you cards (or any type of cards!). We have some exciting new announcements that you'll hear of soon at Good Taste, and keeping all of those projects moving forward is another goal for 2009.

One of my recurring resolutions is to continue to improve my organizational and efficiency skills. In the wedding and event planning business, if you don't list 'extremely organized - able to juggle hundreds of balls at once, while gracefully hopping through flaming hoops' as one of your talents, you should probably consider another career path. Beyond all the high tech gadgets that help us stay on track, I always find a good old journal and pen or pencil priceless.

I thought I'd give this set of monthly journals from Pottery Barn a try. I love the fun colors, the price is right (now on sale!), and rather than end up with three or four ratty journals at the end of the year, it may be nice to have this organized set of notes to refer back to.

Stay tuned for those announcements that I mentioned, and I'll keep you posted on the cute journals and how they help my juggling skills.

Happy New Years Eve!

Monday, December 29, 2008

How to write a thank you note

Today in the mail I received the most thoughtful note from my dear friend, Molly Cartwright. Molly is one of the most gracious people I have ever met and I'm always amazed at how she can take the time to simply drop a note of thanks, thinking of you, or just a quick hello with her busy schedule.

Her mail brought up a great topic - thank you notes. When I was a child, my mother had a simple rule about thank you notes: You can play with the new toy as soon as you write your thank you note! You can wear the pretty new dress as soon as you write your thank you note! Somehow, unfortunately, that great lesson has faded somewhat. So, one of my resolutions this year is to honor my late Mom's lesson and take a few moments to thank the wonderful people in my life.

I found the following article from the late Leslie Harpold on writing a thank you note. I think it's succinct, funny and memorable. I hope you will as well.

Somewhere in between your mom making you sit down with your Peanuts® stationery and you shooting off an email, you completely lost touch with the concept of simple thank-you notes. Now that you’re a grown-up, an email just won’t do, and more is expected of you than scratching out ‘Thanks for the present, you rock!’

Grandma might not say anything to you, but trust me: She and her friends are probably at this very moment sighing over how young people today just don’t have manners.

As extra motivation, I will also grudgingly tell you the hidden secret of thank-you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to give an encore performance. Do not, however, use this as a strategy to avoid writing thank-yous to those who regularly give gifts you do not like. Every gift deserves a thank-you. Even the ‘Keep On Truckin’’ blacklight poster your crazy Uncle Alvarez gave you when you moved into the dorms.

I assure you, writing thank-yous is easier than you remember. Get yourself some stationery, plain note cards or a selection of attractive postcards (yes, postcards are perfectly acceptable!), and proper postage. Avoid the pre-inscribed ‘Thank you!’ cards in loopy script, as there are times you’ll want to write notes where that aesthetic feels all wrong. Better to choose paper you like. Stay away from full-size sheets—note cards are best, as your message will be brief, and would look silly swimming around on a page that large. Store all of these items somewhere easily accessible and preferably in plain sight so you won’t hesitate too long or forget too easily. Say, the top drawer of your desk or on a bookshelf at eye level or below.

If you want to know when you get a genuine pass on writing a note, the litmus test is simple: Do I live under the same roof as the giver? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you need not write a thank-you note (although a thank-you Post-It might be a nice touch).

I’m not going to go all Miss Manners on your ass and get into the social intricacies and delicate situations that surround thank-you note writing, as I was taught that a solid thank-you note will transcend all complicated situations—and I have seen no evidence to the contrary.

There is a six-point formula to the proper thank-you: Learn it, know it, memorize it—and it will never fail you.

1. Greet the Giver
Dear Aunt Sally,
That’s the easy part, but you’d be surprised how many people forget it. Dale Carnegie taught us people love to hear their own names and Direct Marketing is sure we also love to read them in ink. That’s right, ink. Blue-black is always the number-one choice, but black will suffice in a pinch. Don’t let a whimsical marker color be the most stunning part of your note: instead let the words sing without the amplification of rainbow hues. Even if your handwriting is poor, you must still hand-write your notes. Do not type them or, worse, use a word processor. No excuses.

