Happy New Year

And it's a new year everyone! Wishing you all a wonderful 2014 full of love and success!


{monday's mantra}

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas with your loved ones! I'm just stopping by real quick to say happy Monday, and to let you all know that I'll be back soon with lots of fun, exciting new stuff after the new year. I have to come back soon that that I can share my resolutions and goals and reflections, of course, because that's what I do!
I have to say, 2013 was a year of ups and downs, but C.S. Lewis had this one right. I don't know about you, but 2014 is going to be awesome. 


{signature style :: leather and pink}

You guys. You guys. I seriously cannot tell you amazing it is to have found Emily, both as a friend and a photographer. When I told her recently that I needed new photos for my website, she pretty much said of course. I'm so thankful for her.
Jacket :: Michael Kors (similar here) // Skirt :: Nordstrom Rack // Shoes :: Sole Society at Nordstrom  (no longer available) // Necklace :: BaubleBar (no longer available) // Lipstick :: Lickable by MAC // Shirt :: Forever 21 (no longer available)


{monday's mantra}

I may or may  not be popping in throughout the week, but I wanted to stop by today to say Merry Christmas! Just in case I find something else to fill my time with this week (you know, Christmas-y things) and don't have a chance.
Hope you all have a wonderful and safe Christmas with your loved ones!


{two weeks}

Can you believe that there are exactly two weeks left in 2013? Two weeks from today we'll be counting down the minutes and the seconds to 2014, toasting to our resolutions for the new year with champagne and sparklers. It seems almost surreal that another year is coming to a close; that next week we'll be celebrating Christmas and then 2013 will be over with. 

The truth is, 2013 has had a lot of ups and downs. Maybe this is a premature post, but I think I'd regret it if I waited until December thirty-first to reflect back on the year. This was the year that I finally faced my anxiety, that I put my personal life last so that I could have the best wedding season yet, that I struggled with my marriage and my self-worth.
It was only a few months ago that I realized the true mission behind this blog. I've been blogging for over three years now, but it only recently hit me. That life doesn't need to be perfect to be beautiful. 

Life is messy. It's full of stress and hurt feelings and disappointment. But it's also full of opportunity, and the chance to take the hard and make it into something good. 2013 has been hard. I know a lot of people say it, but it's true. I still can't bring myself to write down some of the things that as of now I've only whispered to my husband, in the safety of his arms and our bedroom. Those are the things that I can't bring myself to admit to anyone else just yet, but admitting them to myself has been a huge step in the right direction. 

The thing is, it's those things that made 2013 the incredible year that it was. No, my life is far from perfect. I struggle with a lot of things that I would never wish on anyone, but it's those things that make my life have meaning. It's getting over the hard that makes life beautiful, in the most colorful and authentic way possible.

I have two weeks to take that hard, to step outside my home where I've been hiding out for the past few months, and make something good out of it. I have two weeks to define what 2013 meant to me, to turn the bad into the good, to learn from my mistakes.

I don't need to do big things, and we don't need to be ready to wrap up the year with a pretty little bow on December thirty-first. All I want is to leave 2013 knowing that the year made an impact on me. Life is too complicated to put a label on that impact, be it positive or negative. I just need to know that this year was important. 

So, here's to the next two weeks friends. I hope you all make them something meaningful. 


{breathe again :: chapters 2 + 3}

So. I'm still kind of on cloud nine after the response I got to last week's post introducing my book. I don't know that I ever thought I would get to this point, but I did. It's a strange, wonderful, surreal feeling. This has been a labor of love; writing has always been more of a secret passion of mine, but it doesn't really need to be a secret. 

I don't know how much more I'm actually going to post on my blog, but here are the next two chapters I have written. Enjoy!
Click the photo below to read the next two chapters! You can find the first chapter to my book here.
If you're interested in following along with this journey, feel free to sign up for my book's mailing list to get periodic updates. Thanks friends!


