A Secret

I'm going to let you all in on a secret that I learned a few years ago...

It's super easy to see famous people if you're in California. Or watch a free concert. Or go to an awards show.
In the past three years, I've been to Jimmy Kimmel Live three times. I've been to the red carpet at the Academy Awards twice. I've seen Ellen and have been to Dancing with the Stars. And last year I went to the VMAs.
If you live in California, or are just visiting, I encourage you to try something like this. It's so easy to get tickets, especially if you check early and often. 

So you know when you watch the red carpet at the Academy Awards and you see all of those people in the bleacher seats? That can be you. The Academy gives away these seats in a raffle, which opens on September 12th of this year. The rules about the number of people you can bring with you and whether you need to give their names vary from year to year, so make sure to read the instructions carefully. Two years ago, when I signed up, I had to give the names of the people that I would bring and if they signed up too, we would all be disqualified. 

If you want to enter for tickets, be sure to mark September 12th on your calendar, because you can only sign up until the 18th. But don't worry, if you follow me on Twitter, I will remind you! Oh, and if you don't live in the area, you can still enter. You find out if you got tickets at the end of September, so you have plenty of time to plan a trip out of it.

This website gives away free tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live, along with all of his free concerts {recent guests: Lady Gaga, Incubus, Owl City, Sara Bareilles}. 1 Iota also gives tickets to the MTV Video Music Awards (seatfillers, pit fans, superfans, etc.), and I saw a free concert by Taylor Swift last year from them. Other TV shows that they manage: The Voice, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Lopez Tonight, and The Sing-Off. The key to this website is to check it all the time. Tickets go quick, so I'm usually checking at least a few times a week.

Visit on-camera-audiences.com for some really big TV show tapings, like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Tosh.0,  and Chelsea Lately.

TVtickets.com has a lot of sitcom tapings, like the Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, as well as some Disney shows like Shake it Up and Wizards of Waverly Place.

This website gives away the hottest seatfiller tickets, including the Grammys. They have a raffle, so it doesn't matter when you enter, but it's best to enter early so you don't forget. The good thing about seatfillersandmore.com is that they send you an email when a show opens, and they have shows all over the country. They also do audience tickets for things like the Biggest Loser finale and Miss USA.

I've been to Ellen and it is so much fun! Tickets are really hard to get, but the secret is to go even if you are stand by. Even if you don't get a seat, you will be put into the "riff-raff" room, where you will be given guaranteed tickets to another show. I've heard that if you get tickets for a show in early October, you may be able to choose a date during Ellen's Twelve Days of Giveaways shows.They have tickets for November up now!

Other tickets:

Do any of you have good tips for seeing a show or TV show taping? If so, I want to hear!


Wedding Wednesday

Since it is the last day of August, I thought that it would be nice to dedicate today's Wedding Wednesday to all of the beautiful details that come with summer weddings! 
Here are a few of my favorites:

Happy Wedding Wednesday my dears!


Virtual Coffee

Happy Tuesday friends! I'm so glad you're all joining me for some Virtual Coffee today. I'm just sitting at my desk with a bad cup of office coffee, but I wish I were sitting somewhere pretty with you drinking a vanilla latte. Yum. 

If we were actually having coffee today, I would tell about my strange new desire to get a pretty tea cup to start drinking my coffee and tea from. Everyone at work has such ugly cups {including me}, so why not bring a little pretty to my cubicle, right?


If we were actually having coffee today, I would tell you how uneventful my weekend was. But it was uneventful in the best kind of way. I got to relax, see a movie, and make yummy dinners like roasted chicken and stuffed bell peppers. I did a ton of laundry and redid my blog design. Overall it was a very productive weekend as well. 

If we were actually having coffee today, I would tell you that I am in desperate need of a haircut. I chopped twelve inches off of my hair last year after my wedding and I hated it. I wish I could go back and tell myself what a stupid idea that was. But it's finally starting to grow out and I'm finally able to wear it down now, which means that I really need to figure out what kind of hair style I want. I'm thinking something like this:


If we were having coffee, I would tell you how excited I am for Fall to start. It's definitely my favorite season, and I can't wait until I'm allowed to make pumpkin scones and put out my fall decorations. I have an extra special drink for this season, so I might need to host a special Happy Hour so that I can share it with you!

