A photo update of the apartment!








My Favorite Part So Far

Buying stuff. After the initial stages of planning out what I wanted the reception to look like and figuring out exactly what I needed to purchase, I set out to find the best deals online. I haven’t had a single bad experience yet ordering things online for the reception–I’m amazed and overjoyed! Sometimes wholesale or bulk websites seem a little sketchy or random and you’re not quite sure what you’ll get in the mail or how long it will take. I received top quality items in less than two weeks for all of the vendors below. I highly recommend them all! I think I’ve purchased all of the bulk items that I’ll need–everything from lanterns for the tables to Pashmina scarves for the guests if they get too cold. I really couldn’t wait for this stage of the planning process, when everything would finally be in my hands. I have a google document that I’m using as my wedding spreadsheet that I created during the preliminary planning process to keep track of everything. In it I keep track of all of my ideas, all of the tasks before me and all of the items that I need to purchase and by when I needed to purchase them (rough guestimations based on online wedding timelines). I probably could have waited to order some stuff, because it came so quickly, but it really gives me some peace of mind to actually have all of this stuff already.

I ordered a roll of Burlap from Onlinefabricstore.com for $1.50 a yard. It only took about a week and a half to arrive and the shipping was only $11!

This is the mock up of the table with the burlap table runners and centerpiece boxes (sorry about the mess in the background. We work in the shop, so there is “shop” stuff around and we are in the middle of construction).

Phillip cutting the strips for the table runners. The roll of burlap came in a 40″ wide roll (see that pallet in the background? Be on the look out for a post on our construction of a living wall with a wood pallet!)

We cut them into 42′ (enough for 5, 8′ tables) x 13.5″ wide strips. We are not quite sure how the tables will be set up exactly so we just cut strips long enough for four tables with a foot or two extra at each end and we can cut them down if we set up the tables differently.

I also ordered sparklers for the send off (rather than rose petals or rice), because it fits the holiday! I ordered them on Amazon through Onlinefireworks. They were so reasonably priced compared to others (thank you WeddingBee forum!)! I purchased 48, assuming that only a fraction of the guests will still be around by the send off at 10ish.

I am collecting mason jars for beverages at the reception as well. I scored 6 of them at a thrift store on Black Friday for $.25 ea, but the majority of the jars will be supplied by friends and family. Phillip’s mom, sister-in-law and a friend from church are all supplying me with their large collections of mason jars. Woohoo!

My mom and I picked up 22 lanterns from IKEA the other day, because we were worried that they might run out (yeah, right). They are a little pricey, but since we’ve gone pretty cheap on the centerpieces thus far and since it was important to her that I have more on the tables, we splurged. These will be in the center of every table.

While on the look out for wedding jewelry on Pinterest, I found a beautiful tree necklace on Etsy from Morgan Prather. It just arrived in a beautiful package. I love it!

Lastly, I ordered 35 green pashminas from Fashion Unic (I think they were going for “unique”, not someone who has been castrated!). They shipped in a week or so and each of them was wrapped individually in a plastic bag. I’m pleased with the quality and the color.

So now Phillip and I have rooms full of stuff and the piles keep getting bigger…

Status Update on the Apartment Construction

We have had a productive weekend on the Howerzyl Ranch! The drywall and primer is complete and the painting will be finished on Monday. All of the light fixtures were purchased on Saturday and the kitchen/bathroom cabinets will be ordered on Tuesday. The apartment is really coming along quickly and that makes me super happy!  I can spend less time worrying about where we will live and more time worrying about silly wedding details. Yay!

This is the latest picture of the soon-to-be kitchen. The light in the background is the open shop door and the staircase up to the bedroom.

The front door and “living room/dining room”. We don’t really have room for both, so we are trying to figure out what to do with this space.

The stairs. My favorite feature in this apartment. I love how tall the ceiling is as you walk up the staircase. I plan to turn this whole wall into a picture wall. Even though wedding planning is taking a lot of time, my Pinterest pinning is starting to morph from wedding stuff into decor.

The french doors in our bedroom looking out into the shop. The apartment’s stairs are too narrow and have a corner for easy access of furniture, so french doors have been put in on the top floor for easy access. They will double as AC in the summer with the shop doors open.

Our bedroom. Our bed will go up against the far short wall. I love the vaulted ceilings in this top floor, it’s gonna be so nice with the double doors and the windows open to the beautiful rolling hills.