2. Express Your Gratitude
Thank you so much for the slippers.
This first paragraph seems like it would be the easiest, but it is actually the most complicated. Beware the just writing trap. You are not ‘just writing to say’ as in I am just writing to say;. If the giver is reading, clearly you have already written. Therefore use the present-perfect tense, which essentially means write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment.

Also—and this is important—never directly mention money. ‘Thank you for the hundred bucks’ could instead be ‘Thank you for your generosity.’ All cash denominations become ‘your generosity’ or ‘your kindness.’ If you feel the giver overspent, the farthest you can go is appreciated: ‘Your generosity is appreciated,’ or ‘It is such an extravagant gift—your kindness is appreciated.’

If you’re writing to thank someone for an intangible (such as them putting you up at their place while you were in town for the weekend), first define what the intangible thing is, and then make the gift sound as attractive as possible. In other words, don’t say: ‘Thanks for letting us crash at your place.’ Instead say: ‘Thank you for your hospitality.’ Don’t worry if it sounds too simple; the point of writing the note is to create a simple expression of a heartfelt sentiment.

3. Discuss Use

that’s stating the obvious
It gets very chilly here in the winter, so they will get a lot of use when winter comes.
Say something nice about the item and how you will use it. Let’s say it’s something you actually love and use incessantly—then say so: ‘Ever since I got the slippers I have only taken them off to shower and go to work. I’d wear them to the office if I thought I could get away with it.’

But don’t lie, even though some etiquette books may tell you it’s okay. After all, there’s always a truth that can be extracted. Let’s say you hate the slippers. How to say thanks? Find the one thing about them that’s nice and discuss it—but don’t get carried away. ‘They are such a lovely shade of blue’ works, and is more honest than ‘These slippers make my heart sing like a choir of angels,’ which is overkill. If it was a gesture, like letting you stay at their place, you can follow the lines of ‘It’s so nice to make a personal connection while traveling. I really appreciated my time with your family.’

If the gift was cash, allude to how you will use the money, but do not itemize your planned purchases line by line, instead simply say: ‘It will be a great help when we purchase our new home/toaster/lava lamp/whatever.’

You can get arty here, but not flowery. It’s a fine line. Small, realistic statements like ‘I put the flowers on the kitchen table and they are still looking fresh and beautiful after a week,’ or ‘I don’t know which is more fun, actually using the Cuisinart, or reading recipes and thinking I could do that in the Cuisinart!’ Having fun is alright, so have at it.

4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future
It was great to see you at my birthday party, and I hope to see you at Dad’s retirement in February.
Why did they give you the gift? What does it mean to your relationship with the giver? Let the giver know how they fit into the fabric of your life. If it’s someone you see infrequently, say whatever you know: ‘Mom tells me you’re doing great at Stanford, and I hope we cross paths soon.’ If it’s someone you’re in regular contact with: ‘I’ll call you soon, but I wanted to take time to say thanks.’ If it’s some errant family member you have little or no contact with, simply go with ‘You are in my thoughts and I hope you are well.’ Nice, right?

5. Grace
Thanks again for your gift.
It’s not overkill to say thanks again. So say it.
6. Regards
Simply wrap it up. Use whatever works for you: Love, Yours Truly, With Love. Then sign your name and you’re done.

PHOTO BY nextbook.org


Writer Leslie Harpold had an amazing wit and talent beyond measure. Although I never had the chance to meet her in person, I feel that I have through her writings. She died in 2006 and is missed by throngs of fans, family and friends. RIP Leslie.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Host, toast, and boast. Easy cocktail party tips.

photo by Martha Stewart

This time of year brings about ample opportunities to get together with friends and neighbors, and we are often asked about some tips for planning a simple but elegant cocktail party. So, as we enter into a New Year, here are just a sampling of some of our entertaining ideas.

