Saturday, December 27, 2014

"God bless us, every one..."

I am sitting at my in-laws' kitchen table while (most of) the family is in the living room watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. We celebrated our Christmas today (a day late since my brother- and sister-in-law were out of town). I cannot help but think about all the amazing blessings God has given me throughout my lifetime. We had an amazing, generous Christmas, thanks mostly to my mother- and father-in-law, siblings, and of course, David...but beyond the gifts, traditions, and food, I am so thankful for a family that loves one another--on both sides, both David's family and mine.

I have wanted to write about the topic of forgiveness for some time now, but just haven't gotten around to it. One thing I am so thankful for is my husband's forgiving heart. This is something that was instilled in him by his parents. I love how David is so quick to forgive and forget. Forgiveness was a concept I knew about my whole life, but it was something that was so hard for me to practice. What is forgiveness? Merriam Webster states that forgiveness is "to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong)" or "to stop blaming (someone)." I used to always think I was forgiving someone, but inside, in my heart, I still harbored blame or resentment for a person and a particular wrong he or she committed. I "forgave" ... but not completely.

When I read Joshua Harris' Boy Meets Girl, I had an epiphany. The following passage from the book was so profound to me and completely changed how I looked at forgiveness: "Because of the Cross, you can forgive the past sin of another person...When you forgive other people, you're making a promise not to use their past sin against them."

You're making a promise not to hold someone's past sin against them. That means it's erased. Forgotten. Gone. The slate is wiped clean. What?! Suddenly, things became clearer. I wasn't truly forgiving. I was harboring a little bit of anger, hatred, and resentment within me. I wasn't letting the wrongs go. I was holding onto them. Isaiah 1:18: "'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" When we repent, God forgives us as if it never happened. It's gone. We're clean as snow, white as wool. 

2 Corinthians 5:17: "The old has gone, the new has come!" Psalm 103:12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." These verses suddenly meant something new to me. I realized that forgiveness is a concept that we cannot fully achieve as human beings...but it is something that we can ultimately strive toward, to be forgiving like our God, and to try in our hearts to do so on a daily basis.

My husband has further taught me what it is to have a forgiving heart. Everyone fights and everyone argues. Sometimes I'm not feeling well, or I've had a bad day, and I'll snap at him, and we'll get into a small argument...but when I've calmed down and apologized to him, or vice versa, he is so quick to say "It's okay. I forgive you." and then actually get over it and not be mad. I realized the other day that he is like my dad. If my dad is upset with me, he doesn't hold a grudge. After we talk about it and the steam blows over, he is back to his happy self, and I love this about him.

I realize everyday how much I need to strive to forgive the way God forgives us. It's a hard thing to do...because we are humans, we have memories, and we can't mentally or physically just "erase" an event that has occurred, or words that have been said...but it's something we can try to do. It's something we should want to do. I find myself very easily not trusting someone or disliking someone after they have wronged me a few times. While it is perfectly normal to be weary of someone who has offended you before, and you don't have to bend over backward to be best friends with them, I think it's important to try to forgive them, and try to love them, despite your past grievances. This is something I'm still learning to do everyday.

I was thinking about how forgiving my husband is, and I realized where he gets it from--his parents. They are some of the most slow-to-anger, quick-to-forgive, loving people I know and I am so blessed to have them as my parents now too. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote that Christmas seems to get better year after year, and I have to agree. Although I have so many fond memories of Christmas, I've learned to appreciate and value different things as I've gotten older. I love this life, and I am determined to start the new year with an open, forgiving heart.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, every one!"

the Bride

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Giveaway - last chance to enter!

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway hosted by Erin from With a Wink and a Twirl, Brittney Marie from Pretty Little Pursuits, and Lauren from The Fashionista's Diary! These ladies have been so kind to host this holiday giveaway to help me with my dissertation research! We are giving away 3 gift cards to 3 lovely winners: 1) $100 to Nordstrom, 2) $50 to Hope's, or 3) $25 to Target. To enter, all you have to do is fill out a short survey that will help me with my dissertation research! After you complete the survey, just enter a valid e-mail address and you are officially entered into the giveaway. The giveaway ends today at midnight! Click the picture above to enter! 

the Bride

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Giveaway: Win a gift card to Nordstrom, Hope's, or Target!

