9.24.2014

LUNAFEST - Short Films By, For & About Women

Last week, I was honored with an invitation to attend LUNAFEST at The Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco. I wanted to share my experience with you because it really was a great evening. I also want to share a bit about my Mom, who has been the most influential woman in my life. This post is a little longer than I anticipated, but I think you'll enjoy it, and hopefully it will inspire you.
LUNAFEST was established in 2009 by LUNA Bar, the event aims to connect women, their stories, and their causes through film. It's a traveling film festival that highlights the work of a diverse group of female filmmakers with unique and interesting stories. And one of the greatest things about LUNAFEST is that it's also a fundraiser for Breast Cancer, specifically the Breast Cancer Fund, 100% of all net proceeds go directly to charity! It's such a unique and exciting event, bringing women together, sharing stories, and empowering women across the nation. All while raising money to help prevent breast cancer, which is what makes The Breast Cancer Fund unique. Their efforts are dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of Breast Cancer. Rather than funding treatments, they're working towards ending the disease all together!

The LUNAFEST Film Festival travels teach year, presenting eight short films across the county. The films are selected from over 950 applicants. Each film tells a unique story by, for and about women; making it the only film festival of it's kind. The films are about a variety of topics that are thought provoking, will make you laugh, and tug at your heart strings.


After the reception, we heard speakers from LUNA Bar, The Breast Cancer Fund, as well as a film maker from a previous LUNAFEST, Jen McGowan. You might have heard of the new movie Kelly & Cal starring Juliette Lewis, which has gotten much praise at film festivals such as South by Southwest! I really enjoyed listening to Jen and thought she offered a lot of wisdom, not only for filmmakers, but women in general. One of my favorite things she shared was to remember to think, "what can I give?" And not just, "what do I need?" She said to "always try your absolute hardest, then move on." Two excellent pieces of advice, especially for woman.

We also heard from Jeanne Rizzo, the President and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, who I found to be especially inspiring. Something she said that really struck a cord with me was; "We all have the capacity to change the stories we live." I think it's a great reminder to go out there and try your hardest to accomplish your goals. There really is nothing standing in the way except ourselves. She talked about how sometimes you need to cross the line to create change, something the Breast Cancer Fund is always dealing with. She said we need to "grab hands with like minded people, cross the line, and stay there until you get something done." It was the perfect way to introduce the films, and really inspired me to go out and DO, and I bet most women in the audience were feeling the same way.


I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the films, but I was pleasantly surprised. While I really enjoyed all of them, there were definitely a few that stood out to me, that I really enjoyed. Each of them touched on issues any woman can relate to, or has even experienced themselves.

My favorite of the 8 films was by a Spanish Filmmaker, Susan BĂ©jar called Chicas Day. It was about a young girl, and who you presume to be her mother, having a fun "girls' day" by the pool. Laying out, playing make believe, swimming, & dancing. At one point the girl says, "when I grow up I want to be just like you" and the woman tells her, "no, you're going to be somebody important." I don't want to give anything away, but towards the end of the film, the viewer learns more about the older female character. It was such a sweet story about their special Chicas Day, with an unexpected and thought provoking ending that says a lot about relationships and the women that have a big impact on our lives. 


Although that was my favorite film, I really enjoyed each of them individually. I don't want to give you boring reviews of all eight movies, instead I encourage you to attend LUNAFEST or find the films online. Because all of them are worth watching. Maybe plan a girls' night with friends and create your own LUNAFEST at home, or watch a few with your Mom. I promise it will be an inspiring and enjoyable evening!

After we watched all of them films, I was feeling so uplifted! It was really an inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many hard working, determined, and talented women. It's clear why LUNAFEST has been so successful, the event truly does bring women together. By sharing these stories, it encourages women to be the best versions of themselves by taking risks, pushing boundaries, and creating change. I was so honored to be a part of it all.