And speaking of Fall, remember to enter to win a $30 gift card to Sephora for my September Must Haves giveaway! You have until Monday, September 5th at midnight.

Hope you're all having a fabulous Tuesday! 



September Must Haves Giveaway!

So, this month's giveaway is coming a bit late, but I know that you all are going to love it!

For me, September automatically means going back to school. I haven't been back to school for three years now, but when I did, I always wanted to make a good impression on the first day. Sometimes it meant a new outfit or a new backpack. Recently we were looking back at some of of my high school pictures, however, and I realized how horrendous my makeup was back then. I was a teenager, obsessed with covering up my freckles and wearing too much dark eyeliner. Obviously I wasn't giving the best impression by overdoing it like that.

Thankfully, I've left that phase in my life and I know now was "tasteful" makeup means. So for September, I am going to give one lucky winner a $30 gift card to Sephora for them to use in any way that they wish.

You can enter this fabulous giveaway in the following ways.

  1. Follow Where We Love is Home with Google Friend Connect.
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Tweet about this giveaway {please tweet @missjoelleee}. 
  4. Follow Where We Love is Home on Facebook.
  5. Blog about this giveaway {leave the link to the post please!}. 
Be sure to leave a comment for each  entry above and good luck! The giveaway will end on Monday, September 5th at midnight Pacific Time.



Ten Things

Ten things that have made me happy this week:

Seeing Taylor Swift in concert at last
Watching Heat with my husband {it's his favorite movie}
Disneyland with good friends {and riding on the new Star Tours for the first time!}
Seeing my parents and my brother
My Destination: Wedding blog crawl
Getting a necklace from a sweet friend for doing her blog design
Empty laundry baskets {after twelve loads of laundry...}
My new blog design
 Finally finding the inspiration I need to start writing again
And lastly...

Remembering my grandma, who died five years ago yesterday. 

I love you grandma.

What are you happy about this week?


Friday's Fancies

Thank. Goodness. It's. Friday. 

This week, for Friday's Fancies, the lovely {av} over at Long Distance Loving has given us wedding theme! This is just the ultimate wedding week, and I love it! 

I chose this outfit for my destination wedding at the Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley, France. I thought it was necessary to find an outfit that was just romantic enough. 

{wedding dress, shoes, ring, hair, bm dress}

If you haven't linked up your Destination: Wedding post yet, you have until midnight tonight. 

And be sure to head on over to Long Distance Loving so that you can post your own Friday's Fancies!


An Explanation

If you know me at all, you know that I'm kind of obsessed with Taylor Swift. If you follow me on Twitter, I'm sure you've seen/been annoyed at my overly enthusiastic tweets as seeing her last night in concert. I could post a review of said concert, but that would be unnecessary, since you all probably know what I think of the show {it was amazing}. I don't know that I've written an honest post yet about why I love her so much, so that's what I'm doing today.

I first heard Love Story on the radio on January 13, 2009. I thought it was a pretty song, but didn't think much of it. I heard it again later that day and it made me tear up a little, so I bought it and put it on my iPod. Now, I'm one of those people who, if I like a song, I'll listen to it over. And over. And over. So I did.

The next day, Robert proposed.
I kept listening to Love Story. It became my theme as I threw myself into our weddings plans, but it wasn't until September 1, 2009, that I bought the entire Fearless album.

That Fall was very strange for me. I got let go from my first job. I moved in with my parents. I had to stay behind while Robert left for his Senior year of college. But throughout all of this, Taylor kept me company. And even to this day, listening that album still makes me think of that year.

I also started writing my book that year. Since then, it's been molded and developed into something I'm honestly proud of, and I need to thank Taylor for a lot of that. I don't know if her words inspired me, or if I had a connection with the songs while I wrote because she was just singing what I what already thinking, but I began to identify parts of my story with her songs. White Horse when talking about my main character's painful past and her potential for the future. Fearless when talking about her joy in finding new love again.