I am very excited to announce that Erin from With a Wink and a Twirl, Brittney Marie from Pretty Little Pursuits, and Lauren from The Fashionista's Diary, are graciously hosting a holiday giveaway to help me with my dissertation research! We are giving away 3 gift cards to 3 lovely winners: 1) $100 to Nordstrom, 2) $50 to Hope's, or 3) $25 to Target. To enter, all you have to do is fill out a short survey that will help me with my dissertation research! After you complete the survey, just enter a valid e-mail address and you are officially entered into the giveaway. 3 random winners will be chosen on Tuesday, 12/23/14! Click the picture above to enter! 

the Bride

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Top 10 beauty favorites

When I was in high school and college I had a pretty normal daily hair and makeup routine. From start to finish it took about an hour. After graduating and joining the work force, I started getting less strict. Enter grad. school and I am somewhat ashamed to say that the majority of the time I go makeup free.

I have always gotten a lot of compliments on my skin. My routine is pretty simple. I wash my face twice a day with a gentle exfoliating cleanser, apply noncomedogenic moisturizer with SPF 15 or 30, and I rarely wear foundation. Other than that, I don't do anything special.

I was thinking about all of the hair, skin, and makeup products I've tried throughout my lifetime, and all the ones that I fell in love with and can't live without. These are the products out of so many that I've stuck with for years, if not decades. I thought I'd share them with you, because they are too good to keep to myself.

In no particular order, here are my Top 10 Beauty Favorites:

10. Olay Skin Smoothing Cream Scrub
I actually have not seen this on the shelves for awhile, so I have also used Olay Regenerist Regenerating Cream Cleanser. I like that they're non-foaming and contain exfoliants that help smooth my skin. I keep one by my bathroom sink and one in the shower. I also use warm water to open up my pores first and then use cold water to rinse and close my pores.

I have been using this (or some form of this) regularly since I was in tenth grade. I love that it is light, non-greasy, oil-free, noncomedogenic, and can be worn any season, underneath makeup, or by itself. It also contains SPF 15 (or 30) and protects my skin from the sun. I prefer the Sensitive Skin version, which is unscented, but I've used the scented one too, and the scent is not overpowering.

I have also been using this since tenth or eleventh grade. I use it to remove any leftover eye makeup after I've washed my face. I also use it to clean up any eyeliner or mascara smudges after applying makeup. What I like about it is that it's non-oily, so I can dip a q-tip in it and clean up under my lash line.

Another product I've been using since tenth grade! I'm on my second set of these in over ten years, so they've lasted a long time. I prefer the wire clips over the plastic super clips, which I find leave creases. I know most girls these days use curling irons, but I find it so easy to just roll my hair in these and then finish doing my makeup or getting dressed while they set. The key is to take them out after they're completely cool. The jumbo size is perfect for long hair, and even if the curl happens to fall out, your hair still has a lot of body.

I like these better than Tweezerman (although those are a close second). I've had the same pair for several years and they haven't needed sharpening. If you live near an Anastasia Brow Studio, they are the BEST at shaping eyebrows. I was first introduced to her method when I lived in NY, and was lucky enough to have found one at the Nordstrom nearby, but unfortunately they closed the studio. Fortunately, I have found a really awesome threading studio in the area that I really like.

As an Asian girl with short, straight lashes, I have tried so many different ways to curl my lashes. While I did like my Shu Uemura eyelash curler, I still found myself heating it up before "curling" my lashes, which is a bit dangerous if you're not careful. In fact, two of my friends bought me a heated eyelash curler on two separate occasions because of my eyelash curling technique (they didn't work). This little curler fits in the palm of my hand and does a great job of curling even the edge lashes...and I don't have to heat it up first.

 4. Silk'n Flash&GO
This is one of my more recent discoveries, but it is a life changer and a great investment. I hardly ever shave anymore, and I love that! You can read about my experience with the Flash&GO here. I'm excited to see recent TV commercials for it. They've come out with a newer model (the Luxx) that comes with a lifetime cartridge. If you hate shaving, I cannot recommend this product enough.

