Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Lovely Christmas Treat

Happy holidays, everyone! Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah this week, Christmas this weekend, or are enjoying the season in any other way that’s special to you, I hope you're having a wonderful time with family and friends.

Between get-togethers, last-minute shopping runs and getting ready to leave for California very soon, I sadly haven’t had much time to post throughout the past couple weeks, but I’m hopeful that once the new year kicks off, I’ll be back on a more regular schedule.

In the meantime, I just couldn’t wait to share the super sweet surprise I received last week from longtime blog friend Diana of The World Around Her, who sent Stephen and I a truly lovely ornament and also included a too cute handmade card that definitely brought a smile to our faces.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful kindness, Diana, and to all my friends here in the blogosphere, a merry and happy holiday to you and yours! I'll be back soon with recaps from our trip and other fun musings to help welcome 2012 in style! 

What special surprises have you received so far this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharing Holiday Cheer

Last year, for our first Christmas as a married couple, Stephen and I loved sharing a few of our favorite wedding photos in the card we sent to relatives and friends, including those who couldn’t be with us on our big day. 

Though we don’t have any major milestone moments to share this year, we thought it would still be fun to keep the tradition alive with another Shutterfly card, this one showcasing offbeat pictures of our newest additions, Molly and Twix, along with a couple shots from our summer trip to St. Maarten, where we had a great time riding horses in the surf.

Now that the cards have all gone out, I wanted to share a copy here, as well, to wish each of you a wonderful holiday and also send out a huge thanks for sticking with me and my blog throughout the year. From all of my awesome new readers to the friends who have been amazingly sharing advice and support since way back when I first launched Bicoastal Bride in 2009, your kind comments and inspiring posts never fail to make my day.

I hope you’re all enjoying a great week and are having fun gearing up for the holidays! I don’t know about you, but this month has just flown by for me, and I can hardly believe that Christmas will be here in just a little over a week. I think it's definitely time to start packing up for my trip to California! 

Do you usually send out holiday cards, and if so, do you include any special photos?  

P.S. If you haven't already, head on over to Such Life in the Tropics to enter Sunshine's "Bone Appetit" Caribbean cookbook giveaway! Her blog is always so inspiring and uplifting to me, and I especially love that she's using this giveaway to help raise awareness about animals in need. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Winter Wishes: What I'm Looking Forward To...

It’s no secret that winter, with its frigid temperatures and increased hours of darkness, is in many ways my least favorite season of the year. While I do love the holidays and the initial thrill that comes with drinking peppermint hot chocolate, wearing cozy boots and falling asleep beneath a warm quilt each night, it’s fair to say that by the time mid-January hits, I’m more than ready to welcome back the brighter days of spring and summer. 

That said, my winter this year will certainly be packed full with events and activities, including many that I’m genuinely looking forward to. Here, a few highlights that will hopefully help me keep the winter blahs at bay. 

Heading home for the holidays. This time two weeks from now, Stephen and I will be in California getting ready to celebrate Christmas with his parents, sisters and family friends. Since this will be the first Christmas I’ve spent away from my family in Southern California, it will definitely be a new experience that is both fun and bittersweet, though I'll still be heading south to ring in the New Year with my usual gang afterward. Best of both worlds!    

Taking a sushi-making class. Back in October, I was happy to discover a great Living Social deal for a sushi-rolling class here in DC, which we’re super excited to attend in February. Along with learning the basic rolling techniques and tools of the trade, we’ll be able to snack on our own handmade California rolls, vegetable rolls and spicy tuna rolls once we're done. Yum!

Celebrating my husband’s 29th birthday. Yes, it’s true, we’re both officially coming up on the final year of our 20s, first Stephen in January and then me in September. It feels strange to think about, but not all too alarming so far, since from what I hear, the 30s really aren't half bad!

Rocking my new turquoise J Crew flats from here to flip-flop weather. Although I just bought these shoes less than a month ago, they've already managed to outshine some of my old standby faves for their amazing comfort, support and cheerful pop of color, which definitely helps beat back the winter blues.  

