Saturday, March 19, 2016

Engagement party

Before my engagement party, my only knowledge of them came from the movie Bridesmaids. While that scene remains one of my favorite movie references ("the dessert wine is out," anyone?), my engagement party turned out to be one of the most lovely nights of the engagement so far. My grandma took the reigns for this party, and I simply gave a few names to invite. My mom had bought me a cute white dress for my birthday a few weeks before and I took the opportunity to don my first white dress since the proposal (btw props to mom for picking out the perfect dress on her own, I loved it!).

I was blown away. The house was marked with adorable champagne and gold balloons, and you walked into the most elegant outdoor dinner party that could exist. I wandered around checking out all the details -- the bride and groom signs above the chairs, the queen of hearts card wine marker, and lights strung everywhere. I was so overwhelmed with and the beautiful decorations that it felt like the small backyard wedding of my dreams.

The craziest part is that Wendy didn't have any knowledge of Pinterest and is simply an amazing hostess, cook, and design genius. Event better, having all my high school friends, family, future inlaws, and most college friends in one place was an incredible feeling and led to a great party. There were many reunions with friends I hadn't seen in months (years?), and it felt so odd and fun having everyone there to celebrate me and Scott. It was wonderful and gave me a slight idea of what the actual wedding will feel like.

Our meal was served on long tables on the raised green backyard area, and Scott and I sat in front of a the old clay fire pit surrounded by friends and family. After dinner, Wendy surprised us with a cake (which included a classic college beach picture) and gave us a knife to make the first cut. Just to add to the warm fuzzy feelings, she let us know that it was the knife my parents used to cut their wedding cake decades ago. Sure enough, it had their names and wedding date engraved on the blade.

With cake passed around and champagne glasses filled, both of our dads stood up to give a toast. Scott's introverted Dad had everyone cracking up with hilarious jokes, while my extroverted Dad started tearing up--leading to chain reaction. I had no idea I would love (the slightly ironic) toasts as much I did, but I have realized it's such a unique experience to have your loved ones talk about how they view your relationship and love. Needless to say, I am taking note while planning the rehearsal dinner.

We ended the night staying up late with a few lingering friends, finishing off the cake, and opening up gifts and cards. My love of paper products and stationary exponentially grew with each engagement card as they became increasingly adorable and thoughtful. Although unexpected (we hadn't registered), we also received some amazing gifts. A beautiful Anthropology blanket, adorable pillow cases, candles, mugs (which we use daily), and a thoughtful Greece travel guide book for honeymoon planning plus more. 

I ended that night feeling so grateful for the friends and family who came to celebrate, happy to have a hostess who knows how to perfectly execute an event on my wedding planning team, and most of all excited that the wedding process had officially started. It was only one month prior that we had picked out our venue and date, and a few weeks since I started asking bridesmaids. This event sealed the deal on the fact that wedding planning and the engagement had truly started.

Looking around at the engagement party, I could see my wedding vision pictured. Elegant, natural, European rustic and surrounded by love. Several months have passed since that night as we are now under the 6 month mark, but I can't let a beautiful memory that kickstarted a fun momentous period of Scott and my lives not go recorded.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Lakeside Proposal

I grew up going to my family's cabin in June Lake my whole life. It's been the source of amazing memories--summer days filled by jumping in the lake, rock climbing with siblings, and tons of time with family and friends; not to mention, winters of skiing June Mountain and building snow forts in the cabin driveway. Scott has been up to the cabin in the past few years on a family vacation and he fell in love with it as much as I have (a positive sign, if you ask me).  This blog has seen a few posts on adventures I've had in the Mammoth area, and it just feels right that one of my favorite places that been a part of my life since childhood, is now the story of my engagement and soon future major milestones.

The plan: My childhood friend Turner and I left our beloved southern California and ended up in Portland and San Francisco. We decided to plan a girl's weekend together at my grandparent's cabin in June Lake, CA. Since her parents and my aunt recently moved to Reno, we decided it was the perfect place to join forces and drive out to the cabin for a weekend.

What actually happened: Scott and Turner had been orchestrating a secret proposal, and I somehow had no idea.