 3. Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp 
I hate feet...and I hate rough, peeling, scaly feet the most. I used so many different foot creams, files, and pumice stones, before stumbling across this on Amazon one day. Best foot file ever! After using this, my feet stopped peeling and I worried about them so much less. My feet will still sometimes get a little rough after a few weeks, but then I just use this quickly in the shower and they are baby soft again. I follow it up with some Nordic Care Foot Care Cream and a pair of socks.

 2. Maybelline Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length Washable Mascara
I've been pretty picky about mascara lately. I keep finding myself coming back to Lash Stiletto. I feel like it gives me the best length and definition, which is what I like my mascara to do. I apply mascara after I've curled my lashes. (I don't like getting mascara on my eyelash curler.)

 1. Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
I use this product everyday. I have a tube in my purse, in my car, in my desk drawer, on my nightstand...I just like the way it feels and that it doesn't leave a glossy or sticky residue. It's an absolute necessity in the dry winter season!

So these are 10 of my favorite beauty products that I've discovered over the years. I use many of them on a daily basis, and all of them are over-the-counter products that you can find at your local drug or beauty supply store. :) What are some beauty products that you can't live without?

the Bride

Friday, October 17, 2014

A year in the life...

A year ago today I was a huge mess of emotions as I began my wedding weekend. My best friend since 4th grade was in town, and we were about to spend the day at The Spa at Fearrington getting pedicures and massages before heading out for my bachelorette party at Solas and C. Grace. I was an anxious mess--worried about the weather; apprehensive about having 4 guests and 2 dogs in my house; freaking out about having all the decor and supplies organized, packed and ready--and Xanax didn't help at all...

To my relief, everything went as planned from start to finish. It was the best weekend, and the most perfect wedding. The weather was great, everything went/ran smoothly, and I was so so happy.

This Monday will be our 1 year anniversary and I am so excited. We are taking a trip to the mountains and will get to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage. Autumn is by far my favorite season of the year, and it is wonderful to get to celebrate our marriage at this time each year. 

A family shot from our Spring '12 e-session with Brian Mullins.
The only thing that is missing is my precious little Lamb. I would give anything to have her here with me right now.

Life is not easy, and things do not always go your way, but part of growing up and celebrating your blessings is realizing that God's plan is bigger than yours. I can't help but be grateful for where I am in life right now. Six or seven years ago I never would have guessed I'd be where I am today. I never would have imagined I'd be so close to earning my doctorate, married and living in this house. I never wanted to say goodbye to my beloved Grandpa, my dog, David's Gramps. I didn't think I'd sell my condo in New York, or move back down south to the place I'd just left. 

Life is unexpected, and sometimes it's hard...but it is also wonderful and vivid and exhilarating.

This has been the most wonderful year, and I can't wait for the next.

the Bride

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The #HungryHusbandProject - 4th Edition: Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti (Squash)

It's been a while since I contributed to the #HungryHusbandProject, and I am embarrassed to say that I actually had 2 other meals to write about, but managed to misplace the husband's score sheets. Oh well.

The 4th edition of the #HungryHusbandProject is Eggplant Parmesan with Spaghetti (Squash), inspired by my college friend/roommate, Kelly. Kelly is pregnant with her 3rd baby and due any day now. Her mom made her some Eggplant Parmesan to see if it would induce labor (so far it hasn't)...but it sounded delicious, so I decided to make it tonight. This recipe is low-fat, low-carb, and vegetarian. I wasn't sure how the hubs would feel about it, but when I texted him from the grocery store, he was all for it.

Left: Fresh out of the oven; Right: For a low-carb meal, serve over cooked spaghetti squash. (I made mine in the microwave.)