It was such a beautiful night in San Francisco and I was kind of on a LUNAFEST high, so after the show I decided to walk through the Marina for a bit. As I walked along, admiring the beautiful homes and taking in the buzz of the city, I couldn't help but think about the women who have inspired me over the years. The women game changers in my life, so to speak. I've talked about some of them in the past; my Gram, Grandma Norene, and sister. But of course, the biggest woman game changer in my life is my wonderful Mom.


When I think about the type of person I want to be, and things I want to accomplish in my life, my Mom always comes to mind. She has all the qualities one could hope to embody, and has found success in every aspect of her life: professionally, as a wife, a mother, seamstress, athlete, friend, chef, and her most recent role, a grandmother.

Growing up, my Mom and I used to have what we called "Mother Daughter Day" which is partially why I think I liked the film, Chicas Day so much. It brought me back to those special days spent with my Mom as a little girl.

Most of our Mother Daughter Days were spent working on craft projects together. One of my favorites was creating a little wooden doll. It was during the height of my sunflower obsession, I was probably about 8 years old. We decided to create a wooden doll for my room that would sit on the shelf, more of a decoration than a toy. I remember going to the craft store to pick out all our supplies. I felt so special that we were spending the day together working on our project, and that I was able to pick out anything I wanted to create my very own sunflower goddess. Once we purchased our supplies, it was time to head home and start working on our creation. I remember attaching the curly raffia-type string that would be her hair, and hand painting her face with rosy cheeks and a bright smile. And to complete her look, a straw hat with a big sunflower and a matching sunflower dress that my mom made. She was perfect! But even better, is the memory of spending that time with my Mom.

How special, that even though she was busy with work, managing our home, driving my sister and I to and from sports practice, being a wife, and making time for herself; she set aside a special day for just her and I. I doubt at the time she realized how memorable that day would be, but it is. That day wasn't just about making a cute sunflower doll for my room, but I learned how important it is to make time for loved ones. To really slow down, and spend quality time together, and appreciate the things in life that are truly important.

My mom has been a game changer in my life because she has always been there, every step of the way. Today, I'm lucky to consider her not only my Mom, but a friend. And someone I look up to. Somehow, she manages to wear many hats simultaneously. Most people are lucky to be really good at one thing, and sort of perfect their craft. Well, my mom is really good at a lot of things. And she seems to do it so effortlessly.

My Dad recently shared a compliment from a family friend with me, who had said after reading my blog, "she's becoming another Loretta." Which I think was the best compliment I've ever received. There really is no one else I'd rather be like, and I'm honored when people point out similarities between us.


LUNAFEST was such a wonderful experience. I'm so thankful to have participated, and for the opportunity to see these films. Even more so, I appreciate that it made me think about the women who have influenced me, and shaped the woman I am today. I think these types of events, that foster growth and inspire women to succeed, are so important! And I encourage you to attend LUNAFEST if you have the opportunity.



Have you heard of LUNAFEST? If the festival will be traveling to a city near you, I highly recommend attending. I promise you'll have an uplifting and inspiring evening! You can also watch the films online.

Who is/are the woman game changers in your life? 

If you have attended LUNAFEST in the past, or plan to this season, let me know what you think! I'd love to hear about your experience. And be sure to use the #LUNAFEST hashtag :) 



Many thanks to LUNA Bar for sponsoring today's story and inviting me to such an inspirational event! Compensation was provided but all thoughts and opinions are my own. It was truly a wonderful experience! 

9.22.2014

August Instagram Round-Up



Hello friends! Long time no see blog! Sorry about my absence, I suppose I've been too busy enjoying life! But, I figured before we got any closer to October, I should finally share my Instagram Round-Up for August!