The most important thing about entertaining is that it should be enjoyable for all - including the host and hostess! A little planning ahead of time will ease those last minute jitters and allow you to enjoy your guests and your party. Here we go:

  • Estimate the amount of liquor you will need. We use these numbers for a basic 2.5 hour cocktail party. Adjust up or down depending on the amount of food, the age of your guests, the time of day and the weather (cold drinks may goes down faster on hot days!).
COCKTAILS: 2.5 per person
CHAMPAGNE: 1 bottle for every 2 - 3 guests
WINE: 1 bottle for every 2 - 3 guests
LIQUOR: 1 liter for every 10 - 12 guests
BOTTLED WATER: 1 liter for every 2 guests

  • Packaged snacked are absolutely fine to serve! Bags of pistachios, chips, and snack mix are economical and are always a hit. Frozen quiches and other frozen finger foods come in handy if the crowd is larger than expected or unusually hungry!
  • Organize early: write lists, shop, and make your plan a week or two ahead of time.
  • Polish any silver trays and clean all crystal days before the party. This is not a fun thing to be doing just before the doorbell rings!
  • Clean your oven to ensure that there is nothing in the bottom of it that may cause an unwelcome odor or smoke while you have guests.
  • Set bread sticks or flat breads out in tall glasses or vases on the buffet. They add height and an interesting addition to your display.
  • Use cloth cocktail napkins rather than paper for a more refined look. (We purchase these year round when we spot them on sale.)
  • Set your iPod or CD player with appropriate music for the group. Test it out before the first guest arrives and have the music playing 15 minutes early (to put a festive mood in the air!)
  • Create a sparkling evening by clustering one color of pillar candles of various heights throughout the room or on the mantel. Stick to either one candle aroma or odorless candles.
  • Twinkle lights are always a hit. Wrap them in ficus trees or indoor plants for some extra glow.
  • Be sure you have a candle lighter that is in working order. Light candles 20 - 30 minutes before guests arrive.
  • Set out any cheeses on a marble slab or cutting board covered with a dome or kitchen towel, a few hours before the party so they may be served at room temperature.
  • Small clusters of grapes make easy and pretty decor on cheese displays and serving platters. Be sure they are cleaned well and cut into small enough clusters so that a guest may take one to enjoy.
  • Cut flowers can be placed in carafes, fancy glasses, Thomas Jefferson cups, mason jars and a variety of vases for an interesting addition to your decor. Place them throughout the house for a nice touch.
  • Dim the lights to create a cozy atmosphere - especially if you have lots of candle to add ambiance.
  • Don't forget the bathrooms. A nice candle, hand soap, a flower, and pressed guest towels show guests that you've left nothing untouched.
  • Light a fire in the fireplace (in the winter) and assign a friend to ensure it keeps glowing all night. During warmer months, consider placing colorful daisies or mums in the fireplace... you can replant them when the party is over.
  • Place appetizers on small plates throughout the room so that guests never have to go far for a bite.
  • If you have special photographs of fun times with your guests, put them in frames and display them throughout your party. They bring back fond memories and are great conversation starters for any 'newbies' in the group.
  • Separate the bar area from the main food area to avoid bottlenecks and to encourage mingling.
  • Pre-pour trays of a colorful drink or champagne with a lavender sprig to offer guests upon arrival.
  • If the weather outside is frightful, be sure to set aside an area for coats and purses.
  • Consider hiring someone to help be your behind the scenes hostess - picking up empty plates, dishes, and keeping the bar area clean throughout the evening.
  • Don't forget to offer non-alcoholic beverages for guests.
  • Consider a small 'thank you' happy for your guests when they leave. An inexpensive small silver frame, a candle in a organza bag, or Polaroid photos taken through the night and laid on the table by the door will help show your appreciation - and help your guests remember the lovely evening.
Most of all, enjoy yourself. Like most things in life, entertaining just takes practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

101 Reasons to Live in Florida...The Hottest State in the Union, Baby!

As a native Minnesotan, I greatly appreciate the beauty of a white Christmas. I really do. The snow is picturesque and lovely while it's falling during the Holidays. I loved it for the first 25 years of my life....and then I had enough. Now I love to visit my homeland, but I'm not interested in ever shoveling my drive, plugging in my car at night or understanding windchill factor when I check the temperature outside. Ski vacations? No thanks. I'll take a warm beach any day of the year. Thus, my love affair with Florida - not to mention the fact that I have family and dear friends there.

