Thursday, May 21, 2015


Exciting news! Our wedding photographer just emailed me to let me know that our wedding is featured on Artfully Wed today! Perfect timing I guess, seeing as we just celebrated one year of marriage. You can check out the feature, which includes a few words from me, here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wedding Wednesdays : My Fave Wedding Day Memories

In celebration of G and I's first anniversary as husband and wife, I thought I'd take a stroll down memory lane and share my top five moments from our wedding day, plus one "best-worst" honorable mention.

The first look.
Even though the straps of my heels kept getting stuck to my dress, which kept getting stuck on nails in the wood deck, the first look was a wonderful (if comedic) moment. G’s reaction was a bit quieter than I expected it to be. When he turned around he just smiled, and then tried to hold back the tears. While we only had a few minutes alone, I think those few minutes helped calm our nerves and it was nice to be able to actually talk to each other, compliment each other, hug and kiss—the things you can’t really do during the ceremony!

Words with my dad.
Right before the walk down the aisle, I had a few precious minutes alone with my dad, who was just a big teddy bear on my wedding day, so emotional and nostalgic. Worried about my hair and my dress, I asked, “Do I look OK?” My dad didn’t miss a beat, replying that I looked like a supermodel. Later, during our father-daughter dance, he had me blubbering like a baby as he recalled his memories of me, as a baby. It was beautiful and perfect, even if I was ugly-crying the whole way through. 

Walking down the aisle.
As my father walked me down the aisle, to the Goo Goo Dolls song “Come to Me,” the scene before me was mostly a blur. It happened so quick! But I do specifically remember seeing my friend Stephanie absolutely beaming with joy for me. Next I saw my soon-to-be husband, wiping away tears as they fell from his eyes, despite having already seen me in my dress—proving that first looks do not in the least take away from the seeing-your-bride-walk-down-the-aisle experience.

The ceremony.
G and I wholeheartedly agree that the best part of our wedding day was the ceremony. It was so important to me that the ceremony be personal, meaningful and really reflect the significance of what we were doing—pledging to love, honor, support and cherish each other, forever. That’s why I took on the task of writing the ceremony, including a hand fasting ritual and a wine blending ceremony, and carefully selected two readings, one sweet and one funny. The pinnacle moment, however, was when G and I shared the vows we had written for each other. A close runner-up was when my groom slipped me a tissue just as our officiant-friend read the words, “These are the hands that will wipe away the tears from your eyes…” Perfect timing!

Our second dance.
While our first dance, to Train’s “Marry Me,” was certainly special, I felt infinitely more comfortable during our second dance. To kickstart the reception, the DJ put on John Legend’s “All of You” and our friends and family quickly joined us on the dance floor, making us feel less like the ice sculpture the reception revolves around and more like part of a great party.

The best-worst moment: 
When my hubby & his boys "broke" the dance floor.
It’s a year later and I don’t yet find this as funny as people assured me I would one day, but it was definitely a memorable moment that guests still talk about! G had already gained a reputation for his enthusiastic moves and one-armed push-up to the Isley Brothers song “Shout!” but he took his fame to a whole new level during our wedding reception. Now, it wasn’t really his fault, but as G and his groomsmen jumped up and down on the lower deck, our dance floor, one of the planks began to bend and bow. It didn’t actually crack and no one got hurt (thank goodness) but the lower deck with our sweetheart table was basically off-limits after that and the dance floor was moved to the upper deck. Suffice to say, we weren’t thrilled, but we have an interesting story to tell and some fun photos from what is now his most infamous “Shout!” performance.

(Photos by heidi-o-photo)

Monday, May 18, 2015

One Year

Today is G and I's first wedding anniversary. Looking back now, it seems like this first year of marriage just flew by. We've experienced so much together. Good things and bad things. Exciting things and scary things. Fun times and challenging times. We moved across the country together, set up our first home as a married couple together. Welcomed a second fur baby into the family. Made new friends together. Explored St. Pete and made some wonderful memories. And now we're going to be moving again, to an unfamiliar place, together. We've had to make some tough decisions in this military life and face a lot of uncertainty at times, but there's no one I'd rather do it with, no one I'd rather have by my side. There is so much to look forward to, new places to discover, new things to learn about each other, new challenges to conquer together.

365 days down. A lifetime to go.

(Photos by heidi-o-photo)