The bathroom. No room for a tub and it’s small, but I think it will be perfect. There is a nice storage area under the staircase that they built into the bathroom.

Looking at the french doors and the shop door of the apartment from inside of the shop. They are going to be painting this wall a light brown color to make it resemble an outside wall. The rest of the shop is uninsulated metal and wood framing.

Kahlua Recipe

As promised here the recipe for a delicious little addition to your coffee or Hot Cocoa. This is the recipe we used to make the Kahlua we will be serving at the coffee and hot chocolate table.


-for gallon batch

  • 2-3 pots decaf coffee
  • 800mL of Vodka
  • 400 mL of Brandy
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 tsp salt
  • more sugar to taste


  1. Brew the coffee very strong. You can use your automatic coffee maker, pour over setup, espresso cafetera, or french press.
  2. Reduce the coffee by half approximately by letting it evaporate. This can be done by leaving it on the hotplate or by placing it on the stove in a large pot. Be very careful not to let the pot boil or even approach a simmer. You don’t want burnt coffee. Notice how much coffee you start with. You should see steam coming off and after keeping an eye on it for a while you will notice it is indeed evaporating off water and leaving you a stronger coffee liquid.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean. Slit the vanilla bean open before tossing it in.
  4. Stir.
  5. Allow to cool and funnel into a glass bottle. The glass bottle should not have too much extra space in it. Top it off with coffee if needed but do leave some room to add more sugar later.
  6. Add the vodka and brandy
  7. Cap the bottle, shake. Shake vigorously every week.
  8. Allow to sit 2-3 months.
  9. Taste and add sugar if necessary.

Disclaimer: This is our first Kahlua recipe, adjust liberally to taste.

Wedding Suits

I really didn’t want to wear a formal tuxedo or have the groomsmen wear them for our wedding.  I have never enjoyed renting tuxedos or wearing them for that matter.  I was a bridesman at my sister’s wedding and wore a sleek Spanish suit which I now wear to church when I’m feeling formal.  Fortunately Tricia was on board with the idea of the groom wearing a vested suit.  I searched around on the old internet and decided I wanted a light, tan colored suit to match our wedding’s style.  Winter beside; Southern California is heading for a green Christmas anyway with the fall rains.

I ran through a few stores and browsed over websites but eventually I just hit the mall with Tricia.  I was ecstatic when we found a tan vested suit at the first store we looked at–JCPenney.  Because it was on sale it proved a bit more of a challenge to find a few of the sizes my groomsmen needed, but all in all easier than I expected it to be.   Now to find the ties and shirts (not quite as daunting).  And shoes, too.  Anyone know who has a good selection of skinny ties?

The Centerpieces

I can’t believe it. I am stunned. We finished 44 wood boxes in one night. Bravo!

Back-up. After a month of pinning on Pinterest, I decided that I wanted a wood box with succulents in pots as the centerpiece and favors all in one.  My maid of honor and I priced box at Michaels at $5.99 a pop. Ouch! So Phillip, my fiance, without hesitation and full assurance stated simply as a fact that we could build them. Now, I call myself DIY, but even I have limits. He went on to explain that the construction was rather simple and I needn’t worry. “OK” I said, with my feelers out for other options. Well, sure enough we planned a night for a few friends to come over and help with construction, purchased the plywood from Home Depot for about $60 and got to it.

The shop was below 50 degrees, so it was a bitterly cold night to be working (can you tell I’m Californian?). Two friends joined our crazed adventure, both women who had never used a saw before. I was excited for this to be something to check off our to-do list, because it’s a rather large item and I was excited that we got to spread the DIY love! The girls came ready to work! They learned how to use the chop saw and the staple gun and assembled 44 small wood boxes in a couple of hours.  Phillip was on the table saw cutting the big sheets into the height of the sides and bottoms and the girls were cutting the length down to size. I’m not sure how it happened, but I had just so happened to bring my peacock and tree rubber stamps, so we added a little flair to our little boxes and loaded them up with succulents.

I plan on selling these boxes as soon as the wedding is over, so if anyone is interested in purchasing 40 wood boxes, perfect for 4, 3″ pots, just let me know! You could have flowers, herbs or succulents in pots and it doubles as the centerpiece and the favor! The best part is, that herbs and succulents are cheap in bulk and if you have a hook up with a nursery, even better. I just left the plants in the tan plastic pots they came in, but you could plant them in clay pots as well for a special touch. I have a wood burning tool, so this could get ridiculously fun if you wanted it to.