// There is nothing better than a girls night out with drinks and dinner! My good friend Nikki and I met up one Friday after work to grab a drink. One drink turned into three and sharing dinner at Elite Cafe. Love this girl so much and can't wait for her upcoming wedding in Mexico! //

// After much anticipation, it was finally time to fly to Palm Springs for a long weekend to celebrate my friends Bachelorette Party! We couldn't get in that pool soon enough! //

// A 4:30am wake up call is easy when you're flying to paradise for 4 days with your best friends! And of course, no vacation is complete without a cocktail in the airport before your flight departs! //

// Looking back at my Instagram, it's clear just how excited we were for this trip! Summer in SF can be rather gloomy, we couldn't wait to get out of the fog and into the sun! //

// My obsession with flamingos continues, I couldn't resist these little flamingo koozies for the pool. They were the perfect addition to the Bachelorette Goody-Bags we put together. //

// A little glimpse into the Bachelorette party madness! We had an awesome step & repeat made for the party to provide a fun backdrop for photos. And to kick off the weekend, we had everyone take a shot with Erica in a funny pose, and once they did we gave them their goody-bags. We got some of our best pictures from the weekend, it was hilarious! //

// One of the saddest days in August. I still can't believe that we lost Robbin Williams. He was a great source of joy and laughter, especially for our generation. Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Patch Adams & Dead Poets Society were some of my favorites. He'll forever be missed. //

// Nothing brightens my day like FaceTime with my nephew. He is simply the cutest and happiest little guy around. I really struggle with being far away, and not having as close of bond as I would if we lived closer. So these little visits fill me up with love until the next time I see him. //

// My girlfriends and I always watch The Bachelor together. It's our guilty pleasure and a fun excuse to hang out mid-week. To spice things up, we do a bracket with who we think will win; and the winner is treated to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. This time we went to a new restaurant in the Presidio called The Commissary. Talk about a beautiful setting for dinner! I love this city :) //

// Andrew's Mom came up to visit for the weekend and we went to brunch then walked around Hayes Valley for some shopping. I couldn't help but go inside and buy a few macarons at Chantal Guillion  for dessert. They're so beautiful and delicious! The salted caramel was amazing! //

// I was so excited to team up with Tillamook and Farm Box SF to create a recipe using their fresh summer berries and Tillamook ice cream! I shared this picture from my visit to the pop-up shop in June before I revealed my original recipe. //

// The Gotham Club! I was SO excited to visit the Gotham Club at AT&T with my parents. I took the day off work and brought my parents to the Giants game since my Dad is a big fan. And lucky for us, my boss let us go to the Gotham Club as his guests! It was so awesome, hopefully I'll have the opportunity to go back again with friends. // 

// My recipe for Marionberry Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches! It was so wonderful working with Tillamook again and learning about Farm Box SF as well. I had so much fun putting this recipe together. I actually have another recipe I created that I'll share in the next week or so (I know, I'm a little late since tomorrow is officially Fall). But, I had to do something with all that ice cream in our freezer! // 



What a moth! And now we're almost into October, where does the time go?! While I enjoyed my little blog break, I plan to be back to regular blogging! I'm trying to think of a schedule that will work for me, and be more consistent for my readers. How does posting Monday, Wednesday & Friday sound to you? I think that might be a good place to start! I hope to be organized enough to start that schedule next week.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

8.29.2014

Marionberry Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches with Tillamook and Farm Box SF

I'm so excited to be partnering with Tillamook again! As I'm sure you know by now, cheese is my favorite food group and I am a huge Tillamook fan. You might remember back in June, I attended a launch party for the Tillamook Pop-Up Shop here in San Francisco. Andrew and I had the best time! Everyone with Tillamook was so kind and knowledgeable about their products.

One of the best surprises of the evening was learning about Tillamook Ice Cream. I don't know if I had been living under a rock or what, but I had no idea they made ice cream. They had many flavors available to taste at the Pop-Up event, so of course, I sampled a handful. And you guys, it's amazing! So creamy and delicious. While I know many people love chocolate and caramel flavors for ice cream, I prefer fruit flavors and they had so many yummy choices. My favorite was the Oregon Blueberry Patch, it tastes like summer! The Marionberry Pie was a close second, it had pie filling and bits of crust in a creamy vanilla ice cream!

So naturally, when they reached out to me about teaming up for a "Fresh Picked Craving" post and creating a recipe using their ice cream and fresh summer berries, I jumped on board immediately! Tillamook partnered with Farm Box SF, and let me tell you it is a match made in Heaven. Both Tillamook and Farm Box are committed to supporting local farms for their products. The local, organic berries from Farm Box were the perfect compliment to Tillamook's ice cream.