Servings: 6-8


  • 1 large eggplant (or 2 small eggplants)
  • 1 jar spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • 2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 (2 cup) container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Italian seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Beat eggs in small bowl. In another bowl, combine parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Slice eggplant(s) into 1/2" slices. Dip each slice in egg, and then dredge through parmesan cheese mixture. Place in single layer on cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at  425°F for 20 minutes, turning slices halfway through.
  5. Spray a 9"x13" pan with non-stick spray. Cover bottom of pan in a thin layer of spaghetti/marinara sauce. Layer half the eggplant slices on the bottom.
  6. Top with another thin layer of spaghetti/marinara sauce, then spread ricotta cheese evenly over the sauce.
  7. Add remaining eggplant slices, then cover with the remaining spaghetti/marinara sauce, then mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Serve over cooked spaghetti or spaghetti squash.
It smelled so good while it was cooking and took me less than an hour to make. Surprisingly, the hubs really liked it and said he'd definitely eat it again.

Here is the verdict:

 28/30  Taste
 20/20  Presentation
 10/10  Originality
 10/10  Re-heatability
 10/10  Clean-up
 20/20  Overall Ranking 
98/100  Final Score
    A+    Letter Grade

"Had surprising flavor for a vegetarian dish. Might even taste better the next go-around!"

This is my highest-rated meal so far, which is surprising since it's vegetarian. (I swear I said that last time.) The original recipe I was looking at called for ground hamburger, which was browned and then placed over the ricotta cheese layer. This is an option for those who eat meat. I've never cooked eggplant before, and I've actually only eaten it a few times. I definitely didn't mind the flavor. I have to admit though, my fave part was the melted mozzarella cheese. :)

the Bride

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Becoming a vegetarian

I have been eating a vegetarian diet for just over a month now. (Technically, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, as I eat eggs and dairy.) It has actually been a lot easier than I thought it would be, and certainly much easier than eating low-carb. I had to figure out a few vegetarian fast food options for those days when I have to go to work but haven't had time to pack a meal. I've started visiting Taco Bell a little more and Panera Bread a little less. (I love how easy (and cheap) the Cheesy Bean & Rice Burritos and Bean Burritos are.) I've also fallen in love with The Remedy Diner

Overall, I don't feel much different. I was expecting to feel different, maybe lack energy (or gain it), but I feel about the same. One thing my friend Beth pointed out to me was that I need to be careful of my soy intake since I have hypothyroidism. Luckily I have a physical and thyroid check up next week, so I'll discuss it with my doctor then. 

I was only planning on doing it for a week, but a week turned into two weeks, and two weeks turned into a month...I think I will likely incorporate fish and seafood in (pescetarian), but we'll see.

A few things I've discovered: 

  • Excluding meat cuts down on cooking time significantly! 
  • You don't have to include meat for a meal to be tasty.
  • Cutting out meat was not as hard as I thought it would be.
  • I've met more vegetarians in the veterinary field than anywhere else.
  • Vegetarian restaurants are pretty darn good.
  • There's usually a way to "vegetarianize" or "veganize" a meal and make it still taste good.
  • Raw meat grosses me out a lot more than it used to. (I never did like cooking chicken very much.)
  • LOTS of food (packaged, pre-packed, prepared, un-prepared) contain meat or meat products.
On another note, the hubs and I have been cooking up an interesting project we want to start together. More on that later. :)

the Bride

Saturday, August 23, 2014

When it rains, it pours...

It has been just under 2 weeks since we said goodbye to Lamb. Our other Chinese Crested, Noah, has been sick since Thursday of last week. At first, I thought he was in mourning and just grieving the loss of his best friend. However, after running diagnostics for the past few days, we discovered that he has a foreign body. Fortunately, he's not obstructed, so they think they can remove it via endoscopy (less invasive than surgery). Unfortunately, it is still costly, and after everything with Lamb, the estimate of $1600 is a big burden for our little family. When it rains, it certainly pours!

I have created a crowdfunding campaign through Go Fund Me, and we are trying to raise as much money as possible to help pay for his medical bills. 

This has been a trying few weeks for us, but we're staying positive and pressing on as much as we can. If you wouldn't mind sharing this with your friends, family, and fellow animal lovers, and/or donating (even the smallest amount helps), we would be so grateful.