I bought her first album later that year as well. As I listened to it, I realized that not only did her songs speak to my characters, but they spoke to my own life as well. I heard Tim McGraw for the first time (or the first time that I remembered), and I was in love. To this day, that is still my favorite song.

When Robert and I married in July of 2010, it seemed only obvious that we needed a Taylor Swift song in the wedding somehow. So our pianist, a dear family friend and our former youth minister, played Love Story as I walked down the aisle. That day was the best day of my life.

I saw Taylor perform live for the first time in August of last year at the VMAs. In October, after Speak Now came out, my friends and I got to see her perform a song on Hollywood Blvd. for a Thanksgiving special.

I loved her new album. And I listened to it non-stop. As we head into Fall of 2011, I'm brought back to last year; our first Fall as a married couple. It was filled with friends and Glee and caramel apple martinis. I used to say that I didn't have a favorite season, but I recently realized that that is just not true. Fall is absolutely my favorite season, and I can't wait for September to get here. And Taylor's albums are my anthems for this time of year.

As cliché or cheesy or ridiculous as it sounds, last night was a dream come true for me. I had bought tickets in the nosebleed section for my best friend Carrie and I. They were decent seats (we were in the front row), but when we saw that a friend of ours had forgotten that he had bought tickets last year for the show and couldn't make it, we texted him immediately, asking what he was going to do with them. He emailed them to us, and with a half hour left before she came on stage, we raced to the nearest hotel so that they could print them out for us. We made it to our suite level seats, only a few hundred feet from the stage, ten minutes before the show started.

As soon as she came on stage to sing Sparks Fly, I started crying. Last night had been two years in the making, and it was finally here. I cried when she played Love Story  and Fifteen and even Our Song. I cried every time I saw a little girl's face light up when Taylor started singing her favorite song. I cried every time I saw a father holding his daughter's hand, bringing her to her very first concert. I cried when I thought of all the fifteen year old girls in that room of 13,500, who may not understand the what the words to the song Fifteen means now, but who will when they are my age. And I cried when I thought of the day when maybe I could share an experience like this with my own daughter.

We all have the artists or bands that inspire us. We all have songs that speak to us. Taylor Swift's music is the type that I normally like, but for some reason, I have found in it something that I desperately needed. Every person in this world can find something from their life in her songs. Whether you're in an abusive relationship, a  grown woman with a broken heart, a circle of friends that have finally found success in whatthey love to do, childhood sweethearts that have grown old together, or just a fifteen year old girl, self-conscious and confused, there is something for you.

And that is what I love about Taylor Swift.


Wedding Wednesday

In keeping with the theme of this wedding week...

And seeing as I am a former bride/wannabe wedding planner/just very opinionated...

I thought it was appropriate for me to present to all of you, the best wedding tips and advice that I have.

Number One: Use Wedding Wire as your digital wedding planner. 

I planned my wedding in that dark time, long ago, before there was the amazing website called Pinterest. At that time, I needed a place to keep all of my inspiration. Not only can you create bulletin boards with images that you like on Wedding Wire, but you can also save files and links there as well. In addition, it also has a budget calculator, registry manager, wedding planning timeline and checklist, a comprehensive vendor database with vendor ratings, and guest list manager {with reception seating planner}. I scoured the internet for the perfect planning tool and this is the one that I found.*

*Note: The Google wedding planner was not available when I was planning my wedding, so I don't have any experience with it. I would love to hear from anybody that uses it whether they like it or not.

Number Two: Stay away from The Knot message boards. 

I know I've said it before and I'll say it many more times, but this is for your own safety. Future brides are in a fragile state when planning their weddings, and they don't need a snarky former bride, who is probably bitter that their wedding is over, to tell them mean things. There are a few boards on there, like the local and month boards, that are great to use. But whatever you do, stay away from the etiquette board. If you don't believe me, see below.

{you can read the full forum thread here}

Number Three: Don't buy two buck chuck. 