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The Invitations

Right after Phillip and I were engaged, we hit the public library on one of our usual visits. What did you know, but a DIY wedding book was sitting on the new arrivals shelf! I checked it out and found a great idea for wedding invitations–wood veneer! I had no idea where to begin. All the directions said was to buy wood veneer… OK. I googled it and eventually found a website called Cardsofwood.com. That’s all they do, manufacture and print on wood that has been specially treated to run through an ink jet or laser printer. They have the option on their website to buy remnants in packs of the same size. We ordered large sheets of “poplar” veneer in business card weight (they have the veneer available in regular paper, card stock and business card paper weights). We decided we’d cut these large sheets down into half sheets. Shipping was cheap and the cost all together for the veneer was less that $60.

In less than a week, a FedEx package of wood veneer showed up at my doorstep. We figured we’d print half sheet invitations so we ordered enough sheets to cut 150ish half sheet invitations out of them. Lots of boring math that I let the accountant do. When we set out to cut them, we realized that we didn’t calculate quite right so we would need to make the invitations slightly smaller to get that many out of the veneer we ordered. No worries! Easy cheesy! So Phil spent an evening cutting the veneer with a paper cutter while I played with our music play lists for the reception. The first step was done, which was stressful because I’ve never worked with this stuff and didn’t know how it would respond to a paper cutter (even though the DIY book said you could cut it with scissors, a rotary cutter, or a paper cutter). It cut beautifully, just like card stock. Amazing. Poplar, the wood we purchased, is a  very light colored wood, with pretty knots and waves in it. Little did I know, however, that it sometimes has streams of a greenish yellow tint, so some of the sheets came a little greenish.

Next step was to design the invitation. I played with images of trees I found on-line in Photoshop, making them gray scale and then playing with the brightness and contrast. I pasted them in InDesign (a design program that could be substituted with Microsoft Publisher or even just Word) to create the text and layout. It was rather easy to create. I found examples of the text for the invitation on websites like weddingbee.com, theknot.com and other random wedding invitation websites. I made the text my own by tweaking the wording and went on a search for the perfect font. I found a few that I liked from dafont.com and got a few opinions of friends before choosing one. Then came the test print… no problems whatsoever! It printed in my little Brother laser printer at work without a hitch!

The invitation, rsvp card and the feather.

I purchased 2 boxes of Ivory A9 Greeting Card envelopes from Office Depot for cheap and 2 packs of brown card stock from Joann’s for $3.99 each. I bought 150 post card stamps for the RSVP postcards and 150 $.44 stamps for the outer envelopes. I decided to go with post card RSVP response cards because it was way cheaper. I also included all of the wedding details on our blog, instead of all in the invitation. Each invitation was only $.44 to mail because we had cut down so much on the weight! So don’t be hesitant to use wood veneer for fear that it is heavier, it’s not!

Next, I had one of my bridesmaids organize an invitation making party to put them together. The day before I still hadn’t created the RSVP cards, so that was a fun last minute dash. I used the same tree image, but just blacked it out and printed the RSVP cards on what looked like recycled brown paper. Then we tied them together with green ribbon and a peacock feather that I got in bulk at Shinoda Design Center.

Phillip at Office Depot, cutting the invitations.

A lot of time spent at printing shops…

The invitation party

While ordering and designing the invitations was easy, printing the invitations was a chore and a half! I decided to take the job to FedEx Print Center. Since we were printing them last minute for the party, I was stressed out to the max. Laura took our project and set up the machine without a problem. They were about to close so we had to come back the next morning. We showed up early Saturday morning and the woman at the counter told me she couldn’t have them printed by 3 pm because she’d have to manually feed them… lies… all lies. We took it to Office Depot and the woman there had it done in about an hour.

WARNING: if you choose to do DIY wood veneer invitations, you get some of the strongest reactions in both directions. Friends will love you, people who work at print shops will hate you.

I’m leaving out some misprinting drama with the RSVP cards, but the moral of all this is to find a competent printer and don’t wait until the last minute. Also, when buying and printing on wood veneer, make sure the grain of the wood matches the way it will feed into the printer. Veneer doesn’t bend against the grain, only along the grain. Lastly, check your test print jobs carefully before you give the thumbs up.

Here are some samples of the first design, that we scrapped and redesigned. I don’t have pictures of the final draft, you’ll have to wait and see. Just know that the invitation is a hand crafted labor of love. :) I’m extremely happy with the outcome and want to print everything on wood veneer from now on!

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