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Kicking off the last five months of grad school. I still have one class meeting left before I can officially close out Fall 2011, but I've also already enrolled for my last set of just five more classes, set to begin in January. This coming semester, it’s my goal to of course keep my eye on the prize, but also take the time to appreciate the experience for all that it's been  a chance to truly learn a lot, explore my interests and career aspirations, and meet wonderful people who have been supportive both professionally and personally. In those ways, grad school has been more than just a mere race to the finish line.

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Serving jury duty. Yes, you read that correctly. While most people absolutely dread the thought of receiving a jury summons in the mail, I’m actually excited about the possible chance to sit on a case next month. Having worked on Capitol Hill and studied various types of law throughout college, I have a genuine interest in our legal system and feel that each juror makes an important contribution.

Over the summer, when there was so much public outrage over the Casey Anthony verdict, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those disappointed with the jury’s decision would have balked or been completely disgruntled about actually serving on that or any jury themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely relate to the feelings of inconvenience when it comes to the time and scheduling logistics required, especially since they originally had me scheduled to come in the week of Christmas. But at the end of the day, serving on a jury offers the unique chance to make a profound impact within the community, and I hope I get that chance, if not this time, then at some point in the future. 

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What activities and plans do you have lined up this winter? Have you ever had the opportunity to serve on a jury, and would you want to? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Molly & Twix's 'Christ-mouse' Surprise

Santa Claws paid an early visit to our house this year, thanks to the Kitty & Canine Blogger Gift Exchange, which paired our one-year-old fur children Molly and Twix with Cashew and Macadamia, whose mom Erin writes the fun and fabulous Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Silliness blog.

From feather wands to Party Mix treats, a laser pointer, crawl cube, fish-themed throw toys, letter from Santa and more, the girls were in Christ-mouse heaven  from the moment the package arrived, since even before any toys were actually pulled out, they had already laid eyes on a few of their all-time favorite things – newspaper clippings, bags, and of course, the box itself!

Here, a few fun photos taken during the play frenzy, which was the perfect addition to a weekend already filled with other holiday activities, including sending cards, shopping and enjoying a few sips of spiced holiday ale. 

A huge thanks to Erin, Cashew and Macadamia for making our kitties purr with happiness, and also to exchange organizers Hannah and Kelly! Once we know that Cash and Mac have received their treats, I'll also be sure to share the Christmas-themed goodies we sent their way. 

How are you getting into the holiday spirit so far, and how do you usually celebrate with your pets? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Julie & Nash’s Vintage Mardi Gras Wedding

Without a doubt, one of my favorite things about coordinating a wedding is the chance to help bring to life each couple’s unique vision for their day. Since no two couples or weddings are ever quite the same, I never cease to learn from and be inspired by all of the creative and truly personalized details that make each occasion one-of-a-kind.

When it comes to original ideas, our friends Julie and Nash certainly outdid themselves with their vision for a 1920s Mardi Gras-themed celebration – a well-thought plan that evolved and came beautifully together throughout the past year, culminating this fall with one of the most unique and exciting weddings I’ve seen, let alone had the honor of coordinating.

Here, a few highlights of their day as shot by Jon Fisch of The Seattle Times, along with family members and friends. 

Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
In keeping with the Carnival-inspired theme, the wedding party and groom wore handmade masks and rang bells as they made their way down the aisle. Vintage hats and feathered headpieces also enhanced the party's attire, while colorful beads and peacock feathers made fitting accents for the flowers and decor. 

John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
Julie's bridal look was beyond breathtaking, as she accented her already stunning gown with a variety of vintage and Mardi Gras-inspired touches, including a colorful sash and necklaces, mask-themed brooch, and headpieces featuring eye-catching feathers and beads. 

John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
Ahead of the ceremony, Julie and Nash enjoyed a private first look on their backyard deck, followed by photos with the wedding party, which showcased the group's vintage-inspired attire. I absolutely loved the bridesmaids' peacock headpieces and the groomsmen's unique boutonnieres, the latter of which were skillfully crafted by bridesmaid Jessica.