This year, in the Seattle area, we were treated to a little taste of Minnesota with lots and lots and LOTS of snow. When I casually mentioned it to my sister (who lives in beautiful Florida), she sent me a cute little book for Christmas that I thought I'd share. It is called (aptly), "101 Reasons to Live in Florida...The Hottest State in the Union, Baby!" and was written by Ellen Patrick. It's a cute read and perfect gift for those who yearn for that beautiful Florida sunshine.

So, our retirement to Florida won't be here in the immediate future, but I love these reasons to keep shooting for that goal. So here we go with some of my favorites... Oh, and thanks, Sis for rubbing it in. :) I love you!
  • Can you say "Sunshine State"?
  • It's just like the Midwest and Northeast, without the snow, ice, rat race, stress, bad food, and grumpy people.
  • We didn't invent margaritas, we just perfected them.
  • Three national championship football teams provide infinite gloating material.
  • Real key lime pie will cure just about anything.
  • Spring Break comes to us, instead of the other way around.
  • You don't have to move when you retire.
  • The Florida Lottery. It could happen.
  • Electoral politics more creative than in any other state.
  • A certain very important Mouse.
  • All the Jimmy Buffett songs are true.
  • We got hurricanes. We also got hurricane parties.
  • More umbrella drinks per capita.
  • It's fun to tell your Yankee friends, "Excuse me, I have to be courted by a Presidential candidate."
  • The Daytona 500: for those who like to drink while they watch other people drive.
  • South Beach known to induce first actual case of disco fever.
  • Nation's highest ratio of bare skin to clothing.
  • Cutoff jeans accepted in most restaurants (and board rooms).
  • Apalachicola oysters.
  • The sugar white sands of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Cold beer tastes better in 100-degree temperatures.
  • Cocoa Beach surfing rocks!
  • The dancing never stops.
  • The space shuttle launch.
  • Even more important, tailgating before and after the space shuttle launch.
  • Bike Week in Daytona is a great lesson in how to get arrested.
  • No legal limit on blondeness.
  • Boiled shrimp, and lots of it.
  • No tanning bed needed.
  • "You put de lime in de coconut."
  • Historic St. Augustine.
  • Walking on the beach at sunset.
  • Sailing is prescribed by doctors for stress-related ailments.
  • Down time held in high regard.
  • Badminton and shuffleboard considered hip.
  • If you get cold, you can wear a thong.
  • No unsightly igloos.
  • The Marlins, Dolphins, and Buccaneers: you can catch 'em, go on the ride, see 'em at Sea World, or watch 'em play football.
  • Folks still know the meaning of the word "neighbor."
  • Deep-sea drinking while you fish.
  • Blue crabs.
  • International Drive.
  • Floridians never grow old - they just get tanner.
  • The good thing about our rain: it will stop before you turn the page.
  • Shelling on Sanibel.
  • Key Largo diving.
  • Bar hoppin'.
  • Island hoppin'.
  • 1,350 miles of coastline.
  • 1,350 miles of bars.
  • Glass-bottom boats, just in case you don't have enough regular views of paradise.
  • More than 1,000 golf courses allow us to research whether there could possibly be such a thing as too much golf.
  • It's fun to feel sorry for the North from November until May.
  • Over 6 million Floridians can't be wrong.
  • Cuban jazz.
  • Cuban cigars.
  • We were good enough for Hemingway. Not to mention Madonna, Versace, and a few others you may have heard of.
  • From any point in Florida a beach is only 60 miles away.
  • We're what you see in the dictionary when you look up "amusement."
  • If it can be made into a theme park, we'll do it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reminders that money can't buy

Today's blog is taken directly from one of my favorite journalists - Michelle Malkin. Her words are inspiring and speak to me like few others can. Happy Holidays.

God’s Gifts
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

The Wal-Mart stampede in Long Island last month exposed the ugliest side of the Christmas season. But not all Americans live by “The Blitz Line Starts Here” credo. Not all of us rush to store shelves in search of the greatest gifts. Sometimes, they can be discovered in the hearts and souls of total strangers. If only you look.

