The joy of holidays. It is the best time when everything is green and sweet. We always get lucky around this holiday with chocolate covered four-leaf clovers, hidden pots of gold, minty chocolate chip pancakes, green popcorn, or a nice mix of pistachio cake. What more could you ask for?
If you've been catching up with me, you know I love posting about sweets. I mean, what is a good meal without dessert? Or, is it, dessert for breakfast? Either way, we all must satisfy our cravings and get that extra sugar boost for the day. Let's get started with 5 of my favorite, and luckiest St. Patrick's Day sweets you won't regret.
Chocolate covered Four-leaf Clovers Shortbread cookies take me away to a different place. I never get tired of them, especially when they're chocolate covered. Pair it with a nice cup of tea, and you'll be in pure bliss. Super delicious to make your day even better.
Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes I definitely consider myself lucky when waking up to these mint, chocolate chip pancakes. Don't they look absolutely filling? Pancakes are a big hit in my house, too, and it just never gets old. Stack your morning with these, and you'll be sure to have a fulfilling day. Yum!
Hidden Pot of Gold Brownies If you're on a mission to find that pot of gold, I'll tell you where it is. These hidden pot of gold brownies make fantastic treats for kids, too. I like surprises at times, and when they're in something sweet, my day could not get better!
Green Popcorn There's always an occasion for popcorn, and I simply can't deny green candied ones. You can pull this off at home with microwavable popcorn, and candy melts. It'll give you that balance between sweet and salty, which is quite amazing. Pop away to your lucky day.
Pistachio Cake Last, but not least, end your St. Patrick's day with a pistachio cake. This would pair nicely with a glass of milk right before bed. I know it contains carbs, but a little slice wouldn't hurt. Although, I warn you, you may be dreaming of it while you're sleeping.
Are you planning your wedding and just don't have any clue where to start? I still remember the day I got engaged, and all of the emotion and happiness just rushed through my body. I was so happy, I called my family, and close friends to spill the news. But after a few days, I suddenly felt scared, and lost because I didn't know where or when to start planning my wedding. I've gone through the daunting tasks in finding the right vendors, and it became a learning process that I can now share with you.
Through the process, you may feel like this whole wedding thing is dragging you down. But, I've come up with 7 Steps for finding wedding vendors that could probably ease the stress. It's important to work with the right vendors who will make your visions come to life. So, what are you waiting for? Let's get down to business.
1-Hire a Wedding Planner
Now, working with a wedding planner can be one of the best investments you can make. It's a profession most people glance by due to the dedication involved. But wedding planners are lifesavers. They are ready to make your day the most memorable, and have all the resources you'll need right away. Most have been around for a while, so they usually have a preferred vendor list, which you can easily go through. The only thing you really need to do is show up for meetings, because connection with a vendor is everything. When the time comes, everything is taken care of. Talk about a stress free wedding.
2-Set a Budget
This is the tough part. Nowadays, weddings can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000. Setting a budget will keep you focused on things you really need to invest in, instead of little, nonessential things. It will allow you to spend lavishly on your honeymoon, or save it for future necessities. A website I like to refer bride and grooms to is costofwedding.com. It breaks down pricing in each category depending on where you're getting married, your interests, and what style of wedding. Then, it gives you an estimate of your entire wedding. But, that's if you're using every single category on there. So, you can delete each category as you go, and come up with an ideal budget. This became super helpful for me and my fiancé (now husband) and we've spent roughly $25,000, which wasn't too bad. See an example I've made up below.
3-Reserve Your Venue
Finding a venue is probably one of the toughest things to do. They get booked fast, and you have to constantly be on the lookout. Things to take into consideration is your guest size, and catering. Most venues offer catering already, which factors in the estimated cost for the venue as well. So, depending on your location, get your venue booked and out of the way. After this, you'll be more open in planning other things.
This is where your wedding planner, or your venue comes in handy, too. Each should have a preferred vendor list that includes photography, DJ's, Florists, etc. It just means they have worked and built a long lasting relationship with these vendors and trust them with each client. You can also ask friends and family as well. Nothing beats a personal referral, and vendors truly appreciate that. It represents an exceptional experience with wedding professionals who knows how to do their job well.
In the beginning stages, we always have the Internet. Today, social media is ever-changing and has impacted businesses all over the world. It's a good idea to do a little research, make some calls, and get information beforehand as well. One big tip while doing this, is to ask for an estimated PRICING. It keeps you from wasting your time, and their's. There will be a variety of names popping up, but make a list and note anyone that stands out to you.
Bridal shows are another way in helping you find the right vendor. Most of them take place at a venue, which allows you to meet their top-notched vendors, and get a view of the venue at the same time. Interaction and connection is key. Besides collecting flyers, and business cards, get to know these wedding professionals personally. Make a list, and take notes of who you really enjoyed speaking to. Bring a camera, and take a quick snapshot of their booths. It will help you remember, and make your decisions simple.
You can read my other post on "What to Bring to a Bridal Fair" to help you prepare for this specific task. A few bridal shows The Memory Journalists has been a part of is Luxury Wedding Shows -which takes place in various areas. One of the biggest bridal shows is also held at Cal Expo in Sacramento each year. Time to put on those bridal shoes to do the walking and talking.
