12.28.2011

{2011: a year in posts}

Here are some of my favorite posts from 2011:

On Blogging

My Wedding

On Joy

Our Love Story

Stay Creative

How Far I’ve Come

Some Wedding Advice

Our Big Announcement

The Quarter Life Crisis

Food. I Likes It.

Write it Down and Love it

A Little Engagement Advice

What Would Audrey Do?

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When going through these posts, I found a post from the beginning of January last year, where I laid out my blog goals for 2011. I can’t believe it’s been a little over a year that I really got into blogging. And looking back, I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing all of my blog goals! I can’t wait to put down my goals for 2012 here, including personal goals, professional goals, and blogging goals. I really hope that I do as well in 2012 as I did in 2011!

2011: a year in review

I don’t know that I’ve shown you all our Christmas card this year, so here it is:

Christmas Card

{yes, I designed it, and I’m pretty happy with it too!}

2011 has really been an amazing year. Not only did I start my company, but I jumped in head first and already have clients lined up for 2012.

We, of course, adopted our child.

This blog grew into something really special; something truly charming.

I saw friends get engaged, four couples get married, and one reaffirm their vows. I don’t personally know anyone born this year, but I’m sure that will change in 2012…

I’ve lost friends, but I’ve developed my other friendships so much, and I feel so very thankful for those relationships now. I know that these people will be the “aunties and uncles” to my kids in the future, and that means the world to me.

My marriage has grown in more ways than I ever thought possible, and we are happier now than we’ve ever been before in our lives.

2012 has been one of the best years of my life, and I’m ready for 2012 to be even better!

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12.27.2011

On resolutions

It’s that time of year…

I’m already starting to see posts about resolutions. They are usually split up equally between posts with New Year’s resolutions, and posts bashing New Year’s resolutions.

I personally believe in creating goals at the beginning of the new year, not because it’s a time to start over, but because it’s a time to reevaluate ourselves and our goals. Goals are healthy, and I set them throughout the year. But starting off the New Year by reaffirming my goals is something that I always like to do.

I have a lot of words I could write about New Year’s resolutions, but I think that one of my favorite quotes sums my thoughts up pretty well. So before you go writing down all of your goals and your resolutions, maybe you should think about this for a moment.

Come Alive

12.26.2011

Merry Christmas to you {and me}!

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1. The new Shabby Apple dress I won from All This Grace and Charm

2. My beautiful new Scarlett {yes, she has a name…}

3. Olive loves her new jacket!

4. The only perfume that I wear

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Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with your families! And I can’t wait to see what you all got too!

12.23.2011

Things in the blog world are a little slow these days.

And I don’t know if I’ll be back to post again before Sunday, so I’ll just say it now…

Merry Christmas

I hope you all have an amazing holiday with your families, and lots of food and giving.

I love you all!

12.22.2011

A Charming Occasion is on Facebook!

Things are a little quiet in the blog world right now because of the holidays, and even I am having difficulty trying to find time to post. So, I'm shamelessly plugging my company instead...


My event planning company, A Charming Occasion, is now on Facebook!

I have some really exciting stuff coming up soon, like my very first photoshoot! Like us so that you can be the first to know about it.

You can also subscribe to my newsletter, to get additional articles and posts about weddings and other events. In the newsletter for January:

Hosting a resolutions party
A letter to 2012
How to reach your wedding goals for the year
Plus a few fun announcements!

Thank you all so much for supporting this little endeavor of mine, and happy holidays!

12.20.2011

First world problems.

I have a problem.

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Them.

Two of the hottest men on the planet are currently competing for my attention. Not even in my dreams either!

The problem is that Robert and I get to the movies on average 1.2 times per month, and I currently have seven movies on my list.

Sherlock Holmes

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Mission Impossible

War Horse

Hugo

New Year’s Eve

The Descendants

Someone please help me prioritize. I’m desperate.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing on my Christmas vacation.

12.19.2011

Awesome bloggers

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to meet with some fabulous bloggers in the area.

Bloggers 1

We met at Taste on Melrose in West Hollywood for a blogger brunch, and it was so delicious! I had the most wonderful chicken tortilla soup and breakfast sandwich {random pairing, but yes, it went well together}.

Bloggers 2Bloggers 3

Here are these fabulous ladies and their blogs {from left to right}:

Leeann from Join the Gossip

Tiffany {who doesn’t blog but really should}

That’s me

Amanda from the Beginning of Everything

Julie from Smitten Mintons

Thanks Amanda for taking such awesome pictures!

I already have plans for our next get together. I’m thinking wine tasting?

