Monday, December 29, 2014

Weddings... Etsy Gift Ideas for Newlyweds!

I don't know about you, but whenever someone says "Really a gift card is great!" I find it hard to believe.  I like gift cards, I like them a lot... like a lot.  I would prefer that too!  But for some reason, there's a negative connotation around gifting a gift card as it seems like the easy way out.

Well, that's kinda how I feel about wedding registries.  Oh, do you really want those dishtowels, cooking thermometer, and Brita water filters?!  Nope nope, I'm going to tell you what you want -- haha.  Which is so silly because it's the same thing as the gift card situation.

Well, if you dare to veer off the wedding registry path and step up your off-the-registry game, go for something authentic, personal and on Etsy.  Below, I've listed 6 gift ideas for the bride and groom from the one and only Etsy.

(1) Elycia Camille | Mr. + Mrs. Ring Holders
Why? These are really very practical.  I used to put my ring in its box, but sometimes it's nice to have a place to just set it down for convenience.

Why? I know you're probably like -- this is silly, how am I supposed to know what their wedding cake is going to look like??  A fair question, dear reader.  If you want to gift this before the wedding, then you'll have to do some recon, but my suggestion would be to wait until after the wedding.  Trust me, the new Mr. and Mrs. are so freaking busy months after the wedding, they won't notice the delay on the super special, custom gift.  I just gifted my BFF with one on Christmas and she loved it.  Steph at Ellicakes is incredibly talented and did an amazing job matching the cake exactly!  I mean -- just look at the pictures, it's hard to tell the difference between what's real and what's fake.  It's the perfect ornament for a first Christmas married and many Christmas' after.

(3) En Dash Designs | Custom Address Stamp
Why? This might be the most used gift you could ever get newlyweds.  It's a true lifesaver with all the thank you cards they'll be writing and you'll be a hero for it!  I recommend purchasing the self-inking option because it's quick, evenly distributes ink and dries almost instantly.

(4) Dinglewood Design + Press | Personalized Stationery
Why? Another good bulk paper product item!  My mom used to buy personalized stationery for me when I was younger, and though the trend comes in and out, I think it's on the way back in.  Family stationery is really handy for newlyweds, it's very classy (who doesn't love letterpress!) and easy for quick notes and thank you's!

(5) Box for a Bottle | Custom Wine Box
Why? For the wine enthusiast couple, this personalized wine box (purchase options allow for 1-3 bottles) is a keepsake they'll be sure to hang on to.  The best part?  There are a ton of different designs, and each panel is engraved with friendly reminders on when to pop the cork on each bottle - every anniversary!  (*Wine not included)

(6) Taylor Crafts Engraved | Personalized Cutting Board
Why? There are a ton of shops on Etsy that do this, but I have experience with this company and they are SO good at what they do.  They offer different designs, fonts, handles/no handles, woods, etc.  It's completely customizable and they're so speedy!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Baking... Easy Peppermint Dessert!

It's not often that I step into the kitchen to do anything beyond grab a Diet Coke.  Trust me, it's best that I don't.  I can sorta bake, but I can't cook to save my life.  I am forever indebted to the creator of the microwave, and of course my wonderful chef of a husband.  With this caveat in mind, I am not galavanting as some master baker, I'm quite the opposite -- a real girl who kinda sorta sometimes attempts to bake.

Something came over me this evening, and I grabbed a Diet Coke and stayed in the kitchen (dun dun dunnn).  I really wanted to make something easy and festive, but mostly easy and I had planned to share with coworkers the day before our holiday break.  Way back when my friends and I had bake parties, fondly self-proclaimed as "The Bakehouse", we found a recipe for the Easy Peppermint Dessert (someone took creative liberties when coming up with that name).  It was one of the best things that we made that day, next to pumpkin whoopee pies, and I've made it several times since.  This time we tried microwaveable hot fudge -- you'll find that we made a rookie mistake by not warming and adding milk, but hey! you live and learn. 

*Forewarning* This does require a LOT of freezing time -- total of 11 hours.  So don't leave it for the last minute if you can help it. 

Alright!  Let's b-b-b-bake!!


  • 1/2 gallon Peppermint Ice Cream, softened (can be light, pink, white, white with candy cane chunks... basically if it says "Peppermint", you're good).
  • 2 cups Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed (aka 1 container of Cool Whip)
  • 2 lbs Creme-filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, crushed (aka 2 bags/trays of Oreos)
  • 1/2 cup Butter, melted
  • 2 cups Hot Fudge
  • Peppermint Candies or Candy Canes, crushed

STEP 1: Crush the cookies!!  I used to do this by putting the Oreos in a Ziploc and pounding the heck out of them.  Now I have this fancy Cuisinart that I got on Joss + Main -- cuts the time in half!

Boom - crumbs.

STEP 2: Melt 1/2 c of butter and mix in with Oreos!

STEP 3: Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin. (End impromptu rap session).  Press the mixture firmly to the bottom of an ungreased pan.  Now I used two 9" round pans (because that's all I've got), but you can also use a 13x9 inch pan. 

STEP 4: In a large bowl, stir together the package of whipped topping and the full 1/2 gallon of Peppermint ice cream.  Stir well!!