7-Meet Your Vendors
One of the things I mentioned earlier with a wedding planner is to meet your vendors. This is extremely important because sometimes, you just don't connect with everyone. At times, preferred vendors may not work out either, so do your best at meeting new vendors. You can then, work on building your relationships through this journey, and everything will be smooth sailing.
One last thought....
Getting a weekly planner is essential. It's all about time management and getting to your meetings on time. You can find handy ones like the one below on Amazon Image courtesy of Amazon.
And, in the beginning until the end of your journey, be sure to stay POSITIVE. You must remember that most vendors will pick and choose who they work with, too. And it's not always a guarantee they will have your date available. Be sure to have a few options in case the other doesn't work out, and plan at least a year in advance. You don't have to do this alone, either. Get your partner involved because this is about the two of you, not just one of you. I've heard of bride-zillas, but I think it's just really the pressure that's pushing them to get everything in line. You don't have to be one if you plan accordingly with my 7 steps! I wish you all the best of luck.
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At the end of the summer season last year, I had a TON of extra basil that I knew would die with the first frost. I wasn't sure what to do with it all. I ended up drying some (post on this forthcoming), I gave a bunch to my sister who made 4x the normal size batch of her pesto recipe, and with the last cuttings I decided to freeze it for use in my smoothies, sauces, and later pesto.
I didn't really know what I was doing, so I made it up as I went. But it worked out very well. And it was super easy!
Step 1 - Pick the leaves off the branches and wash them. My lettuce spinner has come in really handy this last year for spinning water off.
Step 2 - Using some sort of blender or chopper, add just a bit of olive oil to moisten the leaves just enough into a paste like substance. I use my Braun Multiquick 3 for almost everything. They don't make it any more and I'm glad it's not quit on me yet. You can also use water rather than olive oil. Or you can always choose a different type of oil if you prefer.
Step 3 - Spoon the paste into ice cube trays. Just to the top, don't go overboard. You want to be able to easily get the cubes out of the tray later. Freeze.
Step 4 - After the cubes are frozen, I quickly ran water on the back sides of the trays so that the cubes easily came out of the trays and into a Ziploc bag.
Now you can use 1 cube at a time whenever you need some fresh basil! I now have fresh basil year round. Or if you buy fresh basil from the grocery story, now you don't have to worry about it going bad and throwing it away - just freeze it before it starts to turn colors.
Belee and Martin's traditional Vietnamese Wedding was The Memory Journalists' last wedding of 2014! And Kelly and I couldn't have asked for a more fun and relaxed couple as these two. The day started with the girls getting ready at The Residence Inn in Sacramento. Earlier that week we were worried it may be raining, but we lucked out and dodged the rain that day. Throughout these images you may notice Belee in different dresses. She changed into four different dresses during the day. Yes, four. Her bridesmaids made her transition from dress to dress swift and quick. A dream team of ladies behind their girl.
Belee and Martin shared a first look at Capital Park. As you can tell it was raining earlier that morning. It stayed dry for the rest of the day. Luckily. :)
Their dog Poncho showed up to complete the Bridal party portraits.
The girls were such a blast to work with.
I love the colors in Belee's bouquet.
The guys were looking sharp. And goofy.
The ceremony was held at St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
St. Francis of Assisi is such a beautiful church and I love that we can use the balcony.
Congrats to the newlyweds!
Everyone was ready for a celebration to start!
I love this one of them!
We used the park across the street from the church for a few after ceremony portraits.
Back at the reception, their wedding topper was so cute!!
We had such a blast capturing your day Belee & Martin!! Thank you for allowing us to be a small part of such a wonderful day! Enjoy your extended sneak peak slideshow. Just click the following photo and turn up the music!
It seems like when I was younger, I had nothing to worry about health wise. My parents always fed me good food, and we tried to stay as healthy as possible. And eating out would be a treat for us every two months or so. But once I was out of my parents house, all the junk started to pile up. I sure enjoyed it while it lasted, but now that I'm 31, it's all about staying active and healthy.
One of the ways I've become completely active was by jogging every morning. But I needed to fuel up after with something healthy. When the juicing and green smoothie phase set into my world, it was definitely something I added to my daily routine.
I recently purchased a Ninja Blender, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. I've gone through inexpensive Hamilton blenders, and it just doesn't do the job. So, it's definitely worth it to invest in a good one. Your body will thank you later.
As I looked for endless recipes and tried numerous smoothies, it was clear that healthy green smoothies were my favorites. Of course, most of them have kale, and spinach, but once you start to add fresh or frozen fruits, it will change your life. You can barely taste the greens after blending, and think about all the nutrients you're getting into one shake! I'm no health expert, but these smoothies give me plenty of energy, and is great for detoxing.
Sometimes, I modify it and skip Step 6. I feel the fruits I add already has all the sugar I need. And I add other fruits that aren't listed on there as well. Once you find your flavor, you kind of just stick to it. But one of my favorites has been:
Kale and Spinach
Health and wellness is definitely an important part of being happy. Having healthy smoothies in your life doesn't mean you can't indulge once in a while either. So don't feel the need to completely cut out food you love, too. It's really about moderation, and a healthy green smoothie is just one of them. I could never be happier! As the saying goes, "You are what you eat."