Monday’s Mantra

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12.18.2011

Ginger cake and candy cane vodka…yum.

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We fit twelve people into our little apartment Saturday night for our Christmas party. I love throwing parties, and this weekend was no different. I made ginger cake, chocolate covered candy cane Joe Joe’s, chocolate and cranberry oatmeal cookies, peppermint bark, and candied cranberries. Along with all of that, we had the best cheese in the world, baked brie, rosemary bread, and pesto flat bread. It was delicious.

I infused candy cane vodka for everyone, and Robert made some yummy candy cane martinis.

It was a success.

12.15.2011

Friday’s not fancy…

Sorry folks.

I was too busy instructing my husband on how to make dinner, drinking wine, and painting my nails to put together a Friday’s Fancies post this week.

Priorities…

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Date {and manicure} nights are important.

Happy Friday friends.

12.14.2011

When I grow up…

You probably know already that I have serious aspirations in life. My career goals include being a published author, world renowned party planner, and a famous blogger. But here are a few other career paths that I wouldn’t mind going down...

Art Historian

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When I first got to college, I was actually planning on majoring in art history. I took a class in high school, and absolutely loved it. Eventually I realized, however, that there are very few jobs for art historians. I opted for pre-law instead. And look where that got me…

After tiring of two years of political science classes, however, I decided that I needed a break. So flew to Paris for the summer and studied art history, taking classes that took place inside the best art museums in the world. It was the best summer of my life, and made me realize why I loved art so much in the first place. I’m a terrible artist, but I could {and did} wander the halls of the Louvre all day long.

Cafe Owner

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I love thinking up the menus and drinks that I would serve if I had my own café. It would be French, of course, but serve sandwiches that even I love {think goat cheese and proscuitto with sun dried tomatoes…yum}. My husband would make martinis, and we would have the best Nutella hot chocolate around. It would be in a cute downtown area {like my own downtown area}, with pretty little bistro sets outside and hand-written chalkboard menus on the sidewalk.

Pastry Chef

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Oh my goodness, how I would love to be a pastry chef. I may not be a good artist, but I am a good baker. I would create the most amazingly delicious breakfasts and desserts, like chocolate croissants and strawberry éclairs and opera cakes. My focus would obviously be on the taste of the pastries though, and not necessarily the look, since again, I’m no artist. Wedding cakes would be out of the question. But wedding tarts? Bring them on!

Sommelier

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This.

How amazing would it be to drink and talk about wine all day and call it your job? Just the thought makes me want to research where the closest sommelier school might be. But after talking to my favorite wine-o, I realized just how difficult {and intimating} becoming a sommelier really is. There’s work involved in every career, obviously, but I figured that I would much rather drink my wine for fun, rather than work.

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What would your dream job be?

My blog has a problem. Or maybe it's just me.

I blog for a lot of reasons: It’s therapy for me. It’s a creative outlet. It satisfies my need for pretty things. It helps me develop my writing.

But I have a problem. I don’t have a niche.

I love weddings, and sometimes I write about weddings. On Friday, I post outfits that I’ve created. I talk about my life and personal goals and opinions. But I also post pictures of pretty houses and tulle skirts and funny things I find on Pinterest. I guess some people would call me a lifestyle blogger. I would just call myself random.

The problem is, while I don’t necessarily want to make blogging my career {it would be pretty awesome though}, I would like to use my {relatively} successful blog to my advantage.

I recently deleted my seriously neglected wedding blog, and decided to focus all of my blogging energy on this blog. But was that a bad idea? Should I have sucked it up, and just continued to post half-ass posts on the wedding blog? I blog about wedding things here, and they’ve been relatively well received, but is that enough?

Eventually, if I ever write a book that gets published, this blog would be my platform for it. I also love writing about random topics {such as this one...}.

And I can’t help but wonder: does my blog have an identity crisis? Or should I just let it be what it wants to be?

But that’s another problem of mine. I’m not fashionable. I don’t have the prettiest home. I’m not a photographer. What does my blog want to be? And am I being stupid for thinking that it ever will be something that actually advances my personal, as well as professional, goals? Should I just give up?

This isn’t necessarily a “take pity on me” post. And it’s not a cry for more followers or a thinly veiled confession of blog envy. I just can’t figure it out for myself: Does my blog have a niche? If it doesn’t, is that alright?

I would really love your opinion. And I will take any and all criticism you may have.

Has your blog ever had an identity crisis?

12.13.2011

Wedding Wednesday: Etiquette

I’ve decided to put my usual Wedding Wednesday features on hold until the new year. Until then, you’ll have to deal with a few posts on the topic, but without the featured weddings.