Thank you, and puppy kisses!

the Bride (and her black and white dog)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grantland feature

I'm so excited to share something that has been in the works for some time now. Check out this feature article by Katie Baker for Grantland! A part of ESPNGrantland is an online magazine that covers sports, entertainment, and pop culture.

Katie contacted me in April to ask me about my experience with the Bridal Veil post office as well as the process of designing and creating my wedding invitations.

Check out her article to read all about Postmaster Geri and the famous little post office in Bridal Veil.

the Bride

Saturday, August 16, 2014

She's now gone meatless.

My sweet Lamb passed away in the wee hours of the morning on Monday. After suffering for the past 10 months, she took a turn for the worse while David and I were on vacation. We rushed to MD (where she was staying with my mom) and made the difficult decision to let her go. 

It feels different without her. It's hard to see her little bed or dresses or toys and know she isn't coming back to them. Noah went with us to say goodbye to her, as he's known her all his life. He's actually been suffering from an upset stomach the past few days, and I'm beginning to think he's in mourning too.

The loss of a loved one is never easy. I've worked in a vet hospital for the past four years, and have helped countless people say goodbye to their pets. It doesn't get any easier.

"She's now gone meatless." (That's a Monk reference, by the way.) 
In an effort to refocus my thoughts, and to honor Lamb, I've decided to go meatless for the week. That is, I'm fasting from eating meat for a week. If Lamb was a human, she totally would have been a vegetarian. It's something I've wanted to try for some time now, and I started it on Thursday. 

So far it has been relatively easy and even kind of fun. I have purchased meatless burgers, "chicken" patties, and even tried a local restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options. I haven't had any cravings for meat yet. I don't know if I will continue to do it after the week is over, but it's definitely a lifestyle I'd consider.

The last 6 months with Lamb were hard. She was getting progressively thinner and weaker. She was having accidents all the time. She lost what fat and hair she did have. I am glad she's no longer suffering, but I miss her completely. Rest in peace, little Lamb.

the Bride

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

DIY: Tufted headboard

David and I have been married for 8.5 months now! It's hard to believe that a year ago at this time I was busy with wedding plans, working out, and basically eating/drinking/breathing all things wedding. 

The first major purchase that we made as newlyweds was a new bed. We had discussed before marriage that we would consider getting a Tempur-Pedic or some sort of memory foam mattress because of my sleeping habits. (I have suffered from insomnia and nocturia, both of which cause me to toss and turn.) We also discovered on our honeymoon that we love the size of a king-size mattress. Fortunately, our bedroom would accommodate one perfectly, and our friends/family were so generous in fulfilling all the bedding from our registry. We had no excuse not to get one!

The only thing we needed was a head board. After having a metal bed frame for the past 10 years, I wanted something a little more luxurious and plush: a tufted headboard. Unfortunately, the ones I found were way too expensive. I quickly decided I was going to have to make my own.
My Inspiration: Skyline Furniture Linen Nail Button Tufted Upholstered Head Board via WayfairSkyline Furniture Micro-Suede Tufted Headboard via AllModernThea Velvet Tufted Bed, Light Gray via One Kings Lane

After pouring over tutorials by Sarah (Thrifty Decor Chick), Jenny (Little Green Notebook), and Meghan (Involving the Senses), I collected all my supplies: peg board, 1"x3" and 1"x2" wood, corner bracesbatting, foam, fabric, cover button kit, buttons, Decorator's Needleswaxed button thread, French cleat picture hanger, spray adhesive, staple gun, and staples.

Here is a very rough sketch of my design.
You can see how I laid out the frame with the wood. 
For our king size bed, I decided to make the headboard 72"L x 32"H, which is what I had the peg board cut to at the store. I then built a simple rectangular frame with the 1"x3" and 1"x2" wood pieces and the corner braces and screwed it to the pegboard. (The people at the home improvement store are generally very helpful and can cut everything to size for you.)