John Fisch
Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
Stephen Walrath
Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
At the venue, an eclectic Seattle photo studio, the unconventional ceremony kicked off with officiants Chris and Olivia waltzing down the aisle to take their places before a gathering of 100 guests. Once in place, they exchanged the wedding party's "wild" masks for more "civilized" bouquets and top hats to symbolize the groom's impending transition from bachelor to husband.

After walking his daughter down the aisle to Bob Dylan's "Wigwam," Julie's father, a Central California vintner, gave a stirring and symbolic speech relating the growth and changes of grape vines throughout the years to those experienced within marriage. Readings, personal vows and an exchange of rings followed. 

Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Post-ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception featuring appetizers and drinks, including signature concoctions like the Mint Julep and Southern Soprano. The two-level venue featured a variety of themed rooms for guests to explore, along with a studio-run photo booth that was a huge hit throughout the night.

Stephen Walrath 
Stephen Walrath 
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath 
Closing out the night with a special touch, Julie and Nash held a midnight marriage certificate signing ceremony to symbolize the start of their new life together and set their official wedding anniversary date as 11.20.2011.

Thank you, Julie and Nash, for letting me share your day, and many happy wishes for an incredible life together! 

Urban Light Studios in Seattle, Washington

Duos Catering 

Fratelli Perata

Jon Fisch & Urban Light Studios 

Chris & Olivia Bloomquist 

Floral Design
Jessica Wilbur 

Ted Garbeff 

Heather & Stephen Walrath

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Work & Play in the Pacific Northwest

I hope you all enjoyed a fun and delicious Thanksgiving weekend! After getting back from Seattle earlier in the week, Stephen and I were more than happy to spend a low-key holiday here in DC, where we had dinner with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, decorated for Christmas, and otherwise just tried to get caught up on things after a week away.

One thing I happily got around to was organizing the photos from our trip, which was all-around fantastic. In addition to coordinating our friends’ wedding, which I’ll recap Thursday, we were also able to spend a couple extra days exploring the area and visiting our friend Ted, who’s completing his residency at one of the city’s hospitals.

Along with checking out the Space Needle and famous Pike Place Market, we had fun relaxing at Ted’s condo, which is located just outside the city and right on Puget Sound, offering truly incredible views of the surrounding mountains and landscape.

Though the weather was quite cold, with temperatures mostly in the upper 30s and low 40s, we felt lucky that it only rained the day we arrived and the day we left. Still, since the cold kept us from doing all of the outdoor activities we might have liked, we’re hoping to head back sometime during the summer to go hiking and whale watching. 

Here, a few highlight photos Stephen snapped throughout the trip. Next time, we definitely need to remember to get him in front of the camera more often! 

Posing with Ted at his condo on Puget Sound. 

The view from Ted's balcony. 

Beautiful snow-capped mountains beneath a layer of clouds. 

Gazing up at the iconic Space Needle. 

 Looking out from the Needle's upper deck. 

Outside the original Starbucks at Pike Place Market. 

Shopping at Pike Place with our friends, including bride and groom Julie & Nash.

Joining the wedding party as they selected floral arrangements at Pike Place, where small bouquets can be purchased for as little as $5 and large ones for as little as $15. Isn't that amazing? Later on, bridesmaid Jessica did a fabulous job reworking and enhancing the already gorgeous arrangements to create just the perfect look for Julie & Nash's wedding day.

Collaborating with the officiants and wedding party during Julie & Nash's rehearsal.

Groomsman Leigh holding Julie & Nash's lovable pup Apollo, who just couldn't resist getting in on the wedding day preparations himself. But would the dog get the hint and stay out of our way?

No! Despite Leigh's best efforts, Apollo darted downstairs and, as captured here by photographer Jon Fisch, made a beeline straight for Julie's train as I tried desperately, and thank goodness successfully, to restrain him. All in a day's work for a wedding coordinator, I guess!
Stay tuned Thursday for more recaps, and tell me, have you ever combined work and play in the same trip?