{monday's mantra}

I can't be the only one?


{color me lovely v.3}

Fall may be my favorite season, but winter is most definitely a close second. I love the rain and the gloomy weather and the holidays, of course. It's cold here these days (and by cold, I mean forty degrees at night...hey, I was born and raised in Southern California), and it finally feels like winter. I love it!


{a fall flower workshop}

About a month and a half ago, I got an email from a (former) wedding designer that I really admire, letting me know that she was putting on a floral design workshop in Santa Barbara. I jumped at the chance, of course. Obviously I love flowers, but I also love networking and getting to know other talented people in this industry. 

I can't say that my arrangement was the best (it actually turned out to be more of a forest, if you ask me), but it was fun seeing what all these other people put together when they had the same tools and flowers to work with. All of our arrangements and tables were so different, and so fun!
 Thanks so much to Kelly Oshiro and Flutter Magazine for putting on this workshop, and to Joel Serrato for the photos!


{on courage :: breathe again}

Okay, so remember this week's quote? I promise there is a reason for it; I wasn't just blabbering randomly about courage or putting myself out there. I really do actually plan on taking a chance. Today. 
So, there it is. I have a title. I got some feedback from some trusted friends, and I figured this is the next step. Be gentle guys. It's a first draft.

Click the photo below to read the first chapter!
If you're interested in following along with this journey, feel free to sign up for my book's mailing list to get periodic updates. Thanks friends!


{monday's mantra :: on courage}

Happy Monday friends! We spent the weekend decorating for Christmas (of course), watching One Tree Hill on Netflix (I'm obsessed!), and doing some crafting for Christmas gifts. This week is just more of the same, and I'm hoping to get some more writing done. 
This week's mantra is one that means a lot to me. I've been thinking of what courage means, for me these days, and what it means for me to put myself out there. I have a lot of dreams and goals that I want to accomplish, and I like to think I have a lot of potential. But none of it means anything if I don't put myself out there.

For example, I'm writing a book. I know, I've been saying that for years now, but I'm getting close. I've been feeling good about it these days, but finishing it is a terrifying thought. What am I supposed to do with it when I'm done? What if people hate it? And it's not just my writing; what if they don't like my blog or my wedding design or my calligraphy?

We all have talent, and we all have the ability to develop new talents and passions. What matters, however, is what we do with that talent. It's okay if we're scared to put ourselves out there. We should be! Lord knows I am absolutely terrified every time I hit publish on a blog post or send out a calligraphy order. I don't even want to think about how I'm going to feel when I finally get that book out in the world (and it will happen, I promise). But I know that I can do this, because I'm brave enough to do it. Because the pros outweigh the cons, ten to one. Whether or not anything will become of it is yet to be seen, but the least I can do is try. 


{what i'm reading v.9}

It's been a while since I've done one of these. To be fair, I didn't really get to read a lot during wedding season, but I've officially read seventeen books since the beginning of November, which means that I only three books left to read before the end of the year to reach my goal of fifty-two books! I can't believe I'm actually doing it. 

Now, this is the time when I admit that I don't always have the been taste in books, but I'm not ashamed! I like reading to take my mind off of things, you know? There are some people that like the deep stuff, but I'm a bigger fan of the fluff. I've read a lot of fluff in the past month, but I can't lie...I kind of love it!
1 // First up, the Rosemary Beach series. I've actually had Fallen Too Far on my Kindle app for probably...six months now? And I just couldn't get into it. Once I actually read it though, I couldn't put it down! There are five books in the series, which revolve mainly around two different couples, and I read them all in three days. Sad, I know. These are exactly the types of the books that let me escape, that give me that chance to get lost. And let me tell you, I could get a little lost these days. 