What an extraordinary treasure America was given in Dong Yun Yoon. The naturalized American from Korea lost his entire family in a San Diego military jet crash three weeks ago. The tragedy claimed the lives of his infant daughter, toddler daughter, wife, and mother-in-law. It wrecked his house and upended his world.

But Mr. Yoon refused to blame the pilot or bash the military. At a press conference near the site of the crash, the grieving father and husband urged his fellow citizens to pray for the pilot: “He is one of our treasures for the country…I don’t blame him. I don’t have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could.”

In an age of shoe-tossing temper tantrums, anti-troop bigotry, and litigation gone wild, Mr. Yoon demonstrated both amazing grace and unbending patriotism in the face of unfathomable pain. His heart-wrenching plea for forgiveness resounded across the country — and around the world. Five hundred people from both the civilian and military communities came to lift Mr. Yoon up at his family’s memorial service. The assistant pastor of his church reported that they had received more than 1,000 phone calls and e-mail messages offering condolences and financial support.

Mr. Yoon’s suffering and sacrifice are powerful reminders of the preciousness of life — reminders that money can’t buy.

Haleigh Poutre is another of those priceless gifts. She’s the miracle child who was nearly beaten to death by her barbaric stepfather three years ago. Hooked to a ventilator in a comatose state, she was then nearly condemned to death by Massachusetts medical experts and the state’s criminally negligent child welfare bureaucracy, which hastily declared her to be in a hopeless vegetative state and wanted to pull the plug on her life.

God had a different plan. The government’s campaign to kill her was stopped after the then-11-year-old girl started breathing on her own and responding to commands. This little girl with an iron will to live has been nursed back to health by an amazing team of caring therapists. Her plight brought end-of-life issues again to the fore — issues that so many on both the left and right would prefer to ignore.

Haleigh the “vegetable” can now write her name, brush her own hair, and feed herself. Haleigh’s suffering and sacrifice carry powerful reminders against blind trust in the deadly duo of Big Nanny and Big Medicine — reminders that money can’t buy.

The life of Master Sgt. Anthony Davis gives us one more invaluable gift this year. On Thanksgiving weekend, his family learned that he had been killed while delivering humanitarian supplies in Biaj, Iraq. He had served in the Army for 26 years. He loved his job and he believed in his mission. The Baltimore native was married and had five children and one grandchild. His wife and daughter also served in the military.

Sergeant Davis was killed while distributing water and food in Biaj, about 250 miles north of Baghdad. He died, his family said, doing what he loved. “He was Army in every sense of the word,” Jorge Tardi, Sergeant Davis’ brother-in-law, told the Baltimore Sun. “He believed in our effort over there in Iraq. It wasn’t just a job. It wasn’t just a benefit. It wasn’t just hardship pay. He was a patriot.”

Sergeant Davis was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, but what his family will remember most is commitment to them. He was a peacemaker, they said, and a mentor to all. “‘A positive impact on somebody’s life can change their life for the better,’ That’s a quote from him,” his son Jerel said at his funeral. He “instilled in his children the importance of getting to know God.”

Sergeant Davis’s service sacrifice serves as powerful reminders never to take for granted the cherished gifts of family, faith, and freedom — reminders that money can’t buy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Would you like to super-size that yacht?

Whenever I go to a U2 concert, I like to arrive in style. Apparently so does Paul Allen - co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. This beautiful 414 feet (126.2m) baby was docked in Nice (near his home from what I understand during my recent visit there - to Nice, not Mr. Allen's home). She is named 'Octopus'.

My husband and I have a mega yacht on our 'must have' list for our retirement. We'll see how those stocks come back and I'll keep you posted. Now that would be a fun party to plan, eh?

Boy, it's nice to live vicariously though in the meantime!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Once Upon a Family...

n the ever ending search for unique and meaningful gifts, these certainly top the list. Especially at this time of year when I'm treasuring the memories I have of the Holidays with my late daughter, I encourage anyone to take the time to snap a few photos, keep the homemade cards, don't worry about the flour all over the kitchen after baking cookies - in other words, savor the memories. Someday we realize that they will become our true treasures.