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I’ve been reading a few articles recently about the touchy subject of wedding etiquette. Some of these articles question whether or not it’s still necessary, while some maintain that etiquette is alive and should still be followed. Many brides are in one boat or the other, if they’re even informed at all. I like to think, however, that there is a definite grey area when it comes to wedding etiquette, and that it is an ever changing concept.

Note that this is entirely my opinion. I’m not trying to suggest that what I believe on this topic is correct, but then again, is there really a right answer?

You all know how I feel about food at weddings. Typical wedding food, in my mind, is entirely boring and bland and unoriginal. Thus the reason for our choice in wedding fare. When planning my wedding, I asked other brides for their opinion on my thought of having the In-N-Out truck at our reception, which probably wasn’t the best idea. Some were completely supportive, and thought it was a great and fun idea. Others…not so much. There were a few women in the middle who thought it would be nice as a late night snack, or as part of the meal, but not as the main course. We, obviously, chose to only have burgers as our food, along with some appetizers, and it went over really well. I know there are probably a few people who disliked it, or who thought it was “tacky,” but it doesn’t really matter, does it? We enjoyed ourselves, and we had the best night of our lives.

I’m only using my wedding as an example. There are a thousand rules out there about weddings and what is and isn’t appropriate. Some of this etiquette is culturally or geographically influenced, and some of it is just plain old tradition. When it comes right down to it, however, what’s the point? I promise there will be someone at your wedding who disapproves of your planning and decisions.

And there are so many rules, how are we supposed to remember them all?!

Someone is going to think that spending $100 on a meal is ridiculous and unnecessary.

But someone else might think that having your wedding anywhere but a country club or hotel ballroom is tacky.

Your grandmother may not like you wearing a dress that isn’t pure white, and you’ll probably get chewed out by someone for not inviting their kids.

You’ll probably read plenty of articles about how honeymoon registries, or cash registries, are a huge faux pas, but there will be some people out there who think that any type of registry is bad etiquette.

Did you know that traditionally, family members are not supposed to throw showers for the couple? Or that when someone toasts to you at the reception, you aren’t supposed to raise your glass? Or that people expect thank you notes no more than three months after the gift was given {at the latest}?

People are opinionated and bitter, and weddings are the perfect place for people to cast judgment. It’s just the way life is. There is no way that you can please everyone.

If you do care about what people think, the best way to approach etiquette is to prioritize. What is most important to you?

I personally believe that having a cash bar is a breach of etiquette that I wasn’t willing to cross. We provided alcohol for everyone, and were able to do so on a budget by supplying our own. But that isn’t possible for everyone. You still have a few options: host a bar during the cocktail hour, host beer and wine, or don’t have alcohol at all. It’s not a win-lose situation.

Do you not want to compromise the quality of your reception just so that you can invite more people? Don’t invite so many people! Nobody should expect to be invited to a wedding. Or have a destination wedding. Or have a really nice cocktail or dessert reception. These days, anything but a traditional sit down dinner reception is popular.

There are a few things, however, that I do feel are inappropriate for weddings. But again, entirely my opinion…

It’s not technically appropriate to invite someone to a shower, but not a ceremony.

It’s not technically appropriate to invite someone to a ceremony, but not the reception.

Or to not invite a significant other.

And thank you notes are still highly encouraged and appreciated {even if it takes you longer than three months to get them out}.

I only encourage you to follow things like this because they can hurt feelings and ruin a relationship with a friend.

I could go on and on and on, but the bottom line is this: It’s your day. Do what you want. You might hurt a few feelings or ruffle a few feathers, but all that matters is at the end of the day, you’re husband and wife. In fifty years, when you look back, you probably won’t remember, or care, if you did a dollar dance or had your dog as the flower girl. Trends and fads change. You’ll remember seeing the faces of everyone you love in one place, and saying I Do.

Here are a few of my favorite non-traditional wedding ideas {and potential breaches of etiquette} that I’ve seen recently:

First looks

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Food trucks {obviously}

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Non-White dresses

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Open seating

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Mismatched bridesmaids

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Happy Wedding Wednesday my dears.

Oh, how Pinteresting!

I’m sure you’ve seen some of these pictures around Pinterest, but I just thought they were so fun that I figured I’d put my favorites up here.