2 // And then there's On the Island. This is another one that I've known about for a while, but just didn't want to give it a chance. When I realized that I was running out of books to read, I finally just sat down and did it. Let me tell you...wow. I love a good romance, and this was exactly what I was looking for. I was a little turned off when I read the synopsis, a sixteen year old boy and thirty year old teacher get stranded on an island together. The age difference bothered me, but it didn't matter. Everything about this book was absolutely heartbreaking and lovely in the sweetest way possible. Give it a chance; even if you aren't a big fan of love stories or romance, this one might surprise you.

3 // Breaking Nova, where do I start...now, a lot of the books I read follow a pretty similar pattern: broken boy finds broken girl and they heal each other together. I get kind of tired of it sometimes, but it's also kind of addicting. This one though, I was most definitely not a fan of. I think I just get annoyed at the whiny characters, and this one had plenty of that. It was kind of disappointing, since I did really like one of Jessica Sorrensen's other books. I give her books another chance, but stay away from this one, especially if you haven't read this type of book before. 

4 // And now, for the guiltiest of all pleasures, there was Lick. Okay, so I wasn't sure what to expect after seeing the cover (it does seem a little...kitschy, right?). But this! This one was pure gold. The writing was awesome, the characters were fantastic, and the story was a breath of fresh air. If you like the rocker boy meets innocent girl, check this one out. It's not too cliche, and all sorts of sweet. It's exactly what you wouldn't expect. 

So there you have it. What are you all reading? I have three books left until the end of the year, so let's make it good!


{swedish pancakes}

One question that I get more than others (which I don't mind, really) is what my ethnicity is. I know I've told you all before, but basically my paternal grandmother is Cuban and Puerto Rican, my paternal grandfather is Filipino, and my maternal grandparents were Scandinavian, mainly Swedish. My maternal grandmother's parents came from Sweden (as far as I know), so I grew up with some Swedish culture in my house. I'm not the biggest fan of Swedish food (believe me, I've been there), but pancakes are something that I grew up with. They're like a French crepe, but so much easier. I make them all the time, which my husband most definitely doesn't mind!
Swedish Pancakes:
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
4 eggs
4 tablespoons butter

Mix flour, milk, and eggs with an electric mixer until smooth. Melt butter in skillet, and pour into batter, blending again until incorporated. Wipe excess butter from skillet, and pour in 1/4 cup of the batter, turning skillet quickly so the batter coats the bottom. Cook until the batter sets, about thirty seconds, and flip. Cook for another thirty seconds or so, and remove quickly from skillet before pancake turns brown.

We eat these with just about everything. I like using butter and sugar (regular or powdered) or syrup, and Robert loves eating them with Nutella and some type of fruit, usually strawberries or bananas.

They are perfect for a lazy Saturday morning at home. I can't wait to pass this recipe and tradition down to my own kids, just like my mom did for me!


{monday's mantra}

And, once again, apparently I needed a blog break. Thanksgiving was wonderful, minus one incident with a broken sink. Thankfully we just called up my auntie (who was going to come over anyway) and I just brought everything I'd made over to her house. I've been making Thanksgiving dinner for my family for seven years now, since my grandmother died. We've been reminiscing about my grandma recently, and I miss her. I like to think that she'd be proud of me, in so many ways. 

I'm looking forward to decorating for Christmas this week, getting some client welcome packages together, and just enjoying December. I have exactly thirty days left to make 2013 the best year yet, so here we go!
Happy Monday friends!


{on blogging :: creative market}

One of the most frequently asked questions I get on my blog is where I get my patterns and graphics from. Though I don't use them so much any more, I always like inserting a cute little illustration here and there (mainly on my collages), and I love using patterns for my quotes and mantras. My secret? Creative Market

I found out about this awesome website from Lauren, who encouraged me to start selling my fonts there. Since then, I have spent far too much money on cute little illustrations and patterns and other fonts. I mean seriously, you should see the inventory I've collected over the past year. Here are a few of my favorites, right now. 