I believe in budget weddings. My own wedding was less than $4,000. But there are plenty of ways to cut corners without it showing.

And in my opinion, buying Charles Shaw is a red flag shouting that the couple is cheap.

Chances are, if people drink beer, they don't care if it's Bud Light. You can make carnations and baby's breath look really beautiful in bouquets and centerpieces. Dessert only or cocktail receptions are all the rage right now, and you don't even have to serve dinner to everyone. Print your own invitations. Enlist your wedding party to help tie bows on the favors, or don't do favors at all. Buy used from Wedding Bee or Craigslist.

Don't get Charles Shaw.

There are plenty of nice wines under five dollars out there that nobody knows are under five dollars. Everybody knows that Charles Shaw costs two dollars a bottle. Go to BevMo and buy a few bottles of something else to try it. If they only cost three dollars a bottle, you can't go wrong. If you don't know your wine, ask a friend to try them and suggest something. Or ask me. I would love any excuse to try some new wine.

{If you had/are planning on having Charles Shaw at your wedding, please disregard number three...}

Number Four: Eat your dinner. 
I know of very few couples who got to eat the meal at their wedding. You are constantly being bombarded with guests who want to congratulate you and get pictures with you. Or you'll be too concerned trying to remember if someone brought the bags for the candy bar. Or you'll just be too nervous to eat anything. 
If you don't have a chance to eat at the reception, have someone pack it up for you so that you can eat it later. You paid for it, you might as well enjoy it.

Number Four: Get a smaller cake. 

I'm going to tell you something that most people, if they've been to a few weddings in their lives, know: people don't eat cake at weddings.

Let me amend that statement: Most people don't eat cake at weddings. Especially if you have an open bar, three course meal, candy bar, and chocolate favors. And let's be honest, a lot of people leave even before the cake has been cut. I have been to five weddings in the past year. I've eaten cake at two of them.
In my opinion, cake is a waste of money. Sure it's pretty, but most of it will be thrown away. My advice: get a cake that will feed about 75% of your guests. Don't pay someone to cut the cake because they usually do it per person. Find a friend or relative willing to cut the cake, and put it out for people to get on their own. Don't automatically put a piece at each person's place setting because it won't get eaten.


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I think that is all the advice I want to give for today, but here are a few of my favorite wedding websites and blogs for you all to take a look at:

The Knot {everything other than the message boards is great}

Style Me Pretty {the ultimate wedding blog}

Wedding Bee {amazing classifieds to find used stuff!}

My Wedding {best wedding website options}

Here Comes the Guide {great vendor database}

*     *     *     *     *

Isn't she the most beautiful bride?!

*     *     *     *     *

What advice would you give to someone planning their wedding?

Don't forget to enter your Destination: Wedding link in our blog crawl this week! You have until Friday!



A Book Review

Or I guess I should say, a few book reviews.

I know what you’re thinking. Whaaaaaaat??? Joelle never posts book reviews. But it’s necessary today. I just can’t help it.

*Note: If you haven’t read the Hunger Games yet, stop reading this post now*



I read the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy is less than two days. It took me a little longer to read the next two. Maybe about four days each. I loved the first one.

I thought the story line was very interesting and original. I did not think that the love story between Peeta and Katniss was necessary. Or if it was necessary, it wasn’t developed enough.

Let me rephrase that: I didn’t believe that Katniss actually loved him. And I don’t know that I believed that he really loved her. I didn’t buy it.

I know how difficult it is to present character’s in a story. I struggle with this every time I try to write my own book. I understand the technicalities of writing from different perspectives, and I did not like the fact that it was written in the first person. Mainly because I thought Katniss was kind of obnoxious. Her whole “woe is me, just let me die” angst just got really old after a while. The story could have been told from a different perspective with much greater impact, in my opinion.

I hated that so many characters were killed off at the end so quickly without much thought {not including Rue}. Boggs. Finnick {hated that he died}. Even Prim.