One reason the proposal was such a surprise was because it was such a crazy weekend leading up to it. I spent the week on my first independent business trip in Chicago (aka not a conference) and first time in Illinois. Between the time change, work events, and meeting with a friend for dinner, it was fun but hectic. After Chicago, it was a bumpy flight back to Reno where I saw my aunt's new house and hung out for two days with them. The funniest part is that she knew what was coming and subtly planned a day of activities including getting a manicure and shooting some rifles (aunt and uncle came from Texas, y'all).  Finally, my friend flew into Reno and we were off on the drive to June Lake. We got in late, headed to bed to be rested for what was going to be an eventful day.

The next morning was spent at a cute little mountain town coffee shop complete with a sugared up coffee drinks, fresh made pastries, and the owner's old golden retriever laying by the wood burning stove. Once we were fed and caffeinated, Turner and I went on a short walk down the small one street town center and the small winding roads filled with old timey motels, cabins, and lake views.

One of the most impressive parts of the proposal weekend was that while I was enjoying my mountain retreat and talking to Turner for hours (including conversations about possible engagement), she didn't give a single clue away. I'm not sure exactly how she managed to keep it a surprise or a straight face, but she convinced me to throw on a maxi dress and some makeup before we were off to June Lake's new brewery. There she tried to stop me from ordering the pulled pork quesadilla, but I continued my blissful ignorance and ate the entire thing. A few beer flights later, and Turner suggested we walk back to the cabin.

As we were about to turn up the driveway to the cabin, I saw Scott standing in a suit at the path to the dock and I immediately knew what was happening. Turner ran up to the cabin, and Scott led me down to the edge of the dock talking about us, our future, and even the role that June Lake will play in our lives. He was being sweet and romantic, and unfortunately I was in so much shock that I wasn't quite reacting to anything (outwardly). Finally, he got one one knee and showed me the most beautiful ring that he had created and I managed to get out my yes. A few people on their fishing boats cheered, we kissed, and Scott turned me around back towards the cabin. On the deck popped out some of our closest friends cheering -- and I was even more shocked then I knew possible. Turner, my sister, my high school bestie and current SF roommate, Scott's best friend, my college best friend, and another high school friend had all driven multiple hours to watch and celebrate.

The rest of the night was spent with bottles of champagne, pizza from the local shop, jumping in the lake in our underwear (and amazing friends who somehow forgave us for being a casualty of that), Harry Potter movies as we lost a few to sleep, and a lot of staring at my new ring finger.

The next morning was spent at the same coffee shop and a similar walk this time as a newly engaged women surrounded by my fiance and friends. A quick clean up later, and it was time to say our goodbyes as we all parted ways. I wish I could better put into words how much this weekend meant to me. For Scott to know one of my favorite places and make it a lifelong memory for us, for him to orchestrate a real genuine surprise (and my friend to pull it off), and to know that I would love to celebrate with friends after. It was proof that he really does know me, and I wouldn't change a thing -- except maybe have a stronger reaction. Ends up when I am truly, mind blowingly shocked my face kinda becomes expressionless haha.

Just as touching was the fact that our friends had traveled hours to a remote cabin in the mountains to be there for that special moment and celebrate. I have a "behind the stage" video and it just means so much to me to hear the support, love and excitement are friends had and the fact that they were willing to dedicate their weekend (and the majority of it to travel) to be there for us. I already feel so lucky and loved.

This is obviously a few months late and wedding planning is already underway, but I'm excited to get it on the blog for memories and years to come.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Catch Up

2015 was a big year. 

I feel like that is something I say (and mean) every year, but this time I mean it in a less sentimental way and more of a "life is happening, this is undeniably milestone huge year for me." Why? Scott and I are engaged! And just to add a little more excitement to an already huge life decision, we also moved in together, I interviewed and received a new role at my company, my brother returned to college, and this summer was filled with more than a few trips. Apparently, I'm also one to end the year strong since this is being written on a layover in Miami airport waiting to get to Spain to visit my sister who is studying abroad.

This year has been on the of the best in my life. I've felt deliriously happy at simply decorating our apartment with Scott or watching Netflix's Jessica Jones on a Friday night in a place that embodies our present relationship and future marriage (12 month lease and 10 months to the wedding when signed!). There has been such a feeling of belonging in an adorable tiny apartment in San Francisco after all the years and different cities traveled to see each other.