One of my favorite things about Creative Market is just how much they appreciate the designers who contribute to their marketplace. It's an awesome community, and you can feel safe knowing that you're supporting some really amazing small businesses when you purchase through them!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means that I may profit if you click through and purchase something through the site. That being said, I truly only promote shops and items on this blog that I firmly believe in, and I have been a supporter of Creative Market for some time, long before they created their affiliate program. 


{hello again + monday's mantra}

I didn't mean to take a break over this past week, but apparently I needed it. So, hello again, and I hope I didn't scare you off by my lack of posting over the past seven days. It isn't often that I take an entire week off, and I almost always announce when I plan on doing it (because I always plan on it), but this past week just got away from me. It wasn't that I was terribly busy or distracted; sometimes you just need to give yourself time to let go and stop worrying about the little things. It's been a nice break, I have to admit. I did read like, seven more books (only thirteen left before the end of the year) and got to write a bit for myself. I'm feeling much more...recharged, you know? Like, let's do this. 

Now, I'm not one to put my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving (though the weekend after, it's on), but I wanted to share this mantra this week with you. It's not just for Christmas, really. I want to take this time of the year to remember what's important, to remember what's wonderful in life, and most importantly, to give thanks for all that I have. 
Happy Monday friends!


{a lemon orchard shoot}

I don't know that I've said it before, but I'm so incredibly lucky to have some of the people that I do in my life. I always struggled making friends before college, but now my heart is overwhelmed with how many people I have in my life. A few of these people I met because of my blog or because of weddings, but I like to think that even if we didn't have these things in common, we would still be friends. 

One of those friends, whom I met last year because of my blog, just so happens to be an amazing photographer. But beyond that, I've found an incredibly close friend in Emily. We just get each other, you know? Not to mention, she is seriously one of the kindest, most generous women I've ever gotten to know. I'm so freaking thankful that she found my little blog and we connected, and now here we are. 

Emily is good friends with my husband as well, and just adores little Olive Duff. It only felt natural that I ask her to take our Christmas card photos for us! I am so excited to send out our cards this year, and I'll definitely share them with you all when I get them. In the meantime, here are a few of the other pictures we took while at the lemon orchards last week. 
Thank you for the beautiful photos Emily! And thank you for being one of my sweetest friends!

{monday's mantra}

It's going to be a good week. I can feel it. 

I spent the majority of my weekend reading, since I have quite a bit of reading left to do before the year. I slacked on my book goal during wedding season, so I officially have seventeen books left to go to hit my fifty-two goal mark. I read four books over the weekend, all of which were just eh. Anyone have something good to recommend?

This week is going to be full of meetings and signing clients and cleaning our little apartment (it looks like a bomb went off in here). Hopefully we'll get to sneak out for a date afternoon or two, maybe at Barnes and Noble with some peppermint hot chocolate. It's one of our favorite things to do together, and not such an expensive date. 

So, here's to a good week everyone. 


{five things}

And it's Friday! It's been a busy, busy week. Apparently it's booking season now, because I've spent the majority of my past few days on potential client meetings and proposal writing. So thankful right now! And now it's just a waiting game...so I'm crossing my fingers, knowing (hoping) I'll hear back soon. 

This weekend is going to be pretty relaxing, and Sunday is my first calligraphy party at my studio! Everyone wants to learn, and though I don't know that I'm the best teacher (since I don't have any formal training), I figured we can all get together and just have fun.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite links and posts from the past week. Hope you have a great weekend!
1 // Isn't that dress above amazing? There's a reason I'm obsessed with Southern weddings!

2 // Loved this! Unhelpful life lessons from Pinterest.

3 // This couple puts all of their fights on Twitter. Definitely puts things in perspective, don't you think?

4 // And another one from Buzzfeed. I can't be the only one who can get lost on that site for hours, right?

5 // One of the reasons I love Lauren's blog is because she isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Here are six things your wedding guests will most definitely not appreciate. 