Note: I purchased peg board as Jenny did in her tutorial, but I quickly discovered that you cannot staple into peg board, which is why I ended up purchasing the 1"x3" and 1"x2" wood pieces and corner braces to build a frame. This ended up stabilizing the peg board as well, which can be flimsy. The idea of purchasing peg board is that it already has holes, so button placement is much easier. If you use MDF and drill your own holes, you should be able to staple into it with no problem. (See Meghan's tutorial for more info on building a frame.)

I then cut the foam to size. (Like Sarah, I found that it was cheaper to purchase a mattress foam topper than foam from the craft store.) I decided on a simple 2-row zig zag tufting pattern (though you may choose to be more adventurous), and circled the holes with a marker on the peg board. I pre-made the 9 buttons I used following the directions in the cover button kits. I glued the foam to the board, stapled the batting over it, and then stapled the (grey suiting) fabric on top. From the back of the board, I drilled through all the layers using the holes I pre-marked as a guide. This helped me with placement of the buttons on the front. 

Many people have asked how I get the "tufted" look where the buttons actually look regressed into the headboard. You can get complicated with the tufting (which includes tucking, making pleats, and usually involves a more complicated button pattern, like in Meghan's tutorial). Or, you can do something simpler, like I did (a 2-row zig zag pattern). To give the buttons that regressed look, I used a knife to cut out some of the foam from the holes so the buttons would "sink" into place (see Jenny's tutorial). I also followed Meghan's tutorial by using extra buttons I had on hand to "anchor" the threads into place on the back of the head board. (This is also helpful if you're using peg board, since you can't staple the threads in place.)

Bedding: DKNY & Kenneth Cole;  Frames & Night Stands: Ikea; Photos; Brian Mullins; Mirrors: Target
It took me between 4-5 hours to finish the project, and it ended up costing around $100 for supplies. I hung the headboard on the wall using a French cleat picture hanger and a couple extra nails, and it has stayed in place so far. Both the hubs and I are very pleased with how it turned out. It has really dressed up our room and bedding. Best of all, I saved so much money by doing it myself!

the Bride

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guest Post: Fabulous bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts

Meet Ann
Today's guest post is brought to you by Ann Harris of Beauty Makeup Online. Ann lives in Melbourne, Australia with her lovely husband and two beautiful children. She loves to write about love, relationships, beauty, weddings, DIY, and more. 

David and I both struggled with finding the perfect bridal party gifts. I ended up giving each bridesmaid a robe, slippers, and wedding day jewelry in a jewelry pouch. David was more personable and found different gifts for each groomsen including a vintage pipe holder, DVD set, and computer gadget. He also included the pocket square and fun dress socks to wear at the ceremony.

For those of you looking for some unique ideas, Ann has come up with a list of the 7 fabulous gifts for both bridesmaids and groomsmen! 

the Bride

7 Fabulous Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Gifts

Picking out a gift for someone is hard enough, but it gets even more challenging when you have to shop for several bridesmaids and groomsmen who have varying tastes and personalities. For soon-to-be married couples who are stuck and cannot figure out what to give their dear friends as a token of appreciation for helping celebrate their union below are excellent suggestions.

Bridesmaids Gifts

Certificate for a Spa Weekend
There is no woman who would turn down three days and two nights of mind-numbing pampering, especially when it is free. Brides usually invite their closest female friends to their wedding so giving the girls the pampering of a lifetime is always a winner. The spa certificates can be for the same package, or you may also opt for varied treatments to suit the preferences of each bridesmaid.

Among the most popular treatments include rejuvenating facials, deep tissue massage, detox salt baths, and mineral mud wrapping. Any of these treatments would certainly be appreciated by your bridesmaids.

Dalton Blue Note by Crane & Co
Personalized Scented Stationery
If your bridesmaids still subscribe to the merits of putting pen on paper and leaving quick notes as opposed to text messaging, a set of personalized stationery would make for a great gift. 

Certain high-end stationery stores (many of which can be found online) can create lovely scents specifically for stationery, and you even get to pick from a wide array of fragrances.

Classy Clutch Bags
There are very few women in the world who would turn down a free bag, especially one that is one-of-a-kind. Classy clutches would definitely count as a very thoughtful gift your bridesmaids, especially if they can be used for casual as well as formal events. The clutch bags can come in any color, shape, size, and accents (i.e., sequins etc.). 