Spread evenly across the cookie crust!

STEP 5: Freeze for 3 hours or until firm.

STEP 6: Okay, this is where we went south.  The hot fudge topping was a bust.  It didn't spread and just looked like big (excuse my language) poops.  I tried to fix it, but you can't win them every time!  I think what would help would be to heat it up in a saucepan adding milk so it spreads easily.  Unless you want to go the hard route and use baking chocolate, sugar, vanilla, etc. etc. 

Tracy's pan...

Dustin's pan...

STEP 7: Sprinkle leftover crumbs and crushed up peppermint (we used candy canes), and freeze again for 8 hours.  

As Dustin said, you really can't go wrong with these ingredients, regardless of our hot fudgin' fail.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Music... Top 10 First Dance Songs!

Before I get started, let me start by saying music was one of the first things we planned because 1) it's fun, and 2) it's free!  

I've always wanted to dance to the great Edwin McCain; the following scene from The Cinderella Story was a game changer and was a non-negotiable first dance pick.  That was it -- done, check that box, next question.  But dear 17-year old Tracy, a wedding is for two people, and Dustin isn't a huge fan of the sappy, 8th grade "leave room for Jesus" slow dance songs, so we had to explore other avenues.  

Let's still take a moment to enjoy this though -- pretty f--ing magical.

After thinking about it more, I actually agreed with him.  I wanted the same thing that I wanted out of 'the dress', I wanted it to be unique, special, epitomize "us" and be as much our song as it could be.

Here are my top 10 picks for your first dance as husband and wife.

10. Ho Hey | Lennon + Maisy of "Nashville"

I love The Lumineers, but something about the way the girls cover this makes it feel slower and more romantic, if that's even possible.

9. Somewhere Only We Know | Keane

8. I Don't Dance | Lee Brice

Love me some country music!  I saw Lee Brice at Stagecoach this year and he told the story of how he wrote this song for his wife.  When you know, you know.

7. Your Song | Ellie Goulding

6. Hold You In My Arms | Ray LaMontagne

5. Thinking Out Loud | Ed Sheeran

4. You Make It Real | James Morrison

3. Marry Me | Train + Martina McBride

2. The Blower's Daughter | Matt McAndrew

I heard this cover of the song on The Voice a couple weeks ago and am obsessed.

1. Tenerife Sea | Ed Sheeran

This one is so biased.  This is our first dance song, but I couldn't help it!!  It's beautiful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weddings... Our Own!

I couldn't be more excited to finally share this post with you!  

Dustin and I got married on Saturday, October 4th at Catalina View Gardens in my hometown of Palos Verdes Estates, CA.  It was a beautiful day!  Nothing could ever prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of joy on your wedding day.  Yes, it was a scorching 91 degrees out, but it meant for a really comfortable evening #silverlining.  

The “vision” for our day evolved over time, but the vibe we wanted to achieve didn’t falter.  We wanted our wedding to feel like an upscale backyard celebration, something relaxed yet fun, with all the comforts of home.  We hoped it was obvious that we put a lot of thought into our day and that every detail had our unique thumbprint on it.  To see the details that we spent so much time on come together in one place other than our small apartment was really exciting to see.  

The big day was bursting with love, hugs, giggles, kisses and unforgettable moments.  I’m convinced time goes by faster on your wedding day, but I will always remember every hour, minute, and second of that day for the rest of my life.  The most spectacular part of our wedding day was taking our vows, joining our lives and families together, in the company of our closest friends and family.  

It was the best first day of the rest of our big adventure together.

Enjoy the photos and our highlight reel below!!

DIY INFO: I bought these 14" plates at Hobby Lobby.  Dustin stained them and I painted and engraved them.  I also did "THANK YOU," "GUEST LOG," "RESTROOMS" amongst others.  Looking to sell them if you're interested!

DIY INFO: I ordered our invitations on Minted, custom stamps on, did the calligraphy myself, and purchased gold/white twine and the custom tags on Smitten on Paper.

DIY INFO: Dustin designed these maps and then printed two each on letter paper and cut them at FedEx.

DIY INFO: Dustin and I purchased this jewelry box from Hobby Lobby.  It's actually got a pink and white sparkly bottom under the moss that we added haha.  Quickest ring box ever!
WEDDING RING: Wood inlayed and white gold outer, purchased on Etsy from Jewelry by Johan

FUN FACT: Dustin always wears plaid shirts, so as a nod to him, I gave all the girls monogrammed plaid shirts!

DIY INFO: I know how important it is to have a full length mirror to do and check make up, so I purchased these two mirrors from Home Depot for $5, and then used a chalk marker to customize them!

INFO: The monogrammed Tumblrs are from Dawlens on Etsy!

THE DRESS: Martina Liana from Blush Bridal Couture in Tustin, CA

A little bit about the details and planning -- if you've ever been on Pinterest or stylish wedding blog, your expectations are probably at sky high if and when planning a wedding.  There wasn't room in our budget for a stylist, so we had to rely on our own talents and extremely supportive friends and family!  Although a professionally styled wedding was ideal, it wasn't realistic for us.  I'd like to think that we had a "real girl's" wedding, that had a family affair of a team who really came together with us to make the day so very special.