{guest post :: BHLDN wedding centerpieces}

So excited to have one of my favorite companies share some tips on wedding centerpieces today! BHLDN, if you didn't know, is Anthropologie's wedding line, and they have some absolutely incredible pieces and dresses that I just know you'll love!

BHLDN stylist Amy Miller shares expert tips for creating unique wedding centerpieces.

If you’re planning a seated dinner, wedding table decorations and centerpieces are a great place to add unique, quirky details that personalize your day and bring your wedding theme to life.

Flowers are the most traditionally types of wedding centerpieces, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring! Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold color combinations and different textures. And we love looser, more asymmetrical floral arrangements – so soft and romantic!

The vases you use with your flowers can also alter the mood. Create a rustic feel with tin, birch or moss vessels, or add some Old World charm with mercury glass or vintage-inspired vases. A sweet assortment of vases filled with just a couple of blooms also looks fresh.
Flowers aren’t your thing? There are plenty of beautiful and interesting ways to create stellar centerpieces. Be creative! Here are some ideas to inspire you: 


Candles can be really powerful when clustered in big bunches with a mix of different heights including short votives, slim candlesticks, and thicker pillar candle holders. Candles create a mesmerizing, warm glow in any atmosphere. (Just be sure to check with your venue ahead of time to confirm that they allow open flames – otherwise opt for LED candles or try a different centerpiece idea.) 
Sweet Treats 

Make your centerpieces work double duty by using dessert as a focal point. Arrange a few cake stands in the center of the table and layer with your favorite bite-sized desserts or small cakes for centerpieces that are pretty and tasty, too.
Standout Table Signage

Interesting table signage can make an impact on its own. Place Glittery table number stakes sparkle in sand-filled vases or painted bottles, or plant wooden number stakes in flowerpots filled with greenery. Printed fabric or metallic standing table numbers look great propped on cake stands, wine crates or stacks of antique books to add some height.

Or try using decorative picture frames to display postcards from places you’ve traveled to (or hope to travel to) together, printouts of your favorite works of art, or vintage family photos; pair with smaller framed table numbers for a cohesive look.

Pretty Paper Goods

A collection of paper décor, like paper poms, garland and fans looks just as pretty arranged on tables as they do hanging or mounted. Cluster a bunch of paper poms in the center of round tables, or create a table runner across square and rectangular tables with a variety of paper décor. Sprinkle with confetti and you’ve got a colorful, layered look.

Suspended Centerpieces

For a twist on traditional centerpieces, try suspending décor above tables. Paper chandeliers, lanterns or oversized balloons add just as much visual interest as tabletop décor and can even be paired with smaller tabletop centerpieces.
Thanks so much to BHLDN for taking the time to share some of their favorite wedding centerpiece ideas today!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I received compensation in exchange for posting. Regardless, I firmly believe in the value of the company, and only publish posts from companies in which I firmly believe in the quality of their products or services.


{signature style :: animal sweaters}

I can't help it. I am full on jumping on this bandwagon this fall, because I LOVE ANIMAL SWEATERS. It's no secret that I adore my hedgehog sweater (or my bunny sweater or my unicorn sweater). I've been living in this thing these days. 
Photos :: Anna Delores Photography // Sweater :: Target // Jeans :: Citizens of Humanity via Nordstrom // Shoes :: Sperry // Necklace :: Oh, Hello Friend

I've seen a few more sweaters in this style at Target, and it's taking all I have to not go buy them all at once. They are just too cute, don't you think?


{a colorful fall shoot}

Last year, before I started doing photo shoots on the regular, I did a sweet little fall shoot with two of my favorite wedding vendors. They were so sweet to indulge me in this fun, colorful project, and I completely forgot that I never shared it with anyone! This one makes me happy, mainly because of the bright colors Amy used in her centerpiece. Fall doesn't always have to be reds and oranges and yellows, you know!
Photography :: Lavender and Twine // Florals :: Stella Bloom Designs