Mockingjay ended so strangely that I wasn’t entirely sure how to react once I finished the book. One minute she killed Coin, and all of the sudden she’s back in Twelve and is marrying Peeta and having kids. I wish that the reasons why she killed Coin were developed more. I mean, I understand why she did it, but it could have been a much bigger part of the story. In all, I thought that the author {Suzanne Collins} rushed the last book and kind of half-assed it.

But overall, I’m very glad I read all of them. It gave me a lot to think about.

Have any of you read them? If so, what did you think?

If not, what are you reading now? I need something else to read.


Virtual Coffee

It’s already Tuesday. And it’s already time for Virtual Coffee.

If we were actually having coffee today, I would tell you how excited I am for my new job. Well, it’s not really a “job” per say. It’s more like a side-gig.

But it’s still exciting. Because I’m getting paid to create and maintain a blog for a local winery.

Best. Job. Ever.

If only I could support us by blogging. That would be nice.


If we were having coffee today, I would tell you that I’ve officially been on medication for fibromyalgia for two weeks now, and I’m feeling a little bit better. It’s hard to deal with, but I’m glad that I’ve finally figured something out. I still have a few other things going on, and on Monday I get to have {another} colonoscopy and an upper GI endoscopy. Awesome. Not.

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you how much I love my husband. And my dog. And my mom. Just because.

And lastly, if we were having coffee today, I would tell you that you better be getting your Destination: Wedding blog posts ready, because you have until Friday to post. Do it.

Love you all too.

Amazing Deliciousness to Make You Hungry Tonight

I admit, it took me twenty three years to figure out how to make chocolate chip cookies. But in less than eight months, I’ve perfected the recipe.

Okay, that’s a lie.The New York Times perfected the recipe.

But seriously. It’s amazing. Freaking amazing.



Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons

(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

*     *     *     *     *

I’m pretty sure what makes these so amazing is the combination of the bread flour and the cake flour. They are so soft and chewy and delicious.

Oh, and I added M&Ms.

Make them. Now.



Destination: Wedding Blog Crawl

I am so very excited to be hosting, with the amazing Jillian over at Cornflake Dreams, our Destination: Wedding blog crawl! All this week, you are invited to link up with posts about your dream destination wedding.

I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that if I could get married all over again, anywhere in the world, I would choose my favorite country. Three years ago I studied art history in Paris. But today I’m not choosing Paris.

My dream wedding destination is the incredible Loire Valley. More specifically, Chateau Villandry in the Loire Valley.

I spent a weekend visiting the chateaux in this beautiful place while I studied in France, and I fell in love. There is absolutely no comparison to the gorgeous gardens of this chateau. I remember everything about this place, and I would do anything if I could go back, if only just for a day. It didn’t take me long to choose this place for my dream wedding.



Oh, if only I could…

But, if I could, the gardens would be my inspiration. I imagine romance. Lavender. Wine. Elegance.



Sigh. We can always renew our vows someday. Right?

*     *     *     *     *

I can’t wait to see where you all choose for your dream wedding destination! Be sure to link up below, and feel free to grab a button for your post!


Friday's Fancies

Even though people still think I'm sixteen, I did graduate from school two years ago. But I still got excited when I found out the theme for this week's Friday's Fancies. 

So I started searching the web for my perfect back to school outfit. 

And I have to admit, I did channel Blair Waldorf in the process. 

Shirt, Skirt, Necklace, Bag, Headband, Shoes

I would have loved to wear this outfit to school. But I guess that just means I'll have to go back someday. 


Be sure to link up with {av} over at Long Distance Loving for Friday's Fancies!



A Little Class

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been chasing this arbitrary concept that is “class.” I’ve never been one to focus too much energy on trends, and I’ve always preferred the classic look to the contemporary, but it encompasses so much more than that. I desperately want to be considered to have class, whatever that means. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve Googled the word, trying to find inspiration.

The word has been defined so many times, but none of those definitions matter. What matters is how I define it. And my definition includes all of the things that I want to be.

What is class?

It means pairing that perfect little black dress with a smile.

It means finding and owning your own style.

I means using icons for inspiration, not imitation.

It means loving yourself.

But always being gracious to others.

What does class mean to you?