Added bonus: You can pick out something that your bridesmaids can bring to the wedding.

Gift Certificate for Cooking Classes
Many women love to cook, and some would like to hone their culinary skills. A gift certificate for cooking classes (especially those taught by celebrity chefs) would be such a great gift for one or all your bridesmaids.

Kimonos by SunsetToSunrise
Monogrammed Robes
Decadence takes on many forms, one of which is a terrycloth or silk robe that is soft and luxurious to the touch. Online specialty stores offer monogramming, which would make the gift all the more special. 

Added bonus: You can take some cute bridesmaid photos while you're "getting ready" in your matching robes.

Scented Tranquility Candles
If you prefer to pamper your bridesmaids in the comfort of their own home, aromatic candles would make a fine gift. You may also opt for a package that includes essential oils, potpourri, and many other sweet-smelling goodies.

Necklaces by JewerlyByRMSmith.
Engraved Jewelry
Brides want their bridesmaids gifts to be as memorable as possible, and nothing can be more appealing than a piece of jewelry (bracelets, necklaces, earrings). Engraving is an option especially if you are getting the same item for all bridesmaids. 

Added bonus: You can pick out something you'd like your bridesmaids to wear for the ceremony! (That's one less thing they have to pay for.)

Groomsmen Gift Ideas

Microbrew of the Month Membership
A lot of guys like a good beer, and some of them prefer microbrews. A microbrew of the month membership (usually 6 months to one year) would be greatly appreciated by your male comrades, perhaps even more than a very expensive bottle of Scotch.

Tickets to a Sporting Event
If one or more of your male friends likes sports, tickets to see their favorite team would be an excellent gift. Ideas include: football, golf, hockey, basketball, baseball, and racing. If you can afford it, try to get excellent seats so that they really feel part of the action.

Personalized Beer Mugs
If your friends love beer, they would certainly appreciate a personalized beer mug. Wooden mugs are a tip of the hat to old speakeasies and the tradition of drinking beer at the end of a particularly grueling work day...or you may prefer a etched glass stein.

Skeleton Pocket Watch
by Things Remembered
Monogrammed Pocket Watches
Not a lot of grooms can afford to gift Rolex watches, so personalized pocket watches are the next best thing. 

This kind of timepiece may be outdated by any standard, but it is certainly novel to have on hand. Men do appreciate excellent timepieces, even those that cost about $50-$100.

Added bonus: You can have your groomsmen wear their watches if you're doing a vintage theme.

Laser Tag Tickets
Grown men who still enjoy childhood activities would definitely like laser tag tickets. This provides the groom a choice of getting together with friends after the wedding. This is quite a fun gift and one that almost no one would turn down. Other ideas include miniature golf or go-karts.

A Day on the Track
If one or several of your groomsmen like to race, a track day would do very well as a token. Some track racing packages even provide a choice of cars, from run-of-the-mill Japanese cars, to exotic cars such as Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Maseratis.

Swiss Army Midnite MiniChamp
Swiss Army Knife
A Swiss Army Knife is something both practical and nostalgic. These multi-tools are indispensable and useful. Besides the typical knife blade, they may also include the following: scissors, screwdriver, bottle opener, light, nail file, keychain, and pen.

Some come in different colors and may have the option for engraving.

When choosing gifts for your bridal party, it is always ideal to factor in the personality and interest of each individual. While there are generic gifts available, it pays to go the extra mile so as to convey the couple’s gratitude for sharing in their very special day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why I don't shave anymore...

In March, I saw a TV commercial for the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X and was immediately intrigued by the possibility of never having to shave my legs again. I was impressed with the positive reviews I read online, but was not impressed with the price. I constantly hear radio ads and see Groupon deals for laser treatments, but upon further research, I would discover that for permanent results, it would require multiple (costly) treatment sessions. When I was researching the Tria, I kept seeing (positive) reviews for the Silk'n Flash&Go. What was even more appealing about the Flash&Go was the price. After reading tons of reviews and price-matching, I found a great deal at Bed, Bath, & Beyond by using a 20% off coupon as well as Ebates.