Friday, May 15, 2015


Hey there, Friday! Wow, this week went quick. And unfortunately, I'm looking back and feeling like I wasn't all that productive. I had a modest to-do list I wanted to get through—go to the pet store, go to the drug store, go to Target, work on my anniversary gift for Gand yet motivation eluded me the past few days. Monday I had a nice, long phone date with a dear friend. Tuesday was mostly spent voraciously reading a new book. (I won't go into too much detail, but related to this post.) On Wednesday, the hubs and I logged many, many hours looking at rental listings after hearing back from our realtor, and we may have settled on a place; though I'm a bit nervous about it since it means compromising on one of our key must-haves. Yesterday I begun planning a little going-away party for us and then did what seemed like an unending pile of dishes before getting ready for a night out with my love. We went to The Dali Museum (more on that later) and then our fave Italian eatery in downtown St. Pete. And today I woke up early to take my fur baby to the vet, to finally get snipped. He's in recovery and the doc said he did well; we'll pick him up tomorrow morning but I am missing that fluff ball sitting on the couch next to me while I online window shop for home decor (and pin my faves)! So. Even though I didn't make a dent in my to-do list, it wasn't all that bad of a week after all. And Friday isn't over yet, so there's still time to be productive, right? Another to-do: going to the grocery store and figuring out a healthy dinner (since we had creamy pastas and the most decadent chocolate marsala cake last night). I'm thinking of making a fresh, colorful salad like this (without the  bacon, and farro instead of barley since we have it) or maybe sweet potato and black bean burritos. All I got to do is... go to the damn store.

Wishing you a happy weekend! Productive or restful, whichever you like.

(calligraphy image by me)

Monday, May 11, 2015

May Days

Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! My parents have been married today for 36 years. That's a long time! And if I ever had trouble remembering their wedding anniversary date in the past, I think I will always remember it nowit is exactly one week before ours. Yay for May! It's always been my favorite month (in my favorite season), and so many good things happen in May: Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day weekend, wedding anniversaries, of course, and even our pup Jasper's birthday is this month! May is a time of change though. Last year, right after our May wedding, we moved across the country to Florida, and at the end of this month we'll be moving to New Jersey. As people keep asking about our impending move, where we'll live, if I've started job hunting, etc., my stress levels have been climbing higher and higher. But I'm trying to remain positive and remember all the good things. Like love. And family.

So happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! Wishing you more happy years together. Cheers to you this beautiful May day!

(Photos from our wedding, taken by heidi-o-photo)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

For Mom

Happy Mother's Day to the woman who has always loved and supported me (even through my angsty teenage years)! My mom is one of my biggest fans. Ever since I was a little girl, she has encouraged me to be myself and to follow my dreams, even when that meant majoring in vocal music. (And attending a far-too-expensive university.) Of course I ended up going down a different path, but she never questioned my choices, if they were lucrative or stable career moves; she just wanted me to be happy. As a journalist, I can count on her to read every story I write, and she's proud of each one. (And, though she doesn't comment, my mother is a loyal reader of this blog.) When I was planning my wedding last year, she was there for me every step of the way, as a sounding board when I needed to vent or as a shoulder to cry on, and she gave anything and everything she could to help make it a dream day for me and for G. As with most mother-daughter duos, we've had our not-so-great moments and we don't always agree, but I'm glad we have an authentic, honest, unfiltered relationship. And as I've gotten older I've come to appreciate her unwavering love and support that much more.

So Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I wish I could be back home in California to celebrate with you, but I'm sending lots of love from Florida!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Suit Up + 20% off at Anthro!

I stumbled upon this tankini earlier this week, put it in my online shopping cart and then proceeded to have an internal debate about whether or not to go ahead and take the plunge. (Pun intended.) I love the peplum detail. It's cute, stylish and modesta hard combo to come by in swimwear but perfect for me since I am not-so-comfortable rockin' a bikini at the moment. (While wedding planning helped me lose a few pounds, marriage has helped me added them all back!) I almost went for the white floral version, but the hubby liked the blue best and it's hard for me to resist bird-printed anything. (Can you see the little hummingbirds? There are fishes, too.)

My internal debate stemmed from the $122 price tag. I was hoping for a coupon code to magically come my way and make the decision of to-purchase-or-not-to-purchase easier and, as luck would have it, today I got my wish! In celebration of Mother's Day, Anthropologie is offering 20% off ALL merchandise (that's pretty unheard of except on Black Friday) with the code XOXO. The discount is only good through the weekend, online and in stores, so if you've been eyeing something like I was, get to shopping! And if you haven't picked up a gift for your mom or other mother figures in your life, Anthro has so many wonderful options to choose from, like this gorgeous candle or this one in her zodiac sign, a pretty pot to add to her garden, an ultra-fem fragrance, a special, whisper-soft robe that will remind her she's beautiful, and a wanderlust-y mug to hold her morning cup of coffee. Find more Mother's Day gift ideas at Anthro here.

I'm tempted to take that 20% off and go on a shopping spree! As my husband can attest, I can easily spend hours in an Anthropologie store, mostly on the home goods side. I want everything. But for now, I'm just hoping I won't hate the swimsuit the moment I put it on. Fingers crossed.

Happy shopping and happy weekend!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Art & The City : Jim Reynolds' CityScapes at FMoPA

Last week, the hubs and I ventured to downtown Tampa to cross off another item on my spring bucket list: visiting the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. On the first Friday of every month, the museum stays open an hour later than usual and features an exhibition opening, a social hour, a lecture, or all of the above! After looking over FMoPA's list of current exhibitions, I was particularly interested in seeing photographer Jim Reynolds' first solo show, "CityScapes," so when I discovered that he would be giving a talk last Friday, May 1, it was the perfect time to go.