On the other hand, this year has also seen anxiety for the first time as I realized that you can have too much of a good thing. Ends up moving and apartment hunting in SF (aka the hunger games), interviewing and then starting an advanced new job, planning back to back trips all summer and a wedding, plus processing the healing of a previous family emergency all at the same time isn't the most relaxing mental state. My 2016 resolutions now include enjoying all of the above, but winding down a little.

I've said it a million times before, but I use this blog as a journal. Every time I write a post, I always am amazed at how precious it is to look back and relive my favorite memories and trips or to see things that have totally slipped my memory. Which leaves me with the problem that I have an entire year of amazing memories, life steps, travels--and this my first blog post in months. Where to start? I've decided to get it on paper with the highlights below, but I'm holding myself accountable for bigger blog posts - specifically on all engagement, once in a lifetime memories. Stay posted!

Highlights of 2015:

- Scott's elaborate proposal at June Lake, CA. Home of our family's beloved cabin and and years of childhood memories. Fun fact, I also make the third person in my extended family to be engaged there.

- My grandmother threw me the most adorable and classy engagement party I could imagine. The craziest part? Her bride and groom signs for the chairs, hand monogrammed take out boxes filled with salad starters, and deck of card drink tags were all created without any knowledge of Pinterest. Those are some real life hosting goals.   

- My San Francisco friends who couldn't make the engagement party decided to throw a little one of their own a few months later! Another insanely well decorated party that ended up a little more tispy than any of us expected in the best way. 

- Wedding planning - it was a tough pill to swallow at first, but I am now loving it. Dates are set, venues are booked, and I have not 1, but 2 secret Pinterest boards in rotation. 

- Moved in with Scott and started with basically nothing--we were sneaking some plastic utensils from the grocery store for a few weeks there. Decorating has been so much fun, and I never would have guessed I would reach such high excitement levels about a rug at the ripe age of 23. But actually I promise, it's an adorable rug.

- I've been promoted! And it's hard work. I now have a lot more responsibilities and communication with clients, but I am excited about the step I've taken in content marketing while still keeping a foot in ad operations. 
Company holiday party

- Chicago (x2): One for work and one for play while visiting my friend from abroad! It also marks my first state in the midwest to visit.

- June Lake: girls weekend turned surprise proposal

- Hawaii: first annual girls trip! Also a new island to me since we stayed at Waikiki Beach which was determined by our group to be the Vegas of Hawaii. 
View from our hotel window

- Portland: Visit to one of my best childhood friends in her new city!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Brothers' first trip to SF!

Even though I have been living in San Francisco for almost a year now (!), my younger brothers had never been up to the Bay area. After hearing me talk about SF during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a weekend trip to LA in January, a sibling visit was overdo. My parents and brothers (Jessica would be flying up the next week) finally had planned a trip to see me over the President's/Valentines weekend. On that note, let's ignore how I'm writing this months later.. In true tech culture, I set them up with their first Airbnb and immediately started planning a weekend for the SF newbies.

My brothers and parents live for hikes, and I could not have gotten luckier with the weather. I knew rain or shine we would be outside exploring, but I was thrilled that the rain came the weekend before--leaving President's day 75 degrees and sunny. While my parents drove up that Friday, I worked from home/the La Boulange on my street and was lucky to finish up my work right as they rolled in to Inner Sunset at 2pm.

I joked that I was giving my parents the true San Francisco experience as they ordered lunch and coffees while I kept my laptop (complete with my tech company sticker) open at the coffee shop. I may have kept attacking my younger brothers with hugs and picture requests because I was so excited for them to be at my new home. After walking the few blocks back to my place, I gave them the tour of my apartment before heading out to explore the best part of my neighborhood --Golden Gate Park. We walked all around Stow Lake, hiked up to the top of Strawberry hill to get a view of the Golden Gate bridge, and kept walking for another hour or two until we got to the DeYoung Museum. I actually had not been before, but I was blown away by the top floor views of the city which was an awesome and free surprise. Our luck got even better when we realized that after 4:30 the art gallery is free for visitors. We browsed through the exhibits before walking back to my place.

