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Wedding Gift Ideas

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Here is a great etiquette question I answered at work today for the Wedding Paper Divas blog.

Alexa Asks…

What are some etiquette tips for the best wedding gift ideas? We are traveling across the country for my friend’s wedding and are spending a lot of money so I wanted to know if we still needed to bring a gift?

Etta Says…

We know weddings can be very expensive, for the bridesmaids, the guests traveling in and of course for the couple and their immediate family, but etiquette states you still need to bring a gift to the wedding. Flights and your presence at the wedding do not count as the gift although some might like to think so. Here are some wedding gifts ideas and etiquette tips for you as well as the others involved in the wedding!

The couple will mostly likely have a wedding registry for you to get ideas and choose gifts from although it is not mandatory to purchase a gift from the registry, it is purely for convenience. If you decide to purchase something outside of the registry study the items they chose to get a better idea of their taste and style. Buying something more personal is always a very nice touch and could truly sentimental to the couple. Think of a few things before you go shopping: What do they like to do for fun? What have we done with the couple that they really enjoyed? Is there something they really want to start or try for the first time? These questions should get the ball rolling and will help you find a very special gift for the newlyweds.

Some people have heard myths that you need to spend as much as the couple is spending on you to attend the wedding but this is untrue. Find a present that works within your budget, decide how well you know the couple, and find something they will truly appreciate. Feel free to send money to the couple as well because if they are already living together and have established their home they might not need the traditional blender or new espresso machine. Many couples actually prefer money because they can use it on their honeymoon and spend it on more important things. Hey, maybe they even need to pay off some of the wedding bills!  Also, keep in mind that you should send the gift as soon as possible. Some people say you have up to a year but this is another common myt

Click here for the full post on the Wedding Paper Divas blog.

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DIY Perfume Bottle Vase

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As I was cleaning out my bathroom cabinets I noticed some of my pretty perfume bottles that were empty. I have had them for a while because I did not want to throw out such pretty bottles! I decided I would make DIY perfume bottles and use them as mini vases. It was so easy and I made them in just about 15 minutes. Here is how I did it!

  1. Remove the top of perfume bottle. The first part that comes off very easily is the cap to the spritzer. Once that is off try and loosen the rest of it and one other outer shell should come off. This part is covering the main lid on the bottle.
  2. Once you have these two pieces off, grab your pliers and remove the lid of the perfume bottle. These are secured on very tightly so you will need to use your muscles!!
  3. Once the lid is off run warm water into the bottle for a minute or so and then add some soap and rinse it out some more.
  4. After you rinsed it out with water, pour a little alcohol in it to remove any other smells.
  5. Fill the bottle up with fresh clean water and find a little flower to put in it!

I had just bought some hydrangeas so I cut a few small ones off and put them in my new DIY Perfume bottle vase! You could even use small fake flowers as well. Another thing I want to try (as soon as I go to Michaels) is add sequins and glitter to the water to give it a little more personality and pizazz!


I Ran A Mile Under 8 Minutes?!

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I can not believe it -last week I ran a mile in 7:44 with M!!

Exactly ONE MONTH until my first 5k!!!!

Sunflowers, Daisies and Fuchsia Hibiscus

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My urban garden on my patio is blooming! I am finally getting my watering schedule down and everything is looking good. My orange gerbera daisies are happy, and I love my fuchsia hibiscus! Every time I see them it brings back memories of Maui and puts a smile on my face. My hydrangeas dried up but I think they are coming back to life because the leaves are finally green again. My sunflower seeds that I planted two months ago are now over 4 feet tall! They are such growers! Look at the pictures below….you can see the sunflower is almost blooming but it is growing very slowly. I think they should bloom by the end of the summer and I can’t wait.

What I Learned At The Farmer’s Market

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It was a gorgeous day at the Farmer’s Market at San Pedro Square Saturday! I got some lovely fresh flowers and am so excited about them. Sunflowers, pink hydrangeas, dahlias, and some others ones that I am not familiar with. Does anyone know what this grey velvety looking flower is? It is so cute and I have never felt anything like this before! I also learned something new that might be obvious to some but I am stoked! For hydrangeas, I learned to cut the stems and make them just about 4-6 inches long, put them in a short vase, and tie them with a rubber band to ensure they all stay together and don’t slump over. The lovely woman selling the flowers told me this and I am so excited about it. They look so much better in the vase now and I even did it with the sunflower/dahlia arrangement.

Easy Peasy Cake Pop Tutorial

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Tonight I was in the mood to make cake pops for the first time! After all my perusing on wedding  blogs at work and seeing millions of these little cuties at every bridal shower I decided to learn how to make them! I did a few searches and discovered it is simpler than I imagined. I went to the kitchen to see if I had the supplies and I did! The only thing I was missing was the lollipop sticks but I decided to use straws as a substitute which added a nice color to the final product!