I did my first Flash&Go treatment on March 22nd and repeated it every 2 weeks for a total of 4 treatments. I am now on Treatments 5-7 (which are planned for 4 weeks apart) before moving onto Treatments 8+ (as needed). After the first 2-3 treatments, I saw a big difference in the slowing of hair growth. After only 2 months, I am seeing minimal hair growth, and shaving my legs maybe once every 2-3 weeks to get rid of any "stubble" I feel. I am ecstatic with the results and can't wait until I can finally throw my razor away!

If you hate shaving or waxing, I highly recommend investing in the Silk'n Flash&Go. I feel like it was money well spent and I am very satisfied with my purchase. A few things to keep in mind before making the investment:

  1. It is not recommended for darker complexions. (I am Asian and do tan easily, but my actual complexion is not very dark). According to the website FAQ, "Do not use Flash&Go on naturally dark complexion. Flash&Go removes unwanted hair by selectively addressing hair pigment. Varied quantities of pigment also exist in the surrounding tissue of skin. The quantity of pigment in a particular person's skin, which is manifested by their skin complexion, determines the degree of risk they are exposed to using Flash&Go. Treating dark skin can result in adverse effects such as burns, blisters, and skin color changes (hyper- or hypo-pigmentation)."
  2. It works best on dark hair. I have dark brown/black hair. "Treatments work best on darker hair types or hair that contains more melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives hair and skin color, and absorbs light energy. Black and dark brown respond the best, although brown and light brown hairs will also respond, but typically require more treatments. Red may show some response. White, grey or blonde hairs usually don't respond as well to treatments."
  3. Be prepared to purchase extra lamp cartridges. Each lamp cartridge is supposed to contain 5,000 pulses/flashes. The kit came with 2 cartridges (for a total of 5,000 flashes). I was able to do 5+ treatments on my lower legs and underarms before having to switch to the 2nd cartridge. Fortunately, I am not a very "hairy" person to begin with and only have to shave my lower legs, so that probably let me get a lot more sessions out of the individual cartridges (vs. someone who has to treat their upper legs). I am also pretty short, so have a smaller area to treat than someone who is taller.
  4. Be prepared. It's not completely painless. I use the 2nd to lowest setting because I did get some irritation the first time I used it. If my skin feels extra sensitive, I just turn it down lower. Flash&Go is said to be safe for your eyes but I think it's wise to invest in a pair of safety glasses that are approved for IPL use. (Your eyes and vision are priceless and it's better to be safe than sorry!)
Feel free to ask me any questions about my experience with the Silk'n Flash&Go! I'll do my best to answer them. And for you brides out there, wouldn't this be a great pre-wedding gift to yourselves? :)

the Bride

I was not compensated for this post. I decided to write about my experience with the Silk'n Flash&Go after seeing great results. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Owl always love you.

I have always had a thing for owls. Growing up, I remember playing outside and hearing their melancholy calls...there was just something about them that I could relate to. With their increasing popularity, I have been able to add some really fun and beautiful pieces to my collection. 

For Christmas, David got me some really cute things, one of which was this Snowy Owl Spoon Rest from World Market. You can imagine my devastation when I accidentally dropped it on the floor and it shattered. It was a seasonal piece that ended up being sold out in stores and online. I ended up settling for this whimsical piece from Pier 1.

Who can resist an Owl Spoon Rest in mint green?
Yesterday I got a lovely little coupon in my inbox from World Market. I didn't need anything, but on a whim, decided to browse their website. Imagine my surprise when I came across my beloved Spoon Rest in aqua! I was overjoyed and decided to head over to the store before my hair appointment at noon. 

I quickly found it in the kitchen supplies and decided to purchase the 2 that were on the shelf. (Doesn't hurt to have a back up!) I also spotted this Aqua Silicone Whisk to match for only $3.99. (I have been looking for a silicone whisk that's safe to use with our pots and pans). With my 10% off coupon, I felt like I had hit the jackpot--and I even made it to my hair appointment with 4 minutes to spare! :)

the Bride