A home-based organization called 'Once Upon a Family' sells some high quality, heirloom type gifts. They stress spending time with your families, and encourage creating and upholding traditions all year round. The Letters to Santa Pillow gives a gorgeous little spot for your child to put their letter to Santa. After the man in red picks up the letter, you can save it for years to come...and present all of them to your child when they turn 21.

The Christmas Book is a lovely silk album - the perfect place to preserve your special photos. Consider placing one photo each year in the 25 page fold-out books, of your family engaged in your favorite Christmas tradition. Bring the book out a couple of weeks before Christmas to remember the previous years and to show the children how they've grown! This is also available in a Hanukkah book as well.

Both the Letters to Santa pillow and the Christmas Book run approximately $25. For more information or to purchase these (and dozens more quality items), visit Jennifer Schmidts website here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Favors with good taste! (now you know we love those!)

I love the idea of edible favors with a sweet note of thanks for a wedding; and a lovely wrapped bottle of wine or box of chocolates for a hostess gift. These little sweeties from L.A. Burdick Chocolates fit the bill for both occasions.

The little penguins look like they are standing at attention with their little tuxedos on, and the mice have beautiful long tails - sure to make any guest smile. At around $3.50 each, they make a very reasonable and unique gift that is sure to bring some delicious joy.

Any item ordered under their wedding category on their website can be customized with different colored boxes, ribbon, and of course - the little satin tails.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple but lovely Holiday tabletop

At Good Taste Events, we're all about simple elegance and amazing attention to detail. This festive tabletop caught our eye because it encompasses those things that we love.

No outrageous linens, no ultra expensive florals, and for the most part, you may have many of these items in your home to decorate your table. We love the mis-matched colored plates (notice that some of the chargers are green while others are white?), the simple greenery with a few white flowers tucked in; various vases that hold some simple white candles of different sizes; and the little green dish that could serve as a salt cellar.

This would be beautiful in any colors - and for any occasion. Chris Madden for JCPenney Home collection offers some lovely dinnerware that would be ideal for this look - and for everyday use as well.

With a warm and lovely tabletop, your guests will feel so appreciated - and you'll be the hostest with the mostest!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yellow? Bring. It. On.

"There are painters who transform the sun to a
yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their
art and their intelligence, transfer a yellow spot into the sun."
--Pablo Picasso

Yellow has become a very hot color (no sun pun intended), and I am absolutely thrilled with what beautiful things are being produced with yellow as a main color theme! One of our wonderful couples that we are working with in 2009 are using a gray/yellow theme and I can't wait to see their amazing wedding come together. Yellow paired with gray, platinum, black and a pop of green or pink and you've got an amazing palette with unlimited possibilities!

In doing some research for that couple, I came up with some interesting thoughts about the color yellow. Take a peek:

  • They say that yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness.
  • Lemon was the original scent of the yellow colored "Magic Scent Crayons" from Binney & Smith, Inc. introduced in 1994 with mostly food scents. There were numerous reports that children were eating the food-scented crayons, so the food scents were retired and replaced with non-food scents. The scent for the color yellow became "daffodil".
  • Lance Armstrong has a deep fondness for yellow. In his words, "Yellow wakes me up in the morning. Yellow gets me on the bike every day. Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yellow makes me suffer. Yellow is the reason I'm here."
We'll keep you posted on this upcoming event! It's sure to be spectacular.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How charming!

We're seeing charms everywhere these days, but this one really stood out. A lovely little sterling calendar charm with a crystal marker that designates a special date. Celebrate a birthday, wedding or graduation with this clever charm. From GiftGenius.

Simply charming.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Simple and elegant thanks.

We were so fortunate to work with a lovely couple this year at their beautiful wedding at a farm setting in Washington. They were such a perfect couple - you could see it in their every glance - and their family and friends shared their joy. Their day was absolutely beautiful.

Rachel (the bride) is not only gorgeous, but extremely talented as well. She managed to make her own save-the-date cards, invitations, etc. all while finishing up her college degree! Today I received this beautiful note of thanks in the mail from Rachel and Tom - and again she lived up to her reputation as a talented card maker. The group photograph is one of our favorites (from all our weddings). This one is fabulous. Jennifer Guzman at F7 photography did a terrific job capturing the crowd, and Rachel put it into this beautiful, personalized thank you note.