For my "Fresh Picked Craving" recipe, I wanted to create a dessert that really reminded me of true summer. Something we don't always get to enjoy here in San Francisco. I grew up in the foothills and spent many summers picking berries with my Mom. What we didn't eat directly out of the bucket while picking, she would make into wonderful jams and fresh cobbler. I wanted to capture those summer flavors for this recipe.


When the delivery from Farm Box SF arrived last weekend, Andrew told me "these are the best looking blackberries I've ever seen." When I opened them up, I was immediately brought back to picking wild blackberries with my mom as a little girl. They were perfection! And the raspberries were perfectly red and ripe. Real berry flavor, not what you'd find at the grocery store. That's all it took for me to be a Farm Box SF convert, no more grocery store produce for me.  


Now it was time to think of a recipe to combine the fresh summer berries, and creamy Marionberry Pie ice cream from Tillamook. Talk about inspiring ingredients!!

I decided, what says 'summer' more than an Ice Cream Sandwich?! But I didn't want to make just any ice cream sandwich, this one had to be special! I wanted to incorporate both the ice cream, and the fresh berries. I thought, what better way to do that, then putting fresh berries directly into the cookie? Since I was using Marionberry Pie ice cream, I wanted to stick with the pie theme. I decided, sugar cookies with fresh berries would be a new spin on berry pie; the berries imitating filling, and the sugar cookie imitating the crust. 


For the cookies, carefully fold your berries into the dough. The juices may bleed a bit, but it just creates a beautiful marble affect in the finished cookies, so don't worry! I love how the berries burst and melt into the dough a little while baking, it's almost too pretty to eat!


Once you've made the cookies, let them cool for a few hours or over night. Next, it's time to assemble your ice cream sandwiches! I took the ice cream out of the freezer a few minutes ahead of time so it would soften a little. Then I simply took one scoop and placed it on the bottom side of a cookie. I used the back of a spoon so start shaping ice cream, making sure it went all the way to the edge of the cookie. Then I placed another cookie on top, and pressed the two together, using the spoon again to smooth the edges. I wrapped each sandwich individually in saran wrap, and placed them in the freezer to set up. 


I feel like I should have some childhood memory to share about waiting for an ice cream truck during summer break, but ice cream trucks aren't all that practical in rural foothill towns! So I missed that experience. I guess this is my way of making up for it! And I'm sure these ice cream sandwiches are ten times better than anything you'd find on an ice cream truck! 


I'm telling you guys, you seriously need to make these! They're so good! And just in time for Labor Day weekend Summer isn't over yet, and these would be the perfect dessert for an end of summer BBQ!

I know everyone is excited for Fall (it's my favorite season, too), but in a few months we'll all be missing the warmth of summer and sweet treats like these. So, be sure to soak up the last bit of summer, and make yourself an Ice Cream Sandwich to celebrate what a great season it's been.

Marionberry Pie Ice Cream Sandwich

Blackberry & Raspberry Sugar Cookies* - 
Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
1 egg
3/4 cups fresh blackberries and raspberries (if the blackberries are large cut in half) 

Directions:
Heat oven to 375* and line cookie sheets with parchment paper, nonstick baking mat or cooking spray.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg until well-combined. Stir in flour baking powder, salt and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, toss the berries in 2 tablespoons flour, and discard excess. Then gently fold flour coated berries into the dough. 

Scoop large, 2 tablespoon portions of dough and roll into a ball. Place each ball on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. 


** For a semi-homemade version of this recipe, use a packet of Sugar Cookie Mix. Instead of following package directions, add only 1/3 cup butter and 1 egg. Then mix as directed and gently fold in fresh berries. 

Ice Cream Sandwiches - 
Ingredients:
Blackberry & Raspberry Sugar Cookies
Tillamook Marionberry Pie Ice Cream

Directions:
Once the cookies have cooled, take one scoop of ice cream and place on the bottom of one cookie. Use a spoon to shape the ice cream, making sure it reaches the edge of the cookie. Then place another cookie on top, pressing the two together. Wrap each sandwich individually in saran wrap, and place in the freezer for at least an hour to set. 