Here is how you do it, in roughly 75 minutes:

  1. Bake your cake. I decided to make yellow cake which is my favorite, hence why I had some stored in my kitchen.
  2. After the cake is finished and cooled down cut the cake into brownie sized pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. I decided to use two big bowls just to make sure I had enough room to mix.
  3. Scoop out your frosting and put it on top of the cake pieces in the bowl. I used about ¾ of the jar but I would recommend 1/2.
  4. This part is very messy beware! Wash your hands and get busy. Blend the cake and frosting until it is all mixed in together. What I learned: make sure that you can still see the cake and do not drench it in frosting like I did! The final product will taste like the cake isn’t fully cooked if you use too much frosting!
  5. Start making small balls for the cake pops. I would recommend about a 1 inch diameter. One cake will make about 50 cake pops. Then place them on a cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer.
  6. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. While the cake pops are in the freezer, start preparing your chocolate for the coating of the cake pops. You can use whatever chocolate you like but I decided to try two: Dark chocolate candy bars and white chocolate. (Note: my white chocolate Easter bunny didn’t melt well so I used primarily dark chocolate. You will need about 7 candy bars, or you can just buy a bag of chocolate chips).
  8. Cut up the chocolate bars into even slices to ensure they melt evenly.
  9. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat it up on low for about 15 seconds. Take it out and stir it with a metal spoon and continue heating. Do this for about 1 minute in 15 second intervals to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  10. After the 30 minutes is up take out your cake pops and stick your lollipop sticks (or in my case the straws) about 2/3 through the cold cake pops.
  11. Then dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate and place them back onto the cookie sheet. The cake pop should be upside town with the stick vertically in the air. (Another idea is to purchase foam and place the cake pops standing up in the foam so the top isn’t flattened. I didn’t have this at home so decided to do it this way).
  12. Once the chocolate sets (after about 20 minutes) the cake pops are ready to be served!

As you can see this was very easy and I can’t wait to try it again. I am so excited I just purchased these lollipop sticks for my next batch. Enjoy making your cake pops and customizing with different flavors and colors!

 

My Roadtrip to Redding, CA with Dad

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This past weekend I took a lovely road trip up to Redding with my Dad! It was an early morning and we hit the road by 6am to get up there in time to have some fun. It took us about 4.5 hours with a couple stops. Boy, was I tired after all that driving  but it was great chatting with my dad. He loves to talk and told me SO many stories I had never heard. Including why he lived in Marin and all about the day he decided to go to Sausalito with his buddy Ken and met my mom!! It was so cute.

We went to Redding to check on my dads second home which is used as a rental right now. I was so excited because it was the first time I had been up there since he bought it! The house was gorgeous..right on the corner with a huge lot and pool in the back. We took some pictures, looked around and we were on our way. The rest of the day was spent at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Whiskeytown Lake, Trinity Salmon Hatchery and back to Redding and then down to Anderson to our hotel. Turtle Bay was absolutely stunning as you can see from the photos below. I had so much fun with my dad and really enjoyed our quality time! Even Gracie had a blast!

My Dads Vacation Home. Redding, CA

Trinity River-my dad’s spot for fly fishing.

The view from under the bridge. Amazing architecture. Photo via Wedding Mapper

The sundial is over 20 stories high!

Recognize that cute lil dog looking into the river?

Everything was breathtaking. I love nature

My dad didn’t like the fact these men had a dog out there scaring the fish!

Gorgeous fountain at Turtle Bay

It was such a hot day-103 degrees!! Poor Gracie.

This is the view from outside the house. That is Mt Shasta between those two trees!

Lily Pads at Turtle Bay Exploration Park.

The glass bridge…I wish we were there at night to see this!

Introducing The Newest Wedding Blogger….

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Yep, that is right. It is me! I am the newest wedding blogger in the ever-growing wedding industry. As I have mentioned before I work at Tiny Prints (and LOVE IT) and also work on Wedding Paper Divas and the newest brand, Treat. I am so excited to be contributing to the Wedding Paper Divas blog and providing inspiration to all of the brides out there! I will be writing about the latest wedding trends, my favorite stationery and most importantly: wedding etiquette! As you all know it is high wedding season right now and if you are like me your refrigerator is filled with save the dates and wedding invitations. Today was my first post and it featured my favorite South Asian inspired wedding invitations from our new collection. Read the post here. Are you getting married this summer? What would you like to know?

Here are some of my favorite wedding suites and invitations:

(All photos from WeddingPaperDivas.com)

A Hike and Drive Through The Almaden Valley Hills

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Miles of Rolling Mountains

Gracie and I on a hike

It was a quiet day up at Quicksilver Park
The View of Almaden Valley from the Quicksilver Park Trails

Was sad to see my gymnastics club I trained at all through my childhood was shut down!

I have taken a few rest days from running lately to let my legs come back to life. I must say, it was gorgeous in Almaden Valley this weekend. I had a peaceful hike at Quicksilver Park and even spent some time driving around the neighborhood I grew up in! I love taking strolls down memory lane once in a while. It was so surreal to see the gymnastics club shut down! So many fun birthday parties occurred here. Exciting weekend and I feel rested. Back to running tomorrow!

After Running: Fruit Smoothie Tutorial

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After my run tonight and about 75 squats and sit-ups I felt like I needed to put something very healthy in my body. I opened my fridge and saw an abundance of fruit so I decided to make a refreshing fruit smoothie. Here is a photo of the ingredients!

All you need to do is add a cup of crushed ice and cranberry juice in the blender with a half a cup of vanilla yogurt to give it a base and nice consistency. Then I added in some seedless watermelon, apricots, and peaches. Make sure to cut the fruit down so it mixes easily. After I blended it all together for about a minute I tried it and it was great but decided my muscles were a little sore so I added some protein powder as well. I have been working out so much and so hard lately that I think I need to take in more protein to stay fit and build my muscles.

Here is a before picture and an after picture with the protein added.  It is milk chocolate so you can see the difference in color. It was very yummy and a healthy meal!

Fruit Smoothie

Fruit Smoothie with Chocolate protein powder added