After a quick break, the family met us back at the apartment to head to dinner. While I would usually take visitors to a nicer restaurant like Park Chow on my street or my mom to a more trendy venue, I ultimately decided to go for the more laid back option of Cybelles with a cute interior and simple food. The second my brothers got their hands on cheesy garlic bread I knew I made the right choice. We left full and with plans for an early start Saturday morning at Sutro Baths.

The last time I hiked Sutro Baths I immediately knew I had to take my my parents and brothers when they came to visit. Our hike took us from climbing on the ruins to walking the labyrinth at Land's End; down to the beach hopping on a makeshift driftwood seesaw to finally taking in the view and photo opportunities at Eagles Nest. 

 After realizing we had spent a few hours walking around and hiking it was (not so calmly/hangerily) decided it was time to head back to the car and grab lunch.

Since it was still Johnny and James' first visit to San Francisco, it was officially time to hit some of the touristy spots. First stop: off to Fisherman's Wharf to grab bread bowls from Boudin. I originally was not overly excited about the idea (I had a trendy brunch place more in mind), but I re-realized how exciting it is to be at Boudin for the first time. My brothers (true lovers of bread) watched the loafs made in the window, and Johnny bought a little turtle shaped loaf of sourdough for his girlfriend. We ate bread bowls and clam chowder in the sun until we were energized enough to start our hike up to Lombard Street.

While it may be the curviest street in San Francisco, it was funny to see my brothers so confused on exactly why it was so immensely popular. After long hike up with the dozens of other tourists, I can definitely say I that I have no answer either. Our next stop was a little more exciting to the crew, as we were just quick cable car ride away from Gharadelli ice cream sundaes.

Everyone left feeling full and tired after hours and hours of walking throughout the day (which my mom and her beloved fitbit can attest too). While we had big plans to meet up for dinner, once we got to our separate apartments it was game over. Scott and I ordered in Chinese food while my brothers and parents relaxed at their Airbnb and did homework.

I thought I had created the perfect plan for Valentines for Scott and I: late night reservations at Zazie for dessert. A cute, well known cafe near my apartment with late enough reservations to take into account my parent's visit. However, after getting all dressed up we arrived at the restaurant and quickly realized it was a very expensive prix fixe menu. Although a little disappointing, we walked back to my neighborhood, grabbed a pastry from an open bakery and headed to a bar for some drinks. A testament to my adorable ability to not double check details (one of my many endearing qualities), it was still a great and more natural end to Valentine's with the best boyfriend ever.

The next morning we were up bright and early to grab brunch. My parents had grand plans of spending the remaining part of the holiday weekend driving down the California coast, so they had to leave San Francisco early that morning. My Dad and Mom had one request for breakfast: Art's Cafe. They had both been on their last visit, and were excited to show off the small, one counter wide diner to my brothers. My brothers are not easy to impress, but they left promising me they had a great time and loved San Francisco.

My sightseeing, exploring, decision making, and entertaining duties left with my parents, brothers, and Scott that Sunday, and the pace of my holiday weekend turned from a whirlwind of adventure, laughter, bonding, and hangriness to a slow lull. The lively (and early) Sunday brunch morphed into long naps, an early dinner with friends, and Netflix in bed. Lucky for me, I still had one more activity planned to enjoy the Monday off. I met my friend Hannah the next day, for a picnic at Alamo park. While I strolled up to the grass, she had grabbed a prime spot in front of the painted ladies with a bag full of baguettes and bruschetta, salad, lemonade, and other goodies. We basked in the sun and lurked French bulldogs until we decided to stop at Birite grocery for San Francisco's famous BiRite ice cream. Tip: the Nopa location lines are only 5-10 minutes compared to an hour in the mission.

Just as the sun started to go down, the fog rolled in. Although I will always love sunny, hot days, there is a special charm to the SF fog coming right at the end of the weekend. It gives you time to bundle up, reflect on the amazing weekend, and feel a little less bad about spending the work week inside. Although, this weekend was months ago, my parents and brothers visiting was too great of a memory not to document and relive through blogging.