A big thank you to Tillamook and Farm Box SF for asking me to participate in this challenge! I think it's been my favorite blog project to date, I had a lot of fun with it! I really enjoyed working with companies that care so much about supporting local farms. They care about providing the best possible product, using the freshest ingredients. Sadly, that is becoming a rarity in the food industry these days, so it's refreshing to see companies that are passionate about it, and make it a priority.

I hope you all enjoy this end of summer treat! Please let me know if you make them and what you think!

What's your favorite summertime dessert?

For more recipes from the Fresh Picked Craving challenge with Tillamook, look for #IceCreamCraving and #FarmToCone on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook


I'm link up over here today for "Weekend Potluck"! Stop by to find some great recipes just in time for Labor Day Weekend or a Back to School BBQ!

8.25.2014

My Favorite Pinterest Recipes: Dinner


As I was browsing my "eats" Pinterest board last night, searching for a dinner recipe, I realized how invaluable Pinterest has been to me in terms of finding and organizing recipes. Any time I'm meal planning, trying to decide what to make for dinner, or looking for recipe inspiration; I turn to Pinterest.
I used to love sitting down with my favorite cookbooks and magazines on weekends, earmarking recipes I wanted to try. But these days, I simply turn to Pinterest to find what I'm looking for. While I do still enjoy reading my Cooking Light, and referring to my favorite cookbooks for old favorites, for the most part I rely on Pinterest and other bloggers for recipes. I think this is largely due to the fact I want to see a picture of the dish before I commit to making it. Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I the only one that has set down the cookbooks and gone digital?

I thought it would be fun to do a post and share a few of my favorite recipes I've found on Pinterest, as well as the bloggers behind them. These are all recipes we continue to make time and time again at our house. I hope some of these are new to you as well, enjoy! 



My absolute favorite, Half Baked Harvest! I love all of her recipes, and I like to pretend we're friends in real life! Every recipe I've tried has been amazing. She is simply the cutest and I'm waiting for the day she announces a cookbook! Not only does she create delicious recipes, but her photographs are inspiring, and somehow she is able to share both wonderful stories and recipes simultaneously. I urge you to check out her blog if you don't already follow, and please make these tacos! They're incredible. It's become my go-to entertaining dish because it's unique and always a crowd-pleaser! I even did a little prep work before our trip to Yosemite last month so we could eat them one night while camping.



I recently stumbled across this pin while looking for a semi-healthy Mexican inspired dinner. We made a few slight modifications to the recipe, and it did not disappoint! First, we baked the chicken with fajita seasoning and lime, then shredded it to add to the casserole. We also used more chicken then the recipe called for, decreased the amount of enchilada sauce, and added jalapenos for extra spice! This is definitely something we'll continue to make during the week because it comes together quickly and easily. Plus, since there are only two of us, there are plenty of leftovers to take for lunch and/or dinner the follow day. We serve it with green salad for a simple, healthy weeknight dinner. 



We were making this dish for dinner so often during the week, we had to take a little break from it ;-) But it's back in the rotation because it's the easiest weeknight dinner, EVER. You simply toss everything in a baking dish,throw it in the oven, bake and enjoy! We modify the recipe a by using Brussels sprouts instead of green beans, and a lot less oil.  


So, How's It Taste? - Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce

Another great resource for delicious, healthy recipes. We make this chicken with my cauliflower mash and another vegetable for a simple dinner that tastes like it requires a lot more effort than it actually does. Since Andrew isn't a huge mustard fan, we usually don't use the full 2 tablespoons, but otherwise we follow the recipe exactly. Typically we use IPA because that's what we have at the house, but I'm sure any beer would work. I love the way the shallots caramelize and the sauce thickens to create a glaze on the chicken, yummmm! 