Now, do I send a thank you for a thank you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Capturing memories on canvas

This is one of our favorite bridal shots of the year. Beautiful work done by April Greer Photography. We decided to take this one step further and put this gorgeous print on canvas. At imagekind.com you can use your own photographs or select one of their lovely selection of stock photos. You choose the size you want and they ship it right to your door.

For a small 'happy' to send to your couple, you can order an approximate 6" x 10" canvas for $16.95! Even Santa would be proud of that buy.

Photographs are always in good taste. Say cheese!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our South African Adventure in a smilebox

Click to play Africa

My husband and I recently took a glorious
5-week vacation to South Africa.
Take a peek at it here.
This is made by a neat little program
called Smilebox.


Buh. Bye. Brown bag lunches.

Thank you, Milano. These cute little lunch totes are fantastic! Made of neoprene and available at Target for as little as $15, they make a perfect little Holiday 'happy' for friends in the office. Now you can carry that tuna fish sandwich in style.

Buh. Bye. Brown bags.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just add bling.

Wow. That beautiful crystal company - Swarovski (swar-of-ski) has taken a basic USB key and made me want to buy it! (Or receive it!) One of my best friends is both a fashion nut and a high tech executive. Her daughter found this perfect combination of both and I couldn't resist sharing it here.

It's so pretty you almost forget that it is a work device.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Save the purses!

If you don't happen to be at an establishment that offers hooks to hang your precious purse - consider carrying one of these beautiful crystal handbag hangers. They're not only beautiful, but will help save that latest Dooney & Bourke. Find these and others at where else? Neiman Marcus.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Go ahead. Make their day.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
- Winston Churchill

Were truer words ever uttered? At this time of year, I am reminded of those wise words more than usual. I have been so Blessed in many ways. I have known more love, heartache, despair, and joy than many. And I am so glad that I have learned that it truly is better to give than receive. Waaaaaay better.

So this Holiday season, consider filling your heart with joy by doing something kind for someone else. Pay it forward. It's amazingly simple and the rewards are immense.

When I recently returned from a magnificent 5-week trip to South Africa, my husband and I were waiting for our luggage at the airport. We saw some soldiers trying to pool their money together to get the $4.00 for a luggage trolley. When I handed them the money for the trolley, you would have thought I had given them a million dollars. They were so grateful it was incredible. Let's see? They have volunteered to risk their lives to keep me and my family safe and to protect our freedom. $4 to help them out? It was one of the highlights of my trip.

Here are some ideas from Steve Vogel (and a few of my own) to consider this Season.

• Tape money to a vending machine
• Pay the electric bill of someone standing in line to pay it at City Hall
• Buy stuffed animals and pass them out to sick kids in pediatrics or cancer wing of a local hospital
• Buy a cup of coffee or breakfast for a family or person
• Pay for someone's lunch in the drive-thru.
• Leave a $20 tip for an $8 dollar meal
• Buy a movie pass for two and give it to friends who could use a night out
• Find articles in the paper about people that are making a difference in your community - and do something nice for them
• Send someone a ticket to a lecture or course that he/she will enjoy
• Send someone a tape or CD of music they will enjoy
• Pay a highway toll for the person behind you
• Send money to someone who is experiencing financial difficulties
• Give a poor single Mom a Toys R Us giftcard
• Rake your elderly neighbor's yard
• Change oil, wash windows, babysit
• Leave some homemade soup on your neighbor's doorstep
• Leave the change you receive from the vending machine
• Call home

Remember, as Helen Keller so profoundly put it: "No one ever became poor by giving."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

HOT! coffee

We found this cute (and sexy!) little coffee cozy by Amanda Fenniak on Etsy. In the Pacific Northwest, coffee is like air that we breathe. How fun to do your Holiday shopping donning this cute little coffee cozie around your skinny latte! Or better yet, surprise your neighbor, babysitter, pet-sitter, or even a stranger walking by with a HOT coffee and this cute wrap. You're sure to make their day bright - and that's what the Season is all about.