{all images found on Pinterest, originally from Before I Die}

12.12.2011

On Blogging

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If you blog, I’m sure you’ve gotten some form of negative feedback at one time or another. Whether it be from the jealous friend who blogs, but just can’t seem to get as many followers as you, or from the non-blogger, who can’t quite understand how you can be so self-centered that you expect people to care about what you have to say. I know that I’ve received plenty of negative comments, both anonymous and straight to my face, about my blog. But those are few in far between, and I know without a doubt that any negative perception about my blog, or blogging in general, is outweighed a thousand times over by the incredible experience that has been this blog.
Here are a few things that I’ve learned about blogging in this past year.
Number One
Blogging is more than just a platform for you to write.
It’s a community and a support system. It brings you out of your comfort zone, and dares you to face your dreams, while we are here to support you. It brings a personal aspect to the abstract concept of diversity, and forces us to confront the idea of hardship, even if we’ve never experienced it ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to develop everything from our fashion sense to our writing to our photography, and allows us to find motivation and strength from each other.
It changes you and challenges you and is so rewarding, beyond anything you’d ever thought it would be.
Number Two
Blogging is what you make of it.
People have made careers from blogging, or have found their dream careers because of their blogs. It does take effort, but if you’re willing the put the work in, you’ll find that you truly get more from blogging that you ever thought possible. And I’m not just talking about all of the free stuff, and the potential to make a bit of money. I’m talking about everything I mentioned in the first item on this list, and then some. But again, blogging is what you make of it. It can be for fun or for personal growth or for career advancement, but you have to put in the effort. Don’t expect people to just magically start following and commenting on your blog, if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there and follow and comment on other blogs. It’s necessary, and the right thing to do.
Number Three
Blog friends are the best.
Remember when Facebook first came out, and all we wanted was to get as many friends as possible? And then we grew up a little and realized that the number of friends you have on Facebook doesn’t really matter unless you know them in real life, and maybe Facebook in itself is kind of stupid? Well, blogging kind of screws up all the ideas you ever had about Facebook, because it shows you that you don’t really need to know someone in real life to know them.
I have “met” some amazing friends through blogging, even if I’ve only met a handful in real life. These are people that have a genuine interest in being my friend, and who are always there cheering me on through this crazy thing called life. They are some of the most sincere, honest, trustworthy, and caring people I’ve met. They are amazing, and I appreciate every. single. one of them.
Number Four
Blogging isn’t about the number of followers you have.
I firmly believe that it’s not the quantity of followers that you have that’s important, but the quality of the relationships that you have with them. We can get caught up in the number on the sidebar of our blogs, and checking our stats obsessively, but that’s not really the point. The point is that we can make connections, amazing connections, if we just stop caring about that number. I’ll admit, it’s taken me a while to get to the point where I don’t care about how many followers I have (and anybody saying that they’ve never cared about that is lying), but letting that go is just so freeing. It gives me the chance to post what I want to post, without caring about what will draw in more people. If readers like you, they’ll stay. You shouldn’t have to compromise who you are to make them happy.
Number Five
Sincerity wins. Always.
We’ve all seen them. The bloggers with the great job and the gorgeous husband and the perfect hair and the huge closet. They also seem to never have anything go wrong in their lives. Ever.
But let me tell you a secret: nobody’s perfect. Even the bloggers with their adorable babies and immaculate homes aren’t perfect. I’m not saying that they are lying to us, but that they aren’t telling us the whole truth. And I’m not saying that they should air all of their dirty laundry over the internet. But a little sincerity, and authenticity, never hurt anyone. We might like reading those blogs sometimes, but I can tell you without a doubt that my favorite blogs are the real ones, the ones that I can relate to. Because it’s these bloggers that I can learn from, and who can learn from me.
Number Six
Blog envy is real.
And it’s inevitable. We all experience it at some point, and we always will. There will always be a blogger who has more followers or a better design or a nicer camera to take pictures of their prettier clothes. I get envious all the time. But then I tell myself that they are just like me, and are probably envious of someone else.
I’ve realized that it’s these moments that I have the potential to learn the most, because they have something to teach me. Want to know how they got so popular? Ask them! Interested in getting some advice about sponsorship or photography or Twitter? Ask them! That’s what they {and in reality, we all} are here for: to network and create a dialogue. Blogging isn’t one sided. If it were, blogging would be obsolete and unnecessary.
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What are some things that you’ve learned from blogging?


























Monday's Mantra



People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. When you change for the better, the people around you will be inspired to change also....but only after doing their best to make you stop. Live your truth and don't EVER stop.

12.11.2011

That Inspirational Girl

There’s a series I love, on a blog that I love, and I thought that tonight I would post my very own Inspirational Girl.

Intro

Messy Bun

Red LipstickRed Lipstick1Dinner Parties

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Wine

Book

Writes

Paris

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{1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8}

I’m sure you can all guess who this girl is. Or, at least, who desperately wants to be this girl.

Happy Sunday loves.