Eat Yourself Skinny - Spicy Basil Chicken 

I'm sure you've all heard of Eat Yourself Skinny! Kelly is the cutest little Southern Belle with incredible, and healthy recipes! Lately, she's been busy planning her upcoming wedding, but there are plenty of old recipes on her site to keep your mouth watering! Plus a bunch of cute wedding DIY ideas on her Instagram! Hers is one of the first food blogs I started following years ago, and her recipes never disappoint! This basil chicken is so simple, and comes together in just a few minutes. It's the perfect dinner on busy weeknights. I can't get enough fresh basil during the summer months, so I try to make this as much as possible! It's so fresh and flavorful, you'll love it, promise! This is another one we paired with mashed cauliflower and veggies. But it would be great with brown rice as well! 



I haven't made this in a while, but putting this post together reminded me I need to! It's another simple recipe with great flavor! We have a lemon tree out back, so I think I'll be putting some of them to use soon. Gina's is another blog I've been following for years. She creates really flavorful dishes that are completely guilt free! And, she has a new cookbook that you can pre-order here! One thing I love about Gina's site is that she provides all the nutritional information, as well as Weight Watchers points. It's been so helpful to me when I'm watching what I eat and trying to lose a few pounds! If you haven't tried some of her recipes, you should! And I recommend starting with this one :) 

**********

Let me know if you guys try any of these recipes! I know you'll love them :) Plus, they're all really healthy and use real ingredients, which I try to be mindful of. I guess that means I'm getting old...

Follow me on Pinterest for many more delicious meal ideas! And here are a few of my recipes that I've shared on the blog.  

8.22.2014

1960's Style Revisited

Earlier this summer, I spent an embarrassing amount of time online shopping for a Bridesmaid dress. It was quite overwhelming considering how many dresses are out there, I think I ordered 5 before I found the right one!

During my search, I stumbled across a few dresses that immediately brought a smile to my face. Not because they were something that would work for a bridesmaid dress, but because they reminded me of a dress I had loved as a little girl.

When I was little, I spent a lot of time at my Grandma's house. They had this huge basement my cousins and I used to play in. We'd play dress up and put on plays for the adults. My grandparents pretty much let us run wild down there, which as a kid, was awesome! There was a box of clothes for the girls to play dress up with, and in the box were some of my Mom's old dresses from High School Dances. One, was yellow dress with a lace overlay and ribbon sash. Which, if you know my Mom, you'd know she made it herself.

So as you can imagine, while I was browsing online for dresses and came across the three styles below, it brought a huge smile to my face. I immediately emailed the links to my Mom, which she got a kick out of. I vividly remember playing in my Mom's dress, and seeing these modern versions of it brought back so many great memories of playing with my cousins at our Grandparents.

It's so fun to see how styles and trends repeat themselves. I've always said I am an old soul, and I love the classic silhouette of these dresses and the modern spin on 1960's fashion. While I may not be sporting overalls and crop tops, I can definitely get on board with classic pieces like this that are coming back into style.

Yellow Lace Dress


And of course I can't post about my Mom's beautiful dress without sharing a picture. This was my parents Junior Prom in 1968! They got married a few years later in 1972, aren't they so cute!?


What are some trends you're excited to see coming back into style? 

Do you think I look more like my Mom, or my Dad?

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

8.21.2014

Snapshots from Palm Springs

I can't believe Palm Springs has already come and gone! We had been planning and looking forward to the weekend for months, and it absolutely held up to our expectations, exceeded them actually! We all had the best time, and most importantly, the bride said it was the most amazing Bachelorette Party she could have imagined. Exactly what we had hoped for!

We took SO many pictures, and the Photo Stream from the weekend continues to entertain us 2 weeks later. I didn't want you all to feel left out, so I thought I'd share a handful of my favorite pictures from the weekend. Well, at least my favorite of the shareable photos. 

As you might have guessed, one of the highlights was Saturday when we had an 80's theme. The one piece suits everyone brought were nothing short of amazing! The goody bags also included a few fun accessories like inflatable microphones, neon Madonna gloves, scrunchies, and wayfarers to set us over the top! Naturally, the majority of our pictures were taken Saturday, because how can you resist snapping pics of those bright neons!?