Reynolds' focuses on capturing vibrant, energetic and interesting images of the New York City landscape. His work in "CityScapes" is fun to look at, and a bit surreal even, as he likes to play with the angles, reflections and transparency found in the Big Apple's buildings. As someone who loves photography and architecture, not to mention NYC (our soon-to-be backyard!), I was enraptured by Reynolds' images, as well as his lecture. It's a treat to hear an artist talk about and explain the thought process behind their work. I'm excited that I'll soon be able to experience for myself the magnificent city sights he captured with his lens.

In addition to the exhibition, I enjoyed simply being in the FMoPA space, which is a work of art in itself. Located inside The Cube at Rivergate Plaza, the museum galleries occupy the 2nd and 3rd floors of the airy, six-story atrium building. Coincidentally, the geometry and views in "CityScapes" sort of echoed those found in The Cube. Since the sides of the square building boast dozens of large windowswith peek-a-boo views of downtown, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the University of Tampa—the light and shadows inside the impressive interior are constantly changing, and I got a little thrill watching the sunset fill the space with a beautiful peachy-pink glow right before the museum closed.

A mini tour of the museum and the "CityScapes" show, after the jump...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sip & Savor : Inspiration for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

Happy Cinco de Mayo! While today is not really about eating great Mexican food and drinking too many margaritas, that is what the holiday has become to non-Mexican Americans, like me. One should know the history of the day, but, I have to say, there's nothing wrong with celebrating Mexico's vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. Growing up in Southern California, Mexican food was part of my family's regular dinner rotation and there are many truly great Mexican restaurants to choose from, especially in San Diego. 

Finding authentic Mexican eats in Florida is a bit more difficult, but Red Mesa Cantina is one solid option in downtown St. Pete. (Get the mofongo and fried sweet plantains. Yum.) More recently, after a shopping trip at Ikea in Tampa, we cruised over to Channelside Bay Plaza to try out Hablo Taco. It definitely has a touristy vibe, but the food and drinks were good. The hubs and I followed the restaurant's advice, written in the menu and on the walls ("Don't drink the water. The tequila is much better.") and quenched our thirst with frozen margaritas, both twists on the classic: the Sangria-Rita for me (stumbled upon this recipe for a similar sweet slushy concoction) and the Corona-Rita for him. Served in giant goblets, one was enough.

Never a man to pass up pulled pork, G ordered the Pork al Pastor tacos, which are topped with a pineapple salsa, cilantro and salsa fresco and served in Hablo Taco's signature puffy shells. In the mood for something different, I went with the Grilled Avocado plate. Two creamy avocado halves were char-grilled and then covered with perfectly seasoned ground beef, habanero salsa and sour cream, and drizzled with ranchero sauce. (I skipped the queso fresco.) Served with a side of Mexican rice and chips, it was a hearty and satisfying meal.

The grilled avocado is a dish that could easily be replicated at home. Tonight, even! I'd love to try this recipe for grilled avocado with charred red onion and scallions. You could top or stuff it with just about anythingmeat, veggies, salsa. It's an easy and versatile dish that is a bit more interesting than your typical Cinco de Mayo guacamole. Now, granted, we don't have a barbecue but I'm thinking it could still be tasty (if less smoky) on an indoor grill pan.

The hubs recently made Hawaiian-inspired teriyaki pulled pork tacos at home (I told you he loves pulled pork!) but this recipe for Tacos al Pastor is a closer dupe to what he had at Hablo Taco. Sweet and spicy.

I'm not sure what our plans are tonight, but if we decide to stay in we're sure to turn to our favorite Assouline cocktail books to whip up some homemade margaritas. If you're in need of a little libation inspiration, check out the two recipes below.

Recipe from Vintage Cocktails

2 oz. Don Julio 100% Blue Agave Blanco Tequila
1 oz. Cointreau (or Grand Marnier)
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. of simple syrup (if you like a sweeter margarita)
For garnish: Coarse salt and lime wedge

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

To salt the rim (optional): Frost the edge of the cocktail glass by rubbing a lime wedge on the outside rim of the glass, then dipping it into a saucer of coarse salt. 

Tommy's Margarita
Recipe from Celebrity Cocktails

2 oz. Don Julio Reposado Tequila
1 oz. agave nectar
1 oz. fresh lime juice
For garnish: Fresh lime wedge and salt

Place first three ingredients into a mixing tin, add large ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into a glass over fresh ice, garnish and serve.

To salt the rim (optional): Rub lime wedge on the outside rim of cocktail glass, then dip into a dish of salt.

Finally, a bit of margarita history, courtesy Celebrity Cocktails:
There are many legends about who invented the Margarita Cocktail. Many believe that Margarita Sames (Texan socialite) created it in Acapulco in 1948. However, a lesser-known legend is that a bartender in Tijuana created it to impress Rita Hayworth. Either way, it remains the number-one ordered cocktail in North America.

Personally, I like the Rita Hayworth version :)

Here's wishing you a fun (and safe!) Cinco de Drinko, err Cinco de Mayo. Cheers!

ETA: We ended up staying in! We made a healthy Mexican-style dinner and the margarita above. It was good and strong but, for a little fruity sweetness I splashed in a bit of OJ. Perfection.

(Papel picado source
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