I hope you all enjoy this peak into the BEST Bachelorette Party ever!  




How do you feel about theme days? I know some people aren't into it, but I think it's so fun!! 

What are some of the best Bachelorette Parties you've attended? I'd love to hear about them!


8.19.2014

A Gift For The Bride to Bea


As you know, one of my best friends in getting married in a few weeks. I wanted to do something extra special for her to celebrate this important time in her life. Gift giving is always something I've prided myself on. I love thinking of unique ideas that are especially meaningful for the recipient. And of course, this was no exception. 

In the past, I've made a sort of "brag book" for friends getting married. Which is basically a completed scrapbook filled with everything except pictures. There are pages for each event from the engagement, leading up to the wedding and honeymoon. All the bride has to do is add pictures as the events happen. However, I knew I wanted something more personalized and special for Erica. And I wanted it to be complete when I gave it to her.

I decided what better way to celebrate the bride, than to compile a book of memories from her closest friends. And what better time to present the gift than at her Bachelorette Party when almost everyone was together. 

Now, this gift isn't for the faint of heart! It takes a lot of prep time, and then of course time to assemble the final product. But the completed book, and the look on the brides face when she opens it, will be completely worth it! So, I'll walk you through the steps I took in case you'd like to create something similar for a bride in your life!

First, I used the email list for the Bachelorette Party, and added a few family/friends I knew were close to Erica. Then I sent out an email, explaining the gift and requesting that everyone please share a few pictures and a message to the bride. The message could be anything from a quote, to marriage advice, to memories shared with the bride if they wanted to be included in the book. I knew that it would take some time to get this back from everyone, so I sent the request a few months in advance. I sent periodic updates to those who I hadn't heard from, and kept a list of those who had replied. 

Many of the girls had trouble finding pictures, but thankfully our friend who had organized the Bridal Shower had a ton that she shared with me. I'm also a picture hoarder, so between that and what I could find on Facebook and Instagram, I gathered enough pictures for everyone. 

I organized the messages the girls sent in a word document, and sized them and used different fonts so each page was unique. I also organized all the photos and had them printed in a variety of sizes. I used to scrapbook a lot, so I have a lot of supplies laying around. And luckily, I even had a scrapbook, pages and page protectors to use for this project. But you can get everything you need at a craft store like JoAnns or Michaels. I did make a quick trip to the craft store for cute paper and stickers to embellish each page. 

Once I had all the pictures and messages printed, I cropped them down and used a corner cutter to round the edges. Since I mostly wanted the focus to be on the photos and messages, I selected a simple paper for the background, and arranged the photos and messages on top. Then I just added a sticker or two, and the name of the person that page was from. Each girl had their own page, and then I did a 2 page spread for the bridesmaids. Mostly because I am indecisive and have so many photos of the five of us, I couldn't fit everything on one page. 

I decided I wanted to start the book with something special, not just jump into the pages from friends. So the first page highlights their engagement. You can read more about their engagement on Erica's blog, but Corrie proposed in Utah while they were snowboarding on Christmas, and the ski resort photographer captured the whole thing! I also included a page of their engagement photos, which were taken by the lovely Stephanie at AT&T Park! Perfect for these two Giants fans! After the Engagement photos, I jumped right into the pages from all the Bride's friends and sisters. 

Missing a caption  on the right because she's a new mamma :) so I left a space to add it in later! 

I hope it's something that Erica's treasures forever! It was so fun looking over all the photos, and reminiscing. Most of us have been friends with Erica since high school or even elementary school, so you can only imagine some of the old pictures and memories! Hopefully this book reminds her of how many people love her, and how excited we all are for this new chapter in her life! It's proof of all the support she and Corrie have as they start their lives together!

One of the best parts was watching Erica open this after breakfast one morning in Palm Springs. No one had seen the completed book yet so all the girls were eager to see "their page" and laugh over the old pictures and memories we've all shared with Erica. It's the gift that keeps on giving!

If you have any questions about how I made it let me know! It's pretty straight forward, but I wanted to share the idea since I can't think of a Bride who wouldn't love receiving a gift like this!


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